CD Universe - New Release Music CDs up to 30% Off

 Games News

    2010: Jan-March

Adult DVD+VoD
Online Shops
Shop Reviews
New & Offers
 
  Home  US Film Cuts
  Index  World  Nutters
  Forum  Media Liberty
   Info      
   UK      
Sex News
Sex+Shopping 
MelonnFarmers.com


30th November   

ESRA...

Melon farming Fresh
A website
update service

See further details
Melon Farming Fresh

 

Iranian games ratings proposed for international games producers to gauge their suitability for the islamic world
Link Here

ESRA 25 rating At the Dubai World Game Expo the Index Holding corporation and the Iran National Foundation Of Computer Games announced the formation and launch of the Entertainment Software Rating Association (ESRA).

The ESRA is designed to evaluate games in respect to Islamic values and rate them accordingly.

Anas Al Madani, VP of Index Holding said: We as organisers endorse this initiative which aims at evolving the Islamic values and maintain the conservative aspect within the children and the society in general. We are keen on encouraging game developers and publishers to use the ESRA system, as it enables publishers to understand the nature of the Islamic society and the different aspects that it emphasizes.

ESRA will work as an indicator for game companies in order to know whether the games approve with the Islamic values, and do not violate any of the Islamic traditions in Islamic countries.

Details of ESRA Ratings

See also ESRA webpage in English from ircg.ir
See also sample ratings from ircg.ir

The Entertainment Software Rating Association (ESRA) was established in 2007 by Iran National Foundation of Computer Games which is a self-regulatory organization. The research project of ESRA is run by a research team of 17 psychologists and 8 sociologists.

In rating, ESRA considers 4 characteristics in rating computer games

  1. Physical - motional characteristics
  2. Intellectual – mental characteristics
  3. Emotional characteristics
  4. Social characteristics

The age classifications are:

  • Kids 3+
  • Childhood 7+
  • beginning of adolescence 12+
  • second half of adolescent 15+
  • adult, single 18+
  • adult, married 25+

Content description categories:

  • Violence : The display of violence is when a behavior displayed to harm someone or something, ranged from destroying the belongings and making the unanimated things out of order…
  • Tobacco and drug : Watching the use of drug and tobacco in games can lose the internal-social taboo of not using it for the addressees.
  • Sexual stimuli : Sexual diversity, sexuality out of social norms, etc can end to the social and physical harms related to the sexual needs of the addressees and his /her social situations.
  • Fear : Fear is an internal feeling based on insecurity and not the lack of trust to the atmosphere, which leads to chronic stress, conservative behaviors, etc in social atmosphere.
  • Religious values violation : The violation of religious values is in accord with the Islamic principles. Two of the important elements of it are as follow: 1. The violation of the basic principles or religious belief, 2. Sacrilege the holy places
  • The social norms violation : Using the vulgar words and the uprightness behaviors which lead to breaking the social norms are among the social harms that the kids and the adolescents become familiar with.
  • Hopelessness : This content in games is related to a kind of feeling where the gamer have to do or not to do something which makes him/her feel sinful..

 

31st March   

Update: Dawn of the Gamers...

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

US Mainstream DVDs

Video Universe
 

Hundreds of zombies protest a lack of Australian adult rating for games
Link Here  full story: R18+ for Games in Australia...Pondering an adult R18+ rating for video games

r18 zombies A public demonstration against the lack of an R18+ rating in Australia, which featured marchers dressed as zombies, went off without a hitch—but with plenty of lurching—in Sydney over the weekend.

Rhys Wilson, head of the group Aus Gamers Limited which organized the protest, wrote on Facebook, I want to thank each and every one of you guys for making yesterday easily one of the best days of my life. I haven't heard any complaints from anyone, and I'm more than happy to do this again later in the year, assuming I'm not killed in a freak manure truck accident.

IT Wire estimated the crowd of gathered ghouls at between 500 and 600 strong, easily surpassing a November 2009 similarly-themed march, which drew around 175 participants.

 

26th March   

Updated: The Debating Game...

Alan Titchmarsh discusses violent video games
Link Here  full story: Alan Titchmarsh Show...Audience groomed to boo video games defender

alan titchmarsh games video Last Friday's Alan Titchmarsh Show had a brief discussion about violent video games which featured some chap who's editor of VideoGames.com, also present were actress Julie Peasgood and Kelvin Mackenzie, former editor of The Sun.

The chap seemed to be fighting his corner quite well until Julie Peasgood opened her mouth saying that many of these games promoted, violence, racism and sexism , which got a huge round of applause from the audience. This statement was allowed to go unchallenged, which was a shame as I would have liked to have heard what games she'd played that promoted these things.

But anyway, she then went on to say that A recent study in the US found a direct link between children's behaviour and the violent video games they play .

The chap countered that argument by saying that the UK Governments own research by Tanya Byron found no evidence that was true, which resulted in a few jeers from the audience. Which I found quite disturbing considering the audience would accept an emotive unsubstantiated claim, whilst pouring scorn on a stated fact.

Kelvin Mackenzie then chimed in about James Bulger's killers being corrupted by violent media, which really made me seethe considering that story was a press fabrication by the very paper he used to work for.

Again, the guy who worked for the games site made some good points, but he obviously wasn't a seasoned debater. He seemed to be playing defence most of the time, when he would have been better going on the attack and forcing the other 2 to try and substantiate their claims, which would have crumbled under the slightest scrutiny.

