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30th May   

Updated: RapeLayed to Rest...

  Video Universe - Buy New Release DVDs, TV on DVD, Music Videos and Much More

US Mainstream DVDs

Video Universe
 

Rape games to be banned in Japan from June
Link Here  full story: Western censorship of Japanese Games...Japanese games winds up the social justice whingers

Rapelay game 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.

Update: 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.

 

25th May   

Update: Playing Games with Evidence...

Video Universe - Buy New Release DVDs, TV on DVD, Music Videos and Much More

Japanese political party takes aim at adult games like Rapely
Link Here  full story: Western censorship of Japanese Games...Japanese games winds up the social justice whingers

Rapelay game Japan’s Koumeito party, long a member of the ruling coalition, has condemned adult games featuring sexual coercion and violence as being a highly negative influence on Japan’s tiny rates of sex crimes. They are calling for a ban or further restrictions on their sale.

As part of the deliberations of its Project Team for Creating a Protective Rearing Environment for Children offered a variety of baseless claims, such as: There is a very good chance that the influence of violent sex games far exceeds that of regular pornography.

Their (foregone) conclusion was that the government must consider a ban or further restrictions on eroge in order to protect the children from their pernicious influence. No evidence, scientific or otherwise, was presented in support of any of their claims.

 

17th May   

Age Old Issues...

Melon farming Fresh
A website
update service

See further details
Melon Farming Fresh

 

Taiwan legislators call for age restrictions on computer games
Link Here

Taiwan flag Officials in Taipei, the capital of Taiwan, are demanding that the city government draft legislation requiring retailers and cyber-cafe operators to adhere to game content ratings.

As reported by the Taipei Times, Chinese Nationalist Party councilors Lee Yen-hsiu and Chin Li-fan led the call for rating enforcement. Lee commented:

Chin told the newspaper that an amendment expected to pass later this year would ban sales of mature-themed online and single-player games to younger players:

The amendment would require Internet cafes and shops that sell computer software to stop selling restricted online games to teenagers, but it does not stipulate any fine for businesses that refuse to cooperate. This is a passive regulation.

 

16th May   

Update: Diversity and Ethics...

Rapelay game approved by Japanese (self) censors
Link Here  full story: Western censorship of Japanese Games...Japanese games winds up the social justice whingers

Rapelay game 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 perspective...

[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   

Update: Paintball Reprieve...

Germany drops idea to ban paintball and laser shooting games
Link Here

Paintball 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 Wiefelsptz, 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, Wiefelsptz 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   

Update: Painted into a Corner...

Germany set to ban paintball and laser shooting games
Link Here

Paintball 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   

Update: Colorado Blame Game...

Police come up with video games as being behind a Colorado shooting spree killer
Link Here

Grand Theft Auto IV game 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   

Family and Economics before Media...

Jesse Jackson talks about violent media in UK Parliament
Link Here

Jesse Jackson 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.
Labour MP 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 prison.

 

26th March   

Update: Unintended Consequences...

Utah governor vetoes law aimed at enforcing age restrictions on games
Link Here  full story: Violent Games in the US...Attempts to restrict video games from minors

Utah state seal 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   

Updated: Easy Targets...

German president joins the tirade against computer games
Link Here

Far Cry 2 game 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.

In 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   

Dogs of War...

Whinging that dogs are killed in a computer game
Link Here

Call of Duty: World at War 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.

Fortunately, some 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   

Updated: Killer Blame...

German police union chief calls for ban on killer games
Link Here

Far Cry 2 game 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 more killergames.

 

21st March   

Updated: Unfit for Purpose...

Games developers object to advert associating games with early death
Link Here

Risk an early death, just do nothing 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. Based on article from reghardware.co.uk

ASA logo 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. See article from computerandvideogames.com , thanks to JAK

Risk an early death, just do nothing 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.

Of course all concerned are refuting everything suggested.

 

20th March   

Nutter Overkill...

Australian nutters whinge about House of the Dead: Overkill game
Link Here

House of the Dead: Overkill 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:

BBFC logo 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   

Update: Censorshop...

Major German store removes 18+ computer games from its stores
Link Here

Kaufhof store 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 welt.de

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   

Playing Games with Probability...

Multiplying unrelated long odds reveals that violent games provoke aggressive thoughts
Link Here

Iowa State University 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   

Updated: Blame Alert...

German gun killer played CounterStrike and had thousands of horror movies
Link Here

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.

