|30th May |
Rape games to be banned in Japan from June
29th May 2009.
TBS news reports that all rape games will be banned from sale or production in Japan.
It is estimated that this particular genre takes up about 10% to 20% of the entire industry but the PC software independent review committee has made the
decision to ban all these games.
The PC games review committee had originally not seen it as a problem, but now it has come to the point where the entire game software industry has to comply to the new restrictions.
The committee will
change their censorship guidelines starting from the 2nd of June, and the approximately 200 member companies will be restricted from the production and sale of rape games.
The news article reports that the reason for doing so started with the
campaigning efforts of the International woman’s rights organization Equality Now which had started due to the problems found with the sale of Rapelay in other countries.
Jumping the Gun
30th May 2009. See article from gamepolitics.com
The embers of the RapeLay controversy were stirred a bit yesterday with a report that the game - and others of its ilk - had been banned in Japan. Not by
the government, mind you, but by an industry standards organization.
As it turned out, the report was false: The news source TBS jumped the gun and exaggerated everything. If it is really decided that rape games will be regulated we’ll
definitely at least have till past July to comply. The used game market will probably still be OK.
|16th May |
Rapelay game approved by Japanese (self) censors
The controversial Japanese game RapeLay was cleared by a software industry screening board, reports The Yomiuri Shimbun.
According to the newspaper, the Tokyo-based Ethics Organization of Computer Software screened RapeLay without advising
its publisher, Illusion, to make any edits. 235 computer game firms belong to the supposedly self-regulating organization.
While an unnamed official of the group would not reveal its screening standards, he told the newspaper:
[The organization] follows the Penal Code and the law, which bans child prostitution and child pornography. Also, we ask for self-regulation of games, to ensure stories depicted stay at a permissible level from a social
[Given the RapeLay controversy the organization] should discuss what kind of self-imposed regulations are required to ensure [games] are acceptable to society.
|15th May |
Germany drops idea to ban paintball and laser shooting games
Based on article from
Germany’s government wants to rush a new gun control law through parliament, but has apparently ditched unpopular plans to ban paintball.
Deputy head of the Christian Democrats’ parliamentary group Wolfgang Bosbach told daily Bild that the
rushed law would be made possible by tying it to legislation on explosives already under deliberation.
The law has been motivated by a school shooting in March that left 16 people dead when a 17-year-old Tim Kretschmer attacked his former school
with his father's gun in the southwestern German town of Winnenden. The gun was not secured and the massacre has stirred up debate about whether the country needs stronger gun laws or a ban on violent video games.
Criticism from relatives of
Winnenden victims has intensified. Head of the action group Amoklouf Winnenden, Hardy Schober, told daily Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger that the new law would be simply cosmetic . His group wants a general ban on high-calibre weapons and
handguns in private households. Gun owners would also have to store their weapons in gun clubs.
Initial reports on the new gun law said that the ruling coalition had agreed to ban simulated killing games such as paintball, where players use air
rifles to shoot ammunition filled with paint at opponents, and laser tag, a game where players attempt to score points by shooting each other with an infrared-emitting gun.
But Dieter Wiefelsptz, an expert on domestic affairs for the
Social Democrats, on Wednesday said lawmakers had abandoned the idea of making paintball illegal.
The government, however, plans to conduct an enquiry to assess whether paintball regulations should be tightened by increasing age limits and other
measures, Wiefelsptz said. The sport is banned for those younger than 18, and is generally not played in military fatigues like in other countries. A report commissioned by the government in 2000 concluded it did not make people more likely to
engage in violence.
|9th May |
Germany set to ban paintball and laser shooting games
Thanks to Nick
Based on article
The German government is planning to ban paintball and laser shooting games in a knee jerk reaction to the recent school massacre in which 15 people died.
Under legislation agreed by the ruling coalition of the chancellor, Angela Merkel,
using air rifles to shoot paint-filled pellets at opponents is likely to be made illegal, and would be punishable with fines of up to €5,000 (£4,480).
The decision, which is expected to be fast-tracked through the Bundestag before the
summer recess, comes two months after 17-year-old Tim Kretschmar shot dead 15 people at his former school in Winnenden. Kretschmar's love of paintball as well as violent video and computer games was widely publicised.
This so-called game plays
down violence, leading to the danger that people have fewer inhibitions about shooting each other, claimed Dieter Wiefelsputz, of the Social Democrats.
Owners of paintball arenas, which are already out of bounds for under-18s, said they felt
they were easy targets in what opposition politicians have referred to as populistic placebo politics.
The new law is also expected to forbid under-18s access to high-calibre guns and to make it easier for police to carry out random
controls at the homes of registered gun owners.
|29th March |
Police come up with video games as being behind a Colorado shooting spree killer
Based on article from gamepolitics.com
A Colorado police officer has suggested that a troubled 22-year old man who went on a random shooting spree last October may have been influenced by violent video games.
The Denver Post reports that the police investigator made the comment in
regard to Stefan Martin-Urban, who killed two people and wounded two others before turning his gun on himself:
He was said to be an obsessive player of video games. Those games, authorities said are the closest police and FBI investigators can
come to an explanation for Martin-Urban's actions that killed two and injured two.
Sergeant Clayton said: In the last year, he had no friends. No boyfriend. No girlfriend. No pets. He was consumed with the video games. He spent an enormous
amount of time playing them, .
Martin-Urban lived mostly in isolation... after enrolling in a state college... He stopped going to classes within two weeks. His father had committed suicide in Alaska four days before the previous
Christmas. His favorite videos included a prophecy that a 2,000- mile-long spaceship containing cosmic beings was going to appear in the Earth's atmosphere three days after the shooting.
|28th March |
Jesse Jackson talks about violent media in UK Parliament
Based on article from gamepolitics.com
The Reverend Jesse Jackson downplayed the influence of violent media in testimony before the British Parliament's Home Affairs Committee. The committee, which has been investigating knife crime, is chaired by long time video game nutter Keith Vaz.
GamePolitics has transcribed the portions of Jackson's testimony which relate to media violence issues:
Labour MP Martin Salter: Rev. Jackson, we've been taking evidence on the effects or the increasing
effect of violent media images on young people, whether it's in video games, whether it's on TV, whether it's the cinema. It seems the evidence were hearing, that there's a general danger that young people can be desensitized to the concept of violence
by the images that they see, but there's a greater predisposition to violence if those young people are brought up in families and households and communities where actual violence is the norm. Do you have any lessons from America for us on this issue?
