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Board clears Interactive Porn for NZ Kids

THE SOCIETY FOR THE PROMOTION OF COMMUNITY STANDARDS INC.
P.O. Box 13-683 Johnsonville spcs.org@gmail.com
http://www.spc.org.nz

Press Release 19 August 2005

Board clears Interactive Porn for NZ Kids

A computer game that allows NZ kids to practise interactive pornography by taking on the persona of a well-known promiscuous and geriatric American male pornographer (Hugh Hefner) in order to build a successful porn empire, has been classified R16 by the Film and Literature Board of Review, following a review of the classification initiated by the Society. The Society had sought to have the game re-classified R18 and applied in late February to have the Board review the R16 classification. The Society has written again to the Minister of Internal Affairs requesting that the Board be replaced on the basis of this and other decisions it has issued.

Players of the Playboy game, which was released for sale by retailers on 4 March 2005, learn to recruit women for nude Playmate centrefold photo-shoots, arranging multiple sexual encounters in party environments where semi-nude female models and their clients can get drunk, and selecting the locations where sex is to take place. The players can manipulate the environment to ensure that certain types of sexual encounters take place and can access Playboy website porn via game links. Modifications (“Mods”) to the game can be down-loaded from the internet so kids can unlock sexually explicit content. The game was classified R18+ in the UK and its manufacturer Ubi Soft classifies it “Suitable for ages 18 and above”. The publication is a console game contained within a DVD-ROM formatted for the Xbox console. It is also available in PlayStation and computer game formats.

The NZ Chief Censor’s Office which classified the game R16 described “some of the presentations” of sexual activities as “dehumanising and demeaning [in] nature” and noting that they “could encourage sexist attitudes towards women by impressionable youths.”

Board members, including the Governor-General’s husband Peter Cartwright (who has had wide experience viewing indecent publications as former Chief of the Indecent Publications Tribunal) and Rotorua-based barrister Claudia Elliott, have ensured that thousands of 16-year old New Zealand school children will not be denied the opportunity to purchase this game and share the practise of interactive pornography with their young friends. The Board revealed its collective depth of ‘insight’ when it wrote in its report “The game has limited merit as a corporate simulation”. True to form, it again refused to address the “dominant effect of the publication as a whole” as it is required to do under s. 3(4) of the Films, Videos and Publications Classification Act (1993).

It stated “the dominant effect of the game is that it is somewhat ponderous, predictable and repetitive.” These irrelevant comments that fail to address the matter of dominant effect, reflect the past-their used-by date of the aged Board members.

The Society applied to the board president (Ms Claudia Elliott) on 22 July 2005 to have an interim restriction order placed on the publication until the Board issued its decision on the classification. (The Society had earlier applied to the Board seeking to have the game’s R16 classification lifted to R18). Despite the fact that s. 49 the Classification Act requires the president to deal all applications for interim restriction orders as soon as is “practicable,” she wrote to the Society on 4 August saying that she “was not considering the application”. Following a strongly worded protest from the Society sent the same day, pointing out her “incompetence”, the president decided to comply with the law and in a decision dated 10 August 2005 called for submissions from the Society, the Chief Censor’s Office and the distributor, regarding the application for the order. She gave all parties until 4 p.m. 11 August to make submissions. On 16 August, the president issued her decision refusing the Society’s application for an interim restriction order, providing as the only reason the following:

“The Interim Restriction Order is refused on the basis that the Board’s Decision has now been released. It is therefore not “in the public interest” for an interim restriction Order to be made, as the process of hearing by the Board is completed pursuant to its obligations under the Act wit its decision being released.” [par. 24]

The Society considers the president’s actions an abuse of process. Instead of dealing with the application for an order (dated 22 July) with due diligence she deliberately delayed the process and did not issue a decision until 16 August, four days after the Board released its classification decision dated 12 August. The Act allows for the applicant for review to apply to the president for an order at any time up to the time the Board issues its classification decision.

Ms Elliott has established a dangerous precedent that corrupts the process by which interim restriction orders can be applied for. If a president can fob of an applicant for an order by delay tactics and refuse to issue a decision until after the Board has issued its classification, then this undermines the whole process. It also means that the Board is put under pressure to not classify the publication objectionable or tighten its classification rating, in order to conform wit the president’s decision to not grant the order.