Comment: Peasgood spotted acting in violent video game

23rd March 2010. From Dan

Take 2 Martian Gothic Unification I just watched the anti-video game bollox on Alan Titchmarsh.

Why didn't they just burn the guy from the video games website and have done with it?

Julie Peasgood thinks violent for entertainment is wrong? But apparently she lent her voice to a horror game:

See article from computerandvideogames.com :

Hordes have you have been left fuming by the claims of actress-cum-'sexpert' Julie Peasgood on the Alan Titchmarsh Show last week - on which CVG editor Tim defended the games industry.

She's the one who said video games were addictive and promote racism , remember? Oh - and we quote - was categorically against violence for entertainment . And yet a bit of digging... and hey presto. There's the credit for Julie's appearance voicing Harroway in survival horror video game Martian Gothic: Unification .

According to Wikipedia: In Martian Gothic, the player is able to assume the roles of three characters sent from Earth to a Martian base called Vita. Upon arrival the player finds that all the residents are apparently dead and must gradually uncover the secrets and nature the last undertaking by Vita 1's crew; the discovery of ancient Martian "Pandora's Box" which, when opened, started a chain of chaotic events that led to the base's downfall, and death of all almost its inhabitants.

However, during the player's progress of uncovering the truth, searching for any possible survivors, and solving Vita 1's many mounting problems, the player finds that the dead crew have become re-animated like zombies who wish to feast upon the team of three's flesh.

Comment: Peasgood spotted acting in violent film

23rd March 2010. From Andy

House Long Shadows MGM On the Alan Titchmarsh show, while discussing violent video games, Julie Peasgood comments: I am categorically against violence for entertainment, it is just wrong .

Am interesting comment coming from an actress who starred in the cannon produced horror film House of the Long Shadows , who's character if I'm not mistaken dies a violent death when her face is eaten away with acid.

Interesting how somebody who can have such strict beliefs, abandons them when there is a pay cheque involved!!!

Offsite: Audience whipped up into a censorial frenzy

Thanks to article from mediasnoops.wordpress.com
26th March 2010. Based on article from gamesetwatch.com by Lewis Denby

tim wingham Hearing the floor manager tell the octagenarian crowd to 'really let your feelings be known if he says something you don't agree with' seconds before filming was pretty disconcerting. I hope you noted the targeted 'he' in that sentence. I certainly did.

Tim Ingham admits he didn't expect anything less, though. As you might be aware, the CVG game website editor recently appeared on UK television's The Alan Titchmarsh Show, as part of a feature on the dangers of violent gaming to children.

...Read the full article

Petition: Petition for a public apology from The Alan Titchmarsh Show

26th March 2010. Sign the petition at petitionspot.com

We, the undersigned, call on The Alan Titchmarsh Show to issue a public apology for their unfair and biased representation of the computer gaming industry on 18/3/10. We also call on Julie Peasgood to issue a public apology for hypocritically criticising an industry to which she has contributed.

Our grievance with the programme falls into three parts:

Breach of the Ofcom code

We feel that The Alan Titchmarsh Show has breached the Ofcom broadcasting code several times during the course of this programme. Specifically:

  • Tim Ingham recounts how the audience was encouraged before recording began to specifically boo him when they disagreed with him. No such recommendation was made regarding the other guests. This is a clear violation of article 7.2 of the Ofcom code, which requires that all contributors be treated fairly and equally.
  • Ingham states that Kelvin MacKenzie's positive responses to his points were largely edited out to make him seem more sceptical. This violates articles 5.7 and 7.6 of the Ofcom code, which require that views not be misrepresented and that editing reflect the contributions made.
  • Julie Peasgood cited a piece of research but failed to name it. This violates article 7.9 which states that material facts must be presented in a fair way. By failing to identify the study, Peasgood offered no chance of rebuttal.

Perpetuation of misconceptions

We feel that very little research was undertaken by The Alan Titchmarsh Show before this discussion took place. Alan Titchmarsh did not know the names of the games and clearly did not understand that video games are classified and age-restricted in exactly the same way as films. This show perpetuates the misconception that all video games are aimed at children.

Julie Peasgood

Julie Peasgood provided voice acting for the character of Harroway for the PC and PlayStation survival horror game Martian Gothic: Unification , released in 2000. This game carries the ESRB rating Mature (17+), and contains several scenes of graphic violence. Yet Peasgood makes no mention of this during the show. Instead she makes categorical statements such as:

  • Video games are addictive, they promote hatred, racism, sexism, and they reward violence. What kind of a message is that?
  • I am categorically against violence for entertainment. It is just wrong.

To make such accusations while at the same time profiting from the industry you are criticising is a sickening display of hypocrisy.

In conclusion, we the undersigned seek a public apology from The Alan Titchmarsh Show for its breach of Ofcom guidelines and its perpetuation of misconceptions about video games, and from Julie Peasgood for her hypocritical statements and exaggerated claims.

...Sign the petition

Comment: Research research

26th March 2010. From DarkAngel on the Melon Farmers Forum

I believe the "research" Julie Peasgood reffered to was THIS study by American Psychologist Craig A Anderson of Iowa State University, which appeared in the March issue of the American Psychological Associations bulletin. The extract can be viewed here [pdf] .

However, his findings, not to mention methods of compiling data, have come in for heavy criticism from others. Not least, Christopher Ferguson and John Kilburn of the department of behavioural applied science and criminal justice at Texas A&M International University.

