Games are often the subject of sensationalist media coverage. This is often picked up by opportunistic politicians.
In the mid-2000s, titles subjected to this treatment include SPECIAL FORCE (2003), FABLE (2004), HITMAN: CONTRACTS (2004), BULLY (2006) and RULE OF ROSE (2006).
Publisher Hezbollah / 2003 / Lebanon
In 2003, Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant group and political party released their own PC game.
SPECIAL FORCE was a first-person shooter whose aim was to fight against the Israeli Defense Force.
The controversy begins
In May 2003, an article in The New York times claimed the game was being sold in Australia.
May 18, 2003
A member of the game’s design team, Bilal Zain, said SPECIAL FORCE was intended to disseminate Hezbollah’s “values, concepts and ideas,” as well as to give Hezbollah fans a chance to feel as if they were taking part in attacks they cheered from afar.
Mr. Zain said the video game also served as a counterweight to other games on the international market that depicted Arabs as terrorists instead of as freedom fighters with legitimate grievances. He said SPECIAL FORCE was less bloody than many other games.
“We want others to know our land is occupied, our people are imprisoned in Israeli jails, our houses are being demolished,” he said.
The border area controlled by Hezbollah is quiet for now, he said. “But we do not want the resistance concept to vanish,” he said. “We want this idea to live among the Arab people, the Islamic people.”
He said about 10,000 copies of SPECIAL FORCE had been sold in Lebanon, Syria, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Canada, Germany and Australia. It can be played in English, French, Arabic and Farsi.”– Video game created by militant group mounts simulated attacks against Israeli targets
– article @ nytimes.com
Where in Australia?
The allegation that SPECIAL FORCE was available in Australia was seized upon by Michael Danby (Labor).
Danby, the only Jewish MP in Parliament, began a one-man crusade against the game.
May 28, 2003
Michael Danby, the Federal Member for Melbourne Ports, who yesterday seconded a Private Member’s Bill to proscribe the terrorist organisation Hezbollah, has today called for the examination of a terrorist-style computer game developed by Hezbollah, now being distributed in Australia.
The computer game, SPECIAL FORCE, has sold more than 10,000 copies around the world, including Australia, according to The New York Times.
The creator of the game, Bilal Zain said the game was designed to disseminate Hezbollah’s “values, concepts and ideas.” “This game is part of Hezbollah’s elaborate propaganda efforts to brain-wash and inculcate hatred of all Israelis, Jews and western democracies” Mr Danby said. He drew attention to a recent pronouncement of Hezbollah’s spiritual mentor, Hasan Nasrallah, who encouraged young people to export suicide bombing across the world. He said “Martydom operations [suicide bombings] should be exported outside Palestine. I encourage Palestinians to take suicide bombings world-wide. Don’t be shy about it.” (On Al-Quds Day, broadcast on Al-Manar Television, December 2002. Source: American Jewish Committee, www.ajc.org)
“Today I asked the government whether they are aware the game is being sold in Australia, and why it has not been banned by the Office of Film and Literature Classification or the Australian Broadcasting Authority.” Mr Danby said.
“The Office of Film and Literature Classification has informed me that they have never seen SPECIAL FORCE, and that it is most likely outside their jurisdiction.” Mr Danby continued.
“In a global war against terrorism, it is vital that the education front is fought just as hard as the financing front. Children throughout the world can not be brought up hating. Education is the best way to combat terrorism in the long term, so games like these, which promote hatred and terrorism, must not be distributed in Australia.”– Violent Hezbollah computer game circulating in Australia
– Michael Danby (Labor)
June 3, 2003
The Federal Member for Melbourne Ports, Michael Danby, will today produce evidence that SPECIAL FORCE, the terrorist computer game he called to be banned in Australia, is in fact backed by the Iranian government.
SPECIAL FORCE is produced by Hezbollah, and aims at propagating Hezbollah’s terrorist “values, concepts and ideas,” according to one of the designers of the game, Bilal Zain.
