Games News

 2013: Oct-Dec



 Updated: Propaganda Battle...

China Recommends...The computer game Battlefield 4


Link Here 28th December 2013
Electronic Arts Battlefield 4 PS4 A Chinese newspaper has accused the US makers of computer game Battlefield 4 of demonising their country with cultural aggression .

The article, which appeared in military paper Zhongguo Guofangbao last week, also accuses American company Electronic Arts of discrediting China with cultural aggression .

It is a first person shooter game with players taking control of an American soldier in a conflict against a rogue Chinese general and missions include an attack on Beijing.

According a comment piece in the South China Morning Post:

When western countries would make war games in the past, they would settle on Russia if they needed an imaginary enemy.

But in recent years, with the boosting of China's national strength, China threat theories run rampant, and foreign companies are increasingly keen to put the Sino-US conflict in their games as a gimmick to attract attention.

The use of video games...to discredit one country's image in the eyes of other countries is a new form of cultural penetration and aggression.

Update: Duly banned

28th December 2013. See  article from  slashgear.com

China flag Due to the supposed discrediting of China's national image in the futuristic plot line of the game, Battlefield 4 has been banned from sale as of this week. The Chinese Ministry of Culture said the game is to be removed from physical shelves as well as all China-based online sales channels.

Those that've already downloaded the game in China will be unable to access any online content and are encouraged to delete the game from their consoles and PCs. The Chinese Ministry of Culture suggests that Battlefield 4:

Is an illegal game, with content that endangers national security, and is all about a cultural invasion.

Battlefield 4 relevant available downloads, patches, news, and other requirements [shall be] deleted within 24 hours.

Apparently the bit in the game where American soldiers must march into China to help in a state of social instability is not entirely welcome as a possible futuristic outcome in the country at the moment.

 

 Updated: Beaten with the Censorship Stick...

Australia's game censors cut South Park: The Stick of Truth


Link Here 20th December 2013
South Park The Stick Truth It's unclear exactly what has been in the game, but a spokesperson from Ubisoft told playerattack.com that a slightly modified version of South Park The Stick of Truth has been approved for release in Australia on March 6 .

The Australian Censorship Board actually rated South Park: The Stick of Truth twice. The official rating was the second time the game had been through the process. The game has been awarded the adults only rating, R18+

The Board also rated another Ubisoft title, Codename , and the censors again referred to it as a modified version.

Clues to the reason for the cuts may be contained in the write up by the US game rating organisation, ESRB:

This is a role-playing adventure game based on the animated South Park TV show. Players assume the role of a new kid in town who embarks on various quests with other boys in the neighborhood. Players can engage in turn-based combat, selecting attacks from a menu screen. Players use various weapons (swords, baseball bats, hammers), magic spells and melee attacks during fights; blood-splatter effects sometimes occur. Cutscenes occasionally depict cartoony characters dismembered or decapitated. The game includes several instances of mature humor and sexual material: one extended sequence depicts characters getting anally probed by alien creatures; another sequence (in an abortion clinic) depicts doctors using a vacuum to perform procedures on male characters; one level takes place inside the rectum/colon of a character (sex toys, random objects and fecal matter appear in the level)---all sequences are depicted in a cartoony and over-the-top manner. Characters are occasionally depicted nude (e.g., breasts, buttocks, male genitalia); one extended sequence depicts an out-of-focus couple having sex in the background; as players engage in turn-based battle in the foreground, sexual moaning sounds/dialogue is heard. During the course of the game, drug paraphernalia can be seen strewn around a methamphetamine lab. The words fuck, shit, asshole, and faggot can be heard in the dialogue.

From previous cases of game censorship it is probably 'the drug paraphernalia can be seen strewn around a methamphetamine lab' that caused the problems.

Update: It was the anal probe that offended the censors

20th December 2013. See  article from  vg247.com

Australian Film Classification Board South Park: The Stick of Truth has been cut by the Australian Censorship Board.

The version to be released in Australia is missing an entire interactive sequence in which the player character, among others, is subjected to anal probing by alien technology.

When Australian players reach this section, they will be confronted by an image of a crying koala accompanying a vivid text description of the events. The Board ruled that the text descriptions are allowable as humour.

This measure was implemented after the Board rejected an earlier modified version in which some elements of the scene had been toned down.

South Park: The Stick of Truth arrives on PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in March.

Update: More details

20th December 2013.  See  article from  movie-censorship.com

Australian Film Classification Board South Park: The Stick of Truth has been cut by the Australian Censorship Board.

The version to be released in Australia is missing an entire interactive sequence in which the player character, among others, is subjected to anal probing by alien technology.

The scene is a homage to the very first episode of the TV series and includes that an alien probe is inserted anally into various characters within an interactive animated sequence and - mainly - with no indication of explicit or implicit consent .

