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2020: April-June

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Devotion...

Video game banned for offending Chinese president over a Wonnie the Pook meme reappears in Taiwan


Link Here9th June 2020
Full story: China International Censors...China pressures other countries into censorship
Taiwanese horror game Devotion is available for purchase again -- but only in its home country. A Resetera gaming forum poster has discovered that physical copies of the game are up for sale on its developer's online shop and can be purchased in Taiwan. Devotion was only available for a week early last year before its developer, Red Candle, pulled it from Steam . The game suffered from a review bombing campaign after players had discovered the presence of the Winnie the Pooh meme referencing Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Red Candle quickly released a patch and apologized a handful of times for the incident, but that wasn't enough. Chinese authorities stripped Indievent, the China-based company that published Devotion in the country, of its business license a few months after the game was pulled. Red Candle then issued a statement, saying that the game won't be back anytime soon.

Those in Taiwan can now preorder either of two physical versions of the game with different soundtracks. It's available for pre-order until June 15th, but delivery is limited to Taiwanese addresses.

 

 

Monkeys take over at Nintendo's game rating office...

Do Not Feed the Monkeys console given wrong rating for Nintendo's eShop


Link Here 8th June 2020
Do Not Feed The Monkeys , a self-proclaimed digital voyeur simulator according to the game's Steam page, was mistakenly given an E rating on its Nintendo Switch eShop page. The game features a cartoonish art style, but falso sexually explicit and mature content, making the mixup pretty drastic.

The game has since been removed from Switch's eShop, but the developer did provide a comment in regard to the situation, stating:

Unfortunately, we had to change the ratings. We are waiting for the rating update to be tested, and we'll be able to release the game after that, over on Twitter. The game was originally meant to release on June 1, and no new release date has been given.

The game is currently available on Steam and involves players watching strangers through cameras, and determining whether or not to interact with them.

 

 

Playing a rating game...

South Korea to demand that video games sold via Steam are censored by the country's game censor


Link Here5th June 2020
In May, Korea's Culture Ministry announced a plan to require all foreign games sold in the country through Steam to secure a rating from the Korean ratings board.

Now, a new report by Inven Global indicates foreign publishers may be facing new requirements to sell their games in Korea through Steam. A provision in the Game Industry Promotion Act requires all games sold in Korea to secure a classification from the national Game Rating Board, but Valve has until now has been exempt from Korea's ratings requirements due to not having an office in the country.

The problem for Valve, in addition to obtaining local rating for major games is that the company will need to secure Culture Ministry-approved ratings for vast numers of minor games that normally get distributed without official ratings.

Previously Korea accepted rating from various other international games rating agencies. However, developers and publishers outside Korea can now apply to Korea's games censor, and it seems as though this will be a requirement going forward.

Failure to attain a classification from the Korean ratings body could lead to charges or fines for distributing illegal game materials under Korea's Game Industry Law, Inven reports.

 

 

A post pandemic landscape...

The Last of Us Part 2 video game seemingly banned in UAE and Saudi Arabia


Link Here27th May 2020
The PlayStation adventure game, The Last of Us Part 2, seems to have been blocked from release in multiple Middle Eastern countries.

The game is due to launch globally on June 19, but currently does not appear among the listings for the Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates versions of the PlayStation Store.

PlayStation Support is reported saying that any game that does not appear in a regional store has been banned by the competent authorities of the country.

No reason for the ban has been published, but the game features nudity, sexual content and LGBT themes, any of these would be enough for a ban in these middle east countries.

 

 

Offsite Article: A history of sex in video games...


Link Here24th May 2020
But there's not much sex in western games, only Japan seems interested in erotic gaming. By Rachel Kaser

See article from thenextweb.com

 

 

Legal Battleground...

In a censorship battle royale, Pakistan's high court has ordered the internet censors to decide if the PlayerUnknown's Battleground should be banned


Link Here21st May 2020
PlayerUnknown's Battleground is a 2017 South Korea Battle Royale by PUBG Corporation.