“This game is part of Hezbollah’s elaborate propaganda efforts to brain-wash and inculcate hatred of all Israelis, Jews and western democracies”, Mr Danby said.
“Last week I questioned the government about SPECIAL FORCE, and although I am yet to receive a response, I have now discovered evidence linking the game to the Iranian government.” Mr Danby said. Mr Danby seconded the Opposition Leader Simon Crean’s private member’s Bill, which sought to proscribe Hezbollah.
“The Hezbollah game was disclosed by the New York Times at the time when here in Australia, both the government and Opposition received security briefings that confirmed Hezbollah was present in Australia” Mr Danby said. “Noorsoft is listed as a distributor of the Hezbollah game on the website.
“Noorsoft is a subsidiary of the Computer Research Center for Islamic Sciences
“The CRCIS was established by the Iranian Government in 1998 ‘under the supreme direction of His Highness Ayatollah Khameneyee’ (sic)
Mr Danby concluded.
“It is more than disappointing that after last week’s tour of moderates from the Iranian parliament, to discover again that the Mullahs, lead by key hardliner Ayatollah Khamanei, are using their control of the Iranian government to encourage extremists worldwide, including here in Australia.” Mr Danby said.
Mr Danby should be speaking at around 6:15pm in the Chamber. Mr Danby has already asked a series of questions about the game, which appeared on the Notice Paper on the 29th of May. The questions below will appear on the Notice Paper tomorrow.– Hezbollah “Computer Game” Produced by Iranian Government
– Michael Danby (Labor)
August 11, 2003
Michael Danby MP, the Federal Member for Melbourne Ports, today welcomed clarification from the Attorney General that terrorist computer game SPECIAL FORCE is illegal in Australia.
“It is clear from the Minister’s response that SPECIAL FORCE would be refused classification if it was submitted to the Commonwealth Classification Board for classification.” Mr Danby said.
“The Attorney-General’s answer makes it clear that people selling, hiring, advertising or publicly demonstrating SPECIAL FORCE in Australia is illegal, and I am pleased the Minister has asked for an investigation of whether SPECIAL FORCE is available in Australia.”
“However, the Minister still has not answered my question about whether this game was backed by the Iranian government.” Mr Danby continued.
“In the wake of the Marriot suicide-bombings, it is vital that Australia is protected from such terrorism, which is why Simon Crean and I successfully moved a private members Bill to proscribe the terrorist group Hezbollah. This game should be proscribed under that law, as well as under the censorship and classification laws.”
“In a global war against terrorism, it is vital that incitement is fought just as hard as the financing front. Children throughout the world cannot be brought up hating. Education is the best way to combat terrorism in the long term, so games like these, which promote hatred and terrorism, should not be distributed in Australia.” Mr Danby said.– Hezbollah computer game illegal in Australia
– Michael Danby (Labor)
Any proof it was sold in Australia?
On May 29, Michael Danby (Labor) had questioned the Attorney-General. the reply came two months later.
August 12, 2003
(1) Which organisation is responsible for the classification of computer games.
(2) Do all computer games need to be submitted for classification before being sold; if so,
(a) what is the process for classifying computer games,
(b) what is the penalty for selling computer games which have not been classified, and
(c) on what basis is the classification made, in particular, are the
(ii) values, and
(iii) concept of the game relevant.
(3) Is the Minister aware of a game called SPECIAL FORCE created by Hezbollah in Lebanon; if so, is he also aware that the game,
(a) has an introduction including an exploding Israeli tank,
(b) shows rows and rows of burning Israeli flags,
(c) awards points for executing the Israeli Prime Minister,
(d) includes parts based on actual attacks of Israeli positions, and
(e) includes parts that,
(i) say “You must oppose, confront and destroy the machines of the Zionist enemy”, and
(ii) show “the defeat of the Israeli enemy and the heroic actions taken by the heroes of the Islamic Resistance in Lebanon”.
(4) Is the Minister able to confirm or deny reports in The New York Times of 18 May 2003 that copies of this game have been sold in Australia.