The Washington Post gives details here ...

Another thing, if you do some digging, it seems that Craig Anderson clearly has some sort of axe to grind against violent media. Most of his research seems to be dedicated to proving links between violent media and behaviour.

 

25th March   

Updated: Game On...

Michael Atkinson quits as South Australia's Attorney General
Link Here  full story: R18+ for Games in Australia...Pondering an adult R18+ rating for video games

michael atkinson The long running refusenik for an adult ratings for games has resigned from his post of South Australia's Attorney General. He will continue to represent his constituency of Croydon though.

Based on article from australiangamer.com

Despite winning his election (Gamers 4 Croydon only gained about 1% of the vote), Michael Atkinson has decided that amount of trouble his position has brought him isn't worth the effort anymore - and it's not just the R18+ debacle that has brought him down. He's also had trouble trying to bring in a law that would censor people from using Fake names online. That one backfired when his example of a Liberal sock puppet turned out to be a real person living in his constituency.

So while G4C may not have won their seat, they still seemed to have managed to achieve one of their aims. Let's hope the new Attorney General sees reason and the R18 debate can be put to rest.

Update: Election Games

23rd March 2010. Based on article from gamepolitics.com

gamers4croydon logo Pre-election, Atkinson claimed that no one cared about the lack of an R18+ rating in Australia other than gamers and also predicted that the Gamer4Croydon party would struggle to receive one percent of the votes.

Well, in Croydon, according to ABC.net election data, Gamers4Croydon's candidate against Atkinson, Kat Nicholson, managed to achieve 3.7% of the vote, assisting in eating away at 14.4% of Atkinson's vote from the previous election. Despite that erosion, Atkinson still won rather easily however, garnering 52.7% of the vote. Nicholson came in fifth out of seven candidates in the Croydon suburb, besting candidates from the Family First Party and Australian Democratic Party.

In a post on the G4C website entitled Here's Your 1%, President Chris Prior expressed pride at what the upstart party accomplished:

With so very little to work with, we have contributed to two other incumbents losing their seats, and all of our lower house candidates polled higher than the 1% we apparently wouldn't get. In the upper house, we outpolled the majority of groups, including a significant number with more resources, more experience, and much more time.

Update: New Attorney-General said to be pro R18+

25th March 2010. Based on article from smh.com.au

gamers4croydon logo The South Australian premier has announced that former backbencher John Rau will replace Michael Atkinson as Attorney-General of the state.

Chris Pryor of the Games4Croydon party said last night via Twitter that the long-serving Rau is a supporter of the R18+ classification for games (and a nice guy to boot) .

Pryor blogged on Monday that seeing the role of Attorney-General filled by someone other than Mr Atkinson was a primary founding goal of Gamers4Croydon . With less than 6 months to prepare, no political experience, and only a few thousand dollars funding, we have achieved that goal. Unfortunately there are never any guarantees in politics, but we have removed the largest impediment to classification reform.

The next meeting of the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General is held in Melbourne on April 29. It is not yet known whether the introduction of an R18+ games rating will be discussed.

 

20th March   

Update: Putting the Swiss Knife into Video Games...

A resolution to ban 'killer games' passes in Swiss parliament
Link Here  full story: Violent Games Ban in Switzerland...Parliament passes motion to ban violent games

Switzerland flag Two resolutions dealing with violent videogames have been passed by the Switzerland's National Council.

The first resolution, proposed by Christian Democratic Party member and National Councillor Norbert Hochreutener, would make it illegal to sell PEGI 16 or 18-rated games to minors.

The second resolution, backed by Social Democrat Evi Allemann, called for a complete ban of violent and adult-themed videogames.

Alleman's proposal passed on a 19-12 vote. A translated passage from Alleman's motion states:

The Federal Council is asked to submit to Parliament a statutory basis, which allows the manufacture, touting, importation, sale and distribution of game programs, to prohibit, in which cruel acts of violence against humans and humanlike creatures for the game success.

The passing of the motions will now set off the process of drafting laws to implement the two motions.

 

18th March   

Update: Digital Restrictions Management...

Electronic Arts join in the DRM craze of demanding continuous internet access to play your own stand alone games
Link Here

Command Conquer Tiberian Twilight DVD The reaction to Ubisoft's DRM, which requires a constant Internet connection, has been well documented, with a reverse boycott organized and hackers taking down the publisher's authentication servers twice. The new Electronic Arts release Command & Conquer 4 , despite employee claims that the game has NO DRM. Zip, zero, zilch, none, also requires an Internet connection to play, which has already resulted in a thread full of complaints on the C&C forums.

A way to fight back might be to link up with the organization Defective by Design , which proposes that DRM should stand for Digital Restrictions Management. The group is organizing a Day Against DRM that is scheduled for May 4, 2010.

 

17th March   

Update: Hidden Face of Censorship...

Australian R18+ campaigners mysteriously have their Facebook page banned
Link Here  full story: R18+ for Games in Australia...Pondering an adult R18+ rating for video games

Australlia Grow Up logo Citing a supposed violation of its terms of use, social website Facebook has removed the group page of the pro R18+ organization Grow Up Australia .

A message from Facebook, while not specific, offered that groups that are hateful, threatening or obscene are not allowed. Additionally, Facebook removes groups that attack an individual or group, or advertise a product or service. The group had boasted around 37,000 members before its removal.

