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26th September   

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US Nintendo censors cover art cleavage
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Samurai Warriors 3 Nintendo Wii

  German edition

The Nintendo Wii game Samurai Warriors 3 is being released in the USA very soon, but not in its original form. It has been noticed that Nintendo of America edited out a little bit of cleavage on the game's box art!

Samurai Warriors 3 Nintendo Wii

 US edition

This is perhaps the most pointless and ludicrous edit I've ever seen. The European box art shows some significant cleavage on one of the characters, while the North American version features ... a little bit less cleavage. You still see cleavage, but just a bit less.

And this achieves ... what, exactly?

 

17th September   

Anti-Censorshipman...

CD Universe - Buy Music CDs, TV on DVD, DVDs, Video Games for XBox, PlayStation 2 and Much More

Comic book writer Stan Lee likens video games bans to old comic book bans
Link Here

Stan Rise Fall American Comic Legendary comic book writer Stan Lee knows a thing or two about censorship. Back in the 1950s when he first unleashed the likes of Spiderman on the world his work, and that of other comic book writers and artists was considered dangerous .

Comics were burned and a Senate committee decided that afford the calculated risk involved in feeding its children, through comic books, a concentrated diet of crime, horror and violence.

That is why the now eighty seven year old Lee wrote a letter the Video Game Voters Network encouraging gamers not to give up the fight against the current calls for video game censorship.

In his missive Lee wrote If you restrict sales of video games, you're chipping away at our First Amendment rights to free speech. He went on to urge all gamers to take a stand and defend both the First Amendment and the rights of computer and video game artists.

Lee wrote that he recalls the time when the government was trying to do to comic books what some politicians now want to do with video games: censor them and prohibit their sales. It was a bad idea half a century ago and it's just as bad an idea now. And you can do something about it.

 

17th September   

Offsite: Witcher 2 Beset by Prudes...

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

US Mainstream DVDs

Video Universe
 

Witcher 2's nude woman torture scene being reconsidered
Link Here

Witcher Assassins Kings PC DVD There's a scene in which our protagonist Geralt rescues an imprisoned and about to be tortured woman who is nude from the waist up -- pretty much what you'd expect were this is a real-life situation. After all, prison ain't pretty, especially in olden times. Upon her release, she tells him she must cover up; she does, and they resume conversation.

But Alec Meer of Rock, Paper, Shotgun wrote that the scene was an indication of immaturity:

It's masturbation fodder, an unashamed invitation to admire a pixel-perfect fantasy figure. This women is supposed to be suffering, but I'm supposed to salivate. The camera lingers, closes slightly on those improbable appendages – even when Geralt dispatches her torturers-to-be, rescues her and she requests to cover her porn star body up again, we're treated to a final titilatting jiggle, rather than a demure turnaround, as she pulls her unscathed dress back up. She doesn't seem terribly bothered. The game doesn't seem terribly bothered. It just wanted to show us some tits, because apparently that's how you know a game is mature.

...Read the full article

 

15th September   

Shoot-'em-ups Speed-'em-up...

Decisions that is
Link Here

current biologyA new study into the effects of computer games has revealed that fast-paced action games turn us into faster and better decision-makers.

Scientists at the University of Rochester in New York conducted a series of tests to gauge whether regular bouts of high-speed gaming could help to improve our cognitive abilities.

The researchers tested dozens of 18- to 25-year-olds who were not ordinarily video-gamers, splitting them into two groups.

The first group were told to play adrenalin-packed action games such as Call of Duty 2 and Unreal Tournament , in which participants dash around online arenas shooting each other. The second group were given The Sims 2 , a more sedate, strategy-based game that mimics the pace of everyday life.

After 50 hours of playing, both groups were given a series of tests to see whether they could make quicker decisions. Scientists discovered that those who had trained on the action games made decisions 25% faster than their counterparts. They also answered just as many questions correctly as their strategy game-playing peers.

