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Updated: Dayzed censors...

Australian Censorship Board bans video game DayZ, and a cut version for Australia will then be distributed worldwide


Link Here 22nd August 2019
Full story: Banned Games in Australia...Games and the Australian Censorship Board
DayZ is a 2018 Czech first person shooter by Bohemia Interactive

The video game DayZ has been banned  by the Australian Censorship Board, despite having been previously granted an MA15+ rating under an alternative rating system.

DayZ has been available online via Steam since December of last year. As an online title it was rated MA 15+ for strong violence, online interactivity under the International Age Rating Coalition system. This is an automatic rating assignment software programme providing ratings based on forms filled in by the games company.

More recently the game was submitted for PS4 retail release by distributor Five Star Games. This time around it was assessed by human censors and was promptly banned.

gamesindustry.biz plausibly suggests that the ban is probably due to the game mechanism of using morphine to restore health. The Australian censors have strict rules prohibiting anything positive about drugs.

The game remains available online to Australian players via the Steam games distribution platform.

Update: Knocked out of joint

9th August 2019. See article from kotaku.com.au

The Classification Board first granted an RC rating to DayZ on June 4, following an application from local distributors Five Star Games to have the game sold in brick-and-mortar stores across the country. According to the report, which was supplied to Kotaku Australia on Friday afternoon, the game was banned over illicit or proscribed drug use related to incentives or rewards.

Through general gameplay, the player is able to collect and use a variety of equipment, supplies and weaponry, the report says. One of the options to restore the player's health is a marijuana joint, labelled 'cannabis', which is denoted by a cannabis bud in the player's inventory.

Kotaku Australia also reveals that the Classification Board is also working to have the game pulled from sale digitally in Australia.

Update: An Australian cut version will be distributed worldwide

13th August 2019. See article from kotaku.com.au

Bohemia Interactive confirmed to Kotaku Australia that DayZ would be getting modified globally to comply with the Classification Board's requirements. Bohemia could have opted to exclude Australians from DayZ s next major release to give themselves time to work out another solution, but in an email the studio explained that they did not want Aussie gamers to be separated from the rest of the world. Bohemia Interactive said:

At the moment, we are editing the global version of DayZ so it will fit into the Board's requirements. The key objective is to keep the gameplay as authentic as it was, so players are not affected by this change.

Update: It was the cannabis that done it

15th August 2019. See press release [pdf] from classification.gov.au

Dayz is a survival computer game set in the fictional post-Soviet Republic of Chernarus, where a mysterious plague has turned most of the population into zombies. The game is set in 1st and 3rd person where, as a survivor, the player must scavenge the land for food, water, weapons and medicine while killing or avoiding the "infected".

Dayz was initially put through the IARC (International Age Rating Coalition) Tool (the IARC Tool). A computer game developer answers an online questionnaire and the IARC Tool generates a rating and consumer advice which is consistent with current Australian classification guidelines. Based on the information provided by Bohemia Interactive in relation to drug use when completing the IARC questionnaire, the IARC Tool generated an MA 15+ classification with consumer advice of 'Strong violence, online interactivity' for the digital version of Dayz . The IARC Tool produces classifications for digitally delivered games for Australia.

When Five Star Games Pty Ltd applied to the Classification Board for a classification for an upcoming PlayStation 4 release of the game in Australia, they advised that drug use in the game included cannabis. The aim of Dayz is to stay alive and healthy during the conditions of the outbreak and the player's health is measured by vital statistics. Throughout general gameplay, the player is able to collect and use a variety of equipment, supplies and weaponry, with one option to restore the player's health being a marijuana joint, labelled "cannabis," which is denoted by a cannabis bud in the player's inventory. The player is able to select and use it when their vital statistics are low. When the player smokes the cannabis, their vital statistics of food and water increase and their temperature decreases. Therefore, in the opinion of the Classification Board, cannabis use during the game acts as an incentive or reward to boost overall health and survivability. The Board noted that there was no instance of intoxication resulting from this drug use depicted within the game.