(5) Has the game been submitted for classification; if so,
(b) did it receive a classification which permits its sale and distribution in Australia; if so,
(i) why, and
(ii) will the Minister request a review of its classification, and
(c) if it was not classified,
(iii) why not,
(iv) what action has been taken against people who have imported, manufactured, distributed, sold or bought the game, and
(v) if no action has been taken, why not and will the Minister order action to be taken.
(6) Are there similar games on the market, if so, what are they and what classifications have they received.
Mr Williams —The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows.
(1) The Commonwealth Classification Board (the Board) is responsible for the classification of computer games. The Board is an independent statutory body, supported by the Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC). The Board is selected to be broadly representative, as far as possible, of the Australian community.
(2) Computer games must be classified before they can be legally sold, hired, advertised or publicly demonstrated in Australia.
(a) The process for classifying computer games is prescribed in the Commonwealth Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 (the Act). On application, the Board classifies computer games in accordance with the requirements of the Act, the principles set out in the National Classification Code (a schedule to the Act) and the Guidelines for the Classification of Films and Computer Games (the Combined Guidelines).
(b )There are penalties for selling unclassified computer games, which are set out under State and Territory classification enforcement legislation. It is an offence to sell unclassified computer games in all States and Territories. The maximum penalty for selling an unclassified computer game in each jurisdiction is as follows:
Jurisdiction Maximum penalty for selling an unclassified computer game.
Northern Territory $10,000 or 2 years imprisonment.
Australian Capital Territory 100 penalty units ($10,000), 1 year imprisonment or both.
Tasmania Fine not exceeding 100 penalty units ($10,000) or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years, or both.
Western Australia In the case of an individual, $10, 000 or imprisonment for 1 year In any other case, $50,000.
South Australia $5000.
Queensland 5 penalty units ($375) for a computer game that, if it were classified, would be classified as a G, G(8+) or M(15+) computer game; or10 penalty units ($750)for a computer game that, if it were classified, would be classified as an MA(15+) computer game; or150 penalty units ($11250) for a computer game that has been, or would have been, classified RC.
Victoria 240 penalty units ($24,000) or 2 years imprisonment.
New South Wales in the case of an unclassified computer game that is subsequently classified G, G(8+) or M(15+)
10 penalty units ($1100) for an individual, 20 penalty units ($2200) for a corporation in the case of an unclassified computer game that is subsequently classified MA(15+)
20 penalty units ($2200) for an individual, 50 penalty units ($5500) for a corporation in the case of a computer game classified RC or an unclassified computer game that is subsequently classified RC
100 ($11000) penalty units or imprisonment for 12 months for an individual, 250 penalty units ($27500 )for a corporation.
(c) The Board classifies computer games in accordance with criteria outlined in the Act, the National Classification Code and the Combined Guidelines. Computer games may be classified G, G8+, M15+ or MA15+. Games that exceed the MA15+ classification are Refused Classification (RC). There is no R18+ classification category for computer games.
In relation to the specific question of whether the ideology, values or concept of the game are relevant to a classification decision, these terms are not specifically used in the Act, the Code or the Combined Guidelines. The Code does, however, require the Board, when making classification decisions, to take into account the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults.
For example, the Code provides that computer games that depict, express or otherwise deal with matters of, among other things, crime, cruelty or violence 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, are to be classified RC. The Code also states that computer games that promote, incite or instruct in matters of crime or violence are to be classified RC.
(3) I am aware of reports in an article in The New York Times of 18 May 2003 (the article) of a game called SPECIAL FORCE. I am also aware that the article alleges that the game was created by “Hezbollah” and contains the depictions referred to by Mr Danby in his question.
(4) I am aware of the reports in the article that copies of this game have been sold in Australia. I am unable to confirm or deny those reports.
(5) I am advised that the Classification Board has no record of a computer game called SPECIAL FORCE being submitted for classification.
(a) Not applicable.
