School Shooter: North American Tour 2012 is an upcoming Source modification for Half-Life 2 developed by Checkerboarded Studios in association with METOKUR.
In something of a controversy wind up the game is described:
You play a disgruntled student, fed up with something (we're not exactly sure), and after researching multiple school shooting martyrs, he decides to become the best school shooter ever. You decide to arm yourself with the
exact same weapons as a previous school shooter such as; Eric Harris' TEC-9, Dylan's sawed-off shotgun, Seung-Hui Cho's akimbo pistols, Nevada-Tan's...box cutter? The possibilities are endless, you are free to do whatever you want. As long as it
involves shooting people.
Predictably US games nutter Jack Thompson has risen to the bait.
Presumably the creators of the mod game aren't likely to respond to pressure in the way that Thompson would want, so he has turned to the host game Half-Life 2 and its online environment Valve.
Thompson has written to Valve boss Gabe Newell, who previously ran the company that created Half-Life 2 in 2004:
Dear Mr. Newell:
You either know or should know that the more moral midgets who run Checkerboarded Studios have created a mod for your company's Half-Life which they call School Shooter: North American Tour 2012. This mod is a full-blown
Columbine massacre simulator which cannot function without your company's assistance and acquiescence.
Given the fact that your company has the technological ability to stop the operation of School Shooter, you must undertake steps immediately to do so.
Speaking for myself alone (for now), you have until five o'clock pm Eastern standard time this Friday, March 18, 2011, to shut down this public safety hazard I predicted years ago this school massacre game would arrive. I
hate being right all the time.
Mod hosting site ModDB has succumbed to pressure from outside sources and has removed the Half-Life 2 mod, School Shooter: North American Tour 2012 , from its database.
In an open letter to its community, ModDB founder Scott Reismanis said that the site pulled the mod down after getting quite a bit of mainstream press due to the controversial nature of the content. He went on to say that he got a lot of
threatening mail from various sources and the authors of that mail believed that ModDB were the mod's creators.
The Australian Government has launched a comprehensive review of the National Classification Scheme to be conducted by the Australian Law Reform Commission.
Attorney-General Robert McClelland has referred the Scheme to the Australian Law Reform Commission and asked it to conduct widespread public consultation across the community and industry.
The Government today released the final terms of reference for the review of the National Classification Scheme following community consultation.
The review will consider issues including:
existing Commonwealth, State and Territory classification laws;
the current classification categories contained in the Classification Act, Code and Guidelines;
the rapid pace of technological change;
the need to improve classification information available to the community;
the effect of media on children; and
the desirability of a strong content and distribution industry in Australia.
The Home Affairs Minister responsible for classification, Brendan O'Connor, said technology is fast moving and the review will examine how the classification can cater for further advances into the future.
A lot has changed in recent years. Australians now access content through the Internet and mobile phones and that poses challenges for the existing classification scheme.
We're also seeing the convergence of different technology platforms and the worldwide accessibility of some content, which also creates new concerns.
Australians need to be confident that our classification system will help them make informed choices about what they choose to read, see, hear and play.
The appointment of a new ALRC Commissioner to work on the review will be announced shortly. The ALRC has been asked to provide its final report by 30 January 2012. See also
Terms of Reference [pdf] .
The North American release of Dead Island video game will not feature the hanging zombie on the game's boxart.
A Deep Silver representative confirmed to IGN the logo will be censored on the front of the game box, but the in-game logo will remain unchanged. The boxart and in-game logo for Dead Island will remain unchanged for its release in Europe.
The censored logo does away with the hanging zombie and changes it so the zombie is simply walking on the ground.
Checking out the ESRB's website, it would appear that the original art did ran afoul of advertising guidelines. Here's the pertinent bit from the ratings board's examples of content that publishers should avoid when creating qualifying
Repeated blows or gun shots inflicted upon people/creatures, violent blows to the head, guns/weapons pointed at head, impaling, exploding body parts, guns/weapons pointed toward reader/audience, depictions of fatal injuries
and/or suicide, strangulation/choking, inflicting wounds with swords/knives, kicks to the groin
Update: A bit of thigh censored from North American box art for Dead or Alive: Dimensions
Last month, Federal Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor told GameSpot AU he has high hopes for resolving the R18+ issue by July this year, relying on a unanimous vote in favour of introducing the adult classification for video games at the
upcoming Standing Committee of Attorneys-General (SCAG) meeting in Adelaide.