The Society believes that the New Zealand public needs to be informed of the identities of the Board members who have been responsible for clearing the Playboy game for use by kids. The nine members are: Claudia Elliott (President), Greg Presland (Vice President), Mark Andersen, Peter Cartwright, Dr Brian McDonnell, Dr Lalita Rajasinghe, Dr Brian McDonnell, Marion Orme, Stephen Stehlin and Ani Waaka.

The Chief Censor’s Office described the game in its classification decision as follows:

“The only playable character is Hefner and he interacts with a variety of non-playable characters. All characters are viewed from a third-person perspective… Women in general are demeaned and dehumanised by the way they are depicted in this game. They are presented as objects of sexual fantasy readily available to be manipulated and presented soley for this purpose. They are stereotyped as young and attractive with idealised body shapes. Hefner can easily manipulate them to have sex by engaging in romantic talk and giving them gifts. These presentations … are intended for the sexual titlillation of male players…When relationships with some of the women are well established the Hefner character can have sex with them….The game offers the player and the viewer access to images of sexualised nudity and implied sexual intercourse. The nudity occurs regularly in gameplay and presents young women with breasts or buttocks exposed interacting with the main characters. The interaction often involves conversations between them, or on occasion the women are required to pose for the cover or the centrefold of the magazine. As a reward for completing some objectives in gameplay access to photographs of actual Playboy models are available (copies of these photographs are included on the file related to this publication). With their concentration on the women’s breasts and buttocks they give the impression that they are designed to engage and sexually titillate the male viewer.”

Appendix

The Society applied for leave with respect to the consul game Playboy: the mansion received on the 25th of February 2005. It provided the following material supportive of its application.

1. The current OFLC classification of Playboy: The Mansion (R16) means that any 16 or 17 year old can purchase this game, play it, or supply it to any other minor who has reached the age of 16 years. The Playboy website marketing this game acknowledges that it is unsuitable for 16 year olds. We understand that it was classified R18+ in the UK, a rating supported by those who profile computer games on respected game websites eg.

Rated 17+ “Strong sexual content, nudity and use of alcohol”
http://www.playboyvideogame.com/

2. Others make it clear that the Adult Only themes mean it is restricted to those 18 years and over, the rating it received in the UK.

“If you're over 18, Playboy: The Mansion looks like a great time”.

http://pc.gamespy.com/pc/playboy-the-mansion/515444p1.html
by Raymond Padilla | May 13, 2004

Manufacturer: Ubi Soft Category: Strategy & Simulation Availability: Usually Ships in 24 to 48 Hours Classification: Suitable for ages 18 and above. Our Price: £32.99

http://www.xyramax.co.uk/catalog/product_info.php/cPath/84_87_100/products_id/2657

3. The “injury to the public good” that this game poses needs to be addressed by responsible censors particularly in relation to the welfare of children and young persons (those under 18 years). It is manifestly unreasonable to take the view that it is unlikely to promote the sexual exploitation of 16 to 17 year olds (young persons).

The Films, Videos, Publications Classification Act 1993 (“the Act”) states:

S. 3(2) “A publication shall be deemed to be objectionable for the purposes of this Act if the publication promotes or supports, or tends to promote or support,— (a)The exploitation of children, or young persons, or both, for sexual purposes ………”

S. 3(3) “In determining, for the purposes of this Act, whether or not any publication (other than a publication to which subsection (2) of this section applies) is objectionable or should be given a classification other than objectionable, particular weight shall be given to the extent and degree to which, and the manner in which, the publication— Degrades or dehumanises or demeans any person … or class of persons.”

These matters must be considered in the light of “ S. 3(4) (a) the dominant effect of the publication as a whole, (b) its impact in terms of the medium in which it is presented and (e) the purpose for which the publication is intended to be used.

4. The publication is targeted to young boys who have been hooked on family-relationship games like The Sims. The OFLC decision (Ref. No. 500057) notes:

“As a reward for completing some objectives in gameplay access to photographs of actual Playboy models are available (copies of these photographs are included on the file related to this publication). With their concentration on the women’s breasts and buttocks they give the impression that they are designed to engage and sexually titillate the male viewer.”

