Children's lobby nutters are calling on the Australian government to review its decision to classify as suitable for 15-year-olds an upcoming video game that allows players to assume the role of a terrorist and shoot innocent civilians in an airport.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, a highly realistic shooter title due for release on November 10, is one of the most anticipated games of the year. Its predecessor, Modern Warfare , sold more than 14 million copies worldwide and garnered a
slew of game of the year awards.
But the game has sparked nutter controversy after leaked footage revealed that, in one of the missions, players can join a group of Russian ultranationalist terrorists and massacre civilians with assault weapons in an airport. The mission effectively
simulates a terrorist attack from a first-person view.
Jane Roberts, president of the Australian Council on Children and the Media, called on the Classification Board to review its rating decision. She said even if the game maintained an MA15+ rating it would still be easily accessible by people under 15.
The consequences of terrorism are just abhorrent in our community and yet here we are with a product that's meant to be passed off as a leisure time activity, actually promoting what most world leaders speak out publicly against, said Roberts, who
is also the principal policy officer in Western Australia's Department of Premier and Cabinet.
We understand that it's a game but ... we're not far off when you look at the images that you could actually put it on a Channel Nine news report and you'd think maybe that is real.
Activision, the game's publisher, and its lawyers, have been working frantically to remove all traces of the footage from the web, arguing that it was released illegally before the game had come out. But the company has confirmed the footage is authentic
and that the mission is part of the game.
Nicholas Suzor, spokesman for the lobby group Electronic Frontiers Australia, said the incident highlighted the need for an R18+ rating for video games. But he did not believe a video game could breed terrorism. He said previous games such as
Counter-Strike have allowed players to assume the role of terrorists.
Films often show the villain's perspective and, by doing that, they get across the character's story and the heinous nature of people who carry out atrocities. Games, too, are becoming more expressive, and are telling more involved stories . We
may make an argument that these sorts of topics are not suitable for children, but I don't at all accept that it is unsuitable for adults.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 , the latest in a series of first-person war games, features bloody conflict. It is so realistic that at some points a warning offers players the option to skip scenes.
In the course of the ten hours or so the game will take to complete in solo mode, the player will assume a variety of roles in a global war against Russian ultranationalists led by Vladimir Makarov.
One of the most controversial of these is an episode in which a character must choose whether to kill unarmed civilians in a Russian airport to infiltrate a terrorist group successfully.
The scene is 'so shocking' that Activision, the game's distributor, issued a statement. At the beginning of the game, there are two 'checkpoints' where the player is advised that some people may find an upcoming segment disturbing. These checkpoints
can't be disabled, it said. Modern Warfare 2 is a fantasy action game designed for intense, realistic game play that mirrors real life conflicts, much like epic, action movies. It is appropriately rated 18 for violent scenes.
Nutters, however, have accused Activision of being disingenuous. Warnings of extreme content had a strong appeal to younger players, they said.
Keith Vaz, Labour MP for Leicester East, told The Times: I am absolutely shocked by the level of violence in this game and am particularly concerned about how realistic the game itself looks. Whilst I appreciate that this game has been certified as an
18, I firmly believe that certain levels of violence should not be made into interactive entertainment. This would include acting as a terrorist, as is the case here, or violence against women. I will be raising this issue in Parliament on Monday.
A political row has broken out over a violent video game as fans eagerly await its release. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is expected to break sales records after going on sale at midnight.
Modern Warfare 2 , developed by US company Infinity Ward and published by Activision, is 18 rated in the UK and rated Mature (17+) in the US for its blood, drug reference, intense violence and language .
Labour MP Keith Vaz called for action to ensure that children cannot buy the 18-certificate game, while fellow Labour former digital minister Tom Watson said it would be better to support the UK's video gaming industry.
Watson said that although the game wasn't pleasant , it was better for MPs to support the many thousands of games designers and coders and the many millions of games users, rather than collaborating with the Daily Mail to create moral panic
over video games.
