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 2018

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Offsite Comment: The consequence of refusing to accept adults only gaming...


Link Here 31st March 2018
US games developers squeeze adult games into the top end of the M rating whilst mildly violent games seek an M rating for street cred. The US then ends up with a single, and meaningless, rating for everything beyond children's games

See article from thefederalist.com

 

Two weeks of hysteria...

Australian press work up a fuss about the popular video game, Fortnite


Link Here 18th March 2018
A video games panic is being whipped up by the Australian press. A press release claims:

Australian children are having their minds warped by an ultra-addictive new video game that has already attracted 45 million players worldwide, experts warn.

Fortnite -- which can be played on Xbox, Playstation and now on mobile phones -- pits players against each other in a survival of the fittest-type contest. Players must take out opponents using weapons such as grenades, assault rifles, crossbows and rocket launches as the map constantly shrinks.

Some experts are warning that the addictive nature of the Hunger Games style contest and the amount of time that children spend playing are a cause for concern.

Video game Fortnite released its iOS version of its game on Friday which already has 45 million players globally

Mary Rezk, a 40-year-old Beverly Park mother, told the Daily Telegraph that the game was like a drug to her three boys aged 14, nine, and six. All they do is fight about who wants to play, she explained, They're just so obsessed with it.

Last September a free-to-play Battle Royale edition of the game was released in which up to 100 players are dropped onto an island with the aim of killing each other and taking their equipment and weapons, referred to as loot by players. This skyrocketed the game's popularity among PC and console users and, in January, the game's publisher Epic Games said that the title has more than 45 million players.

Interestingly the only 'expert' opinion quoted by the piece is totally mundane and obvious. Hardly supports the preceding panic laden text.

Clinical and Sports Psychologist Dr Jonathon Fader told GMA that, the difference with this game is that it is so interactive, recommending that parents look at the context, such as if gaming interferes with other activities, when looking at how much to limit screen time.

 

Whatever happened to British games censorship?...

Well the games censor has just awoken from a deep sleep and banned Omega Labyrinth Z


Link Here 16th March 2018
The Video Standards Council is responsible for UK video games censorship. Normally the group rubber stamps European PEGI ratings but it retains the power to ban games. And in a rare example of usage of such powers, the group has joined Australian in banning Omega Labyrinth Z.

Omega Labyrinth Z is 2017 Japanese console game by Matrix Software

Banned in Australia and the UK in 2018.

Summary

Omega Labyrinth Z is a dungeon crawler game for the PS4 and Playstation Vita. It was submitted with a provisional PEGI 16 rating for depictions of erotic or sexual nudity. The game is set at the Anberyl Girls Academy and legend has it that a holy grail exists that can grant any wish. It is hidden in one of the ancient caves that is located somewhere in the school grounds. A group of female students set out to explore the caves with the aim of finding the grail.

UK: Banned in March 2018 by the Video Standards Council

The VSC Rating Board has ruled that the video game, Omega Labyrinth Z, will not be issued a UK Certificate of Classification.

This refusal is relevant to physical product only (disc, cartridge, etc.) Under the terms of the Video Recordings Act (1984), the VSC Rating Board is required to consider the likelihood of any game causing harm to the user and, subsequently, to wider society by the way in which the game deals with and portrays images of criminal, violent or horrific behaviour, illegal drugs and human sexual activity. The grounds for this decision are as follows: - The likely harm being caused to a viewer or potential viewer, e.g. children or young people.

The game is explicit in its setting within a school environment and the majority of the characters are young girls - one child is referred to as being a first year student and is seen holding a teddy bear. The game clearly promotes the sexualisation of children via the sexual interaction between the game player and the female characters. The style of the game is such that it will attract an audience below the age of 18.

There is a serious danger that impressionable people, i.e. children and young people viewing the game would conclude that the sexual activity represented normal sexual behaviour. There is a constant theme of sexual innuendo and activity throughout the game that suggests behaviour likely to normalise sexual activity towards children. As a means of reward gained by successfully navigating the game, the player has the means to sexually stimulate the female characters by using either a hand held remote device or touch screen software.