However, the question of what will happen to games currently rated MA15+ and Refused Classification (RC) has to date remained unanswered. Now, in an interview with GameSpot AU, O'Connor has shed more light on the soon-to-be-finalised R18+ draft
guidelines, saying that it would be unlikely that games that have been previously banned by the Classification Board of Australia would be reclassified into the R18+ category should the new rating be introduced. What is far more likely to happen,
according to O'Connor, is the reclassification of MA15+ titles as R18+ (with cuts waived).
What's in the proposed guidelines? What do they say about a possible R18+ category and the current MA15+ category?
The guidelines reflect the following propositions: one, that we need to allow for a set of classifications in games similar to those that we have in film; two, that we need to look at redefining the MA15+ category for games
to make sure that games that are played by adults in other countries are not played by children in Australia; three, that we need to look at what a new R18+ classification for games would mean; and finally, that we need to maintain the current
Refused Classification (RC) classification. I have significant concerns about games that depict gratuitous violence or sexual acts, and I want to make sure that the introduction of an R18+ classification would not allow such material into this
country, or indeed any material that would offend a reasonable person.
We don't refuse many games in Australia. But those games that are currently RC would most likely stay that way. The advice I have received is that it's far less likely that any game that has been RC would get into R18+ if
the classification was introduced; it's far more likely that MA15+ games will be reclassified and fit more suitably into R18+. Having said that, it may be that some games that did not make it into MA15+ may find themselves in a position to get
into R18+, but as always, these matters are entirely for the Classification Board. The reclassifying of MA15+ games would also mean that some of the modifications in current MA15+ games would no longer be necessary. My problem with these
modifications and changes in MA15+ games is that it does not matter if the game has been modified to fit within the current MA15+ guidelines: the content itself is still adult and should not be allowed to be accessed by minors. At the moment,
parents see the MA15+ sticker and think that it's some sort of signal that the game in question is suitable for anyone under the age of 18, which means 12- and 13-year-olds are playing these games. This has to stop. It's time for our
classification system to grow up.
Australia's Federal Government is giving the states and territories until July to agree to a new R18+ classification for video games.
Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor forcefully said: We're the only country that allows tens and tens of games to be used by minors that are only used by adults overseas . We're becoming the laughing stock of the developed world.
O'Connor said the issue had been debated by the attorneys-general for the past 10 years and it was time to make a decision.
He wants consensus from the states and territories when they meet in July and if they do not agree, he tips the Federal Government will go it alone: If there is not a consensus around this issue, the Commonwealth will certainly be considering
Mortal Kombat remains banned in Australia after an unsuccessful appeal against the ban. The appeal board released a statement:
A four-member panel of the Classification Review Board has by majority decision determined that the computer game Mortal Kombat is classified RC (Refused Classification).
In the Review Board's opinion, Mortal Kombat could not be accommodated within the MA15+ classification as the level of violence in the game has an impact which is higher than strong. As MA15+ is the highest classification
category available to computer games under the Australian Classification Scheme, the Classification Review Board must refuse classification to Mortal Kombat.
Computer games classified RC cannot be sold, hired, advertised or demonstrated in Australia.
In a further twist, PEGI has now asked Ubisoft to remove the original We Dare advert from the web. It seems that PEGI were not impressed with being falsely accused of a too low rating.
Eurogamer received the following statement:
The Committee concludes that the advertisement does NOT accurately reflect the nature and content of the product and it MISLEADS consumers as to its true nature.
Consequently, the Committee considers imperative as a first measure that the advertisement for the game which was made available online should be taken down immediately. If this is not done within three working days of this
decision this Committee will consider further immediate sanctions against the publisher.
Australian Home Affairs minister Brendan O'Conner has revealed proposed new laws to Parliament to allow the censorship of apps and games sold online.
Technically the Classification Board should review every app, but because of the sheer size of the app store -- it contains hundreds of thousands of apps -- it is simply impossible to do so because of a lack of resources.
O'Conner says instead of having the Classification Board review every single app, the Government will use the online content system which in based on ratings provided by the store. The store allows users to complain about offensive
material. Only apps that receive complaints will be subject to review by the Australian Censorship Board.
If Apple, or any other marketplace provider such as Google, continued to sell content that is refused classification then they would be breaking the law, O'Conner said: We would prosecute people who actually broke the law . People
cannot [be allowed to] break the law. People cannot at the moment sell, distribute or watch... games that have been refused classification.
App makers say it would be too cumbersome. MoGeneration chief executive Keith Ahern says the current system within the App Store is working well: The current system is probably more effective than anything the Government can introduce. So
maybe the bigger question is, how does the App Store set this? I would say that system has been partly responsible for the success of the app store itself
Epic Games' president Mike Capps was asked whether the Fox news nonsense (ie games cause rape) helped or hindered early sales of Bulletstorm ?
