Capcom attempted to quell the leak of two secret characters from Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition this week by issuing copyright notices against YouTube videos. The videos featured Evil Ryu and Oni Akumfa, two charcters that were to be announced by Capcom later. Now the company has confirmed the characters but users who had videos on YouTube can't turn back the clock and some of them have lost whole channels thanks to YouTube's "three strikes" rule. A user with multiple copyright notices can have their entire account suspended and have videos deleted.
One prominent user, Street Fighter tournament player J.R. Rodriguez, lost his channel and more than 50 videos were deleted, according to published reports.
The two characters can apparently be unlocked via a built-in password system, but the passwords themselves were leaked or discovered. Some say that producer Yoshinori Ono has taken some heat for it.
Kongregate CEO Jim Greer has responded to Google pulling its Kongregate Arcade app from the Android store this week. Released yesterday, the app was on the store a few hours before Google decided to yank it without much explanation. Greer called Google's swift removal of the app "surprising," noting that he showed the app to several people at Google, and that they seemed to approve of it at the time. Greer did acknowledge that the person at Google who made the decision to yank the app had not seen it prior to its release.
"The reason for the removal," Greer said, "and we didn't find out until after it was already gone, was that they claim you can't use their app store to distribute another app store -- which is a reasonable restriction. But to us, what's really bizarre, to call [Kongregate Arcade] an 'app store' seems like a pretty extreme stretch."
Rock, Paper Shotgun reports that there may be a happy ending to the World of StarCraft mod maker story we reported on yesterday. A very public story about Activision-Blizzard taking down video footage from his mod on YouTube caught the notice of someone from Riot Games, maker of the DOTA-like RPG strategy game League of Legends.
A Riot Games employee, commenting on the story over at Pixelated Geek, asked the World of StarCraft maker to contact him (her?) via email to talk about a job opportunity:
"Ryan, I'd love to hire you at Riotgames. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org We can at least chat about it."
It looks like the German government is not happy with the violent content in Dead Space 2 and wants changes to the game before it is released in the region. The main cause of disagreement from the government: Friendly Fire in multiplayer. Naturally, these changes will make it so that gamers in Germany will not have to wait for the game on various platforms until sometime in February. EA announced the delay in a press release this week, saying that the game would be released on February 3.
The single player campaign from Dead Space 2 remains uncut and identical to the international version of the game, but multiplayer has been altered to appease the government. Germany is very touchy about games that let players kills "humans." Many shooters require alterations before they can be released in the region - like turning human enemies into zombies or robots, ot changing red blood to another color.
The Advertising Standards Authority, the government agency in charge of monitoring ads released on television, magazines, and public posters and billboards in the UK, has banned a poster for Sony's Move and the game The Fight: Light's Out. The ad was banned after the agency received eight complaints - two of which strongly objected to one of the men being tackled being "black." The ASA said that the ad features men of "slightly different skin tones" but did not ban the ad based on those complaints..
Instead the ASA banned the ad because it could "condone or encourage violent behavior" in children. Of course, playing in the schoolyard could also encourage the same kind of behavior..
A roughly translated news story on vietnamnet reports that young players in Ho Chi Min City, Vietnam will be subject to a gaming curfew beginning in January. The crackdown by the city's Department of Information and Communications follows a move earlier this year to curtail primary school students from playing games on weekdays between the hours of 8 am - 5 pm.
Under the new rules, gambling companies are also required to shut down from 10pm to 8am daily and not to provide online gaming to internet shops near any educational institutions.
The crackdown on online games is the result of a public outcry on the “negative effect of video games” on youth. Local reports have blamed an increase in everything from juvenile crime to school truancy on online gaming.
Webcomic Virtual Shackles wryly illustrates how California's violent video games law might work when put into practice.
During Tuesday’s oral arguments, Justice Sotomayor pointed out what could easily be viewed as a rather large loophole in the law at the heart of Schwarzenegger v. EMA.
The law seeks to prevent children under 18 from purchasing games in which the player can “virtually inflict serious injury upon images of human beings.” But what about characters that are almost, but not quite human beings? Here’s the relevant exchange:
JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR: Would a video game that portrayed a Vulcan as opposed to a human being, being maimed and tortured, would that be covered by the act?
MR. MORAZZINI: No, it wouldn't, Your Honor, because the act is only directed towards the range of options that are able to be inflicted on a human being.
