Games Censorship: R


 

 

 

 

Reservoir Dogs

Developed by Volatile Games / 2006 / MobyGames

In June 2006, RESERVOIR DOGS was banned by the OFLC because of high impact violence. Atari Australia was the applicant.

 

 

Reservoir Dogs computer game Refused Classification
Australian Government
Classification Board
28 June 2006
Media Release

The Classification Board has classified the computer game Reservoir Dogs Refused Classification (RC).

Refused Classification (RC) means the computer game cannot be made available for sale or hire, or be demonstrated in Australia.

The Classification Board made this decision on the basis that Reservoir Dogs contains frequent depictions of violence that have a high impact. As such, the computer game cannot be accommodated at the MA 15+ classification and must be Refused Classification.

Computer games that exceed the MA 15+ impact test of strong impact must be refused classification.

Specifically, the instances of violence that the Board considered to have high impact, thereby exceeding the MA 15+ impact test of strong impact, are:

• Players (participants in a bank heist) can literally blow the heads off hostages and police as well as execute hostages at point blank range with a gunshot to the head;

• Using a series of so-called signature torture moves, players can use different means to torture hostages and thereby cause police to lay down their weapons, such as repeated pistol whipping the side of the head with blood spray evident, burning the eyes of a hostage with a cigar until they scream and die, cutting the fingers off a hostage with blood bursts as the victim screams in pain;

• In lieu of taking a hostage the player can opt for a more violent scenario where a slow motion shootout occurs, accentuating the violence.

The Classification Board is an independent statutory body responsible for the classification of films, computer games and some publications. The Board has representatives drawn from communities across Australia.

 

 

Eidos on the RESERVOIR DOGS ban

Eidos Statement
28 June 2006

In response to RESERVOIR DOGS being refused classification in Australia, we feel that it is unfortunate that fans of the film will not get the opportunity to play the game in Australia when it is released in the US and Europe later this year, and we will fully comply with the Australian Office of Film and Literature Classification's decision.

The game remains faithful to the cult classic film, directed by Quentin Tarantino, and as such, is an ultra-violent third person action game and the OFLC's rating system does not have a suitable age classification for this.

 

 

Des Clark on R18+ and RESERVOIR DOGS

Keeping gore off the screens
couriermail.com.au, July 5, 2006

OFLC director Des Clark says this low percentage of violent video games reduces the pressure on lawmakers to some degree, but the issue of an R18+ rating for video games is not a new one.

"It's a decision made by the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General who meet from time to time and consider issues in relation to censorship and must come back with a unanimous verdict," he says.

"This was canvassed in a review of the guidelines back in 1999-2000 and at that time they made a decision not to introduce (an R18+ rating), but the issue continues to come back because the demographic of players is getting older."

Clark says a lack of conclusive research into video games is at the heart of the issue, and whether a game's interactive elements have a greater effect on the viewer than a film would.

"The research in relation to violence in video games is inconclusive, so they just choose to take a more conservative approach," he says.

"But it is the interactivity in games and the potential for continuous exposure through that interactivity . . . that is viewed as increasing the impact."

Clark says in the case of Reservoir Dogs, its creators could choose to have the OFLC decision reviewed by the Classification Review Board or could edit its content and resubmit the game for classification.

 

 

RESERVOIR DOGS reviewed and compared

Mick wrote this review of the RESERVOIR DOGS game where he compares the violence with MA15+ titles passed by the OFLC.

 

I have most definitely played games with far worse content than that found in RESERVOIR DOGS. As the Classification Board report states: you're able to take bystanders/cops hostage. You're then able to release, knockout, abuse, executes or use them as a human shield. Executing a hostage merely consists of a generic gunshot to head; it's nothing that hasn't been seen in countless games before.

It's very surprising that the OFLC objected to this because in the PS2 game THE GETAWAY (passed MA15+) you're able to perform the very same action (i.e. taking bystanders and cops hostage). You're also able to knock them out or execute them with a gunshot to the head in the same way. The act is almost identical in both games. The only difference being is that in RESERVOIR DOGS you have an adrenaline meter and when it fills up you're able to perform a torture move on the hostage. Depending on what character you're playing as (it differs from level to level) these moves have a small amount of variety.

-Mr. Blonde cuts a hostages ear off
-Mr. White cuts off a hostages finger
-Mr. Blue burns the eye of a hostage with a cigar

There are a few other movies as well that I can't recall. But I do remember that they're quite tame, probably M material in my opinion. One of them consists of Mr. Orange pistol whipping a hostage to death but it's nothing people haven't seen in an M rated game. That being said, the other three I listed are also pretty tame. In comparison to the heart rip move in the First Person Shooter, Xbox360 game THE DARKNESS they're an absolute joke. Definitely nothing out of the ordinary. The graphics and sound FX are so poor that one couldn't possibly find such moves even remotely interesting or disturbing. They consist of a very quick sequence with a comical scream and a very small amount of blood spray, that's it.