While a logical guess might theorize that members of the group had posted hateful comments about a certain South Australian Attorney General, Grow Up Australia wrote that it did not believe that any administrator-provided content had provoked the ban, and that it had also been vigilant in moderating member content.

The group has setup a Facebook Fan Page while it attempts to lobby Facebook to reinstate its group page.

 

13th March   

Symbolic Censorship...

DRM crazed Ubisoft find their Silent Hunter 5 banned in Germany
Link Here

Silent Hunter 5 PC DVD computerbase.de is reporting that the Collector's Edition of the much derided Ubisoft's Silent Hunter 5 PC game has been recalled in Germany due to the appearance of anticonstiutional symbols in the game.

This would indicate that some type of Nazi symbol or imagery was left in the local edition of the game, which is verboten according to German laws.

Edge received confirmation from Ubisoft that the game's standard edition was not recalled, only the special edition.

 

10th March   

Update: Venezuelan Crime Problems Solved...

Violent video games have been banned
Link Here

Mercenaries World Flames Xbox 360 A law introduced last year that would ban violent videogames and toys in Venezuela has now been enacted.

Under the law, importers, producers, distributors or sellers of the banned toys and games could face fines and jail time ranging from two to five years. In a story dated March 3, Prensa Latina reported that the law had been passed.

The law, when initially proposed to Venezuela's National Assembly, proposed that the country's consumer protection society be granted full power in determining what games and toys were deemed violent, though no indication was given into what criteria might be used to judge the goods.

As it was drawn up, the law also featured provisions for teaching crime prevention classes in school, public campaigns to warn about the dangers of videogames. A government campaign to promote games that taught children respect for an adversary was also included, though no word on if this, or any, additional provisions were a part of the new law.

The ban on violent games and toys is apparently seen as a way to somehow combat crime and violence in the country.

 

7th March   

Update: High Score...

Australian games for adult consultation receives 55,000 responses
Link Here  full story: R18+ for Games in Australia...Pondering an adult R18+ rating for video games

R18+ banned Australians, it seems, are more than a little interested in the issue of video game classification. Figures released by the Federal Minister for Home Affairs Brendan O'Connor show that more than 55,000 submissions were received into the recently completed public submission process on whether Australia should introduce an R18+ rating for games, with the Minister stating that the large response rate indicated a high level of interest in this issue in the Australian community.

O'Connor said the Federal Attorney General's Department would now prepare a report on the consultation for the Standing Committee of Attorneys General (SCAG), a group made up of all of Australia's various Federal, State, and Territory AGs. The introduction of an R18+ rating needs the unanimous approval of all SCAG members, with the next SCAG meeting due in April this year.

The high number of responses follows a concerted campaign by video game activists around the nation to drum up interest in the debate. Independent advocacy group Grow Up Australia's partnership with retailer EB Games netted more than 16,000 responses, with an EB Games spokesperson saying the company solicited a further 30,000 submissions.

 

2nd March   

Update: Opposing a Censorial Government...

Australian opposition parties speak favourably of R18+ for games
Link Here  full story: R18+ for Games in Australia...Pondering an adult R18+ rating for video games

australian greens logo Greens Senator Scott Ludlam said the Greens plan to stay ahead of the R18+ debate in 2010.

The Greens don't have a formal position on the absence of an R18+ classification for video games just yet, Ludlam said. We plan on being informed by the material that comes through in the public consultation, and we'll be forming an official stance soon.

Personally, I've formed a view, and I suspect my colleagues have as well. We want to stay ahead of the debate this year, and we're already talking to the industry and to people with a range of different views.

My personal stance is that [the absence of an R18+ for games] is a real anomaly. I think it's making the situation worse. We know that in some instances material that should otherwise be classified R18+ is instead diverted into the MA15+ category. That's a sign that there needs to be some kind of reform. I think we do need R18+ for games, but only on the condition that there is a good look at the way that we classify video games in this country to make sure that some of the very real concerns that have been raised by parents and child protection groups are acknowledged as well.

Ludlam believes the public consultation will result in a solid base of reasonably well-researched support for a change to the system. His views on South Australian Attorney-General Michael Atkinson are not so positive.

I think the position he took to block the rest of the country from moving forward was really unhelpful, and I don't think he necessarily provided the arguments to back up the position he took.

These thoughts are echoed by marginal parties Australian Sex Party (ASP) and the Pirate Party Australia, who both support the introduction of R18+ for games.

ASP founder Fiona Patten says, quite frankly, that Australia's classification system is fucked. Having worked as a lobbyist and an activist for the adult industry for nearly 20 years, I became demoralised by the fact that in 2008 we had more censorship than when I started, Patten said. There is simply no consistency across mediums in our classification system--what is legal in a book is not legal in a magazine, what is legal in a magazine is not legal in a film, and what is legal in a film is not legal in a video game. Personally, I think we should throw out the existing system and start again.

In a similar vein, the Pirate Party Australia also supports R18+ for games, releasing a press statement earlier this month expressing disgust at Michael Atkinson's stance on censorship. Matt Redmond, a Pirate Party spokesperson, said: Every citizen in a democracy has the right to question the government, and in doing so has the right to protect himself from censure.

 

2nd March   

Offsite: An Adult Approach to Censorship...

Ban on games for adults fails to reflect Australian community standards
Link Here  full story: R18+ for Games in Australia...Pondering an adult R18+ rating for video games

paul hunt A former member of Australia's Classification Board has submitted an incredibly well-written and reasoned response to the government issued Discussion Paper, regarding the topic of adding an R18+ rating category for games.