In addition to being censored in Germany, Activision’s Call of Duty: Black Ops will be receiving a few trims for its release in Japan as well.
A few weeks ago, Square-Enix, who is distributing the title in Japan, announce that in order to comply with standards set by the CERO ratings board, it would be removing “all scenes of dismemberment and ‘expressions of brutality.’” These cuts would apply to the both the subtitled and the dubbed versions of the game but the publisher promised that the zombie mode would remain untouched.
Apple's guidelines for App developers are strict, as we have detailed in multiple stories on Game Politics. But as this editorial on Gamasutra points out, the company is also vague in its guidelines - and apparently playing the part of parents who are just too lazy to set up parental controls.
The main thrust of the editorial is about the murky language of Apple's App Store Review Guidelines document, and how difficult it is to get an App on an Apple device given all of these loosely defined restrictions.
Here is a sample on sexual content (from Apple's App Store Review Guidelines document):
"Explicit descriptions or displays of sexual organs or activities intended to stimulate erotic rather than aesthetic or emotional feelings."
When it comes to plans for the country's National Broadband Network (NBN), Australian voters are in quite a pickle as the federal elections kick off tomorrow, August 21.
A column in the Age outlines a few of the choices of Australian voters and they are head scratchers: vote for the Labor party and their proposed “$43 billion national fibre rollout, designed to offer at least 100 Mbps to at least 90 percent of Australian homes,” or opt for the Liberals and their $6 billion plan to offer at least 12Mbps service to 90 percent of AU residences.
Sure the Labor version sounds good, but keep in mind that the man behind a proposed (though delayed) mandatory Internet filter in the country is Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, a Labor party member.
During participation in a GDC Europe panel on how the industry can combat censorship by the government, Remedy Entertainment's Matias Myllyrinne said that a lot of the problems that European game developers face are coming "from Brussels." G.A.M.E.'s Stephan Reichart agreed with that sentiment, saying that an international effort to fight against government censorship is needed: "We need to build up international structures in the games industry. If we do have a discussion in Germany it's really important to reach European developers, we have to organise a European game voice. In a few years nearly every important decision will be made in Brussels."
Germany's attitude was a major sticking point with panelists who are worried that a renewed effort to ban violent videogames could rise again. Though legislation for a ban on violent games has been overturned, Reichart felt that politicians remained resistant to the medium - a concern that seemed to be shared by all in the discussion. Remedy added that it decided against releasing a watered-down version of Alan Wake in Germany.
GP denizen PHX Corp pointed us towards a Netherlands petition started in reaction to positioning from the Dutch Minister of Justice Ernst Hirsch Ballin (pictured), which indicated that Ballin is seeking criminal prohibition of extremely violent imagery, including videogames.
Ballin seemed to specifically focus on games in his proposed banning, according to an article from Dutch gaming site Bashers (translated). In a letter to the house, Ballin, who intimated that banning violent games would be easier—and draw less resistance— than banning violent movies, wrote (bad translation, sorry):
Australian Communications Minister Senator Stephen Conroy (pictured) has said that implementation of a mandatory Internet filter in the country will be delayed for about a year while the government examines exactly what constitutes content that is “refused classification.”
Conroy had intended to introduce official legislation on the matter in early 2010, but, according to ABC, will now delay it until later in the year, biding time as an independent review looks into what exactly should be banned by the filter. Who will be conducting the review is not known, or at least has not been revealed as of yet.
Speaking to ABC Radio, as reported by The Age, Gillard stated, “Images of child abuse, child pornography - they are not legal in our cinemas.” She continued, “Should you be able to see them on the internet? I think that that's the kind of moral, ethical question at the heart of this.”
Filter critic Mark Newton, a network engineer, reacted to Gillard’s statement by stating, “I call on Julia Gillard to spend a little bit more time listening to the policy's critics, instead of dismissing them with silly throwaway lines about child pornography.”
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is apparently blocking certain websites from the federal agency's computers, including Internet sites that contain a "controversial opinion," according to an internal email obtained by CBS News.
The email, which was sent to all TSA employees from the Office of Information Technology on Friday afternoon, said that as of July 1 TSA employees would not be allowed to access websites that have been deemed "inappropriate for government access" in five different categories. These categories include chat or messaging, "controversial opinion," criminal activity, extreme violence (which apparently includes cartoon violence) and gaming.
