Video Games and the Law: Sex, Violence and Addiction

Video games have long been the scapegoat of politicians and media campaigns. Whilst the majority of the focus has been upon the depictions of violence within games, the furor over Grand Theft Auto’s infamous “Hot Coffee” scandal and subsequent legal wrangling brought on board the potential controversy of depicting explicit sexual acts in games. (Rockstar had at one stage planned to include a sex-based mini-game in the title. The plans were scrapped, but the code for them remained hidden in the game. When a PC enthusiast learned how to access them, instructions on how to access the content quickly spread across the internet, with an outcry following closely behind.)

A recent survey in the US in November of last year (see Rasmussen Reports: 54% Think Violent Video Games Lead to More Violence in Society) indicated that the majority of Americans (54% in the sample) believe that violent video games result in a more violent society.

Following Panorama’s recent expose of how engrossing games apparently are, we can now throw addiction into the pot. Please read on for further information.

The US

The US remains governed entirely under a system of self regulation – as yet there is no federal law against the sale of violent or sexually explicit video games to children (although certain states have tried to introduce legislation). The US system relies on the voluntary ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board, an independent body) rating system which rates titles and polices the marketing of games. The system relies on goodwill- that of retailers and the ESRB – so there is nothing, as a matter of law, to stop kids buying violent games. Attempts have been made by at least two states to ban the sale of violent games to children, but free speech legislation has to date blocked such attempts. The Californian Supreme Court is to rule later this year on whether such a ban would be legitimate.

The UK

The UK has a mandatory system for certain types of video games depending upon the content. Games featuring sex or violence must be submitted for classification by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) in accordance with the Video Recordings Act 1984. The role of digital and interactive media was elaborated in the Criminal Justice & Public Order Act 1994, which introduced a number of new tests to the classification process, including a specific requirement to consider the ‘harm’ that the work may cause a potential viewer.

Video games remain generally exempt under the Video Recordings Act 1984 (VRA). However, the exemption will not apply if that game depicts:

  • sex
  • violence;
  • may encourage criminal activity (or other “matters of concern”); and/or
  • where the depiction of such material is particularly realistic.

The VRA was introduced at a time when games could not hope to rival the imagery of movies and films, but given the increasing visual fidelity of current and next generation videogames and the considerable crossover of interactive and traditional media entertainment, this exemption is of increasingly little value.

The attitude towards classification in the games industry has shifted over time and as a result, many publishers submit each and every new game to the BBFC to ensure the game has been classified before publication.

Following the arrival of the Digital Economy Act, legal powers have been granted to the PEGI (Pan-European Game Information) rating system with effect from 1 April 2011 and PEGI will become the sole classifier for video games in the UK. Any retailer who sells games after that date to anyone younger than the age certificate on the front of a game’s box is liable to prosecution.

Europe

In addition to the UK’s own mandatory age classification scheme, the PEGI scheme is a voluntary age suitability scheme aimed primarily at advising parents. In the UK this scheme is supported by UKIE (the Association for UK Interactive Entertainment, formerly ELSPA) and all its members are required to submit all games which are exempt from BBFC classification for classification under the PEGI system. In contrast to the BBFC system, publishers are required to fill out a self-assessment application form, based upon the content and provide their own suggested age rating which is verified upon receipt.

The PEGI scheme currently covers sixteen countries within Europe, with Germany being the most notable absentee, as it relies upon its own compulsory classification procedure. Some other countries also use their own classification systems (e.g. Finland) and the ratings in these countries are adjusted accordingly. In essence, the PEGI scheme provides a useful guide to the likely classification of a release for publishers in Europe.

Age Classification

Both the BBFC and PEGI systems are fundamentally aimed at the protection of children and young persons and therefore employ a system of age classification. Publishers are strongly advised to consider submitting new games to the BBFC if they are in any doubt as to the content, as unlike the PEGI scheme, it is a criminal offence to supply illegal unclassified works or to supply age restricted material to persons under that age with fines and/or prison sentences for any person found in breach.

