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30th June   

Dead Wrong...

Australia's censors award a 15 rating to Dead Island compared with a BBFC 18 rating
Link Here

Deep Silver Dead Island DVD The hotly anticipated open world zombie game Dead Island has received an MA15+ rating from the Australian Classification Board.

In a decision that has surprised many in the video games industry, Dead Island has passed through the Australian Classification Board unscathed, receiving an MA15+ rating for strong horror violence, blood and gore.

In the UK, the game was passed 18 uncut with the BBFC comment: Contains strong bloody violence and strong language.

The BBFC also explained their decision to award an 18 rather than a 15.:

At 15 the BBFC's Guidelines state Violence may be strong but should not dwell on the infliction of pain or injury. The strongest gory images are unlikely to be acceptable . During DEAD ISLAND zombie enemies are frequently encountered during normal gameplay, and must be defeated in order to progress. The player can pick up virtually anything on the island to use as a weapon, which means that rowing oars and baseball bats are often utilised at the start, with weapons only becoming available as the player progresses in experience. The list of weapons includes knives, knuckle dusters, pistols, machine guns, shotguns and Molotov cocktails. When attacking the undead, blood frequently sprays from their bodies and onto the screen, and blood is seen smeared on the melee weapons as they are used. It is also possible to blow off limbs and heads with more powerful weapons such as the shotgun, with blood also spurting from the severed body parts. This level of violence dwells on the infliction of both pain and injury, and as such was not permissible at the 15 category.

Dead Island will launch globally on September 9, 2011 for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC.

 

27th June   

Update: Minor Technicality...

US Supreme Court strikes down law banning retailers from selling violent games to minors
Link Here  full story: Violent Games in the US...Attempts to restrict video games from minors

us supreme courtThe US Supreme Court has struck down a Californian law banning the sale or rental of violent video games to those aged under 18.

The court voted 7-2 to uphold an appeals court ruling that declared the law contrary to free speech rights enshrined in the US Constitution.

Speaking at the Supreme Court, Justice Antonin Scalia said: Our cases hold that minors are entitled to a significant degree of First Amendment protection. Government has no free-floating power to restrict the ideas to which they may be exposed.

The 2005 California law prohibited the sale of violent video games to children where a reasonable person would find that the violent content appeals to a deviant or morbid interest of minors, is patently offensive to prevailing community standards as to what is suitable for minors, and causes the game as a whole to lack serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value for minors . Under the law retailers caught selling the titles to minors could face a fine of up to $1,000 for each game.

 

27th June   

On Balance...

Violent video games lead to decreases in violent crime
Link Here

ssrn logoPsychological studies invariably find a positive relationship between violent video game play and aggression. However, these studies cannot account for either aggressive effects of alternative activities video game playing substitutes for or the possible selection of relatively violent people into playing violent video games. That is, they lack external validity.

We investigate the relationship between the prevalence of violent video games and violent crimes.

Our results are consistent with two opposing effects. First, they support the behavioral effects as in the psychological studies. Second, they suggest a larger voluntary incapacitation effect in which playing either violent or non-violent games decrease crimes.

Overall, violent video games lead to decreases in violent crime.

 

23rd June   

Update: End Game...

US Supreme Court due to decide if California's age restrictions on violent computer games are lawful
Link Here  full story: Violent Games in the US...Attempts to restrict video games from minors

us supreme courtIn November, the United States Supreme Court heard arguments in the case of Schwarzenegger vs. Entertainment Merchants Association. Seven months later, the Justices have yet to decide whether or not California can regulate the sale of violent video games, but with the court now in the last two weeks of its term, a ruling is imminent. The case is now known as Brown vs. EMA.

In 2005, the California legislature passed AB 1179, a law that would punish retailers who sold or rented violent, mature-rated videogames to anyone under 18 years old. The lower court quickly struck down the law on free-speech grounds, as did lower courts in a dozen other states over the years that attempted to enact similar pieces of legislation.

The Supreme Court agreed to consider California's case in April 2010. During the hearing, California attorney Zackery Morazzini argued that states should be able to ban the sale of violent video games to anyone under 18 just as they can restrict the sale of pornography.

Due to the end of court session, the judgement is due in the next week. The court could also extend the current session into July if it is unable to make a decision on the matter, though such extensions are rare.

 

22nd June   

Updated: Politician Daring to Look Stupid...

We Dare up for a classification review in Australia
Link Here

We Dare Wii Australia's Classification Board is to review the current PG rating for Ubisoft's We Dare , a cartoon charades game which came in for nutter criticism earlier this year mainly over its adult style promotional video.

The review will be heard on June 17 by the Classification Review Board following an application being lodged by Federal Minister for Home Affairs, Brendan O'Connor. He said to GamesSpot

I asked the Classification Board to review We Dare following media reports that the game's PG rating may be inappropriate. I believe that this game is unsuitable for children and I look forward to the outcome of the Classification Board's review of its PG rating. I share the concern of many parents that children may be inadvertently playing games that are more suited to adult gamers.