The email doesn't apparently define what a lot of this content is in particular and it most certainly doesn't mention web sites by name, though I would imagine sites with strong opinions about the government are on that list. The email did say that some of the restricted web sites violate the "Employee Responsibilities and Conduct policy."
Last June, news emerged from Germany that a group of Interior Ministers had asked for a total ban on the production and distribution of violent videogames. Thanks in large part to a petition, such a ban will not be enacted in the near future.
In an exclusive editorial written for GameIndustry.biz, EA Games label president Frank Gibeau calls Australia's lack of an 18+ rating for games in the region a form of censorship against adult players. Australia has a ratings system for games that is capped at the 15+ mark, which means that 18+ content is not allowed. To get in stores, developers and publishers are forced to make serious changes to meet the standards of the lower rating. Gibeau says that this is unfair to mature players, who are forced to play content that has been watered down or completely altered for the wrong audience.
"There is also a real danger that by not supporting the local development community, Australia will miss out in the growth of the medium and detract investment in the region," argues Gibeau.
The thrust of his argument is detailed in this particular paragraph:
While Internet filtering went live for some New Zealand web surfers in February, the enactment was only recently announced to the general public.
The filtering technology is currently in use by two New Zealand ISPs, Maxnet and Watchdog reports ComputerWorld. Tech Liberty, a New Zealand-based digital rights group expects that the ISPs Telstra Clear, Telecom and Vodafone will also add the filter in the future, while Orcon, Slingshot and Natcom have expressed no desire to add the Internet sieve.
South Australian Attorney General Michael Atkinson, who has no problem casting verbal stones at his political opponents, is apparently unable to weather similar volleys lobbed at himself.
Atkinson is up in arms over a December 8, 2009 story that appeared on the website AdelaideNow which reported on a gathering of motorcycle club members. In a resulting user comment on the story, someone referred to the South Australian AG as a “crook.” The comment (#86) was quickly removed from the story and two apologies were issued.
The commenter in question, Dean McQuillan, used his real name in his post and has subsequently received a letter from Atkinson’s lawyers alleging that the comment was “highly defamatory” towards Atkinson. The AG’s lawyers requested $20,000 as compensation and the “publication of a full retraction and apology.”
McQuillan told ABC’s MediaWatch that he is bankrupt and replied to Atkinson’s lawyers with a “robust response,” but has heard nothing since.
MediaWatch offered its own take on the situation:
The state's chief law officer is prepared to threaten an ordinary citizen with ruin for posting rude remarks on the net, even when they were taken down within a couple of hours.
Again, this is a man (Atkinson) who said that he expected his political opposition from the Gamers4Croydon party to utilize ”criminal activities and dirty tricks” in their campaign against him.
Atkinson also tried to suppress online comments earlier this year in advance of the coming elections by introducing a law that would force users to publish their real name and post code alongside their comments. A civil outcry forced him to repeal the measure.
A story on GameSpot features the opinions of Electronic Arts and Aliens vs. Predator developer Rebellion as related to the R18+ videogame rating discussion ongoing in Australia.
The Aliens vs. Predator game was originally Refused Classification by The Classification Board before successfully winning an appeal and an MA15+ rating. Rebellion producer Paul Mackman spoke to GameSpot about Rebellion’s position that it would not modify the game to appease censors:
This was important to us and something Sega agreed with, and I think they handled the appeal process very well. It reached a successful result and you guys get to play the game and that's the important thing. The politics aside, [it’s] really not for me to comment on.
Mackman indicated that keeping the game true to the film source was Rebellion’s top priority, “…it's fair to say these are fiendish monsters from outer space and they do commit violent acts. Those are all represented in the films, so I don't think we would be true to the licence if we didn't portray that.”
Government policies that refuse to rate mature content effectively censor the content that adult players want to play. This shows a poor understanding of exactly who plays interactive games in Australia. The spectrum of gamers is as wide as the viewership of television, movies, theatre, and the readers of books.
A government policy that keeps our games out of stores and forces developers to rewrite code is censorship. Age rating systems are designed to help people make appropriate content choices for the right age groups.
In a related article, GameSpot notes that both the Australian Sex Party and the Pirate Party Australia have thrown their weight behind the introduction of an R18+ videogame rating category, while more traditional parties, such as the Greens and The Federal Coalition, have adopted a wait and see attitude.
Greens Senator Scott Ludlam did offer his take on South Australian Attorney general Michael Atkinson however:
I think the position he took to block the rest of the country from moving forward was really unhelpful, and I don’t think he necessarily provided the arguments to back up the position he took.