(b) (i) and (ii) Not applicable.
(c)(iii) The game has not been classified because it has not been submitted for classification. The Classification Board classifies computer games on application.
(iv) and (v) I have asked for this matter to be referred to Community Liaison Scheme (CLS) staff at the OFLC for investigation and appropriate action. The CLS is a joint Commonwealth, State and Territory initiative with national coverage. CLS staff fulfil an educative role assisting retailers and distributors of publications, films and computer games to comply with their legal obligations under the national classification scheme and to identify breaches of classification laws.
Should the CLS investigation reveal that SPECIAL FORCE is being sold in Australia, I have asked that the matter be referred back to the Director of the Classification Board for consideration in relation to exercising his powers to call in a product for classification.
(6)Without knowing specific details of the content of SPECIAL FORCE, it is not possible to nominate with any certainty other similar games on market.
I note that the article in The New York Times of 18 May 2003 refers to another computer game called COUNTERSTRIKE. I am advised that the OFLC has no record of a game with that exact title.
I am advised that the OFLC website at www.oflc.gov.au contains a classification database listing computer game classification decisions and that interested persons can search this database according to criteria such as title and classification.– Questioner: Michael Danby (Labor)
– Responder: Daryl Williams (Liberal)
– House of Representatives, Parliament of Australia
Publisher Telstar Electronic Studios / 2004 / MobyGames
In June 2004, FABLE was passed with an M (Medium level animated violence) rating.
Microsoft was the applicant.
Peter Beattie vs. Fable
In 2005, a Queensland based campaign against GETTING UP: CONTENTS UNDER PRESSURE (2006) was taken up by the Premier, Peter Beattie.
He was soon speaking out against the M-rated FABLE.
August 11, 2005
Hon. PD BEATTIE (Brisbane Central—ALP) (Premier and Treasurer) (9.36 am):
In the course of seeking information this week about GETTING UP, I learned of the existence of another computer game which also may warrant action. FABLE, which has been classified M15+ with the consumer advice ‘medium level animated violence’, is said to promote violence.
Women’s groups have complained that it encourages male violence against women. This is anathema to most Queenslanders and certainly to this government. Domestic violence is a crime; it can murder, it can maim and it can leave women and children traumatised and emotionally scarred. As we see too often in Queensland, it can throw families and entire communities into dysfunction.
The government encourages creativity and Queensland’s home-grown computer game industry as well, but we condemn the glorification of violence to young people. The Office of Fair Trading’s classifications officer is currently examining Fable. If it is determined that the game promotes violence, we will not hesitate in asking the federal government to take appropriate action.– Violent Video Games
– Peter Beattie (Labor), QLD Legislative Assembly
No action was ever taken against the game.
Complaint to the OFLC
October 17, 2005– Classification Board, Annual Report 2004-2005
A single complaint was received about….perceived domestic violence in FABLE.
Publisher Eidos / 2004 / MobyGames
In March 2004, HITMAN: CONTRACTS was passed with an MA15+ (Medium level violence) rating.
Atari Australia was the applicant.
The OFLC was unhappy that the MA15+ rated HITMAN: CONTRACTS was being advertised before M-rated movies.
May 24, 2004
The Office of Film and Literature Classification last week asked Atari to withdraw the advertisement for HITMAN from cinemas, where it was playing just before M-rated blockbuster TROY. But it has approved the game itself for the Australian market.
Chris Eade from Atari– Games turn deadly serious
Games should have a classification system consistent with other entertainment forms,” he said. “I don’t think a game in which you ‘get into the mind of a killer’ is any more contentious than a movie portraying a serial killer – of which there are numerous examples.
In June 2004, the Advertising Standards Bureau dismissed a complaint against HITMAN: CONTRACTS.
