Western video games don't always make it big in China, but there's one developer whose name gets the attention of gamers: Blizzard.
The company is well on the way to release an action role playing game called Diablo III.
Internationally, fans are enjoying the beta, but in China, players are starting to get nervous. The game appears to be quite bloody, and fans are worried that means it will be toned-down for Chinese servers and Chinese fans will end up playing a
watered-down version, just like they did with World of Warcraft .
The Chinese version of World of Warcraft was changed in a number of ways that met with displeasure from Chinese gamers and international critics. Most notably, the skeletons of the original game were covered with skin to make them --- well, not
skeletons. Blood and skeletons were also cut from the Chinese version of Blizzard's latest hit, Starcraft 2 . Given that Diablo 3 is a game that takes place in hell and in which the player's ultimate goal is to kill the devil, many gamers
in China feel it's a foregone conclusion that China's Diablo 3 will be censored too.
House of the Dead: Overkill Extended Cut has been re-classified MA15+ on appeal.
A three member panel of the Classification Review Board has by unanimous decision determined that the computer game should be classified MA 15+ with the consumer advice strong horror violence, strong coarse language .
The decision overturns the ban imposed by the Film Classification Board. The Review Board convened in response to an application from Sega Australia Pty Ltd, to review the decision made by the Classification Board on 23 August 2011 for the
computer game House of the Dead: Overkill Extended Cut. The Board classified the computer game RC (Refused Classification).
For perspective, the game was passed 18 uncut by the UK censors of the BBFC.
The review board outlined their decision as follows:
It is the view of the Review Board that the violence in this computer game, occurring in a familiar fighting game format, is stylised, unrealistic and graphically relatively unsophisticated compared to other computer games available in the
Australian market. Given the fantasy theme of zombie horror and the characteristics of that genre, the violence, although frequent, is justified by context. The zombies and mutants themselves and most of the combat action involving them is lacking
in realistic detail and occurs at a distance rather than in close up. The zombies and mutants are visually homogeneous and with a couple of exceptions that are individually grotesque, are not humanised. Victims and blood and gore disappear within
seconds from the game. The settings in Bayou City are stylised and not realistic. It is therefore the opinion of the Review Board that the cumulative impact of the violence in the game is no higher than strong and as noted above, is justified by
the fantasy zombie horror, rail shooter context.
In addition, the game contains frequent strong, coarse language which is not aggressive and is used conversationally. The cumulative impact of this language is no higher than strong.
As the impact of both the violence and the language in House of the Dead: Overkill Extended Cut is strong, the game is not suitable for persons under the age of 15.
Some video game players are transferring their screen experiences into the real world - prompting thoughts of violent solutions
to their problems, say researchers.
Fans of computers can become so immersed in their virtual environment they do things in the real world as if they were still playing.
The findings come after sailor Ryan Donovan was sentenced to 25 years in jail for shooting dead an officer on a nuclear sub to copy the violent video game Grand Theft Auto.
Researchers at Nottingham Trent University and Stockholm University have for the first time identified evidence of Game Transfer Phenomena (GTP), which results in some gamers integrating video experiences into their real lives. The study to be
published in the next issue of the International Journal of Cyber Behaviour, Psychology and Learning.
The study involved 42 in-depth interviews with participants aged between 15 and 21 years old, all of whom were frequent video game players and had been recruited from gaming forums.
They thought in the same way as when they were gaming, with half of participants often looking to use something from a video game to resolve a real-life issue.
In some cases these thoughts were accompanied by reflexes, such as reaching to click a button on the controller when it wasn't in their hands, while on other occasions gamers visualised their thoughts in the form of game menus.
Violent solutions to real life conflicts appeared to be used by few of the players, at least in their imaginations says the study.
One 15-year-old gamer said: There (in the video game) you can get guns. This I want to do in real life, to get some guns, shoot down people. This I want to do sometimes with irritating people.