The 17-page response was crafted by Paul J Hunt, who served as Deputy Director of the Classification Board and as a senior executive with the Office of Film and Literature Classification. He also lists himself as a parent of teenagers who play computer games and a child of Seniors who play computer games.

Hunt begins his argument by imparting first-hand knowledge into the current problems with the rating system:

When I made a decision, or participated in a decision, that a computer game was unsuitable for minors, I was forced to refuse classification for that game. It was not because I thought that the game depicted, expressed or otherwise dealt with matters of sex, drug misuse or addiction, crime, cruelty, violence or revolting or abhorrent phenomena in such a way that it would offend against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults. It was simply because the game was not OK for kids.

Not being able to restrict computer games to adults was an impediment to my ability to reflect Australian community standards.

..Read full Paul Hunt's Consultation Response [pdf]

 

27th February   

Coming Down Hard...

UAE bans Heavy Rain video game
Link Here

Sony Heavy Rain PS3 Despite rave reviews that critics have been showering on the PlayStation 3's latest game to hit the market, Heavy Rain will not see any shelf life in the UAE.

The videogame's nationwide launch was aborted after the UAE's censor, the National Media Council, reportedly pulled the plug on the sales and promotion of the title, which has attracted global controversy for its depiction of nudity and violence. This decision, despite Heavy Rain' s 18+PEGI rating, signals the government's intent on cracking down on games that are deemed unfit for the audience because of their content.

A sequence where one of the main characters is forced to go topless at gun point and perform a seductive dance at a club, were among the more 'objectionable' aspects that probably led to the banning of the game. Heavy Rain has been described by its publisher's Quantic Dream as psychological thriller, with four professionals on the trail of the Origami Killer, who preys on boys between eight and 13 and then subsequently drowns them in rainwater.

 

26th February   

Updated: Grow Up Australia...

Major Australian retailer supports R18+ for video games
Link Here  full story: R18+ for Games in Australia...Pondering an adult R18+ rating for video games

Grow Up petition Australia's largest videogame retailer has joined the movement to add an R18+ rating category for interactive entertainment.

EBGames is promoting its pro R18+ stance in all 350 of its Australian storefronts, where it will display signage and offer shoppers the ability to sign a petition. The retailer is also promoting the cause on its website and linking to an online petition for those in favour of adding the adult rating category.

Kotaku reports that EBGames did its due diligence in advance of publically supporting the issue; the company polled its customers on the issue and found that 84% were in favour of the addition of an R18+ rating category.

EB Managing Director Steve Wilson said: With the release of the Government's discussion paper, we knew as a company that we needed to act on this issue as it continues to cripple our industry and cost local jobs. We did however want to be sure that our customers were as passionate about the matter as we are. This is not a call for violent video games, but rather a call for a better classification system that brings Australia in line with the rest of the world and other Australian entertainment industries, such as films.

Update: Petition of 16,000

26th February 2010.  See article from gamepolitics.com

The partnering of advocacy group Grow Up Australia and retailer EB Games has resulted in strong backing for the addition of an R18+ rating category for videogames in Australia.

GameSpot reports that the pair's initiative has resulted in 16,055 signatures on their pro R18+ petition, which will now be sent to the Attorney General's department. EB Games had called attention to the movement via in-store signage and with links and images on its website.

Public responses to the Discussion Paper are due by February 28. Following the submission period, responses will be compiled into a report for Minister of Home Affairs Brendan O'Connor and other state and territory Attorney Generals.

 

25th February   

Continuous Nagging...

Ubisoft video games DRM requires internet connection at all times
Link Here

UBI Soft Settlers PC DVD With the beta for Settlers 7 , Ubisoft is unveiling a new anti-piracy measure that will require gamers to log into their Ubi.com account in order to authenticate their play session.

Ubisoft does not have the best history when it comes to invasive—if not downright broken—DRM, but the company's upcoming solution to game piracy is much worse than anything we've seen in the past. The gist is simple: every time you want to play your game, it has to phone back to Ubisoft before giving you permission to play. No Internet connection? You're simply out of luck.

If you're annoyed when you have to show your receipt to someone when you walk out of an electronics store, Ubisoft is not the company for you. This is like having to show your receipt every time you want to turn on your television. If your Internet goes out, if you're on a flight with no wireless or don't want to pay the fee, or if you're at a hotel that only offers for-pay Internet, you aren't going to be able to to play your games.

 

19th February   

Putting the Swiss Knife into Video Games?...

A ban on 'killer games' to be put before Swiss parliament
Link Here  full story: Violent Games Ban in Switzerland...Parliament passes motion to ban violent games

Switzerland flagA resolution has passed unanimously in the Commission for Legal Affairs and would make it illegal to sell games rated PEGI 16 or 18 to under-age minors. Swiss parliament will now have a chance to vote on the measure.

A second, and more troubling motion, would call for a complete ban of violent and adult-themed videogames within the country. This motion passed too, though with a closer vote of nine to three, and will also head off to parliament for vote.

One of the backers of this proposal is Social Democrat Evi Allemann who said:

Such games do not make each one a killer, but they increase the willingness of those who are already vulnerable. A blanket ban on such games therefore seems appropriate and proportionate, especially since they do not have any worth protecting cultural and social content and there are thousands of other exciting games that work without such extreme violence.

Surely a nutter that will wind up the game playing public.

