A quick glance at at Australian Classification Board database shows that Valve's upcoming Left 4 Dead 2 has received a rating of RC, ie refused classification and banned.
Back in June, we reported that the refusal to classify games not suitable for those over 15 was applicable only to brick and mortar sales; however, the ban now applies to downloadable games as well, which means Australian gamers will not be able to
purchase this game over Steam, Xbox Live, or through any other legal channel.
Left 4 Dead 2 is set in the Deep South of the U.S., your team of four players must once again fight for survival against a never-ending wave of zombies and mutant monsters.
The Australia's Film Censorship Board have now published their reasoning behind their ban of the video game Left 4 Dead 2:
The game contains violence that is high in impact and is therefore unsuitable for persons aged under 18 years to play.
The game contains realistic, frenetic and unrelenting violence which is inflicted upon “the Infected” who are living humans infected with a rabies-like virus that causes them to act violently. The player can choose from a variety of weapons including
pistols, shotguns, machine guns and sniper rifles. However, it is the use of the “melee” weapons such as the crowbar, axe, chainsaw and Samurai sword which inflict the most damage. These close in attacks cause copious amounts of blood spray and splatter,
decapitations and limb dismemberment as well as locational damage where contact is made to the enemy which may reveal skeletal bits and gore. Projectile shots to infected humans can cause abdominal wounds which can reveal innards or even cause intestines
to spill from the wounds.
The Infected attack the player in an unrelenting fashion, with numerous foe attacking the player at one time. The use of the “melee” weapons can wipe out several Infected in one blow which cause the above mentioned blood and gore effects. The player
kills a very large amount of enemy characters to proceed through the game. Whilst no post mortem damage can be inflicted, piles of bodies lay about the environment.
The interactive nature of the game increases the overall impact of the frequent and intense depictions of violence. This coupled with the graphic depictions of blood and gore combine to create a playing impact which is high.
A minority of the Board is of the opinion that the violence is strong in playing impact and therefore warrants an MA 15+ classification with the consumer advice of strong violence.
New Zealand deputy chief censor Nic McCully told PC World the Australian decision would not influence any decision the New Zealand Office of Film and Literature Classification might make: It's different legislation in Australia... they do not have an
R18 rating available to them [for games].
The first Left 4 Dead was given an R18 rating in New Zealand and McCully said that she would be surprised if Left 4 Dead 2 had vastly different content. However, she said she had not yet received any request from a distributor
wanting to sell the game in New Zealand, and the New Zealand Office of Film and Literature would have to review the game and classify it before it could go on sale in New Zealand.
Update: EA comment on Australia's ban on games for adults
Valve has formally appealed the Australian Classification Board decision to ban the zombie shooter sequel Left 4 Dead 2 .
In the Australian censor's decision on 17 September, it stated that the game was unsuitable for an MA 15+ rating due to frequent and intense depictions of violence and graphic depictions of blood and gore. The censor did note in its report
that a minority of the board believed the game warrants an MA 15+ classification with the customer advice of strong violence, the same classification given to the original Left 4 Dead - which may provide Valve with a foothold for its appeal.
In light of the game possibly containing a swastika, Activision Blizzard has decided to recall the game Wolfenstein from stores in Germany according to Kotaku.
A translation of a story on the 4players .de website, the original source of the story, notes that although the imagery is not a conspicuous element in the normal game, the publisher has decided to decided to take this game immediately from the
German market. All versions are being recalled.
Last April, Censorship Ministers meeting at the Standing Committee of Attorneys General (SCAG) in Canberra failed to come to a unanimous decision regarding changes and the release of the R18+ discussion paper, prompting then-Minister for Home Affairs Bob
Debus to take matters into his own hands, announcing his department would take over handling the R18+ public consultation and see to its release.
When GameSpot AU interviewed Debus in April, a proposed deadline of July 31, 2009 was given for the public consultation process. However, Debus was replaced as Minister of Home Affairs by Brendan O'Connor in June as part of a cabinet re-shuffle and since
then, no news about the public consultation has surfaced.
