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Sony curbing sexually explicit content in PlayStation games

Stricter rules based in part on the #MeToo movement, the company tells the Journal.

Sony is limiting sexually explicit content in PlayStation 4 video games.
James Martin/CNET

Sony is implementing stricter rules on sexual content in its PlayStation video games, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

The new in-house standards reflect growing concern about the depiction of women in video games.

Sony established its own guidelines "so that creators can offer well-balanced content on the platform" and gaming "does not inhibit the sound growth and development" of young people, a company spokeswoman told the Journal.

Sony representatives told the Journal that its decision was based on the rise of the #MeToo movement, which swept through industries like tech and entertainment, unseating power players such as actors, anchors and venture capitalists accused of sexual assault and harassment. The company is also worried about financial liability.

"Sony is concerned the company could become a target of legal and social action," a Sony representative told the Journal.

The issue came to a head in 2014 with death and rape threats directed at women beginning over the GamerGate controversy, an online campaign against cultural critic Anita Sarkeesian, of the Feminist Frequency web series, and others for challenging the way women are portrayed in video games.

Sarkeesian was forced into hiding and canceled a speaking engagement at Utah State University after the school got emails threatening the "deadliest school shooting in American history" if she appeared.

The PlayStation 4 is the world's most popular video game console, with more than 94 million units sold worldwide. Sony's games division accounts for about one-third of the company's total revenue.

Sony representatives in the US didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.