Manhunt now unbanned in Australia. Wait, what?


MANHUNT NOW UNBANNED IN AUSTRALIA. WAIT, WHAT? 

 


This is Manhunt for the Playstation 2. It was released uncensored at the end of 2003 with a minimum of fuss and I purchased it the week it was released. Now, it’s not a brilliant game. It’s very good but not great. It’s atmosphere is the key thing. Playing as a convict, you make your way through slum after slum in Carcer City, being hunted by gang members sent by a sadistic snuff film director who taunts you as you try to survive a single night of terror. The tension is palpable in the game. Hugging the corners of buildings, you try your best to be as quiet as a mouse while staying in the shadows, lest the hunters track you down and brutally attack you. It’s kill or be killed in Carcer City and most of the time, the sweat develops on your brow quicker than you can say “Oh shit, run!” 

The Australian Classification Board passed it uncut in Australia in 2003. For ten months, everything was fine. But then a 17 year old kid killed a 14 year old kid in the UK. And the victim’s mother blamed Manhunt, saying her son’s attacker was ‘obsessed’ with the game. Eventually, the case was thrown out of court when it was discovered the attacker didn’t own a copy of the game, but in fact the victim was the owner. And no evidence was found to put the blame on Manhunt’s door. Both the judge and the police decided the crime was drug-related. 

The point is, the Classification Board reacted in the worst way possible to this media story. In September 2004, it decided to pull the game from Australian shelves and ban it. Instead of standing by their initial decision in 2003, the Board bowed to media and political pressure (which was unfounded) and changed their minds.

I’m not defending this game when it comes to children. Manhunt features wave after wave of death. But it is a game for adults. Much like violent films, books or anything else.

 
So now, seven years after they banned the game you would expect it to be still banned right?

 
Wrong. 

Today, January 7th 2011, Rockstar Games have released a selection of their back catalogue on the PC digital download site Steam. And Manhunt is one of them. Freely available for Australians to download for the reasonable price of $9.99. 

The Classification Board must classify every video game for sale on Australian shores. Steam is no different. The completely legal PC download site is one of the leaders in the digital distribution area, with brand new release games ready for sale day-and-date with their in-store counterparts. But because our classification system is inherently broken, the review board act like gibbering old senior citizens when presented with this new-fangled distribution technology, thus creating a grey area in their position. Manhunt was horrible enough to be banned in 2004. But apparently it is no longer objectionable. 

The Review Board continues to be a joke in 2011. Their classifications are overturned at a whim, simply because enough time has passed. They already have form in this regard, classifying the uncut version of Grand Theft Auto IV on PC  in December 2008 when the edited version was initially released in April. In turn, it proves their initial rulings were nothing more than knee jerk reactions to outside influences. Which even weren’t correct in the first place. 

After all the damage that the Australian video industry has suffered, these idiotic and baseless decisions only add insult to injury. With this kind of madness and stupidity firmly in place in our government and review board, it makes it makes even more difficult for the interactive entertainment industry in this country to climb out of the ignorant past and join the rest of the world in a sensible, evolving future for video games and the Classification Board should be ashamed of themselves.    

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A handy list of upcoming games I'm pissed off about.

For the one or two folk who are aware of me round these parts, y'all know I can be 'passionate' when it comes to upcoming releases. Lord knows I've led one or two of you astray with my misplaced excitement
 
Anyhoo, for those of you wondering about 'what game is he going to ruin for me next?', you've come to the right place. Follow my on a journey on excitement, anger and hope-laced wonderment as I demonstrate why 2011 could be hella-awesome or the worst thing ever.  

  
LIST OF UPCOMING GAMES THAT BETTER BE GOOD SO HELP ME GOD 

1) ALIENS: COLONIAL MARINES  
 
My number one spot has to go to ACM, which is now the hands of Gearbox Software. Delayed all to hell and talked about less than Michael Jackson nazi-leanings, this game has the potential to be incredible. Four player co-op in the 'Aliens' universe sounds like what video games as a concept has been leading to since 1986.  
 