5. Paedophiles and sexual perverts regularly use Playboy pornography to titillate young boys before they commit their sexual offences against them. Playboy: The Mansion is pornographic in its intent and exploits young people sexually. Its promotion of hedonism (including sexual promiscuity) is designed to lure young people towards its Playboy pornography material, without any reference to the downside of emulating the lifestyle. There is no safe sex message in the game. There is no reference to safeguards against STDs including HIV/AIDS and unwanted pregnancies. Instead multiple sexual encounters by an employer and his female employees are actively encouraged by a reward system that feeds on the players own vices (including lust). Such attitudes are not tolerated under New Zealand law when expressed in sexist and exploitative behaviour towards women in the workplace by male employers.

6. The OFLC decision notes that the game producer is keen to inform players that all sexual encounters depicted and set-up involve consensual sexual activity between adults. This type of puerile defence argument can be compared to attempt by the defenders of the banned computer game Man Hunt asserting that because none of the computer-generated characters subjected to torture and cruelty in the game feel it, then the game should be cleared for use by 16 year olds.

7. The shallow meaningless contrived ‘conversations’ that are used by the game player as a means of getting young female employees bedded with Hefner is one of the many factors that has convinced critics of the game that it has no redeeming features that counterbalance its insideous promotion of pornography to young people.

8. Unlike more passive media – such as film and video recordings – the console game medium allows the player to interact with the images on screen directly and to control the actions of a character, in effect translating viewer actions and choices into onscreen action. This is particularly relevant to Playboy: The Mansion which offers players choices as to how many times and with how many different women Hefner can have sex. A reasonably proficient 16 year or 17 old boy can easily be exposed, and re-exposed, to the game’s content for many hours, voyeuristically feeding his mind on many hundreds of sexual encounters for titillation purposes. The cumulative effect of such viewing is no doubt greater than that experienced by a single exposure to a fleeting image in the context of a film with real dialogue and context.

9. Consideration of the game under ss3(3) and 3(4) of the Act leads to the conclusion that the availability of Playboy: The Mansion is likely to be injurious to the public good. The likelihood of injury arises from a young person’s lengthy and repeated exposure to the game's unhealthy promiscuous lifestyle promotion and from the gameplay constantly encouraging the player to escalate the levels of sexual promiscuity through a reward system involving pornography. While it is acknowledged the game involves fictional characters and settings, its ‘entertainment’ value lies in allowing the player to enact and repeat regular acts of sexual promiscuity without conveying any warning about the serious health risks involved.

10. Learning how to acquiesce in, tolerate, or take enjoyment from sexual promiscuity over the length of time it takes to play this game requires an attitudinal shift that condones and takes pleasure from promiscuity, (and reinforces such attitudes amongst those who already have them) that is likely to be injurious to the public good. Another likelihood of injury to the public good lies in the game’s potential to adversely affect young people and adults alike, who may find the constant focus on sexual titillation. The third likelihood of injury arises from the fact that the game immerses the player in a pornographic mindset intended to be a source of excitement and pleasure. To a greater or lesser degree, this has the potential to inure players to promiscuity, the pernicious and sick mindset of a pimp and pornographer who all exploit, demean, degrade and dehumanise women for sordid gain.

Reference material set out below

Playboy The Mansion: Seth Spaulding Interview
By: César A. Berardini - "Cesar"
December 2nd, 2004

Once you acquired the rights, what was the development team's main goal in the creation of the game?

Seth Spaulding: Our main goal was to create a fun game that honored the goals and values of Playboy. Though we had the core concept to start, we had a lot of work to do to create a fun and challenging play experience. To address the values of Playboy, we wanted to emphasize living the high-life of Hugh Hefner and present sex and nudity in a respectful and fun way - much the same way the magazine does. The 50+ year history of the magazine itself served as a very good guide for directing the experience.

One common disappointment found in today's games is that many have superb visuals but lackluster gameplay. With Playboy: The Mansion we're obviously expecting impressive graphics, but what will we find in the core gameplay?