It's not the case that the action game players are trigger-happy and less accurate – they are just as accurate and also faster, said Daphne Bavelier, a cognitive scientist at Rochester who has been testing how computer games affect the brain and eyes for much of the past 10 years. Action game players make more correct decisions per unit time. If you are a surgeon or you are in the middle of a battlefield, that can make all the difference.

This benefit, researchers suggest in a forthcoming edition of Current Biology , has repercussions in the real world, such as improving our ability to multitask, drive, read small print and keep track of friends in a crowd.

Decisions are never black and white, she said. The brain is always computing probabilities. As you drive, for instance, you may see a movement on your right, estimate whether you are on a collision course, and based on that probability make a binary decision: brake or don't brake.

Action-filled computer games – which force the brain to make a whole series of fast-paced decisions in a split second – appear to improve our ability to make those decisions quickly.

Shooting off a few rounds of nonsense sound bites

Based on article from  news.sky.com

Vivienne PattisonBut Vivienne Pattison, director of Mediawatch-UK, told Sky News the study could send out the wrong message about shoot 'em ups:

I dont dispute the findings, it is going to improve you reactions if you click something enough, of course it is, but I'm not just talking about mental reactions - these games dehumanise violence.

There have been other studies that link them to violence and you could get the same reactions from a driving game.

 

10th September   

Censorship Mafia...

UAE bans the video game Mafia II
Link Here

Take 2 Mafia II DVD The United Arab Emirates' National Media Council has banned the release of Take-Two Interactive's Mafia II videogame in that country.

Nitin Mathew, of the Dubai-based distribution firm Red Entertainment Distribution said that the game was banned because of its excessive violence and nudity.

Mafia II was going to be released at the end of August, but now it will share the same fate as its predecessor Mafia , which was also banished from the UAE.

 

10th September   

Hammer Cracks Game Nuts...

South Korea seeks to rate even small or non-commercial games
Link Here

game rating board korea logo Korea's Game Rating Board (GRB) is making life difficult for independent Korean online game makers, strictly enforcing a law that virtually all games published in the country must be rated.

Posting to Reddit, a Korean game fan indicated that GRB recently swooped down upon a website for users of RPG Maker, a free tool that can be used to create role-playing games. While the games created and shared on the site were apparently not for sale, the GRB demanded that all the games shared on the site must be rated. The forum's moderators were said to have deleted all the games on their website in light of paying the fees.

The fees for gaining a rating can also be excessive, as the Korean gamer laid out pricing structures for indie-made games to get rated. A basic fee is charged per MB, with multipliers applied for network-related games, as well as for different game types and for localization of the game. The example used showed that a developer of a free Korean RPG, with a size of 105MB, would have to pay approximately $71 in order to receive a rating necessary for release of the game.

Similarly, Valve Software's Steam is now in the firing line of the GRB, as Team Liquid writes that Steam could be banned in Korea, due to the fact that neither the service nor games offered through it have been rated.

 

4th September   

Update: Playing the Baddies...

Medal of Honor banned from US military base stores
Link Here  full story: Medal of Honor...Video game that lets players play the baddies

Medal of Honor PC DVD U.S. military base exchanges have decided to not carry the controversial Medal of Honor video game.

I'm thrilled, said Karen Meredith, whose son, Lt. Ken Ballard, perished in 2004. She has set off a storm of protest against Redwood City-based Electronic Arts and its first-person shooter game, which allows players to pretend they're Taliban fighters killing American soldiers in Afghanistan. She applauded Maj. Gen. Bruce Casella, commander of the Army and Air Force Exchange Service for the decision to keep the game out of its stores worldwide.

I've heard from people all over the world, many of them upset about this game, so at least this has started a conversation, she said. And this country needs to have a conversation about the place of violent video games in our society, especially a game based on an ongoing war.

Due out Oct. 12, Medal of Honor has drawn accolades from gamers and has been defended even by some U.S. soldiers.

 

3rd September   

Stopping Mosques...