2) BRINK 
 
I never tasted the sweet, sweet waters of Splash Damage's previous works, but something about this FPS of theirs has me going fuzzy in funny places. The SMART system, the shitty rebels VS oppressive security, the customisation (big dude with tatts, small dude with tatts) all has me interested. But the clincher is the colour scheme - light blue. The sun is shining and there is crisp bright blue water everywhere. What a breath of fresh air.  
 
3) DEUS EX: HUMAN REVOLUTION 
 
Yes, it may be black and gold up the ass but dammit, if this game doesn't look great. Blade Runner-esque overtones, awesome art and cityscapes that look like a tech-heavy future that I want to live in. On top of that, it's a Deus Ex game. Adam Jensen seems like my kinda guy and the world he walks around seems like the going-to-hell-in-a-handbasket sci-fi setting that could be face-meltingly entertaining. Here's hoping.
 

 LIST OF UPCOMING GAMES THAT ARE STARTING TO LOOK A BIT SHAKY AND THAT WORRIES ME 
  
1) LA NOIRE 
 
Rockstar very rarely fail. Scratch that, they very rarely make a single mistake. Their 1940s detective story looks damn good but early play-testing has me concerned. Is the game open enough for replayability? Is there an actual open-world in there or is it quite linear? After I solve the case, would I touch this game a 2nd time? I hope so. I really do. 
 
2) MORTAL KOMBAT  
 
So Kratos huh? This is the first bit of news that has me questioning Ed Boon's dedication to the hardcore return of 'classic' MK. Any time taken away from the development of this game to work on console-exclusive characters to sell to other fans of other games is a mistake. Doing this in 2011, espeically after it has failed in so many ways before, makes about as much sense as a penis in a hornet's nest. Just give me my MK already. Kung Lao is in there so what's the problem? 
  
3) BATMAN: ARKHAM CITY 
 
It apparently has multiplayer. What kind of multiplayer? Co-op? Rushed tacked-on deathmatch ala Bioshock 2? Nobody seems to know but if there was something a sequel to the greatest superhero game ever made didn't need it is this. Who knows, maybe I'm overreacting. 

 
LIST OF GAMES THAT SHOULDN'T EXIST STOP MAKING THIS CRAP RIGHT NOW
 
1) DUKE NUKEM FOREVER 
 
Look, I enjoy the GET OFF MY VENT/BALLS OF STEEL youtube video as much as the next man but I cannot get excited by this game in the least. DUKE NUKEM 3D was fun but that time is passed. Apparently the intro of DNF involves you pissing into a urinal. JUST GREAT. Gearbox should move everyone over to the development of ACM instead.
 
2) TWISTED METAL 
 
My jaw hit the floor when Sony's big E3 reveal was... a remake of a car-combat game. Huh? How is this supposed to work in this day and age? What the hell is Jaffe playing at? He shoots his mouth off about every developer under the sun and this is what he's working on? Make a new IP David, it's what you're good at. 
  

3) THOR: THE MOVIE: THE GAME OR WHATEVER ITS CALLED 
 
Hey developers/publishers, here's the thing. No video game movie will ever be good and no movie-based game that isn't made by Rockstar will ever be good either. Stop doing this right now. You have enough money. 
 
 
Well, that's it for now. For those who didn't enjoy reading this, here have this instead. It's pretty awesome: 
 

 
42 Comments

Just announce Elder Scrolls V already.

Ever since the days of sweaty nerds rolling twenty-sided die at each other back in the eighties, the medieval fantasy role-playing game still holds a very powerful allure to a lot of people. When it comes to video games, it would probably be unwise to try and count the amount of releases that have landed in this genre in the last thirty years. Whether it was a text-based adventure, crude two-tone sprites on black backgrounds or fully realised  worlds filled to the brim with incredible detail, getting lost in one of these adventures is something never gets old. 

One of the finest examples of this genre is the Elder Scrolls series. In what was typically a PC only adventure for its first three releases, 2006 saw the release of the most critically acclaimed and best-selling installment across all platforms, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Set in the fictional province of Cyrodiil, developer Bethesda Softworks created an immense, vivid world in which people, animals, enemies and events seemed alive. Granted, the story was standard RPG fare (player thrust into saving the world from all-encompassing evil) but it was the mechanics and design of the game which bore the most impressive fruit. If the player strolled into a town or city, villagers and guards went about their business in a way that was not random, but rather more structured and lifelike. Shopkeepers opened and closed their doors at set times before wandering back to their own homes, city guards returned to their barracks for food and rest after finishing their patrols. Market sales came and went, highwaymen waited until nightfall to attack wandering travellers and wild animals became greater in numbers depending on your location and the time of day. 