The game made the news in spring 2019 when it was banned in Nepal, Jordan, Iraq and parts of India. In Pakistan calls for a ban were directed to the courts and so the country is a little behind the curve.

A petition filed in the Lahore High Court stated that the players of the online game were facing psychological problems like lack of decision-making capabilities and social relations, as well as taking them aside from their academic activities and creating violent behaviour.

The court responded on 18thh May 2020 by rather passing the buck to Pakistan's internet censors. The court seems to have agreed with the petitioner that the game should be banned but has ordered the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority to take the final decision within 6 weeks.

 

 

Censors unlocked...

Japanese games censors to return to work after lockdown


Link Here10th May 2020

Japan's games censors of the Consumer Entertainment Rating Organization (CERO) are set to resume after having closed down last month to comply with Tokyo's lockdown. The board plans to resume business on May 7.

The censors did not work from home during the closed period, so it will be a relief to games producers and distributors as ratings are mandatory in Japan before a game can be sold.

 

 

Pandemia: Virus Outbreak...

A bad case of censorship runs rife through Google Play and Amazon Store


Link Here9th May 2020
Pandemia: Virus Outbreak is a strategy game by PocketsOfEnergy which is set to be released on Steam

Swipe cards to face the deadly virus threat in this story driven strategy game. Step into the world in which you will face the decisions that world leaders make in the event of a deadly virus threat. Every decision have consequences.

The game was banned from from Google Play after one week due to alleged references to COIVD-19.

PocketsOfEnergy said in a statement:

We are very happy that Steam provides the platform for releasing the game and does not censor or ban our game for no reason like Google Play and Amazon Store did.

Let's keep the world of indie creators or corporations free of any censorship and pay respect for the work of others.

 

 

Coronavirus Attack...

Game protesting against Chinese government is unsurprisingly banned from Steam in China


Link Here29th April 2020
Full story: Coronavirus...Internet censorship and surveillance
China, the creator of covid-19 has banned the virus themed video game, Coronavirus Attack, from the localised Steam games distribution platform.

In order to win Coronavirus Attack, players have to stop selfish zombies from escaping a country infected with the virus.

The ban is hardly surprising as China is the butt of several humorous references. The game uses the same colour scheme as the Chinese flag, with virus-shaped animations in place of its stars. Players can also collect badges that include Liberate Honk Kong and Taiwan is not in China.

The creator behind the game, MythZ, told news site Abacus he had developed the project as a protest against the Chinese government .He said he was unhappy with how it had handled the pandemic.

 

 

Morality in Media recommends...

Games distribution website Steam


Link Here21st April 2020
Full story: Morality in Media...Misreable campaigners for censorship
The US campaign group Morality in Media, which now calls itself the National Center for Sexual Exploitation as if it was some sort of state institution,  has whinged at the video games distribution platform, Steam.

The group complains that Steam allows multiple games on the platform portraying sexual violence, including Mirror, Love Vibe: Aria, My Servant and the Stranger Astensia, and House Party.

The platform made a June 2018 decision to minimise censorship and allow all types of games except for ones that are illegal, or straight up trolling.

Morality in Media particularly points out:
  • Mirror that depicts rape scenes and even has a meter to measure the amount of pain and discomfort being inflicted by the player,
  • My Servant and the Stranger Astensia that promotes rape scenes and sexual harassment, and
  • House Party that contains nudity, sex via intoxication, blackmail and deception. Steam has reportedly updated House Party to censor nudity, MiM added.

Executive Director of MiM Dawn Hawkins said in a statement:

Parents need to know that these games normalize the sexual use, and often abuse, of others. When video games include sexually graphic and degrading themes, the user is not only a voyeur but an active participant in staging the scene. Steam should immediately change its policies to stop hosting such sexually explicit material,

To make matters worse, since Steam implemented an 'anything goes' policy with few exceptions, sexually exploitative games on Steam have skyrocketed, going from just over 700 games tagged for the keyword nudity in 2017 to now 3,911 in 2020.

