Games News

 2015: Jan-March



  School bullies of the most despicable kind...

Cheshire schools implicitly threaten that parents who allow their kids to play 18 rated games will lose their children


Link Here 29th March 2015
childcatcherParents are in danger of being reported to police by their children's head teachers if they allow them to play video games for over 18s.

A disgraceful threatening letter sent by a group of schools in Cheshire said that parents would be reported for child neglect if they let their kids play games such as Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto , which have an 18 classification.

It warns that if teachers are made aware their pupils have been playing these video games they will contact police and social services.

The letter, sent by Nantwich Education Partnership, said allowing children to play these type of games on Xboxes and Playstations is deemed neglectful . The letter threatens:

If your child is allowed to have inappropriate access to any game or associated product that is designated 18+ we are advised to contact the Police and Children's Social Care as it is neglectful.

Nantwich Education Partnership covers 16 primary and secondary schools in Cheshire.

 

  The Devil Cries 'Cut!'...

Devil May Cry game is PC cleansed for its 'definitive' re-release


Link Here 25th March 2015
DMC Devil May Cry Definitive PlayStation The developer of the Devil May Cry  video game, Ninja Theory has censored a snippet of sexually suggestive dialogue from the action adventure's Definitive Edition re-release.

The game's new version for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One supercedes the 2002 original version.

The original scene sees demon antagonist Mundus discussing his evil plans with fellow demon and mistress Lilith.

Mundus : I will control the world through debt. I have absolute power.

Lilith: The world is at last your bitch , as am I. Nothing left but to grab it by the hair, bend it over and -

Mundus grunts

Lilith: What's the matter? Wait - what's the matter?

The latter part of the dialogue in bold is cut from the definitive version.

Chief creative director Tameem Antoniades unconvincingly claimed that this wasn't a PC clean up. He said:

We did make an edit to the opening cut-scene. It wasn't a case of censorship as there are far more suggestive scenes in the game. We felt that scene in particular drags on a little bit for the opening sequence and frankly, we didn't like the line.

The edit does not affect the game play.

 

  A cunning plan...

Northamptonshire police commissioner has a plan to cure society's ills by renaming the '18' rating for games to 'adults only'


Link Here 25th March 2015
adam simmondsA new report into online safety from Northamptonshire Police & Crime Commissioner Adam Simmonds comes to some bizarre conclusions about video games playing by youngsters.

In particular he reports that video games that ask players to participate in extreme acts of violence such as massacring civilians and torturing people should be labelled AO (Adult Only) to warn parents they are not suitable for children.

The press release for the report acknowledges that an 18 rating already exists but loses the plot a bit when starting to explain the difference:

While an 18 + certificate already exists warning parents and children of explicit content, there have been a number of recent controversies surrounding the release of high profile video games. Grand Theft Auto V, one of the most expensive computer games ever made, has caused outrage for including a torture scene in which the player must pull teeth and electrocute an unarmed man. In Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, players are asked if they wish to play a proactive part in an airport civilian massacre. The report found that 26% of children had accessed games that they knew they were underage for with over one in 10 children aged 11 saying they had downloaded Call of Duty.

The press release also includes some unexplained, maybe fanciful ideas about providing ' a parental lock as standard'. Presumably he has picked up something from default on internet website blocking system recently introduced by ISPs. The press release blathers on:

The report also suggests the video games industry provides a parental lock as standard to help parents protect their children from extremely violent and explicit images. If the industry fails to take greater responsibility, then the Government should consider banning certain games altogether.

One assumes that his selling technique of quoting a few shocking stats about children's media usage and then waving his arms a bit, and offering some ill defined censorial solution is a hangover from working for Christian advocacy group CARE and for the religious campaigning MP, Gary Streeter. (See article from en.wikipedia.org )

 

  Single Click Ratings...

More details about the international ratings service adopted by Google Play


Link Here 19th March 2015
iarc logoESRB and rest of the International Age Rating Coalition (IARC) will bring global game ratings to Google Play, consoles and more.

The ESRB and the International Age Rating Coalition (IARC) are pushing out a global rating system, along with other rating authorities in other parts of the world, including PEGI in Europe, ClassInd in Brazil, USK in Germany, and the Classification Board in Australia.

