Quantic Dream, the developer of futuristic sci-fi adventure Detroit: Become Human has landed in hot water over a controversial scene that portrays child abuse.
Detroit: Become Human takes place in a metropolis at the forefront of technological revolution. Androids live alongside their human counterparts, but are still regarded as machines, and are designed to provide assistance without displaying any emotion.
In one of the three main storylines, players control Kara, a female android stuck in the middle of a domestic abuse episode. She’s given a key by young child Alice, who looks unnaturally subdued. As the scene unfolds we quickly discover she’s a victim of physical abuse, and that her father Todd is on the verge of beating her again. Completely unhinged, he throws the dining table down aggressively and trails his frightened daughter up the stairs, saying: “Alice, daddy’s very mad”.
The camera zooms out to a street shot of the house, Alice screams, and the scene that follows is Todd placing his daughter’s apparently lifeless body onto her bed. The Sun, Daily Mail, and Nine News Australia have branded Detroit: Become Human violent, with Australian organisation NAPCAN (National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect) calling for Australian stores to not stock the game.
“Violence against children is not entertainment. It’s not a game. It’s a real nightmare for thousands of children who have to live through these kinds of scenarios. The makers of this game should be thoroughly ashamed. I think it’s perverse. Who thinks beating a child is entertainment?
Like Heavy Rain and Beyond Two Souls before it, Detroit: Become Human features timed sequences where players can influence the outcomes of different scenarios. This means that some decisions will prevent the abuse from taking place. Lead writer Adam Williams recently mentioned that while Quantic Dream isn’t pushing a particular message about androids, it does want to make players ask what it means to be human. He also believes that despite being an android, Kara is actually “a more humane character than the father” Todd.
The ESRB rating for Detroit: Become Human is currently listed as pending. It does come with a content warning which states that it may be inappropriate for children.