There are two ways to answer the question. The first is what it does for Bulletstorm and the second is what it does for the industry. For what it did for Bulletstorm... yes, there were people who were very excited about any
attention at all. For a game that's over-the-top, they probably helped sell more units than they convinced people to pick at us, he said. What was most exciting about it for me [was the reaction from the media in the industry defending us]. Every
journalist said this Fox report is junk... It's wonderful to see a media that's defending free speech.
As for what it does for the industry as a whole I think it's terrible, he noted. There are people who really respect Fox News' opinions and look at that and are convinced that video games are bad.
Warner Brothers is appealing a ban on one of the most anticipated game releases of the year, Mortal Kombat .
Earlier this week it was revealed that the Classification Board had banned Mortal Kombat due to its violent gameplay.
Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment Australia said it had decided to appeal to the Classification Review Board over the Mortal Kombat decision. It refuses to budge and submit a cut version of the game, arguing that wouldn't be Mortal Kombat
After reviewing both the game play and the Board's original decision WBIE Australia believe the violence in the game is on par with numerous other titles readily available for sale in the Australian market .
As such the company wants to exhaust all options to make the game available to Mortal Kombat fans in this country. An identical version of the game will be submitted for appeal.
Warner Bros. said it was considering hiring Classification Board ex-deputy director Paul Hunt to help in its appeal. Hunt now runs his own consultancy, MLCS Management, and has previously helped overturn the banning of other titles by Australian
censors including F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin and Aliens vs Predator.
Due to be released on Nintendo Wii and PlayStation 3 later this year, We Dare features over 35 mini-games that take a distinctly adult approach, with marketing materials encouraging two players to kiss a Wii Remote simultaneously,
spank each other to control on-screen avatars, and striptease to a variety of songs.
With its highly suggestive trailer and product description, Cubed3 queried PEGI on the seemingly low 12+ age rating.
PEGI stated that they do not look at the surrounding context of a game, only the in-game content. The suggestive naughtiness by the human actors in the YouTube trailer did not figure in the decision for the game rating:
PEGI does not take into account the context of a game when rating it, we only look at the contents of the game. [We Dare] has been rated as a PEGI 12 because it contains mild swearing, minor assault on a human-like
character and words/activities that amount to obvious sexual innuendo, explicit sexual descriptions or images and sexual posturing.
Do demand that these types of artwork [are] on the same level as the game. In the case of We Dare, the cover and trailer are in correspondence with our guidelines.
It was considered that We Dare might justify a higher rating due to a specific (sexual) atmosphere , but this proposal was rejected by the Video Standards Council, an independent organisation that verifies PEGI ratings for use in the UK:
The game itself is in fact less sexual/offensive than the marketing campaign leads us to believe (for example, you cannot see real spanking in the game. There is a 'stripping game' but you don't have to undress; throwing
away keys or anything that reduces your weight is good enough).
A party game for the Wii, We Dare , has been given an Australian PG rating even though the game promotes spanking, stripping and sexual partner swapping.
The Australian Christian Lobby said the We Dare decision showed the classification system was broken . Even the game's publisher, Ubisoft, says the game is intended for an adult audience. Ubisoft had recommended it be rated M.
The Classification Board has defended its decision. It said that despite We Dare encouraging players to engage in spanking, striptease and other risqué mini-games, the visuals on the screen itself are cartoony and tame. The Classification
Board is only able to classify games based on the content displayed on screen, not what people do in their living rooms. The Board said: At the PG classification, discreetly implied sexual activity is permitted if justified by context and
where the level of impact does not exceed 'mild'.
The Australian Christian Lobby said the game encouraged players to engage in sexual activity not suitable for a child. It said it hoped loopholes in the classification system would be closed following this year's classification review by the
Australian Law Reform Commission.
The Australian Christian Lobby said the game encouraged players to engage in sexual activity not suitable for a child. It said it hoped loopholes in the classification system would be closed following this year's classification review by the
Australian Law Reform Commission. Parents can have no faith in a classification system when these loopholes are present, said ACL spokesman Lyle Shelton.
A new sexy party computer game has 'outraged' parents with lurid adult content which they claim will encourage orgies and under-age sex.
The Nintendo Wii game We Dare has styled itself sexy but has only been given a 12+ rating.
Many parents insist it is not suitable for a console which is popular with families and teenagers.
In an 'explicit' trailer, two girls can be seen virtually kissing, the couples stripping to their underwear and spanking each other. And other parts of the two-minute video, viewed over 150,000 times on the Internet site You Tube, are suggestive
of orgies, pole-dancing and wife-swapping.