Based on article from guardian.co.uk

Michael V, 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

Far Cry 2 game 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.

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   

War Zone...

Killzone 2 advert pulled from Toronto bus shelters
Link Here

Killzone 2 game 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.

 

16th March   

Updated: Scoring Gamer Points...

Australia's R18+ political censor sees little threat from gamers votes
Link Here

R18+ banned South Australian Attorney-General and R18+ opponent Michael Atkinson wrote to the Adelaide Advertiser about his favourite topic, banning R18+ games:

A Queensland letter writer (The Advertiser, 7/3/09) claims that democracy is at an end because I, as Attorney-General, will not agree to an R18+ category for interactive computer games; that "every other state AG is against him"; and the only way to bring back democracy is to vote me out at the next election. It is true that I am opposed to an R18+ category for interactive games, but I am one of at least four Attorneys so opposed.
I welcome a challenge in my electorate of Croydon at the next general election on this issue.
Among my constituents are hundreds of refugees who are trying to find lodgings for the family, gain employment and sponsor relatives from the old country.

Their vote is hardly likely to hinge on the "right" to score gamer points on the computer screen by running down and killing pedestrians on the pavement, raping a mother and her two daughters, blowing oneself up in a market, cutting people in half with large calibre shells, injecting drugs to win an athletics event or killing a prostitute to recover the fee one just paid her (Welcome to the world of R18+ computer games).

Those of my constituents who are refugees have been subjected to the practical instead of the virtual suffering that R18+ nerds seek to inflict for their gratification on the computer screen.

MICHAEL ATKINSON,
Attorney-General, Adelaide.

Response from Terry O'Shanassy

And here's a response from Kotaku reader - and 57-year-old grandparent - Terry O'Shanassy:

Face the real world yourself, Mr. Atkinson!

...Read the response

Update: Michael Atkinson's Blunt Reply to Terry O'Shanassy

16th March 2009. See article from kotaku.com.au

This debate has heated up because gamers want me to agree to the release of a discussion paper about an R18+ classification for games. I agreed to the discussion paper last year. I want the discussion paper to include depictions of actual games, including the types of games that are currently above the MA15+ rating. I intend to take my version of the paper to other ministers at the next Standing Committee of Attorneys-General (SCAG) in Canberra in April so they can decide whether it will be released. I hope Victorian Attorney-General Rob Hulls doesn't stop the discussion paper's being released in April.

Everyone who has a view on this issue can write to any of the censorship ministers or their local member of parliament. That might be more useful than bagging me anonymously on blogs and by anonymous emails, but use up your time this way if it makes you feel better. This debate continues whether the discussion paper is released or not.

...Read the full letter

 

15th March   

Skeletal Censors...

World of Warcraft expansion rejected by Chinese censors
Link Here

World of Warcraft: Lich King 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   

Update: A New Angle...

Utah passes bill targeting the selling of mature games to youngsters
Link Here  full story: Violent Games in the US...Attempts to restrict video games from minors

Utah state seal 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 credentials.

Following a lively debate, the Utah State Senate have now passed HB 353 by an overwhelming 25-4 margin.

 

13th March   

Second Family Friendly Life...

Second Life shunts adult content into separate area
Link Here  full story: Adult Second Life...Second Life create a separate sdult space

Second Life 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   

Victims of the Blame Game...

Richard Taylor suggests violent video game tax
Link Here

Grand Theft Auto IV game 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.

Comment: Reactionary Bollox

From Dan

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 the tabloids.

I hope video game fans oppose a tax on their consumer choices

 

3rd March   

Evil Hype...

BBFC comment on Resident Evil 5
Link Here

Resident Evil 5 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 further.

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   

You Don't Say!...

Researchers find that high age ratings make games more attractive to youngsters
Link Here

18 cert 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   

Offsite: H-Games...

Amazon Blacklists Adult Video Games
Link Here  full story: Western censorship of Japanese Games...Japanese games winds up the social justice whingers

Rapelay game Have you ever played a porn game? No, of course you haven't. Neither have I. And if I ever did, it would have been purely for research purposes.

This week, in Robot Punch!, we'll discuss a genre of video game that doesn't often find much coverage in the media, despite its significant role in the industry: The H-game. Also known as eroge (short for “erotic games”), the genre recently caught some heat and now we're feeling a little more guilty about ourselves.

...Read full article

 

27th February   

Update: BBFC Leading the Game...

