back to article Video game ad banned for 'realistic' violence

An advert for a computer game has been banned from television. The advert for Stranglehold had realistic violence, constant gunfire and condoned violence, according to ad watchdog the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). The ASA responded to two complaints about the promotional clip for the game, which is endorsed by martial …


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  1. Neil Docherty

    Absolute bollocks!

    Pre 9pm ban is fair enough but a complete ban seems stupid considering what is broadcast after 9pm anyway.

    I don't see why the ASA won't allow this sort of thing, at all, but a company blatently lying about an 'unlimited' product is perfectly OK by them!

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "We considered the voice-over, which stated 'Honour is his code. Vengeance is his mission. Violence is his only option,' suggested that it was honourable to seek revenge and that violence was an acceptable solution to a situation."

    Do the ASA watch tv, read books, play games or go to the movies?

    Halo wouldn't be very exciting if after the inital attack The Commander in Chief had a nice talk with an alien guard who took The Commander in Chief to a room for a nice civilised meeting with the Aliens.

    Die Hard wouldn't be too interesting if John instead of writing "ho ho now I have a machine gun" on a dead guys t-shirt, had been in the elevator with a cup of tea. He and the thieves then had a nice discussion about wealth sharing and the state of modern banking over tea.

    Seven wouldn't have been quite as interesting if the killer instead of being a killer was a preacher, and the police were infact parishners listening to a sermone.

    I mean the ad may have been ott and gretutious (I havn't seen it so I don't know) but that statement is a crock of s--t

    You can see Ripley having a nice discussion with the Alien queen, and Burke in fascinating business meetings.

    Violence may not be a great answer but it sure makes entertainment mediums a bit more interesting. Action Games/movies/etc without violence stop being action and become real life drama.

  3. Onionman
    Thumb Down


    A three-year-old still watching TV and seeing an ad after 7:30pm? Sounds to me like the kid has bigger problems to come than the effect of this ad.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Good call

    I'm glad the ASA is taking a stance on this.

    It always amazes me how many people moan when decisions like this are made in relation to violence.

    I don't for a moment believe that it's done within the wider context of protesting against censorship, because nudity and sexually related things are banned all the time and no one seems to be up in arms about that.

  5. Mike Crawshaw
    Thumb Down

    The Only Option Is Violence...

    To the interfering nannies telling us what games we should play (the new PC-DVD "PhotoShop Flower Arranging" is recommended apparently).

    With a large stick, preferably with nails in. Then they can compare video game violence (look! it's on the screen! It's not REAL!!) to the real thing (look! I'm bleeding out all over the floor! It's REAL!!)

  6. Chris Collins



    I feel inspired to commit mindless violence now.

  7. matt

    RE: (untitled)

    Or in Saving Private Ryan Captain Miller (Tom Hanks) going over to Germans to explaining that he really didnt want to fight and would just like to find a poor guy called Ryan and then go home :)

  8. jai


    the whole point of Strangehold is that it is a movie that you play as a game. it's written as the sequel ot Hard Boiled, it's directed by John Woo and it stars Chow Yun Fat. it's a given that it is going to depict 'realistic violence' just as it's a given they'll be doves and at some point Tequila will spin around pulling pistols from his jacket pockets

    would they ban a similar advert for Hard Boiled?

    just because it is a video game, it doesn't mean it is aimed at kids. the game clearly is marked for 18 and over so why can't the advert be shown post-9pm?

  9. Gus Robinson

    Comparing adverts and films ?

    If I wish to watch a violent film or programme then that is my choice. However I do not get much choice over which adverts I see - other than only watching BBC. Maybe this is why it was banned as it could suddenly appear in the middle of a nice quiet program.

    Another thought - Sometimes my kids wake up and come downstairs to find me. If I am watching something inappropriate I turn over until they are back in bed. However if I am watching something tame then I leave the TV running. If a violent advert suddenly appears then they may get to see it because I would have no warning.

    I watched the advert on youtube and noticed that it was not actual game play ! So does this mean the game is crap so they made up some stuff to shock us ?

