Who has it worst for... censorship?
Censorship, frankly, is crap. In a civilised world in which games are predominantly played by adults, and age rating systems exist, and adult human beings have free choice and accountability for the kind of media they want to consume, there is very little excuse for any game being flat-out banned before the consumer gets to decide if they want to experience it.
But some countries still do it. And some countries do it on a grand scale. And some countries do it on a grand scale for ludicrous reasons. And the worst one? Possibly not the one you’d think. Given its reputation, you might expect Germany to be at the top of the list, but you’d be wrong. No, you see the most heavy-handed country blocker of adult content from adult eyes (and I’m deliberately leaving China out of this whole censorship debate because, you know, China) is actually…
The reason? Venezuala decreed in early 2010 to ban any and all video games in which the objective is to shoot people, effectively making an unfathomable number of this generation’s games completely and utterly illegal. The no-doubt thoroughly well thought out and totally reasonable explanation for this stark move? The idea that banning violent games would quell the country’s gun-crime problem.
If only we had banned Burger Time when we had the chance. Then we wouldn’t have this worldwide obesity problem.
Yet further nonsense comes via the reason the bill eventually got through. You see although the ruling was proposed by the nation’s opposition party, Venezuela’s President supported it on the grounds that apparently some Flash games existed on the internet in which the objective was to kill him. Which is a bit like ordering the nationwide killing of all cats because you once trod in some dog poo. A homemade browser game offends you, you’d better ban Wolfenstein. It’s the only way to make sure your children are safe.
Aside from Venezuela? Yeah, Germany and Australia are pretty much the worst, as you probably suspected. Brazil has been a bit ban-happy in the past too, largely due to violence, but most of its release blockings seemed to happen during the ‘90s.
Germany gets the nod for its endlessly draconian attitude towards violence and its ongoing touchiness to Nazi references (it even banned The Darkness due to Nazi symbolism in the packaged bonus comic) , and Australia gets the ceremonial Nanny’s garb due to still utterly failing to have an 18 rating for video games, thus forcing itself to ban anything that falls beyond a 15 rating. An 18 certificate is now finally going through, although the originally pitched date of late 2011 has now slipped to early 2013. Publishers should be able to get previously banned games unbanned after that date, but they will have to pay a re-certification fee.
**UPDATE** Venezuelan reader GabeJediKnight has left a comment to inform us that the practical situation over there may not be as bad as it seems. Claims he:
"It's basically a non existent issue, as many who live here will tell you, this is truly a lawless nation, so while there is a ban in place, it is not truly applied or upheld by shops. Prices are stupid high though."
So that's okay then. True lawlessness FTW. **UPDATE END**
Those are the worst examples I've come up with for each of the main factors that make gaming less fun than it should be. Which country officially has it worst though? Personally, and from a purely outside perspective, and purely because it appears quite high in two of these shit-list categories, I'd say Australia.
Between a drastically cut-down selection of games due to years of ludicrous certification non-logic, and insanely inflated prices when games do arrive, I'd say that Australia has the worst time of it. Also, it has some bloody horrific creepy crawly creatures living there. So yeah, definitely Australia.
Feel their pain, brothers and sisters. Show them your support. Early 2013. Not long now.