BBFC survey reveals that parents want games regulated by the likes of the BBFC
Link Here

BBFC logo Three quarters of British parents want to see video games granted cinema-style age classifications, ratified by an independent body, according to a new survey commissioned by the BBFC.

Nearly 80% of those surveyed said they believed video games could affect the behaviour of some children, while 77% said that game ratings should reflect the concerns of British parents.

The survey, which was carried out by YouGov on behalf of the BBFC questioned 2,143 adults.

It comes as the Government considers the findings of the Byron Review, a paper written by parenting expert and psychologist, Tanya Byron, into the steps that need to be taken to safeguard children in the digital age. The Byron Review recommends that video games designed for people aged 12 and over, regardless of content, should be reviewed by the BBFC for classification prior to release.

In 2007, the BBFC alienated sections of the computer games industry by attempting to ban Manhunt 2 , a game in which players must escape an asylum using whatever weapons they can find. Following repeated appeals by the game's publishers, a cut version of Manhunt 2 was eventually granted an 18 age certificate.

The survey also found that 82% of parents believed it would be helpful if video games used the same age ratings systems as films and DVDs. At present, there are two systems of game rating in Britain: the compulsory one run by the BBFC and the competing voluntary one run by the Pan European Games Information body, known as PEGI.

This poll clearly shows parents support a regulatory system for games that is independent of the industry and UK based, reflecting UK sensibilities and sensitivities, said David Cooke, director of the BBFC said. The BBFC has been classifying games for over 20 years and our decisions reflect the views of the public. Our classification systems and symbols are known and trusted by the public and in a converging media world they want to know what their children are playing as well as watching.

 

27th February   

Live Homophobia...

Lesbian reportedly banned from Xbox Live as other users found it offensive
Link Here

XBox Live logo A woman who identified herself as a lesbian in her Xbox Live profile has reportedly been banned from Microsoft's online gaming venue.

The woman, known only as Teresa, told The Consumerist:

My [Xbox Live] account was suspended because I had said in my profile that I was a lesbian. I was harassed by several players, 'chased' to different maps/games to get away from their harassment. They followed me into the games and told all the other players to turn me in because they didn't want to see that crap or their kids to see that crap.

As if xbox live is really appropriate for kids anyways! My account was suspended and xbox live did nothing to solve this, but instead said others found it offensive...

 

26th February   

Update: Simulated Politicians...

Keith Vaz bangs on about RapeLay in an EDM
Link Here  full story: Western censorship of Japanese Games...Japanese games winds up the social justice whingers

Rapelay game 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.

Signed by

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   

Comfortably Numb...

Researchers claim violent games make people slow to help staged fight victim
Link Here

Comfortably Numb 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   

Update: Game Over...

California attempt to restrict violent computer games declared unconstitutional
Link Here  full story: Violent Games in the US...Attempts to restrict video games from minors

California state seal 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   

Update: Consistency Theft...

Australian censors lost and damned
Link Here  full story: Grand Theft Worldwide...International certificates for GTA IV game

Lost & Damned add-on 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   

Emergency Measures...

European Parliament suggest a red button for parents to disable games
Link Here

Emergency Stop button 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.

To help 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 on-line games.

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   

Vaz Gets All Animated...

Keith Vaz gets his sound bite over Japanese rape game
Link Here  full story: Western censorship of Japanese Games...Japanese games winds up the social justice whingers

Rapelay game 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   

The Correlation Game...

People who enjoy drink and drugs also enjoy video games
Link Here

Brigham Young University 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   

Updated: Censor War...

Australian politicians claim censorship control over online games
Link Here  full story: Online Games Censorship in Australia...Online games producers try to evade censorship

World of Warcraft pre paid card 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   

A Pinch of Salt...

Researcher claims real world responses can be conditioned by computer games
Link Here

Journal of Neuroscience 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, Fletcher says.

 

30th January   

Update: Playing Delaying Games...

Michael Atkinson employs delaying tactics on R18+ for games
Link Here

R18+ banned South Australian Attorney-General Michael Atkinson has thrown a spanner in the works of proposed changes to the videogame classification system.

This time, as Jason Hill reports for The Age, it's come to light that Atkinson has failed to provide his final comments on the discussion paper originally announced in March last year.

Censorship ministers last March agreed in principle to canvass public opinion on the proposed introduction of an R18+ classification for games and to release a discussion paper on the issue. Atkinson is still yet to provide his final comments on the paper after earlier refusing to make it public unless changes were made.