Online flash game winds up the easily offended
Link Here  full story: Bye Bye Mosque...Right wing politician prosecuted for anti-mosque flash game

morchee babaA simple online flash videogame backed by the right wing Austrian Freedom Party (FPO), launched in advance of regional elections to be held on September 26, depicts the province of Styria as overrun with mosques and tasks players with stopping further ones from being built.

A Reuters story claims that the Bye Bye Mosque game has already drawn over 60,000 visitors.

Iin addition to criticisms from the local Islamic community, Social Democrats and the Green Party. A local Islamic leader named Anas Schakfeh called the game tasteless and incomprehensible, adding, This is religious hatred and xenophobia beyond comparison.

As the game ends, a message reads, Styria is full of minarets and mosques. So vote for Dr. Gerhard Kurzmann (pictured) and the Freedom Party on September 26 so that this doesn't happen.

 

26th August   

Updated: PC Extremists...

Whingeing at Afghanistan war game where players can opt to side with the Taliban
Link Here  full story: Medal of Honor...Video game that lets players play the baddies

Medal of Honor PC DVD A new video game that lets players opt to fight alongside Taliban soldiers against the US in Afghanistan has provoked outrage in Australia and abroad.

Medal of Honor , which is due to launch in October, is a multiplayer game based on an elite group of US soldiers sent to apply their unique skill sets to a new enemy in the most unforgiving and hostile battlefield conditions of present day Afghanistan .

But the new title from Electronic Arts has incensed the military community for using an ongoing conflict as a source of entertainment, and allowing gamers to pick which side they want to fight with.

Neil James, executive director of the Australian Defence Association, said: We think it's in very bad taste . . . Australia is at war - not just the defence force - and every citizen has an obligation to not only support the Defence Force but to be sensitive particularly to bereaved families. It's unfortunate that people think they can make money by belittling the sacrifice of others. It's also morally dangerous because it is desensitising people to the moral and strategic issues underlying the war.

Families of US Troops serving overseas have also condemned the new game. Karen Meredith, the mother of a US soldier who died in Iraq, told Fox News: Right now we are going into a really, really bad time in Afghanistan ... this game is going to be released in October so families who are burying their children are going to be seeing this.

Update: Fox chooses to play the bad guys

23rd August 2010. Based on article from guardian.co.uk
See also Liam Fox needs to play more video games from politics.co.uk

liam foxThe UK defence secretary, Liam Fox, has urged shops to ban a computer game where players can act as the Taliban and kill British troops.

Fox said he was disgusted that Medal of Honour allowed people to recreate attacks on Nato forces.

An updated version of the popular game, due to be released in October, is based on the struggle between allied special forces and the Taliban – with players able to choose which side they represent.

A clip on YouTube shows a Taliban soldier fighting in southern Helmand province, where UK forces are based.

Gamers are apparently instructed to stop the coalition at all costs , and receive points for every allied soldier they kill.

It's shocking that someone would think it acceptable to recreate the acts of the Taliban, said Fox: At the hands of the Taliban, children have lost fathers and wives have lost husbands. I am disgusted and angry. It's hard to believe any citizen of our country would wish to buy such a thoroughly un-British game. I would urge retailers to show their support for our armed forces and ban this tasteless product.

A spokeswoman for the game's developer, Electronic Arts, told the Sunday Times: The format of the new Medal of Honour game merely reflects the fact that every conflict has two sides.

We give gamers the opportunity to play both sides. Most of us have been doing this since we were seven: someone plays the cop, someone must be robber.

In Medal of Honour multiplayer, someone's got to be the Taliban.

Update: BBFC refutes the need for a ban

24th August 2010. Based on article from gamespot.com

BBFC logo The BBFC has said it is satisfied with Medal of Honor 's 18 rating, ruling out a ban as called for by UK defence secretary Liam Fox.

Sue Clark, head of communications for the BBFC said Medal of Honor is at the lower end of the 18-and-over classification, implying the adult content in the game is not extreme, with the PEGI online classification system covering the multiplayer activity. She added that if Medal of Honor had included British soldiers, it would not have been exceptional. The game does not involve British troops, Clark said, but there are games both in modern and historical settings which do involve British troops.