Rev. Jesse Jackson: For a long time we challenged music artists and movie makers to be sensitive to the impact that their music and their movies have on children and they have some
force... But those who grow drugs in Afghanistan and poppy seeds – they don't listen to music. This thing is not about music and movies. It's about a form of economy... we've lost more lives from [the drug] war than the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. And
we seem to see it as something marginal but it is in the center of our security and it's getting worse in my judgment... the structural crisis of poverty and drugs and guns is more real than just movies and music.
Keith Vaz: Do you accept that there is a link between violent video games and violence that is perpetrated by individuals? Do you think that those images do have an effect on young people?
Rev. Jesse Jackson: There may be some link of imitation. The question, Mr. Chairman, is art imitating life? Is life reflecting art? There's always a big debate there. What we do know in these troubled times… there's
increased domestic violence in the home. [Children are] more likely to imitate parents fighting physically. Domestic violence is maybe even a bigger factor on violent behavior than the movies and the worst games that are played. So, yes, we urge artists
to not use their considerable skills to desensitize people to violence. Sure, these games that think that killing is a game must be challenged. But the economic impact of life options determines whether one is headed up towards university or down toward
|26th March |
Utah governor vetoes law aimed at enforcing age restrictions on games
Utah Governor, Jon Huntsman, has vetoed HB 353, the video game/movie bill passed overwhelmingly by the Utah House and Senate.
Saintless has Gov. Huntsman's explanation of his veto:
After careful consideration and
study, I have decided to veto HB 353...
While protecting children from inappropriate materials is a laudable goal, the language of this bill is so broad that it likely will be struck down by the courts as an unconstitutional violation of the
Dormant Commerce Clause and/or the First Amendment.
The industries most affected by this new requirement indicated that rather than risk being held liable under this bill, they would likely choose to no longer issue age appropriate labels on
goods and services.
Therefore, the unintended consequence of the bill would be that parents and children would have no labels to guide them in determining the age appropriateness of the goods or service, thereby increasing children's potential
exposure to something they or their parents would have otherwise determined was inappropriate under the voluntary labeling system now being recognized and embraced by a significant majority of vendors.
|25th March |
German president joins the tirade against computer games
Thousands of people converged on the grieving German town of Winnenden on Saturday for a memorial service for the 15 victims of a shooting spree by a 17-year-old.
All Germany mourns with you, President Horst Koehler told a congregation
of 900: Each child is born innocent, and when a child dies, it is hope and the future which dies too, Koehler said, calling for curbs on the kind of violent video games believed to have influenced the teenage gunman, Tim Kretschmer.
Koehler backed families of the victims who appealed in an open letter for tighter gun control laws and a ban on violent video games of the kind which Kretschmer regularly played.
He said there should be restrictions on the spread of the innumerable films and videogames of extreme violence, with their display of dead bodies, while individuals should be able to say no to what they feel to be bad.
their open letter addressed to Merkel and Koehler, the families of five of the victims said: Despite our pain and anger, we can't just do nothing. We want to make sure there is not another Winnenden. They called for teenagers to be denied access
to guns, for violent videos to be banned and violence on television to be restricted by the introduction of quotas taking into account the hours when children are likely to be viewing.
|24th March |
Whinging that dogs are killed in a computer game
The animal rights activists of PETA wrote on their blog:
Not since we were pitted against Nazi attack dogs when we first escaped from Castle Wolfenstein 17 years ago have we seen such barbaric treatment of dogs in
video games as we did in Call of Duty, World at War .
During the course of the game, you are forced to shoot attack dogs and you can actually unlock a reward that allows you to unleash a pack of attack
dogs on enemies.
In a post–Michael Vick world, you'd think that Activision Blizzard, which publishes the popular game, would take abusing dogs for entertainment purposes more seriously.
students at a Massachusetts high school are not keeping quiet about their disgust with Activision. Breanna Lucci said: Killing dogs as a form of entertainment … over and over again. That's one of the objects of the game. Parents need to know what they
are buying their kids. Killing animals should not be a form of entertainment.
|23rd March |
German police union chief calls for ban on killer games
The head of Germany's national police union has called for a ban on violent video games in the wake of a horrific school shooting earlier this month.
Echo Online cites comments made by Heini Schmitt, head of the Hessen German Police Union:
It is known that in every situation in which a violent rampage has occurred, the perpetrator has had a remarked addiction to so-called killergames. The manner of the deed is astonishingly similar to virtual examples.
For him, the fact
that roughly a third of children and youths regularly and addictively escape into a virtual world sets off alarm bells. Age restrictions for such games are often ignored. There is admittedly no proof that these frequent escapes into virtual
killerworlds can contribute to such insane deeds. But neither can the role killergames be completely dismissed.
When a chance to remove a probable cause exists, it must be used, he insisted: The world would be no poorer if there were no
|21st March |
Games developers object to advert associating games with early death
10th March Based on article from gamepolitics.com
Tiga, the trade association which represents UK video game developers, has filed a complaint with Britain's Advertising Standards Authority.
At issue are print ads placed by the British government's Change4Life campaign which show a young boy
holding a game controller. The ad's text reads, Risk an early death, just do nothing.
Tiga CEO Richard Wilson said:
This advert is absurd and insulting in equal measure. To imply that playing a video game
leads to a premature rendezvous with the Grim Reaper is a non-sequitur of colossal proportions. Alcohol and drug abuse, smoking, obesity and involvement in violent crime are forms of behaviour that risk an early death...
This advert is offensive
to the 30,000 people who work in the UK's video games industry, particularly the 10,000 who work in games development. Game developers are typically intelligent, very qualified and creative individuals who work to produce high quality games for people's
entertainment. They are not in the business of driving people to an early grave...
Update: Sedentary Lifestyle Not the Playing Games
20th March 2009. From
The advertising censor, the ASA has stood behind an advert that some consumers complained connected videogames with an early death: the ad did not claim that playing computer or console games alone would lead to illness or premature death.
The ASA claimed that most readers would understand that the ad was discouraging a sedentary lifestyle, with games consoles used purely as an illustration of how health problems may occur if you sit on your bum all day playing Grand Theft Auto IV
without doing any exercise.
