Archive for the ‘Video Games’ Category

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Agony A gony is a 2018 US survival horror by Madmind Studio

Players begin their journey as a tormented soul within the depths of Hell without any memories about their past. The special ability to control people on their path, and possess minded demons, gives the player the necessary measures to survive in the extreme conditions they are in

The publishers of the Kickstarter funded video game Agony have been explaining that release delays are down to censorship problems at the ESRB. The game features nudity which does not sit well with the M (17yo+) rating needed to avoid the commercial ban on adults only games in the US. PlayWay explains:

In order to be able to publish the game, we had to make some compromises. Otherwise, we would have had to to delete the whole project and never release it. With that in mind, we have spent a lot of time to make sure that censorship will not affect the perception of the game. That is why for many months we have been conducting interviews with age-rating companies in order not to cut out entire scenes from the game but at the same time modify it enough (e.g. just slightly changing the camera’s frame) to get an M (Mature) rating instead of AO (Adult-Only) rating. AO rating means that the game could not be released on PS4 and Xbox One, and we would not keep the promise made on the Kickstarter.

We also want to confirm that we are preparing a special, optional patch for PC that will remove the aforementioned censorship. We would love to do something similar for consoles but from a technical and legal point of view it is simply not possible.

Many of you ask us what exactly we had to censor, fearing that the game you have been supporting for years will not be the same experience you hoped for. We do not want to list exactly what’s been censored due to possible spoilers, but it is important for you to understand that none of the elements you have seen in Agony’s promotional materials (gameplay, trailers, screenshots, GIFs) have been censored. Do not be afraid, the full version of Agony is much heavier than what you’ve seen so far anyway.

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Omega Labyrinth Z The Video Standards Council is responsible for UK video games censorship. Normally the group rubber stamps European PEGI ratings but it retains the power to ban games. And in a rare example of usage of such powers, the group has joined Australian in banning Omega Labyrinth Z.Omega Labyrinth Z is 2017 Japanese console game by Matrix Software

Banned in Australia and the UK in 2018.

Summary

Omega Labyrinth Z is a dungeon crawler game for the PS4 and Playstation Vita. It was submitted with a provisional PEGI 16 rating for depictions of erotic or sexual nudity. The game is set at the Anberyl Girls Academy and legend has it that a holy grail exists that can grant any wish. It is hidden in one of the ancient caves that is located somewhere in the school grounds. A group of female students set out to explore the caves with the aim of finding the grail.

UK: Banned in March 2018 by the Video Standards Council

The VSC Rating Board has ruled that the video game, Omega Labyrinth Z, will not be issued a UK Certificate of Classification.

This refusal is relevant to physical product only (disc, cartridge, etc.) Under the terms of the Video Recordings Act (1984), the VSC Rating Board is required to consider the likelihood of any game causing harm to the user and, subsequently, to wider society by the way in which the game deals with and portrays images of criminal, violent or horrific behaviour, illegal drugs and human sexual activity. The grounds for this decision are as follows: – The likely harm being caused to a viewer or potential viewer, e.g. children or young people.

The game is explicit in its setting within a school environment and the majority of the characters are young girls – one child is referred to as being a first year student and is seen holding a teddy bear. The game clearly promotes the sexualisation of children via the sexual interaction between the game player and the female characters. The style of the game is such that it will attract an audience below the age of 18.

There is a serious danger that impressionable people, i.e. children and young people viewing the game would conclude that the sexual activity represented normal sexual behaviour. There is a constant theme of sexual innuendo and activity throughout the game that suggests behaviour likely to normalise sexual activity towards children. As a means of reward gained by successfully navigating the game, the player has the means to sexually stimulate the female characters by using either a hand held remote device or touch screen software.

The VSC Rating Board believes this content in a game, which would have strong appeal to non-adult players, is an issue which would be unacceptable to the majority of UK consumers and, more importantly, has the potential to be significantly harmful in terms of the social and moral development of younger people in particular.

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donald trumpDonald Trump organised a private meeting with video games makers and their critics as a diversionary tactic to avoid the debate about gun control.

Republican lawmakers and moralist campaigners pressed the president at his meeting on Thursday to explore new restrictions on the video-game industry.

Some participants urged Trump to consider new regulations that would make it harder for young children to purchase those games. Others asked the president to expand his inquiry to focus on violent movies and TV shows too.

Trump himself opened the meeting by showing a montage of clips of various violent video games.

Video-game executives who attended the meeting Thursday included Robert Altman, the CEO of ZeniMax, the parent company for games such as Fallout; Strauss Zelnick, the chief executive of Take Two Interactive, which is known for Grand Theft Auto, and Michael Gallagher, the leader of the Entertainment Software Association, a Washington-focused lobbying organisation for the industry.

We discussed the numerous scientific studies establishing that there is no connection between video games and violence, First Amendment protection of video games, and how our industry’s rating system effectively helps parents make informed entertainment choices, ESA said in a statement.

The Parents Television Council Program Director Melissa Henson participated in the meeting and commented in a post-meeting statement:

Stop Media Violence What I heard in today’s meeting is that the entertainment industry is still fighting to maintain the status quo and is not ready or willing to confront the impact that media violence has on our children. But time is up for the entertainment industry to put a stop to marketing graphic, explicit, and age-inappropriate content to our children.

The video game representatives pulled out their same old talking points that have long been refuted. During the meeting, I was able to interject and say just how untrue their excuses are.

Representative Vicky Hartzler, a Republican from Missouri, said she was open to crafting legislation that would make it harder for youngsters to buy violent games. She said:

Even though I know there are studies that have said there is no causal link, as a mom and a former high school teacher, it just intuitively seems that prolonged viewing of violent nature would desensitise a young person.