 

19th February   

Update: Censor Cuts Mean Income Cuts...

Australian video games trade organisation, iGEA, criticises lack of R18+
Link Here  full story: R18+ for Games in Australia...Pondering an adult R18+ rating for video games

The lack of an R18+ classification for electronic games has been linked to an increase in piracy and poor sales of titles that were toned-down to meet Australia's top M15+ rating.

Interactive Games and Entertainment Association (iGEA) CEO Ron Curry said while Australia is pondering introducing an R18+ rating for games, Australian retailers were losing money to piracy and overseas imports.

Sales are significantly less for modified games, Curry said. People will import the full unmodified game over the Internet or get a pirate version.

Local Sega game developer Dan Toose said the classification laws did not have a big impact on Australian game development, but said it could cost developer studios millions to redesign titles to be passed under the M15+ rating.

What really takes the time is quality assurance testing, which can take more than two weeks... it can cost modern game development studios half a million dollars a month to [modify] games, Toose said. It is bad to put that on the shoulders of developers.

Toose said the opposition to the law makes no sense whatever because the R18+ classification was recognised as distinctly adult content. He said the new rating would stop children being exposed to more graphic content that is squeezed into the M15+ rating under the current scheme.

 

13th February   

Update: High Score...

R18+ for games consultation off to a very positive start
Link Here  full story: R18+ for Games in Australia...Pondering an adult R18+ rating for video games

Grow Up petition Only 1% of processed responses to government survey against an adult rating for games; more than 6,000 responses received in total so far.

A Senate Estimates Committee Hearing last week unveiled that out of 1,084 processed responses thus far, only 11 had been anti-R18+.

The government's public consultation process is aiming to find out the Australian public's view on the introduction of an adult classification for games in Australia and was launched by the Federal Attorney-General's Department in December last year. Submissions for the process will close on February 28, 2010.

 A spokesperson for the Federal Attorney-General's Department told GameSpot AU last week that the results of the public consultation would be distributed to all of Australia's Attorneys-General to inform their decision whether Australia should have an R18+ classification for computer games. From there, all of the Attorneys-General will need to unanimously agree on its introduction before it can be passed as law in Australia.

Consultation Responses to be Published at Kotaku

Based on article from kotaku.com.au

Submissions for the R18+ national classification consultation close 28 February. To promote good thinking, we want to see what you've got to say. The guidelines request a 250-word comment at the end of each submission. Send us yours and we'll publish some of the best.

In case you're yet to state your case, here's how to do it.

The call for public consultation (AG.gov.au)
The Bond University Interactive Australia report (for helpful research insights)

When you have sent in your submission, send Kotaku an email with your 250-word comment from the end of your document. We'll choose some of the best we receive and publish them for everybody's benefit. We can only get better at dealing with the ill-informed by enhancing our own best arguments.

 

12th February   

Updated: Go to Hell!...

CBS refuses version of TV advert for Dante's Inferno game
Link Here

Electronic Arts Dantes Inferno PS3 A Super Bowl advertisement for Electronic Arts' Dante's Inferno game has fallen victim to CBS censors.

An original version of the ad had utilized the tagline Go to Hell, but that phrase was deemed to over the top for viewers of this Sunday's big game and CBS rejected it. The Hollywood Reporter blog reports that EA will instead substitute the more sedate tagline Hell Awaits instead.

Update: Hell Banned

12th February. See article from gameslatest.com

Dante's Inferno is not being released in the Middle East. In a move that surprised absolutely no one, EA states that, Electronic Arts has decided not to release Dante's Inferno in the Middle East after an evaluation process which is based on consumer tastes, preferences, platform mix and other factors.

After first setting our eyes on Dante's Inferno last year, it seemed like one of those titles that might never hit the retail shelves in UAE. Dealing with the afterlife, the game focuses on Hell and its 9 circles of sinners within. Such a premise itself is a very touchy topic within the region, one of the reasons why we think Darksiders got banned here.

In fact, this region is so sensitive to such topics that God of War is also banned over here just because it has the word God in the title, despite being based on Greek mythology!

 

4th February   

Cheesy ESRB Ratings...

US games raters caught being all moralistic
Link Here

Dead Alive Paradise Sony PSP psxextreme.com spotted an interesting games rating review on the official US games rating website.

Now, it's hardly surprising that Dead or Alive: Paradise for the PSP would land the M -Mature rating but surprisingly enough, it seems the ESRB's description is more out of line than the content itself. As you can see, whoever wrote it is plenty disgusted with the game, and even used the word creepy along with an expanded opinion that reads as follows:

This is a video game in which users watch grown women dressed in G-string bikinis jiggle their breasts while on a two-week vacation. Women's breasts and butts will sway while playing volleyball, while hopping across cushions, while pole dancing, while posing on the ground, by the pool, on the beach, in front of the camera.

There are other activities: Users can gamble inside a casino to win credits for shopping; they can purchase bathing suits, sunglasses, hats, clothing at an island shop; they can gift these items to eight other women in hopes of winning their friendship, in hopes of playing more volleyball.

And as relationships blossom from the gift-giving and volleyball, users may get closer to the women, having earned their trust and confidence: users will then be prompted to zoom-in on their friends' nearly-naked bodies, snap dozens of photos, and view them in the hotel later that night.