In a statement responding to Fox's criticism, EA pointed out that the original Sunday Times story in which the comments originated contained significant inaccuracies, including the involvement of British forces. Medal of Honor does not allow players to kill British soldiers. British troops do not feature in the game, EA said. The EA spokesperson said that although Medal of Honor will let players take on the roles of both US forces and the Taliban in multiplayer mode, multiplayer combat often involves players fighting on either side of a conflict. Many popular video games allow players to assume the identity of enemies including Nazis and terrorists.

Offsite: Liam Fox's call for ban on Medal Of Honor is both ill-judged and un-British

26th August 2010. See article from telegraph.co.uk by Nick Cowen

Telegraph logoThe Telegraph hasn't yet received a preview copy of Medal of Honor and as far as I am aware Fox hasn't seen the game either. In a statement released in the wake of Fox's comments, EA pointed to factual inaccuracies in the Sunday Times article over the involvement of British troops. Medal of Honor does not allow players to kill British soldiers, said an EA spokesman. British troops do not feature in the game.

Fox has since defended his position; according to the BBC, he said the fact that players can assume the role of Taliban soldiers in the multiplayer mode is the main issue. But this sort of thing isn't unheard of in FPS multiplayers. If Medal Of Honor is unfit for public consumption on these grounds, then what are we to make of last year's Modern Warfare 2 where the multiplayer mode cast players as South American terrorists and militia members from the army of Ira… sorry, from an un-named Middle Eastern nation. Why has nearly every WWII game with a multiplayer, in which one side of players are Nazi soldiers, been allowed to pass classification from the BBFC without comment? In light of some of these past examples, Fox's call for a ban looks more than a little extreme.

...Read the full article

Offsite: Gamers' Voice writes to Liam Fox MP about Medal of Honor comments

27th August 2010. See article from gamersvoice.org.uk , thanks to mediasnoops.wordpress.com

gamers voice logoWe at Gamers' Voice, the consumer group representing the players of video games in the UK, feel you should reconsider your statement calling for the banning of the upcoming Medal of Honor title, or at the very least properly research the issue before passing judgement on it.

Firstly, Medal of Honor is only a game. The people who play it – who if retailers adhere to proper regulations and BBFC rating will only be adults – aren't going to be playing as the Taliban for any ideological reason.

The fact is in the multiplayer mode of the game, someone is going to have to play the bad guy. Children have been doing it for years with games like Cops & Robbers, and Cowboys and Indians, should these be branded disgusting too?

...Read the full article

Offsite: If Liam Fox can rant over a videogame it's no wonder we're losing the war

31st August 2010. See article from guardian.co.uk by Marina Hyde

The GuardianThey said it couldn't be done. But in Liam Fox have we finally found the defence secretary to make Geoff Hoon resemble Churchill? A walking Daily Express leader column, Dr Fox appears to have surpassed even his own exacting standards of idiocy this week, by calling for a forthcoming video game set in Afghanistan to be banned.

Though the latest Medal of Honor is essentially a first-person shooter following US troops as they seek to crush the Taliban, players can take the role of the enemy in its multiplayer mode. It's shocking that someone would think it acceptable to recreate the acts of the Taliban, Fox fumed showily. I am disgusted and angry. It's hard to believe any citizen of our country would wish to buy such a thoroughly un-British game.

The response from the game's manufacturer is pityingly understated. Most of us have been doing this since we were seven, it runs. Someone plays the cop, someone must be the robber. In Medal of Honor multiplayer, someone must be the Taliban.

It's vaguely troubling, isn't it, that the press officer for a games company has an infinitely more rational take on the Afghan war than the secretary of state for defence.

...Read the full article

 

14th August   

Deadly Premonition...

Another game suffers from Australian censorship
Link Here

Rising Star Games Deadly Premonition Rising Star Games has told Kotaku that due to classification concerns they have no plans to release Deadly Premonition in Australia.