The censors initally gave the Ubisoft-published party game We Dare a PG rating for mild sexual references. A number of the party games alluded to kissing, spanking, and stripping.

The censors ignored Ubisoft's initial advice during the application process to give the game an M rating. According to the board's initial report, classifiers did not feel that the game deserved an M rating because there is no sexual behaviour actually displayed in the game and the graphics it contains are highly stylised and cartoon-like:

The Board disagrees with the recommended classification of M, the report states. Given the reasons noted above, the Board is of the opinion the game warrants a PG classification with consumer advice of mild sexual references.

The game also caused controversy in the UK, where it was given a 12+ rating by the Pan European Game Information (PEGI) ratings board.

Update: PG Retained

22nd June 2011. See article from kotaku.com.au

Kokatu are reporting that We Dare , the controversial game from Ubisoft has retained its PG rating. According to the Classification Board, the overall impact... does not exceed mild .

A statement from the Classification Board claimed that this decision was a unanimous one.

A three-member panel of the Classification Review Board (the Review Board) has by unanimous decision determined that the computer game We Dare is classified PG (Parental Guidance) with the consumer advice mild sexual references .

This game contains a series of mini games which provide a single player (or a multiple of players up to four) with a variety of tasks. These mini games, which are randomly available to players based on a choice of moods , include dance moves and activities, which may require interaction with other players. There are no sexual references in actual game play. Text boxes, which contain miscellaneous facts about gender differences and interactions, randomly appear whilst a mini game is loading. Some of those text boxes contain mild sexual references. The text boxes contain no interactive elements.

 

22nd June   

Updated: PC Games...

Rumour of Scandinavian ban on Dead or Alive Dimensions
Link Here

Dead Alive Dimensions Nintendo 3DS According to several sources, Nintendo of Europe will not be distributing Dead or Alive Dimensions in Sweden and possibly Norway and Denmark.

The rumour has is that the distributor is afraid the game may break a typically ludicrous Swedish child pornography law.

There is a mode in the game that allows players to take pictures of the characters in canned poses. According to a post on NeoGAF, the law says that if someone is picturing a girl under the age of eighteen, fictional or not, in a pornographic situation, that accounts for being child pornography.

Of course, none of the poses are pornographic, there's no sex, and aside from one character who, according to the ESRB, is briefly depicted topless, there's no nudity. But Kasumi's bio says she's 17 and the youngest character in the game is 16 and Swedish Kotaku reader Doneaux points out that the age of consent in his country is 15.

Update: PG in Australia

1st June 2011. See article from gamepolitics.com

Australia PGThe Nintendo 3DS tactical fighter Dead or Alive: Dimensions has been banned in some ludicrously PC countries because it features sexualized depictions of children. The children are three teen characters named Ayane, Koroke and Kasumi who game makers describe as under 18 years of age.

Scandinavian laws say it is illegal to show young girls as animated characters in a sexualized way. The concern is mostly with the game's photography mode, which allows players to look up characters' dresses when they are in certain poses.

Controversy about the game in other parts of the world has not affected the game's rating in Australia: the country's rating Classification Board has given the game a rating of PG.

Update: Maybe Not PG in Australia

2nd June 2011. See article from couriermail.com.au

Australian Film Classification BoardA Nintendo game that allows players to look up the skirts of teenage characters is likely to lose its PG rating.

A spokesman for the Australian Classification Board told The Courier-Mail the authority had given Nintendo seven days to prove why Dead or Alive: Dimensions shouldn't have its rating revoked after media reports exposed the raunchy aspects of the game.

After concerns were raised in the media, the Classification Board requested preliminary information from (Nintendo) about whether the content described in media reports was contained in the Australian version of the game, said a spokesman for the Classification Board.

Update: PG Revoked

Perhaps Australian toy retailers should be worried that teenage dress-up dolls may be banned for the same reason.

10th June 2011. See article from news.smh.com.au

Australian Film Classification BoardA video game that has been ludicrously accused of child pornography is to be pulled from the shelves after having its classification revoked.

The Australian Classification Board originally gave the Nintendo 3DS fighting game Dead Or Alive: Dimensions a child-friendly PG rating.

But the board was forced to reconsider the rating after media reports brought some supposedly risque content to its attention - namely the ability to look up the skirts of scantily clad teenage characters.

The board asked Nintendo to advise it why the classification should not be revoked but apparently was not satisfied with the response. The game is now officially unclassified, meaning it cannot be sold in Australia unless Nintendo resubmits it for a new classification.

Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor welcomed the decision: The material in this game is clearly not appropriate to be played by children. I am pleased the Classification Board took swift action to address community concerns.

Update: The New Zealand Dimension

OFLC New Zealand logo13th June 2011. See  article from stuff.co.nz

Meanwhile, the game remains on sale in New Zealand but chief censor Dr Andrew Jack has called the game in for classification.