The VSC Rating Board believes this content in a game, which would have strong appeal to non-adult players, is an issue which would be unacceptable to the majority of UK consumers and, more importantly, has the potential to be significantly harmful in terms of the social and moral development of younger people in particular.

Update: Banned in Germany, New Zealand and Ireland

16th March 2018. See  article from bbc.com

In a tweet, distributor PQube said its appeal against the UK ban had been rejected. The game has also been refused a rating in Australia and Germany. PQube said it would also not be available in New Zealand and Ireland.

 

Video game violence Trumps real world violence...

Reports from Donald Trumps meeting with video game makers and their critics


Link Here 12th March 2018

Donald Trump organised a private meeting with video games makers and their critics as a diversionary tactic to avoid the debate about gun control.

Republican lawmakers and moralist campaigners pressed the president at his meeting on Thursday to explore new restrictions on the video-game industry.

Some participants urged Trump to consider new regulations that would make it harder for young children to purchase those games. Others asked the president to expand his inquiry to focus on violent movies and TV shows too.

Trump himself opened the meeting by showing a montage of clips of various violent video games.

Video-game executives who attended the meeting Thursday included Robert Altman, the CEO of ZeniMax, the parent company for games such as Fallout; Strauss Zelnick, the chief executive of Take Two Interactive, which is known for Grand Theft Auto, and Michael Gallagher, the leader of the Entertainment Software Association, a Washington-focused lobbying organisation for the industry.

We discussed the numerous scientific studies establishing that there is no connection between video games and violence, First Amendment protection of video games, and how our industry's rating system effectively helps parents make informed entertainment choices, ESA said in a statement.

The Parents Television Council Program Director Melissa Henson participated in the meeting and commented in a post-meeting statement:

Stop Media Violence What I heard in today's meeting is that the entertainment industry is still fighting to maintain the status quo and is not ready or willing to confront the impact that media violence has on our children. But time is up for the entertainment industry to put a stop to marketing graphic, explicit, and age-inappropriate content to our children.

The video game representatives pulled out their same old talking points that have long been refuted. During the meeting, I was able to interject and say just how untrue their excuses are.

Representative Vicky Hartzler, a Republican from Missouri, said she was open to crafting legislation that would make it harder for youngsters to buy violent games. She said:

Even though I know there are studies that have said there is no causal link, as a mom and a former high school teacher, it just intuitively seems that prolonged viewing of violent nature would desensitise a young person.

The White House already has hinted at sustained, broader scrutiny still to come. A day before the meeting, a spokeswoman for Trump said the sit-down with video-game executives and their critics is the first of many with industry leaders to discuss this important issue.

 
  Trump's opening gambit

 

Seduction techniques fail to win over Sony...

Sony bans Super Seducer, a video game based on dating tips


Link Here 9th March 2018
Sony has blocked the publication of a video game based upon chat up lines and seduction techniques.

Super Seducer was scheduled for release on the PlayStation 4 on Tuesday. But feminists have taken issue with the themes of the game.

Sony has confirmed that the game has been banned bit has not explained the reasoning behind its censorship.

Super Seducer has, however, been released for PCs and Macs via Valve's Steam platform.

The Motherboard news site was among the first to notice that the PlayStation version had not been released. Seth Barton, editor of MCV, a trade publication commented:

While it's an unappealing title, I'm uncertain whether PS4 owners would be happy with Sony censoring the games they can play, especially as they can't go elsewhere to buy software.

Super Seducer does not feature nudity, but does show women in their underwear sitting next to its British creator, Richard La Ruina, as he delivers advice. Live-action sequences show the author grabbing parts of a date's body and attempting to kiss a woman he has just met to illustrate actions the player should avoid.

 

Monsters with guns...

Well if computer games are creating monsters, then why is Donald Trump defending their rights to bear arms


Link Here 8th March 2018
US President Donald Trump is to meet video games company representatives on Thursday to discuss violent content. The meeting comes in the wake of last month's shooting at a school in Florida in which 17 people died.