Seth Spaulding: At the core of it all is the magazine you're trying to get out the door. In the beginning, you'll start out like Hef did with some basic content, a small villa and an idea for a men's magazine. To get it up and rolling, you need to hire and manage staff, including journalists, photographers and Playboy Playmates. You'll also need to host parties to make the connections you need to make to secure your monthly content - from cover shoots to interviews to essays. Now, when you first start out, your magazine's going to be somewhat on the humble side - you're not going to have interviews with a-list celebrities like Carmen Electra on your cover. However, with every successful issue comes fame. The better your magazine, the better your income and fame and the better the parties you'll throw. You'll be able to invite bigger and better celebrities, and hopefully, you'll be able to get some great content from them. It's really cyclic - the more money you have, the better parties you'll throw, the better celebrities you'll be able to invite, the better content you'll get from them and the better your magazine. The better your magazine, the more money you'll make.

Seth Spaulding: Eric Marcoullier, our Producer describes it best - The Photo Shoot is the one area in Playboy: the Mansion that's purely sexy-fun for sexy-fun's sake. It's our mini-game - the rest of the game wouldn't suffer without it, but boy would you miss it! You pick your model, put her in a cool mansion environment and then take pictures as she poses. You have no control over her as she moves from location to location and you have a limited number of shots to get a great cover image or Centerfold. Imagine - You're looking through the viewfinder and your model is perfect, the setting is right, you've got the angle you want but you're just not sure… then BAM! Your Playmate turns her head just so and the shot is perfect. You press the shutter button and shoot that picture. Now you just can't wait to get back to the magazine so that you can put that photo on the cover of your next issue.

In the 50 years Playboy has been published, many beautiful divas have posed nude for the magazine. What real life stars or past Playmates make an appearance in the game?

Seth Spaulding: We have more than 100 Playmates from the magazine who appear in the roster as well as celebrities like Carmen Electra, Tom Arnold, and several others. Many celebrities will contribute to the magazine in various forms such as posing for covers, writing essays or providing interviews.

What is the level of nudity and sexual content found in the game?

Seth Spaulding: As you might imagine, finding this "level" was one of the most debated subjects during production. Specifically, Playboy: The Mansion features topless nudity, and many sexual animations.

We always felt there was more danger in being too tame than too risqué because people approach Playboy with a certain set of expectations. Nudity is one of those expectations. If Playboy: The Mansion had no nudity, people would wonder, to a degree, "Why would we bother."

Honoring the Playboy brand to us meant recognizing that nudity was going to be a part of the game because it was part of the world of Playboy. Playboy approaches the subject playfully, and at the same time, with a great deal of respect to women. These two themes - playfulness and respect - were guidelines we used as we determined the goals and boundaries of the sexual content in the game.

http://interviews.teamxbox.com/xbox/967/Playboy-The-Mansion-Seth-Spaulding-Interview/p1/

20 Questions with the Playboy: The Mansion Leads
Press Release
May 25th 2004

Currently under development at Cyberlore Studios, Playboy: The Mansion is a unique gaming experience that seamlessly combines intriguing social interaction, party-throwing simulation and empire- building challenges.

The player steps into the virtual slippers of world-famous Playboy Founder Hugh Hefner, building Playboy Magazine and the Playboy Mansion into dynamic cultural icons. Gamers also will live the lifestyle, rubbing elbows with stunning women and popular celebrities, and share the mystique of the Mansion by hosting extravagant, exciting parties. Crafty management of the Mansion’s social scene will be required to keep the business end of things thriving. Scoring hot celebrity interviews and arranging sexy photo shoots are just some of the tasks that players will encounter in growing the empire.

Check out what Brenda Brathwaite, lead designer of the game, Eric Marcoullier, senior producer, Seth Spaulding, lead artist and Bill McFadden, lead programmer, had to say about the game.

__________________________

January 18, 2005-03-03

http://www.playboy.com/arts-entertainment/games/playboythemansion/

The Playboy dynasty is yours to command in Playboy: The Mansion, a simulation every bit as extraordinary as Hugh Hefner's legacy. Controlling Hef himself, players are charged with building both a home and a thriving multimedia empire where hedonism is the highest law. Fame, wealth, power...all lie at your fingertips. Just one catch -- there's also a monthly magazine that needs tending to.

Think of the game as a virtual dollhouse...with nudity. Viewing the action from an overhead perspective, you'll design and outfit the estate with high-end furniture and luxury items including flat-screen TVs, safari rugs and turntables. Visitors and employees alike frequent the grounds. Pursuing open-ended scenarios or an era-spanning campaign mode, participants must tackle tasks like balancing budgets, planning editorial layouts and throwing lavish parties. Thanks to an easily manipulated, icon-driven interface, creating saucy spreads and coaxing models into topless first-person photo shoots is a breeze.

