"At the same time, the game is a representation of a very liberal western society. The same moral code as in the US or Europe (and technically all around the world) and that has not changed a whole lot over the last centuries either. So when you have no objections to same-sex sex, transgender people, refugees with a distinctly different phenotype etc.. killing kids becomes hard to justify. Heck, even killing the owlbear cub in this game is something that meets resistance, naturally, since when was the last time you drowned a kitten yourself? it is just not something people tend to do, even in extreme situations."
Good points again, however, we (in my opinion) REALLY need to understand that fantasy is not real life. I think its a huge step backwards to start censoring art/games/TV etc just because the content "might" offend a few people. I think the problem is that some players are finding it difficult to put reality aside and just see where the narrative is going. I mean, this is a "world" populated by demons and devils and owlbears and wizards...... Do we start taking the devils seriously?? This to me is a disturbing trend that is insidiously creeping into books, tv, games and it needs to be halted. On the other hand, those are the things that influence a lot of people many of whom are incapable of coming to an independant conclusion on their own... The game is meant for adults, its challenging but that is not a bad thing.
Oh yeah, it is always a thin line between artistic freedom and legal or moral boundaries. I do not see a stepback here though. In 1998 Half-Life had to replace the Marines with Robots in Germany, in 2008 Fallout 3 had to remove dismemberment for the German version. In "No Russian" of CoD Modern Warfare 2 the devs had to change the mission, so you can not shoot anyone. The international versions were on the index, which is not equal to a ban, it just restricts advertising and open selling, and selling to underage people, hence the reason Steam usually does not sell games on the Index in one of the biggest markets. In 2008 also a game called KZ-manager got banned and forfeited. Two years ago the usage of Swastikas was allowed in games due to a new classification of a law. Games can now be considered art and for educational reasons the usage is allowed. So I have seen a constant liberalisation in all forms of media over the last 20 years. The question that can be taken from it were: Does a Fallout game need dismemberment to work? Do you need to be able to kill civilians, just to polarize and make a point, if that point even exists? And I can not agree that these games are for adults, the first BG rating was 12 years. Divinity 2's rating was 16 in Germany, 17+ for PEGI. Same for BG3, although this is mostly due to partial nudity and strong language, I suppose. That is hardly adult territory, and even then people can be influenced by this, that is why we have those regulations in the first place. So it being fantasy does not really matter, as there are people that can not differentiate and/or can not put what was seen into context. And these trigger points are different for everyone. In any case an encounter like this can serve a purpose in any game. But apparently the context is limited to the kids throwing stones at an animal and then running away when combat starts. So what is the purpose? Is it educational? Does the game tell you, you did something "wrong"? Companion interactions? Consequences, like aborted quests, NPCs and traders not talking to you, companions leaving, the world knowing you as child killer? That would be considered context in that regard that validated such an interaction, if you get my drift.
Well made points and some I agree with. I get that Germans (for the most part) are extremly sensitive about using swaztikas in games, books etc. For years even over here in the UK, it was hard to find a model kit of say an FW190 that was entirely historically accurate because of the exclusion of swaztikas. Dont get me wrong, that symbol is about nothing more than hate, exclusion and intolerance and I despise it and those that worship it. But in the context of historical exploration, it needs to be represented even if its just to allow an understanding of just why its so utterly vile. If we forget, history could very well repeat. As they say.
Your point about fantasy being put into context I think is the very essential essence of these debates though. Context is everything and to me at least, this is a fantasy game that should not be a reflection of real life. To me, the very inclusion of the option to kill the gobbo kids and not the others is actually pretty powerful. Look at the discussions it has generated. My position is I would not want the choice, I do not want to splat kids as my character is not that kind of ....... character.