Gamers' Voice, the pro-gaming Facebook group set up by West Bromwich East Labour MP Tom Watson, has drawn support from another pair of UK politicians.
Watson, who setup the group in response to comments made by Leicester East Labour MP Keith Vaz, invited Sion Simon, Minister for Creative Industries, and Shadow Minister Ed Vaizey to check out the online group, which they both did. Both left messages of
support for Watson and the group.
Vaizey wrote, Tom, congratulations on setting up the group. It's about time gamers had a voice to represent the huge success of the UK video games industry. We spend too much time attacking games and not enough time celebrating their huge success and
contribution to the economy.
Simon added, The government understands the importance of video games. we make games better and play games more in this country than anywhere else in the world. It's an important industry and an important part of millions of people's lives. But it's a
very young industry which is still finding its voice. I think this group is an important step in that process, and I'm glad to be a part of it.
Watson wrote of the pair, Sion and Ed are a little bit different to other MPs though. They both have responsibilities in Labour and the Conservatives for policies towards the Games Industry. And I think they're both genuine in wanting to help.
New Zealand's RadioLive host Michael Laws has slammed the release of record-breaking videogame Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and made a homophobic attack on the chief censor.
He talked about the game during the opening editorial of his radio show last Thursday – specifically, the controversial segment in which players go undercover to infiltrate a terrorist group and carry out an attack on civilians at an airport.
An outraged and misinformed Mr Laws exclaimed: Gamers are a very unusual group of people. If mass murder was ever to be committed in this country, it would be committed by a gamer.
Despite stating the game was restricted as an R18 item, Laws asked his listeners: Is this what we want for our kids? A glorification of the killing of innocent people by terrorists?
Laws questioned New Zealand's chief censor Bill Hastings' decision to allow the game to be sold in New Zealand and made special mention of his sexual preference. I know the gay guy we've got at the moment who is the Chief Censor Bill Hastings is a
liberal sort of guy, said Laws. I don't care if he lets gay sex through because, well, that's what he enjoys watching in a darkened room somewhere and thinks everybody else of his ilk should be able to do so as well.
Their first discussion was about the evils of computer games , they had Miranda Suit from Media March on there putting forward anecdotal evidence and personal opinion as fact.
There was a few gamers on there defending their hobby, but overall it seemed the pro-censorship lot were making a bigger noise.
From the BBC:
Nicky Campbell presents The Big Questions live from the Grace Academy, Solihull. Contributing their views are comedian Stephen K Amos, journalist and Muslim convert Yvonne Ridley, and the Right Reverend Stephen Lowe, the former bishop of Hulme.
Activision's Modern Warfare 2 was heavily criticised by UK religious leaders from across the belief spectrum on BBC One yesterday.
Chief executive of the London Jewish Forum Alex Goldberg told presenter Nicky Campbell and the studio audience:
Surely this [scene] puts the gamer in the position of being a terrorist? The whole plot here is that it's a military commander – whatever – who doesn't want to blow his cover, so he blows up innocent civilians. We're asking gamers
to be put in that situation. Article continues below
We fudge this issue about children time and time again throughout this debate. Let's face it – it's children playing this game. In the Holy scriptures, when Cain kills Abel, God asks him one question: Are you your brother's keeper?
The rest of the bible is an answer to that – and it's a big yes. When I play this game I don't get that answer – I get upset.
Fazan Mohammed of the British Muslim Forum added:
You can't equate it with watching TV or a movie or reading a book. This is a much more intimate experience. You're mentally playing out the effects of violence. A lot of people make the excuse that this is sport – that it's just
entertainment. But Joseph Goebbels – the propaganda minister of Nazi Germany – said his entertainment did more for the German people, in terms of creating the psyche for war and hostility towards others, than the speeches of Adolf Hitler. The idea this
is entertainment is not justification whatsoever.
