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Islamic-law game ratings launched at Dubai World Game Expo

By Dan Pearson

Tue 30 Nov 2010 10:08am GMT / 5:08am EST / 2:08am PST
Emerging MarketsPolitics

Entertainment Software Rating Association provides Muslim value alternative system

Index Holding, a middle eastern conglomerate, has announced the launch of the Entertainment Software Rating Association an Islamic values alternative to other games rating systems.

Age brackets will be divided as six, 12, 15, 18 and 25. The system will rate according to violent and sexual content, as well as the promotion of drugs, alcohol and tobacco. Sexual diversity was also listed as a topic to be considered under the system.

"The approach of Islam is based on Human being innateness - Al Fitra, and the most important innate trends are truth, virtue, benevolence, excellence tendency, innovation and creativity," said Dr. Behrouz Minaei managing director of the Iranian National Foundation of Computer Games.

"That's why we made sure that ESRA team are proficient in these areas; religion, psychopathology, educational psychology, social psychology, sociology of the family, family sociology, emotional psychology, family therapy and educational technology."

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Alex Loffstadt Community Manager, Outso Ltd

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One of the challenges with rating systems has been the cultural differences. USK, BBFC, ESRB, PEGI etc. all have subtle different emphasis.

Sounds interesting and may well give some insites into new markets.

Posted:5 years ago


Alfonso Sexto Lead Tester, Ubisoft Germany

1,166 1,297 1.1
Depends which islamic-law they are talking about. If they take the peaceful values of the Coran then I'll agree with it... But I can't take seriously the words of "virtue and benevolence" of a guy from a country that suports the lapidation of women accused of infidelity.

I stick to PEGI system, I see it as the most reliable one (No censorship, no restriction; just information for the parents to PARENT they children)

Posted:5 years ago


Kingman Cheng Illustrator and Animator

962 187 0.2
This will certainly be very interesting!

Posted:5 years ago


David Vink Freelance

19 16 0.8
Ah they have to be proficient in both "sociology of the family" and "family sociology". A demanding job, eh?

Posted:5 years ago


Private Industry

1,176 183 0.2

Posted:5 years ago


Mario Rodriguez Gonzalez Game Evaluation Analyst, Electronic Arts

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I always said that there isn't anything more harmful to the education of children than those multi-disciplinar, multi-facted "educators" than can look at a child from 12 different perspectives, still don't know what a child is, exactly, and then bedazzle you into believing some demented theory they adhere to where common sense is not a factor is actually THE way towards knowledge of your children.

Sadly, this looks exactly like that. And I can't really take seriously someone that wants to factor religion into gaming. They are different walks of life, and anyone who believes they can mix lacks the scope to actually be a good critic.

Posted:5 years ago


Alexandros Miaris Studying Bachelor of Interactive Animation, SAE Institute

4 0 0.0
I totally agree with Mario over here. If religion is a factor when rating a game, the rating might not be done objetively. In cultures where Religion is a big part of life, one can easily manipulate by bringing it into the "game". I am interested to see in which way this will go.

Posted:5 years ago


Alex Loffstadt Community Manager, Outso Ltd

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@Mario + Alexandros Sorry, you're assuming any game rating can be or is done objectively. All age ratings by BBFC, ESRB, USK, and even developers filling out forms for PEGI are based in the cultural context of the people involved. It's not a scientific process by any means.

The tolerances for certain types of content in any form of media vary greatly from country to country. For example, USK rated versions of CoD BlOps compared with the PEGI version, or the extremes of Japanese Hentai games compared to say a European view of Mature content in something like GTA IV. In a milder form look at the difference in Online game styles between European games and those coming out of Korea.

It's worth remembering that two of the worlds most important games markets are America and Japan, both very religious countries with moral values tied to major religions, and you're very much kidding yourselves if that cultural context isn't incredibly influencial (note that most US and Western European moral values and legal system have more than a passing basis in Christian ethics).

Kneejerk reactions based on personal dislike of the term "religious" and the assumptions that go with it don't help here. It's also a paradox to argue for an objective if not scientific approach to games rating then criticise a system which requires its rating team to have training in a variety of academic areas that can well be argued to be more than relevant (And you think it's surprising that in a theocracy part of that background might include an understanding of the principles that govern the local moral and legal values?).

As someone who works in community management I'm constantly aware that different communities have different values, and expectations and will need to be handled differently. Personally, I think the fact that this is evidence of gaming growing across the world and it's an attempt by a new market to engage with the industry. Before making any judgements on this new system and how it compares to the rest I'd like to see a few of its ratings decisions.

Posted:5 years ago


Mario Rodriguez Gonzalez Game Evaluation Analyst, Electronic Arts

15 0 0.0

Quite on the contrary. It is too much of a scientific process. Put it this way, do you really think that someone who has to meet high standards in all the branches listed there has actually had quality time to devote to observe and gauge the community he's trying to censor for? To know anything at all about the industry whose work he's assessing? Or is it more likely that he would just delve on its, agreed, vast theoretical bases to come up with clean, articulated, perfectly reasonable and logical standards that, by the time they come out, have little, if any, in common with the reality of the world around him?

Also, in a strict theocracy where a religion with strict and dogmatic tenets (something that pretty much applies to any religion, on the other hand) is pretty much intertwined, if not outroght part of, the state power, such a post is likely to go to a person with broad outlooks, a critical sense and the ability to question and evaluate the reality around him? Or is it more likely that it will go to someone whose personal beliefs will adhere to said moral code?

Do you think that religion, understood as the belief system that structures a person's perception and ideas of the forces greater than her, is a good thing to carry into the study of video game universes? Personally, I'd much prefer religion to be left at an individual, deeply personal level where it serves its purpose as moral aid to the people, and not get it mingled with what is esentially an exercise in evasion (however detailed, engaged and meaningful that evasion might be). We have enough game trolls as it is with games what they are, so as to take personal involvement into game worlds further than they need to go.

Posted:5 years ago


Bonnie Patterson Narrative Designer, Writer

297 924 3.1
"Sexual diversity" may be a factor considered? Will the existence of female characters in games make them more or less suitable for children, I wonder?

Posted:5 years ago


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