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 2014: July-Sept

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 Offsite Article: Australia's most ridiculous instances of video game censorship...


Link Here 26th September 2014
Saints Row IV Xbox 360 The Australian government seem to think that video games are only for kids but hate both of those terms. They denied even the existence of adults who played games for years, until the R18+ rating was introduced in 2013.

See article from techly.com.au

 

  Playing World Domination...

US games rating groups sets out ideas for an international rating


Link Here 21st September 2014
esrb logo Gamesbeat spoke with ESRB president Patricia Vance on the eve of the board's two-decade anniversary. Vance said:

The American public is still very sensitive about sex, relatively sensitive about language, but has a relatively high threshold for violence. Our ratings reflect that.

Other countries have different standards, which is what makes current international efforts by the ESRB so interesting. A collection of game rating organizations from around the world have collected to create a single online questionnaire that developers can use to receive ratings from all regions at the same time.

The end rating is not the same, Vance says, because cultural norms are different in different parts of the world. But a developer only has to apply once to get their ratings for this country, Brazil, Germany, and other parts of Europe. She said:

It's quite revolutionary. It gets nuanced. Our challenge was to streamline the form. A lot of people made compromises. We're sensitive to each country's specific criteria.

The form, which is undergoing an update, asks developers to answer 10 basic questions, then opens up with more queries depending on the answers to the first 10. Some questions are in the form for a specific country: the use of swastikas, for example, will affect a game's rating in Germany in a way it does not here. A game might be appropriate for wider audiences in other markets than in the U.S. depending on sexual content. And different countries slice their audiences in different ways.

I don't think there would ever be a universal global rating, Vance said. Among other reasons, this country has the First Amendment right to free speech, which is unique, she said. Governments run most other ratings agencies and have the right to censor content.

 

  A Straight Flush...

SouthKorea bans monetised games from Facebook in a bid to force foreign games to sign up for censorship


Link Here 13th September 2014
candy crush saga South Korea is banning all monetised Facebook game in a move targeted at casino games, most notably Zynga poker.

Facebook games, including casino games, are being blocked until the country implements a new censorship and ratings system.

On August 29, Korea's Game Rating and Administration Committee shut down games such as FarmVille , Candy Crush Saga and the new version of Zynga Poker . Stop payments were put on the games, preventing players from spending any kind of money on in-game micro-transactions.

The block appears to be a way to enforce the 2013 Game Industry Promotion Act, which established a legally binding age-appropriateness rating system in December of last year. Foreign games companies had not been heeding to censorship requirement.

A panel of nine people, which includes professors, attorneys and non-government organization representatives, will now rate games. which will be placed in one of four categories: Suitable for all; 12+, 15+, and Adults Only.

Game developers and publishers can submit their software to be rated and then should receive a rating within 15 days of filing an application. A fee also must be paid to take part in the ratings process. This will then re-enable the payment process for games that are deemed suitable by the censor board.

South Korea's new restrictions came out just before Zynga launched its new version of Zynga Poker for mobile devices, so it is assumed that this is the target of the new censorship process. The game now won't be available for the South Korean market.

 

 Update: Left 4 Dead 2 Revived in Australia...

2009 game banned, then cut and now finally re-released uncut


Link Here 6th September 2014  full story: Left 4 Dead 2...Australian censor bans video game
Electronic Arts BE032 Left Dead The PC version of first-person cooperative zombie survival game Left 4 Dead 2 has finally been reclassified in Australia with an R18+ rating.

Left 4 Dead 2 was banned when it was first submitted in 2009,  games company Valve appealed the decision to no avail before submitted a cut version for classification. Eventually the censorship board gave this an MA15+ rating. Unfortunately for Australian gamers, this meant that they had to play a version of the game that was missing limb dismemberment, decapitation, and post-mortem damage.

With this new rating all of the censored content will be restored into the game.

Doug Lombard of Valve added that:

We are making plans to deliver that version to those who have already purchased the game. We will announce more details on that soon.

 

  Disheartened...

Cuts maintained for the remix release of the video game Kingdom Hearts 2


Link Here 3rd September 2014
Kingdom Hearts 2 5 Remix PS3 Kingdom Hearts 2.5 HD Remix is a 2014 update for the adventure game Kingdom Hearts 2.