Parents and consumers should know that the game contains a fair amount of cheesy, and at times, creepy voyeurism—especially when users have complete rotate-pan-zoom control; but the game also contains bizarre, misguided notions of what women really want (if given two weeks, paid vacation, island resort)—Paradise cannot mean straddling felled tree trunks in dental-floss thongs.

Since that story broke, the US game rating board has pulled its summary of the Tecmo Koei title, and apologized for its inappropriate remarks.

Here's what the ESRB had to say on the matter:

The rating summary for Dead or Alive Paradise was posted to our website in error, and we have since replaced that version with the corrected one. We recognize that the initial version improperly contained subjective language and that issue has been addressed.

Our intention with rating summaries is to provide useful, detailed descriptions of game content that are as objective and informative as possible. However they are ultimately written by people and, in this case, we mistakenly posted a rating summary that included what some could rightfully take to be subjective statements.

We sincerely regret the error and will work to prevent this from happening again in the future.

The Replacement ESRB rating now reads:

This is a collection of mini-games, based on the Dead or Alive game series, in which players assume the role of a bikini-clad female character on vacation on a tropical island.

Players engage in daily activities that can include hopping across floating pads on a pool and beach volleyball. Players earn credits after each activity that can be used to purchase new outfits, accessories, and gifts to give other female characters on the island. Players can earn additional credits at the island casino as they wager credit in slot machines and in games of poker and black jack. Some purchasable outfits include string bikinis, one-piece thongs, and sling bikinis. Sling bikinis and thongs often provide very little coverage of breast and bare buttocks.

Throughout the game players can view characters engaging in variety of activities—pole dancing, stretching, gyrating to music, and climbing trees. Characters are frequently displayed in compromising position (e.g., buttocks up in the air, legs splayed open, straddling tree trucks, etc.) during these activities. These scenes can often feel voyeuristic as players control the camera to rotate, pan, and zoom in on various body parts as they photograph the characters in different poses.

 

4th February   

Over a Barrel...

Austrian feminists easily offended by recruitment advert
Link Here

Austrain recruitment ad A recruitment advert for the Austrian army showing young women chasing a tank for a joy-ride has been axed after outraged feminists went on the offensive.

The advert was commissioned to sex-up the image of the military, which has had trouble in recent years getting men to enlist.

Do you want a joy-ride, ladies? yells a macho member of the tank crew, causing the women to race after the armoured vehicle. The pun in the question was fully intended, admitted the Austrian military.

But feminists were predictably easily offended. Judith Goetz, who is in charge of feminist issues at the Austrian Students' Union, said: It is totally archaic to show such an obviously sexist video when women are part of the Austrian military.

The video opens with a macho-looking man with legs spread wide sitting on the hood of his Audi car surrounded by four young women. He is interrupted in his effort to persuade them to join him for a joy-ride when a tank comes to a screeching halt in front of his car.

A soldier climbs out of the tank's hatch, rubs his hand suggestively along the cannon, jumps down in front of the girls and asks them if they would like to go for a joy-ride in his vehicle instead. The girls screech in excitement and begin to follow him. Then come to the Austrian army. Then you can drive a tank! the soldier says. He speeds away pursued by the shrieking women.

Our clip is so dorky it's brilliant, said Colonel Johann Millonig, of the army's marketing department. But the feminist cyber-war on the high command. So many e-mails were received that defence minister Norbert Darabos asked the army to remove the video from the ministry's website.

 

1st February   

Update: Christian Games Baddies...

Australian Christian Lobby come out against the R18+ rating for games
Link Here  full story: R18+ for Games in Australia...Pondering an adult R18+ rating for video games

ACL logoThe campaign to add an R18+ videogame rating category in Australia has gained an additional but predictable enemy, the Australian Christian Lobby.

The group's policy website features a section on the game ratings debate, in which the idea that an adult videogame rating category is needed Down Under is sharply rebuked:

The potential for violent and sexually explicit interactive games to cause harm has only increased in recent years as these games have become even more sophisticated, graphic and interactive. It is also naive to think that R18+ games could be restricted to adult users. If these games are allowed to go on sale in Australia they will inevitably find their way into the hands of younger players through older siblings or friends.

If any changes are to be made to the classification system it should only be to resolve to tighten up the MA15+ rating to ensure that games aren't wrongly getting through in this category.

The group encourages website visitors to attempt to stop the introduction of an R18+ category by writing a submission to the government in advance of the February 28th deadline for responses to the Discussion Paper.

 

22nd January   

Update: Justified Criticism...

Hilary Clinton criticised Chinese internet censorship
Link Here  full story: Supporting Internet Censorship...US multi-nationals support repressive censorship

Hillary Uncensored Internet Enabled President China said remarks made by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton criticizing China's censorship of the Internet were unjustified and damaged bilateral ties.

In a speech in Washington, Clinton called on U.S. technology companies to resist censorship of the Internet and said perpetrators of cyber attacks such as those who targeted Google Inc. must face consequences. Clinton also said China's Internet controls could harm the Asian nation's development.

We are firmly opposed to these words and deeds which are against the facts and damage Sino-U.S. relations, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said in a Chinese-language statement posted on the ministry's Web site. We urge the U.S. side to respect facts and stop using the issue of so-called Internet freedom to make unjustified attacks on China.

Clinton's long-planned address on Internet freedom laid out the Obama administration's view of an uncensored global Internet where everyone has access to the same information, and governments and corporations don't block knowledge or steal intellectual property.