Update: Uprated to M in Australia

22nd June 2011. See article from computerandvideogames.com

Dead or Alive Dimensions has been now been reclassified from PG to M in Australia.

Australian Film Classification BoardM is an advisory rating that the game contains material is not recommended for persons under 15 years of age. (note that it is one step below an MA15+ which requires age verification for purchase).

The game is now described as containing violence and sexualised gameplay on its classification sticker, and will hopefully return to Australian retail shelves within days.

 

16th June   

Update: Politician Daring to Look Stupid...

We Dare up for a classification review in Australia
Link Here

We Dare Wii Australia's Classification Board is to review the current PG rating for Ubisoft's We Dare , a cartoon charades game which came in for nutter criticism earlier this year mainly over its adult style promotional video.

The review will be heard on June 17 by the Classification Review Board following an application being lodged by Federal Minister for Home Affairs, Brendan O'Connor. He said to GamesSpot

I asked the Classification Board to review We Dare following media reports that the game's PG rating may be inappropriate. I believe that this game is unsuitable for children and I look forward to the outcome of the Classification Board's review of its PG rating. I share the concern of many parents that children may be inadvertently playing games that are more suited to adult gamers.

The censors initally gave the Ubisoft-published party game We Dare a PG rating for mild sexual references. A number of the party games alluded to kissing, spanking, and stripping.

The censors ignored Ubisoft's initial advice during the application process to give the game an M rating. According to the board's initial report, classifiers did not feel that the game deserved an M rating because there is no sexual behaviour actually displayed in the game and the graphics it contains are highly stylised and cartoon-like:

The Board disagrees with the recommended classification of M, the report states. Given the reasons noted above, the Board is of the opinion the game warrants a PG classification with consumer advice of mild sexual references.

The game also caused controversy in the UK, where it was given a 12+ rating by the Pan European Game Information (PEGI) ratings board.

 

15th June   

Waiting Game...

BBFC hand over of games to the VSC said to be delayed, possibly until Christmas
Link Here
Disneys Christmas Carol Nintendo DS

  The ghost of Christmas yet to come

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has admitted that complex technical points are behind the ongoing delay to legal implementation of PEGI age-ratings for video games in the UK.

Negotiations between the Government, overseen personally by Culture Minister Ed Vaizey, the Video Standards Council, and the BBFC, are understood to be at a delicate stage. But sources familiar with the matter said there was optimism that the system could still be passed into law by Christmas .

As revealed by GI.biz in January, a complicated debate over packaging regulations had thrown a spanner in the works, with the BBFC's role in particular requiring definitive clarification. The main sticking point remains the issue of linear (i.e. trailer) content, which regulations require is rated by the BBFC.

 

31st May   

Updated: End Game...

Australian government reveals proposed classification rules to finally allow adults only games
Link Here  full story: R18+ for Games in Australia...Pondering an adult R18+ rating for video games

R18+ bannedDraft changes to Australia's censorship rules have now been made public, outlining the type of content that could make it as an adults only R18+ game.

Under the proposed guidelines, an R18+ rating would allow:

  • Virtually no restrictions on themes
  • Violence except where it offends against the standards of morality, decency, and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults
  • Implied sexual violence, if justified by context
  • Realistically simulated sexual activity
  • Virtually no restrictions on language
  • Drug use and nudity are permitted.

The R18+ guides are similar to those that currently exist for film in Australia, except for the caveat that game violence must not offend community standards.

The MA15+ rating for games, too, has been tweaked in the proposal. While most of the guidelines for the rating have been retained, several have been added, including:

  • Strong and realistic violence should not be very frequent
  • Sexual activity must not be tied to rewards or incentives
  • Interactive drug use that is detailed and realistic is not permitted
  • Nudity must not be related to incentives and rewards.

The proposals have already been sighted by Australia's state and territory attorneys-general, who will review the guidelines before making a decision on the introduction of an R18+ rating for games at the next SCAG meeting in early July.

Update: State Support

30th May 2011. See article from kotaku.com.au

Tasmania flagThe previous pro R18+ Attorney-General for Tasmania, David Bartlett, resigned earlier this month, which sent alarm bells ringing for some. Thankfully, we've just gotten word that his successor, Brian Wightman, is following Bartlett by supporting the introduction of an adult rating for video games.

Journalism student, and Kotaku reader, James Sheppard interviewed him for an assigment, and asked him about his stance. During the interview Wightman claimed that he fully intended to push for an R18+ rating at the next SCAG meeting: It's not going to completely stop children getting this material, he said, it will reduce those that do and it definitely won't make things worse.

Comment: Why treat games more strictly than films?

31st May 2011.  See article from aussie-gamer.com

letter writingWhy should our classification system continue to uphold games to a higher standard than film?

The proposed draft guidelines for the classification of computer games released last week still have added clauses that give Australia's Classification Board assessors room to judge games to a higher standard than film.