The Guidelines for the Classification of Computer Games 2012 (the Games Guidelines) state interactive illicit or proscribed drug use is not permitted within the G, PG, M or MA 15+ classification. The Guidelines further state, drug use is permitted within the R 18+ classification, provided any interactive illicit or proscribed drug use is not detailed or realistic. Pursuant to the Games Guidelines, drug use related to incentives and rewards is not permitted at any classification level.

Accordingly, on 4 June 2019, the Classification Board had to classify the computer game, Dayz , RC (Refused Classification) . The RC category is commonly referred to as being 'banned'. This means that the game cannot be sold, hired, advertised, or legally imported into Australia. The IARC Tool classification has been updated to RC (Refused Classification).

The Board noted that if the use of cannabis within the context of this game did not act as an incentive or reward, its impact could have been accommodated within the R 18+ classification. Further, if this instance of drug use was absent from the game, then Dayz would be able to be accommodated within the MA 15+ classification.

Australia's censors also announce a review of the censorship rules

On 28 June 2019, the Council of Attorneys-General agreed that the Australian Government will coordinate a public consultation process on reviewing the Games Guidelines to ensure they reflect contemporary Australian community values. The review will be undertaken by the Department of Communications and the Arts.

Perhaps the censors can now quietly ditch their silly and embarrassing rules about drug use in games. The clause was only introduced as a political compromise when the R18 was being introduced for games. They were trying to say to reluctant politicians something along the lines of: Don't worry about allowing R18, we'll still have tough censorship rules for such games.

Update: Australia's the laughing stock of the world

19th August 2019. See article from sbs.com.au

Australia's decision to ban the popular zombie video game DayZ because of in-game drug use has been criticised in the Victorian state parliament.

Liberal Democrat MP Tim Quilty said:

The ban was absurd and has made Australia look like the wet blanket and laughing stock of the whole world.

Refusal of classification should be reserved for illegal materials, things like child pornography and snuff films that should never have been created in the first place. It should not be used for zombie survival video games.

Update: Duly banned from Steam

21st August 2019. See article from kotaku.com.au

While DayZ is still available for purchase on Steam in other territories that option isn't no longer available to Australians, unless you use a VPN. This does not affect anyone who has already bought the game, and they will continue to be able to play the game.

Update: Cut version duly rated MA15+

22nd August 2019. See article from classification.gov.au

After being banned by the Australian Censorship Board, the distributors have made cuts to the game to remove references to cannabis as a health restorer, and resubmitted the game.

The censors duly passed the game as MA15+ with consumer advice that noticeably doesn't mention drugs: Strong themes and violence, online interactivity

 

 

Updated: Rated R for 'Random'...

Australian games censors go into meltdown and award random ratings of Banned, MA15+, R18+ for We Happy Few


Link Here 22nd August 2019
Full story: Game Censorship in Australia...Classification board, video game, cuts
Last week, Australia's Censorship Board was in the news for banning a game that it had just passed MA15+. The sorry story played out as follows:

DayZ has been available online via Steam since December of last year. As an online title it was rated MA 15+ for strong violence, online interactivity under the International Age Rating Coalition system. This is an automatic rating assignment software programme providing ratings based on forms filled in by the games company.

More recently the game was submitted for PS4 retail release by distributor Five Star Games. This time around it was assessed by human censors and was promptly banned.

Well the random Australian ratings have ht the news again, this time for the dystopian game, We Happy Few. This was famously banned by Australia's human censors and was the passed R18+ by the appeal board. Well recent resubmissions have resulted in both MA15+ ratings and another ban.

Kotaku reports that the recent submissions may be to do with a new downloaded content update called Lightbearer . But even if this is the case the Australian ratings database doesn't do much to make it clear which versions are banned, R18, or MA15.

Update: Australian censors sweep their rubbish ratings under the carpet

22nd August 2019. See article from ign.com

The Australian Censorship Board has been cleaning up its rubbish ratings. It has replaced the seemingly random recent ratings of MA15+ and RC (Banned) with the R18+ rating that has been used for all retail release for some time.

The board has also deleted an entry from May 2018 noting that the game was previously temporarily by the censors in May 2018. This decision was eventually overruled by the Review Board with an R18+ rating that was used for all retail release.

So now website viewers are now presented with a consistent set of R18+ ratings as if the rubbish ratings had never happened.

ign.com also note that a rubbish ratings have also been cleared out for the game Kingdom Come: Deliverance which was also banned by the malfunctioning robot rating computer.