Together, these details mixed together to create a rich, layered universe in which I became lost in for dozens of hours. That said, it was not without fault. The combat was mostly awful, bugs and glitches were aplenty and every person you talked to looked like a featureless meat puppet. Plus, I’m pretty sure Bethesda only hired about three voice actors for the hundreds of citizens you meet. But none of that mattered. The world of Oblivion was much too intoxicating to be sullied by tiny issues. 

Since then, Bethesda haven’t returned to the province of Cyrodiil. Aside from two packs of downloadable content (Knights Of The Nine in 2006, Shivering Isles in 2007), the Elder Scrolls has gone quiet. Bethesda released Fallout 3 in 2008 to incredible success and now have moved to the publishing side of things, deciding to release other developer’s work under the Bethesda banner. Two of those games, Rogue Warrior and WET, didn’t meet expectations

In a few months, it will be five years since we have heard a single thing about the next game in the Elder Scrolls series. While recent rumours point towards a Elder Scrolls MMO possibly in development, this cannot be confirmed. Even if that is the case, that is not the right direction for this series. Launching a fantasy medieval MMO is this day and age has got BANKRUPTCY written all over it and the reason for that is Blizzard’s still-insanely-popular World Of Warcraft. 

What is the right thing for Bethesda is to overhaul Oblivion from the ground up. Take what made that game amazing and build on it. Iron out all the problems (combat, interactions, villagers riding on invisible horses etc) and streamline the hell out of it. You don’t have to re-invent the wheel, just polish it to a gleaming, mirror shine. Do that and do it right, and people will start talking in hushed tones about “the last RPG you’ll ever need” and “game of the year”. 

First things first, Bethesda. There is one simple thing you need to do now. Not in 2011 or 2012; right now. Formally announce Elder Scrolls V. Release a logo, some concept art, a plotline, anything. Believe me, the gaming world will explode with excitement at the thought of returning to that universe. Just don’t make us pay for downloadable horse armour again. 
     

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Death, taxes and the fear of video games.


"Ignorance is the night of the mind, a night without moon or star." 

Thousands of years after Confucius dropped that knowledge bomb, not much has changed. Human beings are still likely to spout off on topics of which they know very little just because they read or heard some other person spouting off with the same level of hatred and ignorance. 

 
Surprisingly, with everything going on in the world, video games seems to be a very common topic. 

 
In the city I live in, a 12 year-old schoolboy was recently stabbed in the chest by a 13 year-old schoolboy. The victim later died in hospital. The 13 year-old boy who is accused of the stabbing was charged with murder and taken away by police. Neither the accused boy's name nor anything about his life has been made public for legal reasons.  But that doesn't stop people from making shit up to make themselves feel better. 

 
"Video games have a lot to answer for." was one comment overheard by someone I know last week, in response to the stabbing being brought up in conversation. 

 
Also, another comment I heard made by a couple of middle-aged men connected the recent ratings troubles of Aliens Vs Predator to the stabbing. They didn't quite know what the story with the rating was, but they were pretty sure it probably had something to do with the attack.

 
But the crown achievement has to go to the two women talking to each other in a doctor's waiting room. I was calmly reading a trashy women's magazine, trying not to care about Olivia Newton-John's daughter drinking herself to death or something, when the subject of children came up in the waiting room. Naturally, the recent stabbing was mentioned. And then it just exploded from there. What follows is verbatim to the best of my memory:  

"I reckon it's video games that have the biggest effect." 

"Oh yeah" 

"You know, a parent has to always be at home so they can't play stuff like that." 

"Yeah." 

"It's that Grand Theft Auto too. You can stab people and steal cars in that." 

"Kids shouldn't be playing that." 

SUDDEN CHANGE OF TOPIC 

"Where I live, in a unit complex, there's kids running around stealing stuff. My friends' shoes got stolen and we went to get them back. The mother was on drugs and she started yelling at us. It was horrible."  

