Regarding Brazier's BBFC Accountability bill, I actually emailed the BBFC about this, asking if they were going to respond and take up issue with him over this.
Whilst they didn't go into detail, saying they would be responding "in due course", I did get the impression that they didn't seem too worried. Letting slip that they didn't think the bill had much support (he has tried this once before after
The feelings I've been getting from other forums is that as the BBFC is already accountable to the government under the VRA, and that if the government really wanted to they could simply designate a different censorship body for home video and computer
games other than the BBFC, then it is not likely this bill will get through as its unnecessary.
British censors have won the right to fight the UK release of video game Manhunt 2 in the High Court.
A judge accepted the BBFC's argument that the game had been approved for release on a misinterpretation of the law.
The game was banned in June but the Video Appeals Committee said the game could be classified and released.
The BBFC said that the VAC had been guilty of "a very serious misdirection of law" on the question of harm.
The judge said: I have taken into account the high public interest in the possibility of harm to children.
Justice Wyn Williams ruled the Board had an arguable case that should go to a full hearing.
Both sides agreed that the game was not suitable for children, but the BBFC argued that if given a certificate for release, it could still end up in the hands of minors.
The judge also suspended the VAC's decision that the game should be classified, halting any possibility of it going on sale until after the High Court challenge, due to take place before 31 January next year.
The BBFC said it would pay any damages that developer Rockstar might suffer as a result of the stay, if the Board loses its legal challenge.
The Board had warned that if the VAC decision had stood, it would have fundamental implications for all of its decisions, including those about unacceptable levels of violence.
Rockstar Games said that Manhunt 2 was well within the bounds established by other 18+ rated entertainment.
Thanks to Shaun who sent a letter to the censors at the BBFC
Re Judicial Review of Manhunt 2 appeal
So Mr. Justice Hooper's legal judgement back in 2000 means nothing to you people?
Mr Justice Hooper made a legal ruling after a case back in 2000 in which your outright censorship of certain content in R18 videos was appealed, and the BBFC lost that appeal. It was an appeal I attended myself, because for many years I have been
interested in the censorship aspect of the work of the BBFC and how it has restricted our rights unnecessarily.
Please remember that Mr Justice Hooper said that a reasonable decision maker could come to the conclusion the Appeals Committee did, regarding the content of R18 videos.
Doesn't this legal precedent also apply in the latest case, involving RockStar Games?
This game may not be your cup of tea, but that is not any reason to stop FREEBORN ADULTS from playing the games they want to play.
I hope Rockstar games TAKE YOU to court for unreasonable restrictions of their right to freedom of expression causing them loss of revenue. Every day this game is not allowed to be released will cost them money, because of piracy etc. You surely aren't
so naive as to believe that your BANNING it will actually prevent people who want it getting hold of a copy do you? Probably by piracy, on download sites, which will cost RockStar money, perhaps money which they may seek to recover from you. After all,
you are a business yourselves aren't you?
I have just signed a petition asking the Prime Minister to leave you people alone:
I think I made a grave mistake. The BBFC should be disbanded, as an insult to freedom of expression of adults. We don't have people reading our books before we can buy them. Why do we need them to read our videos and play our games?
To keep censoring and banning people's video games is surely the easiest way to ensure the future demise of the BBFC as a censor.
The decision has been made by the VAC. You lost the case. Now you should abide by that decision. The judge in a previous appeal case clearly told you that, when you took it to judicial review before. To abide by the committee's decision rather than
anything else, is the law. Mr Justice Hooper told you that, and clarified the position.
You people, along with the politicians who clearly RULE YOU, seem to be more frightened of the likes of John Beyer of Media Watch, and politicians such as Julian Brazier and Keith Vaz who firmly believe in a Spirit in the Sky who no one has ever seen,
who rules over us, whilst letting little children starve to death or get horrendous illnesses. They might as well believe in Santa Clause, The Tooth Fairy, or the Easter Bunny, but it is clear they are trying to use their religious beliefs to set the
censorship agenda Perhaps they should show real proof of widespread manifest and proportionate harm, which no one has EVER done in these cases.
You people, and the politicians who control you, should be more afraid of the younger generation, who I am sure, given the sentiments expressed in various discussions on this issue, will not tolerate such censorship of their videos and games in times to
It isn't 1984 any more. The video material which caused all this censorship in the first place has for the vast majority of cases, now been classified for adult viewing. This shows that the censorship we've had to put up with, , and the role of the BBFC
in that, was never needed in the first place. All such censorship really does these days, is to make it difficult or uneconomic for small video producers to enter the market because of the "classification" fees.
Believe it or not, there ARE RARE censorship decisions you have made that I have personally agreed with. BumFights was one of them. Even then I would trade the loss of our freedom of expression in other areas, for such material being allowed, even if I
personally don't agree with it. Otherwise where will it end, and who sets the limits? Politicians such as Brazier and Vaz with their clear religious agendas? John Beyer of MediaWatch with his expressed desire to throw people in prison for years on end,
just for simple POSSESSION of an R18 video?
What amazes me, is the amount of credence and credibility you appear to give to such people as this, and how you appear to be fearful of them.
A parent, aged 50 with two children aged 13 and 16
Take Two chairman, the fabulously named Strauss Zelnick has made an official statement to the world regarding the British Board of Film Censors' decision to take the Manhunt 2 banning saga to the High Court.
We are disappointed that the BBFC has decided to appeal its own Video Appeals Committee's judgement in favour of an 18-plus certificate for Manhunt 2. We believe the VAC decision was correct and do not understand the BBFC's decision to expend further
public resources to censor a game that contains content well within the bounds established by the BBFC's 18-plus ratings certification , says Strauss in an antiseptic statement.
The BBFC is applying for a judicial review of the decision by the Video Appeals Committee to overturn the Board’s rejection of the video game Manhunt 2. The Board’s challenge also seeks suspension of the Committee’s decision that the game
should be classified.
The BBFC is contesting the VAC judgement because in the Board's view, it is based on an approach to harm which is an incorrect interpretation of the Video Recordings Act. The VAC judgement, if allowed to stand, would have fundamental implications with
regard to all the Board’s decisions, including those turning upon questions of unacceptable levels of violence. If the VAC’s decision is suspended, then the game will not be classified before the outcome of the Judicial Review.
The answer to that is that it's a High Court Judge, sitting in the Administstrative Court. And if a Judicial Review is allowed, any "interpretation" will be of the LAW as it relates to the PROCESS by which the VAC came to it's judgement in
respect of the Manhunt 2 game.
A lawer explains
: A Judicial Review is a type of court proceeding in which a judge reviews the lawfulness of a decision or action made by a public body.
In other words, judicial reviews are a challenge to the way in which a decision has been made, rather than the rights and wrongs of the conclusion reached.
It is not really concerned with the conclusions of that process and whether those were 'right', as long as the right procedures have been followed. The court will not substitute what it thinks is the 'correct' decision.
This may mean that the public body will be able to make the same decision again, so long as it does so in a lawful way."
This is exactly the process which the BBFC followed when they tried (and failed)
to get a VAC judgement ruled unlawful in the case of R18 in 2000.
The BBFC were found to be WRONG in their 'interpretation' of the law with regard to R18 content. PROOF of HARM was the bottom line according to the High Court ruling.
Similarly, PROOF of HARM will be the bottom line (the letter of the law) with regard to violent games. And I predict the BBFC will loose this battle too because there is NO EVIDENCE to suggest people who play violent games go on to commit violent acts.
Indeed, it is those who are not at home playing violent games or watching violent videos, who tend to roam the streets aimlessly looking for 'reespekt' by terrorising little old ladies, or selling hard drugs to kids (or mugging/stabbing/shooting them).
The MD of Rising Star Games, Martin Defries, has responded to criticism levelled at the company following the announcement that forthcoming title No More Heroes would be toned down from the US edition.
Defries has told GamesIndustry.biz that those claims are wide of the mark, because the European edition will be identical to the one just released in Japan, localisation notwithstanding.
There are two versions of No More Heroes that are going to be published in the West, he said.
Ours [Europe], which will be drawn down from our parent company, Marvelous Interactive, which is directly from the Japanese iteration of the game, and there will be a version in the US that is a full-on gore, beheadings, dismemberment…and it seems
some confusion has come to the fore in the past few days as to which version Rising Star Games will publish.
Why the decision [to add in additional gory detail to the US release] has been made is a difficult one for me to comment on - that's a Ubisoft decision for the North American market.
Disappointingly the initial download release is restricted to the US, but maybe the wider release promised will be available in the UK.
Perhaps it will have an impact at the BBFC, particularly as they have sometimes cut stunt movies on worries of the stupidity being tried at home. Download movies can legally bypass the BBFC, but there is voluntary ratings scheme if companies feel that it
is beneficial to get BBFC approval.
Jackass 2.5 , the third in the series of stunt movies featuring Johnny Knoxville and copious amounts of nudity, is to become the first studio-backed feature film to receive its premiere on the web.
Paramount Pictures is hoping that it can open up a new stream of web-based revenue when it makes the one-hour plus film available free of charge on December 19.
Customers will have to watch several 15 or 30-second advertisements before being able to watch the movie, which will be streamed rather than downloaded. Viacom, Paramount's parent company, is also aiming to attract traffic to the jackassworld.com site,
which offers archival episodes of the MTV 'Jackass' series from five years ago.
The new film will feature new material, as well as previously unseen outtakes from the second Jackass film.
The film is not rated and the online version will only sold with 'age verification technology' that attempts to ensure viewers are 17 or older.
Movie industry experts said that the film reflected a new desire on the studios' part to embrace the idea of releasing free, ad-supported content - partly as a consequence of their failure to prevent films being circulated on illegal file-sharing sites.
On December 26, the 'download to own' version of film will go on sale on iTunes and Amazon for between $10-15 and a DVD featuring 45 minutes of extras will also be available for $30.
In January other ad-supported streaming sites, such as Joost, will start showing the film, followed by a broader release through the video-on-demand services of cable and satellite networks in February.
Following the decision by the Video Appeals Committee to allow the appeal by Rockstar against the BBFC’s rejection of the game by a majority of four to three, David Cooke, Director of the BBFC said: The BBFC will carefully study the
judgement by the Video Appeals Committee when it becomes available.
The BBFC exercises great vigilance and care in ensuring that all violent games which are submitted to us are correctly classified. Our decisions are based on published guidelines, which are the result of very wide public consultation. The Board also
provides very full content information to the public, including parents, about the videogames which it classifies. We recently launched a new website for parents, PBBFC, in addition to the main website and our websites for children and students.
The BBFC twice rejected Manhunt 2 for its focus on varied and cumulative killings. We recognize that rejection is a very serious step, in which the desire of publishers to market their games, and that of gamers to buy them, must be balanced
against the public interest, including the full range of possible harm risks to vulnerable individuals and to any children who may be wrongly exposed to such games. Such balancing judgements are inevitably complex and multi-faceted, and are made only
after very careful consideration of the contents of a work. We played Manhunt 2 for well over 30 hours prior to our decision.
The Board recognizes that the available research findings on the effects of video games (including positive as well as harmful effects) are varied and contested. But we continue to believe that a broad approach to the possible risks is needed, which goes
beyond purely behavioural harm, and which also takes account of other possible effects on the sensibilities and attitudes of individuals.
British Board of Film Classification (Accountability to Parliament and Appeals)
Mr. Julian Brazier, supported by Mr. John Gummer, Keith Vaz, Miss Ann Widdecombe, Mr. Jim Hood, Stephen Pound, Mr. John Hayes, Mr. Lindsay Hoyle, Mrs. Nadine Dorries, Jim Dobbin, Mr. David Burrowes and Mr. Greg Hands, presented a Bill to make provision
for parliamentary scrutiny of senior appointments to the British Board of Film Classification and of guidelines produced by it; to establish a body with powers to hear appeals against the release of videos and DVDs and the classification of works in
prescribed circumstances; to make provision about penalties for the distribution of illegal works; and for connected purposes: And the same was read the First time; and ordered to be read a Second time on Friday 29 February, and to be printed.
Now might be the time to start speaking out against this.
The computer games trade group, Entertainment and Leisure Software Publisher's Association (ELSPA) has responded to a private member's bill presented by Julian Brazier MP.
This Bill highlights the importance of the classification of the visual entertainment industry, ELSPA said in a statement: The correct classification of computer games made for adult consumption - covered by the BBFC - is of the utmost
importance to the computer games industry.
ELSPA is requesting a meeting with Brazier to ensure that the bill takes their concerns into account.
Julian Brazier, in a letter to Conservative Policy Coordinator Oliver Letwin, has urged that an incoming Conservative Government shall take action on the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC). He is concerned that the BBFC is
unreliable in preventing scenes of violence from reaching our screens at a suitable rating.
