In a victory for personal freedom (and common sense), the Film and Literature Board of Review has reconfirmed the earlier decision of the Office of Film and Literature Classification to grant the "uncut" version of GTA IV an R18 classification in New Zealand (contains violence, offensive language, and sex scenes). The Society for the Promotion of Community Standards had earlier this year applied for a review of the classification.
A 19-page report details many of the claims made by the Society, including:
- that players are encouraged to commit wantonly breach the criminal law and commit acts that are crimes against persons and property
- that the constant stream of obscenities in the game advances misogyny, and demeans, degrades, and dehumanises women in particular
- that the dominant effect of the game is to "titillate, entertain and engage players within the mindset of an action drama that glamorises: criminal activities, the infliction of extreme violence or extreme cruelty, drug-taking, the killing of law enforcement officers and innocent members of the public etc."
In upholding the R18 rating for the game, the Review Board considered a submission from Stan Calif, director of First Games. The Board accepted Stan’s point that committing acts of crime in the game are not without consequence – such acts always draw a rapid Police response – and found that the game does not promote or encourage criminal acts. The satirical nature of the game also helped lessen the impact of violent acts in the game.
The report emphasises once again why games like GTA IV are restricted to those 18 years or older. People like Stan Calif help ensure that New Zealanders who are 18 years or older remain free to make the choice to play these games.