A Week Later, Dead Space Ban Situation as Clear as Mud

September 12, 2008 -

It's been more than a week since the first wave of reports that Dead Space had been banned in Japan, China and Germany hit the web, yet publisher Electronic Arts has failed to provide a definitive answer as to exactly what's going on with the supposed censorship of the game.

That's unfortunate, since EA itself launched the story. The original report was set in motion by a pair of EA community managers for the sci-fi survival-horror game. Here at GamePolitics I have pointed out a number of reasons why the original ban report seemed questionable.

GameCyte now has a post in which Dead Space executive producer Glen Schofield (see him hyping the game's violence level at E3) says that the game has indeed been banned in Japan and "hints at difficulties in Germany and Korea as well..."

With all due respect to Schofield, I still have difficulty believing that the game has been banned in Japan, home of Resident Evil. I'd like to see an official announcement from EA and/or CERO, the Japanese rating organization. Moreover, as GP reported earlier this week, EA doesn't distribute console games in Japan, so only the PC version of Dead Space would potentially be at risk of a ban there.

Also in regard to Schofield's comments, what happened to the original claim of a Dead Space ban in China? Schofield doesn't even mention China. As in Japan, EA distributes no console games there, so at worst there might be a ban on the PC version. But we don't know. Does China even have a game content rating board? Doubtful. Previous bans have been handed down by government agencies such as the Ministry of Culture and the State General Administration of Press and Publication.

And now Germany has morphed from a ban to a hint of difficulties? As to Schofield's comment about a potential ban in Korea, that's a completely new one. Here's the quote from Schofield:

Glen Schofield: Australia is getting the full, complete version. No cuts. We’re not softening it for anybody. You know, I think a part of it was – he’s not a killer. He’s killing aliens and that’s why we thought for a while we’d get it through in Germany. And they were like ‘well, the fact that he can get dismembered pretty grotesquely is bad, so…’ We thought it was cool.

 

IGN: And Japan banned it?

 

Glen Schofield: Japan too. Korea thought they would get it, but we haven’t heard back yet.

As I see it, here are the possibilities:

  • Dead Space has been banned in Japan, China & Germany, as per original report
  • Dead Space has been banned in Japan and has "difficulties" in Germany & Korea, as per EA's Glen Schofield
  • Dead Space hasn't been banned anywhere; it's all hype

It's important to remember that EA could clear all of this up with a simple press release. If I spoke Japanese I'd contact CERO myself and ask about the supposed Japanese ban. Any volunteers?


Comments

Re: A Week Later, Dead Space Ban Situation as Clear as Mud

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Re: A Week Later, Dead Space Ban Situation as Clear as Mud

...

Re: A Week Later, Dead Space Ban Situation as Clear as Mud

@Afirejar

"Yes, in theory, such a game could be sold by German stores. It could be sold much the same way an AO-rated game could be published on major consoles in the US. There's no law prohibiting it, but it still won't happen."

That is simply not true. I buy "indexed" games in German gameshops all the time. In places like video rental stores (World of Video for example) that can't be entered by minors anyway they usually have all the "indexed" stuff - Gears of War, Dark Sector. The only places where you can't find them are the big electronic chains like Media Markt. The AO rating in America doesn't work mainly because none of the big three (Nintendo, MS, Sony) allows AO games. If this would change, many stores would start selling them like they sell unrated dvds. Right now, AO in America is certainly a bigger restriction than the German "index".

"When the video game violence histeria took off after the Littleton shooting, Doom had been effectively banned by the BPjM for five years."

Also not true. Doom has been "indexed"/blacklisted (not banned!) BEFORE Columbine, 1994 to be precise. The uncut version is still on the index, the GBA version is a censored (green blood) and rerated version, rated 16.

     

Re: A Week Later, Dead Space Ban Situation as Clear as Mud

If you can buy "indexed" games, that's good for you, but the last (i.e. only)  video game store in my general area, that didn't fall under the "big electronic chain" umbrella closed up years ago. If I have to drive to the nearest store, that sells indexed games, I might just as well buy in Austria. That would be much less of a hassle and a shorter drive, too.

"Also not true. Doom has been "indexed"/blacklisted (not banned!) BEFORE Columbine, 1994 to be precise. The uncut version is still on the index, the GBA version is a censored (green blood) and rerated version, rated 16."

I wrote "effectively banned", and I also wrote, that that happend years before. What's your point?

Re: A Week Later, Dead Space Ban Situation as Clear as Mud

"That aside, places like Germany and Korea are actually FAR more strict than Australia when it comes to video game classification."

