Reviewing Blood Sex and Magic

Ever wondered if there is enough blood, sex and magic in your video games? 
I decided to look in to alternative sources of game information. Specifically Censor reports and Christian websites.

It's an old cliché that American censors are more hung up on sex, while the Brits are more bothered about violence; a comparison of the reports often backs this up. Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 feels the wrath of the BBFC for its "moderate violence" and the report goes into detail about heavy interrogation scenes involving hypodermic needles and knives. The ESRB makes no mention of this at all, but does choose to mention the presence of women in cleavage-revealing outfits.

What makes the British censor reports worth reading are their bizarrely detailed accounts of violence. The above extract from Bayonetta could have simply said "there was a lot of bloody violence," but instead goes into gruesome detail about exactly what horrific delights that gore aficionados can expect. There almost seems to be an air of the critic in this one, expressing disappointment at the lack of realism. Add to this the clinical, bureaucratic tone that seems totally at odds with the subject matter and they often end up reading like the diary of a psychopathic English civil servant.  

British censors write the greatest reviews....

Not reviews as such, but the British Board of Film Classification reports written when deciding age classification are oddly insightful:  

"Considerable Ragdollling"

GTA IV: Episodes from Liberty City


 There are blood spurts as people are shot and stabbed etc. and pools of blood form on the ground. However, there is never any discernible injury detail and it is not possible to inflict post-mortem injuries, although there is considerable ragdolling as dead bodies are shot. The characters controlled by the player are able to attack and kill any other character in the game, including innocent bystanders.

The game includes some sex scenes. The sex is quite strong, but always masked and the characters concerned are invariably fully clothed (no nudity). In cut scenes the Luis Lopez character is seen to be on the receiving end of oral sex (slumped on a chair with a woman's head buried in his lap). The same character engages in sexual intercourse on at least two different occasions. For example he stands between a woman's raised legs and thrusts into her and he also bends a woman over a desk and thrusts into her from the rear. The game also contains strong verbal sex references throughout and there is one scene of full frontal male nudity (without a sexual context). 


"A clearly unrealistic universe"




In BAYONETTA, the bloody violence is frequent and consists of clouds of blood, arterial spurts and flying limbs during combat, as well as 'torture' moves in which Bayonetta puts her enemies on a rack, into a spiked cabinet and so on. Such sequences are not presented in a realistic manner - one involves pulling a female monster to a rack and tightening a chain - with resulting breast jiggling - before the victim explodes in a puff of blood and body parts. Throughout the game, Bayonetta's enemies are fantastical rather than realistic in appearance, and the levels are mostly set within a clearly unrealistic universe. There is no opportunity to further damage bodies post-mortem, and none of the corpses stay in the environment for more than a few seconds.

The game also contains some moderate sex references, with numerous camera angles focusing on the female characters' bodies and costumes throughout.




WWE Smackdown v Raw 2009


The fighting features punches, kicks and various wrestling moves, with some matches involving the use of weapons such as chairs, ladders, dustbins, sticks, clubs wrapped in barbed wire and sledgehammers. The blows delivered with these weapons do not have a realistic impact and their use in any single encounter cannot be sustained for an unduly long period of time. The bloody injury resulting from any fighting action is equally unrealistic and it is not possible for fights to turn into ‘bloodbaths’.

More extreme types of matches see, for example, a defeated fighter being pushed into flames that surround the ring. The flames on his body are quickly extinguished and there is no detail of burn injuries. The theatrical presentation of such a fight is quite characteristic of the ‘pantomime’ nature of WWF and WWE wrestling, which is seen elsewhere in the game as, backstage, fighters play out various grudges and conspiracies as part of their storylines. This lends the work an element of fantasy which plays a part in removing the violence on display from a real-world setting. 




The Edgeworth song

 Just finished up the second case in Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth. I am definitely digging it so far.

The changes are more than just cosmetic and really freshen up the old Ace Attorney format (I love the games, but at No. 5, its time to innovate a little). More than that though, playing Edgeworth gives the game a very different feel. While Nick always had the world against him and had to fight tooth and nail to ‘turnabout’ the situation, Edgeworth is leading criminal investigations, hunting his prey, trying to corner the culprit: You really are looking at the world from a new angle.

I’ll write more in a review once I finish the game. In the meantime, enjoy this little gem: The Edgeworth intro song from Ace Attorney the Musical!   



Pre-order Trinkets.