Gothic II , a role playing PC game has also had its M Rating revoked.
The precedent for a revoked certificate began with the Hot Coffee mod to GTA: San Andreus. So refused-classification.com
are speculating that this latest action from the Australian censor may be related to content modification.
A new online video game in which users are invited to be tramps and steal and fight their way to success has provoked 'controversy' in France, with its makers accused of stoking prejudice against homeless people.
In Clodogame , which means Trampgame , internet users are invited to progress from being a penniless homeless person in Paris to becoming "king of the streets, the most talented tramp in Paris and eventually move in to
the Palace of Versailles.
Players are invited to attack other homeless people, become a peerless pickpocket, steal from sweet machines, public toilets and laundrettes. They need to learn to play an instrument, choose a pet liable to increase their begging skills,
and keep control of their alcohol intake.
French homelessness groups reacted with outrage to the free game, which was launched last week and has already attracted 5,000 registered users.
It's a disgrace, it's degrading, it's humiliating to make the homeless the butt of derision, Jean-François Riffaud, a spokesman for the Red Cross, told Le Parisien: The image portrayed is exactly the one against which we've been trying
David Berly, the head of a homelessness collective, CDSL, said: How can one make a game based on great suffering? One shouldn't take enjoyment out of the misfortune of others.
The debate over graphic Japanese sex games such as RapeLay continues with word that the United Nations is stepping in.
At a meeting earlier this month, the UN's Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women called for a ban on explicit video games and anime.
As reported by Anime News Network, the committee urged Japan to ban the sale of video games or cartoons involving rape and sexual violence against women which normalize and promote sexual violence against women and girls.
The committee also expressed concern at the normalization of sexual violence in the State party as reflected by the prevalence of pornographic video games and cartoons featuring rape, gang rape, stalking and the sexual molestation of woman and girls.
While Venezuela has been the (unwilling) setting for at least one violent video game Mercenaries 2: World in Flames , lawmakers there are moving ahead with plans to ban violent games and toys.
The effort, reports Reuters, is aimed at reducing an unprecedented wave of crime and violence. According to Reuters, dozens of people are murdered in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas every week.
A measure detailing the proposed ban passed Venezuela's National Assembly this week. In order to become law, the game ban bill would need to be voted on a second time and then signed into law by President Hugo Chavez.
The US games rating ESRB website shows a listing for a PC release of Manhunt 2 - rated as Adults Only.
Presumably, this release will differ from the cut version that hit consoles in America, which was rated M.
Rockstar's ultra-violent stealth-action game was at the centre of a controversy that lasted quite some time. Over here at least the game was banned by the BBFC back in 2007 - a move applauded by ELSPA - and Rockstar went away and rejigged it before
submitting it once more. The BBFC rejected it once again, but finally, in March 2008, the cut version of the game was finally approved.
The Big Three console makers won't license AO-rated games for their systems, which makes it tough for a publisher to earn a return on its investment. That's why you don't see any AO-rated console games. While the open architecture of the PC negates
licensing concerns, an AO-rated Manhunt 2 would still get thumbs-down from major retailers like GameStop and Wal-Mart.
Rockstar could though ship an M-rated version to stuffy US retailers while distributing an AO-rated version to more accommodating retailers and also online.
The Diablo action role-playing games are known for their excessively bloody violence, and Blizzard is staying true to that with the upcoming Diablo III.
Wired.com: Do you think Diablo III, with all its blood and gore, can appeal to a wider audience this time around?
Wilson: If we appeal to a wider audience, I don't think it should be because we shied away from mature subject matter. Diablo is our Mature-rated series, and it's important for us that it be that. It's our goal, and
that's where we want it to be. So we wouldn't go for an audience by moving away from that.
Wired.com: Earlier, you mentioned parental controls. What are you guys planning for that?
Wilson: We intend to have people to be able to tone down the actual gore levels. In terms of whether we go beyond that, we'll probably do something. But we haven't really gotten into a specific design for it yet, so it's hard to say.