THE DARKNESS on the other hand contains some of the best and most realistic sound/graphical effects to date. You're able to perform up close execution moves in which are far more disturbing than those found in RESERVOIR DOGS, for example you can walk up to innocent bystanders, literally stick a gun in their face and turn their heads into a bloody mess. In THE DARKNESS you can also walk up from to them from behind, put a gun to the back of their head, execute them and then your character even shoots various parts of the body (groin shots, heart shots, chin shots etc ) afterwards. All are shown in a first person sequence up close and in very great gory detail. Once they're dead you're able to use your demonic powers to literally rip their heart out and eat it. The game was passed MA15+ in its uncut form down under. However it was banned in Singapore and heavily censored in Germany.)

If you choose to abuse a hostage in RESERVOIR DOGS then the cops will usually lay down their weapons and surrender. At which point you're able to force them up against a wall or object by directing them with the mouse/analogue stick. You can then execute them without penalty. You're also able to force bystanders to do the same thing and execute them. The entire game mainly consists of running from point A to point B, shooting cops' non-stop. The rest of the game is just your everyday, very average 3rd person shooter. Nothing too violent or out of the ordinary. More disturbing violence can be found in the GRAND THEFT AUTO games.

As I said, RESERVOIR DOGS is just yet another example of the OFLCs ridiculous inconsistency. I honestly can't understand how they can pass games like THE DARKNESS (MA15+ Strong violence and horror themes, Strong coarse language) , GEARS OF WAR (MA15+ Strong violence), DEAD RISING (MA15+ Strong horror violence, Blood and gore) and countless other ultra violent titles, yet ban a mild, comically violent game like RESERVOIR DOGS. It's a joke. There really isn't a whole lot to say about the violence found in RESERVOIR DOGS, I mean it's just rather tame when compared to the ultra graphically detailed games released more recently.

 

 

RESERVOIR DOGS: Complaints to the OFLC

Classification Board
Annual Report 2005–2006
Computer Games
The computer games Reservoir Dogs and 50 Cent Bulletproof were classified RC by the Classification Board because they contain frequent depictions of violence that have a high impact. As the impact test for MA 15+ is ‘no higher than strong’, the computer games could not be accommodated within the MA 15+ classification.

 

Computer games – complaints
The OFLC received 261 complaints about computer games. Of the total, 60 complaints were about the absence of an R 18+ classification for computer games. This decision was reviewed by the Classification Review Board which determined that it be RC. The computer games 50 Cent Bulletproof and Reservoir Dogs received four complaints each protesting the RC decisions.

There is some overlap between the figures quoted above as some people raised several of these issues in the one item of correspondence.

 

Classification Board
Annual Report 2006-2007
Computer games: complaints
The OFLC received 57 complaints about computer games. Of the total, 32 complaints were about the absence of an R18+ classification for computer games. The OFLC received six complaints about the RC decision for the computer game Reservoir Dogs.

 

Reservoir Dogs - Eidos [uk] PS2


 

 

 

 

Risen

Developed by Piranha Bytes / 2009 / MobyGames

In July 2009, RISEN was banned by the Classification Board because of drug use and sexual activity related to an incentive or reward. Koch Media was the applicant.

 

Thanks to Matt sending in the Classification Board's report for RISEN.

 

Australian Government
Classification Board

Decision Report
Classification decisions are made in accordance with the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 (the Act), the National Classification Code and the Classification Guidelines.

Production Details:
Title: RISEN
Alternate titles:
Publisher: KOCH MEDIA GMBH
Programmer: PIRANHA BYTES
Production Company: KOCH MEDIA GMBH
Year of Production: 2009
Duration: VARIABLE
Version: ORIGINAL
Format: MULTI PLATFORM
Country/ies of origin: GERMANY
Language/s: ENGLISH
Application type: CG2
Applicant: KOCH MEDIA GMBH

Dates:
Date application received by the Classification Board: 23 June 2009 Date of decision: 20 July 2009

Decision:
Classification: RC
Consumer advice:

A senior panellist has confirmed that the application considered was valid under the Act and that this Decision Report accurately reflects the Board's decision and any minority opinions.

 

Synopsis:
A role-playing game set on a medieval island where the protagonist has to complete various quests to destroy a magical being and avert the apocalypse.