June 8, 2004
1. Complaint reference number 132/04
2. Advertiser Atari Australia Pty Ltd (HITMAN)
3. Product Toys & Games
4. Type of advertisement Cinema
5. Nature of complaint Discrimination or vilification Other – section 2.1
6. Date of determination Tuesday, 8 June 2004
7. DETERMINATION Dismissed
DESCRIPTION OF THE ADVERTISEMENT
The advertisement is for an Atari game called HITMAN: CONTRACTS. It depicts a man in a room preparing his weapon to kill another man. The man about to be killed is depicted running through a car park to get to his car away from the killer. The tagline is “When you kill for money there are no rules. Enter the mind of a ruthless Assassin.”
Comments which the complainant/s made regarding this advertisement included the following:
“The ad itself was not violent. I just think it is disgusting that this type of material can pass and be promoted as entertainment.”
“It is my opinion that the ad gives the impression that a cold-blooded killer is superior and enviable for being cool to another man who is frightened at the thought of his being murdered. That’s just sick to me.”
THE ADVERTISER’S RESPONSE
Comments which the advertiser made in response to the complaint/s regarding this advertisement included the following:
“…. the letter of complaint acknowledges that the imagery was ‘Slightly Plasticky finish’ and also acknowledges that it was recognised as ‘Obviously Computer Graphics.’ The fact that this is known lessens the impact of the ad knowing that all is not real.”
“There are no depictions of violence, there are no depictions of the character mentioned being actually hurt.”
The Advertising Standards Board (“Board”) considered whether this advertisement breaches section 2 of the Advertiser Code of Ethics (the “Code”).
The Board found that the depiction did not contravene the provisions of the Code relating to discrimination/social values.
Further finding that the advertisement did not breach the Code on any other grounds, the Board dismissed the complaint.– Advertising Standards Bureau report
Ban it we say!
July 19, 2004
Noel McNamara, from the Crime Victims Support Association.
This is just encouraging kids to grow up to sneak around and shoot people in the back of the head.
It just begs disbelief, especially here in the hitman and crime capital of the nation.
It’s absolutely disgusting to promote heinous crime and build up such an unhealthy fantasy.
It should be kicked off the market. The Government should step in and do something.
Victorian Shadow Attorney-General Andrew McIntosh.
This is a matter where you would think the Premier would stand up and call for a voluntary ban.
It is up to large corporations like Blockbuster and anybody else who is hoping to distribute this game to show some sort of responsibility.
If you glorify a highly illegal activity in an environment of 27 gangland killings, where do you draw the line?
Victorian Attorney-General Rod Hulls.– Demand to ban thrill-kill game
It is up to the Federal OFLC to make this determination.
Not in Western Australia
Barbara Scott (Liberal), spoke about the game in the WA Legislative Council.
August 26, 2004
678. Hon BARBARA SCOTT to the minister representing the Minister for Justice:
I refer to her responsibility under the State Censorship Act and to The West Australian dated 13 September 2003, with articles titled “Game linked to crime spree” and “Violence is the name of the game”.
(1) Is the minister aware of the video games titled HITMAN: CONTRACTS and MANHUNT?
(2) Is the minister aware that the nature of the games is to murder people and avoid detection?
(3) If not, will the minister make herself aware of the nature of the games?
Hon Tom Stephens: The Liberal Party has done more to promote those games than anyone else. Nobody knew about them before.
Hon BARBARA SCOTT: The member should read the hundreds of e-mails I have received in support of our move to have them banned. I have had hundreds of e-mails from Western Australians concerned about them.
Several members interjected.
The PRESIDENT: Order!
Hon BARBARA SCOTT: Thank you, Mr President.
(4) Will the minister restrict access to the games by ensuring that they are not available to be played in prisons and youth detention centres?
(5) If not, why not?
(6) Is the minister aware that New Zealand has banned MANHUNT?
(7) Will the minister request the Office of Film and Literature Classification to ban both these video games?
(8) If not, why not?
Hon KIM CHANCE replied: I thank the member for some notice of this question. I provide the answer on behalf of the minister assisting the Minister for Justice.
(3) Not applicable.
(4) The Department of Justice advises that the games are not permitted in prisons or detention centres.