Wired.com: Are you thinking it's possible to turn off the blood completely? Or simply change the blood color?
Wilson: Yeah, we're going to have to be able to turn off blood, change the color and things like that, because you can't have red blood in some regions, regions that we would very much like to sell the game in. So we
definitely build everything, that every bit of gore, in a deposited manner so that at a future date, we can go through and change it all or turn it off.
Wired.com: Do you think they'll be controversy over the parental controls, like we saw with the new art style?
Wilson: I'm sure someone will be controversial about it. I don't think they should though, the idea that people put parental controls and allow for option of turning down the blood. It's not like we're doing it across
the board. It's not like we're forcing it on everyone. We're making it an option, and not the default option. Will some people complain about it? I'm sure they will. But ultimately, that's the world we live in.
Wired.com: You'll obviously have to edit content for regions like Germany and Australia, but what about China? Is that a more difficult case?
Wilson: Definitely for regions like Germany and Australia, we will have to change blood if we're going to sell there. And that's fine. Those are the standards for those regions, and we don't really have a problem with
catering to what they need and what they want. But China's going to be hard for us. Because a lot of the restrictions there are really… we may not be able to do them. It may not be possible. With our relationship with NetEase, we recently got new
information about what China really wants, and it's a lengthy list. It's really hard for us to cater to. We'll try. There's no reason we wouldn't want to go there, but there is a certain point where we'd have to redo so much of the game that it's not
Vietnamese National Assembly representatives blasted a minister for poor management of online gaming regulations.
Minister of Information and Communications, Le Doan Hop, said the ministry was preparing a document to update circular 60, which was issued in 2006 to manage online gaming.
But representative Nguyen Ngoc Dao said the measures would be insufficient to tackle the moral and mental erosion he said could be attributed to youngsters' online gaming addictions.
Hop said that online games could not be banned but should be regulated properly. He also began speaking about the advantages and disadvantages of online games and the internet before being interrupted by representative Nguyen Van Thuan, who said the
representatives were not asking about the pros and cons of online games but they wanted to know if the ministry was responsible for the current situation.
Hop admitted that online gaming had not been managed properly but said the ministry would commit to better management in the future.
The P EGI 16 rated game is available at UK Amazon
for release on 2nd October 2009
Koch Media's medieval role-playing video game Risen has become the latest title be banned by the Australian Classification Board.
Sex or drugs, or a combination of the two look to have been the reason that the game was banned here in Australia.
In Europe the game has been given a PEGI 16 rating.
In the US the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) has already rated it as Mature meaning that it is suitable for persons 17 years and older.
The ESRB describe the sex and drug content as follows.
During the course of the game, players can interact with prostitutes (referred to as "whores" in the game) at a local brothel. Players can trigger a lengthy dialogue to engage in their services; sexual activity is strongly
implied, but never depicted on screen
Many of the characters in the game smoke a fictional drug called "brugleweed." The "wood reefer" plant is described as having a mild relaxing effect on users, and can be bought, sold, and used by players.
Australia's Classification Board has detailed its reasons for refusing to issue a classification for the upcoming RPG Risen and as expected, the presence of implied sex and pretend drugs is simply too much for the country's sensitive children and
adults to handle.
Then Board confirmed in an email that sex and drugs - even drugs that sound as though they were lifted straight from a Harry Potter novel - are a big no-no in videogames down under.
The game contains 'quests' which a player may choose to complete by acquiring sexual services of prostitutes, the Classification Board said in an email: Though it is purportedly not a necessary element of game play, players gain
rewards or advance through the game more easily by engaging in sexual activity with prostitutes. Despite sex being given discreet treatment within the game, sexual activity is clearly linked to incentives or rewards.