I didn't say a word while this was happening. Believe me, I wanted to. But considering the level of volume and profanities that would have spewed forth from my throat, I thought it best not to ruin the ambience of the waiting room. Plus there was a mad old woman drinking milk from a plastic bag sitting across from me so the room itself was uncomfortable enough. But I'll break down a little of what they said.  

1) In the same conversation where this woman states that she believes video games have the biggest negative effect on children, she also mentions a drug-addict mother who lives in her apartment complex. Her children are breaking the law and the mother couldn't care less and berates anyone who disagrees. But thank the gods they're not playing video games right?  

2) Bizarrely, she states that constantly being home with your child as a negative experience. As if it is a massive inconvenience to be parenting your child and monitoring what they see, hear and play on a daily basis. Obviously, a video game is preventing her from being away from her child. What a rough life she must have. 

 
3) I couldn't believe my ears when Grand Theft Auto was mentioned. I thought "Have I walked into cliché?". I was amazed that people still blame violence in schools on whatever scare-mongering article that made a passing reference to 'the Grand Theft Auto'. Not Grand Theft Auto 4, mind you, but just Grand Theft Auto. 

 
4) "Kid's shouldn't be playing that". This was the point where I was closest to speaking up. But I knew that if I offered my opinion and told these women about obvious ratings on the game's box and the game itself being developed for a more mature audience, I knew they would just look at me strangely for wanting to play a kid's game.  

 
Amazingly, no media outlet has yet to connect this stabbing with video games. I have been waiting for it since the moment it happened. But nothing so far. 

 
Naturally, the news items themselves have been littered with random internet comments from the general public that confirm my fears. For example, 'Pete' from South Australia had a good one that caught my eye - "They watch movies, music clips, video games where they can crash a car or stab someone and they just dust themselves off. That you can punch and kick someone with no real damage. Yet in real life people die when they are punched especially if they hit their head on the ground when they fall, people get aids, STD and pregnant from sex, people die when they crash their cars. And innocent people get hurt when countries are invavded." 

 
As an evolved race, we human beings have performed astounding feats of excellence. We have achieved flight, cured diseases, invented machines of wonder, created art and literature that make us question our very existence  and even travelled to the moon with less computer memory than it took to type these paragraphs you are reading.  

Unfortunately, all throughout history, human beings have also been terribly afraid of concepts they don't understand. In 1948, residents of Binghamton, New York were convinced that American psychiatrist Dr Frederic Wertham was correct in stating that comic books were 'nightmares' that acted as a 'violent stimulant' on children. As a result, they organised a mass comic book burning.  

Ironically, this happened just four years after the end of World War II. You know, with the Nazis. The ones who liked to BURN BOOKS.


 

 

Fast forward a few decades, and more people blamed their problems in inanimate objects. In 1985, the parents of two teenagers in Nevada were horrified to discover that their children had attempted suicide with shotguns (one dead, one horribly disfigured). Rather than concentrate on their children's problems at school, binge drinking and drug abuse, they blamed UK heavy metal group Judas Priest. They even took them to fucking court five years later. The parents and the surviving teenager blamed subliminal messages in the band's songs for what happened. The trial lasted for just over a month and was dismissed out of court. The surviving teenager died years after the incident. From drug abuse.  

Now it is video games' turn I suppose. People are quick to connect video games with children's problems, just like comic books in the 1940s, marijuana in the 1950s, flower-power and hippies in the 1960s and 70s, and heavy metal in the 1980s.  

Don't forget, the Columbine high school massacre in 1999 was blamed on Marilyn Manson and Doom. Remember Doom?  

Yep, THIS is nowadays typically remembered to be a result of...


 

 
...THIS. Makes perfect sense.



 Even without any mention of the accused boy's name, parents or childhood, many people have already decided on the cause of the school stabbing in my city. Rather than spending time trying to discover deep-seated, inherent problems with children and their parental influence, the easy answer always lies with video games. Blaming inanimate objects for the violent tendencies of lonely, disturbed people is a topic that still allows us to sleep well and not worry too much about where we are headed as a society. It gives us something to casually discuss over a cup of tea at work and feel satisfied in our misplaced ignorance that video games are still, to this day in 2010, some sort of depraved and sick entertainment that creeps into our children's brains and out through their violent hands. 
 