For example, the guidelines for an R18+ film simply state that violence is permitted . But in the draft guidelines for R18+ video games, violence is permitted except where it offends against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults to the extent that it should not be classified .

For M and MA15+ films, the only directive about drug use is that drug use should be justified by context .

But the proposed guidelines for M and MA15+ games make the job of assessors much more difficult, adding that interactive drug use that is detailed and realistic is not permitted and drug use must not be related to incentives or rewards .

A similar caveat is added to the MA15+ guidelines for sex in games when compared to nookie on the big screen. Sexual activity must not be related to incentives or rewards according to the proposed guidelines, a guideline not directed at film assessors.

When there is little evidence to support the suggestion that interactivity heightens impact, it seems as though these caveats have been added simply to appease vocal minorities rather than in the interests of a robust classification system.

Read the full article

 

28th May   

Update: Playing the Survey Game...

Australian Government surveys public support their proposed guidelines for adults only games
Link Here  full story: R18+ for Games in Australia...Pondering an adult R18+ rating for video games

Australia Government: Attorney-General's DepartmentThe Australian Government's Attorney-General's Department has posted an online survey to gauge public opinion on the recently released draft guidelines for the R18+ ratings classification released earlier this week.

The survey simply asks users to select from the following 4 statements:

  • I support the proposed R18+ category for computer games and I support the proposed draft Guidelines for the Classification of Computer Games.
  • I support the proposed R18+ category for computer games but I do not support the draft Guidelines for the Classification of Computer Games.
  • I do not support the proposed R18+ category for computer games but I do support the draft Guidelines for the Classification of Computer Games.
  • I do not support the proposed R18+ category for computer games and I do not support the draft Guidelines for the Classification of Computer Games.

See survey

 

27th May   

Update: Nutter Fury...

Hype begins for the up n coming video game Modern Warfare 3
Link Here  full story: Call of Duty...Nutters wound up by warfare video game series

Call Duty Modern Warfare DVD The Daily Mail has started the hype:

An ultra-violent computer game which features explosions and scenes of destruction on the London Tube and at the Houses of Parliament is to be released later this year.

Supporters of those affected by the 7/7 suicide attacks in July 2005, which killed 52 people, called for Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 to be banned.

The game's trailer , which is described as inappropriate for children, depicts military helicopters, rocket launchers and black-op style soldiers in balaclavas.

The game can be pre-ordered for £ 35 and will be officially released on November 8.

Vivienne Pattison, spokesman for campaign group Mediawatch UK, said: I have concerns as these games are hyper-real and take place in a landscape we are familiar with. In light of the fact we have just had the 7/7 inquests, it is in incredibly poor taste.

Activision, who make the game, said: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is a fictional action game aimed at mature adults and set in World War Three. The scenes in the game are entirely fictional and are not intended to recreate any historical events.

Offsite: Mediawatch-UK Explain

25th May 2011. Based on article from mediawatch-uk.blogspot.com

Mediawatch-UK bannerInteresting to note that the nutters of Mediawatch-UK are aware that their bleatings may contribute to hype, and hence may increase sales. They write in their latest blog entry:

We were called by several news outlets who wanted our view of the game. We walk a fine line when commenting on games like this because scenes are often inserted which are likely to attract protest thus creating a media buzz and selling more copies. Because we've not yet been able to play the game or see anymore than the contents of the trailer we weren't prepared to comment beyond saying that ,coming so close on the back of the 7/7 inquests which showed the devastating effects of an attack on the tube, including this in the game would appear to be cynical and in poor taste.

...Read the full article

 

27th May   

Update: Keith Vaz...

'Concerns' about nutter MPs spending too much time whingeing about video games
Link Here  full story: Keith Vaz...Keith Vaz in votes for knighthood claim

Super Mario Galaxy 2 Wii MP Keith Vaz appeared on the BBC Radio Three show, hosted by Ben Jackson, on the subject of the amount of time that children spend playing video games.

Vaz contributed:

The internet can be used as a force for good and video games can provide the opportunity for people, young people to be able enjoy themselves. But the concern is the length of time they are spending on the internet and playing video games and also, and perhaps more importantly, the fact that those video games that have adult content are being seen by those under the age of 18.

The problem with the gamers is that they go berserk any time anyone says anything about these video games as if they were the Holy Grail of entertainment.

I cite as my evidence a Mr Miyamoto, the creator of one of the greatest video games ever - Super Mario, Vaz added, who suggested in an article in The Times on 22nd April that young people should drop their joypads and venture out into the sunlight once in a while. If someone like that can say it then it is something that we need to be concerned about.

Vaz revealed that his two teenage children have game consoles and I'm constantly telling my son to come off of his machine . But it is a bit of a battle and one doesn't want to upset one's children, he said, especially when they're teenagers ha ha ha ha.

 

27th May   

Update: Bishops See...