The fictional drug "brugleweed" is given a similar treatment. "A player can trade and smoke this drug, which mirrors an illegal 'real-world' drug in its terminology, use and depiction. Dialogue refers to the drug having a 'relaxing effect'
on the character. 23 'experience points' are gained by using the drug for the first time whilst every use thereafter leads to a moderate gain of three 'experience points'. This direct link between the use of 'brugleweed' and a positive increase in
'experience points' is an example of drug use related to incentives or rewards, which must be classified RC.
My concerns were risen when my son went out and bought himself a gaming magazine to read the reviews of the latest Xbox 360 games. When he got home he quickly opened the magazine up and went straight for the demo disk and left his magazine on the table.
I love to play games myself so being quite inquisitive I picked up his magazine called X360 and started to flick through the pages with the hope of finding something that might catch my eye. To my surprise the only thing that did was the last 4 pages of
the magazine that contained major full page spreads of mobile sex games, videos and pictures. Convinced that my son had accidentally managed to purchase a mag from one of the 'upper-shelves' I turned to the front cover to see if there was a 18 rated
sticker anywhere on the front of the magazine. Nothing. Absolutely no indication that the magazine contained content unfit for young eyes.
Germany is mulling banning violent computer games so perhaps it is unsurprising that one of the companies threatened is pointing out that there will be some economic consequences for Germany.
Crytek one of the major game producers in Germany have stated that the ban would be an attack on their continued success as a business… so they'd just leave.
Not that they need to be in Germany to do a good job, and not that they're so big that half of Germany will be unemployed if they do leave, but I think it's an indicator of how serious this issue is. It's not a thing where people can say, oh we can work
around that — no, it's hardcore censorship and it has serious implications. Crytek's president Cevat Yerli says:
A ban on action games in Germany is concerning us because it is essentially like banning the German artists that create them. If the German creative community can't effectively participate in one of the most important cultural
mediums of our future, we will be forced to relocate to other countries.
The current political discussion will deprive German talent of its place on the global game development stage, and deprive German consumers of entertainment that is considered safe and fun around the world.
Dr Tanya Byron's review, Safer Children in a Digital World , looked at the advertising of video games, its effect on children
and the clarity of guidance to the industry.
Advertising codes are the responsibility of two industry Committees independently administered by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA):
the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP)
the Broadcast Committee of Practice (BCAP)
The Review made two recommendations to the advertising self-regulatory system, specifically on its rules and guidance:
…that the video games industry and the advertising industry should work together to ensure consistency of approach between advertising self-regulation and the video games classification systems
… that the advertising and video game industries, and those responsible for the classification of video games should work together to produce CAP and BCAP guidance on the advertising of video games.
The Review also highlighted the granularity of codes and guidance relating to ads for video games and encouraged CAP and BCAP to introduce, during the Code Review, placement and scheduling restrictions on ads for age-rated video games.
The ASA, CAP and BCAP have now actioned Byron's recommendations:
In 2008, the ASA conducted a Video Games Advertising Survey to assess the compliance rate of advertising for video games against the Codes.
In its Code Review consultation, BCAP proposed a new scheduling rule for ads for video games, which mirrors the scheduling restrictions already in place for ads for films and videos. The proposed rule would prevent video games carrying an 18+,
16+ or 15+ rating from being advertising in or adjacent to programmes commissioned for, principally directed at or likely to appeal particularly to audiences below the age of 16.
CAP and BCAP have compiled new Guidance, which is intended to help advertisers and media owners on both broadcast and non-broadcast ads for video games. The Guidance draws together all of CAP and BCAP's existing guidance on ads for video games
and films, as well as lessons from relevant ASA adjudications, to provide a useful, central source of information. The Guidance will also apply to ads for films because they too have the potential to breach the Advertising Codes through
unsuitable scheduling or placement or through the content of the ad.
To assist the advertising industry further, CAP and BCAP will host an Advice:am seminar on video games and films ads on 15 September this year. The seminar will clarify the Codes' requirements on ads for video games and films and to provide a
forum for stakeholders to ask questions about those requirements.