(5) Not applicable.
(7)-(8) The Minister for Justice advises that she has written to the commonwealth Attorney-General seeking a review of the computer game MANHUNT. The minister is seeking a copy of the classification board’s reasons for its decision on the computer game HITMAN: CONTRACTS before deciding what action to take.
Several members interjected.
The PRESIDENT: Order!
The parliamentary secretary bench seems to be suffering from neglect, by the sound coming from it. I hope the Leader of the Opposition will ask one of them a question.
Hon Norman Moore: I was hoping to get a copy of that game so that I could work out how to do it!– Video games Hitman: Contracts and Manhunt?
– Barbara Scott (Liberal), WA Legislative Council
Her complaints eventually saw MANHUNT (2003) banned by the Classification Review Board.
HITMAN: CONTRACTS remained unchallenged.
aka Canis Canem Edit
aka Bully: Scholarship Edition
Publisher Rockstar Games / 2006 / MobyGames
In August 2006, BULLY was passed with an M (Moderate themes, Violence and Sexual references) rating.
Take 2 Interactive Software was the applicant.
The OFLC knew that this would be seen as a controversial decision by those who had only read the sensational press reports. So in an unusual move, they decided to explain the rating.
August 28, 2006
The Classification Board has classified the computer game BULLY M with the consumer advice, ‘Moderate themes, violence, sexual references’
BULLY, has gained notoriety during its development as interest groups and the media speculated on its content.
M is an advisory classification. Computer games classified M are not recommended for persons under 15 years of age. There are no legal restrictions for the M classification.
BULLY is a third person action/adventure story-based game. It follows Jimmy Hopkins, a teenager who is sent to ‘Bullworth Academy’, where he navigates his way through the high school social hierarchy. His aims include completing the school year, protecting weaker students from ‘bullies’ and exposing corrupt teachers.
The Classification Board found that the themes, violence and sexual references are moderate in playing and viewing impact in the context of a comedic game about the trials of life in a troubled educational institution. According to the player’s behaviour during gameplay, Jimmy either accumulates punishment points until he is apprehended by authority figures, or increases in the school’s social standing. Punishments include lawn mowing, snow shovelling, receiving demerit points and attending extra classes.
During the game the player is not encouraged to attack innocent bystanders or undertake acts of “bullying”, and is not rewarded for doing so. The “missions” the player undertakes are generally about thwarting acts of bullying, exploitation or discrimination.
Violence towards innocent bystanders such as school girls and smaller school children causes authority figures such as prefects, teachers and police officers to chase and apprehend the player-controlled character, Jimmy.
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.– Bully computer game classified M
– Classification Board
On September 1st 2006, Rockstar announced that BULLY would be known as CANIS CANEM EDIT outside of the USA and Canada.
It was under this title that the Classification Board rerated it on 11 September 2006.
Once more, it was passed as M (Moderate themes, Violence and Sexual references).
The backlash begins
September 20, 2006
University of Western Sydney anti-bullying expert Dr Jean Healey said yesterday the game would not help lessen a huge social problem.
“We are trying to get this age group who play computer games to understand bullying is criminal behaviour and cannot be tolerated. The message we want to get out there is that we need to protect people . . . what we don’t need is to encourage bullies,” she said.
Educators have been running programs aimed at providing intervention and support for bullying victims.
Education Minister Carmel Tebbutt bought into the issue yesterday, saying “violence is never the answer to bullying”.– Bullying is no game
September 20, 2006
NSW Education Minister Carmel Tebbutt will ask the federal government to review the “M” classification given to a video game called BULLY. “I’ll be writing to the federal attorney-general just to see whether there’s further action that can be taken,” Ms Tebbutt told reporters.
“I also want him to assure me that everything that needs to be taken into account has been taken into account in this classification process.”
Ms Tebbutt urged parents to prevent their children from being exposed to the game.
