Games News

 2012: Jan-March



28th March   

Update: Canberra Leads the Game...

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ACT to adopt the new R18+ adult games rating next week
Link Here  full story: R18+ for Games in Australia...Pondering an adult R18+ rating for video games

Australia ACT flagCanberra, Australia's capital, will start using the new R18+ rating next week.

ACT Attorney-General Simon Corbell said:

This is part of a national reform that will allow adult gamers to view R18+ material in the same way that can already be done for film and printed material, said  But at the same time it will also provide protection to parents and children by giving parents better guidance about what material is and is not appropriate for people under the age of 18.

 

28th March   

Update: Tired Old Minds of Teachers and Old Fogies...

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Teachers to debate call for more stringent legislation on computer games
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Bully Scholarship Edition Xbox 360

  Tender young mind takes on tired old mind

The head of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers is whingeing that parents ignore age restrictions and allow their children to play violent computer games.

The Association of Teachers and Lecturers will raise their concerns about children spending hours a day playing inappropriate computer games at debate during their annual conference in Manchester next week.

ATL head Dr Mary Bousted said some of these games were very violent and could have an effect on tender young minds of children and young people . And she was sure her conference would hear how parents are ignoring age restrictions of computer games. She told reporters:

Of course, they're extremely difficult to enforce, just like films, like TV.

It's about reminding parents and carers that they have a very real responsibility for their children and that schools can't do it alone.

If they're up to 12 or one o'clock playing computer games, and coming to school exhausted, not interacting with other children, that's not good preparation for school, and not good preparation for life.

The fact that children spend hours locked in their rooms playing computer games, which means they're not interacting, they're not playing and not taking exercise.

The motion being debated calls for the union's executive to commission research which will allow it to lobby government for the introduction of more stringent legislation on computer games.

 

25th March   

Playing a Nutter Game...

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US lawmakers want to label nearly all video games with a health warning about violent games
Link Here  full story: Violent Games in the US...Attempts to restrict video games from minors
US SenateUS lawmakers have proposed a bill that would label most video games with the warning:

Exposure to violent video games has been linked to aggressive behavior.

Joe Baca and Frank Wolf have introduced the Violence in Video Games Labeling Act citing the supposed negative effects that video games have on people's health, despite increased findings that suggests otherwise.

Baca spouted.

The video game industry has a responsibility to parents, families and to consumers, to inform them of the potentially damaging content that is often found in their products,  They have repeatedly failed to live up to this responsibility.

If the bill passes, the only games that would be exempt would be those with an ESRB rating of Early Childhood (EC). All others would require the warning on the game box, regardless of whether the game actually featured violent content.

Previous attempts to pass the bill occurred in 2009 and 2011. The Entertainment Software Association, which represents video game publishers in the US, called the bill unconstitutional. In a statement made to Game Informer, the trade group said:

We would commend Representatives Baca and Wolf to the reams of bourgeoning academic research demonstrating that video games can be innovative learning and assessment tools in engaging and educating America's youth, especially in core subjects such as science, technology, engineering and math.

 

20th March   

Update: Games Rating Bill Goes Up a Level...

Australian lower house passes legislation to introduce an adult rating for games
Link Here  full story: R18+ for Games in Australia...Pondering an adult R18+ rating for video games

australian parliamentComputer game ratings for adults-only are a step closer after Australia's lower house passed legislation on Monday.

The new laws will bring computer games in line with the classification system for films and make Australia more consistent with international standards.

The Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Amendment (R18+ Computer Games) Bill 2012 passed the House of Representatives with bipartisan support.

It now proceeds to the Senate.

 

9th March   

Kombative Censors...

Australia bans Playstation Vita version of Mortal Kombat
Link Here  full story: Banned Games in Australia...Adult games ban
Mortal Kombat Komplete Edition PlayStationThe Sony PlayStation Vita version of the Warner Brothers classic fighting game reboot Mortal Kombat has been banned by the Censorship Board.

The game was submitted to the misleadingly named Classification Board of Australia by Warner Brothers despite previous console versions of the game being similarly banned for explicit violence. The publisher felt that the impact of the violence in the Vita version of Mortal Kombat would be lessened by the portable console's smaller screen size.