The letter read: In light of David Cameron’s recent comment: “Protection of childhood innocence against premature sexualisation is something worth fighting for I would like to make a submission to policy review. I recently
had a look at the annual report of the British Board of Film Classification - I believe that it is time to shake them up. The failure to rate films suitably can lead to the portrayal of topics and themes in a way that may encourage their wider use.
The BBFC is good at controlling scenes of drug use. They allow only scenes of drug use that put a negative spin on recreational drug taking. Their stance on the portrayal of violence is pretty weak, however. Examples are films such
as Green Street and The Football Factory , both rated ‘18’ and containing strong violence in the context of a popular past time. The BBFC says of The Football Factory : passed ‘18’ for the strong violence … that featured in its
tale of violent men attempting to profit from criminal activities Is this a theme that we want anyone, let alone 18 year olds to be watching? With the hooligan culture already wrecking some British football matches, do we need such films?
I believe in a free country but incitement to violence is unacceptable. House of Wax , a ‘stalk and slash’ film, rated ‘15’, contains occasional moments of strong gore and violence but was limited to a ‘15’ rating due
to the formulaic and predictable story, its fantastical setting, and its generally restrained treatment of the violence. Should the fact that it is in a fantastical setting be a reason for keeping any film as a ‘15’? Just because a film is not set
in the current world does not mean that 15 and 16 year olds will not attempt to copy dangerous action sequences.
In some cases, previously cut material is being reinstated. For example: American Gothic which was originally cut in 1987; Not of this Earth , 1988; and the 1994 film Dracula’s Widow , all had scenes of
sexualised violence reinstated. The reason given was, a lack of sufficient eroticised detail to raise concerns under either the current BBFC Guidelines or contemporary understanding of the relevant research and policy.
The BBFC should be reformed and its guidelines strengthened. In too many cases its censors appear to have been lacking the mettle to deal robustly with the film industry’s nastier output. Only one recent chairman has stood up to the
film industry – Andreas Whittam Smith – and he lost some bad cases under the appeal arrangements. Surely there is scope for reform here.
Also.. it seems he's tried this once before, remember the controversy surrounding the film Crash in the late 90's? He tried to do the same thing then, but was dealt a suitable
rebuttal by then chief censor James Ferman
Thanks to IanG:
We are failing
All hope is fading
For our liberal democracy
Do we have Nazis
And religious halfwits
Filling all our Parliamentary seats?
Six hundred 'visions'
But no sound decisions
Just pass a new law every week
Try 'hate' prevention
Ninety day detention
Ban demonstrations and end Free Speech!
Five million spy cams
All up and down the land
But they can't stop kids shooting kids
Now they blame games and films for all our 'sins'
The banks are empty
Lost all our pennies
In Brown's 'wonder' economy
Looks like its over
In mortgage foreclosure
For all that Sub Prime economic greed
So look ahead guys
And watch the headlines
For their next big knee-jerk thing
It could be Pros. on crack
Or school truants on smack
Whatever, its all just Spin!
Yeah we are sailing
With no bearing
On an ocean made of spin
You know the statute
Is in total disrepute
When Judges can't tell if you broke the thing!
Now where's our Rights gone
From that Constitution?
They were there before the 'Hand of Blair'
Don't we NEED them?
No Rights or Freedoms?
For the People, our Politicians don't care...!
For the People, our Politicians don't care...!
For the People, our Politicians don't care...!
Angelina Jolie has said she is surprised her latest movie Beowulf
has received a 12A certificate in the UK.
It's remarkable it has the rating it has, she told reporters at
its British premiere: It's quite an extraordinary film, and some of
it shocked me.
Jolie said it was not graphic for the sake of
being graphic. I think it's beautifully done. It's amazing, and very
Jolie said she would not be taking her own children to see the film.
The BBFC explained their decision as follows with spoiler warnings.
Beowulf is a full length animated
feature based on the epic Old English heroic poem. The film was
classified ‘12A’ for moderate violence and sex references.
The majority of the violence is fantastical, involving Beowulf fighting
against various monsters. Although we see the monsters being slain, the
violence does not dwell on detail and is firmly set within the
narrative context rather than gratuitous. Although blood is sometimes
shown, there is no emphasis on injuries or blood and the blood of the
monsters in particular is often shown in stylised colours. There is
very little human-to-human violence, although at one point a man is
torn apart by a monster (shown only in silhouette) and we briefly see
his body being flung onto the floor. The fighting and violence is very
similar to that found in parts of the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy (the
second and third instalments of which were also classified ‘12A’).
The film also contains a number of moderate sex references. These
mostly comprise bawdy, good-humoured singing and boasting about
'wenches'. There is also a discreet seduction scene in which a largely
naked woman makes gestures that subtly imply the masturbation of a man.
Given the discreet and symbolic nature of the scene this was not felt
to contravene the BBFC's Guidelines at '12A' which state that 'Sexual
activity may be implied Sex references may reflect what is likely to be
familiar to most adolescents but must not go beyond what is suitable
it was made in 1958, the censors considered the film Dracula so
terrifying they refused to allow adults to watch the full, uncut
The Hammer film, starring Christopher Lee, was remarkable for its
pioneering combination of fantasy, sexuality – and unprecedented gore.
But since then, a lot of blood has flowed under the cinematic bridge.
So much so that the movie once deemed too scary for grown-ups has now
been passed by Britain's film censors as suitable for children.
In 1958, after the more shocking scenes were cut, Dracula was approved
with an X certificate, restricting it to over-16s. It went on to become
a huge hit, revitalising the horror genre.
Almost 50 years after the initial controversy it is being re-released
in British cinemas with a 12A certificate with an advisory note for
parents that it includes "mild" horror.
Harry Potter is probably scarier than Dracula, said Sue Clark,
BBFC's head of communications. She said times had changed since the
original Hammer films came out: Without being disrespectful, because
I thoroughly enjoy them, they are not that scary and they are not
actually that gory – I suppose you might describe them as camp.
Dracula is a classic 1950s British
adaptation of Bram Stoker's vampire novel Dracula. It was
originally classified 'X' for cinema release in 1958 (meaning that
persons under 16 should not be admitted) and was subsequently
classified '15' for release on video. In terms of current
classification standards it was felt that the film could now be
classified at '12A' for cinema re-release for mild bloody horror.
BBFC Guidelines at '12A' state that 'Violence must not dwell on detail.
There should be no emphasis on injuries or blood. Sustained moderate
threat and menace are permitted'. Although the film contains some sight
of blood (most notably when a vampire is killed using a stake), there
is no emphasis upon blood and injuries. Furthermore, although the film
is atmospheric and generates some sense of threat, this is moderate in
nature and distanced by the period setting and by the familiarity of
the story, other versions of which have been classified at 'PG'.
BBFC note that Wii's motion sensing hasn't affected censorship so far
BBFC has gone on record to say that the Manhunt 2's use of the
Wii motion-sensing controller had no impact on its decision to ban the
Speaking to MCV, the BBFC explained that the use of the Wii's
motion-sensing controller - speculated by some to be a reason for
encouraging the ban, given that it suggests more interactivity - did
not impact the body's decision to stop the game going on sale.
Under certain circumstances and in certain contexts it is possible
that motion-sensing devices might have an effect on category decisions,
explained Gianni Zamo, senior examiner, but added: It is not a prime
consideration for at the moment and has not affected any Wii games we
have passed so far.
On the topic of Manhunt, he explained: We certainly didn't single
out the Wii version of Manhunt 2 from the PS2 version on the basis that
users could stimulate the delivery of a blow more realistically than
the hand-controller of the PS2. Indeed, motion-sensing devices are
nothing new. Prior to the release of the Wii nobody had ever expressed
concern that one could buy peripherals such as pistols or
flight/driving controls to add to the game experience.
interviewed Gianni Zamo, a senior examiner at the BBFC
You are are preparing to review your guidelines for games to help
differentiate them from how you rate films. Will this be noticeable
when it comes to rating games?
BBFC: We have not reviewed our guidelines
on games yet. This will form part of a review of all of the guidelines
over the next year. In any event, we are not harsher on games than we
are on films though problems generally arise where it can be difficult
to make a contextual defence for a game as opposed to a film.
Many game narratives are often fractured and detached from the
interactive element of the game, making it difficult to see them as a
whole, coherent piece. Trying to understand the context of a 40 plus
hour game (even with a storyline) is very different from understanding
a 90 minute movie.
MCV: Does the interactivity of violent
games mean that their influence differs to violent films?
BBFC: The Board is narrative/context
sensitive in its deliberations. Interactivity may have an influence in
certain contexts though our recent research seems to suggest that this
is not a key issue for most users. Where ‘interactivity’ can be an
issue is the question of who the player identifies with.
film censors are facing controversy over their decision to allow one of
the most violent movies of recent years to be screened without any cuts.
Eastern Promises, directed by David Cronenberg, includes scenes
said to be so gruesome that, at its British premiere last week, members
of the audience gasped and turned away from the screen. But it was
awarded an 18 certificate without any cuts because BBFC has introduced a
policy of not removing violence from films, except in a few cases, such
as explicit scenes of rape.
The board has become so liberal towards violence that some of its former
leaders are said to be concerned. It is now out of step with public
opinion, said Mike Bor, the BBFC’s chief examiner from 1983 to 2000.
The sequences in Eastern Promises, which centres on the Russian
mafia in London, include one in which a knife is twisted repeatedly and
gleefully into a man’s eye and two showing victims having their throats
cut in graphic detail.
Andreas Whittam Smith, a former president of the BBFC, said he had not
seen Eastern Promises but that when he ran the board, from 1998
to 2002, he had used an “unofficial test” to decide on cuts: If I
thought this was the type of film that was likely to make people leave
the cinema, or even make them have to look away for quite a while, then
I would question why the scene should be left in.
This weekend, the BBFC stood by its decision. Scenes that make people
turn away are part of the fun of going to movies, a spokesman said.
The board added: These days we are not here to cut; we are here to
provide information and let people then make up their minds . . . People
also have expectations of what a Cronenberg film is.
Eastern Promises, starring Viggo Mortensen and Naomi Watts goes on
general release next weekend, after its premiere at the London Film
EASTER PROMISES is a mystery thriller set
against a backdrop of London’s organised crime fraternity. It was
passed ‘18’ for strong bloody violence.
The BBFC’s Guidelines at ‘15’ state that ‘violence may be strong but
may not dwell on the infliction of pain or injury’. In EASTERN
PROMISES there are three key scenes of extremely visceral violence,
two images of throats being slit and one of a man's eye being
viciously and repeatedly stabbed. These images focus on the actual
process of violence in bloody detail and with a clear element of
sadism which goes beyond what is suitable at ‘15’ but is suitable for
adults at ‘18’.
EASTERN PROMISES also contains frequent use of strong language, a
single sex scene which lacks strong detail and references to the rape
of an underage girl. Finally the film makes reference to the forced
use of heroin on an underage teenage girl brought into England with
others to work as prostitutes for criminal gangs.
I found A History of Violence to be a
good movie, but Eastern Promises is crafted into something even
better. The acting by Viggo Mortensen is outstanding, even Oscar
worthy, while Naomi Watts and Armin Mueller-Stahl lend good work as
The movie is just the right length at about
1 hour and 45 minutes. It doesn't feel rushed or too long.
The movie is gory and brutal, but not nearly
as violent as I expected going in. If you liked A History of
Violence or mob films in general, this film should land on your
best of 2007 list.
the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Restrict the powers of the
BBFC with regard to the banning of videogames.
The BBFC have recently refused to rate the videogame "Manhunt 2". As
such, adults in this country will never be allowed to play this game.
Adults should be allowed to make their own decisions with regard to what
videogames they want to play. We all understand that this game is
extremely violent and unsuitable for children. As such an 18 rating
should have been applied.
The petition closed with 3006
signatures and received the following government response:
The British Board of
Film Classification (BBFC) considers all works - whether film, video
or game - submitted to it against a set of guidelines (available on
its website - www.bbfc.co.uk). The guidelines take into account the
law and also public opinion. This means that the guidelines can and do
change periodically, reflecting changing public opinion.
The BBFC considered Manhunt 2 and concluded that, within the current
guidelines, it could not be given a classification. The BBFC takes its
responsibilities very seriously and it uses its powers to reject works
extremely rarely. Details can be found on its website.
There is an appeals procedure which the game's producers are
The Government is satisfied with the BBFC's procedure and with the
provisions for appeal, and will not be intervening in this process.
The Government has recently announced a review aimed at helping
parents ensure that their children are protected from exposure to
inappropriate material in games. This is not intended to restrict the
choice of material available to adults.