 

 

Censorship competition...

Video game Valorant has a censored mode to ensure that game is suitable for inclusion in esport events


Link Here17th April 2020
Riot Games will censor bloody imagery from their latest title Valorant during esports tournaments in order to appeal to potential sponsors and broadcasters.

Game blood became a contentious issue when Riot Games began approaching esports organisations to consider Valorant's planned competitive scene.

In general, professional esports leagues feature titles with minimal bloody violence to create more inclusive, all-ages showcases.

Valorant, currently in beta, does feature graphic blood but there is a 'show blood option that can be toggled off.

Riot Games has issued an edict that all professional esports leagues must play tournaments with this setting off, ensuring no blood is seen during gameplay.

 

 

Includes random items...

The ESRB introduces a new consumer advice label for games with loot boxes


Link Here16th April 2020

In April 2018 the ESRB began assigning Interactive Elements to physical video games with the In-Game Purchases and Users Interact notices. The In-Game Purchases Interactive Element informs parents and other consumers of when a game offers the ability to purchase additional items without leaving the game. To provide even greater transparency about the nature of in-game items available for purchase the ESRB will now begin assigning a new Interactive Element: In-Game Purchases (Includes Random Items).

This new Interactive Element, In-Game Purchases (Includes Random Items), will be assigned to any game that contains in-game offers to purchase digital goods or premiums with real world currency (or with virtual coins or other forms of in-game currency that can be purchased with real world currency) for which the player doesn't know prior to purchase the specific digital goods or premiums they will be receiving (e.g., loot boxes, item packs, mystery awards).

In-Game Purchases (Includes Random Items) will be assigned to all games that include purchases with any randomized elements, including loot boxes, gacha games, item or card packs, prize wheels, treasure chests, and more. Games that have the In-Game Purchases (Includes Random Items) notice may also include other non-randomized paid elements.

 

 

A Switch on Hatred...

Video game Hatred was controversial in 2015 but is now set for a belated release on Nintendo Switch


Link Here15th April 2020
Hatred is a 2015 shooter action game from Destructive Creation

Originally hyped via controversy over it being the latest 'sickest game ever'. It was notably AO rated in the US but didn't trouble many censors elsewhere outside of Germany. However many outlets refused to sell it anyway.

Now in 2020, Destructive Creations, which insists Hatred is an answer to the polite, colorful, politically correct trends found in many games, has announced it's coming to Switch.

The game is one of only three to receive a US Adults Only rating for extreme violence, something Manhunt 2 and the unrelreased Thrill Kill can lay claim to, so it'll be interesting to see if Hatred arrives on Nintendo's eShop, which doesn't allow games with that rating. Hatred could get a physical-only release, or it might have some of the more extreme content removed.

 

 

Lest they speak of 'wrong truth' about the birthplace of covid-19...

China looks set to ban online video games that allow Chinese players to chat with foreign players


Link Here 15th April 2020
Full story: Games censorship in China...A wide range of censorship restrictions
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is taking its political censorship to the extreme by disconnecting Chinese online gamers from those outside of China.

The communist regime is said to have noticed an authority hole in online multiplayer games, which enables people to freely socialize without monitoring. Local cities are scrambling to draft laws to expand the scope of online censorship in video games and even prohibit gamers from meeting and chatting with people on the other side of the Great Firewall.

As the CCP's audacious global propaganda campaign to silence critics abroad and to defend its infallibility fails to work out, the new law is expected to block Chinese people from learning how the world is reacting to Beijing's handling of the outbreak and subsequent cover-ups.

Other rules under the new law are less political. They include an online gaming curfew (10 p.m. to 8 a.m.) for gamers aged under 18 and a maximum amount of money they are allowed to spend on games to combat internet addiction.