And the retired Bishop of Hulme, the Rt. Reverend Stephen Lowe – himself a proud fan of World Of Warcraft – said that the airport scene should have been cut out by the BBFC. He commented:
If you are in that role, which is a terrorist in a game killing other people with massive violence coming back at you on the screen, and [you're getting a] thrill from that, I think that's actually sick. We need to sort that out.
I don't think it should be in a game, because gaming for me is not about that sort of process. When I was young, [society was] worried about horror comics – because they were going to pollute the minds of young people and make them
violent. This is very different from that; this is taking on the role of a terrorist in a way that relates to the news – what we actually see on our [TV] screens. That is fundamentally different. It somehow says: 'Maybe this is all right.' It isn't.
Other critics of the game that appeared on the show included Miranda Suit of anti-obscenity pressure group Mediamarch, who called for better regulation of violent video games.
In a recent radio interview, Labour MP Keith Vaz again had a whinge at video games:
If you look to the packaging of an 18-rated videogame, it's [the size of] a tiny 10p coin. What it should be is the same as cigarettes - it should be splashed across the front: This has the potential to damage your health -
and that is not happening.
Vaz indicated that he would like to see 18+ rated games sectioned off at retail and put in their own section. Parents who buy games like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 for their kids who are under the age of 18 are psychologically damaging their children added Vaz.
When it comes to keeping violent games out of the hands of children, Vaz put the onus on parents, before noting that he didn't really know what games his own 14-year old son was playing, I have a son who is 14 years of age - I don't know what games he
looks at, but I shall ensure that in future I will look at the covers, to make sure that these games are not over the age of 18.
The hysterical campaign against the greatest videogame ever made is based on outdated effects theories.
Last week, what many are describing as the greatest videogame ever made was released. It sold five million copies in the US and the UK on the first day of sale, raking in a record £186million in 24 hours. It is an involving, intense and
immensely playable game. Yet how have many politicians and pundits responded? By being curmudgeonly; by calling for the game to be banned; by suggesting that it will warp the minds of a generation and create an army of glazy-eyed, thumb-wagging
terrorists who will commit violent acts in the real world.
Just a reminder from the BBFC that, for all the nutter outrage about the violence of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 , the BBFC would have rated the general game play 15 (except for the civilian airport slaughter).
The BBFC passed the game 18 uncut with the following explanation:
Modern Warfare 2 is a combat simulation game for the Xbox 360 console in which the player takes the roles of various members of a Special Operations team attempting to thwart the plans of a Russian terrorist group. The game
was passed at 18 for strong bloody violence.
The violence takes the form of the player's involvement in gun battles with various enemies in which an array of contemporary weapons such as automatic rifles, pistols and grenades are available, along with larger items of artillery
and tanks. The player can also access bladed weapons for stealth attacks and hand-to-hand combat. The battles are intense and conducted from a first-person perspective with impacts registering as bloody splashes with further sight of blood decorating the
various environments in the aftermath of fighting. Bullet impacts or explosions cannot, however, cause dismemberment and there is no opportunity for the player to inflict further damage on an enemy who has been killed. Whilst undoubtedly strong and
bloody in terms of specific detail and cumulative effect, the violence in the majority of the game would have fallen within the allowance of the Guidelines at 15 which state that Violence may be strong but should not dwell on the infliction of
pain or injury. The strongest gory images are unlikely to be acceptable.
The 18 category was, however, deemed more appropriate for a particular mission in which the characteristics of the violence differ from the rest of the game. In this mission, the player has infiltrated the terrorist group and
joins them as they execute an attack on innocent civilians at an airport. The violence is bloody and intense, and aggravated by the fact that, unlike other combat sequences in the game, the civilians cannot fight back and are massacred. The player
character can choose to join in the shooting or do nothing in order to preserve his cover, but he cannot intervene to prevent the massacre by shooting the terrorists since he is then discovered and is very quickly overwhelmed and killed. The
evident brutality in this mission does carry a focus on the infliction of pain or injury which, along with the disturbing nature of the scenario it sets up, was felt to be more appropriately placed at the adult category and it is worth noting that
the game itself gives the player the option to skip this mission without penalties to progress or achievements. Although the content of this mission was recognized as having the potential to offend, it was not felt to present a significant harm issue at
18 that would require further intervention.