The BBFC will only classify the product and, where necessary, advise on cuts that need to be made. The BBFC cannot rule on the legality of the content, but in any event they will not classify material that they believe is in breach of the law.

Any submissions made under the PEGI scheme will be required to consult a checklist of the type of content that is likely to require mandatory classification. Whilst the checklist on the application form should not be taken as a complete summary, it does provide further guidance of the type of content to be wary of. It should be noted however that the age classifications under the BBFC and PEGI schemes do not necessarily match.

Prohibited Content

The law in relation to what is illegal is judged according to whether the material in question is legally obscene. Fortunately, whilst the Obscene Publications Acts were crafted in the early 1960’s, the test is judged according to the contemporary standards. The test is simply whether the effect of the material (considered as a whole) is “such as to deprave and corrupt persons“. There is no set definition; it is not enough that the publication shock or disgust, it must have a morally debasing, corrupting effect upon the viewer.

The requirement that the material be taken as a whole, rather than in relation to a specific item of content, considerably reduces the scope of the law in this area. In practice, the law of obscenity is rarely used, as mandatory classification has for the most part dealt with this issue. The key factor is the intended audience for the material. In light of this, publishers may wish to consider the material which is contained on a games website, given the difficulties of restricting access to a particular age group over the internet.

The BBFC Ratings

Given the generally balanced approach to censorship in the UK, the barrier as to what is and is not permissible within a video game is largely a decision for the publisher, depending on the market they are aiming for. The increasingly mature audience of the gaming market means that publishers may feel they can afford to release games that are restricted to the over 18 audience without taking a major hit in sales, as the Grand Theft Auto series ably demonstrates. If explicit sexual scenes are a feature within the game, the publisher can expect an ’18’ classification and be treated by retailers accordingly.

The BBFC publish guidelines on a regular basis and these should currently be the first reference for any developer or publisher wishing to have a better understanding of the likely classification of an intended release. Given the impending legalisation of PEGI, regard should also be had to PEGI rating system.

Because R18 material is reserved for highly explicit sexual material, it is difficult to see how any video game would fall into this category without a concerted effort on the part of the developer and publisher. Clearly any game featuring explicit sexual material must be submitted for classification by the BBFC.

The Current Regime

Whilst the “Hot Coffee” hidden mini game in GTA: San Andreas may have (and continues) to cause its publishers problems in the US, the game had already received an 18 certificate in the UK by the BBFC; there is nothing to suggest it would be treated differently under the BBFC’s guidelines if this material had been an intended part of the final game. This is in stark contrast with the reception abroad – in Australia and New Zealand for instance, two territories that closely follow UK law across a wide range of areas, the game was either banned or given an R18 rating in response.

Given that the fundamental basis of the age classification schemes is the protection of children, it follows that PG, 12 and 15 rated works will require greater scrutiny on the part of the developer/publisher to ensure that the game meets the required classification. Looking at the BBFC’s most recent decisions this is likely to affect magazine publishers who may bundle a mixture of demos and videos on cover mounted disks and wish to sell the magazine to the broadest audience available.

A comparison of “Psychonauts” – rated PG, “From Russia with Love” – rated 12 and “Resident Evil 4” – rated 15, shows that even strong violence may not automatically result in an 18 certificate. However, a title featuring strong sex/violence within a realistic setting, particularly featuring criminal related activity, for example the Grand Theft Auto series, will inevitably be aimed at an adult audience and be rated accordingly.

Unfortunately there are no hard and fast rules as to what particular type of content will lead to a particular rating, but an awareness of the above issues will provide a better understanding of how the system works. Publishers and developers would be well advised to bear in mind the intended rating from the start of a project to avoid any future headaches further down the line.