Lawmakers in France have approved the draft of a law that would enable ISP-level Internet filtering.
Dubbed the Loppsi II bill, the measure passed a National Assembly vote in a count of 312 to 214 reports the Good Gear Guide. The bill will next be read in the Senate, which could be its final reading if no amendments are introduced, as the government has pinned an “urgent” tag on the bill.
Among the bill’s Internet measures are provisions to make online identity theft a crime and allow police to tap Net connections, in addition to allowing authorities to order ISPs to filter Internet connections to remove child pornography materials.
Critics of the bill are concerned that any Internet filtering could lead to more widespread government induced censorship online.
Other parts of the bill deal with “boosting the amount the police spend on ‘security,’ multiplying penalties for counterfeiting checks or credit cards, increasing use of CCTV cameras, extending access to the police national DNA database and authorizing the seizure of vehicles driven without a license.”
It’s estimated that the filtering technology would cost France €140 million (approximately $190.0 million U.S.)and would be “largely ineffective” against the distribution of child pornography, which experts say is done via P2P networks.
A Draconian South Australian law aimed at limiting online comments about the upcoming elections inflamed much of the population, resulting in an apparent repeal of the law.
The law in question came into effect on January 6 and sought to require any online user commenting on the March 20th state elections in South Australia to publish their real name and post code alongside their comments. According to Adelaide Now, a definite target of South Australian Attorney General Michael Atkinson, the law would have applied to comments posted to online news stories, as well any comment made on the election on social sites such as Twitter and Facebook.
The law was not scheduled to be enforced until writs for the March 20th election were issued. The writs could be issued anytime between now and 25 days before the election. The law was to expire at 6:00 PM on election day. An additional aspect of the law would have forced media companies to store commenter’s names and post codes for six months. They could have faced fines of $5,000AU if the information collected was not handed over to the Electoral Commissioner.
Atkinson said the law was all about “honesty,” adding that, “There is no impinging on freedom of speech, people are free to say what they wish as themselves, not as somebody else.”
Specifically Atkinson also labeled the Adelaide Now website, “…a sewer of criminal defamation, it is a sewer of identity theft and fraud.”
It appears that an outraged populace has forced Atkinson’s hands for once, as new information coming out of South Australia indicates that Atkinson will repeal the law.
He added, “It may be humiliating for me, but that's politics in a democracy and I'll take my lumps.” While repealing the law after the elections would indicate that the law is still in place, Atkinson said it would not be enforced.
It’s important to note, and a little frightening, that the soon-to-be-repealed law was also supported by the Liberal Party, the main opposition to Atkinson’s Labor Party.
Thanks to readers iheartassassinmaid, Ryan and Anders for sending this story in.
The potential for violent and sexually explicit interactive games to cause harm has only increased in recent years as these games have become even more sophisticated, graphic and interactive. It is also naive to think that R18+ games could be restricted to adult users. If these games are allowed to go on sale in Australia they will inevitably find their way into the hands of younger players through older siblings or friends.
If anything, the current system should be tightened, the group writes:
If any changes are to be made to the classification system it should only be to resolve to tighten up the MA15+ rating to ensure that games aren’t wrongly getting through in this category.
The group encourages website visitors to attempt to stop the introduction of an R18+ category by writing a submission to the government in advance of the February 28th deadline for responses to the Discussion Paper.
Australia still does not have an R18+ rating category for videogames and now the R18+ category for movies has undergone a severe transformation in South Australia.
South Australia is, of course, home base for anti-game Attorney General Michael Atkinson, so it may not be a total surprise that a new law, which limits how R18+ rated movies can be displayed, exhibited and promoted in South Australia, came into effect on January 10.
A PDF detailing the new law is on the government of South Australia’s website. In it are instructions for handling R18+ rated movies, which applies to any establishment (other than adult-only) that sells, displays or rents movies with ratings below the R18+ threshold. Obviously the idea is to “shield” R18+ movies from those who might be shopping for lower rated films.
Among the law’s provisions:
The material for an R18+ film must be displayed in a different area from that in which material for other films is displayed. The different area must be marked with a prescribed notice displayed in a prominent place near the area. i.e. R 18+ FILMS AREA—THE PUBLIC ARE WARNED THAT MATERIAL DISPLAYED IN THIS AREA MAY CAUSE OFFENCE.