Offsite: Blame Game Tactics
21st March 2009. From computerandvideogames.com , thanks to JAK
Here's an interesting article on a gaming website that has been partly lifted from Private Eye.
Private Eye suggested that The Risk an Early Death, Just Do Nothing campaign which targets gamers has been funded by such companies as Coca
Cola, Nestle and Kellogs - companies that sell junk foods which can also contribute to an unhealthy lifestyle and early death.
Perhaps the message said companies want to send out is do more physical work so you can eat our junk.
all concerned are refuting everything suggested.
|20th March |
Australian nutters whinge about House of the Dead: Overkill game
Based on article from news.com.au
House of the Dead: Overkill is available at
House of the Dead: Overkill is available at
A violent video game has been slammed by nutter groups.
House of the Dead: Overkill , released by Sega for use with the Wii console, is full of gory scenes. Players mow down waves of mutants, leaving a trail of lost limbs, gutted
bowels and heads with shattered brains.
The MA15+ rated game includes the word 'fuck' 189 times, a record that has made it into Guinness World Records - Gamer's Edition.
The gaming industry has been mischievously misrepresenting the
classification system on this issue, said Angela Conway, director of the Pro Family Perspective: I feel very distressed that a large number of teenagers and adults would play this game and soak up this amount of sexually aggressive violence and
aggressively violent language.
Conway is calling for a study of the type of impact games such as House of the Dead: Overkill have on youngsters -- and adults: We need to draw a deep breath and look at the research, which will show a need
to scale back this level of violence.
A spokesman for Sega, Vispi Bhopti, defended the game: House of the Dead: Overkill has been rated as suitable for people over 15. It is not an R-rated game . The swearing in it is very
much stylised so it matches the Grindhouse cinema style made famous by director Quentin Tarantino. In playing the game, players attack zombies or humanoid characters but never humans. This is an important distinction that the classification board makes
when it gives a rating.
For comparison the BBFC rated the game as 18 uncut:
The House of the Dead: Overkill is a spoof horror shoot-'em-up game for the Nintendo Wii, that serves as a prequel to the first game in the series. Set in 1991, Special Agent G is fresh out of the AMS academy, and teamed up
with Detective Washington, to investigate stories of mysterious disappearances in a small town in Louisiana. It has been classified '18' for frequent strong bloody violence, gore and language.
Frequent strong bloody violence and gore is seen as
waves of humanoid zombies are continuously maimed and dispatched, generating large blood splatts/sprays which - whilst unconvincing - stay on the walls/floors/ceiling, emphasising the massive carnage taking place, albeit in self-defence. The weapons blow
zombie bodies apart into bloody chunks; we see decapitations and limbs flying off and littering the environment, which are quite horrific, strewn with dead human bodies. In one level, we see men loading severed limbs into a grinder in a gory hospital
basement, plus several dead and bloodied corpses of men strung up on chains. Defeated zombie bodies disappear very quickly, and there is little opportunity for sadistic treatment. Despite this, and the fantastical setting, the level of detail was
considered to be too gory and detailed for '15', where BBFC Guidelines direct that 'Violence may be strong but may not dwell on the infliction of pain or injury ... the strongest gory images are unlikely to be acceptable'.
The game features
frequent strong language throughout, with humorous and ironic exchanges between the detectives generating literally hundreds of uses of 'f***' (and its derivatives) and 'motherf****r'. There are also has a number of strong verbal sex references as the
men tease each other, with comments like 'You use your tongue better than a $30 hooker .... you finally found the g-spot huh? ... you were having a fucking wet dream'. There are some overtones of incest, and also a surreal scene where it is implied that
a man crawls into the body of a giant woman, entering between her legs - although this is not shown explicitly.
|19th March |
Major German store removes 18+ computer games from its stores
Major German retailer Kaufhof will no longer sell violent video games and films, after a teenager - who was an avid gamer - shot dead 15 people before killing himself last week.
On the basis of what happened in Winnenden, we have decided to
take all the games and films deemed unsuitable for below 18 year olds out of our product range, Kaufhof spokesperson Sonja Kittel told AFP: The products which we now have in the stores will be sold until the end of March but by April the sales
will be stopped all together.
Thomas Burkhart, director of Kaufhof's media department, said within an hour of the decision, most of the games had been removed from the shelves.
Critics are now saying that Kaufhof, with over 20 000
employees and more than 100 branches in Germany, has overreacted and that this form of self-censorship is not necessary.
Knee jerking politician calls for 18+ certificate for everything Tim Kretschmer ever played
It's politicians that need to be 'sensibilized'
Based on article from
Minister for Social Affairs Mechthild Ross-Luttmann aims to achieve a general age restriction for addictive computer games. World of Warcraft, for example – available to
minors at the age of 12 – might in the near future only be sold to adults. In addition to this, parents need to be further sensibilized. Parents must know what danger potential exists in their children's bedrooms, Ross-Luttmann said.
Computer game expert and author of
Digital Paradise Andreas Rosenfelder is rather skeptical about demands like this. I don't see a connection between digital role playing games like World of Warcraft and shooting sprees, he said. World of Warcraft is a game set in medieval
times in which the protagonists can take on the roles of dwarfs, elves and wizards. There is no shooting in this game.
In heated debates there can easily be some confusion, Rosenfelder said.
|18th March |
Multiplying unrelated long odds reveals that violent games provoke aggressive thoughts
Thanks to Chris
My favourite line is: Does that mean playing violent videogames is going to create a school shooter? No, not
if there aren't any other risk factors. But in kids who have a lot of other risk factors, can it contribute to the likelihood of some sort of extreme violent behaviour occurring? Probably, it can. More so than other risk factors? We don't know. There's
no data on it.
Don't let that lack of data get in the way of a good opinion there Professor.
Based on article from
In a guest lecture at Macquarie University, Sydney, Professor Anderson, Director of Centre of the Study of Violence at Iowa State University spoke of the risks of violent videogames.
Research was clear by 1975 that media violence caused
aggressive behaviour, Prof. Anderson said: We know that short term exposure to violent media can lead to aggressive behaviour and aggressive thinking within five minutes of watching a violent film or playing a violent game, while long term
exposure can lead to aggression into early adulthood.