The game was resubmitted in a slightly modified version. The censor's report doesn't exactly how it was changed cut it seemed that the victims of the anal probe are now sleeping or sedated and thus don't respond painfully to the probe. However this version did not allay the censor's concern about the lack of consent, and so was refused again.

In the third and successful submission, the alien probe scene was totally removed and replaced by a simple text that describes the events. It is framed by a picture that shows crying koala bears and the word CENSORED in big red letters placed right next to it.

The censors also criticised an abortion scene with an amateurishly executed abortion using a coat hanger and a vacuum cleaner. However the censors did not push this point and the scene remained unaltered.

 

 Updated: Play Money for Personal Morality Game...

South Australian Attorney-General squanders tax payer's money on a mass review of MA15+ games that he feels should be more repressively censored


Link Here 17th December 2013  full story: R18+ for Games in Australia...Pondering an adult R18+ rating for video games
Deep Silver Killer Dead Limited Australia's Censorship Board will soon undertake a review of a number of MA15+ games after receiving an official request to do so from South Australia's nutter Attorney-General, John Rau.

Games to be reviewed include Killer is Dead, Alien Rage, Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Blacklist, Deadly Premonition the Director's Cut, Company of Heroes 2, God Mode, Borderlands 2: Add-on Content Pack, Fuse, Deadpool, The Walking Dead, Gears of War: Judgment and The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct.

Rau feels that censorship rules for MA15+ games should be more restrictive.

Ron Curry, CEO of the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association (iGEA), expressed his shock at the move.

Not only have these games already been examined against stringent guidelines, we also haven't heard of any formal complaints made by parents or adults who think the video games are wrongly classified, said Curry in a press statement. The review is an unwarranted and costly exercise to satisfy a vocal yet unrepresentative minority.

The iGEA point out that at $28,000 per review, such an exercise will cost the taxpayer $336,000.

Update: Political interference rebuffed

17th December 2013. See  article from  classification.gov.au

australia classification review board logo At the request of the South Australian Attorney-General, the Classification Review Board (the Review Board) recently reviewed the classifications of 12 computer games.

The Review Board upheld the MA 15+ (Mature Accompanied) classification for all of the 12 computer games. These titles are:

  • Killer is Dead,
  • Alien Rage,
  • Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Blacklist
  • Deadly Premonition the Director's Cut,
  • Company of Heroes 2,
  • God Mode,
  • Borderlands 2: Add-on Content Pack,
  • Fuse,
  • Deadpool,
  • The Walking Dead,
  • Gears of War: Judgment and
  • The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct.

The Interactive Games & Entertainment Association (IGEA) has welcomed the decision by the Review Board, while roundly slamming John Rau for wasting taxpayer money with a costly and unwarranted review. It's estimated that the whole process cost in excess of $330,000. Ron Curry, the head of the IGEA, said that it was a shame it had to happen.

 

 Offsite Article: How come games aren't sexualised? Moralists must be well disappointed...


Link Here 12th December 2013
gta 4 sex scene Why isn't there more sex in games? And why is it so badly handled when it is included? Games blogger Siobhan Keogh investigates.

See article from nzherald.co.nz

 

  Censor Cut...

New Zealand advert censors bans ad for Grand Theft Auto


Link Here 7th December 2013
gta tattoo advert A Grand Theft Auto advert that showed a character pointing out a 'cut here' tattoo on his neck could promote violent behaviour according to New Zealand's advert censor.

The ad was placed on two New Zealand news websites. Three people complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), describing it as offensive, aggressive and intimidating and saying it should be kept to websites restricted to adults.

The complainants said the advertisement was distasteful and sends a message to viewers that stealing cars and cutting throats are synonymous .

The ASA complaints board upheld the complaints, saying the tattoo on the character's neck was likely to be interpreted as a reference to decapitation. The board said:

While in cartoon form, such imagery still leant support to unacceptable violent behaviour.

The ASA ruled that the advertisement should be removed from the websites

 

 Extract: Game Changer...

Ken Levine is known for breaking violent new ground in the world's youngest art form: video games.


Link Here 5th December 2013

Take 2 BioShock Infinite Xbox Midway through BioShock---the video game Ken Levine wrote, the one that made his name famous---there is a moment when you, the player, are offered the option of killing a child. The girl, bony and hollow-eyed, cowers before you. If you let her live, the game will go on, but if you kill her, the game rewards you with increased strength. Either choice will have ramifications further down the line, but you can't know this now. The child squirms to escape your grasp. You have to make your choice.

...

