Phrases you see all the time on the back of video game boxes: "Blood and Gore," "Intense Violence," "Strong Language." The "Sexual Violence" content descriptor has only been used once before, back in 2006. This year, that infrequently used tag will be used to tell consumers some of what happens in Metal Gear Solid V. Warning: Spoilers for Metal Gear Solid V follow.
It's probably not a surprise that the next game in Hideo Kojima's long-running stealth action series will be getting an M (Mature) rating from the Entertainment Software Review Board. But the specific notes in the rating summary for Metal Gear Solid V give away details as to why the game will be categorized as having sexual violence:
Content Descriptors: Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Sexual Violence, Strong Language
Rating Summary: This is an action game in which players assume the role of an elite soldier through military missions in Cuba. Players infiltrate various bases and use pistols, machine guns, and rocket launchers to kill enemy soldiers. Firefights are highlighted by realistic gunfire, slow-motion effects, and large blood-splatter effects. Players can also employ stealth attacks (e.g., choking, knife stabbing from behind) and have the ability kill non-adversary characters/prisoners. One cutscene includes a depiction of blood and gore (e.g., a character's intestines exposed during a dramatic procedure to remove an object). The game includes an audio file in which a female character is sexually assaulted by male characters; while there is no visual depiction, sounds of ripped clothing and struggle can be heard. The words "f**k" and "sh*t" are heard in the dialogue.
When contacted by Kotaku, the ESRB said that only one other game, 2006's Animamundi, have been categorized as having sexual violence. It's not clear if the female character in the audio file described in the rating summary is the controversially attired sniper Quiet. Kojima has remarked that there will be more depth to Quiet than initially meets the eye so it's possible that the audio file may be part of her backstory. Either way, incorporating sexual assault into its storyline puts MGS V in rarefied territory.