To highlight this connection, Prof. Anderson examined the likelihood of violent videogames leading to aggressive behaviour by drawing on well-known examples of cause and effect. Such
examples included the chances of regular consumption of aspirin leading to heart attacks, the chances of asbestos causing cancer, and the chances of condom use reducing the risk of contracting HIV. In all these examples, violent videogames proved to be a
higher risk factor, going as far as being approximately three times more likely to happen than asbestos exposure leading to cancer.
On the scale of youth violence risk factors, violent videogames were more likely to increase aggression than
substance abuse, poverty, and anti-social peers. Violent games are more likely to provoke aggressive thoughts in players.
Anderson was careful to point out that this did not necessarily mean that everyone who played violent videogames would begin
committing violent acts. Rather, violent games made players more prepared to think aggressive thoughts.
He cited another study where college students were asked to play a pro-social, neutral, and violent game, after which each was tested to see
how willing they were to help their peers solve puzzles. The study showed that those who played non-violent, pro-social games were more inclined to be helpful by choosing easier puzzles for their peers to complete, whereas those who had just played
violent games chose difficult puzzles to impede on their peers' ability to complete the challenge.
While Anderson believes that this increase in aggressive behaviour is a cause for concern, he doesn't think that violent games are solely to be
blamed for anti-social behaviour.
Extreme acts of violence always require multiple risk factors being present. You just don't ever have a school shooter, for example, who only has one risk factor. It just doesn't happen. There's usually four,
five, six, seven risk factors, sometimes more. Media violence is one of those risk factors. he said.
Does that mean playing violent videogames is going to create a school shooter? No, not if there aren't any other risk factors. But in kids who
have a lot of other risk factors, can it contribute to the likelihood of some sort of extreme violent behaviour occurring? Probably, it can. More so than other risk factors? We don't know. There's no data on it.
|16th March |
German gun killer played CounterStrike and had thousands of horror movies
12th March 2009. From gamepolitics.com
Tim Kretschmer, the German teenager whose shooting rampage has just left 16 people dead was a fan of the first-person shooter Counter-Strike , according to an early report from the Associated Press:
A 17-year-old who would give
only his first name, Aki, said had played poker with Kretschmer, both in person and online, as well as a multiplayer video game called Counter-Strike that involves killing people to complete missions. He was good, Aki said.
article from guardian.co.uk
another 19-year-old who lived nearby, said Kretschmer had thousands of horror videos.
Update: Don't they know how angry youngsters can become if you take their games away
13th March 2009. Based on article from gamepolitics.com
From Google-translated segment from Heise:
The President of the German Foundation for Crime, Hans-Dieter Schwind, calls...
for a total ban on violent computer games, and a further tightening of the arms law.
The Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann has... expressed demand for a ban on so-called killer games renewed... he said, it
generally must be clearly said that the games were available, the obvious just in young people cutting inhibitions...
Romandie News reported via Google translation:
In a report prepared
for a long time and voted Thursday by an overwhelming majority, the European Parliament calls for common strategy is developed at EU level providing for severe sanctions for retailers who sell adult games to minors, or owners of Internet cafes
that allow children to play games unsuitable for their age group...
Update: Far Cry 2
16th March 2009. See article from timesonline.co.uk
German police investigating the Winnenden school shooting, in which 15 people died before the killer turned his gun on himself, believe one motive might have been a rebuff from a teenage girl who attended a New Year's Eve party at his home. The girl
was one of his first victims.
Detectives disclosed yesterday that Kretschmer, who was described by friends and family as quiet and polite, had a secret identity on the internet, where he participated in a discussion about school shootings under
the name “JawsPredator1”.
The funny thing is that even when people like that announce what they are about to do in advance, no one believes it, he was said to have written in an online chatroom.
Detectives searching for clues to his
character found more than 200 pornographic images on his computer's hard disk, including 120 photographs of female bondage.
The teenage gunman spent the night before his spree playing a violent video game in which a heavily armed mercenary tracks
down and kills an arms dealer, police revealed.
Tim Kretschmer spent from 7.30pm to 9.40pm playing Far Cry 2 , in which the player takes on the role of the killer.
Parallels emerged between the video game and the 17-year-old's
rampage. In the game it is essential to hijack cars to move around. Kretschmer hijacked a car, held a pistol to the driver's head and asked: Should I have fun and pick off some more drivers? Characters in the game, which is made by the French
company Ubisoft and has sold 2.9m copies, wear black camouflage uniforms – the clothing Kretschmer wore on Wednesday.
Far Cry 2 's killer uses a Beretta 92 handgun, the weapon fired 112 times by Kretschmer.
The game, which carries
an 18 certificate in Britain, includes sequences in which the aiming, firing and reloading of a Beretta are portrayed in detail. It also rewards players who shoot their victims in the head, the style of killing chosen by Kretschmer.
also played Counter-Strike , another game featuring gunplay, and TacticalOps , a special forces action game, both of which have a 16+ PEGI rating in Britain.
|16th March |
Killzone 2 advert pulled from Toronto bus shelters
Based on article from
About 300 Toronto bus shelter ads for a violent video game are coming down ahead of schedule this week after complaints surfaced about its images of war and violence.
Teacher Davis Mirza emailed Sony Canada, which makes PlayStation games,
after seeing an ad for Killzone 2 in the bus shelter near his Scarborough school: My kids, who come from a lot of different countries, who have to experience violence, who basically come here to seek shelter and safety, that's the stuff they
don't need to see.
The central image in the ad is a menacing head with glowing eyes, wearing a mask with a breathing tube, Mirza said : The secondary image shows what appears to be a war zone.
In the future,
PlayStation will establish an off-limits radius around schools for advertising similar products, a Sony spokesman Kyle Moffatt said.
|15th March |
World of Warcraft expansion rejected by Chinese censors
Based on article from gamepolitics.com
A World of Warcraft expansion, Wrath of the Lich King has encountered some censorship stumbling blocks on its way to the lucrative Chinese market.
JLM Pacific Epoch reports that it has been rejected twice by Chinese censors:
The applications were rejected due to content that didn't meet requirements, including a city raid and skeleton characters.