Australian Bishops begrudgingly support an adults only game rating
Link Here  full story: R18+ for Games in Australia...Pondering an adult R18+ rating for video games

R18+ bannedAustralian Catholic Bishops have begrudgingly welcomed proposed guidelines for adult rating for video games.

In a press statement, the Conference--which represents the official views of the Catholic church in Australia said:

In an ideal world, the sort of material that is included in R18+ or higher classification films and computer games would never be seen in a civilized democracy. However, it is not an ideal world and, in the real world in which we live, such material unfortunately is produced and is available, sometimes legally and often illegally, within our society.

The preferred position of the Catholic Church is that R18+ material should not be available. But if such an outcome is not achievable then the Australian National Classification Scheme should include an R18+ classification category for computer games.

Not all Christian groups are on this side, however. Vocal minority group, the Australian Christian Lobby, has lambasted the proposed guidelines, describing them as contrary to the interests of parents and children. ACL's chief of staff Lyle Shelton said in a press statement:

Not only is this proposal contrary to the claim that the introduction of an R18+ category for computer games would protect children by merely relocating existing MA15+ games to a new R18+ category, it would inevitably open the Australian hire and sale markets to a higher level of graphically violent and sexually explicit interactive games,

 

22nd May   

Too Dark for UAE...

LA Noire banned in UAE
Link Here

Rockstar Games L A Noire Xbox United Arab Emirates retail chain Geekay Games has updated its Facebook page to say that the video game L.A. Noire has been banned.

 

21st May   

Time Out...

Keith Vaz has another minor knock at video games
Link Here

Keith VazEarly day motion 1807: Video Games and Young People

Primary sponsor: Keith Vaz

That this House welcomes the call by Shigero Miyamoto, creator of Super Mario, for people to drop their joypads and venture out into the sunlight once in a while; recognises that video games have addictive properties; notes that children flourish when they undertake a variety of extra-curricular experience; further notes the current Hungarian EU Presidency priority of protecting minors from harmful audiovisual media content in media legislation; is concerned about the potential impact of violent video games on those under 18; and calls on the Government to ensure the purchase of video games by those under 18 is carefully controlled and that parents are encouraged to limit the amount of time children spend on video games.

Signed by 11 MPs:

Campbell, Ronnie Labour Party Blyth Valley1
Caton, Martin Labour Party Gower
Clark, Katy Labour Party North Ayrshire and Arran
Corbyn, Jeremy Labour Party Islington North
Dobbin, Jim Labour Party Heywood and Middleton
Hancock, Mike Liberal Democrats Portsmouth South
Hopkins, Kelvin Labour Party Luton North
Meale, Alan Labour Party Mansfield
Simpson, David Democratic Unionist Party Upper Bann
Tredinnick, David Conservative Party Bosworth
Vaz, Keith Labour Party Leicester East

 

16th May   

Offsite: Pixelated Breasts...

My strange, brief career as a video-game obscenity watchdog
Link Here

ESRBEarlier this month, the Entertainment Software Rating Board---the video-game equivalent of the MPAA---announced that its ratings for online games would soon be determined via an automated questionnaire. Such news would reverberate little outside the industry had it not seemed like the latest evidence that humankind would soon be supplanted by its own doodads. 

For me, though, this announcement was personal. That's because I was lucky enough to intern at ESRB, sifting through video games in search of sexual, violent, and obscene content.

In the summer of 2000, my fellow employees and I vetted releases like Wargasm and Punky Skunk for human blood and female nipples. My job was to plow through the venerable ESRB library, scouring older games for dubious content. Since historical parity ---that is, comparing the latest games to similar titles from the past---is central to the rating process, my work helped ensure the fairness and accuracy of our mission.

...Read the full article

 

11th May   

Update: Good Old Games...

Games delivery service makes it easier for Australians to get hold of censored games
Link Here

good old games logoA noted online distributor of popular video games such as The Witche r series has removed restrictions from its platform which limits some features to customers based on what country their internet address is from, potentially allowing Australians to clandestinely escape local video game censorship rules.

The feature, known as geo-IP or geo-location, is used by many online video game delivery platforms to restrict what forms of content customers in different countries can consume, and how much they will pay for it.

For example, it is common for Australian video game players to complain that the price of video games bought online can be different locally than in the United States with the price being set by determining a customer's IP address, despite the same content being delivered.

In a statement on its site published this week, game distributor Good Old Games said it had come to the conclusion that there were a number of issues with using a customer's IP address to determine what offer they were being presented with.

A good number of users can find themselves negatively impacted by a policy of using geo IP to set their region, the company said. For example, customers may be travelling when they want to purchase or download a game from GOG.com. In this case, automatic IP address capture might change the price or the content of the game they're ordering (such as the default language of the installer).

Furthermore, the company said, geo-IP data collection didn't always function correctly --- and could report an incorrect region for users. And lastly, it didn't want to violate its users' privacy by collecting data it didn't need to --- so had taken the decision to trust customers to voluntarily tell it their correct region when making a purchase.