The Electronic Software Association (ESA), which represents the games industry in the US, said it would be attending. It said in a statement:

The upcoming meeting at the White House will provide the opportunity to have a fact-based conversation about video game ratings, our industry's commitment to parents, and the tools we provide to make informed entertainment choices,

Also at the meeting will be the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), the organisation responsible for offering age and content guidance for games.

A report from the Washington Post suggested some games developers had also been invited to attend, including Take Two Interactive, the publisher of the controversial Grand Theft Auto series. The company did not return the BBC's request for comment on the meeting. The Post also said key critics of the games industry would be at the table, including Brent Bozell, founder of the Parents Television Council.

On several occasions, President Trump has pointed to video game violence as being a problem potentially affecting American youths. He wrote on Twitter in December 2012:

Video game violence & glorification must be stopped. It is creating monsters!

The games industry has routinely and robustly defended itself against claims its products provoke real-life violence. The ESA explained in a statement:

Video games are enjoyed around the world and numerous authorities and reputable scientific studies have found no connection between games and real-life violence,

Like all Americans, we are deeply concerned about the level of gun violence in the United States. Video games are plainly not the issue: entertainment is distributed and consumed globally, but the US has an exponentially higher level of gun violence than any other nation.

 

Trump comes out all guns blazing...

And the targets are video game producers


Link Here 2nd March 2018
US President Donald Trump is scheduled to meet with members of the video game industry next week to discuss violence in games. The announcement comes a week after Trump suggested a link between violent video games and youth violence.

Likely comapnies that will be involved are Nintendo, Microsoft, Sony, Activision, Ubisoft.

Trump said recently:

I'm hearing more and more people say the level of violence on video games is really shaping young people's thoughts, said Trump last week, after a mass shooting left 17 people dead at a high school in Parkland, Florida. And then you go the further step, and that's the movies. You see these movies, and they're so violent, and yet a kid is able to see the movie if sex isn't involved, but killing is involved, and maybe they have to put a rating system for that.

Of course the idea is to deflect blame for frequent killing sprees from guns to games. But if Trump is right and people are readily corrupted by video games, then surely games players need to banned from owning guns, and that's pretty much the whole population.

 

Hidden costs...

US games ratig group adds label to inform customers of 'in-game purchases'


Link Here 1st March 2018
Full story: Loot boxes in video games...Worldwide action against monetisation of video games
The Entertainment Software Rating Boar d (ESRB) has announced that it will begin assigning a new "In - Game Purchases" label to physical ( e.g., boxed) games.

The In - Game Purchases label is one of several interactive elements that ESRB currently assigns to notify consumers about the interactive or online features of a digital or mobile game. Consumers can expect to start seeing this new notice on all games that can be purchased in stores and wherever those games can be downloaded in the near future.

ESRB president Patricia Vance said:

The video game industry is evolving and innovating continually, as is the ESRB rating system. ESRB's goal is to ensure that parents have the most up-to-date and comprehensive tools at their disposal to help them decide which games are appropriate for their children/ With the new In-Game Purchases interactive element coming to physical games, parents will know when a game contains offers for players to purchase additional content. Moreover, we will be expanding our efforts to educate parents about the controls currently at their disposal to manage in-game spending before their kids press 'Start'."

The new In-Game Purchases label will be applied to games with in-game offers to purchase digital goods or premiums with real world currency, including but not limited to bonus levels, skins, surprise items (such as item packs, loot boxes, mystery awards), music, virtual coins and other forms of in-game currency, subscriptions, season passes and upgrades (e.g., to disable ads).

The ESRB also launched ParentalTools.org , an easy - to - use one - stop resource for parents

 

Florida declares that porn is harmful whilst guns are not...

They're wrong, even a school kid could tell you that


Link Here 22nd February 2018
Full story: Newtown School Killings...Gun lobby vs violent media
Florida's House of Representatives passed a resolution Tuesday declaring pornography a public health risk. The resolution called for education, research, and policy changes to protect Florida citizens -- especially teenagers.

The bill's sponsor, Ross Spano, said that research has found a correlation between pornography use and mental and physical illnesses, difficulty forming and maintaining intimate relationships, unhealthy brain development and cognitive function, and deviant, problematic or dangerous sexual behavior.

