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25th September   

Updated: Never Ending Wave of Zombies and Censors...

Australian censor bans another game, Left 4 Dead 2
Link Here
Full story: Left 4 Dead 2...Australian censor bans video game

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.

Update: Australia's Censors explain their Ban

18th September 2009. From

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.

Decision: This game is Refused Classification.

Update: Unlikely to be Banned in New Zealand

18th September 2009. Fom

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

24th September 2009. From

Left 4 Dead publisher EA have commented on the Australian ban. Tiffany Steckler, an EA spokesperson, told GameSpot AU that adults should have the right to choose what games they play.

It's funny that a place like Australia, which has come up with some pretty violent material in the past with something like Mad Max, can effectively ban video games for the same reason, she said.

EA believes that adults should have the right to make their own choices when it comes to the content they consume.

Steckler would not comment on whether Valve will make any changes to the game following the Classification Board of Australia's decision.

Update: Valve to appeal the ban

25th September 2009. From

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.


23rd September   

Symbolic Gesture...

Wolfenstein game pulled in Germany over possible swastika
Link Here

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.


13th September   

Update: Gothic Origins of a Ban...

Australian censors revoke certificates to 2 games
Link Here
Full story: Banned Games in Australia...Games and the Australian Censorship Board

Dragon Ball: Origins on the Nintendo DS hit the news in January 2009 when  a shot of one of the character's pants forced a recall of the game so it can be given a more mature M rating. is now reporting that this M Rating has now been revoked.

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 are speculating that this latest action from the Australian censor may be related to content modification.


1st September   


Tramping all over nutter sensitivity
Link Here

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 to fight.

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.


29th August   

Update: UN Board of Censors...

The UN has a whinge at RapeLay and sexually violent Japanese anime
Link Here
Full story: Western censorship of Japanese Games...Japanese games winds up the social justice whingers

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.


28th August   

Update: Make Believe Lawmakers...

Venezuela to solve crime problems by banning violent video games
Link Here

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.


28th August   

Adults Only...

Uncut version of Manhunt 2 to be released in the US
Link Here

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.

See article from

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.


26th August

 Offsite: Red for Real Gamers, Green for Australians...

Link Here
Designers of Diablo III consider parental blood colour control

See article from


13th August   

Updated: Reefer Madness...

Australian censor bans Risen, the 3rd games ban of the year
Link Here

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.

Update: Australian Censors on Brugleweed

13th August 2009. Based on article from

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.


13th August

 Offsite: Reefer Madness...

Link Here
Whinging at adult phone ads in computer games magazines

See article from


6th August   

The Consequences Game...

German games producer threatens to leave the country if action games are banned
Link Here

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.


4th August   

Sex Cards Restored...

Restoring nudity to the US version of video game The Witcher
Link Here

CD Projekt has made available the Director's Cut update for their role playing game The Witcher , now available for download.

The patch reverts the game back to the international version, restoring nudity to the game's 'sex cards' and shaking off that nasty censorship that plagued North American copies of the game.

The special edition is available both as a standalone release and as downloadable patch, to v1.5 of the game which can currently be found on FileShack .


27th July   

Update: Playing the Advertising Game...

Advertising codes for video games updated in response to Tanya Byron's recommendations
Link Here
Full story: The Byron Report...Tanya Byron reports on media child protection

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.


24th July   

Political Guidance...

Another parliamentary committee to consider video games policy
Link Here

  Political Guidance?

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.


24th July   

Immature Censors...

Chicago Transit Authority's ban on M rated game adverts is challenged as unconstitutional
Link Here

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.


22nd July   

Global Regulation...

Nutter Vaz gets another moment in parliament to whinge at video games
Link Here

Video Games
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 system.

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 those lines?

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 not.


9th July   

Updated: Covert CounterStrike...

Germany bans public display of CounterStrike
Link Here
Full story: Games Censorship in Germany...German politicians target video games

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.

Update: Violent Games Protests

9th July 2009.  See article from

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.


4th July   

Update: Hidden Games...

Japanese timetable for an end to Rapelay like game
Link Here
Full story: Western censorship of Japanese Games...Japanese games winds up the social justice whingers

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:

Online DL shop announces new restrictions
Summary of 26th June conference
Visualarts blocks foreigners too


1st July

 Offsite: Terrifying Pictograms...

Link Here
The Edge interview ELSPA's Michael Rawlinson about VSC and PEGI

See article from

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