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 2012: Oct-Dec

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 Offsite Article: Media researcher bites back against biased sound bite journalism...


Link Here 28th December 2012
I recently talked with an unnamed broadcast journalist who wanted me to be the voice of video games cause violence for a newscast. The interaction was so interesting that I'll include an abbreviated version

See article from huffingtonpost.com

 

  Rockefeller First Away after the Starting Gun...

Senator proposes bill to study effect of computer games on children


Link Here 20th December 2012  full story: Violent Games in the US...Attempts to restrict video games from minors

US SenateSenator Jay Rockefeller has introduced one of Congress' first pieces of legislation related to the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut: a bill to study the impact of violent video games on children. He said:

This week, we are all focused on protecting our children. At times like this, we need to take a comprehensive look at all the ways we can keep our kids safe. I have long expressed concern about the impact of the violent content our kids see and interact with every day.

Recent court decisions demonstrate that some people still do not get it. They believe that violent video games are no more dangerous to young minds than classic literature or Saturday morning cartoons. Parents, pediatricians, and psychologists know better. These court decisions show we need to do more and explore ways Congress can lay additional groundwork on this issue. This report will be a critical resource in this process.

Rockefeller's bill would direct the National Academy of Sciences to lead the investigation on video games' impact and submit a report on its findings within 18 months.

The legislation comes after reports suggested that Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza may have played video games like Call of Duty and Starcraft .

 

 Update: Godless Blame Game...

Lining up to propose that outrage about the school shooting be exploited for pet causes


Link Here 16th December 2012  full story: Newtown School Killings...Gun lobby vs violent media

Fox NewsThe news media, quick to find a cause for why a lone gunman would kill his mother, drive to a local elementary school, and kill 26 people (20 children) before killing himself, has turned to the usual scapegoat: video games.

Fox News wastes no time in trying to connect TV, Facebook, and computer games to the horrific actions of Lanza. As transcribed by Kotaku, a Fox News segment hosted by Megyn Kelly with guest analyst Dr. Keith Ablow waste no time pointing the finger at the consumption of various types of media:

Kelly: The real question to you is why have there not been more things like this in the past and what is making them seem to come out now?

Ablow: You know you and I have both spoken about this on and off the air, and I fear that our level empathy just as a culture, as a society, is being diminished by things like reality TV and like Facebook that seem to take people to a kind of fictional realm. I guess you could add gaming to that, computer games.

Later in the segment Ablow says that:

 ...such that now people feel less for one another, they can think of them almost as third parties, or entertainment figures or animated creatures, and for the people among us who are vulnerable to acts of violence who are violently ill, if you will, that means they consider others even less than ever before.

On another tack, Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee told Fox News viewers that the separation of church and state was to blame for violence in schools. Huckabee said of this latest US atrocity:

We ask why there is violence in our schools, but we have systematically removed God from our schools. Should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage?

Maybe we ought to let [God] in on the front end and we wouldn't have to call him to show up when it's all said and done at the back end.

While Fox News is blaming media and godlessness, other networks are using the tragedy as an opportunity to call for stricter gun control laws and for more funding for mental health services.

 

  Ratings Overrated...

Parents are not convinced by the age ratings applied to video games


Link Here 14th December 2012

ukie logo The majority of parents are unlikely to check video game age ratings when buying presents for Christmas, it has been revealed.

New research from the Association for UK Interactive Entertainment (UKIE) shows that only 40% of parents buy games with an age rating that the games raters think are appropriate for their children

43% said that they checked ratings but didn't necessarily stick to them, presumably because they did not agree with them.

Some 59% parents buying games for their children say they are likely to play the game with their child.

UKIE CEO Dr Jo Twist said:

PEGI ratings on all UK games give clear and simple guidance on the suitability of games for different age audiences and if parents need further guidance on what these ratings mean they can visit Ask About Games.

We'd urge parents to use this really helpful tool to ensure that playing games has the biggest positive impact on their children and family as a whole this Christmas.

 

  Playing the Nutters' Game...

Nintendo implement an internet watershed and ban access to 18 rated game info until 11pm


Link Here 8th December 2012

UBI Soft ZombiU Nintendo Wii Nintendo of Europe is blocking access to 18-rated content on the Wii U eShop at certain times of day, system messages suggest.

For most of the day users are unable to access trailers for 18-rated Wii U games or buy 18-related content.

Nintendo of Italy replied to a user who asked about being blocked:

Dear customer, we would like to let you know that Nintendo has always aimed to offer gameplay experiences suited to all age groups, observing carefully all the relevant regulations regarding content access that are present in the various European countries.

We have thus decided to restrict the access to content which is unsuitable to minors (PEGI) to the 11pm - 3am time window.

Eurogamer has just tested this and it appears to be true. We were unable to access Assassin's Creed 3 information or buy ZombiU digitally.

 

 Update: Zombie Censors...