The draft discussion paper, titled R18+ for computer games was sent to ministers last September and details the advantages and perils of introducing an adults-only rating for games. If it gets released, the paper will be available to the public via the internet and provided to interested parties such as industry groups and family associations to seek their views.

By our reckoning, he's been sitting on that paper for five months now, having known it was coming for another five months before that. While we don't doubt the minister is a busy man, one gets the impression he may be deliberately trying to stymie the public debate. I can't think why he might want to do that, can you?

 

30th January   

Dragonball Pants...

Atari recall Dragonball Origins game from Australia
Link Here  full story: Dragonball Origins...Atari recall Dragonball Origins game from Australia

Dragonball Origins game 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   

Offsite: Treated Like Children...

Nutter politician opposes adults rating for computer games
Link Here

R18+ banned South Australian attorney general says he is not the only classification minister to oppose R18+ classification; lauds current system's ability to encourage modification.

For many Aussie gamers, Michael Atkinson is a deeply unpopular character. The South Australian attorney general has been a vocal critic of game violence, and he has blocked previous moves to introduce an R18+ classification for games down under. Without an R18+ classification, the highest game rating is MA 15+, which means that the Classification Board is forced to ban any game that doesn't meet that rating's standards.

Australia's Standing Committee of Attorneys General (SCAG)--a board made up of all state, territory, and federal AGs--has the power to change this, but only if all members agree. Atkinson has been the most public voice of dissent among the group.

In a lengthy response to Gamespot's questions Michael Atkinson said:

I don't support the introduction of an R18+ rating for electronic games, chiefly because it will greatly increase the risk of children and vulnerable adults being exposed to damaging images and messages.

The interactive nature of electronic games means that they have a much greater influence than viewing a movie does. People are participating and 'acting-out' violence and criminal behaviour when they are playing a video game. They are essentially rehearsing harmful behaviour. Children and vulnerable adults (such as those with a mental illness) can be harmed by playing video games with violence, sex, and criminal activity.

...Read full article

 

25th January   

Update: Pegging for PEGI...

MEP compiles reporting backing PEGI for all member states
Link Here

PEGI logo A report by a member of the European Parliament has backed the self-regulatory Pan European Game Information (PEGI) age rating system that is used by the video game industry in Europe.

Dutch politician Toine Manders, who also sits on the European Parliament’s Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection, compiled the report with recent trends towards online gaming in mind.

As well as acknowledging the fact that video games are largely non-violent and can be valuable educational tools, Manders also suggested that parents need to be better educated about video game content.

The report goes on to state the importance of an age-verification system that pays particular attention to online games and downloadable content, claiming that European member states should all back the PEGI system.

 

24th January   

Well Schooled Opinion...

Researcher refutes link between video games and school shootings
Link Here

Journal of Investigative Psychology and Offender Profiling 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   

The Motivating Role...

Games research suggests that violence is not necessary for fun
Link Here

House of the Dead 3 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.

 

19th January   

Surveillance Games...

China to register all online games players
Link Here

China flag According to a report in People's Daily Online, China's notoriously Internet-repressive government will begin requiring online gamers to register using their real names.

A government official, Zhang Yijun, director of the General Administration of Press and Publication's Technology and Digital Publication Department. also indicated that the operations of four online game companies have been suspended after Chinese government inspectors discovered that their software did not contain the required anti-addiction system.

The real name registration system does not mean that gamers cannot use screen-names, but rather that their online gaming accounts must be linked to their real world identification number, which is issued by the government.

A Chinese gamer went on to explain that linking a gamer's online account to their ID number means the government can keep track of how long underage gamers are playing. Minors are limited to playing for three hours per day...

 

17th January   

Update: MadTeenWorld...

MadWorld passed MA 15+ in Australia
Link Here  full story: MadWorld...Nutters rant against MadWorld video game

Madworld game 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   

Update: MadBeyerWorld...

Beyer disappointed at MadWorld game being passed by the BBFC
Link Here  full story: MadWorld...Nutters rant against MadWorld video game

Madworld game 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   

Update: Breaking the Silence...

Atari comments on its cuts to the game Silent Hill
Link Here  full story: Silent Hill Homecoming...Adding to long list of banned games

Silent Hill: Homecoming game 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 remains unchanged.

 

7th January   

Update: Children's Version Passed...

Atari resubmits revised Silent Hill Homecoming for an MA15+ rating
Link Here  full story: Silent Hill Homecoming...Adding to long list of banned games

Silent Hill: Homecoming game 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+ rating