The BBFC has rejected the video game
Manhunt 2. This means that it cannot be legally supplied anywhere
in the UK. The game was submitted in both a PS2 and a Nintendo Wii
version. The decision was taken by the Director and the Presidential
Team of Sir Quentin Thomas, Lord Taylor of Warwick and Janet
David Cooke, Director of the BBFC said: Rejecting a work is a very
serious action and one which we do not take lightly. Where possible we
try to consider cuts or, in the case of games, modifications which
remove the material which contravenes the Board’s published Guidelines.
In the case of Manhunt 2 this has not been possible. Manhunt 2
is distinguishable from recent high-end video games by its unremitting
bleakness and callousness of tone in an overall game context which
constantly encourages visceral killing with exceptionally little
alleviation or distancing. There is sustained and cumulative casual
sadism in the way in which these killings are committed, and encouraged,
in the game.
Although the difference should not be exaggerated the fact of the
game’s unrelenting focus on stalking and brutal slaying and the sheer
lack of alternative pleasures on offer to the gamer, together with the
different overall narrative context, contribute towards differentiating
this submission from the original Manhunt game. That work was
classified ‘18’ in 2003, before the BBFC’s recent games research had
been undertaken, but was already at the very top end of what the Board
judged to be acceptable at that category.
Against this background, the Board’s carefully considered view is
that to issue a certificate to Manhunt 2, on either platform,
would involve a range of unjustifiable harm risks, to both adults and
minors, within the terms of the Video Recordings Act, and accordingly
that its availability, even if statutorily confined to adults, would be
unacceptable to the public.
The BBFC has stated that there
was no political influence in the decision to ban Rockstar's Manhunt
The original Manhunt caused a media frenzy following release when
it was unfairly linked by the press to the murder of teenager Stefan
However, the BBFC's Sue Clark has told GamesIndustry.biz that past
incidents have not influenced the decision to deny the sequel to UK
That had nothing to do with this decision, absolutely not, said
Clark: We are independent of government and independent of the
industry and we reached this decision based on our guidelines and our
concerns and not on any other basis at all.
Recent research by the BBFC showed that negative press surrounding
controversial games actually encourages sales. A UK ban of Manhunt 2
would not be able to stop dedicated consumers importing copies on
Banned in Ireland
Ireland has joined the UK in banning
the violent video game Manhunt 2.
The Irish Film Censors Office (IFCO) said it contained gross acts of
violence, making it the first video game to be banned in the State: A
prohibition order has been made by IFCO in relation to the video game
Manhunt 2. The Order was made under Sec 7 (1) (b) of the Video
Recordings Act 1989 which refers to acts of gross violence or cruelty
(including mutilation and torture).
IFCO recognises that in certain films, DVDs and video games, strong
graphic violence may be a justifiable element within the overall context
of the work. However, in the case of Manhunt 2, IFCO believes
that there is no such context, and the level of gross, unrelenting and
gratuitous violence is unacceptable.
Rockstar Games today said that it “emphatically disagrees” with the
decision to ban Manhunt 2 from stores in the UK.
The subject matter of 'Manhunt 2' is in line with other mainstream
entertainment choices for adult consumers, the company said,
stressing that the game is aimed at over-18s and not children: Manhunt 2
is an entertainment experience for fans of psychological thrillers and
horror. The subject matter of this game is in line with other mainstream
entertainment choices for adult consumers.
The statement added: We respect those who have different opinions about
the horror genre and video games as a whole, but we hope they will also
consider the opinions of the adult gamers for whom this product is
We believe all products should be rated to allow the public to make
informed choices about the media and art they wish to consume.
The company will consider over the next few days whether or not to
launch an appeal, a spokesman said.
Rated 'Adults Only' in USA
The Entertainment Software Rating
Board (ESRB) has given Manhunt 2 an AO rating, the highest rating
which will severely restrict its sale in the U.S.
The problems arise from the fact that the major U.S retailers do not
stock games with an AO rating.
Although this is only an initial rating, giving the publishers Take Two
a chance to modify the game, it is difficult to see what can be done to
mollify the censors.
A Take-Two representative commented: Manhunt 2 was created for
mature audiences and we strongly believe it should receive an M (Mature)
rating, aligning it with similar content created in other forms of
media. We are exploring our options with regard to the rating of
Both Sony and Nintendo state that they
do not allow adult rated games on their systems and so will not allow
the release of Manhunt 2
Politicians on a Manhunt for Scapegoats...
comments on the game ban
From a letter by Shaun to his MP
That unelected and totally
undemocratic quango, "The British Board Of Film Classification" (C=
CENSORS really) has refused a "classification certificate" to the
RockStar video game Manhunt 2 which means it cannot be legally
sold in the country.
This game was only targeted at adults, not children, and was seeking an
"18" rated certificate.
Perhaps they didn't want people to play it, in case they become a future
Prime Minister, start illegal wars, and cause the death of 18 year old
soldiers and foreign civilians.
Oh the absolute hypocrisy of it all!
It stinks to high heaven.
In any case, who elected the sanctimonious BBFC people for goodness sake
? I know I didn't.
If people let children (younger than 18 years) old play such games,
should there not be a duty of care imposed on them not to do that,
rather than impose CENSORSHIP AND PROHIBITION ON FREEBORN ADULTS?
I notice that some prisoners are being released. No doubt this is to
make way for the new criminals which will be created when New Nanny's
"Dangerous Pictures Act" becomes law, which (quite unnecessarily I
think) makes some types of pornographic material illegal to posses.
I am ever more conscious that we do not live in any kind of free society
and our current politicians are completely responsible for this. More
and more people are becoming aware of it too. You should consider this
Censorship is a tool used by REPRESSIVE GOVERNMENTS around the world,
not the custodians of a so called FREE (?) society whose duty it should
be, to respect, protect and enhance those freedoms whenever possible.
Human rights anyone?
What a complete joke.
Why do politicians generally love censorship ? Is it because the media
offers them wonderful scapegoat they can blame, for society's ills that
they can't otherwise do anything about ? Censorship gives them the
opportunity to announce: We are doing something about this filth etc.
But it doesn't work you know. Countries who really value their citizens
right to free choice in the media, generally have far less crime than we
Another Melon Farmer, JAK, has also
posted comments on a MySpace blog
A Playstation 2/Nintendo Wii game
called Manhunt 2 has been banned in the UK by the BBFC. It has
also been banned in Ireland by their board of classification.
The game is about a patient of some
dodgy medical facility who manages to escape some unethical treatment
with the help of another patient. You, playing as the patient, are then
hunted by the medical facilities employees who seek to kill you. Your
response, goaded on by your saviour, is to turn the tables and kill you
tormentors in various unpleasant ways.
The game has two endings - the bad
ending if you are very proficient at killing people in horrid ways, or
the good ending which is caused by a more vanilla way of burning the
The creators of the game had designed
the game for a strictly adult audience, the sort of people who enjoy
movies like Saw and Hostel.
Banned in Italy...
minister also hunts for Euro-wide ban of Manhunt 2
From past experience, Germany, Australia and New
Zealand are all likely to ban it too.
Rockstar Games is delaying its latest
controversial game, Manhunt 2, after it was banned by three
European countries and slapped with an adults only "AO" rating in the
U.S. that would essentially prevent it from being released.
Italy became the latest European government to ban the title, in which
players control an inmate escaping a mental asylum who gruesomely
murders guards and other prisoners along the way.
Though it didn't provide further details, Rockstar and parent company
Take 2 most likely will try to edit the game in order to garner an M
rating in the US and to pass the muster of foreign governments.
As it currently stands, Manhunt 2 could be barred across all of
Europe. Italo Communications Minister Paolo Gentiloni said that he has
filed a complaint with the Interactive Software Federation of Europe,
which will address a potential Europe-wide ban. Gentiloni's office said
in a statement that the Brussels-based org has agreed to address whether
Manhunt 2 should be allowed on the European market at a meeting
on to be attended by Vivianne Reding, the EU commissioner for
information, society and media.
Critics have taken particular exception to Manhunt 2's controls
on the Wii, arguing that the console's motion-sensing "Wii-mote" allows
players to act out grisly murders even more directly than on a standard
Banned in Switzerland...
Government to re-examine violent games
There were also rumours that an unnamed source from
Rockstar Games said that Rockstar intended to appeal the BBFC decision
Manhunt 2 not distributed in
From Sawf News
The Swiss Interactive Entertainment
Association (SIEA), which groups leading manufacturers of consoles and
software, decided not to distribute Manhunt 2, which is to be
launched in Europe in mid-July.
The SIEA said the game: exceeds what is tolerable as regards the
representation of violence.
SIEA chief Roger Frei said that in deciding not to distribute Manhunt
2 the industry had shown a sense of responsibility and was no longer
prepared to accept just anything, despite respect for artistic freedoms.
The SIEA includes console makers Sony Computer Entertainment, Microsoft
and Nintendo, as well as Swiss offshoots of software companies
Electronic Arts, Ubisoft, Atari and Koch Media.
The nutter MP Keith Vaz raised the
issue of Manhunt 2 being banned by the BBFC in Parliamentary
questions this week, as well as the withdrawal of PC title Law and
Order: Double or Nothing, which contained an image of murdered toddler
James Bulger: Will the Leader of the House please tell us when he
expects a statement to be made... or when we may have a debate on the
social responsibilities of those who make a huge amount of money out of
Jack Straw admitted the BBFC falls
under his responsibility, and that violence in games is a subject that
is likely to be further examined by the UK Government.
We do not see sufficient social responsibility and understanding by
the creators and purveyors of such games, commented Straw.
On forums around the web the current
fear is that the game will be sanitised. Some people are hoping that the
full game will be ported to the PC so that it can be released in the USA
as an AO (Adult Only) rated game. At the moment Microsoft, Nintendo and
Sony will not allow AO titles to be released on their gaming consoles.
In my own opinion: now I really want to play the game as it was
originally intended. I have no desire for a sanitised version so I'm
hoping that pirate copies are made available in the UK if the game
cannot ever be released here as it was meant to be
Bennett voices concerns about BBFC
Maybe also interesting that such coordinating banning
of this game coincidently immediately followed a meeting of EU justice ministers
in Luxembourg. The meeting was to discuss possible regulation of what
they refer to as “killer games.”
Roger Bennett, the former director
general of UK games regulator ELSPA has told MCV that he hopes the firm
understands the long-term implications of supporting the BBFC’s decision
to ban Manhunt 2 – and that he believes both the government and
BBFC have become heavily influenced by anti-game prejudice.
I hope that ELSPA’s response to the BBFC’s decision not to grant a
rating to Manhunt 2 was not made without recognising the long
term possible effects of such an action, as pointed out by Stuart Dinsey
last week, Bennett told MCV.
It is most interesting to note that the guidelines used in reaching
this decision by the BBFC includes the assumed criteria that because
games are interactive, they are different to other forms of screen
entertainment and should be rated accordingly.
There is no evidence for it to make such a flawed assumption. Games are
becoming increasingly and wholly unjustifiably separated from other
forms of screen entertainment. It seems to me that the Government and
thus the BBFC have become heavily influenced by previous events which in
no way have any link to our industry.
When a piece of art or entertainment
is the recipient of a ban, one can't help but begin to build up a grisly
mental picture of what it holds in store for its audience. Usually, this
perception is far worse than the reality.
I fell foul of this before being allowed to play a copy of Manhunt 2,
published by Rockstar Games, which was recently judged too gruesome for
release by the British Board of Film Certification (BBFC). As I entered
a Rockstar HQ's darkened play-area, kitted out with a couple of
wide-screen TVs and Nintendo and Sony consoles, I was nervous about the
kind of gaming experience I was in for. I expected to be shocked and
appalled. Possibly terrified and nauseated.
So is Manhunt 2 as bad as is implied by the BBFC's refusal to
grant it a classification? It is a macabre and graphically violent game
– even though the graphics aren't photo-realistic. It also differs from
its predecessor with a stronger narrative, more fluid controls and
players are able to use parts of their environment to dispatch opponents
(such as drowning them in a barrel of water). Playing Manhunt 2
is admittedly an exciting and visceral experience.
But overall, one would be hard-pressed to point to a single visual,
plot-driven or thematic aspect of the game as proof that it's deserving
of an outright ban. Yes, "stalking and brutal slaying" are key game-play
features and the action is vicious and violent throughout – but these
are criticisms that could easily be aimed at the first Manhunt
game, which the BBFC saw fit to release into circulation (albeit with an
There might someday be a game deserving of a full-blown ban, but
Manhunt 2 is not that game. In light of the fact that the BBFC
cleared its predecessor for public consumption, it's hard to understand
their decision to refuse a classification for Manhunt 2 when the
game's core elements, (which the BBFC say offer a "sheer lack of
alternative pleasures"), remain unchanged from the original.
Why it is necessary to ban games
intended for players 18+?
