Gaming Regulations by Country
Many nations have laws or precedents which regulate the sale of video games. Most regulations come from countries where Islam is more prevalent or where there is a presence in state-sponsored censorship. Countries like Japan and the United States (where many games are produced) tend to regulate games far less. However, western countries are not shining exemplars of expression and free speech and also, occasionally, restrict certain games.
It is no surprise to find China on this list as it is a typical example of state censorship. Many of the games banned or restricted are so due to cultural or political reasons.
Wrath of the Lich King, World of Warcraft’s Third expansion, was delayed extensively. Death and images related to death are considered taboo. This was a problem in an expansion focused on a king of undeath.
Battlefield 4 was banned as it showed a “Cultural Invasion.” Like many countries on this list and off of it, the Grand Theft Auto Series was banned. The reason behind the ban being the content was unsuitable for children. Other games were banned because they recognized Taiwan or Tibet as independent states.
4. New Zealand
A picturesque landscape and a western political system lead one to believe the island nation would be a gaming haven. However, the Office of Film and Literature Classification is a busy bureaucracy.
The banned games tend to be those focused on sexual violence and other related, illicit themes. Such games are the infamous RapeLay (banned in many other countries), Criminal Girls: Invite Only, and Three Sisters’ Story. All of these games, especially the first, are games which focus on the coercion of young women as well as violence and sexual assault.
3. Saudi Arabia
Many Muslim countries restrict media along religious lines. Saudi Arabia is no exception. Games banned include L.A. Noire, Wolfenstein, and Red Dead Redemption.
Sexual themes tend to garner a regulatory response. Although, a negative portrayal of Arabs will also elicit a response.
2. United Arab Emirates
From homosexual themes to lustful images, to anti-Muslim content, the U.A.E is a predominant prohibitor of video games. The entire list of regulations is too extensive to review in full. But in brief, a few examples of the U.A.E’s stance on games are as follows:
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare was banned because of references to the Quran, which was considered highly offensive. Dragon Age: Origins was banned because of possible homosexual relationships. The physical version of Fallout: New Vegas was banned because of content related to gambling.
Like China, the U.A.E bans games along a cultural–as well as political–basis. However, Islamic teachings tend to influence bans.
Unlike the previous examples, Venezuela has no single ban with which to cite. The country’s regulation is greater in scope than any other. In 2009, the country introduced legislation which banned the sale on an entire group of games. The edict states any game with content centered around shooting another person to be illegal. Venezuela is the first and only country to ban the sale, distribution, and usage of violent games. The law also applies to digital versions of games.