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to sign in to Xbox Live and shoot dudes in the face.

   

12 Comments

This Q1, spare a thought for Australia.


Wherever you hail from on this big blue planet, you probably think your life is pretty crappy right? All that time and money wasted on paying bills and choking hookers can certainly make it appear as if your day to day existence is rather bleak.  Well, at least your video game lifestyle is pretty easy going. 
 
Because ours ain't.  
 
For those of you who don't know, the land of Paul Hogan, Steve Irwin and whatever other irrelevant stereotype you may come up with gets the shaft pretty much all the time when it comes to video games. Now, I'm not just talking about our censorship and rating problems even though they are frustratingly backward. No, what I really mean is that we are victims to insane prices and lack of information.  
 
EB Games is the biggest retailer in the country when it comes to game-only stores and hooo boy, do they know it. Like a spider with many, many flies, the Australian arm of the Gamestop Corporation sucks many a dullard in every day and convinces them that yes, a AAA game like Modern Warfare 2 should be worth $120.00 (110.00 American). And if you didn't pre-order the Presitge Edition, you'll miss out on the privilege of shelling out $199.00 ($183.00 American) for those night goggles.  
 
But EB are just part of the problem. Pricing in general is horrendous. The Xbox 360/PS3 Beatles: Rock Band Limited Edition full band kit was released here for ...wait for it...$350.00 ($323.00 American). And no, it hasn't gone down in price. For $50 more, you could buy TWO Xbox 360 Arcades. Oh, and the God Of War 3 Ultimate Editon is rumoured to be $250.00 ($230.00 American). And an in-store purchase of an Xbox Live Gold 12 month subscription is $99.00 ($91 American).
 
On top of that, Australia is considered the bottom of the barrel by major game publishers. Nobody tells us shit. Silent Hill: Shattered Memories (GB's Wii Game of 2009) has just been confirmed for release here on March 5. Why? Because Konami apparently couldn't find an Australian distributor. We found this out yesterday. Saw: The Video Game was released here weeks after the rest of the world with no explanation. Asking some game store clerks about release dates results in them checking out the store computer and looking up IGN.com. Some of them have no idea because nobody tells them. 
 
Expensive games prices however, result in a strange state of being in Australian gamers. Any of us with half a brain throws up two fingers to EB Games and goes to bigger department stores and find the same game for eight or ninety dollars. Because of the standard pricing in this country, we consider $80 to be a bargain. WE CONSIDER $80 TO BE A BARGAIN. Sure, we can import but we shouldn't have to. 
 
But you know what the kicker is? The real sugar on top that punches you in the face and calls you names? 99% of Australians couldn't give a shit. They are quite happy to keep floating along with the 'Well, that's what it costs I suppose' attitude that will essentially change nothing. Either that, or be content with Wii Sports or Ricky Ponting Cricket on their PS2.
 
So next time you're moaning about paying for that collector's edition of Mass Effect 2 or wondering whether or not to get that DSi XL, spare a thought for the little country who is still paying $500 ($462 American) for their Playstation 3. 
 

IT'S THIS ONE
25 Comments

On the nickel.

Human beings have the potential for greatness. Even the lowliest drug-addicted, wife-beating, absentee father scumbag can inspire others after acknowledging their shortcomings and admitting their mistakes. Video game companies on the other hand are, for the most part, money-hungry conglomerations filled to the brim with ravenous corporate beasts, hungrily searching for the next revenue-rich idea that they can squeeze until every last drop is expelled. And even then, it's usually not enough. With the recent announcements of Batman: Arkham Asylum 2, Dead Space 2, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2, Crackdown 2 and Green Day:Rock Band, the originality that launched many of these titles has been thrown to the side of road in favour of that all-too-familiar speeding train - the sequel.

Now, please don't misunderstand me here. I myself am very excited for a few of these announcements. Batman and Dead Space especially, have me barely clinging onto the keyboard for fear of literally floating off into space on a cloud of my own inflated elation. However, I do acknowledge that it is more of the same. Ironically, this is in direct opposition to what made these and the other games listed above so refreshing when they were first released.