From Game Politics
Rockstar have written to
GameIndusty.biz responding to a pro-censorship article,
We are still exploring our options for Manhunt 2, but how does
banning our game support the industry or further the development of the
a ban is a triumph for the industry’s harshest critics, not an act of
diplomacy. A ban is only likely to encourage those who believe video
games, already the most regulated medium in entertainment history,
should be further restricted.
What about games make them deserve special treatment from the
authorities? …Yes, we have responsibilities as an industry… Creative
industries have always faced harsh political and legal criticism…
We believe in a well-run ratings system. With the best rating system in
history and the future of the industry and medium at stake, we don’t
understand why it is necessary to effectively ban all games intended for
players 18 and older.
Take Two, the company behind Edinburgh
games designers Rockstar North, has vowed to release the controversial
game Manhunt 2 uncensored.
Take-Two said it would stand by the title, though it suggested some cuts
would be made.
Speaking to shareholders, chairman Strauss Zelman said: We have
hundreds of extraordinarily talented people who have worked on this
title for three years. Supporting their creative vision and bringing it
to consumers as unvarnished as possible is crucial to us.We
don't see ourselves in the 'adults only' business.
Rockstar Games has confirmed the
filing of an official appeal against the BBFC ban of their game
Two months ago the BBFC rejected the game giving Rockstar six weeks to
consider an appeal or reapplication based on cuts made to the game.
Sounds like Rockstar want to get Manhunt 2 onto UK store shelves
as it is though.
If Rockstar is, or possibly even if not, successful there may be a
similar appeal in the US in an attempt to overrule the AO rating given
in that market.
Founder and current boss of Rockstar
Leeds, Gordon Hall, has warned other video games firms that they should
rally behind the developer against the BBFC’s decision to ban Manhunt
2 – or face similar prohibition in the future.
Hall told the magazine Develop that the outlawing of the title
was an attack on our industry and has the potential to affect
other freedom of expression across the industry: I think the games
industry should rally behind us, because there will come a time when
we’ll all have an idea that’s a little edgy, and we need to have the
freedoms to express it.
We are an adult entertainment industry – we may have started out with
child-like technology making games solely for a younger audience, but
it’s just not like that anymore. It might take legislature a little
while to catch up, but if the industry sticks together hopefully we can
change people’s attitudes quicker.
Rockstar Games today announced it will
release Manhunt 2 in North America on October 31 2007.
This announcement follows the
submission of a modified version of Manhunt 2 to the
Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), who has now rated the title
"M" for Mature for ages 17 and older.
In June, Take-Two was compelled to suspend the release of the horror
title when the ESRB issued an AO (Adults Only) rating.
Manhunt 2 is important to us, and we're glad it can finally be
appreciated as a gaming experience, said Sam Houser, founder and
executive producer of Rockstar Games: We love the horror genre.
Manhunt 2 is a powerful piece of interactive story telling that is a
unique video game experience. We think horror fans will love it.
Along with the Mature rating, the ESRB also assigned the following
content descriptors to Manhunt 2: Blood and Gore, Intense
Violence, Strong Language, Strong Sexual Content and Use of Drugs.
The Manhunt 2 fallout continues
as California State Senator Leland Yee (D) issues a call for the ESRB to
explain its about-face on Manhunt 2 and backs an earlier demand
for a federal investigation into the matter.
Yee, of course, is the architect of California’s 2005 video game law,
which was recently declared unconstitutional by a federal judge.
Yee said: Parents can’t trust a
rating system that doesn’t even disclose how they come to a particular
rating. The ESRB and Rockstar should end this game of secrecy by
immediately unveiling what content has been changed to grant the new
rating and what correspondence occurred between the ESRB and Rockstar to
come to this conclusion. Unfortunately, history shows that we must be
quite skeptical of these two entities.
Clearly the ESRB has a conflict of interest in rating these games. I
join the [Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood] in urging the
Federal Trade Commission to investigate the process by which Manhunt
2’s rating was downgraded from AO to M.
Theory 1: The
whole things a scam! Manhunt 2’s content hasn’t changed at all.
Take-Two and the ESRB are in cahoots to placate the industry’s
Rockstar did something simple but drastic like fading to black during
Theory 3: There was only one kill or sexual situation
that earned the game an AO in the first place. Maybe all Rockstar had
to do was remove the testicle trauma or put some underwear on a bordello
Theory 4: Rockstar intentionally put in some truly
over the top and obnoxious sex and/or violence that they never intended
to have in the game. It was included solely to have something to cut
out when the ESRB balked.
the commercial ban on adult games doing more harm than good?
All the US achieves by commercially banning adult
ratings is that violent content gets forced into M rated games or R
From Game Politics
The game industry finds itself under a
microscope. The issue of sales to children is a big one for critics like
Leland Yee and the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. And for the
Federal Trade Commission, which studies the industry’s marketing
practices in relation to kids.
For their part, the console makers don’t want to be accused of licensing
porn on a machine that’s sold at Toys’R'Us. The major game publishers
are largely public corporations that don’t want to be seen as being in
the porn creation business, either.
And it’s not just the Big Three console makers. Even if Nintendo, Sony
and Microsoft were willing to license the AO version of Manhunt 2
to run on their systems, major retailers would not stock an adults only
The dilemma is steeped in culture, politics, finance and technology but
it’s time to start the dialogue.
Surprisingly, State Senator Leland
Yee, a frequent critic of the video game industry, agrees with many of
these points. Adam Keigwin, one of Yee’s top aides said:
Senator Yee would agree with
[Georgia Tech Professor] Ian Bogost that the consoles should allow
play of AO rated games. The parental controls are necessary however.
Dr. Yee has always said that the industry has a right to make
extremely violent games and to sell them to adults.
His issue has consistently been
about protecting children and eliminating their access to the most
violent games without their parents’ knowledge.
Another problem with this whole
ratings mess is that the ESRB just refuses to use the AO rating for
violence despite the descriptor calling for such a rating when there
are “graphic depictions of violence.” If Manhunt doesn’t
qualify, what would?
Rockstar’s Manhunt 2 may soon
enjoy a bone fide release in Europe – albeit only in Holland.
The Dutch Ministry has declined to intervene in the title’s path to
retail in the territory – as it would conflict with current Netherlands
In a letter to Parliament, Justice Minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin said:
The current law is based on the principle that every adult is considered
capable of deciding for himself which games he wants to play, unless it
contains illegal material.
Deciding on whether children should be
allowed to play a game is currently the joint responsibility of
parents, the audiovisual industry and the government, he continued.
He said that his ministry was now examining whether new laws or policies
were needed to better protect the youth.
Hirsch Ballin also pleaded for a unified EU standard for video game
A group of hackers called Team Slonik
have posted the uncut version of Manhunt 2 on the internet, and
it's now snaking its way through the interwebs via Bittorrent.
It's the PS2 version of the game, furthermore, according to the release
notes, this is a beta version of Manhunt 2.
Needless to say, this couldn't have happened at a more sensitive time
for the games industry. The past week has seen Gordon Brown and other
politicians making several statements about videogames and violence, and
the shadow of the ban-hammer is looming over all of us. Having such a
controversial title leaking into public domain is going to turn up the
heat on everybody concerned, not least of all Rockstar.
Like every other right-minded person, we vehemently disagree with the
BBFC's decision to deny Manhunt 2 a certification. But if Team Slonik
think they're doing us a favour by leaking it onto the interweb, they're
very much mistaken.
ign.com have compared the banned AO
version of Manhunt 2 with the recently reclassified M rated
version. They detail the changes as follows:
The majority of main gameplay
functions are intact, violence, gore and all. If Danny beats a hunter
with a mace, the carnage will play out uncensored, and blood will
splatter onto the main character's clothes.
But there have been some unfortunate
content omissions, too. When we first wrote about Manhunt 2, we
referenced a particularly nasty death sequence, in which Danny could
use a pair of pliers to literally rip the testicles off a hunter. That
murder has been completed removed from the updated build of the game.
Not a big deal for us, as it only amounts to one kill out of dozens.
Danny can still saw into the heads of enemies, or bludgeon them with a
blunt object, or stab them, or use a syringe on them, or even use the
environments to take them out.
The biggest and most disappointing
change relates to the major death strikes. When Danny sneaks up on an
enemy, gamers will be given the option to pick from three different
murder animations. In the AO-rated build of Manhunt 2, we could
clearly see these over-the-top and horrific animations. In the M-rated
version, Rockstar has added both an extreme blur effect and in most
cases darkened the graphics so that it is nearly impossible to make
any sense of what is going on. Players will be able to see character
movement, blood splatters, and sometimes they may catch a glimpse of
an identifiable action (for example, Danny jamming nails into the legs
of a chair-bound opponent), but mostly it's guesswork - a garbled,
motiony mess that's far less satisfying.
The censors have banned just banned
the toned down version of Manhunt 2 which is presumably the M rated
version to be released in the US.
The BBFC have issued the following
The BBFC has rejected a revised
version of the video game Manhunt 2. This follows the rejection of the
original version of the game in June. The distributor had set in
motion an appeal to the Video Appeals Committee against that decision,
and this was suspended while the revised version was considered for
David Cooke, Director of the BBFC said: We recognise that the distributor has made changes to the game, but
we do not consider that these go far enough to address our concerns
about the original version. The impact of the revisions on the
bleakness and callousness of tone, or the essential nature of the
gameplay, is clearly insufficient. There has been a reduction in the
visual detail in some of the ‘execution kills’, but in others they
retain their original visceral and casually sadistic nature.
We did make suggestions for further changes to the game, but the
distributor has chosen not to make them, and as a result we have
rejected the game on both platforms. The decision on whether or not an
appeal goes ahead lies with the distributor.
MCV has learnt that Rockstar has
lodged an official appeal with the Video Appeals Committee over
Manhunt 2’s ban – the UK body that has the power to overturn the
The publisher notified the VAC yesterday taking almost the full six
weeks allowed. A date will now be set for the VAC’s hearing.
Rockstar issued the following press
We are continuing to appeal the
British Board of Film Classification's (BBFC) decision to deny the
edited version of Manhunt 2 an 18+ certificate and thereby ban its
release in the United Kingdom.
The changes necessary in order to publish the game in Britain are
unacceptable to us and represent a setback for video games.
The BBFC allows adults the freedom to decide for themselves when it
comes to horror in movies and we think adults should be similarly
allowed to decide for themselves when it comes to horror in video
games, such as Manhunt 2.
Hunting for Manhunt 2...
The French language release of
Manhunt 2 is on 30th November 2007. It is available for pre-order
from French Amazon
Meanwhile the Belgian release has
seemingly been on sale since July rather suggesting that it is the
original uncut version.
BBFC has no right to make aesthetic judgements
From Index on
Censorship by Padraig Reidy
The BBFC judgment complains of
Rockstar's resubmitted version of the game that the impact of the
revisions on the bleakness and callousness of tone, or the essential
nature of the gameplay, is clearly insufficient.
The first clause here is damning: the tone of the game is held up as a
reason for banning: is there any other medium where this would be seen
as an adequate reason for censorship?
Should, say, every student's favourite ‘deep’ film, Requiem for a
Dream, be cut, because it's a bit dark? Should Hardy's Jude the
Obscure be removed from library shelves, lest ladies find themselves
cast into a sadness by all that bleakness? It would be hard to find
anyone who'd say they should.
The BBFC has clearly gone beyond its remit in even mentioning the tone
of the game. It has made an aesthetic criticism, when its only function,
if it must function, should be to highlight ethical concerns.
The BBFC under siege start to sound distinctly bedraggled
I am still idly speculating that the politicians got at the BBFC...The
initial ban was so coincidently close to a meeting when all Euro
politicians decided that something had to be done over violent
revised, cut-down version of Manhunt 2 that the BBFC banned is
now confirmed as the same cut that the ESRB approved for sale in the US.
So while US gamers get to finally play Manhunt 2 this Halloween,
gamers in the UK and across Europe have to wait until Rockstar goes
through the lengthy, tedious process of having to go to the Video
And while Rockstar in the UK is currently stuck in some kind of Kafka-esque
nightmare of appealing to nonsensical committees about a horror game
which every right-thinking person assumes should never have been banned
in the first place, the BBFC has responded to recent criticism from the
publisher that it favours movies over games.
A BBFC spokesperson told MCV: We don’t differentiate how harsh we are
on DVD or video games – we have a duty to both under the Video
If we were more tough on games than any other medium, don’t you think
we’d be banning far more titles? Manhunt 2 is the second game we have
rejected in 23 years. I’d hardly call that draconian.
[Oooh...it's so unfair]
DVD companies don’t complain when we reject their products. The creator
of Struggle In Bondage didn’t get up in arms.
[Yes but Struggle in Bondage was only missed by a few, Manhunt is
anticipated by thousands, it is more akin to banning a Hollywood
Manhunt 2 went beyond our guidelines when it came to gross violence
and we had a public duty to reject it. [Bollox!]