Dead Island: Riptide looks to be banned from Germany


Link Here 30th November 2012  full story: Killergames...German politicians target video games

Island Riptide Limited Steelbook Playstation It looks like the Spring 2013 follow-up to the Zombie-themed action-RPG Dead Island has been banned in Germany. In a recent interview with PCGamesN, Dead Island: Riptide creative producer Sebastian Reichert said this was due to the country's strict guidelines on the sale of violent media:

We have no censored version of the game so we cannot release it in Germany. It feels fucking awkward to have one of the most successful games in years and nobody in your country knows it.

German rules on violent media say that it cannot contain violence against human-like characters and mutilation of corpses. Games often have to be censored so as to be made acceptable for release in the country.

 

  Manhunt for a Scapegoat...

Russia looks to video games to blame for an office shooting massacre


Link Here 10th November 2012

Rockstar Games Manhunt PS2 After a shooting spree this week, the Russian government is reviewing how violent PC games are handled within the region.

Disgrunted lawyer Dmitry Vinogradov attacked the Rigla pharmaceutical warehouse where he worked this week, killing six colleagues. The attack reportedly stemmed from a breakup with a female coworker, but Russian authorities have also noted that the man was a fan of Rockstar's 2003 action title Manhunt .

United Russia deputy Sergei Zheleznyak said that an inquiry needed to be made with the Russian Federal Surveillance Service for Mass Media and Communications in order for the game to be banned. His colleague Franz Klintsevich went farther with his suggestion that access to violent games should be restricted in the region.

State Duma Committee on Education first deputy chairman Vladimir Burmatov said that there should be a commission to supervise PC game sales.

 

 Offsite Article: Censorship Overkill...


Link Here 8th November 2012
Legal Opinion: Queensland's R18+ legislation is sensible, but already dated

See article from games.on.net

 

  Playing an Easy Offensive Game...

Arabic patterns supposedly offensive in Tekken Tag Tournament 2 game


Link Here 30th October 2012

Tekken Tag Tournament 2 PS3 The producer of the video game Tekken Tag Tournament 2 has said it will alter a design feature in one of the game's levels that has offended some Muslim players.

Joystiq reports that eagle-eyed gamers have spotted the Arabic script for the word Allah in the floor texture of the Saudi Arabian level.

Speaking on Twitter the game's lead producer Katsuhiro Harada stated:

We didn't know that. We will change stage design data as soon as possible. We couldn't read that.

 

 

 Updated: Waste of Market Space...

Microsoft decides not to sell 18 rated games in its Windows 8 marketplace


Link Here 27th October 2012

Call Duty Black Ops DVD Computer commentators have suggested that Microsoft is introducing children only age restrictions on its Windows 8 marketplace for apps. And games commentators asked whether this would affect video games too.

A Microsoft representative then confirmed to Kotaku that, yes, section 6.2 of the Windows App guidelines applies to video games as well. That section reads:

...apps with a rating over or PEGI 16, ESRB MATURE, or a corresponding rating under other ratings systems ...are not allowed.

For the United States, that's not exactly an issue. Not many major video games ever receive a rating beyond Mature. But for other markets, it's a bit of a disaster. Europe especially. PEGI 18 games that would be banned are:

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim The Witcher II Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Max Payne 3 The Walking Dead Sleeping Dogs Dishonored Mass Effect 2 Mass Effect 3 LA Noire Spec Ops: The Line Fallout: New Vegas Deus Ex Assassin's Creed: Revelations

So nearly all of the biggest and best games released in the past three years then.

Note that Microsoft are not preventing these games from running on Windows 8, it is just that they themselves will not be selling them.

Update: Call of Duty (to Shareholders)

27th October  2012. See  article from  bbc.co.uk

Assassin's Creed , Mass Effect , Skyrim and other adult games will no longer be banned from the European Windows 8 Store.

Microsoft has relaxed its restrictions so the titles will be tested to work on PCs and tablets running Windows 8.

In the US games such as Call of Duty , Skyrim and Mass Effect typically win a mature rating under its ESRB system. This means anyone aged 17 and over can play them. This '17' certificate deliberately ia designed to work around  informal US censorship whereby shop owners and malls etc implement a nominal adults only ban to somehow maintain that they are 'family friendly'. Of course a 17 certificate can get mighty close to a more intuitive 18 certificate used by the rest of the world. In practice US 17 certificates generally outlaw 18 rated sex but allow 18 rated violence.

Before now Microsoft operated a blanket ban on adult-only content on its Windows 8 Store.

It basically ends up disqualifying games that would be ESRB Mature, Antoine Leblond, Microsoft corporate vice president of web services told tech news site Gizmodo.

The Windows 8 testing and certification system has won criticism from many games makers. Markus Persson, creator of Minecraft, said it risked turning the PC into a closed platform. Gabe Newell, head of game maker Valve, said Windows 8 could be a catastrophe for it and other developers.

However, the ban could have caused bigger problems with the very restrictive Windows RT. This is the version of Windows 8 meant for tablets and the only way to get software for it is via the store. This is to supposedly ensure the programs work well with touchscreen interfaces typically found on tablets, but in reality it allows the platform makers to extract massive fees of up to 30% of the customer price.

The change is due to come into force by the end of 2012, Leblond told Gizmodo.

 

  Sharing Ratings...