The study concluded: The close resemblance to real life scenarios in video games may have opened a 'Pandora's Box for some players.
The Daily Mail has today reported that video games blur real life boundaries and prompt thoughts of violent solutions to players' problems
This headline is based on a small study exploring whether frequent video game players integrated elements of video game playing into their real lives - a theoretical process the researchers called game transfer phenomena (GTP). The study showed
that most gamers experienced GTP, including experiencing brief involuntary impulses to perform actions as they would when playing a game. For example, they might try to click a button on their controller while it was not in their hand.
It is important to note that not all the players were affected by the games and the degree that people were affected varied significantly from person to person. Additionally, it is not clear from this study whether GTP was related to the game
played or whether it related to the specific characteristics of individual game players. Many of the actions reported by participants were also unusual or novel, and do not provide evidence that games affect perception of behaviour. For example,
one participant said that they like to pack their suitcase neatly like Tetris blocks.
Further studies will be needed to investigate whether GTP is a real, significant phenomenon and the potential link between GTP and a player's individual characteristics.
The Daily Mail's report covering this study tended to focus on the violent and negative aspects of game transfer phenomena (GTP) highlighted in the study. The Daily Mail presents GTP as a proven phenomenon with definite results, but the results
of this interview-based study are debatable and GTP is still only a theory.
News coverage also linked the study results to a recent murder trial where video games were reportedly implicated. This angle seemed to be a confused addition to news coverage of the research, as it could suggest to readers that games were found
to be the primary cause of the incident, or that they could cause ordinary people to consider murder.
A TV ad, for an 18 rated console game, was broadcast in April 2011. It included a rapid sequence of action scenes, in war scenarios. Characters held large guns and the scenes included gun fire, rocket fire, multiple explosions, tanks, helicopters
and jets. Text on screen included 'THE BEST-LOOKING FIRST-PERSON SHOOTER TO DATE.' - DESTRUCTOID and 'BATTLEFIELD 3 IS UNNERVINGLY BEAUTIFUL.' - JOYSTIQ .
The ad was cleared by Clearcast with an ex-kids restriction, which meant it should not be shown in or around programmes made for, or specifically targeted at, children. Issue
The ASA received four complaints from members of the public, who saw the ad during a football match at 6.15 pm.
1. The complainants objected that the violence in the ad was offensive, in particular because they believed it glorified war.
2. Two of the complainants also challenged whether the ad was appropriately scheduled, because it was broadcast at a time when children might be watching.
1. Complaint Not upheld
The ASA noted Battlefield 3 was a console game based in war scenarios, some of which included shooting and explosions, and that the action sequences in the ad reflected that. We also noted, however, the ad did not include any direct interpersonal
violence and also showed some war situations that did not include any gunfire or explosions. We considered the graphics and the inclusion of captions from reviews, as well as the PEGI rating, made clear the ad was for a game and therefore viewers
would understand the footage did not reflect real life.
We considered it was clear, particularly in the context of the other quotation on screen, that the text 'BATTLEFIELD 3 IS UNNERVINGLY BEAUTIFUL.' - JOYSTIQ formed part of a review of the product and viewers were therefore likely to
interpret it as a comment on the quality of the game, rather than on war itself. We acknowledged some viewers might find the product, or the content of the ad, to be in poor taste but considered it was unlikely to be seen to condone real life
violence or to glorify war. We concluded that it was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence.
On this point, we investigated the ad under BCAP Code rules 4.1 and 4.2 (Harm and offence) but did not find it in breach.
2. Complaint Not upheld
We considered the ad did not feature scenarios that were likely to have a directly harmful influence on older children; the sequences shown were clearly fictional and were therefore unlikely to cause harm to older children by condoning violence.
Because it was based on war scenarios and included shooting and explosions, we considered the ad could cause harm to younger children but that the ex-kids restriction was sufficient to ensure the ad would not be broadcast at times when younger
children would be watching TV alone. We considered the ad had been appropriately scheduled and the ex-kids restriction was sufficient.
