Omega Labyrinth Z, an upcoming dungeon-crawling RPG originally slated for release by pQube Games, has been refused classification by the United Kingdom’s Video Standards Council, the agency confirmed in a statement to Tanuki Bridge today.
Citing the Video Recordings Act (1984) for their decision, this marks the first video game title to be refused classification since the Video Standards Council was designated back in 2012. The VSC Rating Board supplied us with the following statement regarding the decision:
VSC RATING BOARD REFUSES UK CERTIFICATE OF CLASSIFICATION FOR THE VIDEO GAME: “OMEGA LABYRINTH Z”
The VSC Rating Board has ruled that the video game, Omega Labyrinth Z, will not be issued a UK Certificate of Classification. This refusal is relevant to physical product only (disc, cartridge, etc.)
Under the terms of the Video Recordings Act (1984), the VSC Rating Board is required to consider the likelihood of any game causing harm to the user and, subsequently, to wider society by the way in which the game deals with and portrays images of criminal, violent or horrific behaviour, illegal drugs and human sexual activity.
The grounds for this decision are as follows: –
The likely harm being caused to a viewer or potential viewer, e.g. children or young people. The game is explicit in its setting within a “school” environment and the majority of the characters are young girls – one child is referred to as being a “first year” student and is seen holding a teddy bear. The game clearly promotes the sexualisation of children via the sexual interaction between the game player and the female characters.
The style of the game is such that it will attract an audience below the age of 18. There is a serious danger that impressionable people, i.e. children and young people viewing the game would conclude that the sexual activity represented normal sexual behaviour. There is a constant theme of sexual innuendo and activity throughout the game that suggests behaviour likely to normalise sexual activity towards children. As a means of reward gained by successfully navigating the game, the player has the means to sexually stimulate the female characters by using either a hand held remote device or touch screen software.
The VSC Rating Board believes this content in a game, which would have strong appeal to non-adult players, is an issue which would be unacceptable to the majority of UK consumers and, more importantly, has the potential to be significantly harmful in terms of the social and moral development of younger people in particular.
Previously, the BBFC were responsible for rating some video games, with four others known to have been refused classification. The last, being the highly controversial Manhunt 2 in 2008. With the exception of 2006 eroge Rapelay, the previous titles were later released following amendments and re-submission.
Originally announced for release by pQube Games and scheduled for release in Spring 2018, the PlayStation 4/Vita title already faced scrutiny following a similar refused classification in Australia under similar grounds.
We approached pQube Games for comment last week and they did not respond before press time. We have reached out to them again and will add any response to this article.
Update 1: While we await a response from pQube, they have reconfirmed plans to release Omega Labyrinth Z worldwide on Twitter, with the exception of the United Kingdom, Germany and Australia. For other European markets, the game will be rated PEGI 18 and in North America, M for Mature.
Update 2: While we do not condone the contents of the game, we have received clarification from the Video Ratings Council that while it is illegal to sell or hire the game to UK customers, it will be legal to import for personal use only.