Obviously, the censors didn't agree.

Warner Bros. clarified that the version submitted was the same, unedited version of Mortal Kombat for the Vita that will be released globally, except Australia, on April 19.

 

5th March   

Reflecting Reality...

Research finds that computer game developers depict religion as violent and problematic
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Castlevania Lords of Shadow PS3Recent video games have begun depicting religion as a violent, problematic force, according to research from a new University of Missouri study.

Greg Perreault, a doctoral student at University of Missouri's School of Journalism, studied five extremely popular games from the last few years that incorporate religion heavily into their storylines: Mass Effect 2, Final Fantasy XIII, Assassin's Creed, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow , and The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.

In each case, Perreault found that religion became equated with violence within the video games' narratives. Perreault said in a press release:

In most of these games there was a heavy emphasis on a 'Knights Templar' and crusader motifs. Not only was the violent side of religion emphasized, but in each of these games religion created a problem that the main character must overcome, whether it is a direct confrontation with religious zealots or being haunted by religious guilt.

Just because religion was associated with violence, however, does not mean it was always depicted as evil. For example, Perreault noted that in Mass Effect 2 , the character of Thane is an extremely spiritual assassin who assists the player.

Of those five games, Mass Effect 2, Final Fantasy XIII, and The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion all deal with religions created specifically for the game. The remaining two titles, Assassin's Creed and Castlevania: Lords of Shadow , both center around Catholicism.

Still, Perreault emphasized that he did not believe game developers were attacking religion with these themes:

It doesn't appear that game developers are trying to purposefully bash organized religion in these games. I believe they are only using religion to create stimulating plot points in their story lines. If you look at video games across the board, most of them involve violence in some fashion because violence is conflict and conflict is exciting. Religion appears to get tied in with violence because that makes for a compelling narrative.

While Perreault's study of just five games is far from an exhaustive survey of all of modern video games, he does believe game writers should be aware of how they use religion in their plots.

 

3rd March   

Preventing Moralist Bullying...

Oklahoma decides to ditch idea to tax violent video games to fund charities
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Oklahoma state sealA bill that would have imposed a 1% tax on the sale of violent video games in the state of Oklahoma has been rejected, Eurogamer reports.

The bill lost a subcommittee vote by a narrow margin of 5-6, largely due to concerns over a founding premise that linked video games to bullying and obesity among children.

The tax would have applied to any game rated Teen, Mature or Adult Only by the ESRB, whether violent or not.

Half of all the money recouped from the tax would have been donated to the Childhood Outdoor Education Revolving Fund - a charity dedicated to outdoor education initiatives. The other half would have been donated to the Bullying Prevention Revolving Fund.

 

2nd March   

Sacrificed...

Nintendo reject The Binding of Isaac game on grounds of religion
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The Binding Isaac Unholy EditionEdward McMillen, game developer from Team Meat, has said the firm's looking into bringing The Binding of Isaac to Sony platforms after it was rejected by Nintendo for 3DS due to what the platform holder deemed to be questionable religious content .

Speaking to Joystiq, McMillen said he thinks it's a bit primitive to 'censor' something due to religion, but it's [Nintendo's] platform and their choice on what they want to support .

The Binding of Isaac game follows Isaac, a young boy who is in possibly the worst situation imaginable. After his mother heard commands from God that she followed without question, she is commanded to kill her son in sacrifice to prove her devotion. Isaac manages to escape into the basement, and is on the run as he fights off demons both physical and mental, discovers secrets about his mother's past, and ultimately confronts her in an effort to survive.

The censor free PC platform sees a UK release of The Binding of Isaac on 16th March 2012.

 

15th February   

Update: Level 1...

Australian bill to introduce an adult ratings for games clears the first step
Link Here  full story: R18+ for Games in Australia...Pondering an adult R18+ rating for video games
alp logoAustralia's Federal Minister for Home Affairs Jason Clare has started the ball rolling for an adult rating for video. For the first step the bill has been cleared by the Federal Parliamentary Caucus of the Australian Labor Party. The bill is now ready to be introduced in parliament.