 

Reasons for the Decision:
In making this decision, the Classification Board has applied the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 (the Classification Act), the National Classification Code (the Code) and the Guidelines for the Classification of Films and Computer Games 2005 (the Guidelines).

In the Board's view this game warrants an 'RC' classification in accordance with item 1(a) of the computer games table of the National Classification Code:

"1. Computer games that:

(a) depict, express or otherwise deal with matters of sex, drug misuse or addiction, crime, cruelty, violence or revolting or abhorrent phenomena in such a way that they offend against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults to the extent that they should not be classified;" will be Refused Classification.

The Guidelines state; "As a general rule...except in material restricted to adults, nudity and sexual activity must not be related to incentives or rewards" and "material that contains drug use and sexual violence related to incentives or rewards is Refused Classification,"
In the Board's opinion, this game contains sexual activity and drug use related to incentives or rewards.

 

SEXUAL ACTIVITY
The game contains "quests" which a player may choose to complete by acquiring the sexual services of prostitutes. Though it is purportedly not a necessary element of game play, players gain rewards or advance through the game more easily by engaging in sexual activity with prostitutes. A player may also obtain the services of prostitutes to bribe or distract guards. Despite sex being given discreet treatment within the game, sexual activity is clearly linked to incentives or rewards. Examples include:

The protagonist may bribe or distract Romanov's guard by going to a brothel and paying the mistress, Sonya, an amount of "50 gold" for "a girl for the cell guard at the quay". He speaks to the prostitute Anika, saying "one of the guards would like to get to know you better". Anika converses with the guard and it is discreetly implied that she engages in sexual intercourse with him.

The main character talks to Lily, a scantily-clad medieval prostitute. She offers "some Lily lovin'". A quest appears onscreen as "New Quest: A Lovely Time with Lily". Through implied sexual activity (which is not depicted), the player gains "100 experience points".

One quest involves the main character obtaining a "friendly and flexible girl" from Sonya. He talks to the prostitute Olga, saying "I've already paid Sonya for you". Another "100 experience points" are gained by Implicitly engaging in sexual activity with Olga. The game cuts to an implied post-coital moment, where the fully-clothed participants stand on either side of a bed and discuss intercourse in euphemistic terms. Olga then gives the protagonist a "scroll" which, it is implied, may be of use later in the game.

 

DRUG USE
The game contains references to, and explicit use of, a drug known formally as "brugleweed" but commonly referred to in text and dialogue as "weed" or a "weed reefer". A player can both trade and smoke this drug, which mirrors an illegal Yeal-world' drug in its terminology, use and depiction. Dialogue refers to the drug as having a "relaxing effect" on the character. "23 experience points" are gained by using the drug for the first time whilst every use thereafter leads to a moderate gain of "3 experience points". This direct link between the use of "brugleweed" and a positive increase in "experience points" is an example of "drug use...related to incentives or rewards".

 

Decision
This game is Refused Classification

 

 

RISEN: The final word

RC Computer Games
Classification Board Annual Report 2009-2010

Risen is a role-playing game set on a medieval island where the protagonist has to complete various quests to avert the apocalypse. These include quests which a player may choose to complete by acquiring the sexual services of prostitutes. The game also contains references to, and explicit use of, a drug which, in the Board’s view, mirrors an illegal ‘real-world’ drug in its terminology, use and depiction. The player gains ‘experience points’ by using the drug. In the Board’s opinion, this game contains sexual activity and drug use related to incentives or rewards and as such, classified it RC.

 

Risen - Deep Silver [us] PC


 

 

 

 

The Roberta Williams Anthology

Developed by Sierra On-Line / 1997 / MobyGames

In April 1997, THE ROBERTA WILLIAMS ANTHOLOGY was banned by the OFLC. Playcorp was the applicant.

 

According to MobyGames this was:

...a compilation of games created by Sierra game designer and co-founder Roberta Williams. This collection includes the first seven King's Quest games, Mystery House, The Wizard and the Princess, Mission: Asteroid, Time Zone, The Dark Crystal, The Colonel's Bequest, The Dagger of Amon Ra, and Mixed-Up Mother Goose. (The Apple II titles contain an Apple II emulator for Windows that can run them.) Also included as a bonus is the first chapter of the game Phantasmagoria.

 

 

PHANTASMAGORIA: Chapter 1

THE ROBERTA WILLIAMS ANTHOLOGY was most likely banned because of the inclusion of the first chapter of PHANTASMAGORIA. This was one of the scenes that caused the game to be Refused Classification.

The OFLC report from September 1995 explained why.

