The temporary BBFC ban on Manhunt 2 seems to have generated a bit of extra publicity for every violent game that is presented to the BBFC. It is now a news story when such a game isn't banned.
The BBFC seem to have added to this particular press interest by first of all providing their extended explanation of their 18 rating and then promptly withdrawing the explanation. Apparently the extended advice should only be made available 10
days before release.
Furthermore the withdrawal of the extended classification explanation also seems to be blamed for a rumour of a ban on the game that circulated yesterday.
Anyway the BBFC have awarded Grand Theft Auto IV and uncut 18 certificate with the following withdrawn comment:
GRAND THEFT AUTO IV is an open world action adventure game in which the player character is an Eastern European immigrant working for organised crime gangs in a fictitious city in the USA. The game has been rated '18' for
strong violence, very strong language, very strong sex references and drugs use.
Violence is a central theme of the game, with the character able to engage on missions which invariably involving killing in return for money and other in-game rewards. The character can gain use of a variety of weapons including machine guns,
Molotov cocktails, a serrated knife and a rocket propelled grenade launcher.
Injuries and death are shown with blood including blood projected onto nearby walls, windscreens and the camera lens. The character is able to attack and kill any other character in the game, including 'innocent' non player characters, although
this carries a strong risk of being pursued by the police providing a negative consequence for such action.
The game includes several uses of very strong language and frequent use of strong language. The very strong language occurs within 'cut scenes' in which the story and character development take place, in spoof television episodes and during a
stand up comedy routine.
Sex references also occur during cut scenes, including references to strong sexual behaviour. During gameplay the character can pick up prostitutes and pay for three different levels of service. What follows is an un-detailed portrayal of
masturbation, fellatio and intercourse. The character can also visit lap dancing clubs and request a private dance. While the game contains sexualised dancing and the portrayal of sex, there is no sexualised nudity.
Reference is made to drugs trafficking and several cut scenes portray cocaine snorting. There is also a satirical reference to the domestic production of a hard drug, but it does not contain the detail necessary to reproduce this in the real
GRAND THEFT AUTO IV has been classified at '18' and is appropriate for adults aged 18 and above only.
While debate rages over an adult classification for video games in Australia, RockStar announce that they will bypass the furore by presenting a children's version of Grand Theft Auto IV to retail shelves.
With Grand Theft Auto IV slated for an April 29 release, RockStar Games have given an interview response detailing a special version for the Australian PAL market.
A Rockstar spokesperson confirmed that the company had produced a special version of GTA IV to comply with the Australian classification system, which does not currently contain an R18+ rating, but declined to reveal what material had been
The news that kiwi gamers were dreading has come through today: Take-Two Interactive has contacted retailers to notify them that New Zealand will be receiving the same edited version of Grand Theft Auto IV as Australia.
Rockstar has created an edited version of Grand Theft Auto IV specifically for the Australian market. It has not yet released details of what has been edited out. The game attained an Australian MA15+ rating in December, with the warning that it
contains strong violence, strong coarse language, drug and sexual references.
In New Zealand, the game received an R18 rating from the NZ OFLC in February, which only warned that it contains violence and offensive language.
Only the version of the game which has been rated in New Zealand (which would be the Australian version) is legal to be sold in NZ. Imported copies of the unedited version cannot be sold because they have not been rated.
Take-Two has not provided any explanation as to why New Zealand is receiving the Australian version this time around. New Zealand stocks for most games usually come from Australia, so the most likely explanation is that it came down to supply
Gameplanet put a few questions to Bill Hastings, New Zealand's Chief Censor about the censored version of Grand Theft Auto IV submitted by the distributor
GP : If they submitted the edited Australian version, why was it rated R18 here instead of a rating more in line with Australia?
Bill Hastings : The game was classified R18 in New Zealand because the version we examined was sufficiently violent to warrant an R18 classification. We noted little, if any, difference between GTA IV and any of the other games in the series.
You should also consider that Rockstar says it edited the game to comply with Australian law, not New Zealand law. In the past, US/EU versions of the Grand Theft Auto series have complied with New Zealand law without the editing required
to comply with Australian law. This is because, unlike Australia, New Zealand has always had R16 and R18 classifications available for games.
I leave it to you to surmise what pressure there must be on the Australian MA15+ classification to absorb games that would otherwise have to be banned in Australia because they have no R classifications.
GP : If our readers import the unedited version from, for example, the UK, what is the likely penalty if they get caught?
Bill Hastings : Unless the game a person imports is objectionable (as is the case, for example, with Manhunt 2), there is no penalty for importing a game for your own use. A foreign classification is no
guarantee that a game is not objectionable under New Zealand law. In the case of GTA IV however, I note that the British Board of Film Classification has given it an 18 certificate, so I rather doubt that either version is objectionable.
The year's most highly-anticipated video game, Grand Theft Auto IV , hits stores on April 29 but many Australian gamers have cancelled their orders.