Importantly, the IARC (founded in late 2013) has gotten the ratings authorities to agree on a unified process that simultaneously generates ratings for multiple territories while preserving each of their distinct cultural standards. That means parents and consumers don't have to learn any new rating systems, and developers can get their games rated appropriately across global markets at the same time.

The ESRB is pushing its ratings onto mobile and digital storefronts, beginning with Firefox Marketplace and Google Play. PlayStation Network, Xbox Live and Nintendo's eShop have agreed to participate at a later date. While the ESRB does already have ratings on digital games available on consoles, a spokesperson clarified that what's actually new is the IARC process. Patricia Vance, president of ESRB and chairperson of IARC, commented:

With a single click, developers can publish their games and apps on digital storefronts reaching a worldwide audience. These realities have created regulatory and cultural challenges that call for an innovative solution like IARC to help developers and storefronts provide consumers with culturally relevant, legally compliant and reliable guidance about the age appropriateness of the content in games and apps they may be considering for download.

 

  Playing Self Censor...

Google introduces age ratings to its app store that vary according to locale


Link Here 18th March 2015
google play logoThe app store, Google Play has introduced an international rating scheme.

Developers fill in a questionnaire as to whether their app contains nudity or strong language etc and then an automated system assigns an age rating dependant on the locale. Local censorship variations will apply, eg an app might be okay for children in one Europe, but not in the US.

In North America, ratings are based off of the ESRB ratings that are usually seen on games (though they apply to non-game apps as well). In Europe, PEGI is used, and so on. Regions without an established ratings authority will receive a generic age rating.

The automated rating system will be backed up by an app review team composed of actual human beings who will also check out disputed or controversial ratings. The team will make decisions about ratings within hours of submission.

Google is also rolling more detailed information on app publishing statuses, giving developers more insight into why their apps may not be published right away.

 

 Update: A New Rating Game...

Australia joins the International Age Rating Coalition with view to allowing game developers to use an approved tool to rate games rather than bother the censors of the Classification Board


Link Here 10th March 2015

australia minister justice logo Australia will trial a new classification tool to keep pace with mobile and online games ensuring users, particularly parents, are better informed about what types of games are being played on mobile devices.

Australia has joined the International Age Rating Coalition (IARC), a partnership of government and industry content classification authorities from around the world, including the United States, Canada, Europe and Brazil. As part of this partnership, Australia is preparing to trial the use of IARC's new tool for classifying mobile and online games.

Participating online storefronts that use the IARC tool require game developers to obtain certification by completing a questionnaire about the content of their games. The IARC tool then assigns games with local classifications for each member country or region based on standards set by the relevant authorities.

The use of this tool will help keep the National Classification Scheme up to date with the pace of growth of mobile and online games. Australians who download these games through participating storefronts will soon start seeing familiar Australian classifications. Parents will also be better informed when making decisions about what their children play on their devices.

Today's announcement follows amendments made by the Government last year to the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 that allow the Minister to approve classification tools for classifying publications, films and/or computer games.

After close collaboration between the IARC and my Department over many months to ensure the tool meets Australia's requirements, I have approved the IARC classification tool for an initial 12-month trial period to begin next month.

As part of the trial, the Classification Board will audit a large number of classifications made by the IARC tool to ensure they reflect the Australian community's expectations and standards.

The Board also has the power to revoke classifications made by the IARC tool if it decides it would have given the game a different classification.

 

 Offsite Article: Jack the Ripper...


Link Here 1st March 2015
jack the ripper 18 rated The story behind the first 18 certificated video game

See article from eurogamer.net

 

  A watershed for the internet...

ASA dismisses complaint about an ad for an 18 rated game appearing with Time Team when viewed around 7pm


Link Here 1st February 2015

The Evil Within PC DVD A video-on-demand (VOD) ad for the video game The Evil Within was seen between 19:00 and 19:30 during an episode of Time Team . The ad began with a shot of a record player and the sound of classical music, which was replaced abruptly by a shriek and low-pitched atonal music. The ad then showed a metal door with a small window, and a close up of a man making barbed wire. This was interspersed with footage of a platform descending, carrying a figure wearing a bloodied apron, holding a large mallet and with a metal box covering his head. There was then a shot of a bubbling red pool from which a figure arose, covered in red liquid. This sequence was interspersed with footage of burning flowers, an arm reaching out of the metal door, shots of the character whose head was covered by the metal box, and an eye with a red iris. During these sequences extracts from three reviews were superimposed over the footage, two of which referred to the horror genre of the game and the third describing the game as wonderfully vile. The product name was then displayed on screen, alongside shots of the packaging and the PEGI 18 logo. Issue

The complainant, who believed that Time Team was a family programme that children were likely to watch, challenged whether the ad had been responsibly placed.