Levine believes that only video games can allow the consumer to feel what it's like to live with an objectionable set of values, or to act ignobly. In an age of violence up close, of bombings and schoolhouse rampages, he thinks games must present the imagery that the media fail to deliver. One of the responsibilities of art is to actually show this is what it looks like when someone gets shot, because it's really obfuscated in news reports of war and violence, Levine said. War is about sending pieces of metal very fast at people and tearing them to bits on the most primal level.

...Read the full article

 

  Gagged by Microsoft...

Microsoft bans XBox One gamers from using strong language in video comments


Link Here 26th November 2013
greeting card Microsoft has admited to punishing Xbox One owners who used strong language in videos posted on the platform.

The new Xbox One went on sale last week and users soon started complaining when they got banned from Internet-connected activities through Xbox Live accounts, including the ability to upload videos to share clips and commentary from their games.

If users use strong language in video comments they run the risk of getting blocked, which some users say they found out without warning, according to Xbox message boards where members vented frustration .

The censorship seems to be Microsoft's attempts to combat vitriol on its new platform, and has been implemented via temporary bans to users.

Microsoft confirmed suspensions over 'conduct violations in Upload Studio'.

 

 Offsite Article: Game Over...


Link Here 26th November 2013  full story: Newtown School Killings...Gun lobby vs violent media
Koei Dynasty Tactics 2 PS2 Official Report Does Not Tie Sandy Hook Shooting With Video Games

See article from gamepolitics.com

 

 Update: The Slaying of Sandy Hook Elementary...

Flash based game re-enacting the school killings winds up US politicians


Link Here 21st November 2013
slaying of sandy hook An indie game developed by an Australian is getting national attention this week because of its controversial subject matter: the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that happened almost a year ago in Newtown, Connecticut.

Politicians, journalists, parents of victims, Connecticut state officials, and even the National Rifle Association have weighed in on the game, The Slaying of Sandy Hook Elementary.

The Flash-based game was developed by Ryan Jake Lambourn, who describes himself in an audio recording that accompanies the game, as a U.S. expatriate from Houston who now resides in Sydney, Australia. The message of his game seems to be that guns laws in the United States need to change.

Newtown First Selectman Pat Llodra went said that she has contacted the FBI about the game and urged an investigation:

I'm just horrified. I just don't understand, frankly, why anyone would think that the horrible tragedy that took place here in Sandy Hook would have any entertainment value. It just breaks my heart.

U.S. Senator. Richard Blumenthal, representing Connecticut said:

I find the exploitation of this unspeakable tragedy is just shocking. From what I've heard and what's been shown to me, it's absolutely abhorrent. My hope is that it will be voluntarily taken down because it's offensive and hurtful.

 

 Offsite Article: Australian 15/18 ratings vs US 17 rating vs PEGI make everything 18 rating...


Link Here 14th November 2013  full story: R18+ for Games in Australia...Pondering an adult R18+ rating for video games
R18+ Comparing Australian games censorship with ratings from ESRB and PEGI

See article from games.on.net

 

 Offsite Article: Kinnected to Snoop HQ...


Link Here 2nd November 2013  full story: Internet Snooping in the US...Prism and secret internet snooping
Xbox 360 Kinect Sensor Adventures Given that state snoops can read everything on your internet connection, are you happy for a Kinect camera to capture everything in your living room (or bedroom)?

See article from gamepolitics.com

 

 Update: Censors Confess Under Torture...

Japanese cuts to Grand Theft Auto 5 revealed


Link Here 30th October 2013  full story: Grand Theft Worldwide...International certificates for GTA IV game
gta5 cut scene video Grand Theft Auto 5 has been censored in Japan.

The games has been shorn of its sexual content, and its infamous playable torture sequence has been cut entirely.

Kotaku has compared the Western and Japanese editions of the game alongside one another, concluding that the latter contains less violence and sexual content.

The cuts include:

  • Trevor revealing a bare butt when discussing his penis
  • Trevor humping a clothed girl on a kitchen table
  • Franklyn observing a clothed teen idol having sex in a garden
  • The torture scene has been deleted

 

 Update: State of Decay...

Australia's Censorship Board reveals that a large proportion of its postbag were complaints about the banning of 2 computer games


Link Here 25th October 2013  full story: Banned Games in Australia...Adult games ban
Australian Film Classification Board Australia's film and games censors has published its Annual report revealing some facts and figures about game censorship.

The Australian Classification Board considered 695 computer games during the year, with 291 receiving the G classification as suitable for viewing by anyone. 17 games received the new R18+ classification, which has been available only since the start of the year. And 2 games were banned.

Saints Row IV , in which players seek to destroy the alien Zin empire, was given the thumbs down for implied sexual violence and use of alien narcotics to increase a player's in-game skills.

The same went for State of Decay , a zombie apocalypse game in which players can use morphine, amphetamines and other drugs to enhance in-game abilities.