This concept is nothing new, of course. Video games are indeed a sequel-driven industry. Four of the biggest selling games of 2009 all featured the number 2 in their title. Nintendo's highest selling games every year typically feature either Mario or...Mario.

And video game publishers know it. After the success of underwater action epic Bioshock and its sequel's subsequent announcement, an interview with Christoph Hartmann, president of 2K games, hinted at the possibility of four more entries in the series - totalling six times a player can venture into the retro-laden world of Rapture. Considering Bioshock 2 has yet to prove itself, publishers continue to not be able to see the woods for the trees. Or more likely, the dollar signs in their eyes.

Another example is Massachusetts-based developer Harmonix. Owned by MTV, they recently announced that their next entry in their popular and critically acclaimed Rock Band series would focus on the stadium-devouring 'punks', Green Day. In September of this year, Harmonix released Beatles:Rock Band to universal acclaim and it seems this sudden decline in music quality and integrity can only be viewed as once again those corporate beasts starving for more cash to be poured deep into their mouths. Within 48 hours of the announcement, Harmonix PR are already on the defense.

It is without a doubt, an ironic crossroads. On one hand, the consumer laps it up when offered more of the same. Modern Warfare 2 is by far the biggest entertainment launch of all-time; the money earned by its release comfortably stomping everything in its path, from Harry Potter to The Dark Knight.

On the other hand, we cry out when publishers and developers do everything in their power not to reward originality. If a game is proven to be a high-seller, then make another one. When an original game miraculously becomes a success, a sequel to that game follows, thus strangling any sort of stand-alone reverence it may have held in video game history.

The question here is not who is to blame. It is obviously our own fault. The consumer. We are the ones who cause this lack of imagination every year by continuing to purchase every sequel, every iteration, every updated version of every vaguely successful game that appears on shelves. Guitar Hero successfully translated an obscure Japanese sub-culture game to a Western audience in 2005. As of 2009, there has been eighteen Guitar Hero games. Resident Evil and Silent Hill brought the horror video game into the home and mainstream mindset. Twenty-six games later, we find ourselves less and less scared. Thankfully, a handful of games have avoided this trend and their narrow escape has in turn highlighted the inherent problem with sequels even clearer. Would your gaming life be improved with copies of Psychonauts 2 or Shadow Of The Colossus 3 sitting on your shelf?

Regardless of personal excitement for a Batman: Arkham Aslyum 2 or Dead Space 2, this money-driven trend continues to spell the drawn-out death of originality and innovation in this industry and we are the murderers. The only question is: Are we truly happy about it? 
 

4 Comments

Something like a mama.

German writer Johann von Goethe once said "There is nothing more frightening than active ignorance". One hundred and seventy-seven years later, his words ring more true than ever as an entire country continues to suffer the unfortunate burden of censorship. Once again, we are forced to endure the personal viewpoints of one Michael Atkinson, Attorney General of South Australia and MP in the seat of Croydon. With his misinformed opinions blocking the implementation of an R18+ classification for games in this country, UK developer Rebellion's 2010 title Aliens Vs Predator is the latest to fall under his ignorance hammer, having been deemed too violent for Australian minds and subsequently banned.

 But we're jumping ahead here.

The reason for this incredibly short-sighted ruling is not the Attorney General from South Australia; he is merely exploiting and abusing it for his own personal ends. The law itself is the real problem.

When the classification act (and the subsequent board) was introduced in mid-nineties, the rating for video games did not reach higher than the age of 15, presumably under the belief than a higher rating would not be required for video games. Considering the top-selling games of that year included Donkey Kong Country, Madden NFL 96 and Mortal Kombat 3, you could be forgiven for thinking that parents didn't have too much to worry about.

However, times have changed. No longer a niche hobby tucked away in a dank corner of a rumpus room, the video games of today represent a multi-million dollar worldwide business rife with mature content. And I use that phrase deliberately - 'mature content'. Because for some baffling reason we adult human beings have been somehow convinced that the word 'mature' as it pertains to video games is solely defined by nudity, violence and drugs. Webster's dictionary defines 'mature' as "fully considered and perfected, having reached full natural growth and development". In recent times, classifications, lobby groups and politicians have skewed this word to their own meaning and as a result, fooled everyone into thinking the English language can be instantly transformed at the drop of a hat.