2 is a video game so violent it was the first in a decade to be
banned in Britain. But a Sky News investigation has discovered that
anyone, including young children, can still get hold of the game.
Thousands of gamers are using the internet to get their hands on a video
game banned because of its graphic scenes of torture and murder.
Manhunt 2, which features a character who goes on a gruesome
killing spree in a mental institution, is the only game to have been
banned by British censors in the past 10 years.
The BBFC refused to allow it to go on sale because of its "relentless
violence" and "casual sadism".
But the game was leaked onto the web - and anyone with a little
technical knowledge [of Google and the word 'BitTorrent']
can download it and play it on a modified games console.
No-one of any age is allowed to play the game, and yet our investigation
found thousands of people downloading it.
Gaming expert and journalist Rob Fahey told Sky News: What's
disturbing about the game is you play a killer. There's no victim to
sympathise with, there's no particularly complex storyline; you simply
go around killing people in extraordinarily violent ways... there's no
moral framework around it.
I still rather suspect that the difference is something to do with the
meeting or European ministers that decided that 'something' should be done
about 'killer games'.
From Game Politics
good for the cinematic goose is not, apparently, okay for the video game
As reported by the Daily Mail, the BBFC, which assigns both film & game
ratings in the UK, has adopted a hands-off approach to movie violence.
That’s of interest to GamePolitics readers because it was the same BBFC
which banned Manhunt 2 in June.
The BBFC on violent games & Manhunt 2:
Against this background, the Board’s carefully considered view is
that to issue a certificate to Manhunt 2
would involve a range of unjustifiable harm risks, to both adults and
minors, within the terms of the Video Recordings Act, and accordingly
that its availability, even if statutorily confined to adults, would be
unacceptable to the public.
The BBFC on violent movies & Eastern Promises:
The 18-certificate movie, which is released
this week, includes graphic scenes of throatslitting, child
prostitution and a man having an eye gouged out.
A spokesman for the board said it was up to adults to decide what they
wanted to watch and that movie-goers were free to look away from the
The BBFC stood by its decision. Scenes that make people
turn away are part of the fun of going to movies, a spokesman said.
The board added: These days we are not here to cut; we are here to
provide information and let people then make up their minds . . . People
also have expectations of what a Cronenberg film is.
The BBFC provides clear consumer advice. If
the board went about cutting out every scene liable to offend then we
would be leaving adults without any choice. Who’s to decide what
adults can or can’t watch?
However, the BBFC can apparently decide what adults can or cannot
interviewed Jim Cliff, a BBFC examiner dealing with video games. It is
well worth reading the full interview but here are a couple of relevant
How do you defend the decision [to ban Manhunt 2] when faced with
the fact that movies like Hostel have been released with 18
BBFC: If the majority of Hostel was
the same as some of the most violent scenes in it, it's entirely
possible it could have been banned. But it's not. Most of the running
time isn't violence, that's mainly crammed into a few short scenes.
Also, in Hostel you are very much required to identify with the
victims more than in most games.
This is only the second game to get banned in the UK and the other one
was overturned on appeal. But is this likely? A lot of people are
worried that this is kind of a sign of what's to come as games get more
realistic, that more and more are going to get banned. Do you think
that's going to happen?
BBFC: I think the fact that we've only
banned two in 21 years of classifying games is a sign that it's not
likely to be a problem. You know we very rarely cut games, we
extraordinarily rarely ban them, whereas films and videos occasionally
get cut--usually to get the specific age category that the company
wants. We used to ban and cut a lot more films than we do now. So I
don't think there's any worry that we're going to go the other way on
games or back the other way on films.
is clear by now that violence in video games is thought more pernicious
than comparable violence in more traditional media. Just look at
coverage of Halo, the top-selling science-fiction series that is
akin to Star Wars in its level of made-up mayhem. In the
mainstream media Halo is often described as a violent space
epic or a violent shoot-’em-up game. But when was the last
time Star Wars was described as George Lucas’s violent space
movie? For that matter, when was the last time anyone referred to
The Sopranos as a shoot-’em-up television show, which at some
level it was?
The answer to both questions is basically never, and that is because
American culture has become so inured to violence in linear media that
even the most heinous depictions of brutality go almost without comment.
Video games don’t get that pass...
Nutters Urge Manhunt 2 Boycott
Nutters are urging parents not to buy Manhunt 2.
In my opinion, it's the most senselessly violent and offensive thing
I've ever watched, said James Steyer, CEO of Common Sense Media, a
nonprofit group that advises parents about television, movies, Internet
sites and video games that may be inappropriate for children.
Steyer, who has not seen the version of the game being released this
week, was talking about an unrated version that has been circulating
free on the Internet since August.
It's disgusting, Steyer said. It's so violent, it struck me
personally as pornographic violence.
The US M Rated censored version is available at US
[who won't deliver to Europe]
Manhunt goes on sale in the US over Halloween rated "mature,"
appropriate for people 17 and up, for about $28.
Made for the Nintendo Wii, Sony PlayStation Portable and PlayStation 2.
Producers at Rockstar Games submitted a cut version of Manhunt 2
that got the "mature" rating in August.
This is a very clear and firm warning to parents that the game is in
no way intended for children, the ESRB said in a statement.
Other snippets about the release is that the unrated copy floating
around the Internet is a European PAL version that does not run on
unmodded US PlayStation 2 consoles.
Similarly the US M Rated version will only run on suitably modded
There has been a lot of speculation that Manhunt 2 could be legally sold
in the UK via internet download but there is little evidence of any
plans to actually do this.
More Manhunt nutters creep out the woodwork on Halloween
From Game Politics
Susan Linn of the Campaign for a Commercial-free Childhood has weighed
in on the release Manhunt 2.
In a press release, Linn said:
Tomorrow’s release of Manhunt 2 epitomizes
much of what’s wrong with the videogame industry’s current system of
Research clearly demonstrates that playing violent videogames can
increase the likelihood of aggressive behavior in children and youth.
Yet even as the industry claims it wants to keep its most violent games
out of the hands of children, it virulently opposes any legislation that
would give teeth to its often unenforced guidelines for sales and
marketing of M-rated games.
California State Sen. Leland Yee (D), architect of his state’s contested
video game law, has also issued a press release:
Not surprisingly, this game is being released on Halloween. Halloween
already presents many safety concerns for parents. With the release of
Manhunt 2, parents will now face a new challenge from the purveyors of
It is imperative that parents avoid purchasing this game for their
children and always review the video games their children are playing.
Ultra-violent, interactive video games such as Manhunt 2 can have
negative effects on our children.
2nd November 2007
TV shrink Dr. Phil McGraw & the Parents Television Council have now also
had their say against Manhunt 2.
3rd November 2007
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has joined the ranks of
the Manhunt 2 critics.
20th November 2007
Ted Baehr, founder of the Christian Film & Television Commission (CFTC)
has joined other critics in calling for Manhunt 2’s Adults Only (AO)
rating to be restored.
Cut restored to PlayStation Portable version of Manhunt 2
From Game Politics
hack has made visible some, but apparently far from all, of the content
found in the version of the game rated “Adults Only” by the ESRB.
From a statement sent to GamePolitics:
Multiple edits were made to revise Manhunt 2
for its M-rated version.
Hackers apparently have altered one of those edits to produce an
illegally modified version of the game that can only be played on an
unauthorized, modified PlayStation Portable handheld system.
Take-Two Chairman Strauss Zelnick said, I stand behind the game and
the ESRB ratings process. It is unfortunately the case that no one in
the entertainment software industry is immune from hacking. We hope that
consumers will not engage in hacking or download illegally modified
copies of our games.
Take Two’s spokesman could not speculate as to whether hackers might be
able to unlock AO content on the PS2 or Wii versions of the game.
Vance, president of ratings organisation, ESRB, has commented on the
Manhunt 2 hack that removed the special effects blurring on the PSP and
PS2 version of the game:
Earlier this week we learned about a hack into the
code of the PSP and PS2 versions of the game that removes special
effects filters that were put in place to obscure certain violent
depictions. We have investigated the matter and concluded that
unauthorized versions of the game have been released on the Internet
along with instructions on how to modify the code to remove the special
Once numerous changes to the game’s code have been made and other
unauthorized software programs have been downloaded to the hardware
device which circumvent security controls that prevent unauthorized
games from being played on that hardware, a player can view unobscured
versions of certain violent acts in the game. Contrary to some reports,
however, we do not believe these modifications fully restore the product
to the version that originally received an AO rating, nor is this a
matter of unlocking content.
Our investigation indicates that the game’s publisher disclosed to the
ESRB all pertinent content in the authorized Mature-rated version of
Manhunt 2 now available in stores, and complied with our guidelines on
full disclosure of content.
US retailer Target is reported to have removed copies of Rockstar's
Manhunt 2 from the shelves in response to the ongoing negative
publicity swirling around the game.
Contacts at Target stores have confirmed the circulation of an internal
memo calling for the game to be pulled from store shelves. The stores
are no longer allowed to sell the game, and managers have been told to
refuse to accept shipments of the game if any arrive. Take Two, the
game's publisher, has apparently agreed to take back unopened copies of
The move comes not as a result of the game's violence, the sources say,
but because of the continuing ucontroversy.
Despite no longer offering the game in stores, Manhunt 2 is still
available for order at Target.com. Immediately following the withdrawal
of the game, the company's website was modified to state that the game
"is not available in stores."
The BBFC must be well chuffed to have had so much impact on a US
presidential front runner.
From Game Politics
what appears to be looming political trouble for the video game
industry, four United States senators have signed a letter calling for a
“thorough review” of the ESRB rating system.
Senators Hillary Clinton, Joe Lieberman, Evan Bayh and Sam Brownback
sent the letter to ESRB president Patricia Vance yesterday. The move was
prompted by the furore surrounding the M rating assigned by the ESRB to
a revised version of Manhunt 2.
All four senators have been critics of the video game industry in the
past. Clinton, of course, is the front-runner for the Democratic
presidential nomination. From the letter:
As you know, in June 2007, the British Board
of Film Classification refused to rate Rockstar’s Manhunt 2
videogame … stating that it contains ‘unremitting bleakness and
callousness of tone. In October 2007, the BBFC again refused to rate a
revised Manhunt 2 stating that ‘the impact of the revisions on
the bleakness and callousness of tone … is clearly insufficient.
[The ESRB, however,] reduced the revised version’s rating to “Mature,”
effectively opening the door to its widespread distribution and its
licensing approval by game system manufacturers Sony and Nintendo.
In sum, we ask your consideration of whether
it is time to review the robustness, reliability and repeatability of
your ratings process, particularly for this genre of ‘ultra-violent’
videogames and advances in game controllers.
has launched its appeal against the BBFC's decision to refuse Manhunt
2 certification, accusing the board of putting its reputation above
the interests of gamers.
Geoffrey Robertson, representing Rockstar, began the proceedings at the
Video Appeals Committee hearing by
claiming the British Board of Film Classification was a misnomer -
suggesting it should instead be referred to as the British Board of
There's no evidence that playing interactive videogames leads to a
propensity to act them out in real life. We wonder why Manhunt 2 has
been singled out for special treatment, he stated.
Robertson went on to accuse the BBFC of being simply ignorant of the
gaming experience and throwing adjectives with hyperbolic abandon
at the game.Their reputation is not at stake; if it were we
could show how, over the last century, they've been derided for some of
the most stupid decisions in censorship history, he continued.
But we're not going to go down that road.
According to statistics presented by Robertson, there are 26.5 million
gamers in the UK. Their average age is 28 and the gender split is 45 per
cent female, 55 per cent male.
Addressing the panel from the Video Appeals Committee present to hear
Rockstar's appeal Robertson said, There you are, seven of you - not
one of you has experienced, I'm told by the chairman, computer games, or
are a gamer.
At this point one member of the panel interjected, stating, That's
not true. Some of us actually have played computer games. It was
also confirmed that the panel did play Manhunt 2 in advance of
Robertson described as offensive and outrageous the allegation
the board makes against adults in this country that they're somehow
going to go and shoot or kill as a result of playing Manhunt 2.
Millions of gamers play videogames and no crime has ever been directly
attributed to them, with one exception. And in that case, the murder
of British teenager Stefan Pakeerah, it was found that there was no
Tiga CEO Fred Hasson and psychologist Guy Cumberbatch have spoken out
in defense of Rockstar at the company's appeal.
Hasson said he stood behind his earlier claims that the BBFC made its
decision to ban the game based on articles in the Daily Mail and other
publications, saying, I can only come to the conclusion that is the
case. Having seen the content of the game, I can't see any other reason
why they've done that.
Hasson claimed he was surprised at how tame it is compared to some
very graphical scenes I've seen in other games which have received
certification. I expected it to be a lot worse... I can't believe this
has been singled out as something that is worth banning.