  10. jai

    re: Comparing adverts and films ?

    but the advertising for violent blockbuster films are no different than they were for this game. and the game footage isn't cutesy Mario-esque video game that's designed to appeal to young kids - it's quite realistic so it looks like a film too. either you have to censor ALL advertising, regardless of the media, or you have the faith to let responcible parents like yourself choose what their younglings are exposed to

    and that is the problem - the fact is most parents aren't suitable for the job

    so therefore we should really consider requiring a license people to breed

  11. 4a$$Monkey
    Thumb Up

    Thanks ASA

    I'll be sure to check out this game that I was previously unaware of. I’m sure Midway will appreciate the publicity and that viral copies of the add will prove popular.

  12. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    @ Gus Robinson

    Was planning on writing exactly the same. But you beat me to it.

  13. Ian


    It's one of the tamer things I've seen on TV in the last 10 yrs.

    Oh wait, sorry I forgot it's a computer game, when taking into account computer game violence you rate it as you'd normally rate any other medium and then multiply your rating by 1,000,000 to get the modified "OMG COMPUTER GAMES ARE EVIL" rating which is used by goverments and unemployed mothers with nothing better to do (that includes Hilary Clinton) worldwide.

  14. Liam


    i played the demo (was available as a free download for the ps3)

    now, the game doesnt really use video cutscenes - all the graphics are from the actual game engine

    its an OK game but is violent - but then its an 18 and based upon hard boiled and is a john woo film! actually a damn site less violent than his films.... worth a look as it has some wierd bullet time and movement thats kinda cool

  15. David Webb

    Missing the point

    You appear to be missing the point, the ASA will happily allow adverts for violent games (Kane and Able or w/e) but if an advert is very much over the top then they will say "no, change it!". An advert for Resident Evil showing the STARS team blowing peoples heads off for instance, that wouldn't be allowed.

    So getting on ones high horse for an advert which the ASA deemed innapropriate when they will allow it modified to meet their rules is a silly horse to get on. The Halo 3 advert didn't show any violence, and is a game just about shooting. Its not about the game itself, its about the advert for the game.

  16. Neil Docherty

    @Gus Robinson + others

    I see your point but surely a kid seeing Animal Rescue or something on NatGeo Wild (both on early evening) is going to be more traumatised as the starved dog tries to walk across the room or the tiger has a nice chunk of Bambi's leg rather than seeing some CGI bloke firing a gun into the air?

    Also, I'd imagine the adverts would be targetted to certain shows so an advert wouldn't appear in an episode for Heartbeat, for example, because the audience isn't going to form a likely user base of a violent video game. Therefore, the kid (or easily offended person) is only likely to see the advert if they are watching a show with a reasonable level of adult content anyway.

    As for sex and nudity appearing in TV shows, who cares as long as it's mentioned before the show starts? Channel 4 seems to have tits on show from 8pm these days and pretty much anything after 9pm!

  17. Anonymous Coward


    Well, there are several things here. First of all, AC posting (untitled) is an idiot: although there is violence etc in Seven, Die Hard and all the others, that has nothing whatsoever to do with the trailers for said films. Stop being so childish and get yourself an education.

    As for the ASA, good on them for upholding the standards, as is their job. However, I do feel that a complete ban was a bit harsh; it should have just been moved to post-watershed times. As for the three-year-old - agreed, who lets their child that young watch TV at 7.30pm? You see far worse stuff in some of these soaps, I'm guessing, and anyway a child that young shouldn't be stuck in front of the telly anyways.

    As for the OMG COMPUTER GAMES SO EVIL, will the rest of the world kindly grow up?

  18. Law
    Paris Hilton


    2 complaints.... thats it... and they ban it for that?! This is beyond a joke.... we have tens of thousands of people around the country protesting about REAL violence we are doing to others - yet it is fine to ignore those people.

    Stupid... just stupid. For the record, this isn't really about censorship - it's about what is acceptable to the majority of people.... this guy claiming a computer game (a shoot em up no less) advert is more harmfull to the public (inc kids) than the constant advertising and blatent whoring of half naked women and kids to help them sell to these groups. I don't think so.

    Apart from that, I can't remember the age rating of the game... but I've completed the game, and it is probably 15+, so should really be advertising to a post-watershed audience anyway.... but hey, so should all the horror film ads they stick on at tea time too!

    Paris icon - because she is obviously a better role model for kids than the likes of John Woo! :)

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Pathetic isn't it ?