The vote followed an earlier session in which Florida legislators declined to hold hearings on a bill banning high-capacity magazines and assault rifles such as the one used last week by suspected gunman Nikolas Cruz to kill 17 students and teachers at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Meanwhile in  Kentucky politicians have returned to the 1990s tactic of blaming video games for violence. Kentucky governor Matt Bevin started the show a couple of days after the shooting, and on Wednesday, Rhode Island state representative Bobby Nardolillo took it a step further.

Nardolillo proposed legislation that would put a 10% tax on video games with an ESRB rating of Mature or higher, Rolling Stone reported . That tax revenue would be used to fund counseling, mental health programs and other conflict resolution activities in schools, according to the press release on Nardolillo's Facebook page. Both Nardolillo and Bevin have high ratings from the gun lobby, the National Rifle Association.

But I'm not sure that blaming porn and video games is a good direction for the gun lobby. Surely if they consider that video games and porn causes the mental health issues that lead to killing sprees, then surely they should recognise that there are people that should not be trusted with guns. And as video games and porn are so ubiquitous then the only safe policy is that nobody should be trusted with guns. QED

 

Offsite Article: Kentucky governor, endorsed by the gun lobby, blames video games for school shootings...


Link Here 17th February 2018
But even if he were correct, wouldn't it be a good idea to prevent 'corrupted' gamers from being to get their hands on guns?

See article from theregister.co.uk

 

Curtain twitching...

The miserable Twitch game streaming website will close down anything remotely sexy including the attire of live streamers


Link Here 10th February 2018

Amazon's game-streaming site Twitch is cracking down on sexy content in a bid to make the platform more family-friendly. In particular the site as putting a stop to so-called bikini streamers who wear skimpy outfits to increase their subscriber count, or attract donations.

Some streams involved a squats for subs dynamic, where scantily clad game streamers would perform squats in front of a camera in return for new channel subscribers.

The Amazon-owned gaming website, which is the world's most popular place to live-stream video games, has introduced a strict dress code that will come into effect later this month.  Transgressors will be banned from the site. Twitch explained:

We're updating our moderation framework to review your conduct in its entirety when evaluating if the intent is to be sexually suggestive.

The company is planning to examine a whole host of elements, including stream titles, camera angles, emotes, panels, clothing, overlays, and the chat box too.

As far as clothing goes, Twitch recommends wearing something you'd be comfortable in at a shopping centre.

Attire in gaming streams, most at-home streams, and all profile/channel imagery should be appropriate for a public street, mall, or restaurant.

 

Morality in Media recommends...

Games distribution website Steam


Link Here 10th February 2018
Full story: Morality in Media...Misreable campaigners for censorship
The US moralist campaign Morality in Media, which now likes to call itself The National Center on Sexual Exploitation, is recommending the Steam games distribution website for its selection of sexy games. The group spouts:

Steam is a popular distribution platform, owned by Valve Corporation, which sells thousands of video games for PC, Mac, Linux box, mobile device, or even televisions, in addition to connecting gamers with community forums on its website.

Despite hosting approximately 35 million users who are minors, Steam also facilitates video games that promote themes of sexual violence, exhibitionism, and rape.

When videogames include sexually graphic and degrading themes the user is not only a voyeur but an active participant in staging the scene. As our society suffers from the consequences of campus sexual assault, military sexual assault, and rising child-on-child sexual abuse, we see that normalizing the sexual use (and often abuse) of others in videogames is irresponsible on the corporate and social level.

The National Center on Sexual Exploitation urges SteamŽ and its parent company ValveŽ to do the following:

  1. Remove the game House Party due to its singularly degrading and exploitive themes.
  2. Create an 18+ category on its website where all games with any amount of nudity or sexual content are stored. All accounts should have this 18+ category disabled by default, and require an extensive opt-in to view it so that children are no longer automatically exposed to this content.
  3. Institute a more robust policy enforcement against selling games that normalize or glamorize sexual exploitation in the future, no matter the age of the user.

 

Updated: Lost Direction...