Censorship rules bar any sexual violence or drug use related to incentives and rewards. Both games are now available after their producers made cuts to meet the rules.

During the year, the Censorship Board received 795 complaints, the vast majority presumably from gamers objecting to the bans. Saints Row IV attracted 507 complaints, most opposing the RC rating. State of Decay prompted 270 complaints, with most opposing its ban.

 

  Unbalanced Law...

Automated copyright take down mechanisms being misused to silence critical reviews


Link Here 22nd October 2013
day one Wild Games Studio has been accused of unlawfully using Youtube's copyright protection features to censor a highly critical review of its recently released survival game, Day One: Garry's Incident .

The popular Youtube personality John Bain, better known under the handle TotalBiscuit, took to social media to blast the developer for submitting a copyright claim on a video review for which Bain had obtained a review code.

It's horrendously anti-consumer. It's unquestionably censorship, Bain says in a new video uploaded in response to the takedown notice.

Youtube's automated copyright protection feature has come under fire for facilitating abuses in the past. Most recently, Nintendo received criticism for appropriating the ad revenue of fan videos including Let's Plays.

 

  The Dead Stay Dead in Germany...

Dead Rising 3 banned


Link Here 11th October 2013
Dead Rising 3 Xbox One Xbox One zombie game Dead Rising 3 will not be released in Germany, a Microsoft representative told GameSpot:

Dead Rising 3 will not be released in Germany as part of the Xbox One launch lineup on Nov. 22 having been unable to attain an age-rating upon review by BPjM (Bundeprufstelle fur jugendgefahrende Medien), the country's entertainment software self-regulation body,

It is not clear what specific content in Dead Rising 3 caused the ban or if Microsoft plans to submit an cut version of the game. The original Dead Rising and its sequel are also banned in Germany.

Since Xbox One titles are region free, gamers in Germany can still play the game by importing it from another country, probably Austria.

 

  Soulless Censorship...

Beyond: Two Souls video game cut for a PEGI 16 rating


Link Here 2nd October 2013
BEYOND Two Souls Playstation 3 Sony has confirmed that the European release of Quantic Dream's Beyond: Two Souls has been censored.

Sony says that around 5-10 seconds of footage has been edited in the European release so that the game could get a PEGI 16 rating. Sony did not say just what exactly censors in Europe found so offensive. Sony Computer Entertainment Europe's Ross Alexander on the PlayStation EU Blog:

There are only two amends between the EU and US versions of the game, amounting to about 5-10 seconds of gameplay that's not been removed, just edited slightly to be in line with a PEGI 16 rating.

For Beyond we wanted to make the game available to as many people as possible, hence applying for a PEGI 16 rating. The 5-10 seconds I mention above would have upped our rating to a PEGI 18, so it made perfect sense to make these two VERY minimal changes to get our planned 16 rating.

I can assure you that this does not affect the game's story at all, and that if you didn't know these scenes had been amended, you wouldn't even notice.

Beyond: Two Souls is set for release on October 11 in Europe and is exclusive to Playstation consoles.

 

  Bonuses For Taking Out Medics To Be Increased?...

The International Committee of the Red Cross calls for video war games to teach the rules of war by penalising players for war crimes such as taking out medics


Link Here 2nd October 2013

icrc logo The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) believes there is a place for international humanitarian law (the law of armed conflict) in video games.

The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement has publicly stated its interest in the implications of video games that simulate real-war situations and the opportunities such games present for spreading knowledge of the law of armed conflict. The rules on the use of force in armed conflict should be applied to video games that portray realistic battlefield scenes, in the same way that the laws of physics are applied.

The ICRC is suggesting that as in real life, these games should include virtual consequences for people's actions and decisions. Gamers should be rewarded for respecting the law of armed conflict and there should be virtual penalties for serious violations of the law of armed conflict, in other words war crimes. This already exists in several conflict simulation games. Game scenarios should not reward players for actions that in real life would be considered war crimes.

The ICRC is concerned that certain game scenarios could lead to a trivialization of serious violations of the law of armed conflict. The fear is that eventually such illegal acts will be perceived as acceptable behaviour. However the ICRC is not involved in the debate about the level of violence in video games. What are some of the violations of the law of armed conflict that are of particular concern?

The ICRC is concerned about scenarios that, for instance, depict the use of torture, particularly in interrogation, deliberate attacks on civilians, the killing of prisoners or the wounded, attacks on medical personnel, facilities, and transport such as ambulances, or that anyone on the battlefield can be killed. Should video games be prohibited from depicting such acts?

Sanitizing video games of such acts is not realistic. Violations occur on real battlefields and can therefore be included in video games. The ICRC believes it is useful for players to learn from rewards and punishments incorporated into the game, about what is acceptable and what is prohibited in war.