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Game case study - Disaster: Day of Crisis

An emphasis on killing

Concerns lead to rating change from M to R13.

This game originally came into New Zealand with an M rating. The 'M' was assigned through the cross-rating process and was based on the Australian M classification.

Find out more about the cross-rating process

The M rating seemed out of sync with classifications given by other countries.

The Inspectors of Publications at the Censorship Compliance Unit of the Department of Internal Affairs felt that this M rating was inconsistent with the classifications assigned to the game in other parts of the world and decided to submit it to the Classification Office.

The game is rated 'C' (ages 15 and up) by CERO, the Japanese video game ratings authority and 16+ (ages 16 and up) by PEGI, the European game rating system.

The game

The game player must survive natural disasters and battle soldiers.

In Disaster: Day Of Crisis the player controls Ray, an emergency rescuer who must survive natural disasters such as volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, save civilians, and engage in armed shootouts with a rogue special forces unit (SURGE) who have taken two people hostage. One of the hostages, Lisa, is the sister of Ray's emergency rescue colleague, Steve.

From this point on the gameplay involves two distinct objectives. First, the player must save civilians from natural disasters by giving them first aid or helping them back to safety from perilous situations. Second, the player must engage in regular gun battles with the SURGE soldiers. The player is rewarded with points for saving civilians during natural disasters and by shooting SURGE soldiers. The accumulated points allow for better weapons and health at the end of each completed level.

The game has a restricted classification in various other countries.

In the letter submitting the game to the Classification Office, the Inspector from the Censorship Compliance Unit noted that:

The game has received a higher age restriction, for example the game was assigned 16+ for all the nations covered by the PEGI guidelines. I believe there may be grounds to have the game classified at a higher rating than the current M.

Classification considerations

The game was submitted for classification on the Nintendo Wii format.

It is important to note the classification on a video game applies across platforms if the game content is the same. For example, if a game is classified on PS3, the classification will also apply to the Xbox 360 version. Disaster: Day of Crisis was submitted and classified on the Nintendo Wii format. Part of the classification process involved considering the impact of the medium of the publication - in this case thinking about how the physical nature of playing the game on the Wii might impact upon the people playing it. The decision said:

The Wii gaming platform is highly interactive giving the player complete control, including when and how to inflict violence. The Wii console senses the position of the controller and direction in which it is pointed. This enables the player to aim and fire guns by pointing the controller directly at the screen, and inflict violence with weapons by making corresponding arm movements... The game lacks strategy or skill to play, giving way to repetitive attacks on human opponents... This effect is exacerbated given the interactive role that users of the Nintendo Wii console have on gameplay.

Classification Office decision

The R13 classification was given due to the violent content in the game.

In deciding to classify the game R13 with the descriptive note 'violence', it was noted that:

The emphasis on killing, as well as being acknowledged and rewarded for such success, is likely to desensitise children to violence in general... Teenagers and adults are more able to put this kind of material in the context of a fantastical console game. Likelihood of injury to the public good is avoided by restricting this publication to those audiences that have attained the age of 13 years.

Classification Office's decision for Disaster: Day of Crisis (PDF, 155KB)

Game case studies

Disaster: Day of Crisis artwork

From its hackneyed dialogue and B-movie story trappings to its incessant set-pieces and near nonsensical mish-mash of game mechanics, Day of Crisis really shouldn't be anything more than phenomenally rubbish. Yet, against all odds, it's one of the most entertainingly daft games we've played this year.

Matt Wales, IGN.com

Useful links

Screenshots from the game

A screenshot from the game of two men running away from molten lava spewing from a volcano
Fleeing from a volcanic eruption
A screenshot from the game of two men on a roof, one is holding on to the other to stop him from falling
Rooftop rescue attempt
A screenshot from the game of a man running down a city street with a giant tsunami wave behind him
Escaping the tsunami
A screenshot from the game of a man, head bowed, standing in front of a burning building
Fire in the streets

Classification

R13 classification label
R13: violence