On this point, we investigated the ad under BCAP Code rules 32.1, 32.3 and 32.4.8 (Scheduling of television and radio advertisements) but did not find it in breach.
Ryan Donovan has begun a 25-year sentence for murder after a court heard how he had repeatedly promised to unleash a massacre.
The attack finally came after a row with two officers over poorly performed cleaning duties. On the fateful day, having told colleagues he was going to kill someone, he began a guard duty stint and was handed an automatic rifle. Moment afterwards
weapons engineer Lieutenant Commander Ian Molyneux was shot in the head at point blank range.
The submariner, who was said to be obsessed with gangster rap and violent computer games, admitted committing murder during a goodwill visit to Southampton by his submarine,
A year before the shooting Donovan had told fellow seaman Andrew Love that he was thinking about the best way to start a massacre in the control room. He said he wanted to stage a kill frenzy from computer game Grand Theft Auto.
The existence of the Game of the Year Edition of Red Dead Redemption was outed by an BBFC rating recently and now Rockstar has officially confirmed its existence and given a release date of 14th October.
This will be the definitive release of Red Dead Redemption including the full original game plus all the downloadable content that has been released for the game. It will also add a new hardcore single player mode.
It was classified by the BBFC as 18 uncut with the BBFC comment that the game contains: Very strong language and strong bloody violence.
The BBFC also noted 128 minutes of video footage contained within the game.
Australia has received the green-light for an R18+ rating for video games, but many people are still unsure of what this
means for them as gamers. Will this lead to MA15+ games being bumped up into the R18+ category? Will formerly Refused Classification games suddenly make it through with an R18+ rating? We looked into the Classification Act to find out.
The information provided here is based on current legislation and does not take into account what might change in the future. We also spoke with a former member of The Classification Board for some background information.
If a game has just been classified and it received an MA15+ rating when it really should have received an R18+ rating, will the introduction of the R18+ bump it from an MA15+ game to an R18+ game?
If a game has been Refused Classification, can it be re-submitted for classification when we receive an R18+ rating?
Research from Brock University in Canada seems to indicate that playing highly
competitive video games may lead to aggressive behavior faster than playing games with more violent content. Competitiveness, says a new study published by the American Psychological Association, may be the main video game characteristic that influences or causes aggression.
In a series of experiments lead by Paul J.C. Adachi, M.A., a PhD candidate at Brock University in Canada, video games were matched on competitiveness, difficulty, and pace of action. Researchers found that video game violence did not
elevate aggressive behavior on its own. The more competitive games produced greater levels of aggressive behavior than less competitive games, no matter how much violent content was found in the games.
In one of the experiments, 42 college students played one of two video games, Conan or Fuel , for 12 minutes. Both games were even when it came to competitiveness, difficulty and pace of action, but differed in levels of violence.
After participants finished playing the game, they were then told they were going to take part in a separate food tasting study. Participants had to make up a cup of hot sauce for a taster who they were told did not particularly like hot or
spicy food. The participants could choose from one of four different hot sauces (from least hot to most hot) for the taster to drink. The authors found that there was no significant difference in the intensity and amount of the hot sauces prepared
by the participants who played Conan and those who played Fuel. The authors concluded that video game violence alone was not sufficient to elevate aggressive behavior.
In the second experiment, 60 college students played one of four video games: Mortal Kombat versus DC Universe , Left 4 Dead 2 , Marble Blast Ultra , and Fuel . Afterward, the students completed the same hot sauce test
from the first study. Electrocardiograms measured the participants' heart rates before and during video game play. On average, students who played the highly competitive games - Fuel and Mortal Kombat versus DC Universe - concocted what
researchers called significantly more of a hotter sauce than participants who played Marble Blast Ultra and Left 4 Dead 2. They also had significantly higher heart rates.