So, by launching new, consolidated Guidance, proposing a TV scheduling rule for video games ads based on the existing rule for ads for films, and by hosting an Advice:am seminar, CAP and BCAP are working with the industry to make sure the dos and
don'ts of advertising video games and films are clear. That way, CAP and BCAP can help ensure ads for video games and films remain responsible and that children are protected from potentially harmful or distressing ad content.
The Government is to create an all-new 'video games committee' – in which cross-departmental representatives will be tasked with considering changes in policy to help the industry.
The decision was a result of ELSPA's first formal meeting with new Minister for Creative Industries Siôn Simon last week. ELSPA director general Michael Rawlinson and Simon discussed the new PEGI age ratings system, tax breaks and more.
The new committee will feature representatives from the Department Of Culture, Media and Sport, the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, the Department of Health, the Home Office and the Department for Children, Schools and Families.
Rawlinson said. The Minister assured us that the Government is confident of being able to introduce pro-PEGI legislation before the next election.
The Entertainment Software Association, (ESA) which represents software and video game publishers filed a lawsuit against the Chicago
Transit Authority, They are claiming that a CTA ordinance disallowing advertisements of computer or video games with mature ratings is a violation of the first amendment that unfairly targets the entertainment software industry.
The suit is in response to a recently enacted ordinance, which prohibits any advertisement that markets or identifies a video or computer game rated Mature 17+ (M) or Adults Only 18+ (AO).
CTA spokeswoman Wanda Taylor said the CTA has yet to be served with the suit, but calls the policy defendable. We do not allow advertisements for alcohol or tobacco, and believe that this ordinance is consistent with that long-standing
policy. We have guidelines on the system for all kinds of advertisements; what is allowed, what is prohibited [the ordinance] falls in line with that.
The suit claims the ordinance is unnecessary because the video game industry is already subject to regulation by the Entertainment Software Rating Board, which strictly regulates computer and video game advertisements that are seen by
the general public.
The suit asks the ordinance be eliminated, along with court fees and other relief.
Oral Answers to Questions — Culture, Media and Sport
House of Commons debates, 20 July 2009
Keith Vaz (Leicester East, Labour): What recent discussions he has had with pan-European game information on the age classification of video games.
Siôn Simon (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Culture, Media & Sport; Birmingham, Erdington, Labour): I have spoken to the Video Standards Council—the current UK agents for the PEGI
system—about the classification of video games and have another meeting scheduled with it very soon. I have also had discussions with the British Board of Film Classification. Both organisations are working hard to ensure the success of the new
Keith Vaz: I thank the Minister for his answer and welcome the steps that the Government are taking on this issue. However, it is still a matter of concern that a game such as "RapeLay", which shows
extreme violence against women, can be downloaded from the internet. What steps are the Government taking to ensure that such games are not accessed from the internet, so that children and young people are properly protected?
Siôn Simon: We should be clear that the game was not classified, but was briefly available on Amazon and then was banned. The point that my right hon. Friend is making is about games that, like other
brutal, unpleasant, illegal content, can be available on the internet. All steps that apply to any other content on the internet will apply to games. Specifically, as part of the Byron review we set up the UK Council for Child Internet Safety to
work with content providers, internet service providers and all aspects of Government to make sure that such content cannot be accessed, particularly by children.
Mark Field (Cities of London & Westminster, Conservative): The Minister will know that Britain is a great leader in video and computer games, and while I take on board many of the concerns expressed by Keith
Vaz, will the Minister recognise that this is a global industry, not simply a European one, and in so far as we are going to have the safeguards to which the right hon. Gentleman refers, we will clearly also need to have global regulation along
Siôn Simon: The system of regulation for which we have opted—the PEGI system—is pan-European, and as such, we see it as the building block to moving towards a global regulatory future. The key principle is
that the markings on games should make it clear to parents which games are suitable for adults and which are suitable and unsuitable for children and young children. Adults should be allowed to access adult content; children most certainly should
If you've ever played an online multiplayer game with voice chat, your mistakes have probably been branded as gay more than
But the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and a number of gaming companies are debating the issue of people using homophobic slurs to bully and harass each other in games.