Today's video games feature fully realised characters, deep interweaving plots and storylines than only begin to reveal their true nature via multiple playthroughs. But a single law prevents full-grown adults being treated like...well, adults.

The National Classification Code clearly states that "adults should read, hear and see what they want", and yet this R18+ rating can only be implemented by the unanimous vote by every Attorney General in the country. Out of six states and two territories, Michael Atkinson is the only person opposed to this rating. As a result, the tally of video games now banned or edited for Australian consumption totals six for this year alone.

Atkinson presents no evidence for this standpoint. No facts, no actual reasons that are based in everyday reality. He simply yells and screams about sex and violence in video games without ever backing up his claims with any sort of quantifiable information. Occasionally he will mention the title of a specific game here or there, in an attempt to illustrate his outrageous points. But within mere moments, these misinformed opinions repeatedly crumble under the weight of cold, hard fact.

On the ABC Radio National program, National Interest, Atkinson appeared in late November to again state his position. To quote:  "I don’t want the extremely violent, sexually depraved and drug use games in Australia at all. We can’t stop these interactive games getting into the home and getting into the hands of children."

And from a form letter sent earlier in the month:

"I cannot fathom what State-enforced safeguards could exist to prevent R.18+ games being bought by households with children and how children can be stopped from using these games once the games are in the home."

And finally, from another form letter:

"It is true that this restricts adult liberty to a small degree, however, I am prepared to accept this infringement in the circumstances."

From what any rational free-thinking person can glean from these statements is clear: Atkinson has no trust in us. No trust in Australian citizens to be responsible for themselves. No trust in good parents whose common sense will lead them to look at ratings on video games and make decisions for themselves. Like adults. Taking this decisions from our hands and smugly claiming that he is "prepared to accept" it for all Australians, raises his personality into untold realms of arrogance. Arrogance based on falsehoods. None of his 'sex and violence' claims have any credence when studied for longer than a few seconds.

He is apparently willing to be a parent to all of us. We are too fragile and delicate to form our own opinions as far as he is concerned and as a result of this classification law, his ignorance has somehow combined with his unrelenting arrogance to form some unforseen parent figure that we cannot reason with. Many have said you can't choose your parents but are we not living in a democracy where we can choose our politicians?

And while that query is pondered, another quote from the Attorney General stands out:

"I think you will find this issue has little traction with my constituents who are more concerned with real-life issues than home entertainment in imaginary worlds."

Since, by his own admission, nobody in Atkinson's voting area neither knows nor cares about this issue, logic now suggests that he is only serving his own personal opinions. Is this the reason he entered politics in the first place? To serve not the people, but himself?        

7 Comments

Is $20 too much to spend on rubbish?

Well, I just bought Top Spin for Ps2 for two reasons.


1 - I've always wanted a half decent tennis game since enjoying Mario Tennis on Game Boy for many years. When tennis is played well, it's exciting as hell.

2 - It was 20 bucks.

When I fired it up, I was kind of glad that the integral gameplay was solid, but disappointed to discover that everything else around it was pissweak bullshit. The charachter models looks awful, the crowd is only audible during Grand Slam finals where they do something other than be deathly silent and the umpire's voice sounds as BORED AS AN EMOTIONLESS ROBOT WHO HAS JUST DIED ON A TOILET.

That said, the gameplay is rather fun. 2 player is even better. So...have I wasted my money? I can't decide...

It doesn't actually look this good.

4 Comments

An apology...to Pyramid Head

Here's a simple yet deceptive question: Is it actually possible to make a video game movie that isn't complete and utter garbage?

Just think about that for a minute. Because I have been. For more than a few minutes. Of all the movies based on video games, go ahead and try to name ONE that was good. Go on, try. I'll wait.