Countries or individuals that engage in cyber attacks should face consequences and international condemnation, Clinton said. In an interconnected world, an attack on one nation's network can be an attack on all.

Clinton compared firewalls that governments in China, Uzbekistan, Tunisia and elsewhere have erected to keep out information to the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain that divided the West and the Soviet Union's sphere of influence during the Cold War.

Virtual walls are cropping up in place of visible walls, she said. With the spread of these restrictive practices, a new information curtain is descending across much of the world.

Google issued a statement praising Clinton's remarks. The company said it believes in unfettered access to information and will continue work with governments, human rights organizations and bloggers to promote free expression.

 

21st January   

Update: Playing the Self Censorship Game...

China's online games industry self censors pending state censorship
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in China...All pervading Chinese internet censorship

Great Firewall of ChinaOnline game operators in Beijing will test a ratings system advising parents on sexual and violent content in their games, ahead of the introduction of government guidelines, state media said.

The move comes amid a massive nationwide government repression of Internet porn and violence—a campaign seen by some critics as a way for the country's censors to reinforce the Great Firewall of China against political dissent.

Over 30 operators have agreed to rate their games according to their suitability for children and adults this month. Gamers will need to provide their identification numbers in order to play, to prove they are old enough to view the content.

The Beijing Animation Game Industry Union's secretary-general, Liu Chungang, said the group's decision was a self-disciplinary, non-governmental act within the industry .

The culture ministry plans to introduce its own ratings system later this year, the newspaper said. Culture Minister Cai Wu was quoted by state media in December as saying his ministry had banned 219 Internet games for carrying lewd, pornographic and violent content.

 

20th January   

Offsite: Losing the Consultation Game...

Michael Atkinson resigned to consultation favouring R18+
Link Here  full story: R18+ for Games in Australia...Pondering an adult R18+ rating for video games

R18+ bannedAustralians are right now being asked to voice their opinion on whether an R18+ rating for video games should be introduced, with the Australian Federal Attorney General seeking public submissions into the issue. But while the consultation process won't conclude until February 28, 2010, one high-profile figure in the games debate has already decided that the majority of respondents will be in favour of an R18+: vocal anti-R18+ campaigner Michael Atkinson.

He said: I don't think the discussion paper presents a fair and balanced view of the issue without pictures of the games that would be rated R18+, Atkinson said. I think the majority of the population are unfamiliar with these games and without images, they won't be able to imagine them in their mind's eye. They'll have no idea how violent or sexually depraved they are, and what kind of torture, drug use, and blood spatter they include.

I also believe that very few people outside the gaming community will have a say in this public consultation, which will mean an overwhelming response in support of R18+ .

...Read full article

 

10th January   

Immature Bus Company...

ESA challenge Chicago Transit Authority's games advert ban
Link Here

ESA logoThe Entertainment Software Association (ESA) has won a preliminary injunction in its lawsuit against the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) over the banning of advertisements for adult-rated videogames.

An ordinance that took effect in January of 2009 prohibited any advertisement that markets or identifies a video or computer game rated 'Mature 17+' (M) or 'Adults Only 18+' (AO). The ESA argued that such a ban unconstitutionally restricts speech in a public forum that is otherwise open to all speakers without a compelling interest for doing so.

The United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois granted the ESA an injunction, with Judge Rebecca R. Pallmeyer stating: …the advertisements the CTA wishes to ban promote expression that has constitutional value and implicates core First Amendment concerns.

 

8th January   

Demons in the UAE...

UAE bans the video game Darksiders
Link Here

THQ Darksiders PS3 The United Arab Emirates has banned THQ's game Darksiders reports gaming site GamesLatest.

The site notes that such bannings are not usually accompanied by a detailed explanation; instead an explanation typically offered is that a forbidden commodity contradicts with UAE's customs and traditions.

The game, developed by Vigil games for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, involves demons and has players take the role of War, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

In the game's setting, War is accused of breaking a scared law and inciting a war between Heaven and Hell with battling demons and angels.

 

5th January   

Call of Duty...

Tom Watson MP interviewed about his support of gamers
Link Here

Tom WatsonNowGamer have interviewed Tom Watson. The MP for West Bromwich East notable for starting a Facebook group called Gamer's Voice. This takes a more mature pro-gaming approach than the usual knee jerk blame bollox that we have come to expect from most politicians.

NowGamer: It's rare to hear a political voice, let alone an MP, speak out on the side of the games industry, so how have you got involved?

Tom Watson: Well, I love games and I'm inspired by the world of games that my kids are going to grow up in. The debate in Westminster is skewed against gamers. They need their voice heard. That's why I set up Gamers' Voice.

NowGamer: You seem to feel strongly that videogames are being misrepresented in parliament. Why do you think that is?

Tom Watson: There's a toxic mix of tabloid sensationalism and busy MPs who are too busy to plug in a console and enjoy themselves.

NowGamer: The gaming audience is getting older and the content of videogames seems to be following this trend by tackling darker and more adult topics, but in your opinion can a game go too far?

Tom Watson: It's about choice. There are games that repulse me. And as a parent, there are games that I won't let me kids get anywhere near. But as long as people know what the content is like, I don't have a problem.

NowGamer: The interactivity of games is often felt to make the way in which adult content is experienced in them significantly different from when seen in films or on TV. Do you agree with this position?

Tom Watson: I've never wept or screwed up my eyes in fear at a videogame. I have for plenty of films. The people who make the argument that games are more immersive and therefore dangerous should calm down.