US games rating groups adds symbols for personal data sharing characteristics of online games


Link Here 25th October 2012

esrb online contentThe US games rating group, Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) has announced three new badges describing online play.

The three new symbols show whether a game shares games location, other information and whether gamers interact.

The official explanations are:

  • Shares Info - Indicates that personal information provided by the user (e.g., e-mail address, phone number, credit card info, etc.) is shared with third parties
     
  • Shares Location - Includes the ability to display the user's location to other users of the app
     
  • Users Interact - Indicates possible exposure to unfiltered/uncensored user-generated content, including user-to-user communications and media sharing via social media and networks

The ESRB has also added 'Unrated' statements:

  • Online Interactions Not Rated by the ESRB - Warns those who intend to play the game online about possible exposure to chat (text, audio, video) or other types of user-generated content (e.g., maps, skins) that have not been considered in the ESRB rating assignment
     
  • Music Downloads Not Rated by the ESRB - Warns that songs downloaded as add-ons for music-based games have not been rated and that their content has not been considered in the ESRB rating assignment

 

  Oh Well, At Least We Can Now Disregard Previous Nutter Claims...

Researchers say the study was the first to show a clear link between a sustained period of playing violent games and subsequent increases in hostile behaviour


Link Here 18th October 2012

brock university logoA longitudinal study of the association between violent video game play and aggression among adolescents.

Willoughby T, Adachi PJ, Good M. Department of Psychology, Brock University, Ontario, Canada

Abstract

In the past 2 decades, correlational and experimental studies have found a positive association between violent video game play and aggression. There is less evidence, however, to support a long-term relation between these behaviors.

This study examined sustained violent video game play and adolescent aggressive behavior across the high school years and directly assessed the socialization (violent video game play predicts aggression over time) versus selection hypotheses (aggression predicts violent video game play over time).

Adolescents  were surveyed annually from Grade 9 to Grade 12 about their video game play and aggressive behaviors. Nonviolent video game play, frequency of overall video game play, and a comprehensive set of potential 3rd variables were included as covariates in each analysis.

Sustained violent video game play was significantly related to steeper increases in adolescents' trajectory of aggressive behavior over time. Moreover, greater violent video game play predicted higher levels of aggression over time, after controlling for previous levels of aggression, supporting the socialization hypothesis.

In contrast, no support was found for the selection hypothesis. Nonviolent video game play also did not predict higher levels of aggressive behavior over time. Our findings, and the fact that many adolescents play video games for several hours every day, underscore the need for a greater understanding of the long-term relation between violent video games and aggression, as well as the specific game characteristics (e.g., violent content, competition, pace of action) that may be responsible for this association.

The Daily Mail researched a few press release quotes.

Lead researcher Professor Teena Willoughby said:

The current study is the first to demonstrate a relation between sustained violent video game play and the progression of aggressive behaviour.

It is clear that there is a long-term association between violent video games and aggression. This is an important and concerning finding, particularly in light of the hours that youth spend playing these games.

Professor Mark Griffiths, director of the International Gaming Research Unit at Nottingham Trent University, said:

The study as a whole does provide one of the strongest pieces of empirical evidence to date that there is a direct relationship between playing violent video games and subsequent aggressive behaviour.'

 

  PC Sheep at Activision...

Games maker removes picture frame decoration from Modern Warfare 2 in fear of easy offence


Link Here 9th October 2012
favela map screen

  Look closely at  the picture frame

Modern Warfare 2's Favela map has been temporarily removed after users discovered Islamic text on a bathroom painting.

The presence of such text within a bathroom environment is apparently offensive to Muslims, prompting Activision to take action.

Apologising for the error, a spokesperson for the Modern Warfare 2 publisher told Kotaku that the map would be taken offline while the team issues an update to remove the texture:

We apologise to anyone who found this image offensive. Please be assured we were unaware of this issue and that there was no intent to offend.

Activision and our development studios are respectful of diverse cultures and religious beliefs, and sensitive to concerns raised by its loyal game players.

Update: Now editted out

24th October 2012.  See  article from  spong.com

Somehow, an Arabic text reading: Allah is beautiful and He loves beauty found its way onto a picture frame around a picture hanging over a WC in the multiplayer Favela map in Modern Warfare 2. This was spotted by Muslim players.

The fact that the text was in proximity to a loo did not go down well with some gamers who complained.

Activision has now edited the map level to remove the text.

 

  Additional Censorship Information...

UK Games censors working on an online database providing additional classification information for games


Link Here 3rd October 2012

Games Rating Authority logo Taking an idea from the BBFC, the Game Rating Authority, the UK's new game censor, writes on its website:

Additional Consumer Information (ACI) supplements the pictorial descriptor information visible on game packaging by offering consumers rather more in the way of written, descriptive details concerning the game content.

This brief, easily digestible information allows consumers to see at a glance the key issue(s) that resulted in the rating given and, more importantly, also shows the strength and frequency of a particular rating's issue (sex, bad language, etc.).

The ACI also gives a brief outline of the game in question and whether it is also playable online with other gamers. This additional information should ensure that consumers, and parents in particular, can make informed purchasing decisions on behalf of their children.

However the games search doesn't seem to be working at the moment.

 

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