The game is to be released on the Wii and Playstation 3 next month, with the promotion line The more friends you invite to party, the spicier the play! It is described as a sexy, quirky party game that offers a large variety of
hilarious, innovative and physical, sometimes kinky, challenges .
Parents have described the 12+ certificate as appalling and unbelievable . Laura Pearson from Birmingham, said: I have a 13-year-old daughter and if I knew she was playing such a highly charged sexual game with boys, I would be
appalled. It is encouraging under-age sex. The video pretty much shows them swapping partners, girl-on-girl kissing. That kind of thing is not something that young teenagers should be exposed to.
George Hardy, a 46-year-old father, said: No wonder we have problems in society with unsafe sex and under-age sex when kids can get hold of games like this. This sort of computer game will only serve to fuel sexual tensions and, in a
worse-case scenario, sexual touching or assault. Imagine a room of testerone-fuelled teenagers playing this, something could get out of hand. It sounds drastic but I could see it.
The body responsible for classifying computer games in Britain yesterday defended the 12+ certificate.
Laurie Hall, director general of the Video Standards Council, said: The average 16-year-old would think everything in We Dare was beneath them -- although the game contains innuendo and suggestion, if it showed anything sexual it would be have
received a 16 rating . Hall added that a part of the game which included characters stripping did not show anything more revealing than cartoon characters in bras and pants and said that it was in the context of a game about characters
He said that a YouTube trailer for the game was more extreme than anything in the game itself. There is no sexual activity, he said. There is suggestion and innuendo if you're that way inclined but you don't actually see anything
Labour MP Keith Vaz, a long-time critic of aspects of the video games industry, said: The new 'We Dare' game has clearly been wrongly marked as a 12 plus. As a family friendly console, Wii must ensure that there are proper checks and a full
consultation before games are graded for use by children. This game should not be released until these checks are made.
Meanwhile, the upcoming Nintendo Wii and PS3 game We Dare is due for release in Australia on March 3 and has been rated PG by the Classification Board. The box promises flirty fun for all , above an image of a plush pink chair
draped in lingerie and padded handcuffs.
The game has caused an uproar amongst British tabloids which quoted parents accusing it of promoting orgies and lesbian sex to kids as young as 12.
Easily bullied game makers EA have pandered to the easily offended and will censor some of Bulletstorm's sexual innuendoes.
Skill titles will be renamed in a patch to be issued next week.
EA's Steve Wordsmith, issued the following statement:
After getting countless complaints about the sexual nature in Bulletstorm, we finally had to do something about it. I personally had no idea how dirty people's minds really were. It's quite sad to see your work get changed
like this, but after all the negative attention about this game, EA pretty much forced us to make the words more kid friendly. I'm baffled. I spent some quality time coming up with words that fit the action on screen. How can people associate
words like topless, rear entry, or gag reflex as something dirty? These words have very clear intent on the happenings on the screen.
Topless for example, happens when you successfully cut an enemy in half. What else was I supposed to put there that would be precise to the player? If you look at the bottom half of the dead enemy, you can clearly see he's
missing his top half, ergo the term topless. Rear entry is talking about shooting a guy in the back. The terminology seemed to be basic knowledge to me. People have both a front side, and a back side, which can also be called the rear.
The one that annoys me the most is gag reflex. You must have a really sick mind to think gag reflex is sexual. Ever take a bite of food to big and start choking? Ever throw up before? You can thank your gag reflex for that.
Honestly, to even think that any of these things have a sexual nature, you got to have a really dirty mind to begin with. Sadly it looks like people who won't even play this game have the dirtiest minds, and EA has forced us to change the names
into something more kid friendly.
Changes include: Topless which will be changed to Pull Yourself Together , Gag Reflex will become Choke on That! and Double Penetration will be turned into Two Guns, One Dead Body .
The console game Mortal Kombat has been banned in Australia.
The censors said that the game was 'Refused Classification'.
Warner Brothers said:
The highly anticipated video game Mortal Kombat, published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment (WBIE) in Australia, has been refused classification by the Australian Classification Board and will not release in
Australia. We are extremely disappointed that Mortal Kombat , one of the world's oldest and most successful video games franchises, will not be available to mature Australian gamers. WBIE would not market mature content where it is not
appropriate for the audience. We understand that not all content is for every audience, but there is an audience for mature gaming content and it would make more sense to have the R18+ classification in Australia. As a member of the iGEA, WBIE
is reviewing all options available at this time.