The White House already has hinted at sustained, broader scrutiny still to come. A day before the meeting, a spokeswoman for Trump said the sit-down with video-game executives and their critics is the first of many with industry leaders to discuss this important issue.

 
  Trump’s opening gambit
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Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition US President Donald Trump is to meet video games company representatives on Thursday to discuss violent content. The meeting comes in the wake of last month’s shooting at a school in Florida in which 17 people died.The Electronic Software Association (ESA), which represents the games industry in the US, said it would be attending. It said in a statement:

The upcoming meeting at the White House will provide the opportunity to have a fact-based conversation about video game ratings, our industry’s commitment to parents, and the tools we provide to make informed entertainment choices,

Also at the meeting will be the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), the organisation responsible for offering age and content guidance for games.

A report from the Washington Post suggested some games developers had also been invited to attend, including Take Two Interactive, the publisher of the controversial Grand Theft Auto series. The company did not return the BBC’s request for comment on the meeting. The Post also said key critics of the games industry would be at the table, including Brent Bozell, founder of the Parents Television Council.

On several occasions, President Trump has pointed to video game violence as being a problem potentially affecting American youths. He wrote on Twitter in December 2012:

Video game violence & glorification must be stopped. It is creating monsters!

The games industry has routinely and robustly defended itself against claims its products provoke real-life violence. The ESA explained in a statement:

Video games are enjoyed around the world and numerous authorities and reputable scientific studies have found no connection between games and real-life violence,

Like all Americans, we are deeply concerned about the level of gun violence in the United States. Video games are plainly not the issue: entertainment is distributed and consumed globally, but the US has an exponentially higher level of gun violence than any other nation.

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Florida state sealFlorida’s House of Representatives passed a resolution Tuesday declaring pornography a public health risk. The resolution called for education, research, and policy changes to protect Florida citizens — especially teenagers.The bill’s sponsor, Ross Spano, said that research has found a correlation between pornography use and mental and physical illnesses, difficulty forming and maintaining intimate relationships, unhealthy brain development and cognitive function, and deviant, problematic or dangerous sexual behavior.

The vote followed an earlier session in which Florida legislators declined to hold hearings on a bill banning high-capacity magazines and assault rifles such as the one used last week by suspected gunman Nikolas Cruz to kill 17 students and teachers at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Meanwhile in  Kentucky politicians have returned to the 1990s tactic of blaming video games for violence. Kentucky governor Matt Bevin started the show a couple of days after the shooting, and on Wednesday, Rhode Island state representative Bobby Nardolillo took it a step further.

Nardolillo proposed legislation that would put a 10% tax on video games with an ESRB rating of Mature or higher, Rolling Stone reported . That tax revenue would be used to fund counseling, mental health programs and other conflict resolution activities in schools, according to the press release on Nardolillo’s Facebook page. Both Nardolillo and Bevin have high ratings from the gun lobby, the National Rifle Association.

But I’m not sure that blaming porn and video games is a good direction for the gun lobby. Surely if they consider that video games and porn causes the mental health issues that lead to killing sprees, then surely they should recognise that there are people that should not be trusted with guns. And as video games and porn are so ubiquitous then the only safe policy is that nobody should be trusted with guns. QED

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Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus "Welcome to Amerika" Pack Germany has a bizarre censorship law that bans Nazi references and symbology from use in the media, presumably fearing that it may somehow stir a rebirth of the far right. One suspects that the current resurgence of the far right may be little do with media images, and is perhaps more likely to do with political leaders and their significantly unpopular policies of welcoming mass immigration.Anyway the law is the law, and the latest video game in the Wolfenstein series has had to be censored in Germany (and probably Austria too). The previous episode, Wolfenstein: The New Order was also cut in 2014 to remove Nazi references.

wolfenstein ii video Wolfenstein II: Welcome to Amerika suffers the following cuts:

  • Hitler is renamed heiler (healer)
  • My fuhrer becomes mein Kanzler (my chancellor)
  • Hitler loses his iconic moustache
  • The swastika is replaced by a stark menacing looking three-pronged symbol
  • polygon.com also speculates that an actor is shot by Hitler for being a spy rather than being jewish.
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Call of Duty®: WWII + Animated Zombies Weapon Camo + Zombies Prima Strategy Guide Call of Duty: WWII is a 2017 US combat simulation game from Activision. On the first submission to the Australian Censorship Board the game was passed R18 uncut for high impact violence and threat of sexual violence.

The distributors didn’t want the reference to sexual violence so made cuts to the game and resubmitted it. The game was then duly passed R18+ this time for high impact violence.

kotaku.com.au asked the censor board about the original classification and the cuts.

[ Spoilers! hover or click text below]

According to the Classification Board, the original version contained a reference to sexual violence:

In one section of the game, the player controls Rosseau, a female spy, as she infiltrates a German building. While inside, she witnesses a woman as she is dragged by a Nazi soldier into a closet, against her will, screaming, You’re all pigs!

Rosseau opes the closet door, as the soldier says, Leave. This is none of your business. The player is then given the option to kill the soldier or leave.

If the player chooses to leave, the player closes the door, as the soldier is heard unziping his fly and viewed advancing towards the woman. She screams, Ah! Get away from me! as Rosseau leaves.

It is implied that the soldier is going to sexually assault the woman, but at no time is the assault depicted.

The board then described how the cuts made a difference:

In the Board’s opinion, the modifications to this game – which include the change of dress for the female prisoner (was in a skirt and top, now in a pants and top) and the removal of audio that implies a soldier is unzipping his pants – do not contain any classifiable elements that alter this classification or exceed a R18+ impact level.

In the Board’s opinion, the removal of the audio track means that consumer advice of threat of sexual violence is not required. Therefore, this modified computer game warrants an R18+ classification with consumer advice of high impact violence [and] online interactivity.