Not really since even an unrated/blacklisted/"indexed" game can still be sold in German stores. Though not to minors. Australia's video game rating system is downright strange imho because you have ultraviolent stuff with the lowest rating on the one hand (Dead Rising for example) but total bans (=no sale at all) on the other.

@Jonas M Luster

"However, and this is important, I do not believe that calling this process a "ban" or insinuating it is one, does it justice."

As a German gamer I see a positive side effect here. Calling it a ban, eve though it clearly isn't, will make the USK (and probably the German practice of blacklisting ultraviolent games) look draconian and bad to the publishers worldwide. As soon as the Bavarian opportunists realize that less and less people (=voters) care about their pathetic little crusade, the USK will be forced to be more liberal if they don't want to refuse 18 (!) ratings to half of the action blockbusters.     

Re: A Week Later, Dead Space Ban Situation as Clear as Mud

"Not really since even an unrated/blacklisted/"indexed" game can still be sold in German stores."

Yes, in theory, such a game could be sold by German stores. It could be sold much the same way an AO-rated game could be published on major consoles in the US. There's no law prohibiting it, but it still won't happen.

Also note, that "on the Index" and "unrated" aren't the same.

As soon as the Bavarian opportunists realize that less and less people (=voters) care about their pathetic little crusade, the USK will be forced to be more liberal if they don't want to refuse 18 (!) ratings to half of the action blockbusters.

The USK has ruled the way it does now long before this "pathetic little crusade" started. When the video game violence histeria took off after the Littleton shooting, Doom had been effectively banned by the BPjM for five years. This didn't start with "Bavarian opportunits", so I have no reason to believe, that it will end with them.

Re: A Week Later, Dead Space Ban Situation as Clear as Mud

For the most part games aren't usually banned in Australia because of violence. Drug usage and sex are usually the issue (extremely backwards I know). Many ultra-violent games have been released uncut in Australia: i.e Dead Rising, Gears of War, Ninja Gaiden 2, Saints Row and dozens of others. Plus the Australian OFLC are very hypocritical and inconsistent so it's not really surprising that Dead Space is being release there uncut.

 

That aside, places like Germany and Korea are actually FAR more strict than Australia when it comes to video game classification.

Re: A Week Later, Dead Space Ban Situation as Clear as Mud

...does anyone else find it a touch fishy that Schofield claims that Australia of all places is getting an uncensored version of the game while other countries still have a ban on the table?

Re: A Week Later, Dead Space Ban Situation as Clear as Mud

A quick search of the CERO website shows absolutely no hits for "Dead Space" in English or Japanese. There's also no hint of the game on EA Japan's website (although other upcoming titles like Mirror's Edge are there).

Dead Space is featured on the German site though, including a release date.

Re: A Week Later, Dead Space Ban Situation as Clear as Mud

perhaps EA never intended to release it in Japan but knows it would be edited if they did

岩「…Ace beats Jack」

岩「…I can see why Hasselbeck's worried about fake guns killing fake people. afterall, she's a fake journalist on a fake news channel」

Re: A Week Later, Dead Space Ban Situation as Clear as Mud

The referenced article (and other relevant ones) quotes discussions with the USK. Which does not factor into the BPjM, does not factor into §15 (which - as you correctly point out - does cover the addition of "telemedien" into a list of content "harmful to minors"), or §24.

While, again, it is possible for a USK rating to trigger the process of addition into the Liste jugendgefaehrdender Medien ("list of media harmful to minors"), it's not an automatic response - especially, and particularly, not if there is NO USK rating available as of yet.

So, no, it's not possible for the USK to ban a game. And, in the context of bans in China, Japan, and even Australia, a restriction on sale and use for minors does not a ban make. Handing a Playboy magazine to a 12 year old in the United States has many legal repercussions, the harshest of which, depending on state, can lead to prison time (it's a felony) and a life-long tag as a sex offender. Yet, I am sure you agree, it is far from legally accurate to call this a "ban".

If the article had stated that Germany is (and, again, I am not an advocate of the current process, either) in the process of passing down a rating which would make the game unavailable to minors if it led to an addition into "index" and would severely restrict marketability and sale, I'd have agreed and shut my yap. Yet, no part of the current process fulfills the nature of a "ban", neither legally nor in the spirit of the word.

As a side-note, § 15 II JuSchG permits the enactment of restrictions on a media's distribution without the necessity of placing it into the Index.

To anyone interested, there's an English language description of the BPjM here.

To make this clear - I am aware of the rather mushy legal side to this. I am aware of the dangers posed to any product which enters the list of media harmful to youth. I am also not a big fan of it, quite the opposite. However, and this is important, I do not believe that calling this process a "ban" or insinuating it is one, does it justice.