 

 

Rated MA for Madness...

More random games censorship from Australia's 'Classification' Board, this time banning Hotline Miami, previously rated MA15+


Link Here 22nd August 2019
Full story: Game Censorship in Australia...Classification board, video game, cuts
One of the biggest reveals from yesterday's Indie World presentation was the release of the Hotline Miami Collection on the Switch eShop.

Though most fans around the world can rejoice over this port, Australian fans have to watch as everyone else enjoys it, since Hotline Miami Collection has been pulled from the Australian eShop.

Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number was actually banned some time ago but it was a bit of a shock that the original Hotline Miami  was banned in June of this year. Before that it had been rated MA15+.

In fact Hotline Miami is one of those games that's had all 3 grown up ratings, ie MA15+, R18+ and of course banned with the RC (Refused Classification) rating.

 

 

Offsite Article: Films and games...


Link Here 14th August 2019
A history of Australian film and media censorship law

See article from kotaku.com.au

 

 

Updated: Time to Switch...

Omega Labyrinth Life released in the EU and US on 1st August, cut on PS4 and uncensored on Switch


Link Here 9th August 2019
Omega Labyrinth Life is another in the series of Japanese video games that feature sexy young girls of rather indeterminate age. It made the news as it was something of a first for featuring an English language soundtrack.

It inevitably courted a little controversy but it shrugged it off and will now release in the US and EU on the same day as Japan and Asia - August 1st.

The Western versions will be digital only and the Sony PS4 release will be the censored version whilst Nintendo Switch has the original uncut version.

Update: Uncensored is best

9th August 2019. See article from oneangrygamer.net

D3 Publisher released the full uncensored version of Omega Labyrinth Life on the Nintendo Switch , while the PS4 version received a truncated, censored version called Labyrinth Life . The Switch version managed to sell more than three times what the PS4 version sold, and almost quadrupling the sales during the first week of release.

The censored PS4 version, Labyrinth Life , fared far worse despite being $10 cheaper than the Nintendo Switch version of the game. It landed on the 26th spot out of 30 entries, and only moved 1,977 units over a four day period.

 

 

Grand Theft Auto at The Diamond Casino and Resort...

The latest excursion from Rockstar Games courts controversy as it is set in casino where players can buy chips but can't cash them in


Link Here 26th July 2019
Full story: Grand Theft Worldwide...International certificates for GTA IV game
Grand Theft Auto Online's newest scenario is the Diamond Casino and Resort in Los Santos. And of course the games features a rather one-sided form of gambling where only the house can win.

Players can buy game money which can be used to gamble at the tables of the Diamond Casino. There's no mechanism to cash in any winnings for real money, but presumably it can be used elsewhere in the game. But just like the real world, players can certainly lose and may be tempted to spend more real money in a forlorn hope of winning their losses back.

Given that loot boxes are causing so much controversy around the world, then this latest venture is surely asking for trouble. Forbes comments:

And in the sense that gambling is the sort of thing that can lead to problematic behavior, it's not hard to imagine how these new mechanics could start causing people with addictive personalities some issues.

Reddit has published a list of 50 countries where online gambling has been banned, and it is speculating that these could lead to the game being blocked in those countries. And indeed there have already been reports of the game being blocked in several countries, but these reports seem in need of confirmation.

 

 

Loot boxes have little worth...

UK Gambling Commission recognises issues with game monetisation but does not consider loot boxes to be gambling and so these are out of remit


Link Here 24th July 2019
Full story: Loot boxes in video games...Worldwide action against monetisation of video games

The UK Gambling Commission has told MPs that it does not currently oversee the purchase of in-game content like Fifa player packs and video game loot boxes.

This is because there is no official way to monetise what is inside them. A prize has to be either money or have monetary value in order for it to fall under gambling legislation.

However, there are unauthorised third party sites which buy and sell in-game content or enable it to be used as virtual currency. Gambling Commission programme director Brad Enright admitted that games publisher EA, which sells the football team management game Fifa, faced a constant battle against unauthorised secondary markets.