    Hell, I've made it my personal mission to tell every single person who I know who's even vaguely into this sort of thing about every time things get censored. Manhunt 2 is now THE game most of my peers, colleagues, employees and cohorts want to own.

    No doubt sales for this game in my local computer game store will go through the roof.

    And knowing I'm breeding a supposed army of slathering, rabid and violent killers fills me with glee. Here's hoping they target the self-righteous little pricks and mothers of molly-coddled toddlers first. The world needs less prissy, protective, pedantic and petulant gob-shites the likes of which instantly take umbrage at this sort of advertising/game/movie/book/thought.

    Mostly mothers no doubt. Probably the same ones who either don't smack their children (Breeding care-free ASBO louts) or beat them entirely too much (Breeding the psychos that will possibly get a bit obsessed with these games).

    Stop creating such a reaction to these games and they won't even get noticed apart from by the people who'd buy them anyway.

    Your moral victories are phyrric. You make the situation far, far, far worse with your cries of "Think of the children!".

    Engage your brains, cretins. Stop trying to control the world, the Inquisition ended a good time ago.

    PH angle?

  20. John H Woods

    @Gus Robinson

    Sorry Gus, that won't do. Sometimes my kids come down late at night. I put the telly or whatever game I am playing on pause (or off). Your argument would seem to imply the watershed is irrelevant because kids can appear at any time.

    Believe me, even without a remote control, it is possible to leap up from the sofa, turn off the telly and pull one's trousers up before the kids have even got the door open.

  21. Paul Darcy

    Missing the point

    Yes very true. But I'm 35 and reckon I can judge for my self whether I'll go shah-itstafuk from watching an advert with shooting in it. I doubt even after a full weekend of all the shooting and killing found in all the games released I'd turn up at work on monday in the mood to kill everyone. Well no more than any one with Monday blues anyway. Wonder why football wasnt banned after all the violence that causes just because your team didnt kick a ball as well as the other one. How many stabbings and hospitalisations has that GAME caused to the viewers not the players. Hmmmmm And yet people still take there kids to see it. Its never gonna go away because it only takes one idiot to ruin the fun for everyone. Dont like it dont play watch or do it. SImple.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    wait a minute

    It's a follow up to Hard Boiled? That was an epic film!

    *watches trailer*

    Cheesy voice over is cheesy, I hope there's a subs only version (there wont be of course - and if there isn't stuff the game)

    oooo that's almost worth buying an X-Box for, well that's game number 5 on my "needs ten games" list (DOA4, DOAX2, Enchanted Arms, Eternal Sinata and Stranglehold(if subbed)) Idolmaster if it weren't Japanese release only (and if it gets a western release they'll remake it with s----y western pop)

    PS3 still has no games in the west I want. However Fortune Atreal out in Japan looks epic. Not that we'll see it over here.

  23. Anonymous Coward

    Parents should be forced to watch these advertisements

    Then they would know what horrific images their children are spending three hours a day watching, being conditioned to solve all problems using extreme levels of violence.

    Then perhaps so many children would not grown up so addicted to violence that when anyone suggests their access to it be limited the act like someone is taking their crack pipe away......

    "knowing I'm breeding a supposed army of slathering, rabid and violent killers fills me with glee. Here's hoping they target the self-righteous little pricks and mothers of molly-coddled toddlers first."

    "With a large stick, preferably with nails in. Then they can compare video game violence (look! it's on the screen! It's not REAL!!) to the real thing (look! I'm bleeding out all over the floor! It's REAL!!)"

    It's reassuring to see these games don't condition people to solve all there problems using violence isn't it.

  24. Dazzer

    "there was no interpersonal or gory violence."

    Rubbish, I just watched the clip on youtube and there's a guy getting what looks like a harpoon through the neck about 10 seconds in.

    Banning this was a good call. As others have pointed out, you get advanced warning over violent programmes or films so you can clear the room of ickle kiddies, not so with adverts.

  25. Robbie

    Mind control

    So whats the difference then if any with modern day news coverage? For instance shouldnt the images of 'insurgents' in irak be banned from television te because they depict 'graphic' and 'realistic' violence?

    Or is it the induviduals own responcibility to make sure that the " tender " souls of his / her childeren arent confronted with the vile actions of Man?