World of Warcraft has undergone changes specific to the Chinese market in the past, namely removing skeletons
altogether in order to receive approval to operate the game in mainland China.
|14th March |
Utah passes bill targeting the selling of mature games to youngsters
See article from gamepolitics.com
A fair few US states have tried to laws to prohibit computer games sellers from retailing Mature rated games to under 17 year olds. Such laws have been found to be unconstitutional.
But Utah have come up with a new angle. They are targeting shops
that advertise themselves as family friendly etc. (And American stores do like to emphasise this). If the shops then go on to sell Mature games to youngsters then law HB353 enables parents to sue such shops for false advertising of their family friendly
Following a lively debate, the Utah State Senate have now passed HB 353 by an overwhelming 25-4 margin.
|13th March |
Second Life shunts adult content into separate area
Based on article from
Linden Lab has announced restrictions on adult content within Second Life.
Content defined as adult will be quarantined in a separate area in Second Life, away from the mainland continent areas many users frequent. Adult content will be removed
from Second Life search, and users will need to be age verified to access the new adult areas.
What counts as adult content though hasn't yet been decided, and Linden Lab will consult with the community over the next 6 weeks.
The move may
have serious consequences for the Second Life economy. Love it or hate it, adult content is a big part of the Second Life experience, and is a major player in the inworld market. The current setup is for an adult main grid with a separate area for
youngsters. Now the main area will be for all users with a fenced off area for adults.
Perhaps the porn free main grid is easier to market, although how many new people would join a porn free Second Life is the open question.
|11th March |
Richard Taylor suggests violent video game tax
Gordon Brown should levy a tax on violent video games to help tackle knife crime, according to the Richard Taylor, the father of murdered schoolboy Damilola Taylor.
Taylor, who advises Gordon Brown on knife crime, said he would be urging the
Prime Minister to impose new taxes on the games
Violent games are too cheap and taxes on them should be very high, Taylor told MPs of the Home Affairs Committee: I have young people who I mentor and I see them go up and buy the
games and it saddens me that they are being able to have such a negative impact.
Taylor also told MPs that he was concerned about the content of much rap music: It is creating more of a problem because of the language that is used. It is
language that, as a father, I would not allow my children to hear. To me, there is a lot of negativity that comes out of this music, especially that which is coming from America.
Taylor became Brown's special envoy on youth violence and knife
crime last month. Part of his role is to offer new ideas to the Premier on how to change young people's behaviour.
Violent Video Game Tax Discussed in Pennsylvania
Based on article from gamepolitics.com
GamePolitics recently covered a committee hearing of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. The topic was violent video games .
State Representatives question employees of the Pennsylvania Joint State Commission as to possible
alternatives by which violent video games might be targeted. One suggests that a 5% tax be levied on sales of violent games with proceeds used to fund a parental education program. A second ponders whether state tax incentives could be withheld from
companies which create violent games.
Overall, the meeting was largely exploratory and action on either the 5% tax idea or the restriction on financial incentives seems unlikely.
You would think that the tragic loss this man has suffered would make him want to refrain from pandering to the kind of sensationalist reactionary bollox that is pushed by
I hope video game fans oppose a tax on their consumer choices
|3rd March |
BBFC comment on Resident Evil 5
Based on article from
A vailable at
A vailable at
The BBFC has dismissed suggestions that a particular scene in Resident Evil 5 is racist.
A scene was reported where a white blonde woman being dragged off, screaming, by black men, as our preview put it. Then: When you
attempt to rescue her, she's been turned and must be killed.
The BBFC's Sue Clark responded:
In the version [of the scene] submitted to the BBFC there is only one man pulling the blonde woman in from the balcony,
and I can't say the skimpiness of her dress impressed itself on me. The single man is not black either.
As the whole game is set in Africa it is hardly surprising that some of the characters are black, just like the fact that some of the
characters in an earlier version were Spanish as the game was set in Spain.
We do take racism very seriously, but in this case there is no issue around racism. Even there was an issue: the BBFC would not automatically cut a work for racism.
We would normally give a work a higher rating to take it away from younger consumers who might not understand the issues surrounding racist remarks or attitudes. In this case the game is already rated 18 by us, so we would be unlikely to intervene
The BBFC have also explained their uncut 18 decision:
Resident Evil 5
is the latest game in Capcom's survival horror series. This time Chris Redfield investigates a possible biohazard outbreak in Africa. It is the first game in the series to be released on the next generation Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 consoles.
The game was classified '18' for strong bloody violence and gore. As with previous games in the series we see blood spurts from the infected enemies' bodies as they are shot, and their heads being blown off by gunfire. The player's character also
bleeds when shot, and can be decapitated if killed by a chainsaw-wielding enemy. In this instance we see the chainsaw blade cutting into the player's neck with blood spurting from the wound, although the actual decapitation is masked by the camera angle.
When killed, bodies disappear within seconds, usually with a bubbling mass of liquid signifying their death. Some of the human enemies spout tentacles if their head has been blown off, with the organism controlling the person forcing them to stagger
towards the player in a last-ditch attack. The player is also able to stomp on enemies as they lie on the ground, sometimes resulting in a large spray of blood. During some 'cut scenes', we also see a character put their fist through an enemy's chest
with sight of spraying blood as a result.
At '15', the BBFC's Guidelines state that 'violence may be strong but may not dwell on the infliction of pain or injury', and that 'the strongest gory images are unlikely to be acceptable'. In the case of
Resident Evil 5 , there is frequent violence that dwells on such detail, and some strong gory images that go beyond a level that would be suitable for a game classified '15'. Therefore the game was given an '18' certificate.
The game also
contains one use of strong language.
|3rd March |
Researchers find that high age ratings make games more attractive to youngsters
Based on article from
If you want to make blood-and-gore video games less appealing to minors, toss those restrictive age and violent-content warnings. The lure of something off-limits only increases demand, a new study says.
In the study, researchers tested 310 Dutch
children ranging in age from 7 to 17. Participants read fictitious game descriptions and rated how much or how little they wanted to play each game. In every group, the more objectionable the content, the more kids clamoured for the controller— forbidden fruit,
the researchers called the games.
The findings are published in the March issue of Pediatrics.
While research has found that ratings increase the attraction to raunchy TV shows and movies, the hypothesis had never been tested with
video games, reported two of the study's authors, Brad Bushman of the University of Michigan and Elly Konijn of VU University Amsterdam.