Already angered by the price of the blockbuster in Australia - $120 compared to $64 in North America - gamers have reacted with outrage to news that developer Rockstar has edited the game for Australia in order to obtain an MA15+ rating.
Many gamers said they cancelled their orders with Australian shops and will import a cheaper, uncut version, flouting the law.
A Rockstar spokesman says a censored version of GTA IV was developed to comply with the Australian classification system, which does not have an R18+ rating. The spokesman declined to reveal what was cut.
[There have been unlikely sounding rumours that the game is cut to remove an object being rammed up somebody's arse]
The Australian censor has issued a report on its decision to award a MA15+ rating for a pre-cut version of Grand Theft Auto IV.
The report does not identify what was pre-cut though. [Also Spoiler Warning!]:
Violence is relatively frequent and strong in playing impact.
During the game, the player (as lead character Niko Bellic) is required to undertake various missions, mostly involving criminal activity, in order to develop contacts, make money and protect his cousin Roman. These include pick-ups and
drop-offs, killing / protecting various people, stealing, racing, chasing, eating, drinking, going out and dating. A number of tasks involve drugs (for example retrieving a stash of cocaine for a dealer) and violence (for example, rescuing Roman
from a kidnapper).
Violence includes hand to hand combat (basic punching and kicking) and more regularly involves use of various weapons. These include knives, baseball bats, a nightstick, pistols, machine guns, shot guns, rifles, grenades and rocket launchers. The
player is able to use these weapons to inflict injury on other participants which results in frequent blood spray. Blood spray occurs as victims are attacked and is also depicted on objects such as floors and walls. Blood pooling occurs under
bodies that are shot at after death however no post mortem damage (such as decapitation or dismemberment) is possible. These is also infrequent blood splatter on the camera lens as the player manoeuvres their way through missions involving
A less frequent example of violence includes the ability of the player to set an enemy alight causing them to burn. The victim is shown flailing and on fire before they fall to the ground. Bodies remain as long as the player lingers in a
particular scene, however after this, they disappear.
As the violence is relatively frequent, causing blood spray and injury detail, the impact is strong.
Coarse language is frequent. Aggressive and/or strong coarse language is infrequent.
During the game play the characters are heard to use "fuck" language, primarily in a naturalistic tone but occasionally in an aggressive manner. This, coupled with the infrequent use of the word "cunt" (as well as some visual
use written on a strip club wall) creates an impact which is strong.
OTHER MATTERS CONSIDERED
In the majority view of the board the game contains drug and sexual references, which although moderate in impact, warrant flagging at the MA15+ classification.
These include a scene (with no player interaction) where a drug dealer is depicted implicitly, then explicitly, snorting lines of white powder (implied to be cocaine) from a table and the involvement of Niko in various missions dealing with
Further, there are sexual references which require flagging at the MA15+ classification. These include a scene (with no player interaction) at the beginning of the game depicting a woman in lingerie whipping a man in his underwear, tied to a bed
and the general ability of the player to go on 'dates' and have sex with a 'girlfriend', to pick up a prostitute and have sex with her and the ability to attend a strip club and pay for a lap dance.
New Zealand shop assistants are reporting a dilemma of how to say no to parents demanding to buy Grand Theft Auto IV with their 14-year-old beside them.
The Censor office's advice was to stand firm. If it's perfectly obvious the parent is buying the game for the child, don't sell it to the parent, says chief censor Bill Hastings. If a game is R18 it's R18 for a reason and it's illegal
to make it available to anyone under that age.
It's possible the adults buying the game for minors are unaware that they could face three months in prison or a $10,000 fine for their actions. Or perhaps they're thumbing their nose at a law that, although it's been in place since 1994, has yet
to be enforced against parents.
But Hastings argues fear of being caught shouldn't be the driving force here, it should be doing the right thing - especially for your kids. The game gets its R18 rating largely because of its violence and, thanks to advances in game software and
hardware, because it is very realistic.
The Australian censored version of Grand Theft Auto IV doesn't show player sex, though the act remains implied with "car rocking" visuals and potty mouth dialogue.
According to GameSpot, in Australian versions of GTA IV, Niko can indeed pick up prostitutes, but once he takes said sex worker to a secluded area, the game camera shifts to a tight shot of the rear of the vehicle the pair are in and cannot be
Prostitution upgrades resulting in superior player health have also been removed from the Australian version.
The US and international versions of GTA IV take the implied sexual act a step further, however, by showing fully clothed dry humping (also called frottage) scenes that simulate the motions of intercourse. There is no nudity in the Mature
rated game, however, only scantily clad women.
As an alternative to traditional food power ups found in video games, Grand Theft Auto III introduced the concept of prostitution power-ups back in 2001.
With Grand Theft Auto IV in the headlines, a bipartisan pair of House members has introduced a bill that would require videogame retailers to check identification in order to prevent minors from buying games intended for adults.
Representatives Lee Terry and Jim Matheson have introduced the Video Games Ratings Enforcement Act to ensure that children can only access age appropriate content without parental permission.
