While the game itself was deemed totally okay for Aussie adults, a commercial for zombie hunter Dead Island: Riptide has been labelled “too violent” for television audiences. The Australian Advertising Standards Board received multiple complaints over the ad, and as a result, has had it banned.
The ad – a version of the trailer shown above – features a young couple looking lovingly at each other, in an upturned sailboat. Outside, hordes of zombies try to break in to the boat. The camera pans over gas canisters and shows the air rippling, before the man sparks a cigarette lighter, causing a huge explosion.
It’s not immediately clear which part of the ad is the more offensive – the couple or the game’s logo, a dead man hanging from a palm tree.
I think that the ad is too graphic in terms of its depiction of suicide, particularly the final image of the man hanging from a tree. I think that this could be very traumatic for people who have experienced the suicide of a family member by hanging (or any other means).
Dead Island Riptide distributor All Interactive Entertainment responded that the cinematic implication of violence in the advertisment is intended “to convey the desolate terror afflicting the game characters” in a contextually relevant way.
The limited depiction of violence in the advertisement is reflective of the theme of the game advertised, and contextually relevant. All violent themes are presented in the readily identifiable fantasy context of a zombie attack in an animated video game scene.
The video game being advertised, Dead Island Riptide, is a combat based video game for adults, where the protagonists are placed on an island to fight hordes of bloodthirsty zombies with little hope of survival except through increasingly violent combat episodes.
The Board, ultimately, saw differently. The board considered the facts: The ad is, indeed, for a violent video game (rated R in Australia), the violence is presented in video game context, and the ad was shown during a television program aimed at mature audiences. AIE released a statement saying the company was “sympathetic to members of the community who had been affected by suicide”, and assured the Board it had not meant to cause offense.
However, the Board decided that “the issue of suicide is a depiction of violence which is not justifiable even in the context of an advertisement for a computer game aimed at adults.”
The issue of suicide is a very significant community concern and considered that the use of images which are strongly suggestive of suicide is not appropriate in the context of a television advertisement for a computer game.
AIE is reportedly “disappointed” in the Board’s decision, but has replaced the advertisement.
Remember: Suicide is the leading cause of death in Australia for men under 44 and women under 34. If you or someone you know is at risk of suicide, please contact Lifeline Australia – a confidential free service on 13 11 14.