James Whitehead refutes the Ad Standards Board's ruling on Dead Island

Leigh Harris
James Whitehead refutes the Ad Standards Board's ruling on Dead Island

The GM of IGN Australia has written a guest post for Mumbrella arguing against the decision to ban the game's violent ad.

The segment of the ruling Whitehead took the largest issue with was the notion that: “Advertising or Marketing Communications shall not present or portray violence unless it is justifiable in the context of the product or service advertised.”

In his article, Whitehead argued fervently that in a game specifically about wanton violence in a desperate situation against zombies, the violence in the ad was very much justified.

"Decapitation, dismemberment and other gruesome acts are a core part of the game," writes Whitehead. "The more spectacular the kill, the better. It’s for these blood-soaked reasons the game received Australia’s newly implemented R18+ rating, the most restrictive available.

"Due to the nature of the content, the ad was aired on a subscription television channel aligned with programs appropriate for its audience. The message was clear – this is not a product for children."

The ad in question used a depiction of suicide (preferable, it is implied, to zombification), and it was this instance which caused the ad to be banned by the ASB.

All Interactive Entertainment, who distribute the product locally, said in an earlier comment to Mumbrella that: "the implied death of the two central characters is less violent than the potential alternative. The cinematic implication of violence in the advertisement is intended to convey the desolate terror afflicting the game characters."

While of course acknowledging that suicide was a very real problem, Whitehead refuted that it was being used in a manner which glorified the act in the context of the Dead Island: Riptide advertisment.

"Games are designed by their very nature to be fantastical," he continued. "If we are going to allow this type of content to be sold in our country, which was what the introduction of the R18+ category means, then there need to be allowances to advertise the product."

While such a statement may fit a fantastical game like Dead Island: Riptide perfectly, and while it's entirely true that by their use of such kitsch tropes has heads' up displays, scores, repetition of animations, tasks and goals and of course the inescapable controller input as devices which remove players from the realism of the action, it does make one wonder how an R18+ game in a more contemporary setting, where violence is perpetrated against humans and not zombies, would fare.

Presumably, however, as long as the violence was more action-oriented and not an intimate depiction of suicide of a slow and tense up-close murder, such issues wouldn't arise.

And one does have to appreciate that the context a 10 hour game would afford for such an intense scene as a suicide would be far greater than a 15 or 30 second TVC could ever provide.

Regardless of the nuances of the situation, it's good to see someone as high profile as Whitehead take a public stand on such an issue, where the company in question had taken all necessary measures to ensure the ad was viewed by an adult audience.

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Tags: advertising , violence , banned , all interactive entertainment , ign entertainment , James Whitehead , Dead Island Riptide , Mumbrella

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