They suggest that youth should not be allowed to buy their own games, that parents and physicians be aware of
risk factors (such as a drop in grades) and that policy-makers rethink the classifications (such as M, appropriate for those 17 and older), which will only make the games "unspeakably desirable."
|2nd March |
Amazon Blacklists Adult Video Games
See article from news.gotgame.com
|26th February |
Keith Vaz bangs on about RapeLay in an EDM
Games nutter MP Keith Vaz has decided to bang on about the game RapeLay which was withdrawn from US Amazon as soon as they realised it was controversial.
EDM 818 RapeLay Video Game by Keith Vaz
That this House is appalled that a video game that simulates rape has been readily available for sale on the internet; warmly welcomes Amazon's decision to withdraw the web page for the Japanese video game Rapelay; firmly believes
that video games featuring high levels of violence can be detrimental to those playing them; notes that every year an estimated three million women experience rape, domestic violence, stalking or another form of abuse; and calls on the Government to ban
such games from sale in the UK, including through online retailers.
Lynne Jones, Lee Scott, Andrew Dismore, Peter Bottomley, David Drew, Bob Russell, Joan Humble, David Lepper, Martin Caton, Jeremy Corbyn, Mark Durkan, Mike
Hancock, David Taylor, Alan Simpson, Kelvin Hopkins, Colin Breed, Andrew George, Rudi Vis.
|22nd February |
Researchers claim violent games make people slow to help staged fight victim
A just-released research report claims that playing violent video games makes players comfortably numb to the pain and suffering of others.
The study, conducted by University of Michigan professor Brad Bushman and Iowa State University
professor Craig Anderson, appears in the March 2009 issue of Psychological Science.
A press release describes the research methodology employed in the new report:
320 college students played either a violent or a nonviolent video game for
approximately 20 minutes. A few minutes later, they overheard a staged fight that ended with the victim sustaining a sprained ankle and groaning in pain.
People who had played a violent game took significantly longer to help the victim
than those who played a nonviolent game---73 seconds compared to 16 seconds. People who had played a violent game were also less likely to notice and report the fight. And if they did report it, they judged it to be less serious than did those who had
played a nonviolent game.
In the second study, the participants were 162 adult moviegoers. The researchers staged a minor emergency outside the theater... The researchers timed how long it took moviegoers to help. Participants who had just
watched a violent movie took over 26% longer to help than either people going into the theater or people who had just watched a nonviolent movie.
Bushman commented: These studies clearly show that violent media exposure can reduce helping
behavior. People exposed to media violence are less helpful to others in need because they are 'comfortably numb' to the pain and suffering of others, to borrow the title of a Pink Floyd song.
|21st February |
California attempt to restrict violent computer games declared unconstitutional
Based on article from
A California federal appeals court has ruled that a state law criminalizing the sale of violent video games to children is a violation of the right to free speech.
The law was first penned by Democrat senator Leland Yee and signed into law by
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2005. But shortly thereafter, it was soon blocked by a federal judge, and it never took affect.
It sought to prohibit the sale or rental of video games depicting serious injury to humans in a manner especially
heinous, cruel or depraved.
Any game judged patently offensive to children based on the prevailing standards in the community sold in California would require a 2- by 2-inch solid white '18' displayed on the front of the case.
Store owners caught selling violent games to underage tykes would face a fine up to $1,000.
The Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco today upheld the lower court's decision declaring the ban unconstitutional.
In a 3-0
ruling, Judge Consuelo Callahan said California could only justify the ban if the state could not only prove violent video games caused actual psychological harm, but that the best way to prevent it was through criminalization. The court also shot down
the act's labeling provision because it doesn't require the disclosure of purely factual information but compels carrying the legislature's controversial opinion.
|20th February |
Australian censors lost and damned
In 2008, Grand Theft Auto IV on console was released in Australia in a censored form. No blood pools, no sexy camera angles. In 2009, though? All is forgiven, all censorship, removed.
The original Australian version of GTAIV on
console was censored. Blood was kept to a minimum, and you couldn't enjoy the same kind of intimate viewing experience with ladies of the night as you could elsewhere.
But when the PC version rolled around later in the year, it passed without
incident. It did include blood pools, and it also included the full range of sex-related camera angles, despite being the same game intended for the same audience.
Newly-released expansion Lost & Damned is no different. It's been given
an MA15+ rating and will have all the blood and sex that was deemed unacceptable less than a year ago in the same country.
Leaving us with this absurd situation: If you boot up your 360 copy of GTAIV and play GTAIV , it's censored.
But if you boot up your 360 copy of GTAIV and play L&D , you'll get the full, uncensored experience.
|12th February |
European Parliament suggest a red button for parents to disable games
See also Video games are good for
children - EU report from guardian.co.uk
Parents should have a red button to disable a game they feel is inappropriate for their child, says the European Parliament Internal Market Committee.
The aim is not to demonise games, which have a broadly beneficial effect on the mental
development of children, but to help parents choose suitable content for their offspring.
However, not all games are suited to all age groups and the possibility of harmful effects on the minds of children cannot be ruled out.
parents choose, MEPs would like to see more public awareness of the content of video games, parental control options and instruments such as the Pan-European Game Information (PEGI) age rating system.
Different approaches to strengthening control
of video games should be explored, argues the committee, but it does not propose specific EU legislation. MEPs believe Member States should ensure their national rating systems do not lead to market fragmentation. Harmonisation of labelling rules would
be of help. Member States should also agree on a common system based solely on PEGI.
Members of the committee are particularly worried about on-line games, which are easy to download onto a PC or a mobile phone, making parental control harder.
Until PEGI on-line is up and running, the report proposes fitting consoles, computers or other game devices with a red button to give parents the chance to disable a game or control access at certain times.
The presence of violence in
video games does not automatically lead to violent behaviour, according to the report, which draws on recent studies. However, prolonged exposure to scenes of violence can have an adverse effect on the player and even potentially lead to violent
behaviour. An amendment tabled by the Civil Liberties Committee calls on the Member States to frame specific civil and criminal legislation on the retailing of violent TV, video and computer games and argues that special attention should be devoted to
Controls on video games need to be tightened up so that children do not have access to inappropriate games. For this reason, and also to prevent the potentially harmful effects of games, especially the danger of addiction or
violent behaviour, retailers and parents should take appropriate steps. MEPs back the idea of a code of conduct for retailers and producers of video games. But above all, internet café owners are singled out and reminded of their responsibilities.
|12th February |
Keith Vaz gets his sound bite over Japanese rape game
article from belfasttelegraph.co.uk
A computer game that involves the player stalking victims and then raping them in a virtual world was being offered for sale by online retailer Amazon.com but has now just been withdrawn.