CLASSIFICATION BOARD
PHANTASMAGORIA
C95/177
VOTING: UNANIMOUS
DECISION: REFUSE

Chapter One of the seven disc game shows a male and a female, earlier identified as man and wife, in bed after the woman awakes from a nightmare. The husband consoles her; this subsequently develops into a short scene of simulated waist up thrusting intercourse, revealing a side view of the woman's bare breast as she lays atop her partner.

 

See the PHANTASMAGORIA entry in the Games Censorship Database for more information.

 

The Roberta Williams Anthology - Sierra On-Line [us] PC


 

 

 

 

Rule of Rose

Developed by Punchline / 2006 / MobyGames

This game has never had problems with the Australian censors. It is included because it was a controversial title.

 

In November 2006, Red Ant had RULE OF ROSE scheduled for release in March 2007.

 

RULE OF ROSE
November 26 2006
www.red-ant.com.au

March, 1930. A young girl named Jennifer, whose parents were killed in a tragic airship accident, is taken to the Rose Garden Orphanage, located in a remote part of the English countryside.

What Jennifer discovers is a dilapidated building and a ragtag mob of children who call themselves the "Aristocracy of the Red Crayon." The demented residents of Rose Garden kidnap Jennifer.

Now, with the help of a canine companion named Brown, Jennifer has to find valuable gifts for the Aristocracy, or suffer a fatal punishment for her insolence...

Rule of Rose challenges the player on a psychological level and features amazing state of the art visuals which create a stylish and unnerving game environment for the player.

Features:

Befriend a faithful dog and work together to locate crucial items

Intense melee combat against bloodthirsty monsters

An immersive storyline with 50 minutes of award-nominated CG scenes

(Official Selection of the Annecy 2006 International Animated Film Festival)

Musical score by Yutaka Minobe (Panzer Dragoon Saga, Skies of Arcadia)

Multiple endings and hidden extras

Amazing creepy visuals enhance the frightening environments and storyline

Genre: Horror
Rating: TBC
Status: Predicted release in March 2007

 

 

RULE OF ROSE: European controversy

In mid-November 2006, Franco Frattini, Europe's Justice and Security Commissioner, expressed outrage that this title was soon to be released in Europe.

Following his comments, British newspapers proceeded to contribute to the negative coverage of the game. This resulted in the distributor abandoning the UK release.

 

Rule Of Rose's UK Release Cancelled
gamasutra.com, November 24, 2006

505 Games spokesman indicated that, “Following discussions with our retail and publishing partners, 505 Games has taken the decision not to publish Rule of Rose in the UK at this time."

As recently reported in British trade paper MCV, though, The British Video Standards Council (VSC) has reacted angrily to the press coverage, accusing the newspapers of inventing non-existent scenarios in the game.

“I have no idea where the suggestion of in-game sadomasochism has come from, nor children being buried underground. These are things that have been completely made up,” said VSC secretary general Laurie Hall.

The comments came after the VSC was criticized for only giving the game a PEGI rating of 16+. Referring to Franco Frattini’s lurid descriptions of the game, Hall countered, “I wouldn’t call the game violent. We’re not worried about our integrity being called into question, because Mr Frattini’s quotes are nonsense.”

 

 

RULE OF ROSE: Australian controversy

Following the dropping of the game in the UK, the Australian press suddenly caught on to the games impending release here.

The following article appeared in the Melbourne Herald-Sun.

 

Computer game ban demand
news.com.au
, November 26, 2006

Sony made it for its Japanese market and has distanced itself from the international release by a third party. The game is due to be released in Australia in February.

Websites already offer pre-orders for the game, about sadistic orphans who kidnap a girl and keep her captive.

Australian Family Council spokesman Bill Muehlenberg said: "It depicts young women as fair game for kids to torture. It could push some children over the edge, while desensitising others to violence."

He said it was significant that Sony decided not to release the game in Australia, the US and Europe because of the disturbing content.

But publisher 505 Games has released it internationally. Sydney-based Red Ant will distribute it in Australia.

Mr Muehlenberg said the Office of Film and Literature should ban it.

 

 

RULE OF ROSE: Australian release abandoned

The following day Red Ant Enterprises confirmed that they were dropping the Australian release of RULE OF ROSE. The game had yet to be rated by the Classification Board.

 

Rule of Rose canned down under
au.gamespot.com, November 27, 2006

Distributor Red Ant Enterprises told GameSpot AU that it had been informed by 505 that Rule of Rose ''would not be released in Australia or New Zealand at this time."

Red Ant had originally scheduled the game to be released locally in February 2007. Red Ant product manager Nichola Bryan said the game had not been submitted to Australia's Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC) for approval.

 

Rule of Rose - Atlus [us] PS2


 

 

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