The original game was cut worldwide outside of Japan. The cuts were to achieve a low age rating and included:

  • no green Hydra Blood
  • pirates can't be set on fire
  • Axel's death scene has been edited

The ESRB has now rated the remix as Everyone 10+ for Fantasy Violence, Mild Blood, and Use of Alcohol. And it is reported that at least some (and probably all of the relevant cuts) are carried through into the remix release.

From other submissions so far, noting Australia, the same cut version is set for worldwide release (outside of Japan).

Kingdom hearts HD 2.5 Remix is set for release on December 2, 2014.

 

 Update: Classification App...

Australia parliament passes bill to allow the use of a classification tool to rate games and apps


Link Here 28th August 2014  full story: Australian Censorship Review... Reviewing censorship law for all media
parliament house logo Australia's parliament has just passed a bill to allow the government the option to allow the use of classification tools for the classification of specified categories of media, particularly computer games.

The target of the legislation is the vast amount of apps and small games available online. Current law suggests these require to be censored by the Classification Board. However in reality this is totally uneconomic and unfeasible. The plan is to allow users to classify the apps using government approved classification tools, presumably taking the form of a questionnaire for the games makers.

 

  Shooting, stabbing and strangling Nazis...

ASA dismisses whinge about advert for computer game, Wolfenstein: The New Order


Link Here 28th August 2014

Wolfenstein Order Online Game Code An ad for the video game Wolfenstein: The New Order was displayed on a gaming website, www.eurogamer.net. An ad bordered the home page and was headed Wolfenstein: The New Order ...] HOVER TO EXPAND THE VIDEO and pictured two figures holding guns. A PEGI 18 symbol was also shown. Hovering over the top section of the border for three seconds, without clicking, opened a video trailer ad over the home page and played automatically. On-screen text at the start of the video stated MATURE 17+ ... Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language, Strong Sexual Content, Use of Drugs . The video included a scene depicted in black and white where two Nazi officers wearing gas masks walked amongst the bodies of dead peace protestors. One Nazi soldier was shown executing a man on the ground with a bullet to the head, whilst a robot animal walked in the background. The trailer included other scenes of game footage which depicted people being killed or hurt, including by being shot. Dialogue included What the fuck did I just do? , What you been up to ...? Shooting, stabbin', strangling Nazis and Well, I'm on the motherfucking moon .

The complainant, who believed the ad to be excessively gory and shocking and was concerned that it could be seen by children, objected that the ad:

1. in the particular scene showing the execution of a man, was offensive and distressing; and

2. was unsuitable to be shown on a home page with no restrictions on who could view it.

Eurogamer said their site was a video games site written for and read by a mature gaming audience. They said their readership was generally in their mid to late 20s and 30s. They said their last readership survey in May 2014 showed that 96.89% of their readership was aged 18 or over. They provided a breakdown of the readership survey respondents by age category.

ASA  Assessment: Complaint not upheld

1. Not upheld

The video trailer included graphic scenes of violence, including a man being shot in the head, and the dialogue featured swearing. The ASA therefore considered that the content of the ad had the potential to cause offence or distress. However, the ad had appeared on a website where the readership was predominantly a gaming audience aged 18 or over, who we considered were likely to be familiar with the nature and contents of different types of video games. The ad shown on the home page included the name of the game, a PEGI 18 symbol and pictured two figures holding guns. We therefore considered that it indicated the video trailer was likely to include violent content. The trailer played when the home page ad was hovered over for three seconds, during which a countdown was displayed. The start of the trailer also included a prominent warning of the nature of the video's contents. We considered that website users were provided with adequate information and warning about the nature of the contents of the ad, and users who did not wish to view such material were able to avoid doing so. We therefore considered that the ad was unlikely to cause offence or distress to those people who viewed it.

2. Not upheld

We considered that the nature of the video trailer, which included graphic violence and swearing, meant that it would not be suitable to appear in an untargeted medium. However, the website on which the ad appeared had a predominantly adult audience, and the latest readership survey showed that only 3 % of the website's users were aged under 18. Readers were also provided with adequate information and warning about the nature of the contents of the ad, and the ad stated clearly that the game had a PEGI 18 rating. We therefore concluded that the ad was unlikely to be seen by children and that it had been responsibly targeted.

 

  Is this shutting down criticism of the bombing?...