“I’m concerned that its message for violence is undermining what we’re doing in schools to counteract bullying,” she said.– Violent video game raises concerns
Complaints to the OFLC
September 28, 2007– Classification Board, Annual Report 2006-2007
The OFLC received 57 complaints about computer games. One complaint was received that the computer game CANIS CANEM EDIT (also known as BULLY) (M) should be classified RC.
In January 2008, BULLY: SCHOLARSHIP EDITION was passed with an M (Moderate themes, violence and sexual references) rating. This was the same classification and consumer advice awarded to the original game.
This update included new missions, characters and classes, was released in March 2008.
Despite the original game having the title changed to CANIS CANEM EDIT, this update went out under the BULLY title.
September 23, 2008
The Classification Board classified BULLY: SCHOLARSHIP EDITION M with the consumer advice ‘Moderate themes, violence and sexual references’.
The Board noted that the version included the previously classified game and new interactive two-player educational games. The Board was of the opinion that the additional material does not alter the impact of the original game which received the same classification and consumer advice in August 2006.
During the game the player is not encouraged to attack innocent bystanders or undertake acts of bullying. If the player directs a character to bully others out of context, a ‘punishment’ bar increases, which when full causes the character to be apprehended by authority figures.– Classification Board, Annual Report 2007-2008
As with the original game, the BULLY: SCHOLARSHIP EDITION was also subjected to complaints.
April 17, 2008
Parenting Australia chief executive Jane King described the game as “disturbing” and said it should never have been released.
“It’s scary, it’s outrageous, it’s gross,” she said.
“I do think the classification system needs to be reviewed. I would be very concerned if my 13-year-old son played a game like that.
“I think the message of solving violence with violence is extremely disturbing.”
Ms King encouraged parents not to buy the game.
Young Media Australia president Jane Roberts said the game was a more inappropriate “mark II” of the original BULLY game released two years ago.
“I’m not sure about what the developers of this game don’t get,” she said.
“We have had major efforts right across Australia in schools trying to get the message across that violence doesn’t solve anything.
“For people who have been the victim of bullying, there is nothing entertaining about it.”
Australian Education Union president Angelo Gavrielatos said teachers worldwide were vehemently opposed to the game and the union had joined a coalition of eight teacher organisations from countries such as South Korea, the United States and Britain denouncing its release.
“What we are concerned about is the continuing production and development of such games that glorify violence and bullying,” he said.
“There’s a point where the corporate world must take some responsibility to regulate these games. In a world where the issues of bullying and violence are a concern, the production of these games is not acceptable.”
A spokeswoman for the Australian Classification Board said the game was approved because the themes were “moderate in playing and viewing and were justified by context”.
“During the game the player is not encouraged to attack innocent bystanders or undertake acts of bullying and is not rewarded for doing so,” the spokeswoman said.
“The missions players undertake are generally about thwarting acts of bullying, exploitation or discrimination. If the player does bully another player out of context a punishment type bar increases and when full it causes the character to be apprehended by authority figures.”– Parents angry at violent school bully game
– article @ smh.com.au
Why did you allow it?
September 23, 2008– Classification Board, Annual Report 2007-2008
Single complaints were received about other titles. These include that the computer game BULLY: SCHOLARSHIP EDITION (M) received a classification due to the themes in the game
Rule of Rose
Publisher Atlus U.S.A. / 2006 / MobyGames
In November 2006, RULE OF ROSE was scheduled for release in March 2007 by Red Ant.
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 which resulted in the distributor abandoning a UK release.
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’s UK release cancelled
– article @ gamasutra.com
What did you expect?
Following the dropping of the game in the UK, the press caught on to the impending Australian release.
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.– Computer game ban demand
In 2004, Bill Muehlenberg and his Christian lobby group had protested the classification of Michael Winterbottom’s 9 SONGS (2004).
Cold feet after one article
The following day Red Ant Enterprises confirmed that they were dropping the Australian release of RULE OF ROSE.
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 canned down under
– article @ gamespot.com
RULE OF ROSE has never been rated by the Classification Board.