 

4th May   

Update: Bloodied But Comes Back Fighting...

Dog fighting game app reappears with a new name
Link Here

kg docgfightingAfter a little controversy with Dog Wars , which Google pulled from the Android Market last week, Kage Games has returned with a new name, KG Dogfighting .

We appreciate everyone's thoughts about our app as we are firm believers in the right to free speech and the free exchange of ideas, writes Kage Games.

These freedoms are the building blocks of the Google Android operating system and the very reason so many users choose Google Android over the alternative.

A Google spokesperson talking to the LA Times has said that the original game wasn't removed because of any content issues, but because of copyright infringement , which suggests that this new title is enough to resolve the issues.

Not Impressed

See article from reviews.cnet.com

The head of the LA Police Department's officers union has spoken out against the app, according to the Los Angeles Times, calling it sick and disgusting, despite its new name. The app may have especially struck the wrong chord with police officers since it offers game players a gun that they can use in the event of police raids and to inject the virtual dogs with steroids.

In its response, PETA unveiled its own iPhone app last week that highlights stories about animal cruelty, inviting users to share the details on Facebook and Twitter and take action by sending letters of protest to politicians, corporate executives, and other officials. The app also enables people to donate money to the cause through PETA's mobile Web site.

 

3rd May   

Update: Bewitched by Nutters...

Australia cuts computer game, The Witcher 2, to avoid being banned
Link Here

Witcher Premium PC DVD Namco Bandai has confirmed to Kotaku that The Witcher 2 has been cut for Australian release under an MA15+ rating.

According to Namco Bandai:

In the original version your character Geralt was given the choice of accepting sex as a reward for successfully completing this particular side quest. The Australian Classification Board originally refused classification as they deemed the inclusion of sex as a reward as not suitable for an MA15+ classification.

The change is only minor, in that the character choice is now made automatically for him. The character and the side quest are still in the game but presented in a slightly different context. No other cuts have been made and this change has no impact on gameplay, storyline or character development.

 

2nd May   

Update: Funny Games...

One day ban for from Xbox using the word 'clunge'
Link Here

where is the clunge Xbox LIVE - Notification of Enforcement Action

Notification of Temporary Suspension: Inappropriate content in your profile

This email is to notify you that your Xbox LIVE account privileges have been temporarily suspended due to inappropriate content in the profile for your gamertag. The inappropriate content was discovered in the Motto, Bio, Location, Name and/or Personal Picture.

The following content for the gamertag associated with this Windows Live ID was brought to our attention and was determined to have violated the Code of Conduct and/or Terms of Use:

  • Location: your mums clunge

Your profile was brought to the attention of the LIVE Enforcement Team through complaints filed by other Xbox LIVE users or in the course of our operation of the service. The LIVE Enforcement Team has reviewed the complaints and other evidence regarding this content and determined it violates the Xbox LIVE Terms of Use and/or Code of Conduct. Because this content is in violation, the LIVE Enforcement Team has deleted the content and issued a temporary suspension.

Thank you,

LIVE Enforcement Team

 

30th April   

Update: Capital Idea...

Canberra proposes a genuine adults only rating for games
Link Here  full story: R18+ for Games in Australia...Pondering an adult R18+ rating for video games

Australia ACT flagCanberra will introduce an adult rating for video games, even if other states and territories refuse to implement one, ACT Attorney-General Simon Corbell has told The Canberra Times.

Corbell made the commitment when he criticised the stalled process for changing the censorship regime: I'm extremely frustrated by the protracted nature of this discussion ... I asked my department earlier this month to look at the options of unilateral action .

The ACT will only be able to break with other states and territories and introduce an R18+ rating for video games if the Federal Government creates such a category. Currently, unanimous agreement between all jurisdictions is required to make a change. Earlier this month Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor flagged introducing the adult rating, leaving it to each state and territory to decide the issue for themselves.

Corbell said: We want to provide better guidance for parents and remove unsuitable material from children and teenagers. The introduction of an R18+ classification will help achieve that. This is the right decision for Australian families and the right decision for parents who want to be able to make informed choices about the games their children play.

MLA Shane Rattenbury, legal affairs spokesman for Greens, conditionally backed ACT Labor's commitment meaning the legislation needed to introduce an R18+ rating for video games would have the numbers to pass the local assembly.

The ACT plan does not involve scrapping the MA15+ category as per the censorial South Australian suggestion.

 

29th April   

Rated M for Mature...

US self assessed ratings for console downloadable games
Link Here

ESRBThe Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) has introduced a new streamlined rating process for games that will only be sold and downloaded through console and handheld storefronts such as Microsoft Xbox LIVE Arcade, Nintendo Wii, or DSi™ Shop and Sony PlayStation Store.

These games will receive the same recognizable ESRB ratings via a process whose efficiency and ease of use provides the scalability necessary to address the steady increase of games delivered digitally across an ever-expanding multitude of new devices and outlets.