The displayed material for an R18+ film may bear no images or markings other than the name of the film in letters of 10 millimetres or less in height and the determined markings relevant to the film’s classification.
Penalties for non-compliance call for a maximum fine of up to $5,000A.
What’s perhaps more disheartening than even the law itself is the reaction from retailers and distributors who seemed to have no inkling that the law even existed.
Speaking to The Australian, film distributor Mark Spratt of Potential Films said he was “gobsmacked” by news of the law, adding, “It's gone completely under the radar.”
The site notes that such bannings are not usually accompanied by a detailed explanation; instead an explanation typically offered is that a forbidden commodity “contradicts with UAE’s customs and traditions.”
The game, developed by Vigil games for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, involves demons and has players take the role of War, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
In the game’s setting, War is accused of breaking a scared law and “inciting a war between Heaven and Hell.” Following a battle between demons and angels that the demons win, War is “brought before the sacred Charred Council” and indicted for his crimes and has his other worldly powers removed. While being hunted by Angels, War returns to Earth in order to search for the truth, to find those responsible for deceiving him and to battle the forces of Hell.
A new downloadable game lets players assume the role of Australian politicians and bring the ban hammer down on videogames and websites.
Ban This Game features likenesses of South Australian Attorney General Michael Atkinson and Stephen Conroy, Minister for Broadband and Communication, who is the man championing ISP filtering for Australia. Gameplay consists of images of games and websites crossing a red line. Players must click on an image three times to ban it once it passes over said line. Windows and Mac versions are available.
While most viewed the Australian government’s decision to accept public comments on adding an adult R18+ rating category for videogames as a positive step forward, one columnist labeled the announcement as “purely smoke and mirrors.”
Duncan Riley of The Inquisitr called the government’s timing for the release of the paper suspect, claiming that it was merely a way to distract Australians from the government’s new plan to censor the Internet, which was announced just a few days later.
Other hurdles to the eventual implementation include the fact that any change to current censorship laws must be supported by all states. Riley adds:
States could in theory still go it alone on censorship, but likewise none seems interested in going it alone on computer games; that is, the states are committed to the process of a national implementation of censorship laws, complete with the need for all states to agree to changes.
Another road block is, of course, South Australia Attorney General Michael Atkinson:
Atkinson isn’t a one-man band on censorship, his stance against R18+ games is not his alone, but comes with the support of the South Australian Government. If he was running policy that went against the beliefs of the Government, he wouldn’t continue to hold his position of Attorney General.
james_fudge: she gets no credit until she employs some common sense. - 2 credits for her.05/24/2013 - 11:22am
Andrew Eisen: To Stender's credit, she did unmoderate my most recent comment within a day's time. There's even a couple other replies. None from her though.05/24/2013 - 11:18am
james_fudge: apparently gamers are all 14 - 21 years-olds living in basements according to her way of thinking...05/24/2013 - 11:11am
ZippyDSMlee: EZK: 0_o thier video card chipset is at the very least 3 versions behind the top PC video card.......05/24/2013 - 7:38am
MechaTama31: "You just wouldn't understand how my parenting preferences are more important than everybody else's freedoms."05/24/2013 - 7:37am
DorthLous: I love how she plays the "I'm a parent, you're a gamer, you couldn't understand" card... I'm a parent and I find her position despicable...05/23/2013 - 4:16pm
E. Zachary Knight: She didn't address your questions because she doesn't have any answers.05/23/2013 - 3:38pm
Andrew Eisen: I replied to her comment. Maybe in a few weeks I'll get a reply.05/23/2013 - 3:24pm
Thomas Riordan: @Andrew Eisen To what bowling alley does she go that puts sexual images in the faces of 6 year olds?05/23/2013 - 3:17pm
Andrew Eisen: Well, it took a month but Linda Stender finally replied to me... and didn't address a single one of my questions. http://aswlindastender.com/2013/04/23/follow-up-video-games-and-their-effect-on-children/05/23/2013 - 3:13pm
Imautobot: Also, from a tech perspective the PS4 is apparently already winning. http://bgr.com/2013/05/22/xbox-one-vs-playstation-4-specs/05/23/2013 - 3:12pm
Imautobot: Sony's PS4 motto should be "We play games." Microsoft's should be "We play games, when we're not rewinding your tapes."05/23/2013 - 3:11pm
Andrew Eisen: Oh look, Dying Light was just announced For Everything But Wii U. That's 73.05/23/2013 - 2:06pm