This Saturday, Electronic Arts is hosting a panel discussion on the topic and will look at what gaming companies can do to limit this behavior, create more gay-friendly games and educate gamers about the need for more sensitivity.
Justin Cole, director of digital and online media at GLAAD and the panel moderator, said the problem is widespread among online gamers.
Cole cited a 2006 University of Illinois survey of gay gamers that found that 53% of those surveyed said the gaming community is somewhat hostile to gay and lesbian gamers and 14% said very hostile.
The survey also found that 88% of respondents reported hearing the phrase, That's so gay, used by players.
The panel is free to the public and takes place Saturday, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Electronic Arts, 250 Shoreline Drive, Redwood City.
Germany has banned any public display of the immensely popular game CounterStrike .
As a result, tournaments have been cancelled - including the Convention-X-Treme tournament, as well as several Friday night game events. LAN parties are no longer permitted to play the game. Of course, in private dwellings, people are still able
to play for now.
The move has come as a response to a wave of school shootings that the government has blamed squarely on violent video games. In fact, ministers have proposed that the production and distribution of all violent video games should be banned.
It remains to be seen whether the minister's requests will be granted, and that video games will be subject to further censorship. This is clearly a first step along that path.
While information to that effect is sketchy so far, talk of a ban would be consistent with our May report on the forced cancellation of a LAN event in Stuttgart which featured Counter-Strike and Warcraft III competitions.
German gamers aren't taking these repressive measures lying down, however. An estimated 400 gamers assembled for a June protest march in Karlsruhe. German gamer Matthias Dittmayer e-mailed GamePolitics to let us know that more gamer demonstrations
are planned for later this month:
Because of this [censorship] there was the (as far as I know) first demonstration of gamers in Germany with up to 400 gamers. The next 3 demonstration in Cologne, Karlsruhe and Berlin are announced for the 25th of July.
As you're probably all aware, the mess that slowly started spinning with Rapelay is slowly going out
of control recently.
A new fax from the Japanese trade association censors, EOCS, has been sent out and as with previous faxes companies are still not allowed to release any of the information for some reason.
#New guidelines will start from October, all sales of older rape games will also have to stop, no matter if they're downloadable games or physical package games.
The period from 5th June to 31st September will be the changeover period where rape games will still be allowed to a certain extent, and the new restrictions will go full force starting from October. Games released sometime by the end of the
year will most likely still be okay as games go through the judging process earlier before the actual release.
Shoujo (girl) and school council keywords managed to escape from the list of NG words.
Normally big decisions like this would need to be done through official meetings where companies can show their disapproval, but the EOCS is really forcing it in this time, and the person leaking the info suspects the EOCS is under huge
pressure for them to be doing something like that. However he does not know if there are any other entities pressuring the EOCS other than the politicians.
CSA's regulations will be released next week apparently so some are waiting to see how that goes.
5 companies were talking about quitting the industry.
More of the translated information can be found on:
The Edge games magazine interviewed Michael Rawlinson of the video game trade association, ELSPA
The Edge: The Borehamwood-based Video Standards Council reportedly has just three employees who will ensure that games coming into the UK comply with PEGI ratings before they're given licenses allowing their
sale. Is this enough staff?
Michael Rawlinson: The Video Standards Council, in conjunction with the people at NICAM, in conjunction with the PEGI personnel in Brussels, as a collective, have been sufficient to be able to do the job at
work up until now, which is just rate PEGI games. The Video Standards Council will be given additional roles and responsibilities when the legislation is passed to become the designated body. I understand that between now and then they will be
looking at their structure and their whole business model and will be gearing up as necessary to perform those functions. I know that [when] the BBFC, some 20 odd years ago, were given the same responsibilities under the Video Recordings Act,
they too had to scale up to take on those new responsibilities, so I think it's grossly misleading to say that the organisation as it stands today will be the same as the organisation that exists when those powers are confirmed.