The R18+ bill needs the support of at least two crossbench members of parliament to be passed through the Lower House. To pass through the Senate, the Bill needs the support of either the coalition or the Greens, both of which have indicated some level of support for the R18+ issue.

If all goes to plan, Clare is proposing that a R18+ for games will be available from 1st January 2013.

Update: Inquiry

17th February 2012.  See  article from  kotaku.com.au

The opposition Coalition has asked that the R18+ bill be sent for an inquiry.

As part of the legislation process, if one MP calls for an inquiry on a proposed bill, that bill must undergo extra scrutiny and further examination by a Standing Committee. This inquiry process is usually utilised for bills that are deemed complex or controversial.

The good news, however, is that these inquiries are usually fast tracked, and made up of people with responsibilities in that portfolio area, so to not delay the passage of the proposed legislation. It's probably worth noting that, since 1990, approximately 30% of bills have been sent to Standing Committees.

 

5th February

 Offsite Article: Daily Mail 'fabricated' anti-games article...

Link Here
Charity worker calls foul on 'games turning kids into zombies' story. Actually he's a proponent of gaming for children

See article from computerandvideogames.com

 

4th February   

Twisted Censorship...

Twisted Metal computer game has a mixed reception from the world's game censors
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Twisted Metal Playstation 3 Britain's game censors at the BBFC have awarded Twisted Metal an uncut 18 rating for strong bloody violence.

They kindly explain their decision:

Twisted Meta l is a racing game in which drivers uses various weapons to destroy opponents. The game was classified 18 for strong bloody violence.

The game includes a series of cutscenes which use a mixture of live action and CGI to tell the back-story of each character. These include an attack on a family, a defensive attack on a character with a pair of scissors, and a dead woman lying on the road. Although the BBFC's Guidelines permit strong violence at 15 , the dark tone of the stories and the involvement of a sadistic and predatory serial killer mean the game is more appropriately classified at 18 .

The game also includes infrequent use of strong language.

The game in its original format is rated Mature in the US, which is basically a 17 age rating.

However the game seems to be causing problems in Europe, presumably with the German censors who don't care for violence in video games. The European version of the game has therefore been delayed in order to tone down the violent content. Whilst the US will be receiving the game on February 14, the European version has been delayed until March 7th.

Explaining the changes on NeoGAF , series creator David Jaffe posted that:

To be fair, there have not been that many cuts.

For example, in the scene we've released on the net from the intro- where the girl stabs Tooth in the eye- the SCEE version has this but we cut away right before the scissors make contact with Tooth's face. It's CLEAR what she's doing and I think we even keep the sound effects in and such- but the last few frames are gone. The story itself tho totally works and- for some folks even who tend to think this kinda stuff plays better left to your imagination anyway- perhaps it even works better.

Only a few content cuts for the game- for example, I think the guy on the gurney from Meat Wagon is dead so you are exploding a corpse covered with TNT vs. a screaming man trapped to the gurney. Sucks on my end but at the same time, I get it and the game play isn't different and the intent is still there, as is the humor. In some ways, it's actually much more macabre when you think about it. Shooting a dude screaming out the back of an ambulance is pretty stupid and fun and cartoony in a dark, twisted way. Turning a stolen from the morgue CORPSE a missile? A bit more disturbing in some ways...not trying to sell you on it, just thinking out loud.

The game has been passed MA 15+ in Australia without cuts, but it is speculated that cut European Version was submitted. Of course it is also unsure which version was submitted to the UK's BBFC.

 

2nd February   

Playing Moralists...

Oklahoma proposes a sin tax on video games
Link Here

Oklahoma state sealAn Oklahoma lawmaker has introduced a bill in the state legislature that would impose a tax on violent video games . Oklahoma State Representative William Fourkiller introduced bill HB 2696, which would add a 1% tax on games rated Teen, Mature, and Adults Only by the ESRB.

Half of the revenue would be put towards a Childhood Outdoor Education Revolving Fund with the rest going to a Bullying Prevention Revolving Fund. Both of these things would be created as part of the law.