No, no. Not just alright. I don't want to hear that whatever film you're thinking about had some 'cool bits' in it. That's not enough. I want you to come up with a film based on a video game that you believe to be completely solid in quality. Having a little trouble aren't you? I understand. I understand because I've been thinking the same thing. They don't exist. Now, I am fully aware we can't expect Oscar Wilde levels of drama here but there ARE stories in the video game world that would certainly make for interesting and perhaps, fucking awesome movies. But this potential gets lost along the away. Somewhere between Hollywood executives buying the rights to a game and the atrocity being released in cinemas.

What brought this on, you ask? Silent Hill, I answer. I finally watched the movie the other day and even though it showed promise to begin with, by the second half it became a total chore to watch. It seems the producers thought it a great idea to make a movie from most of the content of Silent Hill 2: the game. But the trouble is, the game and the movie elicit two very different responses. Namely:

Game:        OHMYGODOHMYGODWHATHEHELLWASTHATNOISEI'MTOTALLYSCREWED

Movie:         Okay so there's religious zealots and a girl who ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ


Well, I got to thinking. Every single video game snapped up by Hollywood turns out to be a big pile of doo doo. Every. Single. One. Isn't that amazing? What other source material has been treated this badly? Every comic books are being turned into great films nowadays so WHAT IS THE PROBLEM?

First of all, people who make movies don't know shit about games. They continue to try and make movies from games that don't suit the medium. Ones that shouldn't ever be films. Super Mario Bros, Streetfighter II, Doom. If you've even glanced at these games, chances are you didn't think they would make worthwhile films. Congratulations, you are a rational human being. But people with the power to make movies are different from you. They're the kind of people to see this...

Pictured: potential box-office gold




















...and think "NOW THAT WOULD MAKE A BRILLIANT MOVIE!" (Yes, it's The Sims and yes, they're making a Sims movie. I can't wait to see the main actor eat, take a shower and then go to the toilet).

Second of all, decent storylines in games do exist and Hollywood recognises that. But after purchasing the rights to an impressive game, they can't help but tweak it enough to completely destroy it. Here's a quick example.

RESIDENT EVIL (the game): As part of a special forces team, Chris Redfield & Jill Valentine discover a colossal mansion out in the woods filled with zombies. After a lot of pant-filling scares and horrible monsters, you soon realise the leader of your team is part of a corporation-based plot to weaponise a virus to turn everyone into the mindless walking dead.

RESIDENT EVIL (the movie): Waking up nude in a bath, a woman named Alice discovers she has amnesia. A cop and a bunch of commandos join her in infiltrating an underground research facility run by an evil computer. And it's filled with zombies. She gets her memory back and it's revealed she is a) married to the cop and b) an unstoppable killing machine.

Okay, so the game isn't groundbreaking in the story department. But it would make a pretty decent horror movie if it was done right. The movie, however, can't help but the present the argument 'Why call it Resident Evil?'. If you desire to make a film about an amnesiac female hero and rogue computers and zombies, then go do it. The game didn't invent the concept of motherfucking zombies so there's no reason to remain loyal to it's name.

Which brings me back to Silent Hill. The game series has had its ups and down in terms of story, but there was a few nuggets of absolute gold in there. So if you were enticed enough to make a movie out of it, what's the point in changing it? It's like making a Lord Of The Rings movie with robots, space monsters and Martin Lawrence and just throwing in a few Hobbits to please the fans.

I'd like to take this opportunity to formally apologise for Silent Hill. I wasn't responsible for the film but as an avid fan of the games I feel a pang of regret.

I'm sorry, Pyramid Head. You are one of the most original, frightening and engaging characters ever to come out of a video game and while your brief appearances in the film are definitely the highlight, everything else around you sucks ass.
8 Comments

New Strike games would in fact be incredibly awesome.

Thanks to the Bombcast, my mind is now filled with nostalgia and future wantings.

Remaking (HD Style) or simply releasing the first 2 Strike games on XBLA gets a BIG THUMBS UP FROM ME. Those games were sweet.

Hey EA, make it happen! Don't be slouches like Lucasarts! Dammit!

I mean, just look at this:







AWW YEAH ALL TOGETHER NOW C'MON HOW GODDAMN AWESOME IS THEM SHITS HUH? HUH?


Seriously, re-release these games. It would cost like ten bucks or something

7 Comments
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