Cumberbatch, who has done extensive research into media violence, said
he conducted a survey in which 86 respondents, all of whom had seen at
least two 18-rated movies and played two 18-rated videogames, played
Manhunt 2 for 15 minutes and also viewed a series of video clips
taken from different levels of the game. They were then asked how they
felt the game compared to other games and films; 68% said other games on
the market were equally violent, while 80% said equally violent films
were available. Further, according to Cumberbatch, several respondents
indicated that gamers would be "disappointed" with the level of violence
in the game.
Certainly no one's going to suggest Manhunt 2 is one of the least
violent games around, Cumberbatch said: In my own limited
experience of playing Manhunt 2, it's fairly sanitized as a work
compared with what you might expect in a film.
The BBFC has accepted there is no proven link between anti-social
behaviour and violent videogames - but said more research is required to
conclusively rule any connection out.
Speaking at the appeal hearing yesterday Andrew Caldecott, representing
the BBFC, stated: The board's position is that there is insufficient
evidence to prove, as a fact, there is a causal connection between
violent games and behavioural harm... It's a perfectly fair point, and
one which we accept, but it's not by any means a complete answer to the
question the [Video Appeals Committee] has to decide.
On the subject of research presented earlier by Rockstar in defence of
its argument, Caldecott said: The research certainly achieves the
objective of establishing that research does not demonstrate that there
is a causal link. But what it certainly does not establish is that there
He went on to observe that neither side had suggested Manhunt 2 was
suitable for people aged under 18 at any point during the hearing.
For a young person, this is a disturbing game, it is a shocking game,
and there are issues about innocence and matters of that sort in
relation to young people. In a Utopian society, you would have effective
measures where the over-18s could play what was suitable for them
without being cluttered by the fact minors will see them. But you can't
make classification decisions without regard to the social prevalence
Caldecott went on to present the BBFC's response to the argument that
videogames should be judged by the same standards as films such as
Saw and Hostel. He told the appeals panel, Film is a
different medium; it is simply is a different experience. There are ways
in which it is perhaps more involving, because you are dealing with
absolute reality, with real people, in film.On the other hand,
many people watch horror films to some extent from the point of view of
the victim, or the point of view of what's going to happen - not with
this very distinctive point of view of being the person who's wielding
the weapon, and is rewarded for killing in the bloodiest way possible.
Caldecott later suggested that videogames with violent content are more
likely to be seen by children than violent films. A videogame is
inherently less likely to be strictly supervised, and that is supported
by research, he said, adding that violent films are usually watched
late at night.
Games and technology develop incrementally… If you take the
comparable argument to its extreme, you get a gradual creeping towards
ever more graphic violence, but you never draw a line at any particular
If you’re not careful you get into a peculiar game of Grandmother’s
Footsteps, where everybody’s shuffling forward but Grandma’s never
allowed to turn round and say, ‘Stop’… Is there never a point at which
you can say, ‘This is unacceptable’?
Turning to Manhunt 2 specifically, Caldecott focused on the
nature of the game's violent content. In this particular game, the
victims are people. They are not aliens or griffins or Daleks... You see
lots of human beings quite mercilessly kicking and punching other human
beings as you move through the game.
"It's a frequent theme of level one, which is the only one I've actually
played right through. Even when you're not killing someone yourself,
you're passing someone who's getting a good beating or having an
He also pointed to the weapons used in the game as a particular area for
concern. They're not magic wands or Excalibur; many of them are
Concluding the hearing, the chairman of the Video Appeals Committee
said: This is a very important case and there is an awful lot we must
consider. We will work hard at it and get you a decision as soon as
possible. A date was not set for the announcement of the decision.
BBFC have published a research report into
Audiences and Receptions of Sexual Violence in Contemporary Cinema.
The report was commissioned from Professor Martin Barker of the
University of Aberystwyth and is based on new and substantive
In performing its duties as a regulator of the moving image, the BBFC is
obliged to balance the right of freedom of expression with the need to
protect the public from harm. In the case of ‘video works’, including
DVDs, the BBFC has a particular obligation under the Video Recordings
Act 1984 (VRA) to have special regard, among other factors, to any harm
that may be caused (to viewers or to society) by the manner in which a
video work deals with sex, violence, horror, drugs or criminal activity.
Scenes of sexual violence inevitably combine two, and sometimes all
five, of the potentially harmful elements identified by the VRA and
therefore raise particularly difficult issues for the BBFC.
Despite a vast amount of media effects research, absolute ‘proof’ of
harm, or of the extent of harm, is elusive, not least because of the
ethical and practical difficulties involved. The responsible media
regulator must therefore exercise judgement in a manner which takes
account of the concerns raised by some research studies, but which also
acknowledges the limitations of the research and the rights enshrined in
UK law by the Human Rights Acts 1998.
The BBFC’s own large scale public opinion research has consistently
shown that a majority of the public believe that adults should be able
to choose their own entertainment, within the law. However, this general
view often comes with a caveat when sexual violence is considered. In
light of this, in 2002, the BBFC commissioned a detailed study of public
reaction to six films featuring sexual violence. The results revealed a
degree of public concern about adults viewing graphic depictions of
sexual violence which contrasted sharply with the attitude to adults
viewing graphic depictions of consensual sex or graphic depictions of
violence with no sexual context. The 2002 research focussed on the views
of a demographically balanced sample in relation to what adults in
general should be allowed to view. Respondents were asked to view films
which, in normal circumstances, they might never have chosen to view. As
such, it revealed the extent of public concern over what impact certain
films might have on other people, and relied upon assumptions about how
these ‘other people’ might experience or respond to the films. The
research did not reveal, or seek to reveal, the actual responses of the
people who actively choose to watch such films.
To explore the issue further, the BBFC therefore commissioned
qualitative research designed to investigate the ways in which
naturally-occurring audiences understand and respond to five films –
À Ma Soeur, Baise-Moi, The House on the Edge of the Park, Ichi the Killer,
and Irreversible – chosen because the BBFC had been exercised
over their inclusion of scenes of sexual violence. The central issues
for the project were to find ways to explore: how audiences’
understanding and response to the films were affected by the existence
of different versions of the films, and the impact of the cuts required
for four of the films; how audiences use the idea of ‘context’ as they
make sense of the scenes of sexual violence; and how in particular
audiences who respond positively to the films are understanding these
The report published today makes extremely interesting reading and
underlines the complexity of the issue. The research was not designed to
offer simple policy solutions to the BBFC and has, quite rightly,
studiously avoided doing so. Nevertheless, the research offers some
clear and valuable insights into the ways in which real audiences
understand and respond to scenes of sexual violence in contemporary
cinema and the BBFC is currently considering the implications of its
findings for future classification decisions.
Key findings from the report
1. In the main, responses to the five films are distinct from each
other. There are few overlaps of audiences and judgements. Within our
data we can find little evidence of an interest in screened sexual
violence per se. There are three exceptions to this: (a) a ‘bad taste’
interest, whose primary drive is towards a very public delight in the
offensive and possibly illicit; (b) an anti-censorship interest, whose
primary challenge is against anyone taking the right to judgements away
from the individual; and (c) a ‘BDSM’ special interest group, whose
members seek out materials which may contribute to sexual interests
based around consensually enacted fantasies.
2. Other than these, the differences in kinds of attention shown to the
five films are to be found in the following main features: (a) into what
vernacular genres they are placed, or against which they are measured;
(b) where and within what rules of exchange debate tends to take place;
(c) how moments of screened sexual violence are viewed, explained and
related to contexts
3. A vital factor in determining responses to screened sexual violence
is the kinds of context within which it is understood. Our research
reveals that ‘context’ has a number of distinct meanings for audiences.
4 For the most positive among our audiences, on all five films (but
especially for À Ma Soeur and Baise-Moi), in crucial
scenes “seeing” events is not the primary element of their responses.
Rather, tensions among and between seeing, hearing, physically
responding, knowing and imagining constitute the basis of their
understanding and response.
5. There are considerable tensions surrounding the issue of finding
screen representations of sexual violence “arousing”. This is understood
to be a ‘forbidden zone’. Yet there is strong evidence within our study
(a) that many – both men and women – do find some such scenes arousing,
but (b) that this can associate with greater condemnation of the
violence because the arousal heightens awareness and involvement, and
thus imaginative participation in the implications of the scene.
6. Overwhelmingly, Embracing and Refusing respondents find different
meanings in the films, as a result of relating to them differently.
[There are then key findings for each of the 5 films]
Whilst avoiding trying to suggest any policy-responses, we draw
attention to three issues which have particularly struck us:
the public position of the BBFC, and its perceived membership of a
‘respectable’ class which threatens the legitimate interests of
counter-cultural film enthusiasts
the issue of the BBFC’s implicit models of the audience contained
within its judgements about different films, whose evidential base may
not be available for scrutiny
the problem of the release of versions which do not acknowledge
that they have been cut.
The UK's BBFC have now passed the cinema release 18 uncut with the
Lust, Caution is a subtitled period drama
in Mandarin, set in Japanese-occupied China, about a young woman who
works with the resistance to help assassinate a top collaborator with
the Japanese. It was classified '18' for three scenes of strong sex, in
which we see considerable detail, including various sexual positions and
some crotch detail. Furthermore, in the first scene, it is not made
clear whether the woman is consenting to sex or not.
The film also contains a lengthy scene in which a group of students kill
a collaborator. He is repeatedly stabbed with a knife but does not die,
and his shirt becomes increasingly blood-stained. He is eventually
killed by one of the students who breaks his neck.
Parents will find making decisions
about which films and video games are suitable for their children
much easier from today, as the BBFC launches a new website
specifically for parents and guardians. Parents BBFC –
– provides detailed information about the content of ‘U’, ‘PG’ and
‘12A’ films and all video games classified by the BBFC, and why they
got the classification they did.
David Cooke, Director of the BBFC said: By providing parents with more information about the content of
films and video games they will be in a better position to make
informed choices about what their children watch and play. This is
particularly relevant in the area of video games, where not all
parents are as technology literate as their children. We have
included all games, including ‘18’ rated games, on the site because
we know that parents come under a lot of pressure to buy the latest
big selling title. So now when they are told by their offspring that
‘it’s only a game’, particularly if it’s rated ‘18’, they can look
at the new website and see what the game contains and why it got the
rating it did.
The well known and understood Consumer Advice – the short sentence
about a film’s contents seen on posters, advertising and packaging –
has proved both popular and helpful, but by its very nature cannot
provide the sort of detailed information which parents would find
useful. For each film the site will provide information about why
the film got the classification it did, a synopsis of the plot,
significant plot lines and how they might affect young children.
This is particularly important when deciding whether to take a child
younger than 12 to a ‘12A’ film, or whether the elements which moved
a film from ‘U’ to ‘PG’ might be too much for a very young child.
This website will take the guess work out of the family outing to
the cinema and open up the world of video games for those who don’t
know their PSP from their Wii.
Extended Consumer Advice
An example of the new extended
Kane & Lynch: Dead Men is a
third person perspective shoot-'em-up, where the gamer plays Kane, a
wronged husband out for revenge and partnered with the unpredictable
Lynch. The game contains strong bloody violence.
The violence is incessant and rather realistic. The object of the
game is to shoot as many enemies as possible, levels often unable to
be unlocked until all the cops are down. The player-character is
able to shoot innocents and it is possible to carry on shooting once
a body is felled. Various guns are available, from pistols to sniper
rifles and these result in varying degrees of accuracy and injury.
Though there is no real detail in the injury, there are significant
blood spurts and realistic splashes of blood and gore on walls,
As well as strong violence, the game contains strong language and
Following the recent attention
given to the BBFC censorship process over the Manhunt 2 ban,
the organisation has announced a seminar explaining how they go
about banning games.
The BBFC is aware of the increased production costs of next
generation video game development and the tight deadlines which all
developers and publishers face. The classification process needs to
be as efficient as possible, the BBFC said.
Our seminar, Classifying Games at the BBFC, will explain how the
process works. It will cover the legal framework for games
regulation, how classification decisions are reached and the
practicalities of the job. The seminar aims to promote a better
understanding of the BBFC and equip the games industry with
everything needed to take best advantage of the service.
Classifying Games at the BBFC will be held on October 30 at 3 Soho
Square in London.
Mass Effect is released on 23rd Nov 2007 according to UK
The BBFC seem to have come to the
rescue of US gamers wanting to know about a much discussed lesbian
hot coffee scene in a game called Mass Effect.
The BBFC kindly published a
detailed explanation of their 12 rating:
Mass Effect is a role playing
game and shooter set in the future in space. The player controls
either a male or female American soldier through a long and
involved story line, making choices along the way. The game has
been classified at '12' for moderate violence and one sex scene.