Addiction

Since the screening of Panorama’s investigation in December of last year into the addictive nature of computer games, there is now a suggestion that games publishers are to be blamed for the adverse consequences (eg. to health and/or career) suffered by gamers who play their games for so long that they fail to eat and sleep. Not surprisingly, no clear evidential and genuine link was established in this programme between addiction and video games, nor frankly is there likely to be. This situation is surely one of parental control: if parents permit their children to play video games day and night, just as if they permitted them to drink unlimited amounts of alcohol, a problem of addiction is clearly going to ensue. And for those over the age of eighteen, they should be old enough to take responsibility for their own actions.

LINKS

1. The BBFC website provides information and guidance on the classification scheme, application forms and a database of previous decisions.

2. PEGI (Pan European Game Information) website provides further guidance on the ratings system and downloadable assessment forms for publishers.

3. The Video Standards Council provides some additional advice on what is covered by the VRA, as well as practical advice for retailers.

Brian Miller Solicitor is a specialist in interactive entertainment and media law.

┬ęBrian Miller 2011. This article may not be reproduced without the prior written permission of the author.

This article reflects the current law and practice. It is general in nature, and does not purport in any way to be comprehensive or a substitute for specialist legal advice in individual circumstances.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/Brian_L_Miller/896183

 

Free Bike Games Online

As like car games, Bike Games Online are very popular. Bike games are rather more popular among the youngsters especially boys. The reason behind this is the youngsters are more passionate regarding the speed. Playing flash games is the most enjoyable regardless of the age. The bike racing games are top one choice from kids to number of professional players. Everyone enjoys playing racing game over the internet. Lot of fun enjoyed by playing racing games that too online.

Online bike games are available for free downloading. You can download the bike game in very few minutes depending upon the size of the folder and can play without internet. But it is advisable to play the game online. One reason behind this that playing online do not require saving of contest on the PC and thus your computer memory is saved this way. Another reason behind playing flash games that too online is you can play the match with any player who is online. This facilitates networking and develops the online friendships. You can play online bike games with your friends and enjoy worldwide online playing. If you are passionate about the various categories of racing games, fulfill your dream by simply getting online. Online playing gives you options to play several flash games. To play online flash games, some websites charge fee. You can either pay the fee or can play on trial versions those are free to play and free to download.

In bike games, graphics and 3D animation effects are utilized by game designers and developers. Attractive racing modes, clear and mind blowing surrounding, music, excellent picture quality are the features of racing games. This develops feeling of real bike raiding and increases the excitement. There are different flash games are available online. Selection of the game is of your choice. Selection of bike type, model, color, background, road types, areas, levels, etc is provided to play online bike games. After doing required selection, you can start playing. It is good to read the rules before you start playing. You can watch demo race for more information as how it actually work.

Various online games are famous among the youngsters especially the boys. Stunt Dirt Bike is one of them. It is easily available on different gaming websites. The game is developed in JAVA language and quite challenging and legendary with mind blowing effects. Stunt Bike Island is famous due to various tropical backgrounds and the amazing stunt available for players. Superbike is one more famous fastest and furious bike racing game.

There are many other bike games those are popular. The match with several tracks with increased difficulties is the choice of youngsters. Rally type of contests are also popular due to various rides through roads. Dirt biking is one more type of racing game which is found to be popular among people. Playing Bike Games Online is getting more and more popular now days due to internet connection availability at home.

Check out these fun and exciting bike games [http://www.rightgames.net/bike-games.html] on our website. We also have a big selection of car games [http://www.rightgames.net/].

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/M._Shanks/882176

 

Love Gaming? Learn Why You Need Gaming News

The video gaming industry is really a huge sector in the overall economy, with tens of billions of dollars per year. Due to the fact it is such a crucial and also expanding industry, there’s a large amount of news produced regarding it. There are tons of competitors involved, from individuals earning money simply by providing capital or even managing licensing, to the people that design and produce the games, to people included in development of hardware, to the people helping with distribution, and lastly for the customers. You possibly can take a wander down the section of just about any retail store which carries magazines, and you will probably come across no less than 2-3 magazines about the industry.