These findings suggest that the level of competitiveness in video games is an important factor in the relation between video games and aggressive behavior, with highly competitive games leading to greater elevations in
aggression than less competitive games.
Iconic video games DOOM and DOOM 2 have received a USK 16+ rating in Germany. Both titles were previously indexed by the Federal Department for Media Harmful to Young Persons (BPjM), which didn't quite ban them, but made for a
commercial backwater due to impossibly restrictive marketing rules.
We are obviously very pleased with their decision, Bethesda Softworks VP of PR and Marketing Pete Hines told Joystiq.
Hines explained that an appeal of the indexing is allowed after 10 years, with DOOM and DOOM 2 having been released in 1993 and 1994, respectively.
It's a particularly strange decision, considering the fact that the original Wii version was released as MA15+ without incident, but the Classification Board's issue is with a new Hardcore mode which has been added to the game.
The Hardcore game mode allows players to play in a manner that exceeds strong in impact, claims the report, engaging a headshot-only mode which results in frequent, detailed blood and gore as the zombies and mutants [sic] heads
explode into bloody pieces that spread around the environment and onto the screen. The game also contains an Extra mutants mode which increases the amount of mutants the player must kill to proceed, resulting in an increased intensity and
frequency of violence. In addition the game contains a baby mutant that jumps onto the screen and explodes into bloody chunks when killed.
Red Orchestra 2 's representatives in Australia confirmed to us moments ago that the Classification Board has passed the game uncut and with no modifications, giving it an MA15+ rating for strong war violence .
This means that the game will now be sold universally, without the need for a low violence version designed around Australian audiences.
We are in the process of drawing the government's attention to the role of the media in the riots. Not the only cause, but a very significant one that must not be ignored. See how the hugely popular videogame Grand Theft Auto
The New South Wales Attorney General, Greg Smith, has changed his stance and decided back an R18 rating category for games.
Previously he abstained from the vote.
This means that all Australian Attorneys General now back the move.
Cabinet has now given its in-principle support for the introduction of the R18+ rating.
Few people would dispute the value of a classification system that helps keep adult material beyond the reach of children. With strong classification guidelines in place, an R18+ rating should result in violent games
currently rated MA15+ in Australia being reclassified as adults-only, as they already are in many other countries.
A toned down version of the 2010 video game, Heavy Rain, spotted on pan-European ratings board PEGI is exclusive to France, Sony has told Eurogamer. This is just a small initiative for France only, a Sony spokesperson said.
Heavy Rain Edition Modifiee is redesigned to be suitable for those aged 16 and over only, whereas the original is PEGI 18 rated.
The uncut version of the game is BBFC 15 rated in the UK.
The latest batch of classification decisions included the video game, Red Dead Redemption Game of the Year Edition.
It was classified as 18 uncut with the BBFC comment: This digitalmedia contains VERY STRONG LANGUAGE AND STRONG BLOODY VIOLENCE
However it wasn't long before this BBFC website listing was removed.
Commentators are speculating that revealing this decision could be an embarrassing mistake as there seems no other information adverting this new release even though September 16th is not so far away. Perhaps it was meant to be a surprise.
If you're a fan of open-world games, and you haven't yet played this, then this is a must-have title. It is an absolute masterpiece from the makers of the critically acclaimed and controversial GTA series.
Norwegian retailer Coop Norway has temporarily taken 51 gaming and toy brands off its shelves in response to the murders committed by Anders Behring Breivik last month.
Breivik referred to Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and World Of Warcraft in his manifesto.
Geir Inge Stokke, director of Coop Norway Retail told the Norwegian press.
Others are better suited than us, to point to the negative effects of games like these. At the moment it's [appropriate] for us to take them down. I wouldn't be surprised if others do the same. We have to think very
carefully about when to bring these goods back. The economy involved is of no importance.
Other titles removed include several other Call Of Duty titles, Homefront , Sniper Ghost Warrior , and Counter-Strike Source . Toy guns have also been taken off sale.