The rape simulator , Rapelay , is produced
and set in Japan
Reviews by gaming websites have expressed horror at the basis for the game. One website review describes tears glistening in the young girl's eyes as she is attacked in graphic detail.
Players begin the game by
stalking a mother on a subway station before violently raping her. They then move on to attack her two daughters described as virgin schoolgirls. Players are also allowed to enter freeform mode where they can rape any woman and get other male game
characters to join the attacks.
Pregnancy and abortion are listed as key features. One review said: If she does become pregnant you're supposed to force her to get an abortion, otherwise she gets more and more visibly pregnant each time
you have sex. If you allow the child to be born then the woman will throw you in front of a train!
The game's producer, Illusion is a company from Japan famous for making similar 3D Hentai games. The online encyclopedia, Wikipedia, says: Due to Illusion's policy, its games are not intended to be sold or used outside of Japan, and official support is only given in Japanese and for use in Japan.
Last night Labour MP Keith Vaz said he was shocked that Amazon are allowing people to purchase such a game and plans to raise the issue in Parliament after being contacted by the Belfast Telegraph website.
Vaz said: It is
intolerable that anyone would purchase a game that simulates the criminal offence of rape. To know that this widely available through a major online retailer is utterly shocking, I do not see how this can be allowed. I will be raising this matter in
Parliament and hope that action is taken to prevent the game from being sold.
After being contacted by the Belfast Telegraph Amazon today removed the webpage. A screenshot is also available at this location. The company would not comment on
the item or say why it had been offered for sale through their website.
|9th February |
People who enjoy drink and drugs also enjoy video games
Based on article from
Among young college students, the frequency and type of video games played appears to parallel risky drug and alcohol use, poorer personal relationships, and low levels of self-esteem, researchers report.
This does not mean that every person
who plays video games has low self-worth, or that playing video games will lead to drug use, Laura M. Padilla-Walker told Reuters Health. Rather, these findings simply indicate video gaming may cluster with a number of negative outcomes, at least
for some segment of the population, said Padilla-Walker, an associate professor at the School of Family Life at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.
She and colleagues examined the previous 12-months' frequency and type of video game and
Internet use reported by 500 female and 313 male undergraduate college students in the United States. The students also recounted their drug and alcohol use, perceptions of self-worth and social acceptance, and the quality of their relationships with
friends and family.
The findings, reported in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence, showed stark gender differences in video game and Internet use, Padilla-Walker said. However, regardless of gender, clear correlations were seen between
frequent gaming and more frequent alcohol and drug use and lower quality personal relationships, as well as more frequent violent gaming and a greater number of sexual partners and low quality personal relationships.
The investigators linked
similar negative outcomes with Internet use for chat rooms, shopping, entertainment, and pornography, but a contrasting plethora of positive outcomes with Internet use for schoolwork.
|7th February |
Australian politicians claim censorship control over online games
article from smh.com.au
Australian video game publishers and retailers are risking hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines by selling online role playing games such as World of Warcraft without age classifications.
The games industry believes there is a
legal loophole exempting online games that don't have a single player component from classification requirements but this view is contradicted by the federal and state attorneys-general.
World of Warcraft , with more than 11.5 million
subscribers, is the most popular of the online-only games but there are other examples including Age of Conan , Warhammer Online and Pirates of the Burning Sea.
All are sold as boxed sets in retail stores across the country
without classification by the Classification Board or the appropriate labelling, for instance M or MA15+.
A spokesman for NSW Attorney-General John Hatzistergos said the NSW Classification Enforcement Act prohibited publishers and retailers from
selling unclassified computer games: The NSW legislation covers computer games bought online as well as those bought in stores, and treats single, multi-player and online games the same way .
The spokesman added that enforcement of the act
was the responsibility of police but penalties for breaking these laws ranged from $1100 to $11,000 for individuals and/or 12 months' imprisonment. For corporations the fines were approximately double.
A spokeswoman for Federal Attorney-General
Robert McClelland said that, although it was up to each state and territory to enforce game classification requirements, Commonwealth legislation also had no loopholes for online games: The National Classification Scheme does not distinguish between
games based on whether or not they contain a single player component. Online games are computer games within the meaning of the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 and are covered under the existing legislation.
But Ron Curry, chief executive of games industry body the Interactive Entertainment Association of Australia said he believed that online games without a single player component did not require classification by the Classification Board.
Update: Loopy Australian Classification
7th February 2009. See
article from incgamers.com
Despite reports earlier in the
week that World of Warcraft and other multi player online games were being withdrawn from sale due to legal reasons, the games are still for sale in all stores.
A loophole in the Australian law that allowed online games with no
single-player content to go on sale without a classification was exposed earlier this week, and the federal and state attorneys-general declared that all titles without this classification were to be withdrawn from sale. However, this only applied in
NSW, the other states were unaffected. Also, it was up to the police to act on complaints about sales of the games, something which they are unlikely to receive.
|31st January |
Researcher claims real world responses can be conditioned by computer games
Based on article
Volunteers who played a simple cycling game learned to favour one team's jersey and avoid another's. Days later, most subjects subconsciously avoided the same jersey in a real-world test.
As video games become more immersive and realistic, all
involved ought to realise the potential, says Paul Fletcher, a neuroscientist at Cambridge University, UK, who led the study
I don't think this is evidence that video games are bad, says Fletcher, a former gamer: We just need to be
aware that associations formed within the game transfer to the real world – for good or bad.
Fletcher and several colleagues recruited 22 volunteer subjects and told them they were testing an experimental sports drink delivery system.
Volunteer played a bicycling game on a laptop with two straws attached to their mouths.
If cyclists from their same team – as indicated by a jersey design – passed by, participants received a slurp of their favourite juice. However,
if a cyclist from the rival team passed the participant, he or she got a swig of salty tea.