Publishers of these downloadable games will complete a different submission form than is used for all other games. The new form contains a series of multiple choice questions designed to assess content across all relevant categories, such as violence, sexual content and language, among others. The questions also address important contextual factors such as the game's realism and visual style, its incentives (i.e., whether a certain action is meant to be avoided or results in failure), the player's perspective (i.e., omniscient, distant or third person vs. immersed, close-up or first person), and more. The responses provided determine the game's rating, which is issued to the publisher as soon as a DVD reflecting all disclosed content is received by ESRB.

All other types of games will continue to undergo the traditional rating process, which involves completion of a more open-ended questionnaire and review of a content DVD by a minimum of three raters who reach consensus on the appropriate rating.

The ESRB rating process that has been in use since 1994 was devised before the explosion in the number of digitally delivered games and devices on which to play them. These games, many of which tend to be casual in nature, are being produced in increasing numbers, by thousands of developers, and generally at lower costs, said ESRB president Patricia Vance. This new rating process considers the very same elements weighed by our raters. The biggest difference is in our ability to scale this system as necessary while keeping our services affordable and accessible.

All games rated via this new process will be tested by ESRB staff shortly after they are made publicly available to verify that disclosure was complete and accurate. In the event that content was not fully disclosed during this process, the rating displayed in the console or handheld store will be promptly corrected. In egregious cases of nondisclosure – which include a deliberate effort to misinform the ESRB – the game and - more - all of its promotional materials will be removed from the store through which it is being sold, pending its resubmission to ESRB.

 

28th April   

Update: Nutter Politics...

South Australia set to redefine 15 rated kids games as adult only and then continue to ban adult games
Link Here  full story: R18+ for Games in Australia...Pondering an adult R18+ rating for video games

John RaulSouth Australia will soon introduce a new R18 rating for videogames...BUTl....this isn't the great step forward many Australian gamers have been hoping for.

At present, a 15 certificate is the highest a videogame can be awarded. But in the new system, all that will change is that previously 15-rated games will become 18-rated games, and stores will not be permitted to sell them to minors.

Games that were refused classification on the grounds that they were unsuitable for 15-year-olds will still be refused classification. Essentially, what was once deemed suitable for teenagers will now be locked down to adults only.

South Australian attorney general John Rau said that he hopes the new system will catch on elsewhere in the country, and explained that the decision was to create a more obvious separation between what is appropriate for adults, and what is appropriate for children.

There has to be a clear difference between what adults can get and what children can get, he told ABC News. At the moment the MA15+ classification is like a crossover point between what is acceptable and what is unacceptable.

Tche system is unlikely to be officially confirmed before July, but Rau thinks it should go through easily. Speaking to Gamespot, he said: There will need to be some regulation or possible statutory amendments made but I don't think it will be hard to do this. We just have to wait until the federal position becomes clear.

 

27th April   

Barking up the Wrong Virtual Tree...

Whingeing at phone app game featuring dog fighting
Link Here

dog warsKage Games, LLC, describes its Dog Wars app as a game that will never be in the iPhone App store.

And for good reason. Dog Wars features the training of virtual dogs to fight to the death and challenge other phone users to dogfights.

Alicia Silverstone was so 'appalled' when she heard about the Android phone app that she wrote a letter to the CEO of Google, maker of the Android, and Kage Games, asking that they pull the game right away:

As a mom-to-be and someone who has adopted and loved rescued pit bulls, I join PETA's millions of members in imploring you to cancel this game immediately. If one dog dies as a result of this game, you will not forgive yourself.

The app makers seemed to be anticipating a bit of nutter controversy and said in their game description:

It is just a video game. Perhaps one day we will make gerbil wars or beta fish wars for people who can't understand fantasy role play games ... Just because something is illegal in real life in certain countries, does not mean it is illegal to make a song, movie, or video game about it.

 

15th April   

Offsite: So W.R.O.N.G...

A campaign against nutters like Ann Diamond spouting bollox on TV about games
Link Here

wrong logo On The Wright Stuff this week on Channel 5, Wright invited long-forgotten US actress Stefanie Fading Powers to talk about the tragic murder of 16-year-old Agnes Sina-Inakoju in Hackney, London last year - for which two 20-something gang members were tried and jailed for life this week.

The broadcast conversation moved onto to the sad tabloid story that a young boy (some reports say a teenager, some a nine-year-old) stored the weapons for the two gang members under his bed before the shooting occurred.

Here is what ensued on FIVE/Channel 5's Wright Stuff from there in on, verbatim:

Matthew Wright: It was one of the most shocking news reports I've ever seen. That someone could peddle up, take his machine gun out and spray people [with bullets], almost without looking at who he was hitting. [Turns to Powers]: But I guess as an American, you've seen more than your fair share of teenagers and gun stories.