Australian censors ban Japanese console game Omega Labyrinth Z


Link Here 9th February 2018
Full story: Banned Games in Australia...Games and the Australian Censorship Board
The Australian Censorship has banned a Japanese console game titled Omega Labyrinth Z .

The game was released in Japan last year and doesn't seem to have stirred any controversy. It is set for a European release on 30th June 2018.

The Australian censor has not yet published any meaningful reason for the ban but it is probably related to the depiction of young characters mixed with sexy themes.

Update: Simulated stimulation

9th February 2018. See  article from kotaku.com.au

kotaku.com.au has managed to get hold of the Australian censor's reasoning behind its ban of  Omega Labyrinth Z . The censors write:

The game features a variety of female characters with their cleavages emphasised by their overtly provocative clothing, which often reveal the sides or underside of theiur breasts and obscured genital region. Multiple female characters are also depicted fully nude, with genitals obscured by objects and streams of light throughout the game. Although of indeterminate age, most of these characters are adult-like, with voluptuous bosoms and large cleavages that are flaunted with a variety of skimpy outfits.

One character, Urara Rurikawa, is clearly depicted as child-like in comparison with the other female characters. She is flat-chested, physically underdeveloped (particularly visible in her hip region) and is significantly shorter than otehr characters in the game. She also has a child-like voice, wears a school uniform-esque outfit and appears naive in her outlook on life.

At one point in the game, Urara Rurikawa and a friend are referred to as "the younger girls" by one of the game's main characters. In the Boards opinion, the character of Urara Rurikawa is a depiction of a person who is, or appears to be, a child under 18 years.

In some gameplay modes, including the "awakening" mode, the player is able to touch the breasts, buttocks, mouths and genital regions of each character, including Urara Rurikawa, while they are in sexualised poses, receiving positive verbal feedback for interactions which are implied to be pleasurable for the characters and negative verbal feedback, including lines of dialogue such as "I-It doesn't feel good..." and "Hyah? Don't touch there!," for interactions which are implied to be unpleasurable, implying a potential lack of consent.

The aim of these sections is, implicity, to sexually arouse these characters to the point that a "shame break" is activated, in which some of the characters clothing is removed - with genital regions obscured by light and various objects - and the background changes colour as they implicitly orgasm.

In one "awakening" mode scenario, thee player interacts with Urara Rurikawa, who is depicted lying down, clutching a teddy bear, with lines of dialogue such as "I'm turning sleepy...", "I'm so sleepy now..." and "I might wake up..." implying that she is drifting in and out of sleep.

The player interacts with this child-like character in the same manner as they interact with adult characters, clicking her breasts, buttocks, mouth and genital regions until the "shame break" mode is activated. During this section of the game, with mis-clicks, dialogue can be triggered, in which Urara Rurikawa says, "Stop tickling...", "Stop poking..." and "Th-that feels strange...", implying a lack of consent.

...

In the Board's opinion, the ability to interact with the character Urara Rurikawa in the manner described above constituted a simulation of sexual stimulation of a child.

 

Banning lucky bags...

Germany and Sweden to consider banning loot boxes from video games played by children


Link Here 7th February 2018
Full story: Loot boxes in video games...Worldwide action against monetisation of video games
Germany is looking into imposing restrictions on loot boxes in videogames, according to Welt. A study by the University of Hamburg has found that elements of gambling are becoming increasingly common in videogames. It's an important part of the game industry's business model, but the chairman of the Youth Protection Commission of the State Media Authorities warned that it may violate laws against promoting gambling to children and adolescents.

The Youth Protection Commission will render its decision on loot boxes in March.

Update: Sweden too

9th February 2018.  See  article from neoseeker.com

Ardalan Shekarabi, the nation's minister of civil affairs, is concerned about making sure Swedish consumer protection laws apply across the board when it comes to gaming. Shekrabi admits that loot boxes are like gambling, but has asked Swedish authorities to consider whether that's what they should actually be classified as. The idea is to have legislation ready by January of next year to ensure Swedish gamers don't have to worry about a transaction falling outside of the nation's consumer protection laws in the event something goes south.

 

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