Re: A Week Later, Dead Space Ban Situation as Clear as Mud

I am still very confused. Maybe I slept too much in law school, but at least as far as my understanding of German law is concerned, all restrictions on the sale (none on the purchase) of video games (and other media, from books to videos) are covered by §14 JuSchG, which only restricts the sale to minors and advertising before 10pm on any of Germany's national and state run TV and radio channels.

There are some legal challenges in the works at the moment which, if the Bavarian center-right CSU and its national counterpart CDU had their way, would restrict purchases, but that's - at best - a teapot-sized tempest which won't make it very far in German legislature.

The USK (which is a board comprised of members of the entertainment industry reviewing media for classification along the lines of the ESRB's duties in the United States) has no power to "ban" anything. At the most draconian it can issue a parental advisory making it mandatory for an adult to be present at the purchase of the game. German TV stations (if owned by state or federal run institutions) also voluntarily will not advertise such games. This is a far cry from a "ban".

"Banned in Germany" and "banned by Germany" makes it appear as if any federal or state authority is involved. This is not the case. The two factors here are an entertainment industry ran ratings body (a non-profit just like the ESRB and about as conservative and backwater as them) and one paragraph in German law (§14 JuSchG), which restricts the sale of such rated games to minors unless a guardian is present.

In no way shape or form is this a ban, it's much more along the lines of GP's own stance on parental responsibility and involvement in the choice of games for minors.

Re: A Week Later, Dead Space Ban Situation as Clear as Mud

How can someone learn about this topic in law school and somehow miss the "Index", the BPjM and §15 of the law you cited?

Yes, the USK can't ban a game. No, that doesn't mean, that games can't be banned in Germany. It just means, that someone else does it.

Re: A Week Later, Dead Space Ban Situation as Clear as Mud

A Week Later, Dead Space Lies Situation Getting Publicity

Re: A Week Later, Dead Space Ban Situation as Clear as Mud

As I already said in my comment on the original story, EA already confirmed to German gaming magazine GameStar, that there is no ban. The USK was still reviewing the game then, and they're still reviewing it today. The game might possibly be banned at some point, but as of today, it certainly isn't.

Re: A Week Later, Dead Space Ban Situation as Clear as Mud

As far as I understand it, the USK can not ban a game until it is officially released, so we won't know for certain with Germany until the game is supposed to come out there.

Re: A Week Later, Dead Space Ban Situation as Clear as Mud

The USK cannot ban a game at all, they can only prevent a ban by assigning any rating (18+ will do).

Banning is done by another agency, the BPjM, which does not do preliminary screening, only acts when petitioned to do so and can't ban something, that isn't available. Chances are, that the people in charge of banning stuff don't even know, Dead Space exists.

Re: A Week Later, Dead Space Ban Situation as Clear as Mud

I couldn't tell for Germany, Korea or China because with those ones everything is possible. But Japan? Japan??? The epicentre of hentai, lolicon, tentacle porn, Urutsokidoji, Claymore, Resident Evil and the likes? Banning Dead Space because it's too violent??

 

Come on EA, how dumb do you thing people are?

Re: A Week Later, Dead Space Ban Situation as Clear as Mud

While I'm not yet sold on the Japanese ban, it's important to keep in mind that all of the "shocking" media products people are mentioning are Japanese-made. Japan still maintains a very rigid "us & them" mentality in many areas. A foreign video game would almost certainly undergo more scrutiny than a domestic one.

Re: A Week Later, Dead Space Ban Situation as Clear as Mud

Don't forget the otaku favorites, Sukeban Boy and Tokyo Gore Police! That stuff's so gory, I almost puked! Sick!

Re: A Week Later, Dead Space Ban Situation as Clear as Mud

Dumb enough to give it a go?

This is EA we are speaking of here, that company has no morals, no standards, just greed. If creating some homespun controversy gets them more sales they will do so in a heartbeat. To them money is everything and quality, regardless of what their CEO claims is on last place.

Re: A Week Later, Dead Space Ban Situation as Clear as Mud

This sounds like a hoax. EA operates without ethics, and likely saw this as an acceptable method of marketing. Nevermind the damage that rumors like this will do to the game industry.

It's too bad EA exists.

Re: A Week Later, Dead Space Ban Situation as Clear as Mud

I'm sticking with my "There's a contest going on within EA to see who can come up with the best way to humiliate the company" theory. Maybe Dennis should just go down to the airport and pay someone who speaks Japanese to make his call.

Re: A Week Later, Dead Space Ban Situation as Clear as Mud

...Thompson? Is that you? You rascal.

