17 Sept 07
One of our favoured lunchtime Internet timewasters is perusing the BBFC website's 'recent decisions' section where you can find out what ratings films and games have received and what - if any - cuts have been made.
In general, games don't get cut, that's left for the astounding amount of hardcore porn that gets submitted, but at a time when the government and media has videogame violence firmly in their sights the digital media section makes for interesting reading.
The rating that caught our eye this week was a 12 for Microsoft's widely publicised foray into family gaming - Scene It!. The obvious problem here is that any family member under 12 isn't allowed to play it, which doesn't really fit into Microsoft's 'Fun For Everyone' brand.
Read on to see why it got a 12 and then check out what the BBFC examiners thought of Mass Effect, Turok, Kane & Lynch and World In Conflict - can you guess which one gets an 18? Oh, and watch out, there's some moderate spoilage going on here.
Scene It? Lights, Camera, Action! (360)
What the censors say:
"Scene It? is a quiz game for the 360. Players are invited to answer rounds of questions based on the movie industry and can compete on their own or against others.
The game was classified at '12' because of several scenes taken from movies that form the basis of questions in various rounds. For example, a clip from The Birds was too 'prolonged [and] intense' to be passed at 'PG' in accordance with the BBFC's guidelines on horror at that certificate. Clips from other features were also considered to be too strong with regard to the BBFC's guidelines concerning violence and frightening sequences at 'PG'."
Mass Effect (360, PS3)
What the censors say: "The game has been classified at '12' for moderate violence and one sex scene.
"The violence is undetailed and takes place in a futuristic setting. The single sex scene is brief and undetailed, although there is breast nudity in one version of the scene. The sex scene is triggered by the player making a series of choices about becoming more than friends with a colleague. If playing as a male character the scene can take place between him and a human woman or a humanoid female alien. If playing as a female character the scene can take place between her and a male human or a female humanoid alien.
"The game also contains use of the word 'bastard' and at least one aggressive use of the word 'bitch'"
Turok (360, PS3)
"The game was classified '15' for strong violence which is depicted in a series of gun battles between the rival fighting squads as well as 'stealth' kills using hand-to-hand combat and knives. Most of the weapons available to the player are futuristic, elaborate and in keeping with the game's fantastical premise and, notably, the violence between human characters lacks any bloody detail or injury such as dismemberment or decapitation.
"The violence involved in fighting non-human creature enemies carries stronger detail in terms of blood and the damage that can be inflicted, but this aspect of the game reinforces the sense of a fantasy world where the action is played out which, balanced with the absence of strong injury detail in the human-to-human encounters, allowed the frequent violence to be contained at '15' where the BBFC Guidelines state that 'Violence may be strong but may not dwell on the infliction of pain or injury'."
Kane & Lynch: Dead Men (360, PS3)
"Kane & Lynch: Dead Men, is a third person perspective shoot-'em-up, where the gamer plays Kane, a wronged husband out for revenge and partnered with the unpredictable Lynch. The game was passed '18' for some strong bloody violence.
"The violence is incessant and rather realistic. The object of the game is to shoot as many enemies as possible, levels often unable to be unlocked until all the cops are down. The player-character is able to shoot innocents and it is possible to carry on shooting once a body is felled. Various guns are available, from pistols to sniper rifles and these result in varying degrees of accuracy and injury. Though there is no real detail in the injury, there are significant blood spurts and realistic splashes of blood and gore on walls, floors etc.
"As well as strong violence, the game contains strong language and drug references."
World In Conflict (PC)
What the censors say: "World In Conflict is a strategy game in which the player controls an American military unit during a fictitious World War Three.
"The game has been classified at '12' for moderate battle violence. This consists of explosions and occasional, undetailed puffs of blood as soldiers are shot. At '12' the BBFC Guidelines state that 'Violence must not dwell on detail. There should be no emphasis on injuries or blood'.
"Set up scenes include dramatised exchanges between characters including the occasional use of moderate language such as 'bastards'."
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