The game also contains mild-to-moderate language with uses of shit , bollocks , ass , whore and bitch .
Activision is denying a report claiming the console versions of Modern Warfare 2 had been recalled in Russia to remove the controversial Russian airport scene found in the game.
The publisher says a console version was never released in Russia, and that the PC version was only censored due to the country's lack of a formal game ratings system.
Reports that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 has been banned in Russia are erroneous, an Activision spokesperson told IGN. Activision only released a PC version of the game in Russia which went on sale on Nov. 10.
South Australian Attorney-General and video game censorship nutter Michael Atkinson is to appeal the MA15+ rating handed out by the Classification Board to Modern Warfare 2 .
Speaking to Radio National, Atkinson was asked for his views on the recently released game, described by interviewer Peter Mares as violent and bloody and graphic and confronting.
I'll be appealing against that classification, I think it's wrong, said Atkinson.
Atkinson, who will be challenged for his Croydon seat at the March 2010 state election by Australia's first gamer rights party, went on to admit he had no faith in the Classification Board to do its job properly.
It doesn't surprise me. The Classification Board in Australia does everything to try to get games in under the radar. But just because the system is not being applied properly, it does not mean that the principles of the system are wrong.
What I want the Classification Board to do is to apply the guidelines properly. What I don't want is the extremely violent, sexually depraved, drug use games in Australia at all. At the cinema, we can stop people under 18 going in to see R18+ rated
movies. We can't stop these games that are extremely violent and depraved from getting into the home or getting into the hands of children.
By authority of the BPjM ( Bundesprufstelle fur jugendgefahrdende Medien - A German censorship board basically), the PC editions of the US Modern Warfare 2 and the UK Left for Dead 2 were announced as banned titles in Germany. Related
As reported by PC Games Hardware, this decision was made in November and took effect 1 Dec, 2009. It seems likely that the US Modern Warfare 2 was nixed due to the controversial airport level, which apparently does not appear in the German
Interestingly enough, the ban currently only affects the specific PC version of each title. Console and German versions can still be sold along with the UK Modern Warfare 2 and the US Left for Dead 2 .
The Japanese localization of Infinity Ward's controversial yet popular Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 has been censored rather crudely.
The famous airport civilian massacre received a rather inaccurate translation. The original line spoke by Makarov was, Remember, no Russian. The idea is that, in order to disguise the terrorist attack, it's paramount that the terrorists hide their
own Russian nationality. But the Japanese audio dub for this line is, Korose, Roshia-jin da, which means, Kill them, they are Russians. Needless to say, this ichanges the entire context of the game.
The mission itself is censored, but still playable. It's not a parental lock that removes blood, gore or foul language, but it does something even more devious. If, at any point during the mission, you actually pull the trigger and kill any of the
civilians spawned on the map, you will instantly get that terrible game-over screen and it's back to the last checkpoint.
Combined with wronged translation, this makes the airport scene a logical nightmare. If we look at the Japanese version of the game alone, without any other one to compare it with, the game first tells us to kill the Russians and, when we obey and
actually do it, it kills us for it. To call it confusing would be quite the understatement.
Maine's Christian Civic League is calling for a ban on Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 .
The League writes that we live in a time where the public has been dangerously desensitized to violence, and that many find a thrill in participating in violent video games. It claims that Modern Warfare 2 goes too far, even in
our own desensitized age, and specifically calls out the No Russian scene (which it calls the Massacre Level ) as most offending.
All decent people should denounce the game, continues the League, which goes on to suggest that the state of Maine should open debate into banning these games completely.