Ron Curry, CEO of the Interactive Games & Entertainment Association had this to say:
The granting of another RC to a video game clearly designed and targeted at ADULTS again highlights the shortcomings of the current classification scheme. In particular, the absence of an adult classification.
And indeed the BBFC, with a complete range of age classifications avaialbale, passed the game 18 uncut with the comment: Contains strong bloody violence.
Update: Decapitations, dismemberment and spraying blood
Australia's Government censorship board said that the game contains excessive levels of violence, and is unsuitable for a minor to see or play, specifically citing more than 60 death scenes, with graphic images of decapitations, dismemberment
and spraying blood .
Despite the exaggerated conceptual nature of the fatalities and their context within a fighting game set in a fantasy realm, impact is heightened by the use of graphics which are realistically rendered and very detailed.
The video game, Call of Juarez: The Cartel , is set to release this summer. Unlike the previous releases in the series, The Cartel is set in the present day and focuses on a bloody road trip from Los Angeles to Juarez, Mexico. But apart from this, little information has yet been released about the game
The modern-day setting combined with the title has rubbed law enforcement officials in south Texas up the wrong way. Gang and drug cartel-related violence is very real to towns in southern Texas bordering Mexico.
Brownsville Police Chief Carlos Garcia says that any game involving organized crime sets a bad example:
Unfortunately there are companies that are looking to capitalize on the violent situation in Mexico which has had a very negative impact on the country, said Garcia. There have been spillover cases in certain areas of our
country with cases of kidnappings and murders. This is a serious topic and this is just another violent video game.
It doesn't matter if it deals with the cartel in Juarez, the Gulf Cartel or the Sinaloa Cartel. It is simply not something that is appropriate for our youth, Garcia added. This leaves lasting images and ideas in teenagers
who get caught up in the game and may try to make it a reality and live the violent lifestyle they see in these games.
While Cameron County Sheriff Omar Lucio admitted that he was not familiar with the game, he says that he agrees with Garcia that any type of media that glamorizes the criminal lifestyle should be discouraged.
The title itself leads one to believe that the game deals with narcotic trafficking organizations. Games like these create a false idea in the minds of teenagers who are still developing and may grow up and want to
imitate these characters. Sadly enough these kind of games are protected by freedom of speech, but the violence that comes from cartels is not a game and it affects us all.
Update: Chihuahua lawmakers recommend Call of Juarez: The Cartel
The video game Call of Juarez: The Cartel by game developer Ubisoft has drawn criticism from Mexican and US officials even before anything substantive is known about the game beyond the promotional statement:
You'll embark on a bloody road trip from Los Angeles to Juarez, Mexico immersing yourself in a gritty plot with interesting characters and a wide variety of game play options. Take justice into your own hands in this modern
Mexican blogger Ismael Flores explains that legislators in the state of Chihuahua,where Ciudad Jua'rez is located, have now called on the Secretariat of Governance and the Secretariat of Economy to prohibit the sale of the video game in Mexico.
It remains to be seen whether Mexico's federal government will act upon the request. But of course if they do they will have to answer why they are not spending their time concentrating on banning the real violence in Jua'rez.
Fox News seem well impressed with the latest video game and have written a glowing piece of hype:
Parents had better beware: There's a Bulletstorm on the horizon.
In the new video game Bulletstorm due February 22, players are rewarded for shooting enemies in the private parts (such as the buttocks). There's an excess of profanity, of course, including frequent use of F-words. And
Bulletstorm is particularly gruesome, with body parts that explode all over the screen.
But that's not the worst part.
The in-game awards system, called Skill Shots, ties the ugly, graphic violence into explicit sex acts: topless means cutting a player in half, while a gang bang means killing multiple enemies.
And with kids as young as 9 playing such games, the experts FoxNews.com spoke with were nearly universally worried that video game violence may be reaching a fever pitch.
If a younger kid experiences Bulletstorm's explicit language and violence, the damage could be significant, Dr. Jerry Weichman, a clinical psychologist at the Hoag Neurosciences Institute in Southern California, told
Violent video games like Bulletstorm have the potential to send the message that violence and insults with sexual innuendos are the way to handle disputes and problems, Weichman said.
Carol Lieberman, a psychologist and book author, told FoxNews.com that sexual situations and acts in video games -- highlighted so well in Bulletstorm -- have led to real-world sexual violence: The increase in rapes can
be attributed in large part to the playing out of [sexual] scenes in video games, she said.
The game was rated M (mature 17+) by the ESRB, the US game ratings organisation.
In the UK. the BBFC rated the game 18 uncut with the comment: Contains frequent strong bloody violence and strong language
Offsite: Caught with her hand in the porky pie jar
12th February 2011.