A man whose son died after playing video games for long periods is campaigning for greater awareness of the risk posed by their excessive use.
Chris Staniforth, 20, who would play his console for up to 12 hours, died in May from deep vein thrombosis (DVT). DVT can form during long periods of immobility and can kill if the clots travel to the lungs.
His father David believes the condition may have been triggered by long gaming sessions. Computer records showed his son would sometimes play online on his Xbox for periods up to 12 hours.
While Staniforth has no problem with games consoles, he wants to highlight the heightened risk of DVT associated with being immobile, and is in the process of setting up a website.
Meanwhile a girl of 13 has died after suffering a heart attack while playing on her Xbox. Anna-Lee Kehoe, an asthma sufferer, suddenly stood up as she played on the games console and complained of a shortness of breath. She collapsed when she had a fatal
heart attack. It seems likely that her asthma was more likely the cause then her games playing.
Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian mass murderer described the video game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 as part of my training-simulation in his 1500-page manifesto published online just before the massacre.
The development has predictably led the Australian Christian Lobby to call for games to be banned if the violence is excessive or gratuitous.
The Australian federal government have said that Breivik committed the atrocities because there is something clearly intrinsically wrong with him , not because he played violent video games.
NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge said Modern Warfare 2 , rated MA15+, is one of the games that should be reviewed to have a more restricted R18+ rating.
In his manifesto entitled 2083: A European Declaration of Independence, Breivik described his addiction to the online multiplayer game World of Warcraft and claimed it was a good cover story to explain what he was doing while plotting the attacks.
Breivik described the game Call of Duty, Modern Warfare as the best military simulator out there , said he usually preferred fantasy role-playing games to shooters but I see MW2 more as a part of my training-simulation than anything else
. I've still learned to love it though and especially the multiplayer part is amazing. You can more or less completely simulate actual operations, he wrote.
On World of Warcraft, Breivik said you will be amazed on how much you can do undetected while blaming this game . If your planning requires you to travel, say that you are visiting one of your WoW friends, or better yet, a girl from your
'guild' (who lives in another country). No further questions will be raised if you present these arguments.
Australia's Minister for Home Affairs, Brendan O'Connor was asked on ABC's Insiders about the link between video games and the Oslo shooting. O'Connor said it would not change his support for the R18+ rating for video games, which he argued would
prevent adult video games from slipping through as MA15+ or lower:
At the moment the most popular adult-themed games that are played only lawfully by adults around the world are played by 15 year olds here.
But look, because there is a madman who has done just such atrocities in Norway, I don't think that means that we are going to close down film or the engagement with games, he said.
I think it really points to, of course, a person who - clearly there is something wrong with this person to sort of cause such devastation in Norway. But I'm not sure that the argument goes that as a result of watching a game you
turn into that type of person. I think there is something clearly intrinsically wrong with him.
The Australian Christian Lobby managing director Jim Wallace criticised O'Connor over his remarks and said that if even a few deranged minds could be taken over the edge by an obsession with violent games then the game should be banned.
The studied indifference of this killer to the suffering he was inflicting, his obvious dehumanising of his victims and the evil methodical nature of the killings have all the marks of games scenarios, said Wallace.
How can we allow the profits of the games industry and selfishness of games libertarians to place our increasingly dysfunctional society at further risk? Even if this prohibition were to save only one tragedy like this each twenty
years it would be worth it.
Australia's federal government has announced Australia will introduce the long-awaited R18+ classification for video games, saying the process will only take a couple of months.
Australia's federal, state, and territory ministers met at their Standing Committee of Attorneys-General meeting (SCAG) to discuss the fate of the adult rating. Despite NSW being the only state to abstain from the vote on R18+, all other eight
jurisdictions agreed to its introduction once the proposed guidelines are approved by the respective cabinets.
Federal Minister for Home Affairs Brendan O'Connor said that he would go ahead and introduce the R18+ classification for games at a federal level, and it would then be up to each state and territory to decide whether or not it adopts it.