The League then attempts to play up the link between violent videogames and school shootings, and while Maine has yet to have a school shooting of its own, the danger is growing each passing day adds the League. The ready availability of drugs,
violent video games, and outrageous rock music is a witch's brew which will eventually lead to tragedy here in Maine.
German punters hoping to get hold of the PC version of the shooter won't be able to play PAL versions imported from other EU territories, meaning they'll have to make do with a cut, localised version, according to PC Games (via MCV).
According to the reports, the Steam network will only authorise fully localised German versions of Black Ops , meaning copies imported from other EU territories won't be playable.
Call of Duty: Black Ops hit the news after censors announced cuts for German players.
In the UK the game has been passed 18 uncut with the consumer advice: Contains strong bloody violence and strong language.
The BBFC's Extended Classification Information provides more details:
Call of Duty: Black Ops is a military first-person shooter in which the player takes the role of a member of an elite C.I.A. covert action team operating during the Cold War and attempting to stop the threat of a Soviet
chemical weapons project. The game was classified 18 for strong bloody violence and strong language.
The violence takes the form of the player's involvement in gun battles with various enemies in which an array of contemporary weapons such as automatic rifles, pistols, grenades and other types of explosive ammunition are available,
along with larger weapons such as missile launchers which are carried on ships, helicopters and road vehicles. The player can also access bladed weapons for stealth attacks and hand-to-hand combat. The battles are intense and conducted from a
first-person perspective with impacts registering as blood spurts which vary in strength depending on the weapon and the range at which it is used. More powerful weapons can also cause dismemberment with resultant gory detail and enemies can be set on
fire. Although dead bodies can sometimes be used as shields against enemy attacks there is no opportunity to inflict post-mortem damage on downed victims. Whilst most of the intense fighting action, in which the player encounters hordes of enemies, does
not linger on injuries or carry a personalised edge, some stealth attacks in which a knife is used to slit an enemy's throat contain more of a focus on the damage inflicted and some of the non-interactive cutscenes contain stronger bloodshed, for
example, in the assassination of a political leader where the action plays out in slow-motion. It was these stronger, more focussed moments of bloody violence accumulating through the course of the gameplay that went beyond what may be permitted by the
BBFC's Guidelines at 15 , which state that Violence may be strong but should not dwell on the infliction of pain or injury , and which determined the 18 category.
The game also contains uses of strong language which would not have been an issue at 15 where the Guidelines state that There may be frequent use of strong language (for example, 'fuck') .
Milder language in the game includes uses of bastard , shit and bitch .
The annual pop-culture juggernaut which is Call of Duty has again rolled into town: this year's iteration, Black Ops , is in the shops today. Given that it's a much better game than was perhaps anticipated, that is good
news for gamers. But its arrival will induce a certain amount of consternation among parents, especially of teenage boys, worried that that's the last they will see of their offspring until they emerge, all but zombified, at some unspecified point in the
future. Such fears are understandable but, I would contend, fallacious.
The first debate is whether to allow your 15-year-old to play it, given that it is 18-rated. In fact, I'm always surprised that publisher Activision doesn't push harder to achieve a lower-age certificate for it. The 18 rating
derives from violence, which is a tad inexplicable: if your teenager is particularly impressionable and has an unhealthy obsession with the military, then, fair enough, letting him have the game might not be advisable. But you could say that about any
game that involves shooting. Black Ops is set in the 1960s cold war, and provides a considerably sanitised version of conflicts such as Vietnam – there isn't a drop of napalm to be seen it, for example. Your son should surely be able to cope with
Call of Duty: Black Ops is already breaking records, with 5.6 millions of copies sold in the first 24 hours.
But the Cuban government is somewhat unimpressed. It has released a statement, through Cubadebate (a state-controlled website), in which it expresses its indignation at the storyline.