Somehow gamers don't seem to putting up with the same bullshit that anti-porn and anti prostitution campaigners get away with. Games aren't quite so immediately morally reprehensible, and so lies are allowed to be challenged by media editors and
So when Carol Lieberman made the above claims about games being connected to real-world sexual violence on Fox News, writers were up for the challenge. After all there is very little sexual content in Popular gaming to base such conclusions on.
Pundits and legislators have been attacking the gaming industry for decades now, pinning the blame for tragic events like the shootings at Columbine and Virginia Tech on violent videogames. This week, self-described media psychiatrist
Carole Lieberman took that war of words one step further, claiming explicit games trigger rapes.
Despite the seriousness of Lieberman's allegations, when Wired.com asked her multiple times to clarify her comments, she failed to cite a single study, statistic or piece of evidence that proved her point.
Perhaps it's because such studies simply don't exist.
Later Carole Lieberman
sent out a mass email to journalists providing links to her sources on violence, rape and video games, it turned out to be a selection of eight studies, none of which tied sexual content in games with real-life sexual
violence. John Walker at PC gaming site Rock, Paper, Shotgun
carried out a painstaking analysis of the studies and his article is worth reading, if only for the fact that it highlights just how inconclusive the links are between simulated and real-life violence.
And to most of us, it should be obvious by now, that such isolated attacks are not worth worrying about. Video games are part of the mainstream, they have powerful advocates, they make billions of dollars -- there is no
threat. EA barely bothered to muster an official response; the developers themselves tweeted about it quickly and dismissively. There is serious work to be done on the psychology of interactive entertainment, but it won't be carried out by Fox or
In this country, Labour MP Keith Vaz who has made regular confused attacks on violent games, has allegedly found his point of view increasingly isolated within parliament. Last month, culture minister Ed Vaizey told
I'm constantly teasing Keith and I think he is aware of the sea-change in videogames and that, particularly with the new generation coming into parliament, there are now many more MPs who grew up with games as a normal part
of their life.
After psychiatrist Carole Lieberman told FoxNews.com of a connection between violent games and rape, the site Destructoid ran the headline, Games cause rape psychologist's book gets raped. The article described how Lieberman was Amazonbombed
-- meaning gamers posted dozens of scathing and profane reviews of her books to the online retail site. (See example at
US Amazon )
One commenter, timetheterrible, at Destructoid wrote:
Since this woman's outright untruths will never be recognized or discussed on a platform as large as Fox News, people vent their frustration at the situation by publicly questioning her credibility.
According to researchers at Ryerson University (Toronto, Canada), violent video games do not desensitize players to violent imagery. The study was lead by Holly Bowen and co-authored by psychology professor Julia Spaniol.
Researchers examined the impact of chronic exposure to violent video games on emotional memory and responses to negative stimuli.
Emotional long-term memory helps us avoid negative situations, Bowen said. This has significant implications for public health. For example, if you remember the negative experience of being involved in a bar fight, you will avoid future
situations that may lead to an altercation.
Participants were shown 150 images representing three different stimuli: negative, positive and neutral scenes. One hour later, the students viewed those same images again (along with a new set of 150 distractor images) in random order. As
each image was displayed, participants had to respond whether or not they had seen it before. Finally, at the end of the experiment, the students completed a self-assessment test regarding their state of emotional arousal.
The researchers believed going into the study that game players would prove to be less sensitive to the negative images and therefore show reduced memory for these materials. The results showed no difference in the memory of video game players
and non-players. Exposure to video games were not associated with differences in self-reported arousal to emotional stimuli.
The findings indicate that long-term emotional memory is not affected by chronic exposure violent video games, said Bowen. Researchers caution that further study is needed to see if these results apply to all age groups and not just young
The BBFC Talks Modern Warfare 2, Censorship and How They Keep Gaming Standards High. An interview with James Blatch of the BBFC.
Not Actual Game Footage: Is violence more acceptable in a game if it isn't happening to a human being? If a robot or alien is being brutally decapitated for instance, does that make it
more acceptable? If yes then why?
James Blatch: In simple terms: YES. It's all about context (a bit of a mantra here in Soho Square). In the Lego series of video games, the player is basically blasting little Lego pieces
to bits, that's something my five year old does with the real thing and on the Wii all the time (so far he seems normal...). But if it were the real Luke and Leia, even without blood effects, we might be looking at raising the category
Indecision over whether games featuring video content still need a BBFC certificate has temporarily derailed the implementation of PEGI ratings.