Terry said. Many young children are walking into stores and are able to buy or rent these games without their parents even knowing about it. Many retailers have tried to develop voluntary policies to make sure mature games do not end up in the
hands of young kids, but we need to do more to protect our children.
Bill would require ID checks for purchases of games rated M (mature) or AO (adult only). It would also compel game retailers to post ratings system explanations in the store. Retailers found in violation of either requirement would face a $5,000
Several state legislatures have enacted similar laws, but each has been struck down by courts on First Amendment challenges.
Terry said he remains optimistic because, unlike the state laws: This bill doesn'
t involve itself in content or defining the standards for ‘mature'
or ‘adults only'
. It simply requires the retailer to post what the industry has defined as ‘mature'
and ‘adults only'
so that parents can know, and requires checking of identification .
from a comparison of the Australian version and the UK version:
Firstly, when picking up a hooker in the Australian version you'
ll notice that you'
re unable to select your services (i.e. hand job, blowjob or standard intercourse) and the sex animations for these services have been completely removed. You'
ll merely see the car bounce from a locked rear-view. Although there are glitches one can perform to get a front view of the action, the animations are still non-existent. Therefore as in previous GTA games you'
re only able to see the hooker and Niko sitting side by side doing absolutely nothing. In the uncut version you'
re able to select your services after driving a hooker to a secluded location by cycling through the three different services. For which ever you choose the hooker will begin performing the act on Niko and you'
re be able to rotate the camera to see the action as you see fit.
Secondly, in the Australian version no blood pools appear beneath a dead person after shooting or stabbing them to death. Although there are blood splatters, there are no blood pools. In the uncut version blood will slowly ooze out from under a
body and you'
re able to create bloody footprints by walking through it or bloody tire-tracks by driving through it.
Finally, when Niko or other NPCs are injured in the uncut version light blood patches appear on their bodies which basically represent bruises/bullet wounds. After having played through both versions of the game I can confirm that no other
alterations have been made. Although the changes to the sex scenes come as no surprise one must wonder why Rockstar censored blood pools and body injuries. These elements are present in numerous other games which have been released totally uncut
When it was announced that New Zealand would receive the same edited version of the hit video game Grand Theft Auto IV that was destined for the Australian market, there was anger in the local gaming community.
There has never been an official announcement by publisher Take-Two Interactive about the reasons behind this, but logic suggests it was because it would be easier to supply the Australiasian region with a single version of the game.
New Zealand, which does have an R18 rating, received a version of the game which was watered down to please the censors in neighbouring Australia, where the highest possible rating for a game is MA15+.
One man who was not happy with situation was Stan Calif, founder and director of First Games. Stan was not only annoyed that New Zealand would be receiving an edited version of the game courtesy of Take-Two - he also thought it was more than a
bit cheeky that New Zealanders would be paying “full price” for a cut-down game. He was determined to give Kiwis the right to buy the uncut version locally.
Stan filed a submission to the OFLC in the week after the release of GTA IV. Stan'
s efforts and perserverance were rewarded, when the OFLC gave the uncut version of GTA IV a classification of R18, paving the way for First Games to sell the game legally in New Zealand.
First Games are proud to be able to deliver GTA IV uncut to New Zealanders, says Stan. The uncut GTA IV is now available for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 from www.firstgames.co.nz for the price of $99.50 and carries a NZ classification of
R18 (contains violence, offensive language, and sex scenes).
In 2008, Grand Theft Auto IV on console was released in Australia in a censored form. No blood pools, no sexy camera angles. In 2009, though? All is forgiven, all censorship, removed.
The original Australian version of GTAIV on console was censored. Blood was kept to a minimum, and you couldn't enjoy the same kind of intimate viewing experience with ladies of the night as you could elsewhere.
But when the PC version rolled around later in the year, it passed without incident. It did include blood pools, and it also included the full range of sex-related camera angles, despite being the same game intended for the same audience.
Newly-released expansion Lost & Damned is no different. It's been given an MA15+ rating and will have all the blood and sex that was deemed unacceptable less than a year ago in the same country.
Leaving us with this absurd situation: If you boot up your 360 copy of GTAIV and play GTAIV , it's censored. But if you boot up your 360 copy of GTAIV and play L&D , you'll get the full, uncensored experience.
Close to 13,000 people have signed a petition in Australia calling for Target to ban the Bible from its stores.
The protest comes from gaming enthusiasts after Grand Theft Auto V was banned from Target and Kmart this week due to its violent content.The petition, which is posted in change.org, points out that the sickening religious book encourages
readers to commit sexual violence and kill women .
News.com.au reports the disgruntled gamers are also calling for Target to change its violent name and aggressive logo , a petition to ban all knife sales and a demand for a ban on Fifty Shades of Gray.
Update: However to be fair, Target did themselves no favours with this advert
I mean seriously, what is wrong with this picture? What were they thinking? This is an advertisement and it is essentially informing consumers that Grand Theft Auto V is a toy for children on the same level as Peppa Pig.