An English translation reads:
The government of the United States hasn't managed to do it in over 50 years, so now it's trying to achieve their goal through the video-game called Call of Duty: Black Ops . The game, launched worldwide this Tuesday, takes
the players back to the Cold War period, and gives them the chance to participate in special ops, the first of which is to assassinate the leader of the Cuban Revolution Fidel Castro.
Activision states that the multiplayer mode of the new Call of Duty can host up to 18 players, which guarantees violent virtual clashes with spectacular kills and lots of fun for psychopaths.
The game is doubly perverted: not only does it hold in high regard the murder attempts which the US government has planned for the Cuban leader (Castro has lived out through more than six hundred), but also encourages American
children and teenagers to adopt a sociopathic attitude.
The article ends with a quote from Uruguayan journalist Eduardo Galeano: Violence breeds violence, but also produces money for the violence industry, which sells it as a show and as an object of consumption.
In light of the Cuban government's dissatisfaction with a mission in Call of Duty: Black Ops that has players attempting to assassinate Fidel Castro, the US-based Alliance for Global Justice (AFGJ) has called for a boycott of the game.
Noting that Wal-Mart, Best Buy and dozens of other retailers in your community are today dealing this pornography to the children in your community, AFGJ called Black Ops part of the whole culture of US militarism with the entertainment
industry's role being to desensitize us to violence.
AFGJ has a goal of achieving social change and economic justice by helping to build a stronger more unified grassroots movement. The organization recognizes that the concentration of wealth and power is the root cause of oppression.
The organization urges people to send a letter to local retailers, pass out a provided flier (PDF) in front of stores selling the game and approach the local city council in order to declare the game a violation under local pornography laws.
Vivienne Pattison, spokesman for campaign group Mediawatch UK, said: I have concerns as these games are hyper-real and take place in a landscape we are familiar with. In light of the fact we have just had the 7/7 inquests,
it is in incredibly poor taste.
Activision, who make the game, said: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is a fictional action game aimed at mature adults and set in World War Three. The scenes in the game are entirely fictional and are not intended to recreate
any historical events.
Interesting to note that the nutters of Mediawatch-UK are aware that their bleatings may contribute to hype, and hence may increase
sales. They write in their latest blog entry:
We were called by several news outlets who wanted our view of the game. We walk a fine line when commenting on games like this because scenes are often inserted which are likely to attract protest thus creating a media buzz
and selling more copies. Because we've not yet been able to play the game or see anymore than the contents of the trailer we weren't prepared to comment beyond saying that ,coming so close on the back of the 7/7 inquests which showed the devastating
effects of an attack on the tube, including this in the game would appear to be cynical and in poor taste.
The BBFC has given Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (MW3) , which is released, tomorrow, an uncut 18 certificate.
The BBFC states that the game, which involves chasing armed mercenaries through London Underground Tube carriages, establishes a context which may be unsettling and upsetting .
BBFC director, David Cooke, said they would not be restricting the game's London scenes. The board's decision to restrict the game to adults primarily reflects some moments of strong violence, but also takes account of these contextual
When news of the game's content leaked earlier this year, it was panned by the nutters of Mediawatch-UK for being in incredibly poor taste .
Some bloggers have also reacted against a teaser trailer released late last week by the game's creators, which include gaming publisher Activision, stating it is heavy-handed and gratuitous .
The trailer shows a parked truck full of explosives vapourising next to a mother and child. It's a somewhat heavy-handed approach to get some shock value out of the game's story, said Pete Davison, contributing editor at gaming website
The video game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 has been given an 18 classification by the BBFC. The BBFC is aware that some comparison has been drawn between the action in the game and terrorist attacks on the London Underground in
July 2005. However, a full examination of the game makes clear that the storyline is far removed from these real events.
The game is a continuation of the Call of Duty Modern Warfare franchise, with characters returning from the previous instalment in a continuing narrative. The game includes a level set in a fictional London in which Special Forces soldiers chase
enemy Russian mercenaries through London Underground tunnels as the mercenaries attempt to escape on a train. The train, which contains no civilian passengers, crashes beneath Westminster Underground Station and the battle continues through the
station up to street level.
