The Red Dead Redemption 2 clips that featured players maiming, torturing, and murdering suffragette NPCs have been restored only a day after YouTube had taken them down for violating the company's community guidelines. The move to take down the clips was met with mass social media backlash, prompting YouTube to review the process and eventually overturned its decision.
Red Dead Redemption 2's actual gameplay has been one of the few things about it that had avoided controversy up until yesterday. Developer Rockstar Games was criticized for forcing its staff to work 100 hour work weeks to ship the game on time, prompting some fans to suggest they would be skipping the game altogether. Up until now, the most notable incident based on in-game play was the discovery of a glitched road that causes horses to burst into flame.
The Red Dead Redemption 2 clips in question are united in theme by the way they dive into gratuitous violence against suffragettes, women trying to earn equality within North American society during the time period. Often labelled as attacks against feminists, the clips have proven popular with a certain part of the gaming community, but YouTube moved to take down those videos yesterday due to a breach of acceptable content rules. A spokeswoman stated: "YouTube's community guidelines prohibit among other things, gratuitous violence, nudity, dangerous and illegal activities, and hate speech."
Apparently those guidelines only prohibit these offences if the company doesn't come under fire for them. Following a fan outcry over the deletion, videos such as "Annoying Feminist Fed To Alligator" are now back for viewer consumption, provided they're above 18 years of age. YouTube's head of gaming, Ryan Wyatt, clarified why the company was so quick to overturn its decision on the Red Dead Redemption 2 clips: "The reviewer will be educated on this outcome and on how to avoid repeating this mistake."
That "mistake" was one that was initially reported by the BBC to be made by multiple members of YouTube's staff, only to see their original decision overruled once the company's wider gaming team took the lead on the situation. Now, videos that feature some of the earliest women's rights activists in the west getting run over by trains or dropped down mine shafts are free to populate YouTube's Red Dead Redemption 2 search hits once more.
Some of the clips have eclipsed over 1.5 million views, and one of the most prominent channels affected by the ban, Shirrako Gaming, had 500,000 subscribers flash before their eyes before their channel was restored earlier today. The YouTuber tweeted out a statement that read: "you spend the entire games murdering men and no one cares, punch a woman and you get banned, are you out of your mind @YouTube," and was partially responsible for inciting the backlash that made the company change its mind.
Suffragettes are treated like any other NPC in Red Dead Redemption 2 in that they can be killed by the player character. Shirrako's assessment of the situation is likely a little off; YouTube probably had an issue with the fact that women were being specifically targeted for being outspoken or feminists in these videos, and the whole thing reeks of the misogynistic attitude that has become an unsightly element of the gaming community at large. That attitude certainly won't be stymied by YouTube's decision to cave to its demands, either, and Red Dead Redemption 2's controversial clips will see the light of day once more.