With the second-hand game market eating in to their profits, game companies are adding more and more lovely trinkets/useless rubbish to their pre-order deals to appeal the magpie eyes and collecting instincts of cheapskate gamers.

To date, I have not shelled out for a pre-order-super-ultimate-collectors –bonus-happy-smile edition of a game, but the odd nick-nacks they wheel out are fascinating:  

Ace Attorney investigations: Miles Edgeworth

A shiny white teacup, clearly aimed for the  Spode or Wedgwood  cross-over market. I’ll admit, as an avid tea-drinker I was drawn to this one, and had it been available outside of Japan, they probably would have had me.  




Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker

'Peace Water' *Cringe*

 Useless items with pun-tastic names. Who could resist the MGS jigsaw: ‘Love and Piece’, or the MGS aluminium water bottle: ‘Peace Water’.     

Not too bad on a desk
Fallout 3

The bobble head looked kind of nifty, and this is the kind of novelty that could sit on your desk without it being immediately obvious you are some kind of sci-fi-gamer-dork.  Who they thought was ever going to use the metal lunchbox I have no idea.  

Heavy Rain

Bombcast listeners will all be aware that Heavy Rain features a must-have piece of unfolded white paper. You too can live out your origami killer fantasies! 

Quality Paper


What interesting pre-order junk have you come across?      


What does Microsoft have on file about you?


Ever wondered exactly what personal info Microsoft keeps on you when you sign up to their services?

Well wonder no more, a leaked internal document from Microsoft reveals exactly what they keep on record.

If you signed up to Xbox live using a credit card, Microsoft keeps the following info on file: date of birth, name, e-mail address, physical address, telephone number, credit card number, type of credit card, credit card expiration, plus your Microsoft Passport and Xbox serial number.

Plus, for up to 180 days they hang on to: screen names, IP address, IP logs, billing info and email content.

Probably not much to worry about.

Unless, of course, you have a tendency to brag about your criminal exploits via e-mail or online generally.  Law enforcement can subpoena any of this stuff. 


US consumers are spending 4.9% of entertainment budget on gaming

Ok, here is a statistic bouncing around that may have been blown out of proportion a little.


According to a recent Nielson survey of 3,000 American consumers' entertainment budgets, the average % spending on video games is 4.9%

This puts games ahead of more traditional/mainstream forms of entertainment such as DVDs (3.5%), and subscription TV (4.1%). Escapist and gamepolitics picked this up as a sign of some kind of big shift toward gaming. Yet I’m not so sure % money spent on games necessarily reflects time spent gaming, or its popularity.

As income rises, I think the percentage income a person will spend on DVDs and subscription TV will start dropping sooner than the amount they spend on games.

DVDs are as cheap as they’ve ever been, and most people I know would buy several a month.   New games tend to sell at a premium and the average gamer is unlikely to buy more than 2 or 3 a month. As incomes increase, there will come a point when there are only so many DVDs one can watch in a month, and I believe this point will come faster than the point where a person has spent all they are willing to on games.

Put another way, if a person buys 12 DVDs and 3 games a month now and their income went up, I think they would sooner move up to buying 9 games than they would 40 DVDs.

As far as subscription TV goes, while I have no research to back this up, i would have thought the percentage a person spends on subscription TV is going to rapidly decrease as income increases. If my entertainment budget kept rising, I don’t believe I would keep constantly expanding my range of channels beyond a certain point.

This isn’t to say the statistic isn’t interesting. I just question what conclusions can be drawn from it.



And the winner of SWG best video game writing is.....

Screen Writers Guild of America have decided on the best video game writing of last year:  



Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, Written by Amy Hennig; Sony Computer Entertainment     
And a reminder of those nominations again:  

  • Assassin's Creed II, Story by Corey May, Script Writers Corey May, Joshua Rubin, Jeffrey Yohalem; Ubisoft Entertainment 
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, Written by Jesse Stern, Additional Writing Steve Fukuda, Story by Todd Alderman, Steve Fukuda, Mackey McCandlish, Zied Rieke, Jesse Stern, Jason West, Battlechatter Dialogue, Sean Slayback; Activision 
  • Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, Written by Amy Hennig; Sony Computer Entertainment
  • Wet, Written by Duppy Demetrius; Bethesda Softworks 
  • X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Script Writer Marc Guggenheim; Activision    


[Edited to add: Yay!  I spun this post off in to an acknowledged tip in Joystiq]