The violence is undetailed and takes place in a futuristic
setting. The single sex scene is brief and undetailed, although
there is breast nudity in one version of the scene. The sex scene
is triggered by the player making a series of choices about
becoming more than friends with a colleague. If playing as a male
character the scene can take place between him and a human woman
or a humanoid female alien. If playing as a female character the
scene can take place between her and a male human or a female
The game also contains use of the word 'bastard' and at least one
aggressive use of the word 'bitch'. Both of which are acceptable
under BBFC Guidelines at '12'.
Surely the 12 rating will put paid
to any controversial hype surrounding this game.
caution contributes to games ratings being ignored
David Braben created the notable
game, Elite, and now heads a game company, Frontier
He was asked in an interview: What's
your view on violence in games and do you think too many contain
X-rated material to cynically appeal to a teenage audience?
I think at the root of this problem is that there's still an
expectation among parents that ESRB/PEGI/BBFC ratings can be ignored
- possibly based on their experience of games when they were
younger. Also, there have been a few games that have strange ratings
like Gears of War (18). That does not make sense to me. Why is it
not a 15? Okay, there are some slightly gruesome bodies hanging up
in the first section of the game, but this is no more than you'd
expect in a 15 film like Alien Vs Predator or The Terminator films.
This means that when a more genuine 18 comes along, parents assume
it is no worse than Gears of War, and is perhaps why Manhunt 2
was banned, as they felt they could not give it the same rating as
need a strong, consistent rating system, where 18 really means 18,
and is enforced, and then it may be more acceptable to make such
games, or to bring in an additional rating which are only sold in very restricted places.
From WCG 2007
A news page for the World Cyber Games reveals that
16-17 year old players were originally to be allowed to enter a
Gears of War tournament. This was apparently OKed by the BBFC
presumably as the games weren't being supplied to the teenagers.
But a later news item suggested that Microsoft UK
had intervened and insisted that the tournament be restricted to 18
year olds or over.
The BBFC has refuted David
Cameron’s call for a review of its guidelines – and has been backed
by the Government.
The Conservative Party leader this week revealed the Tories’ new
‘mini-manifesto’ on ‘Britain’s crisis’, entitled: It’s Time to
The dossier calls for an examination of the BBFC’s ‘regulatory
framework’, in order to ensure that violence and misogyny are not
directly promoted to young people.
But BBFC spokesperson Sue Clark told MCV: BBFC classification is
based on what the public deems acceptable. We feel confident that we
have public consent on how we deal with issues such as gun and knife
And the Labour Government has also come out in defence of the BBFC.
A DCMS spokesman told MCV: We have a strict enforcement code for
people who supply ‘18’ or ‘15’ rated games to children. Adults can
make their own decisions which games to play, as they can which
films to watch.
Good news for children of all
ages: The Simpsons Movie has been awarded a PG certificate,
despite a full-frontal image of a naked, skateboarding Bart.
The most disturbing image involves Bart eagerly accepting Homer’s
dare to skateboard at high speed to Krusty Burger, stark naked.
After a series of fortuitous cover-ups, there is a fleeting glimpse
of the ten-year-old’s modest, but distinctly yellow, manhood.
Fortunately for the producers, Fox, the BBFC has taken a liberal
approach. A spokeswoman said: Natural nudity with no sexual
content is acceptable in PG films. She added: It will sail
over most children’s heads. The Simpsons is really for grown-ups
isn’t it? The film was passed PG for mild language, innuendo
and comic violence.
Transformers is a science
fiction action film, based on the 1980’s animated television series
and toy franchise. It has been classified 12A for moderate action
violence. BBFC Guidelines at 12A state that violence must not
dwell on detail and that there should be no emphasis on
injuries or blood. This includes many battle scenes between
warring robots, which whilst being intense, place an emphasis on
spectacle rather than detail. For example, a fight scene in which
two robots rip each other apart features no human casualties and is
played out in a fantasy context. The violence featured is similar to
that found in other recent 12A action films, such as Spiderman
Transformers also features infrequent mild sex references and
language. The sex references – in keeping with BBFC 12A Guidelines –
do not go beyond what is suitable for adolescents and deal
with a boy’s parents enquiring if their son has been masturbating.
The language is also infrequent and is mild to moderate (‘shit’,
‘pissed’ and ‘bitch’). The film also includes one mild drug
reference that is comic in tone and neither instructional or
Thanks to James
Transformers was never a R rating.
Shia LaBeouf later admitted that he got mixed up between 2 movies he
is in, Transformers, and Disturbia which was reduced
on appeal from R to PG13 (and has always been a 15 in the UK)
Cinema-style ratings are to be introduced on the
internet in an attempt to protect children from hardcore pornography and
The BBFC wants the most explicit online material to carry a new version
of the R18 certificate which normally only applies to material bought in
sex shops or screened in specially licensed cinemas.
The new online R18 ratings, subject of a pilot scheme now being run by
the board, could be introduced as early as next month if, as expected,
the Government backs the scheme. It will be the first time that a
British watchdog has tried to regulate access to internet material.
The system, which is backed by the sex industry, would see porn
available for download or streaming clearly labelled as being unsuitable
for children. Access to such material would be via a "landing page"
which would contain clear warnings, be free of sexual images and require
users to verify their age.
Details of the scheme are contained in correspondence between the film
board and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, obtained by The
Sunday Telegraph under the Freedom of Information Act.
In March, David Cooke, the board's director, wrote to Phil Clapp, who
leads the department's creative industries division, saying that the
board believed the scheme will allow UK customers to avoid
inadvertently being exposed to material which may be illegal and/or
But John Beyer, the director of Mediawatch UK, said the system was
"utterly useless" as people would still be able to access the material:
A lot of children have their own money and bank accounts and so it's
not a problem for teenagers to download 18-rated films.
The BBFC is working closely with the film industry to
develop a means of classifying films which will be available to download
via the internet. An industry/BBFC working party has come up with plans
which will enable consumers to have access to the same BBFC category
information and Consumer Advice as they currently enjoy with cinema
films and DVDs, at point of online hire or sale.
David Cooke, Director of the BBFC said in the BBFC 2006 Annual Report:
The BBFC is not seeking an
open-ended regulatory role on the internet; the focus here is on
material which would previously have been delivered in physical film
or DVD format. We are keen to show that the BBFC is prepared to be
open-minded and imaginative in responding to the challenges and
opportunities of new media.
The response of the industry to this initiative has been extremely
positive. We are currently working on a pilot scheme with several key
industry players, covering the family entertainment end of the market
through to the adult industry. We are also talking to the games
industry about the possibility of classifying some online games.
Recent research carried out for us showed that 84 per cent of people
would like to see the BBFC classifications applied to films downloaded
via the internet and this rose to 91 per cent of parents. This is not
surprising when one considers that many downloads are likely to be
offered on a ‘download to burn’ basis by which the consumer ends up
with a DVD just like the one being sold on the high street. As well as
the known and trusted classification category symbols, downloaded
films will come with an online version of the BBFC’s ‘black card’,
which is so much a part of the cinema going experience.
This co-regulatory approach is very much in line with the latest
version of the Audio-Visual Media Services Directive, covering online
media services. The BBFC is also a member of the Cross-Industry
Audiovisual Content Information Group, an Ofcom backed initiative
aimed at establishing common principles for the labelling of online
The BBFC have banned
a 5 minute DVD extra on Season 2
of the 2005 US comedy Weeds
The BBFC explained themselves as follows:
Cream of the Crop is a 5 minute DVD extra for the US TV
show Weeds. It consists of a segment, filmed in the style of a cookery
programme, in which a member of the cast introduces the viewer to his top 5
varieties of marijuana. He extols the virtues of each variety in terms of
its flavour and effects and encourages viewers to obtain and partake in
Although the Board accepts that the work is played with a
certain degree of knowing humour, it is clear that the lack of any other
content or context means that the likely effect of the work, taken as a
whole, is to promote and encourage the use of illegal drugs. The Board’s
Guidelines state that No work taken as a whole may promote or encourage
the use of illegal drugs
I got today's Independent because of
the attack in Blair's speech and was particularly interested by a
passing remark in an article about the matter by Andreas Whittam Smith.
Whittam Smith was, of course, the founding editor of the "Indy" and
later went on to be be President of the BBFC. I was struck by his
honesty, in that he referred to himself as "chief censor". So much for
the Orwellian renaming of the board as the British Board of Film
I'd have no objection to a board of "classification". But
"Classification" without which a film cannot legally be sold, given or
loaned is blatant censorship... now acknowledged as such by the former
A couple of interesting snippets from
the BBFC are revealed by the BBFC cuts page for
UK Student House 12.
The first is that cuts are now hidden
away from the initial page view as a spoiler alert. A further click is
required to get further details.
3s of cuts were required for the R18
rated hardcore version. The BBFC said: Cut required to sight of woman
fondling bare breasts in clear sight of public, to obtain an 'R18' in
line with commonlaw on indecent exposure.
The comments reveal that: The
distributor of the work, Darker Enterprises, appealed to the independent
Video Appeals Committee against the BBFC's decision to require a cut to
be made to this work as a condition of classification. However, Darker
Enterprises withdrew from the appeal before representations were put
before the Committee.
I am only guessing, but maybe Darker
Enterprises were contending that public nudity should be governed by the
most recent law:
2003 Sexual Offences Act - Section 66 : Exposure
(1) A person commits an offence if- (a) he intentionally exposes his genitals, and (b) he intends that someone will see them and be caused alarm or
Clearly fondling breasts, presumably
without causing distress, is hardy like to qualify as an offence.
I am guessing that our repression
loving authorities have now reverted to some long lost 'commonlaw' that
probably bans anything to do with sex and nudity. I wonder where one
gets to read about such antiquated law on the internet.
Real Outlaws is a documentary
by Peter Crystal from Revolver Entertainment. It seems to have made and
impact with the censors as it has been cut with the following BBFC
An earlier version of this work
was submitted to the BBFC and compulsory cuts were required to remove
gratuitous and detailed images of a public execution and a violent
lynching. These cuts were required...on the grounds that such images
may cause harm by encouraging the development of callous attitudes
among members of the likely audience.
This earlier version of the work
was subsequently withdrawn from the classification process by its
distributor. The present version, which has been re-edited throughout,
was pre-cut prior to submission to remove those elements to which the
BBFC had requested cuts.
It surely raises some interesting
censorship questions because lynch mobs are surely enjoying a resurgence
within some religious communities. It does not seem to take much
to whip people up into a frenzy...but surely it would take a little more
than a mere video. It takes a lifetime to get people to believe that
other people speak for god and that these self appointed mouthpieces
should be followed however inhumane the cause.
The BBFC have come under criticism
from the British Society Of Cinematographers for the 12A certification
it awarded to the latest Spiderman 3 movie.
Fans and that the film does not warrant a 12A certification. The movie
was awarded a PG-13 in the US.
The BBFC refused to comment but an insider said that the board
deliberated only briefly on the movie and that the board of film censors
may have been influenced by the studios. But really they should have
been more lenient with it’s classification say fans. They argue that at
no point in the film is there any material unsuitable for under 12’s.
Marvel Studios, the makers of the Spiderman trilogy, say that the BBFC
have got the certification of the third Spiderman movie spot on.
The debate continues and the issue will be raised at the British Film
Council meeting next week.
Other councils are now understood to
have followed Bristol's lead to overrule film censors and allow
under-18s to see the new Shane Meadows film This Is England.
The BBFC had given the film an 18 certificate because it contained a
scene of racist violence.
Although local authorities have the power to set their own
classifications, this is only done on rare occasions.
A Bristol councillor who sat on the committee which imposed a 15
certificate called the BBFC's 18 verdict was "idiotic". Councillor Ron
Stone said: It was a unanimous decision of the committee that there
was nothing we saw in the film which was any worse than you would see
probably on Channel 4 or one of the main TV channels at peak-time
We felt it was idiotic that what is basically a very good film and very
well made, on a difficult but social issue, should be prevented from
being seen by the audience it was targeted at. I think the censors
actually are wrong in giving it an 18 certificate.
The film stars newcomer Thomas Turgoose as a lonely schoolboy whose
soldier father was killed in the Falklands War. He is taken under the
wing of an older gang which is true to the original skinhead movement,
influenced by the ska and reggae movements. But the gang falls under the
influence of a National Front supporter recently released from prison,
and the film climaxes in a race attack.
Other councils across the UK are now understood to be following
Bristol's lead include the local authority in Grimsby, Turgoose's home
The BBFC said it was a "borderline" 15/18 rated film but had been given
the higher classification because of the race attack scene and its
What we are concerned about is young people seeing this in a context
where they are not in a position to discuss the issues, and where it may
come across as more attractive than offensive, said a spokeswoman.
It is not a common occurrence for local authorities to set their own
classifications, but they are certainly within their rights to do so.