Stefanie Powers: I'm afraid so. And I hate to think that as Americans we've exported along with rap music and the horrible video... I say the horrible video culture. It's the horrible violent video games [wiggles thumbs] which, I'm terribly sorry, they've been used far too long as baby-sitting devices, so that children are raised with these flashing, hot symbols of violence. And irresponsible violence; there's no responsibility to the violence.

MW: Absolutely. Which you can equate with a teenage boy who almost certainly would have played just those games, spraying a machine gun without...

Anne Diamond: Well in fact, having just that sort of armoury under his bed - just like you'd have a couple of Nintendos and a PlayStation under your bed.

This time, we've had enough. The line is being drawn. Today, we fight back. Today, CVG launches W.R.O.N.G - a concerted campaign to stop (or at least loudly mock) the Witless and Ridiculous Opinions Of Non-Gamers.

Anyone who opens their mouth on national TV, in the papers or at a major publicly-attended event and chats absolute bull about our hobby, we're badgering you - and badging you. We'll collect up our group of W.R.O.N.G'uns throughout the year, and give you lot a leaderboard to point and giggle at around Christmas time. Imagine it. It'll be all festive and that.

...Read the full article

Update: Voice of Complaint

29th April 2011. See  article from  gamesindustry.biz

UK consumer group Gamers' Voice has now filed an official complaint with Channel 5 over this episode of the chat show.

Update: Fair and Balanced [just like Fox News]

9th May 2011.  See  article from  eurogamer.net

The editor of topical discussion show The Wright Show has defended last month's Do shoot 'em up games lead to real violence? episode in which panellists linked video game violence to real world violence.

UK consumer group Gamers' Voice had accused The Wright Stuff of favouring uninformed statements and sensationalist representation over a balanced look at the issue in a letter sent to the UK broadcaster.

We always make every effort to ensure that discussions on controversial subjects are fair and balanced, and I am happy that we did so on this occasion, Caroline Davies, editor of the Wright Stuff, wrote in a response.

Despite Channel 5's response, Gamers' Voice chairman Paul Gibson remains unsatisfied and awaits word from OfCom on its complaint.

Whilst their response puts great emphasis on the experience and 'credibility' of the panellists by claiming that they are 'intelligent and reasonable people' they do not in any way refer to the inflammatory and quite frankly insulting remarks made regarding gamers in general, he said.

Our complaint to OfCom remains a live issue however, and we look forward to the results of that complaint in due course. Overall we are pleased that Channel 5 have taken our complaint seriously and have performed this review. Even though they do not acknowledge any wrongdoing, we hope that our action will cause the broadcasters and the presenters to carefully consider their statements and subject matter in the future.

 

13th April   

Uncut Cut Scenes...

L.A. Noire rating stirring interest amongst games
Link Here

Rockstar Games L A Noire PS3 Another game release sees lots of interest in the announcement of the BBFC rating.

The BBFC have passed L.A. Noire 18 uncut with the comment: Contains very strong language, strong violence, sex references and nudity

The BBFC also notes 5 hours and 12 minutes of video inserts or cut scenes. The re is also 3 hours and 25 minutes of supplementary gameplay footage.

 

3rd April   

Update: Playing the Nutter Game...

Victoria's Attorney General looks likely to echo christian lobby nonsense and oppose an adult rating for games
Link Here  full story: R18+ for Games in Australia...Pondering an adult R18+ rating for video games

robert clarklong awaited reforms of Australia's censorship of computer games look set to fail after Victoria state declared its 'strong concern' that the move will legalise games with high levels of graphic, frequent and gratuitous violence .

Backed by a groundswell of support from the gaming community, the Gillard government is determined to fix the classification system for computer games, which allows unsuitable games to be rated for 15-year-olds, yet bans popular games for adults.

But the Ted Baillieu government's Attorney-General, Robert Clark, has echoed the concerns of the Australian Christian Lobby, putting him on a collision course with the federal government, which requires the backing of all states and territories to change classification laws.

Clark told Fairfax that he welcomed one impact of the reform, that some games classified MA15+ would move to the higher rating of R18+. But the move, he said, would also mean allowing games to be sold in Australia that are banned because of their high levels of violence:

[This] needs careful scrutiny and public debate. The Coalition government is very concerned that the draft guidelines currently being proposed by the Commonwealth would legalise games with high levels of graphic, frequent and gratuitous violence, including violence against civilians and police.

Clark said the community should have a chance to discuss the draft guidelines, which have not been made public, and see what sort of games would be legalised. The Victorian government will decide our position based on our assessment of whether the final proposal will adequately protect the community, he said.

But Home Affairs Minister, Brendan O'Connor, told Fairfax:

The public has been consulted extensively on this matter and overwhelmingly support the introduction of an adult classification for games/

About 60,000 submissions were received in the last consultation round, showing huge community support for the introduction of an adult computer game classification. I await state and territory governments' views on the draft guidelines and remain open to sensible suggestions consistent with community expectations and good public policy.

 

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