EA has announced that it will not release a version of the fantasy RPG Dragon Age: Inquisition in India “to prevent violation of local content laws.” But exactly which local content laws are being broken is a matter of debate.
India’s NDTV Gadgets quotes EA’s Indian retail distributor Milestone Interactive as reporting that “the game’s gay sex scenes” are responsible for the decision. But an EA representative told Kotaku that the decision was “not specific to same-sex romance.” Instead, EA pointed Kotaku to the ESRB content description Inquisitionwhich emphasizes implied fellatio, bared buttocks and sexual dialogue, as well as swearing and violence.
Still, many games with similar or worse content have been released in India in the past. The same goes for the first two dragon age games, which have the option for gay romance and are still readily available in the country. India’s obscenity laws are rather vague and can be interpreted by different courts. Anonymous “sources close to the case” tell NDTV that some Indian consumers took offense to content in previous EA games such as Dante’s Hellmaking EA a little more gun shy this time around.
In 2008, Bethesda decided not to release an Indian version Fallout 3 (and later, Fallout: New Vegas) due to “cultural sensitivities”. The reason is widely believed to be the Brahmin of the games – mutated, two-headed cows – which may be objectionable in a country where many consider cows sacred.
India has recently become more culturally hostile to same-sex relationships following last December’s court ruling re-criminalizing gay sex. In May, Russia posted an “adults only” 18+ rating The Sims 4 in accordance with a controversial law that prohibits the promotion of homosexual lifestyles to minors.
While Inquisition will not be distributed in India, it is still perfectly legal to obtain and play the game in the country. Indian users can import or download the game from abroad through a VPN or other service that spoofs their location.