The gaming news coverage is usually a person’s way to obtain know-how that could allow you to improve your equipment along with how you play. This is one way you’ll be able to take advantage of the consistent news, despite your current gaming skill. One of many ways to begin getting gaming news is usually to take a visit to the nearby game store. Game Stop as well as Game Crazy certainly is a few the most popular retailers which have the industry’s magazines. Most of these publications can provide you with a bunch of info on the newest releases of new titles, and also you may review the price ranges of both games as well as gaming devices.

Numerous magazines could possibly be centered on one particular company’s items. The Game Informer, on the other hand, covers reviews as well as news regarding every one of the many titles and systems. In that magazine you will find details for PC, PlayStation 3, Nintendo DS, PSP (PlayStation Portable), along with much more.

The magazines really are a way to obtain industry news, to be able to tell you what is hot and also what exactly is certainly not. You will find there’s a large amount of connections involving advertising and mainstream media focus. Immediately after getting brought up in the five o’clock news, sales of a video game can easily experience a sharp surge with sales.

Gaming news sources can certainly notify everyone regarding fresh and competitive gaming companies before you decide to purchase items. Often activities in diverse areas of the world may affect the market industry, since there are lots of organizations which sponsor awards pertaining to video games as well as gaming items. You can also look deep to determine what is influencing the market industry that you are part of.

Whenever you go to one of the nearby game stores, make sure you ask questions. The folks which work inside most of these stores could let you know about awesome things going on or perhaps upcoming game releases available with special prices. As well they might be able to inform you of gaming activities that you could go to and even attend. Look around at the posters, signs, and also other types of printed ads inside stores, as well.

Media companies for instance all those connecting people to satellite, cable, as well as additional news or Online resources can certainly have an effect on the game industry with their actions. Leaks of details or even videos will often give valuable information regarding upcoming games or events. These along with other types of intriguing news are available in the game magazines. Apart from Game Informer, some other magazines you might want to consider will be Computer Games Magazine, GamePro, as well as GameSlice. You will find homes for most of these magazines on the net as well. By simply keeping up along with game industry news, you’ll be able to greatly enhance your fun of your gaming interest.

As far as online sites and blogs there are a number of online gaming news sites and blogs. These web sites can inform you of new game releases; games reviews, and give gaming gear and games away for free. Now who does not like a free game or a free Xbox 360 console? Now days the best place is to look online for most of your gaming news, as is all readily available at the tip of your fingertips.

For more gaming news and gaming information, including game reviews visit http://raging-nerd.com/

Matthew Flanagan is an avid gamer and article writer about the gaming industry. He has had experience writing in the gaming industry for 4 years now. He loves the gaming industry and staying on top of gaming news.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/Matthew_L_Flanagan/901973

 

Girl Games Dominates Boys Violent Video Games

There is no uncertainty about the fact that casual computer is indeed becoming more and more popular as days go by, In fact while boys are claiming that its computers games is their world of fame, girl games has been increasingly gaining more fans over the years. This due to websites that have started emerging in the recent years that focuses in attracting the girl’s market.

Conventional boy’s games such as shooting, driving and fighting are predominant in the game market, new casual game styles like cooking games, kissing games, and makeup games are attracting the girls more than before.

Puzzles, and other brainy games are popular amongst girl, these are also played by boys, while free cooking games and dress up games gave way to enormous market exclusively for girls. This innovative games that targets preteens and young girls, attracts millions of visitors for a website, which is why websites that promote pre-teen girl products and services are using these game types to attract more potential clients.

Feels like Cooking with your Mom

Once in a girl life when all she had ever wanted was to help out her in the kitchen, baking pasties and ladling the soup, because of these cooking games made it a dream come for young girls who would like to cook her own recipe. Even you had wanted to help your mother out in the kitchen when she was cooking; no wonder why even adult women find these cooking games fascinating as well.

The name cooking games can cover up different categories and not just cooking however if a person hear the word cooking games, what comes up to mind would be baking and food preparation, other category includes cake decorating, or food serving. The major aim fro cooking games is to follow recipe listed on your screen, you can either cook up a desert like cakes, cookies, and pastries, or it could pizza making, or just ice cream decoration. The main objective is to challenge the player as well as promote fun and excitement.