We'd heard from Rising Star's Aussie distributor All Interactive Entertainment that Deadly Premonition had been refused classification in Australia, effectively banning it from sale. However, upon contacting the Classification Board, we were told that the game had never been submitted for classification.

Rising Star said in a statement: As part of our normal procedures in submitting any game for classification, it was determined internally at Rising Star Games that the game would not satisfy the criteria for an MA15+ rating in Australia and further that any changes to the game would not be possible. It was therefore decided, with regret, the game will not be released in Australia.

 

2nd August   

Negative Influences...

Vietnam gets repressive about online games
Link Here

Vietnam flagThe government of Vietnam has now implemented restrictions on online games.

Minister of Information and Communications  Le Doan Hop called for the immediate implementation of a trio of stop-gap measures until new laws are drafted and propagated:

  • all new licenses for online games will be suspended
  • all public media ads for online games are banned
  • Internet cafes will have to shut down game services between 11pm and 6am every day.
  • Gamers will also be limited to three hours of playtime for any title that interacts with a server, though taking part in educational or cultural games will be permitted for four or five hours per day.
  • game operators to detail the level of violence in titles they offered via a report which must include video clips that illustrate the violent nature of particular games.
  • Operators also must break down games into acceptable age groups, selecting from six and under, 6-11, 12 to 15, 15 to 18 and 18+.

The measures were taken, according to Vietnam News, following a public outcry about their supposed negative influences on the youth.

 

24th July   

Update: Waiting Game...

Election delays government consideration of an R18+ for games
Link Here  full story: R18+ for Games in Australia...Pondering an adult R18+ rating for video games

R18+ bannedThe Australian government has delayed discussion once again on an R18+ rating. The Standing Committee of Attorneys-Generals were set to have a meeting this month to discuss implementing an R18+ ratings system, along with a host of other issues, but the meeting was cancelled due to the upcoming Federal Election.

The next meeting will take place in Canberra on November 4-5.

 

16th July   

Digitally Delayed...

Video games will continue with BBFC ratings until April 2010
Link Here

VSC logoThe Video Standards Council has confirmed the proposed changes to the age ratings system for games in the UK will not be applied until April 1, 2011.

Delay in PEGI rating being legally enforceable has been blamed on the Digital Economy Act, which while passed, has not been made effective as of yet.

Here's the official statement from the VSC obtained by MCV:

The BBFC have approached the UK Government expressing concern that games rated PEGI 18 will be released in the UK without BBFC certification.

The Digital Economy Act has been passed in the UK but has not yet been made effective. This means there is no change in the procedure for releasing games in the UK. If a game is rated PEGI 18 it must be submitted to the BBFC for a legal classification. This is irrespective of whether it contains exempt content as it reflects the voluntary agreement made by the games industry to avoid confusion over 18 rated games. Games must also be submitted to the BBFC if the contain any extraneous video which is not part of the game. This includes trailers.

The Government has said the legislative change is likely to be implemented on April 1st 2011. The VSC is involved in the discussions regarding the implementation of the new legislation and will ensure that all coders are made aware of the changes to the procedure in good time to allow submissions to be adjusted. In the mean time please continue with your submissions in the same way that you have always done until the VCS advises differently.

It is important to stress that no games must appear for sale in UK shops with a PEGI 18 logo prior to April 1st 2011.

Enforcement of PEGI ratings was previously to be in effect by October 2010.

 

16th July   

ASA Stick the Knife In...

ASA censure Mafia Wars advert featuring knife
Link Here

mafia wars advertAn internet ad on Facebook, for an online game, featured a photo of a hooded man holding a large knife in front of him. Text stated From Street Thug to Capo. Earn your street cred and be respected. Advance from gangster to head boss in Mafia Wars. Play now .

An internet user challenged whether the ad was irresponsible, because it promoted knife use and condoned violent and anti-social behaviour.

Zynga Game Network said although the Mafia Wars game was focused on fictional crime organisations, it did not depict violent crimes in the game or any advertising, which was targeted at a male audience aged between the ages of 18 and 55 years. They said the man holding the knife in the ad reflected the content and theme of the game, as did the text, but did not show any actual violence.