O'Connor says it may now only be a matter of months before the adult rating is introduced. The proposed R18+ draft guidelines were once again amended at the meeting, changes that require some jurisdictions to seek approval from their respective cabinets.
Once this is done, the federal government will begin drafting the legislation necessary to introduce the R18+ classification for games.
Aussie adult gamers are looking upon this Friday's Standing Committee of Attorneys-General meeting (SCAG) as D-day for gaming classification in Australia, with all nine federal, state and territory censorship ministers voting on the introduction of an
R18+ classification for games.
It now appears that the decision will be delayed again, with at least one attorney-general planning to abstain from taking part in the R18+ vote. The New South Wales Attorney-General's department is declaring that the NSW Attorney-General Greg Smith will
not be voting on the R18+ for games issue: We're not going down a definitive route, a spokesperson for Smith told GameSpot AU. More work needs to be done on this issue. We want to wait to see the results of the ALRC [Australian Law Reform
Commission] classification review.
If Smith takes this position at the SCAG meeting on Friday, it will mean the R18+ for games decision will once again be delayed. For an adult classification for games to be introduced, all of Australia's state, territory, and federal governments must
unanimously agree on its implementation.
The ALRC review is currently underway, and is not set for completion until at least early 2012.
Meanwhile South Australia Attorney-General John Rau has said that the state will drop the country's MA15+ rating for videogames in favour of an R18 rating, irrespective of any rulings at the Australian commonwealth level.
In this inane scheme there will be no classification option between PG and 18.
Spokesperson for the opposition Liberal party, Stephen Wade, called the move bizarre and unfair to local retailers, reports newspaper The Australian: The Attorney-General has indicated that he appreciates that people will continue to access
games, through downloading them and through mail order. So it would be clearly an unfair impost on South Australian retailers at a time we are very aware of the competition between the online retail marker and the shopfront retail market.
In an ironically negative news item, Gears of War 3 has made the news for NOT being censored in Germany.
Gears of War 3 will become the first game in the series to see a German release, after the fun-loving chaps at the German Bundesprufstelle fur Jugendgefahrdende Medien (BPJM) ratings board approved the full version of the game for release.
Publisher Microsoft Game Studios opted not to release the first two Gears titles in Germany due to its strict laws concerning violence in games. Many games have to be severely cut in order to be approved for release in Germany, or risk being subject to
the dreaded indexing process. This involves a marketing blackout, and forbids German stores to display copies on their shelves, or even promote the fact that an indexed game is available for sale.
This means that just like their neighbors in the rest of Europe, German gamers over the age of 18 will be free to buy Gears of War 3 when it's released this September.
In the UK, Gears of War 3 was passed 18 uncut with the BBFC comment: Contains strong bloody violence.
A video game containing violence and partial nudity has had its PG rating upgraded to an M classification by chief censor Andrew Jack.
Nintendo's 3DS game Dead or Alive: Dimensions bypassed New Zealand classification as it had already been classified PG overseas.
Dr Jack called the game in for re-classification last month after the Waikato Times alerted his office to its content. He subsequently issued an instruction that copies must carry an M label and a note indicating it contains violence and nudity.
The game temporarily banned in Australia before receiving a higher rating can be switched to figure mode , which allows players to dress or undress female characters and photograph them from any angle, including up their skirt.
The Office of Film and Literature Classification found a small number of partial glimpses of cleavage, buttocks, thighs or underpants but they were not in significant detail to warrant a rating above M. It concluded the game was designed for a
mature audience at least 16 years old. An M rating, however, does not restrict its sale to minors as it is only an advisory.
The closing date Submissions to the Issues Paper for the Australian Law Reform Commission is July 15 yet, despite being open since the middle of May, there are currently only 80 completed submissions. Time is running out.
Let's get motivated! These are important issues, and paramount to the way classification will be rebuilt post the Australian Law Reform Commission's report early next year.