David Cooke, Director of the BBFC says, In reaching its decision the BBFC has given careful consideration both to the depiction of action on the Underground and elsewhere in London and the context in which that action takes place. The game
neither draws upon nor resembles real terrorist attacks on the Underground. Nevertheless, the location of the action in familiar London settings, both above and below ground, establishes a context within which the tone and impact of the work may,
for some, be more unsettling, and upsetting, than in previous games in the series. The Board's decision to restrict the game to adults primarily reflects some moments of strong violence, but also takes account of these contextual elements.
The BBFC is satisfied that Call of Duty : Modern Warfare 3 contains no material that requires restriction beyond the 18 classification. The Guidelines at 18 accept the principle, repeatedly endorsed by the public, that adults should
be free to choose their own entertainment in the absence of legal issues or material which raises a risk of harm. The BBFC has no legal power to refuse classification solely on the grounds of offence.
A TV ad for the computer game Call of Duty: MW3 , opened with on-screen text stating AM3RICA , followed by computer-generated scenes of New York under military assault, with buildings exploding and catching fire, soldiers loading
guns and a submarine firing rockets. On-screen text stated 3NGLAND , followed by scenes of warfare in London, including armed men firing at a lorry until it crashed and a helicopter firing rockets. On-screen text then stated FRANC3
, followed by scenes of Paris under attack, featuring soldiers and vehicles firing weapons. On-screen text then stated G3RMANY , followed by scenes of tanks driving down the streets, soldiers abseiling down the side of a building, planes
firing overhead and a burnt-out building toppling over. A voice-over stated, The world as you knew it is gone. How far will you go to bring it back? The ad featured further scenes of armed warfare and destruction, including soldiers firing
weapons, military vehicles firing rockets at buildings and explosions. An end-frame stated CALL OF DUTY. MW3. 08.11.11. Pre-Order Now For XBox 360 and featured the logo for certificate 18. A sound-track featured throughout the ad as well
as sound effects for weapons being fired, explosions and soldiers shouting.
The ad was cleared by Clearcast with a timing restriction such that it should not be broadcast in or adjacent to programmes commissioned for, principally directed at or likely to appeal particularly to persons below the age of
16 years. Issue
Two viewers challenged whether the ad was inappropriate for broadcast during the day when children would be watching. One of the viewers reported that their children, aged between two and four, had been frightened by the ad.
ASA Assessment: Complaints Upheld
The ASA understood that the ad had been cleared with a scheduling restriction that meant it should not be broadcast in or adjacent to programmes commissioned for, principally directed at or likely to appeal particularly to persons
below the age of 16 (an ex-kids restriction). We noted that the ad was broadcast at 2.30pm during a premier league football match and that audience index figures showed that a small proportion of viewers were children aged under 16. We also noted
Activision's comment that the ad had been given a Parental Guidance (PG) certificate by the BBFC for in-store use, which meant that it had been rated as being suitable for general viewing, although some scenes may not be suitable for young children.
We noted the ad featured computer-generated scenes of warfare in various cities around the world. The ad contained scenes of extensive gunfire, explosions and destruction, and these scenes were accompanied by sound effects of
weapons being fired, explosions and soldiers shouting. We also noted the ad featured music in the background which sounded like a low-pitched siren and which added to the dramatic nature of the scenes. We considered that the scenes of violence and
destruction, together with the sound effects and music, could cause distress to some children who might see the ad. Although we noted that the ad was only shown during the football, we concluded that it was inappropriate for broadcast during the day
when young children might be watching and the ex-kids restriction was insufficient. We considered a post 7.30pm restriction would have been more appropriate.
The ad breached BCAP Code rules 5.1 (Harm and offence) and 32.3 (Scheduling). Action