ASA Assessment: Complaint not upheld

The ASA noted that there were no specific placement restrictions applying to non-broadcast ads for PEGI 18-rated games, but that such ads should be placed responsibly to reflect their content. We considered that the tone of the ad was generally menacing and tense and included shots of a figure covered in a red blood-like substance, although we noted that there was no explicit violence or peril. We considered that it could cause distress to younger children, but was unlikely to do so for older children and that reasonable steps were necessary to ensure responsible placement away from programming that was particularly likely to appeal to children.

We noted that Time Team , not being obviously adult-themed, had the potential for broad appeal and that care must be taken with the placement of ads around this type of content. We understood that Channel 4 automatically restricted such ads from appearing around such programmes by preventing them being placed within content that had a 120 child index in linear broadcast, a measure used to demonstrate whether the TV broadcast version of a programme had a significantly higher proportion of children in the audience than there was in the general population. The linear broadcast audience indices provided by Channel 4 demonstrated very low audience representation for children in general and children under the age of 10 especially. We considered that this indexing data gave a reasonable indication of a programme's appeal and that it had in this instance demonstrated that children, and young children in particular, were very unlikely to be viewing Time Team on 4OD. Although we understood that the programme had not been subject to the parental guidance controls available on the platform, we considered that the use of careful and appropriate targeting could mitigate the placement of adult-themed ads in such programming. We considered that, by targeting audiences over the age of 18 and using linear audience indices to determine the likely appeal of programming and thus avoid programmes with particular appeal to children, the advertiser and Channel 4 had acted responsibly in placing the ad. We concluded that its placement did not breach the Code.

 

 Offsite Article: When will gamers understand that criticism isn't censorship?...


Link Here 31st January 2015
Call Duty Advanced Warfare PS4 Guardian PC claptrap but it does outline a PC attempt at censorship of male oriented computer games

See article from theguardian.com

 

 Offsite Article: An Adult Approach...


Link Here 23rd January 2015  full story: Hatred...Computer game sets out to wind up the easily offended
PEGI logo PEGI won't censor the computer game Hatred in Europe. Here's why

See article from pcgamesn.com

 

 Update: Daily Mail awards its 'Sickest Ever' accolade...

Hatred computer game gets a rare Adults Only rating from the ESRB


Link Here 21st January 2015  full story: Hatred...Computer game sets out to wind up the easily offended
esrb aoThe ESRB has rated Creative Destruction's ultra-violent mass shooting spree game Hatred as Adults Only, with content descriptors for Intense Violence, Blood and Gore, and Strong Language.

And while an AO rating isn't considered a ban, it will likely keep it from ever seeing retail shelf space in places like Target, Best Buy, GameStop, or Walmart, because North American retailers won't carry AO games.

Valve's Steam digital distribution platform doesn't carry AO-rated games either, but the game has been greenlit by the community. Whether Valve will let the game be published on its platform after this rating remains to be seen.

The Daily Mail has discovered the controversy seeking game and writes:

Hatred game becomes second in history to get adults only rating as critics slam makers for sickest ever storyline.

It has been dubbed the sickest ever video game because players only have one aim - to massacre as many people as possible in a genocide crusade .

'Hatred' is the story of a lone wolf gunman who hates the world and acts out his fantasy of brutally murdering the public and police because no life is worth saving .

The hooded killer uses machine guns, knives and explosives to kill in the streets, in schools and public buildings because of his bitter hatred of human worms .

 

 Updated: Australian games censors recommend...

Hotline Miami 2, banned by the Censorship Board


Link Here 19th January 2015  full story: Banned Games in Australia...Adult games ban
hotline miami 2The Australian Censorship Board has just banned the upcoming video game, Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number.