    Funny world we're living in. Showing war footage is perfectly well accepted, making an add for a game which is by its very nature unrealistic is unacceptable. Oh well guess ill go back to playing CoD4 and shoot some ppl.

  26. The Avangelist

    care bears

    I seriously dont understand what the problem is anymore.

    We have a rating system on games, you can't sell to minors, and they are more and more being treated the same as the film industry.

    where is the problem here?

  27. Jim Lewis

    not real so doesn't matter...

    is demonstrably a fallacious argument in connectin with countless studies of child behaviour. (The classic is called the Bobo doll experiement), there is broad consensus in Psychology that children learn by imitating observed behaviour, they are then much more likely to exhibit violent behaviour having been exposed to it, (on screen).

    Frankly I believe we need much greater 'censorship' of such violent images.

    The ASA is also legendary for it's almost total uselessness. It very, very, rarely acts, nd due to the requirement that someone makes a complaint before it can do, it often acts after the event anyway, (eg the Benetton advert outcry of the 80's).

    That it felt compelled to do so indicates that for once the limits had been so far exceeded that it had no alternative.

    I agree that those adults who wish to engage in violent activities in a fantasy world should have the right to do so, (although I believe that even in adults such activities damage their judgement and behaviour), but I feel that much stronger measures should be in place to prevent children being exposed to such material.

    The ASA was bang on here. For a change.

  28. kieran
    Thumb Down

    wow, stupidity reaches new levels!

    Maybe only after 9pm, but the advert is harmless so I really don't see the problem at all. So watching this is bad but watching Face Off, Rambo and movie's like the M:I series are alright?

    I hate political correctness, its up there with DRM in the stupidity league.


  29. yeah, right.

    Wrong complaint.

    If they'd complained about the fact that what's in the advert has nothing to do with how the game actually looks, I'd say they have a point.

    But for crying out loud, they're shutting the barn door after the horse have not only escaped, but grown old and died! If they don't want violence condoned as an option they shouldn't air the damn daily news about the world around us. They allow news stations to advertise REAL death with REAL bodies with REAL guts strewn over the road, but they won't allow this? I don't mind not glorifying violence, but I certainly do mind the obvious double standard the ASA and other agencies seem to have about the whole thing.

    Where the hell do they FIND the people who make these asinine decisions at the ASA? Some geriatric or psychiatric hospital with no access to TV past 1950?

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Firstly how come they only acted upon 2 complaints? Doesnt make sence

    But after seeing the advert on youtube I can see the reason behind it.

    Plus all of the advert was nto actual game footage anyway, why do they do that?

    Why not just show what the game really looks like?

  31. Andy

    Banned because violence was too realistic?

    Seems to me that if you are going to show violence then you should be damn certain that you show the consequences of violence -- blood, gore, people dying.

    Surely it's UNrealistic violence we should be worried about.

  32. Richard Hodgson

    Vengeance is his mission!

    Polite conversation in which a compromise everybody that can agree upon is his only option!

    I can see it now!

  33. Muel

    watershed whoopi...

    OMG - I just read all of this pre 9pm, I'm gonna go check see if Pa's left the cabinet unlocked...

  34. Rick Cross

    violence is never an acceptable solution to a situation?

    Better teach that to the police, the politicians who control the military, etc. I imagine Britain would be an entirely different place today if the ASA had their way about this back on September 4, 1939 when the RAF bombed the German Navy in response to Germany invading Poland.

    Oh that's right, they DID have their way sort of, when Chamberlain appeased Hitler almost a year before.

  35. Paul

    Missing the point?

    I think that many of you are missing the point, TV and radio advertising has to be censored to a much higher degree than other media because you can be unwillingly exposed to it. Think about it, you don't choose what adverts you want to watch, someone else does that for you, and because of that if an advert is likely to cause offense, or glorify a concept that we don't want happening in the real world, the censors have to err on the side of caution.

    With other forms of media, even TV programs, you have scheduling information and warnings to make an active choice to turn the TV off if you think someone is coming on soon that you don't want to expose your kids to. Same with the computer games themselves, you have a choice whether or not you purchase a copy of the game.

    In short, the ASA was doing it's job sensibly, and doesn't deserve the comments some of you are making,

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