Three days later, the same volunteers came back for a follow-up brain scan and a surprise test. Before the scan, Fletcher and his colleagues asked each
subject to sit in a waiting room with two chairs, both with small towels dangling on one arm. One seat corresponded to the insignia of the juice-giving jersey, the other to the symbol for salty tea.
Three-quarters of the subjects sat in the chair
that reminded them of juice, though most participants said they did not notice the towel design.
Our research suggests whatever you've learned in the computer game does have an effect on how you behave toward the stimulus in the real world,
|30th January |
Atari recall Dragonball Origins game from Australia
Thanks to Nick
Based on article from
Australia's well known for its iron-handed, dogmatic views on video game ratings, and it seems Dragon Ball: Origins on the Nintendo DS is the latest game to suffer.
All other Dragon Ball games have received a PG rating Down
Under, but a shot of one of the character's pants in Origins is apparently enough to force a recall of the game so it can be given a more mature rating.
Atari has issued the recall notice, though how successful it'll be is anyone's guess. It's
all good advertising, of course, and this sort of nonsense will undoubtedly help boost the original's resale value on eBay in years to come, so our advice to all those Aussie DS gamers is to hang onto it.
|28th January |
Nutter politician opposes adults rating for computer games
See article from gamespot.com
|24th January |
Researcher refutes link between video games and school shootings
A researcher at Texas A&M International University has concluded that there is no significant relationship between school shootings and playing violent video games.
Writing for the Journal of Investigative Psychology and Offender
Profiling, Prof. Christopher Ferguson criticizes the methodology used in earlier research linking games to violence and aggression. He also points out that no evidence of violent game play was found in recent high-profile incidents such as the Virginia
Tech massacre, the Utah Trolley Stop mall shooting and the February, 2008 shooting on the campus of Northern Illinois University.
Ferguson examines the notion of moral panic as it relates to the supposed relationship between violent video
games and school shootings:
Moral panics may emerge from culture wars occurring in a society... politicians, news media and social scientists, arguably [have] motives for promoting hysterical beliefs about
media violence, and video games specifically. Actual causes of violent crime, such as family environment, genetics, poverty, and inequality, are oftentimes difficult, controversial, and intractable problems. By contrast, video games present something of
a straw man by which politicians can create an appearance of taking action against crime...
Ferguson, who cites GamePolitics among his numerous sources, notes that many video game critics are unfamiliar with the medium:
It has been the observation of this author, for instance, that the majority of individuals critical of video games are above the age of 35 (many are elderly) and oftentimes admit to not having directly experienced
the games. Some commentators make claims betraying their unfamiliarity, such as that games like Grant Theft Auto ‘award points’ for antisocial behaviour... despite that few games award points for anything anymore, instead focusing on stories.
Ferguson also points out what he sees as design flaws in a number of studies relating to video games and aggression. He also examines school shooting research conducted by the FBI and Secret Service before concluding:
School shootings, although exceedingly rare, are an important issue worthy of serious consideration. However, for our understanding of this phenomenon to progress, we must move past the moral panic on video games and
other media and take a hard look at the real causes of serious aggression and violence...
the wealth of evidence... fails to establish a link between violent video games and violent crimes, including school shootings. The link has not merely been
unproven; I argue that the wealth of available data simply weighs against any causal relationship.
|19th January |
Games research suggests that violence is not necessary for fun
See also Abstract to The
Motivating Role of Violence in Video Games
While video games are often slammed over violent content, a new study suggests that it is the challenge presented by a game rather than graphic violence which attracts players.
The research, which appears in the Personality and Social
Psychology Bulletin , was conducted at the University of Rochester.
A press release quotes Andrew Przybylski, the study's lead author: For the vast majority of players, even those who regularly play and enjoy violent games, violence was
not a plus. Violent content was only preferred by a small subgroup of people that generally report being more aggressive.
Immersyve president Scott Rigby commented on potential ramifications for the video game industry: Much of the debate
about game violence has pitted the assumed commercial value of violence against social concern about the harm it may cause. Our study shows that the violence may not be the real value component, freeing developers to design away from violence while at
the same time broadening their market.
Researchers incorporated the popular Half-Life 2 and House of the Dead III into their study, using both high and low gore scenarios.
|17th January |
MadWorld passed MA 15+ in Australia
article from arstechnica.com
MadWorld is a vailable at UK Amazon for release on 20th March 2009
Just a day after the game was given an 18 rating by the BBFC, Sega has revealed that MadWorld has also received a rating in Australia. Surprisingly, it appears as if the violent Wii title was given a MA 15+ rating by the Australian
Classification Board without any cuts made to the content.
Because the highest rating the OFLC has is MA 15+, a number of high profile mature titles have been recently banned and only reinstated after edits. However, in spite of what the BBFC
describes as very strong, stylized, bloody violence, Mad World was given a pass.
|16th January |
Beyer disappointed at MadWorld game being passed by the BBFC
Based on article
MadWorld is a vailable at
UK Amazon for release on 20th March 2009
John Beyer of Mediawatch-UK, has told SPOnG that he is disappointed by the BBFC's decision to give SEGA's violent Wii title, MadWorld , an 18 rating.
I'm disappointed but not surprised , Beyer told SPOnG: I think my
view is pretty well known. It's what I expected.
The 18 rating was granted by the BBFC, with no cuts made. The consumer advice reads: Contains very strong, stylised, bloody violence.
|15th January |
Atari comments on its cuts to the game Silent Hill
Based on article from
Atari, the publisher of the game Silent Hill has commented about what they censored from the game to achieve an Australian MA 15+ rating.
A spokesperson for Atari states:
The major changes to the Australian release of Silent Hill
Homecoming will be made to its cut scenes, where new camera angles and techniques will be used to reduce the impact of the unclassifiable material.
The company notes changes have only been made to some scenes, while the original storyline
|7th January |
Atari resubmits revised Silent Hill Homecoming for an MA15+ rating
Based on article from
Silent Hill: Homecoming is available at
The computer game, Silent Hill: Homecoming was banned in Australia in late September.
An update to the Classification Board's online rating database dated January 5, 2009 now lists Silent Hill: Homecoming as conforming to the
maximum MA15+ rating for video games.
The site lists the rating as "revised," with consumer advice identifying strong horror violence and themes.
So it seems that Atari have edited the game to make it suitable for the MA 15+