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Game censorship around the world

The People's Republic of China

What do you expect from a country which censors the internet? In 2004, the Chinese government created a board which judges imported games, and denies their sale if they can claim that a game is guilty of any of the following:

•Violating basic principles of the Constitution
•Threatening national unity, sovereignty, and territorial integrity
•Divulging state secrets
•Threatening state security
•Damaging the nation's glory
•Disturbing social order
•Infringing on others' legitimate rights

Violation of personal rights and threats to state security are legitimate objections – who would want a game that steals their bank account information and uses their funds get babies hooked on heroin? But “Damaging the nation’s glory” and “Disturbing the social order” can be interpreted to mean anything, and essentially prevent the sale of any game which presents an alternate history that involves China, or presents China in anything but a glorious light (I.G.I.-2: Covert Strike, for example).

Above: We would never allow such unregulated zip-lines in China!

At least they’re honest about their censorship. If China’s regulations make us uneasy, it’s because we’re so used to the right to criticize our governments, but games are not actually the most harshly regulated medium in the country. Still, it’s Nineteen Eighty-Fu**ing-Four over there.


In 2002, with an impressively bold disregard for rationality, the Greek Parliament passed Laws 3037/2002, which banned all electronic gaming in public places. Supposedly they were cracking down on gambling, but mostly they were just responding to sensationalist media reporting, and being generally lazy with their lawmaking. The law was amended the next year (partially thanks to a big “WTF?” from the EU), though it still technically bans computer games in internet cafes (but is now unenforced).

As a result of this irresponsible legislation, every arcade in the country was shut down. What the hell gives, Greece?


Oh Australia, you couldn’t be more backwards if you were an isolated continent comprised almost entirely of Europeans, and restricted “non-white” immigration until 1973. Oh wait, you are.

In Australia, games are rated by the Office of Film and Literature Classification, but are apparently not important enough to make it into the name of the committee. Unlike films, games have no 18+ rating and must be deemed suitable for ages 15 and up.

Above: WiiWare game Sexy Poker, which is tragically un-sexy, didn’t make the cut in Australia

Hey, so, that’s absurdly stupid, and leads to stupid crap like the effective banning of Left 4 Dead 2 because it contains “realistic, frenetic and unrelenting violence which is inflicted upon ‘the Infected’ who are living humans infected with a rabies-like virus that causes them to act violently."

THAT’S JUST A DESCRIPTION OF THE DAMN GAME! It’s not a good reason to disallow adults from playing it, you uncompromising nitwits. This ridiculous conclusion that videogames are for children and children alone has plagued the industry everywhere, but Australia still fails to understand that child-proofing everything only causes cultural stagnation… and better piracy techniques.

Above: Why would you not want to teach your children how to kill zombies? Look what they do!

Sep 30, 2009

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Associate Editor, Digital at PC Gamer