The handover from the BBFC to the VSC will not now occur until September at the very earliest.
A new government proposal states that interactive entertainment which features linear content (such as trailers) would require a BBFC rating. That means a game that features a video in it will need to have both a PEGI and BBFC label on the box.
UKIE representing UK games producers condemned the proposal, saying in a statement:
Any dual labelling is contrary to the principles that were established in having PEGI introduced into the Digital Economy Act and if this proposal were implemented we believe it would only cause unnecessary and potentially
harmful consumer confusion.
There is one thing Jim Wallace of the so-called Australian Christian Lobby got right in his attack on ratings reform: When it comes to protecting children and community standards, the authorities are asleep at
the wheel .
Unfortunately, it's the delaying tactics relied on by out-of-touch members of the Fundamentalist Right that have had that result.
The issue in question is finally removing the loophole in the classification of interactive entertainment (in the main, computer and video games) that forces content designed for adults into the rating category appropriate
for 15 year olds – either with no, or very minor changes. The unavoidable flipside of our rating system being unable to distinguish between adults and children because the distinction is not available, is not only that adults are treated as
children – it's that children are treated as adults.
The only way to treat children differently from adults is, obviously, to have an adult rating – as we have had, for a long time, in most other media.
Hence the campaign for an R18 rating, a sensible reform that will help parents know which games their kids should and absolutely should not be playing.
It's not about saving Australian jobs in the sector presently seriously undermined by our out-dated classification system – although it will certainly do that. It's not about recognising that the average gamer is now
in his or her 30s, and an increasing proportion of the content created in this medium is made by adults, for adults, not children – although that's true. It's not about the fact that restricting adults to the same content as teenagers is
nanny-state censorship (cue the sadly appropriate Mark Twain quote about censorship being telling a man he can't have a steak just because a baby can't chew it ) – although it is.
Most importantly, this reform is about protecting our children – and giving parents the tools they need.
Which is why 80% of Australians support it.
And yet, in December, instead of finally implementing this exhaustively-researched, long-investigated and not-particularly-complicated common sense reform, the nation's Attorneys-General baulked. They ordered a year-long
review instead, putting more kids at risk in the meantime.
Jim Wallace apparently thinks it's the video of supposedly R18-style content that was shown to the politicians that made them accede to his lobby's demands for further delay. Maybe they'd never seen an R18 film before, and
were surprised when the adult content designed for adults and for whom an adult rating is sought was, well, adult. Not appropriate for minors. Conflicting reports suggest it might not have been the video put out by the censorship advocates (which
tends to include material that would NEVER be rated R18 in Australia anyway) so it would not have been any worse than content we already see at video libraries around the country.
Which begs the question – why maintain the loophole?
Wallace, who was ghoulish enough on this page last week to rhetorically link the adult content he dislikes with the Tucson shootings, thinks what we play has more of an effect than what we watch, by virtue of its
interactivity. He doesn't present any evidence for this claim – not even the cherry-picked studies from dodgy no-name American universities on whom his colleagues tend to rely.
But that's because, in reality, it's besides the point. If – and that's a big if – interactive media were shown to have more of an effect, then that would be an argument for tailoring the classification
guidelines for each rating category – not for refusing to distinguish between kids and adults. If what's appropriate for an adult in film is not appropriate for an adult in games, then that would be a reason to have tougher guidelines for
games than films – not to claim that what's appropriate for an adult is appropriate for a 15 year old. Which is what having no R18 rating does.
Nobody here is seriously suggesting extreme, dangerous content that really requires banning full stop should be made available for adults. Nobody is suggesting a free-for-all: when R18 is eventually implemented, extreme
content will still be refused classification, just as it is now with films.
Jim Wallace is fighting the wrong battle – he should be arguing about what content he thinks that an R18 rating should permit, not whether it should exist or not.
Because the one thing we should all be able to agree on is that adults and children are different. That children deserve to have their innocence protected from the things that are appropriate for adults.
And any sensible classification system would recognise that simple fact, with an adult, not-for-kids classification.
It is long since time that ours did.
A further year's delay is absurd, and lets down every Australian family.
The German release of Dead Space 2 has been delayed until February. The delay was caused by censorship issues as the game had to be cut to keep the German authorities happy.
The friendly fire option has been removed from the multiplayer portion of the game.
Apparently, the German government was uneasy with a player killing their own teammates.
Thankfully the single player portion of the title will remain unaltered.
Producers Electronic Arts said in a translated press release that the game will be released on 03:02:11 for PS3 and Xbox 360 only. The Wii release still seems mired in censorship difficulties and will not get released at this time.