 

 

Socially distanced protests...

China bans Animal Crossing game after it was used for messages supporting Hong Kong democracy protests


Link Here13th April 2020
Full story: Games censorship in China...A wide range of censorship restrictions
In respect of social distancing, Hong Kong democracy protestors have moved online. And one avenue of protest was via the popular Nintendo Switchgame Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

The game allows players to customise their own island with political messages, and then invite others to visit. Examples of customisation include banners that read: Free Hong Kong - Revolution Now. There are also disparaging posts featuring images of Chinese President Xi Jinping and Hong Kong's chief executive Carrie Lam.

China has inevitably now banned the game and it has been expunged from online market places.

Even Hong Kong sites, which had previously advertised imported copies have now removed those listings. It is not clear, however, whether this is because there has been an intervention by the authorities or whether the sites are self censoring in fear of Chinese reprisals.

Players in mainland China have also customised the game with coronavirus-related content, including face masks for the characters, and islands with temperature checkpoints.

 

 

Bad taste fun...

Cannibal Holocaust: The Game set for November release


Link Here11th April 2020
Ruggero Deodato's notable video nasty, Cannibal Holocaust , is set to turned into a video game for PC and consoles. It is set for release in November 2020.

Developers Fantastico Studio claims that it will put the raw graphic content in its interactive graphic adventure for gamers and fans alike to enjoy.

 

 

Cover up...

Twitch reworks its dress code for games streamers


Link Here9th April 2020
Twitch has evolved from streamers commentating on games they are playing towards something more about entertainment, personalities, and sexiness.

The website has been trying to reign in this latter attributes and its latest move is to rework its dress code. Twitch explains in a blog post:

We are shifting from a garment-specific policy to one based on a standard level of coverage, with exceptions for certain situations. We've outlined these minimum levels of coverage to increase clarity on expectations, so you're not left guessing what is or is not acceptable.

We don't permit streamers to be fully or partially nude, including exposing genitals or buttocks. We do not permit the visible outline of genitals, even when covered. Broadcasting nude or partially nude minors is always prohibited, regardless of context.

For those who present as women, we ask that you cover your nipples. We do not permit exposed underbust. Cleavage is unrestricted as long as these coverage requirements are met.

For all streamers, you must cover the area extending from your hips to the bottom of your pelvis and buttocks.

For those areas of the body where coverage is required, the coverage must be fully opaque - sheer or partially see-through clothing does not constitute coverage

 

 

Paused...

Japanese game censors don't seem to be able to work from home as the censorship office is closed by lockdown


Link Here8th April 2020
Japan's game censors of the Computer Entertainment Rating Organization (CERO) has announced that it is shutting don for a month as part of a SARS 2 lockdown.

The censors stated that working from home is not possible so there will now be difficulties for games publishers. CERO said that since reviewers must-visit CERO's office to conduct a review, it's not possible for the company's staff and reviewers to work from home.

 

 

Sensitivities over Russian baddies...

Sony refuse to allow Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Campaign Remastered to be sold for PlayStation in Russia


Link Here2nd April 2020
Full story: Sony Games Censorship...Sony has taken to unilateral censorship of PS 4 games
The video game designer Activision has announced that Sony's Russia branch is refusing to release Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Campaign Remastered on the PS Store.

While the publisher did not give an explicit reason for this decision, it is more than likely because of the No Russian mission, which centered around a mass shooting perpetrated by Russian terrorists and the player. The content subsequently caused a massive debate, garnered widespread criticism, and originally led to a disclaimer and an option to skip the mission being added.

According to a tweet by the official Call of Duty Russia account, Sony Interactive Entertainment Russia refused to sell the game on the PlayStation Store. However, Activision did reassure players that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 s remastered campaign would still be available for Xbox One and PC in Russia.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Campaign Remastered is out now for PS4, with a PC and Xbox One version launching on April 30.


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