This page summarises the reasons for some of our recent classification decisions (but don't worry, no spoilers!).
R13 Violence and horror scenes
Date Registered: 14/01/2014
Dark Souls II is an action adventure role–playing video game set in a dark fantasy world. Afflicted with a terrible undead curse, the player takes a portal to the in–between world of Drangleic in the hope of finding a cure. Played from a third–person perspective, the player explores decrepit ruins and windswept landscapes whilst avoiding traps and defeating deadly enemies.
The game deals with matters of horror to a large extent but limited degree. The cursed player explores ruined environments scattered with emaciated and rotting corpses. Grotesque creatures stalk cavernous halls and skeletal warriors wait in shadowed corners. Enemies include horror inspired fare such as winged demons and spectral ghouls.
Dark Souls II depicts the infliction of serious physical harm to a high extent and limited degree. Each sword slash on an enemy releases a spray of blood but this quickly disappears and there is no injury apparent. Corpses remain in the environment until the player leaves the area but no further injury can be inflicted. Combat is complex, with enemies using specific patterns of movement, requiring prediction and knowledge in order to overcome the odds. The fantasy setting also reduces the impact of the violent material, with the game bearing little resemblance to reality.
Dark Souls II is a challenging and engaging game set in a bleakly beautiful world. The player's quest leads them through many dangerous encounters with fantastical creatures, allowing for regular depictions of horror and violence. The game's focus on repetitive combat would prove disturbing to children and has the potential to desensitise them towards the use of violent behaviour in real life. In addition, the horror elements present in the game would be likely to frighten children. As a result, the unrestricted availability of the publication would be injurious to the public good.
However, teenagers and adults are able to place the above material within the game’s dark fantasy context. The above harms are balanced against the right to freedom of expression as set out in the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990. Placing a restriction on the availability of the publication to teenagers and adults is the lowest reasonable restriction which could be applied in order to prevent injury to the public good. Therefore Dark Souls II is classified as objectionable except if the availability is restricted to persons who have attained the age of 13 years.
R16 Violence and offensive language
Date Registered: 5/12/2013
Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes is the latest in a long series of games that debuted in 1987. The game is set in Cuba in 1975. The player controls a soldier named Big Boss whose mission is to rescue comrades from a US military detention facility using a combination of stealth and military combat. The game is predominantly played in third–person perspective with an adjustment to first–person perspective when looking down the scope of a weapon when killing opponents. In contrast to earlier games in the series that were linear, this game engages the player in an open world environment allowing for a lot more flexibility when completing missions.
The game briefly deals with matters of horror in regard to a scene in which Big Boss and his associates open a young woman's stomach in order to remove a bomb that was previously planted inside her.
The game deals with the infliction of serious physical harm and acts of significant cruelty to a high extent but moderate degree. The game's main premise is killing the enemy using a degree of strategy while avoiding being killed. It requires the player to engage in close quarter combat against enemy soldiers and the use of weapons to kill them at greater distances. Close quarter combat requires the player to creep up behind enemy soldiers to either interrogate, knockout or kill them. If the player chooses to kill the soldier, Big Boss stabs the man in the throat. Other means of killing include the player breaking the neck of an opponent with a rear choke hold or slitting their throat.
The game contains a low extent of highly offensive language...The limited use of this language in the context of a combat game is not likely to have much impact on mature game players, but is another reason why the game would be harmful to younger players.
The dominant effect of Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes is a big-budget, sophisticated stealth combat game. The unrestricted availability of the console game is likely to be injurious to the public good because of its treatment of violence and, to a lesser extent, cruelty. The game’s emphasis on killing enemy soldiers with the use of CQC and modern weaponry is likely to shock or disturb children and younger teens. The game has the effect of trivialising violence through presenting it as entertaining and exciting. Constant exposure to these killings, in which the player is rewarded as an active participant, has the potential in children and younger teens to lead to a desensitisation towards violent behaviour in real life. Older teenagers and adults are more able to put this kind of material in the context of an entertaining combat game.
Consideration of the game’s highly offensive language also leads to the conclusion that a restriction of the availability of the publication to older teenagers and adults is required. Balancing these harms against the right to freedom of expression as set out in the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990, a restriction on the availability of the publication to older teenage and adult players would be the lowest reasonable restriction which could be applied in order to prevent injury to the public good.
R18 Contains violence and content that may disturb
Date Registered: 17/01/2014
Outlast is a survival horror video game for the PlayStation 4 and computers. It uses a continuous first person perspective and body awareness such as terrified breathing or a hand touching a wall when peeking to immerse the player in its world. The game follows journalist Miles Upshur as he follows a tip on illegal experiments occurring at Mount Massive Asylum. The player explores these dark, bloodied environments with the help of a night-vision enabled video camera. As a civilian, Miles cannot attack and must run and hide from the asylum’s psychotic inhabitants. Recording incidents advances the back story while the necessity of finding new batteries encourages the player to venture into the dark unknown.
Outlast primarily deals with matters of horror. The player explores a dark and decrepit asylum filled with the criminally insane. Rooms are smeared with blood and corpses while crazed inmates stalk the halls. The game regularly uses horror tropes such as dark lighting, discordant music and jump scares. It also deals with the body horror of medical experimentation. Some inmates are seen with fleshy, vestigial stumps for hands while others have stitched flesh and missing eyes. Many are emaciated, huddling in fear or remain bound in straitjackets or chains. Cells are filled with the scrawling of madmen and walls hold phrases written in blood. In later parts of the game a spectral creature adds a supernatural element. A great deal of the horrific tone is set through depictions of cruelty and violence.
Outlast is an intense horror game with graphic depictions of cruelty and bloody violence which would be severely disturbing to younger audiences. The asylum setting allows for a focus on horror and the constant threat of violence adds a pervasive sense of fear and dread. A brief scene of necrophilia, while used to disgust and horrify, would prove particularly shocking to younger audiences. As a result, the unrestricted availability of the publication would be injurious to the public good. In addition, the use of highly offensive language further supports the need for restriction. The graphic content presented clearly suggests the game is intended for an adult audience. Considering the right to freedom of expression as set out in the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990, a restriction on the availability of the publication to adults would be the lowest reasonable restriction which could be applied in order to prevent injury to the public good. Therefore Outlast is classified as objectionable unless the availability of the publication is restricted to persons who have attained the age of 18 years.