SCAG [Australia's attorney generals, the politicians in charge of censorship] has probably been the most conservative cross party grouping of senior politicians ever to exist in Australia. The recent changes have altered
nothing. Rob Hulls has exited on behalf of Victoria and he has been replaced by an out Christian, Robert Clark. John Rau has replaced the high Anglican Michael Atkinson in SA and Christian Porter is the newbie for WA. The
conservative Christian A-G in NSW, John Hatzistagos, who recently became the first ever A-G to give police censorship powers, is unfortunately still there although he will be removed at the next NSW state election in March. But don't hold your
breath that the new NSW Liberal A-G will be any better because it will be yet another born again Christian - Greg Smith. So why is that men of religious persuasion get such a good run on SCAG? Where are all the civil libertarian Attorneys like
Lionel Murphy, Gareth Evans and Daryl Williams
The 80% of Australians who supported an R rating in the polls should be pretty concerned that before their last meeting on games, SCAG allowed the Australian Christian Lobby's, Jim Wallace to address them on the issue. They
also allowed another anti games campaigner, Dr Elizabeth Handley to address them.
When I tried to address SCAG a few years ago on censorship issues I was told that the group did not entertain lobbyists of any kind. Clearly things have changed and now if you represent a Christian view you get in. This
represents an appalling misuse of power and engages Australia's Attorney's General in discriminatory behaviour which could well be illegal if it was someone else doing it. If SCAG wants to be seen as discharging their duties to the people of
Australian in a fair and unbiased way then they must now invite lobbyists from the gamers and adult industry to address them at their next meeting.
Despite this argument being run strongly in the lead-up to last December's meeting of censorship ministers, they baulked at lifting the bar on R18+ computer games when they were shown video of the sort of material such a
rating would allow into Australia.
Members of the public supposedly expressing overwhelming support in opinion polls for lifting the ban of extreme interactive computer game violence might also baulk if they too could see what the State and Federal Attorneys
It was very clear to me that the great majority of AGs were in a state of bemusement that anyone could want to make or play many of these games and particularly those proposed for an R18+ rating, and many said so.
It is clear that the meeting failed to get support for the R18 classification as a result.
The rollout of the new PEGI video games classification system will miss its current April 2010 deadline and will not be introduced until July of this year at the earliest.
The Video Standards Council (VSC) will then take over administration of producer assigned games ratings using PEGI symbols and classifications.
The Conservative culture minister Ed Vaizey has admitted that: There's been some technical delays to iron out a few kinks – nothing fundamental, nothing serious. And we'll crack on with it as fast as we can.
mcvuk.com believes that the delay is due to the time it will take to obtain European parliamentary approval.
Keith Vaz surprised a few parliamentarians when he turned up an event in support of gaming.
Parliament Games Day was organised by pressure group Gamers' Voice to bring together politicians and the industry to promote the cultural and economic strengths of British software.
Vaz told Eurogamer: I've never been against games. I've been against violent games that are able to fall into the hands of young people who are perhaps not able to understand the implications of what they're doing.
I don't oppose games, he inisted. I just think it's very important that people respect and acknowledge the age limits. And the campaign has always been about ensuring there is proper labelling so that people know exactly what kind of
games they should have.
Asked if he was happy with the new games classification system – still waiting to be passed into law – Vaz said he felt it was moving in the right direction . When we started this campaign the age limit was the size of half
a, I think, a 5p coin, which was very small, he explained. Obviously we want to see what PEGI does, but the more that they can draw to the attention of young people the need to respect the age limit better – and if you're over 18 you
can do what you want. No-one wants to stop you playing your games.
The R18+ issue is a big one – for gamers – but is it symptomatic of a larger classification issue? We speak to Home Affairs Minister Brendan O' Connor, former Deputy Director of the Classification Board Paul
Hunt, and CEO of the iGEA Ron Curry about the upcoming review of the classification system and what it means for an adult rating for video games.
Within this broad media spectrum is the humble video game, and the ever-present spectre of the R18+ rating. To gamers – and the majority of the Australian public – an R18+ rating for video games is a proverbial
no-brainer, but underlying this problem is a much grander one: how do we classify the unclassifiable? How does the current system manage the incredible burden brought upon by the constant influx of new content: iPhone Apps, video games, video
content, movies, Android apps, etc, etc.
Simple put: it can't. Times have changed, and the amount of content being consumed in Australia has increased rapidly over the last decade.
It has become increasingly clear, claimed Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor, in a statement released last month, that the system of classification in Australia needs to be modernised so it is able to
accommodate developments in technology now and in the future.