Re: A Week Later, Dead Space Ban Situation as Clear as Mud

What?!
How dare you confuse me with that wretch!
The audacity. I say good day to you sir.

Re: A Week Later, Dead Space Ban Situation as Clear as Mud

I'm not buying this game one way or the other. "OMG guys, this game is so awesome because there's so much violence!" Sorry, I like my games to have a bit more substance. And in an age where video games are striving for respect as a valid art form, hyping the violence in a game only hurts us.

Re: A Week Later, Dead Space Ban Situation as Clear as Mud

RE4 is easily up there in my top5 5 games of the last few years. The story lines may be a little obvious sometimes but the settings and game design is up there with the best. It is most definately not a case of violence tacked onto a medicore title to boost sales.

Re: A Week Later, Dead Space Ban Situation as Clear as Mud

I'm half-expecting for this to end with all of us getting Rick Roll'd again...

Re: A Week Later, Dead Space Ban Situation as Clear as Mud

That's funny, because I think EA might be trying to stir up 'controversy' so they can end up with more money in their pocket.
Seriously, when did EA become such a bunch of assholes?

Re: A Week Later, Dead Space Ban Situation as Clear as Mud

when they started swallowing up companies to add to their bank account, nevermind the quality of the games, just churn out the same game year after year with different hairstyles >.<

Re: A Week Later, Dead Space Ban Situation as Clear as Mud

Does Japan ban games frequently? It's hard to find some of that information if you don't read Japanese... but the only ban listed on Wikipedia's banned games list for Japan is GTA III and that was only "some restrictions" in one specific prefecture.

Re: A Week Later, Dead Space Ban Situation as Clear as Mud

 

I know. I read it that the Kanagawa Prefecture in Japan ban GTA3 because "teens might mimic it", which sound stupid because somebody is a Jack Thompson in Japan.  Anyway, I look at Rockstar bracnh in Japan via this website:

 

www.rockstargames.jp/ 

 

I found out that Manhunt was released in Japan.  So did Max Payne also.  I don't understand why Dead Space, would this game be released on the same day as RE5.  If this was, why didn't they just released Dead Space game in Japan like a month after RE5 debut in Japan.  What's wrong with Dead Space in Japan and Korea?  I like to know what so offensive about it. 

Re: A Week Later, Dead Space Ban Situation as Clear as Mud

I'm telling you, this can only be the work of Capcom moles. They want RE5 to sell at its best and by making deals to ban Dead Space, Capcom can get a monopoly of the survival-horror genre!

Re: A Week Later, Dead Space Ban Situation as Clear as Mud

It was either this site or Kotaku, but apparently you're not allowed to have decapitation in games in Japan.  Though I find that very hard to believe when you consider games like Ninja Gaiden 2.

I'm trying to find a site that can explain what is and isn't allowed in Japanese video games.  So far no luck.

Re: A Week Later, Dead Space Ban Situation as Clear as Mud

I mentioned that in a reply to the last post about this (or maybe the one before). RE4 has decapitations here in the US, but not in Japan.

Re: A Week Later, Dead Space Ban Situation as Clear as Mud

Personally I'm calling hoax on EA's part to garner publicity. If any of this was true we'd have gotten at least partial confirmation by now, instead of contradictory information.

-Gray17

Re: A Week Later, Dead Space Ban Situation as Clear as Mud

If this is found to be a publicity stunt EA will no longer get any pity from me if any of their games accutaly do end up censored.

Also really if this starts to become more prevelant its going to be just as annoying as the whole uprising of using the "Video games made me do it" defense.  :( 

Re: A Week Later, Dead Space Ban Situation as Clear as Mud

EA's business practices aren't already that annoying?

Re: A Week Later, Dead Space Ban Situation as Clear as Mud

EA?  LYING!!?? Surely you jest sure, why would so fine and upstanding a company do such a thing?

Re: A Week Later, Dead Space Ban Situation as Clear as Mud

Next thing you know, they'll be telling us you can make multiple Spore accounts from a single purchase...

Re: A Week Later, Dead Space Ban Situation as Clear as Mud

I wish I knew Japanese. As far as this goes, I think they are going "OMG!!!1! teh cenzorships! bai teh gamez."

Re: A Week Later, Dead Space Ban Situation as Clear as Mud

I can barely read English much less Japaneses but from what I understand of the culture like the UK violence is being frowned on even with that said older media has not been really effected by it Anime has been censored more but its still pretty random, Manga has been virtually untouched but games is a medium they focus more on and games with adult level gore get edited like dead rising or RE4, so I have no doubt Dead space will be delayed and edited down.

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