The censors were offended at an implied rape featured in the game. The censors wrote in a report:

In the sequence of game play footage titled Midnight Animal, the protagonist character bursts into what appears to be a movie set and explicitly kills 4 people, who collapse to the floor in a pool of copious blood, often accompanied by blood splatter. After stomping on the head of a fifth male character, he strikes a female character wearing red underwear. She is knocked to the floor and is viewed lying face down in a pool of copious blood. The male character is viewed with his pants halfway down, partially exposing his buttocks. He is viewed pinning the female down by the arms and lying on top of her thrusting, implicitly raping her (either rear entry or anally) while her legs are viewed kicking as she struggles beneath him. This visual depiction of implied sexual violence is emphasised by it being mid-screen, with a red backdrop pulsating and the remainder of the screen being surrounded by black.

The censor's rules say that games that

depict, express or otherwise deal with matters of sex, drug misuse or addiction, crime, cruelty, violence or revolting or abhorrent phenomena in such a way that they offend against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults to the extent that they should not be classified; will be Refused Classification.

And so the game was banned.

Update: Censored whilst claiming to be uncensored

18th January 2015. See article from devolverdigital.tumblr.com

Publisher Devolver Digital and developer Dennaton Games have released a joint statement explaining that the censorship board had stretched the facts to justify their ban:

devolver logoWe are aware of the recent report published by the Australian Classification Board in regards to Hotline Miami 2 and have been in communication with them. As such, we and Dennaton Games would like to clarify a few things:

First, to clear up any possible misconceptions, the opening cinematic that was first shown in June of 2013 has not changed in any way. We also want to make clear that players are given an choice at the start of the game as to whether they wish to avoid content that alludes to sexual violence. The sequence in question is presented below in context, both after choosing the uncut version of the game and after choosing to avoid content that alludes to sexual violence.

Second, in response to the report itself, we are concerned and disappointed that a board of professionals tasked with evaluating and judging games fairly and honestly would stretch the facts to such a degree and issue a report that describes specific thrusting actions that are not simply present in the sequence in question and incorrectly portrays what was presented to them for review.

Though we have no plans to officially challenge the ruling, we stand by our developers, their creative vision for the storyline, its characters and the game and look forward to delivering Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number to fans very soon.

hotline miami video And if you want to see the silly censorship for yourself than the scene causing the ban has been uploaded to youtube. See video .

 

  Correlational Violence...

Research finds that media violence simply does not correlate with actual societal violence


Link Here 6th January 2015

Call Duty Advanced Warfare Xbox Does Media Violence Predict Societal Violence? It Depends on What You Look at and When

By Christopher J. Ferguson*

Abstract

This article presents 2 studies of the association of media violence rates with societal violence rates. In the first study, movie violence and homicide rates are examined across the 20th century and into the 21st (1920 - 2005). Throughout the mid-20th century small-to-moderate correlational relationships can be observed between movie violence and homicide rates in the United States. This trend reversed in the early and latter 20th century, with movie violence rates inversely related to homicide rates. In the second study, videogame violence consumption is examined against youth violence rates in the previous 2 decades. Videogame consumption is associated with a decline in youth violence rates. Results suggest that societal consumption of media violence is not predictive of increased societal violence rates.

Research, led by psychologist Christopher Ferguson and published in the Journal of Communication , has found that there was no link between violent media and behaviour and has also questioned the methodology of previous studies suggesting the two were related.

Ferguson and his team point out that many laboratory-based studies into the effect of media violence have measured aggression in test subjects through less aggressive outcomes ranging from filling in the missing letters of words through delivering nonpainful noise bursts to a consenting opponent.

The study points out that these studies also commonly provide exposure to brief clips of media, rather than full narrative experiences and that the resultant aggressive behaviors are also outside a real-world context in which the aggression appears to be sanctioned by the researchers themselves.

In the first of two historical studies the researchers examined the correlation of violent films and societal violence, analysing the frequency of violent acts in the top-grossing titles between 1920 and 2005.

The study notes that film violence followed a rough U pattern during this time period, but that societal violence fluctuated differently, with the latter half of the 20th century even showing an increase in film violence associated with reduced societal violence .

A second study into video game violence used data from the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) to estimate the violent content of popular games from 1996 to 2011. This was then compared with data on youth violence during the same years, with the study finding a correlation between falling youth violence and the popularity of violent games.

During this time period youth violence dropped precipitously , despite maintaining very high levels of media violence in society with the introduction of videogames.