The film has now also been passed 18
for vide (uncut)
Video games tend to polarise opinions in a way that
other entertainment media do not. People who do not play them cannot
understand their attraction and that lack of understanding can lead to
some games being demonised. While there is research designed to show the
short term physical reactions of video games players, there is very
little information about why people play video games and what impact
they think playing games has on them. The BBFC today published the
results of a research project involving video games players ranging from
children as young as seven through to players in their early 40s;
parents of young games players; games industry representatives; and
The research set out to gain insights into a number of issues including:
the attractions of playing video games
what impact games players think playing has on them
and their behaviour
whether the interactivity element of games alters
what players think about the violence in some games
how they choose which games to play
what parents think about video games.
The key findings of the research were:
that children begin playing games at an
increasingly early age, but that the overall age of games players is
there is a sharp divide between male and female
games players in their taste in games and how long they spend playing
female games players tend to prefer ‘strategic life
simulation’ games like The Sims and puzzle games and spend less time
playing than their male counterparts
male players favour first ‘person shooter’ and
sports games and are much more likely to become deeply absorbed in the
younger games players are influenced to play
particular games by peer pressure and word of mouth, but negative
press coverage for a game will significantly increase its take up
people play games to escape from every day life and
to escape to a world of adventure without risk which is under the
control of the gamer, unlike the real world
games provide a sense of achievement and are
active, unlike television and films which are passive. However, games
are better at developing action than building character and as such
gamers tend to care less about the storyline than making progress in
gamers appear to forget they are playing games less
readily than film goers forget they are watching a film because they
have to participate in the game for it to proceed. They appear to
non-games players to be engrossed in what they are doing, but, they
are concentrating on making progress, and are unlikely to be
gamers claim that playing games is mentally
stimulating and that playing develops hand eye coordination
violence in games, in the sense of eliminating
obstacles, is built into the structure of some games and is necessary
to progress through the game. It contributes to the tension because
gamers are not just shooting, they are vulnerable to being shot and
most gamers are concentrating on their own survival rather than the
damage they are inflicting on the characters in the game. While there
is an appeal in being able to be violent without being vulnerable to
the consequences which similar actions in real life would create,
gamers are aware that they are playing a game and that it is not real
gamers are aware that violence in games is an issue
and younger players find some of the violence upsetting, particularly
in games rated for adults. There is also concern that in some games
wickedness prevails over innocence. However, most gamers are not
seriously concerned about violence in games because they think that
the violence on television and in films is more upsetting and more
gamers are virtually unanimous in rejecting the
suggestion that video games encourage people to be violent in real
life or that they have become desensitised. They see no evidence in
themselves or their friends who play games that they have become more
violent in real life. As one participant said: I no more feel that
I have actually scored a goal than I do that I have actually killed
someone. I know it’s not real. The emphasis is on achievement.
non-games playing parents are concerned about the
amount of time their children, particularly boys, spend playing games
and would prefer that they were outside in the fresh air. However,
they are more concerned about the ‘stranger-danger’ of internet chat
rooms. While the violence in games surprises them and concerns some of
them, they are confident that their children are well balanced enough
to not be influenced by playing violent games
while parents agree that there should be regulation
of games some are happy to give their children adult games because
they are “only games”.
David Cooke, Director of the BBFC said:
The BBFC classified just under three hundred video games last year.
Most games in the UK are classified under a pan-European voluntary
system, but those with adult content are required to come to us. We take
this part of our responsibilities under the Video Recordings Act very
seriously. Our examiners actually play the games for up to five hours,
assessing all levels of the games and considering all the key issues.
Players and the parents of young players can be sure that all aspects of
the game have been taken into account before reaching a classification.
We require key issues to be flagged and aids such as cheat codes to be
supplied to us. We take context into account, and examine works in a way
which is as thorough and penetrating as anywhere in the world.
The element of interactivity in games carries some weight when we are
considering a video game. We were particularly interested to see that
this research suggests that, far from having a potentially negative
impact on the reaction of the player, the very fact that they have to
interact with the game seems to keep them more firmly rooted in reality.
People who do not play games raise concerns about their engrossing
nature, assuming that players are also emotionally engrossed. This
research suggests the opposite; a range of factors seems to make them
less emotionally involving than film or television. The adversaries
which players have to eliminate have no personality and so are not real
and their destruction is therefore not real, regardless of how violent
that destruction might be. This firm grasp on reality seems to extend to
younger players, but this is no reason to allow them access to adult
rated games, as they themselves often admit that they find the violence
in games like Manhunt very upsetting. Parents should not treat
video games in the same way they would board games. We will continue to
examine very carefully those games which come to us, to flag any
concerns we have and, if necessary, to use our statutory powers.
There is no question that video games are an important form of
entertainment for an ever increasing number of people. As the technology
improves the games will become more and more realistic and it is
important that games are properly rated to protect younger players from
the games with adult content, which the BBFC does. This research
provides some valuable insights into why people play video games and
what effect they think playing has on themselves and friends. It has
also highlighted parental attitudes to video games. We hope that it will
provide some food for thought for the industry, and everyone who has an
interest in the impact of games and we will be taking the research
outcomes into account as we review our games classification policies
over the coming months.
The BBFC is set to alter its system of deciding on age
ratings after new extensive research into video games showed that
interactivity could actually limit the effect of violence on gamers.
The BBFC currently uses the same set of parameters for rating both
movies and games, but this week’s report has led the body to a new
understanding of key differences between the two mediums.
We’re looking to review our games classification policy in the next
few months – and that’s one of the reasons for this research, BBFC
spokesperson Sue Clark told MCV.
We have traditionally taken the view that because a game is
interactive, by definition we need to be more careful. But when you
watch a film you actually have less control than when you play games.
It’s easier for you to lose that sense of reality.
One of the key conclusions of this report is that interactivity actually
helps players distance reality from adult experiences in games.
BBFC Grow Up...
allow the use of the word 'teen'
Interesting to note that the BBFC have
recently passed a couple of hardcore R18s with the word 'teen' in the
title. Up until now they have cut such references with the occasional
weird comment about being concerned with under age sex.
Eg in the
film retitled Beauty Express 5, the BBFC said:A cut is required to
remove 'Teeny' from the title and title frame to accord with BBFC policy
and the 'harm' provision of the Video recordings Act. Under BBFC policy no title will
be passed which suggest that the content is concerned with under-age
Given that the majority of teen years
(16,17,18,19) are above the age of consent and all the actors in a film
can presumably be proven over 18, then there hardly seems to be an
obvious reason for disallowing the term.
There is nothing illegal in (unpaid)
sex with 16 and 17 year olds outside of relationships with a duty of
care. Surely the film makers are not allowed to use 16 and 17 year old
actors because paid sex is considered illegal at this age. But
given that the films actually feature 18+ actors and the DVD cover
features actual footage from the film then it would seem quite a leap of
faith to suggest that such a film is somehow encouraging viewers to want
sex with 15 year olds.
The first two films spotted with
'teen' in the title are Stranded Teens passed in October 2006 and
Teens in Tight Jeans passed in February 2007
The Church of England yesterday
warned that the spread of hard-core sex and violence in films is
"fatally eroding" standards of behaviour.
It questioned the increasingly liberal decisions by film censors and
accused them of allowing wider and younger audiences to see
pornography and violence.
The Church called for new thinking about the effects of negative
and degrading images on public safety.
The attempt to put pressure on film censors and broadcasters at the
Church's parliament, the General Synod, follows efforts by senior
bishops to defend marriage and to do more to uphold Christian
beliefs. The Synod heard that "standards of human behaviour are
being fatally eroded by constant subjection to suggestions and
images promoting the exploitation of other human beings".
Church leaders named a series of films, including Destricted,
9 Songs, Baise-Moi, and Intimacy, which they
said had been allowed a wide adult audience by being granted 18
certificates, but which in the past would have been restricted under
R18 certificates to being shown in private clubs and to being sold
on DVD in sex shops.
They blamed the BBFC for allowing such material to reach general
The Rev Richard Moy said: There have been numerous cases where
defence barristers have asked judges to consider in mitigation that
the defendant's actions were influenced by watching pornography. And
yet the BBFC is making pornography easier to access by giving
hardcore material 18 certificates.And material which
previously would have been classified 18 is now being classified 15.
And material previously classified as 15 is now classified as 12.
How can we ask children and young people to behave in a socially
responsible way if, through the media, we celebrate and revel in
exploitation and abuse?
The Synod voted unanimously to condemn the exploitation of the
humiliation of human beings for public entertainment.
A previous president at the BBFC, Andreas Whittam-Smith, who passed
two of the criticised films - Baise-Moi and Intimacy, is now
a senior Church official in charge of the its financial wing. He
told the Synod that the films, however they were marred by their
sexually explicit content, they had something to say. He said
regulators felt bound to reflect what they believe is the public
mood and added: It is only the Church's teaching . . . which can
have an influence and change things.
This year's finest British film cannot
be seen by its target audience, or many of its young stars, after being
given a 18 certificate by the British censors. Shane Meadows' This is
England, which is released in April, is the story of a young boy
seduced into a world of skinhead racial violence during the early
Eighties. The film is based on the director's own experiences.
News of the certification came as the film was about to play to a packed
cinema of schoolchildren at a Glasgow film festival last week.
Organisers were forced to cancel the screening.
Producer Mark Herbert said: The
entire point of the film is a positive one, to show the dangers of
bullying, peer pressure and racism to young people. Now with this 18
certificate, we can't do it.'
The BBFC have objected to a scene in
which the gang attacks an Asian newsagent, calling him a 'Paki cunt',
and to a scene involving menacing violence against a mixed-race boy.
We have strong indications that violence when accompanied by vicious
racist language is something the public find very hard to accept,
says BBFC spokeswoman Sue Clark. We also felt that while the film
deals with racism in very subtle and complex ways, it might give out the
wrong message to an impressionable audience.
Meadows refused to make any cuts to his film in order to achieve the 15
certificate: This is the film I wanted to make and it's had a great
reception at festivals, where it has won awards from young audiences. It
seems to speak to them in particular. There's no need for cuts.
Meadows and Herbert have demanded a
meeting with the censors and are still hopeful they can persuade them to
lower the barrier.
Good to see that Pretty Baby
has been passed uncut again for today's DVD release.
Given the current hyper-sensitivity with
anything connecting children and sexuality, it is good that the the
naked 12 year old Brooke Shields hasn't become another worrying trigger
for a 4am police visit.
From Strictly Broadband posting on the
Beer and Bollocks webmasters forum
I had a meeting with the BBFC last week to discuss
their plans, and get their views on where the law is going. Note that
the BBFC don't set the law, but they need to interpret it. Below are the
points that came out of the meeting, most of them known already to some
degree. A follow-up meeting will be held next week to look in more
detail at how they intend to enforce the use of their online
certificates specifically for streaming content.
The BBFC will shortly (well before the end of this year) be
introducing a VoD certificate. This will be issued free of charge to
companies that submit content for distribution on DVD/video. It will
cover downloads for sure, and possibly streaming. The certificate will
allow companies to display BBFC certificate logos on their web sites.
For companies that do not certificate for the time being, the BBFC
will soon be publishing a set of guidelines for adult web companies
laying out in more details what they do/don't consider legal content. I
see this as a good step forward, as it will allow adult webmasters a
clearer view of what may be likely to get them prosecuted under the OPA.
Certification will for now be voluntary for online use.
Online certificates will have three parts: 1. A visible logo to display online 2. A video "card" to put at the start of a certificated video 3. A paper certificate to file away
The BBFC will be making content submission possible online - currently
you need to submit on physical media.
By 2010, the UK will have to sign up to the EU's Television Without
Frontiers framework - this means that laws will be introduced to
regulate online content - my interpretation of this is that within a
couple of years, all adult content online will fall within regulation.
The BBFC expect that their certification of online content will be a
key part in enforcing the new legislation.
People within the BBFC scheme will be fairly well protected from
prosecution - those outside the scheme have no protection.
In the longer term, the BBFC are investigating content labelling
schemes, especially for adult material - this will be technically
similar to existing ICRA content labelling.
The timescales are fluid, but will be forced by the implementation of
the EU legislation.
I raised the specific issue of watersports; many webmasters are
unaware that this is illegal in the UK. the BBFC have no role in
deciding what is classed as obscene, they are simply guided by the
police. I was informed that the police have made prosecutions of web
sites for this content - the problem being that webmasters tend to plead
guilty to avoid a prison sentence, and so the guideline hasn't been
challenged in court.
Spotted by Calidoniaguy on The Melon
A worrying trend of increasing censorship by the BBFC?
Official censorship figures from the BBFC, for video works
Remember, these figures are artificially low due to
the fact that the BBFC do not require distributors to declare whether
they have censored works prior to submission. Also, it does not show how
much has been cut – e.g. the multi-award winning “Pirates” had 1 hour 34
minutes censored from it!!!