Last week the New Zealand Office of Film and Literature Classification (NZOFLC) already banned the Japanese Rail Shooter Gal*Gun: Double Peace.
In the detailed decision, it is assumed that the game promotes the sexual abuse of children and adolescents, and is furthermore, potentially, socially harmful. The rather low difficulty of the game supposedly supports this assumption. To quote from the decision:
The game has been deemed objectionable because it tends to promote and support the exploitation of children and young persons for sexual purposes, and also the use of coercion to compel any person to submit to sexual conduct. It depicts young female high-school students in a way that emphasizes their sexuality and availability. The game’s lack of difficulty means that this content is available to even unskilled players and further supports the idea that the intention of this game is for the titillation and arousal of the viewer, rather than for any interest in gameplay mastery. It is therefore likely not only to attract people with a prurient interest in young persons, but also to reinforce the belief that a sexual interest in young persons is acceptable, which contributes to their sexual exploitation in wider society.
In Germany, the title received a USK rating of 16 in April last year. This is quite remarkable as the rather similar Japanese games Criminal Girls 2 and Valkyrie Drive: Bhikkhuni were refused a rating in accordance to the policy of content assumed to be (severely) harmful to minors. As this is conducted by the government agency BPjM, it remains for now as an assumption by the USK. Also Australia’s Classification Board, known for its refusals, approved Gal*Gun: Double Peace with an “R 18+“; on the other hand, e.g. MeiQ: Labyrinth of Death was essential banned by the Australian rating body, whereas in Germany a USK 16 was granted. New Zealand is also generally less well known for bans on games, making this case here noteworthy.
The title was submitted by the “Chief Censor” on the 5th of December. Valve and “PlayStation” were informed as distributors as well as PQube as the publisher (p.2 of the decision).
Severe consequences for New Zealand Steam users
Unlike in Germany, where the possession of unrated or indexed media and even confiscated ones – unless the intent of dissemination is given – is absolutely legal, players from New Zealand commit an offense, at least in this case, if they possess Gal*Gun: Double Peace. This was confirmed by agency staff in an email to Censored Gaming.
Valve itself has reacted immediately to the notice of the OFLC and set the “PurchaseRestrictedCountries“ tag for NZ as a result. In the New Zealand store front the game can therefore no longer be bought or viewed. However, the apparently illegal download and possession of the game is still possible for New Zealand users. Bethesda ZeniMax (Wolfenstein) and Square Enix (Sleeping Dogs) at that time resorted to making their problematic titles completely inaccessible for German IP addresses by means of the “prohibitrunincountries“ tag. The necessity of this procedure remains controversial and is at least difficult to understand from the consumer’s point of view. It is interesting in this case that Valve has decided against the complete block. New Zealand players can also still activate the game by a Steam gift from another user.
Two of the 24 DLCs were also removed from purchase: ‘Sexy Ribbons‘ Costume Set and ‘Pheromone Z‘ Item. Why only this particular costume set has been blocked remains somewhat unclear (cf. the ‘Ripped Uniform’ Costume Set), however, the decision explicitely mentions both DLCs (cf. p. 2). The lock on the other one, the ‘Pheromone Z’ Item, might be explained by the low difficulty reasoning: “Upon purchase, the sight zoom can see through clothes instantly.“ This cheat DLC costs twice as much as the main game, with a little over 85 €. The remaining 22 DLCs should be still available via a direct link in the New Zealand Steam store.