Dress up game on the other hand involves choosing a perfect outfit for your all too perfect girl model. You will be given a whole wardrobe with varying style and color along with accessories. These games give significant emphasis on creativity unlike boy’s games that focuses on bloody battle and race competition. Creativity and your individuality can easily be recognized by the way dress up games is designed and so girls simply just can’t get enough of these games.

Girl cooking games such as Papas Burgeria and Sundae maker has very beautiful background designs and user interface that cooking couldn’t be more enticing. There other girl game types available for our young girls like kissing games, like kiss Justin Bieber which is one of the most popular online girl games, and makeup games where you can play with different makeup colors that your parents won’t allow you yet. These game types are crazy yet they are so fun to play, it allows you to get in touch with your creative side, boy’s cannot just get away predominating the girls with their violent computer games, get your laptop and start involving yourself with these fun and exciting girl games.

If you are looking for a website that offers girl games and more, then you may want to go visit cookinggames.net for a hassle-free fun gaming website for you.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/Sagbee_C/527605

 

Top Game Bundles – The Best Game Bundles To Choose From – Game Bundle Review

These game bundles sometimes are about the same price as buying the console separately and allow the purchaser to get started right away playing games and becoming connected to the gaming and entertainment networks that these bundles provide.

The Xbox 360 by Microsoft is the oldest of the new generation of gaming consoles, being the first to market back in 2005. It features the popular Xbox Live gaming network that allows for superior online game play. Recently, Xbox gained the Kinect add-on that mimics the Wii’s popular movement based gaming, allowing the user to become even more involved in the gaming experience.

The PlayStation 3 by Sony is the most powerful of all the major consoles, coming equipped with a built-in blu-ray player in addition to the free PlayStation Network that allows for streaming video and online game play.

The Wii is the least powerful console in terms of hardware, but arguably offers the best game experience with its motion censored gaming that includes everyone and makes games more interactive than ever.

For gamers looking for an on the go gaming experience there is the DS and PSP, handheld offerings from Nintendo and Sony respectively. These handheld gaming devices are very powerful and offer a rich, colorful gaming experience right in the palm of your hand. These devices are also capable of playing other media, making them a portable media center. While all of these devices will cost you anywhere from $100-$400, they offer countless hours of entertainment as well as the mentioned bonuses.

Not only do these bundles offer quality home entertainment systems in addition to intense gaming, they make for great gifts for any occasion. Gaming bundles make great birthday, graduation, holiday or housewarming gifts, as they provide the recipient with an all in one media device that can be used for an ever-expanding array of digital entertainment.

Xbox Live goes far beyond gaming, including streaming movies, Netflix, Hulu Plus and ESPN content. Simply connecting the console to your television plugs you into some of the most exclusive digital content on the web.

PlayStation 3 also features Hulu, Netflix, YouTube and Amazon video. For those that are on the fence about getting a console now or waiting until the next generation of gaming consoles, consider the multitude of additional content you get when purchasing a console bundle. Controllers, games, internet game play and access would cost much more than you would pay for the bundle.

Games for these consoles often are $40-60 new and Xbox Live is an additional monthly cost if you want to experience online game play. When purchasing a new console, one can see the benefit of buying a console game bundle: not only do you save money in the long run, but you also get an all in one package that allows you to experience all the console has to offer without having to buy all the pieces over time.

These bundles are widely available at any major retailer and often come with today’s most popular games and add on devices like the Kinect. Next time you are looking to make a major console purchase, choose a bundle to get the best bang for your buck!

First timers or experienced gamers have a wide range of choice for game bundles at Games, Console & Bundles Exposed [http://games-console-bundles.com/game-bundles/] site. Each has special characteristics and different games to choose from. Some bundles may or may not have the consoles in them but there are packages that come at great prices.

You can check my reviews of the top 5 game console and bundles at http://www.games-console-bundles.com [http://www.games-console-bundles.com/game-consoles]

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/Julius_D._Modesto/724910