It is crucial to forge bonds with an assortment of high-powered professionals, gorgeous females and celebrity guests like Carmen Electra and Tom Arnold. Successfully address each VIP's needs -- some prefer dancing, others favor swapping sports scores -- and you'll acquire willing bedroom partners, exclusive interviews and racy pictorials. In short, the more you mingle, the better the overall quality of your publication. Plus, the more revenue each issue brings in, the more additional party areas -- pool, Grotto, garage -- that become accessible and the greater the number of girlfriends will be at your beck and call.

After a slight learning curve, anyone who's a sucker for The Sims should adore Playboy: The Mansion. With its attractive visuals, immense replay value and a soundtrack featuring more than 40 avant-garde artists like Felix da Housecat and the All-American Rejects, it's the sexiest piece of software we've ever seen.

Rated 17+ “Strong sexual content, nudity and use of alcohol”
http://www.playboyvideogame.com/

____________________

Gamespy.com
http://pc.gamespy.com/pc/playboy-the-mansion/515444p1.html
By Raymond Padilla | May 13, 2004

Making the magazine is as much fun as throwing a party. After all, you have to photograph some of the sexiest women in the world. On the celebrity list are several models that have appeared in Playboy before. While the publisher would neither confirm nor deny Carmen Electra's involvement in the game, I would bet the bank that she's in it. You can entice Carmen and the other girls to come back for another shoot. Once there, you can change the models outfit and accessories, though you'll want to strip her down for the centerfold. Picking slick layouts, taking hot photos, and designing an enticing cover are some of the keys to making a magazine that sells.

While I was expecting a gratuitous, watered-down version of The Sims, Playboy: The Mansion promises to be much more. It looks like a fun, adult-themed game that's fun to play and can also help players with task management, networking, and social interaction. Plus, there will be all kinds of sex happening in the mansion according to the publisher. If you're over 18, Playboy: The Mansion looks like a great time.

____________________

GAME THEORY; Underneath It All, Substance Sells

By CHARLES HEROLD
Published: February 17, 2005

PLAYBOY: THE MANSION

Developed by Cyberlore Studios and published by Arush Entertainment and Groove Games for PlayStation 2 and the Xbox ($49.95) and for Windows 98 and later ($39.95); for ages 17 and older.

DEAR Gaming Industry,

Having been playing video games for many years, I have lately noticed a trend toward games in which sex is the central ingredient….

Playboy: The Mansion, which drops you into Hugh Hefner's hedonistic lifestyle.

Mansion mixes Sims-style life simulation with a business tycoon game in which you try to build a publishing empire. You must acquire articles and pictorials to publish magazines while keeping an eye on your demographics and determining ad rates. Obtaining content involves throwing lavish parties at which you schmooze celebrities for interviews, essays and cover shots.

Of course, people will no more buy Mansion for its simple business simulation than they will buy Playboy magazine for its articles. The reason to buy the game is for the topless women with whom you can frolic on couches and beds and behind bushes….

The game revolves around partying, yet socializing is cumbersome. You can't simply invite one person to join you when conversing with someone else, so characters will wave at you, then sulkily walk away when you ignore them. You can introduce people to one another, but the benefits aren't always clear. While The Sims 2 contained a dynamic world, Mansion's people are so oblivious that none will bat an eye if you have sex in the middle of the living room.

Mansion is decent as sex-themed games go, certainly better than the recent Guy Game, in which the players' task was to view video of topless women. It is closer to the forgettable BMX XXX, an extreme sports game from 2002 that tossed in sleaze to counterbalance its weak gameplay. Mansion is just a mediocre Sims clone that will sell better than other mediocre Sims clones only because of its risqué content.

But without sex, Playboy: The Mansion would feel devoid of purpose.

___________

Manufacturer: Ubi Soft Category: Strategy & Simulation Availability: Usually Ships in 24 to 48 Hours Classification: Suitable for ages 18 and above
Our Price: £32.99

http://www.xyramax.co.uk/catalog/product_info.php/cPath/84_87_100/products_id/2657


ENDS

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