Game mocking Gaza bombing has been removed from Google Play


Link Here 5th August 2014
bomb gaza A phone game which mocks the bombing of Gaza was removed from the Google app store following public 'outrage'.

The game Bomb Gaza was developed by PLAYFTW for Android phones and tablets had been downloaded up to 1,000 times since its release on July 29 of this year. Its stated aim was to drop bombs and avoid killing civilians, according to the Guardian.

Comments in the game's review section expressed anger and bewilderment that real human suffering could be made into a game.

A Google spokesman confirmed the ban: We remove apps from Google Play that violate our policies. The company did not specify which policy the game had violated.

According to Mashable, a second game referencing the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, Gaza Assault: Code Red , was also removed by Google.

 

  By Military Dictat...

Thailand bans the computer game, Tropico 5, as the theme of despot dictatorship is a little too close to home


Link Here 4th August 2014
Kalypso Media Tropico PC DVD Tropico 5 is a 2014 simulation game from Kalypso

You, as El Presidente, will first take control of the infamous island of Tropico during early colonial times and then guide it through the centuries as the world changes and moves ever forward. You must tackle the changing needs of your people, as well as opposing governments and factions, and thus lay the foundations for your own dynasty. As you move through your years in office you can promote members of your extended family on the island to positions of power: such as ambassador, commanding general or even Supreme Ruler, to ensure your legacy thrives through the eras. As your influence and wealth grows, so do the threats to your burgeoning island superpower. Can you survive both World Wars, prosper through the Great Depression, rule as an iron-fisted dictator through the Cold War and advance your country to modern times and beyond? From the 19th to the 21st century, each era carries its own challenges and opportunities

A video game distributor says Thailand's film and video censors have banned a city-building simulation game for computers. The game allows players to play the role of a president of a tropical island, draft a constitution and manage the country, with the option of controlling the media and ruling as an iron-fisted dictator.

New Era Thailand marketing manager Nonglak Sahavattanapong said that the censorship office had banned sales of Tropico 5 because they feared its content might affect peace and order. But of course the reality is that the theme of despot dictators is a little too close to home.

 

  Police Censor...

UK games censor appoints a new chairman


Link Here 28th July 2014
VSC logo The UK video games censor, the Video Standards Council (VSC) has appointed a new chair to take over from Gillian Shephard (Baroness Shephard of Northwold).

The new Chair will be Tony Lake, who has served as a vice-chair for the organization since December 2009. According to the VCS, Tony Lake has an extensive background in law enforcement, having served for 36 years in the Police Service and working for five different police forces during his career. He spent the first 20 years of his career in the Metropolitan Police before transferring to the West Yorkshire Police in 1992 In 2010 he became an Assistant Chief Constable in Sussex and Deputy Chief Constable of the British Transport Police in 2000. He retired in 2009.

The VSC was established in 1989 to develop and oversee a code of practice designed to promote standards within the video/DVD industry. Since 2003 the VSC has been responsible for administering the PEGI system which now covers the UK and over 30 countries.

 

  The Evil Within in Japan...

Computer game set to be cut for a 17 rating in Japan


Link Here 14th July 2014
Bethesda The Evil Within PS4 The Evil Within is a 2014 horror action game from Bethesda

Shinji Mikami, the father of survival horror, is back to direct The Evil Within -- a game embodying the meaning of pure survival horror. Highly-crafted environments, horrifying anxiety, and an intricate story weave together to create an immersive world that will bring players to the height of tension.

Bethesida Softworks have delayed Shinji Mikami's upcoming survival-horror game, The Evil Within . ZeniMax Asia general manger Tetsu Takahashi explained how the game will now be cut for a CERO D (17) rating in japan:

If we were to make it the same way as the foreign version, it'd be rated CERO Z [18 and up] and we felt that it'd be best to release it the way the creators make it. However, that would limit the sales and advertising, so we'd lose the opportunity to reach out to as many customers possible.

However there will be a downloadable upgrade to an uncut CERO Z (18) version. Takahashi  said:

The Evil Within will have two types of CERO D and CERO Z, with both of them having passed the CERO inspections, but the retail version will only be done using the CERO D versioni. Those who preorder the game can also get the CERO Z version's representation through the Gore Mode DLC.

The Evil Within will be released on October 23, 2014 in Japan for PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One

 

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