Facebook said the ad had been removed because it breached their advertising guidelines, which prohibited images of weapons.

ASA Assessment: Upheld

The ASA considered that the picture of the hooded man looking straight at the reader, while holding a large knife and posed as if about to strike, was both aggressive and threatening. We noted the text From Street Thug to Capo. Earn your street cred and be respected. Advance from gangster to head boss in the Mafia Wars reflected the content of the game, but considered that, together with the picture, the text implied that carrying or using a knife was a way to earn respect from a peer group and a means to achieve success in life. We concluded that the ad glamorised and condoned violence and was irresponsible.

 

14th July   

Depressing Findings for Anti-game Nutters...

Violent Video Games Help Relieve Stress, Depression
Link Here

tamiu logoYoung adults—male and female—who play violent video games long-term, handle stress better than non-playing adults and become less depressed and less hostile following a stressful task, according to a study by Texas A&M International University associate professor, Dr. Christopher J. Ferguson.

The article on the research appears in the European Psychologist 2010.

In this study, 103 young adults were given a frustration task and then randomized to play no game, a non-violent game, a violent game with good versus evil theme, or a violent game in which they played 'the bad guy.' The results suggest that violent games reduce depression and hostile feelings in players through mood management, Dr. Ferguson explained.

Whether violent video games cause aggression or violent crime has been a source of contention in public and academic circles. The results do not support a link between violent video games and aggressive behavior.

Ferguson said that the results of this study may help provide others with ways to come up with a mood-management activity that provides individuals with ways to tolerate or reduce stress: It probably won't come to a surprise to gamers that playing games may reduce stress, although others have been skeptical of this idea. This is the first study that explores this idea, however. It does seem that playing violent games may help reduce stress and make people less depressed and hostile.

 

13th July   

Minister of Censorship...

Dutch injustice minister proposes ban on very violent video games
Link Here

ernst hirsch ballinDutch gamers have started a petition started against the Dutch Minister of Injustice, Ernst Hirsch Ballin who is seeking criminal prohibition of extremely violent imagery, including videogames.

Ballin seemed to specifically focus on games in his proposed banning, according to an article from Dutch gaming site Bashers. In a letter to the house, Ballin, who intimated that banning violent games would be easier and draw less resistance than banning violent movies, wrote that games allow players to identify with the aggressor and to be continuously involved in violent action.

Apparently many of Ballin's ideas in his letter were based on a 2007 book called Media Violence and Children from author Peter Nikken. Nikken said that he found it strange that the Minister would say that games would be worse than movies. He accused Ballin of using some of his book's quotes for impact, while ignoring other nuances.

Gamers appear to have a friend in MP Tofik Dibi, who posed some challenging written questions for Ballin.

The Stop Burning Books 2.0 petition now has 2,323 signatures.

 

1st July   

Update: An End to Political Games...

Gamers4Croydon disband
Link Here  full story: R18+ for Games in Australia...Pondering an adult R18+ rating for video games

Gamers4Croydon logoGamers4Croydon, the fledgling Australian political party that was created to challenge former South Australia Attorney General and notorious gaming critic Michael Atkinson, has disbanded.

Gamers4Croydon was formed last year with the intent of running game-friendly candidates in the Australian election held in March. It didn't win any seats but it did help to highlight the messy videogame situation in Australia, which doesn't have an R18 rating for games and therefore either crams games into the MA15+ category that really shouldn't be there, or simply bans them outright.

Now, in a post on the Gamers4Croydon website, founder David Doe has announced that the party is shutting down less than a year after it was formed. Doe suggested that gamers and other supporters check out political alternatives like the Greens and the Australian Sex Party, which is opposed to Australia's planned internet filter. They're the closet aligned to use ideologically and we all share many common policies, he explained.

Atkinson stepped down from his post as Attorney General soon after the March election, but Australia still has no R18 rating for videogames, and there's no sign it'll be getting on anytime soon either.

 

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