Dozens of parents have complained that their children are spending hundreds of pounds on in-game purchases, and have criticised the process as a form of gambling as there is an element of chance in the outcome and their children are then tempted to buy again in order to try to get the result they want.

Gambling Commission chief executive Neil McCarthur admitted that there were significant concerns around children playing video games in which there were elements of expenditure and chance. However, he added that under current legislation it did not classify as gambling.

 

 

Switch to Swtich...

Another example of game censored by Sony but uncensored by Nintendo


Link Here 16th July 2019
Nintendo has made it very clear that they won't be stepping in to ask developers/publishers to censor content on their platforms. They'll leave the content monitoring to game rating organizations, as Nintendo believes those organizations will do their job and rate games appropriately.

The latest example of Nintendo's hands-off approach is Raspberry Cube in Japan. The PS4 version of the game is cut has been rated CERO C, while the Switch version is uncut had has a higher CERO D rating (17+)

 

 

Updated: Devotion to censorship...

Extreme punishment for a Taiwan games company that included the Winnie the Pooh meme in a game


Link Here 16th July 2019
Full story: China International Censors...China pressures other countries into censorship
Back in February Kotaku UK reported on a game called Devotion disappearing from Steam , following the discovery of a piece of in-game art that mocked Chinese president Xi Jinping. We checked back in May, and the game had not reappeared .

The Chinese Communist Party, world-famous for its sense of humour, has now decided that merely disappearing this game was not enough. Now it has revoked the business license of one of the game's publishers, Indievent.

Without a business license, you cannot legally operate in China. So that's that for Indievent. worldwide. Devotion was developed by the Taiwanese studio Red Candle, but of course the Chinese market is essential for its economic viability.

And of course another point of this extreme censorship is that it sends a message to game publishers worldwide. Now doubt most of them have an eye on the possibility of sales to China.

Update: Snuffed out

16th July 2019. See article from dailydot.com

It seems that Devotion has been totally sunk by the Winnie the Pooh incident. Red Candle Gamessaid in a statement:

For the past four months, the art asset incident related to Devotion has caused immeasurable harm to Red Candle Games and our partner, (Chinese publisher Indievent),

While mediation is still in progress, Red Candle's co-founders have reached a unanimous decision to not re-release 'Devotion' in the near term, including but not limited to obtaining profit from sales, revision, IP authorization, etc. to prevent unnecessary misconception.

The studio extended its apologies to all impacted teams and personnel, and is taking full responsibility for any and all losses.

 

 

Harmless fun...

Anti-smoking campaigners persuade video game developer to drop all smoking from Gears 5


Link Here 14th July 2019
Full story: Smoking in the Media...Ludicrous calls fo an adult rating for films with smoking
Gears 5 , the forthcoming installment in the Gears of Wars third-person shooter game franchise, will be set in a smoking free environment.

The game, set for Sept. 10 release, comes from Xbox Game Studios and game developer The Coalition. The decision to remove all smoking references from Gears 5 came after the anti-smoking campaigners from Truth Initiative approached media company Turner has broadcast rights to the title, about making the change. Turner collaborated with The Coalition to strip out smoking from the game.

Past Gears of War titles have included occasional scenes with tobacco use, with certain characters holding cigarettes or cigars.

Of course, Gears 5 still includes a ton of shooting and, arguably, glorifies violence. The game is rated M (for audiences 17+) for blood and gore, strong language and intense violence.

 

 

Jordan is addicted to censorship...

Jordan's game censors ban PlayerUnknown's Battleground and six other games are set to follow


Link Here 12th July 2019
PlayerUnknown's Battleground is a 2017 South Korea Battle Royale by PUBG Corporation

Jordan's game censors at the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC) have banned PUBG.

A statement claimed that the action came after a wave of complaints from citizens and authorities alike. However, the TRC said one of its main reasons for implementing the ban was a World Health Organization study that classified PUBG as a violent game leading to addiction and social isolation, further stating that children who play violent games are more violent than their peers.

Director of Beneficiaries Affairs at the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC), Eng. Mohammad AlWathiq Shaqrah, revealed that after PUBG game was banned in Jordan, the TRC is planning to ban six other video games. He said that Fortnite is one of the games expected to be banned.

 

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