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The BBFC gives Call of Duty : Modern Warfare 3 an '18' classification

The video game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 has been given an '18' classification by the BBFC.

Date 07/11/2011

The BBFC is aware that some comparison has been drawn between the action in the game and terrorist attacks on the London Underground in July 2005. However, a full examination of the game makes clear that the storyline is far removed from these real events.

The game is a continuation of the Call of Duty Modern Warfare franchise, with characters returning from the previous instalment in a continuing narrative. The game includes a level set in a fictional London in which Special Forces soldiers chase enemy Russian mercenaries through London Underground tunnels as the mercenaries attempt to escape on a train. The train, which contains no civilian passengers, crashes beneath Westminster Underground Station and the battle continues through the station up to street level.

David Cooke, Director of the BBFC says,

"In reaching its decision the BBFC has given careful consideration both to the depiction of action on the Underground and elsewhere in London and the context in which that action takes place.  The game neither draws upon nor resembles real terrorist attacks on the Underground. Nevertheless, the location of the action in familiar London settings, both above and below ground, establishes a context within which the tone and impact of the work may, for some, be more unsettling, and upsetting, than in previous games in the series. The Board's decision to restrict the game to adults primarily reflects some moments of strong violence, but also takes account of these contextual elements."

The BBFC is satisfied that Call of Duty : Modern Warfare 3 contains no material that requires restriction beyond the '18' classification. The Guidelines at '18' accept the principle, repeatedly endorsed by the public, that adults should be free to choose their own entertainment in the absence of legal issues or material which raises a risk of harm. The BBFC has no legal power to refuse classification solely on the grounds of offence.

END

For more information contact Catherine Anderson canderson@bbfc.co.uk 0207 440 3285 (out of hours: 07946 423719).

Notes to editors

The BBFC is an independent, private, not for profit company which classifies films, videos, DVDs and certain video games, advertisements and trailers.  The BBFC operates transparent, well-understood and trusted co-regulatory and self regulatory classification regimes based on years of expertise and published Guidelines which reflect public opinion and the risk of harm; and is accountable to Parliament.

Extended Classification Information (ECI): CALL OF DUTY: MODERN WARFARE 3

"CALL OF DUTY: MODERN WARFARE 3 is a combat simulation game in which the player takes the roles of various members of military units attempting to thwart the plans of a Russian terrorist group. The game was passed '18' for strong bloody battle violence. The player is involved in various gun battles against enemies in different cities around the world. Battles utilise an array of contemporary weapons including automatic rifles, pistols and grenades as well as artillery and tanks. The player can access bladed weapons for stealth attacks and hand-to-hand combat. The battles are intense and conducted from a first-person perspective with impacts registering as bloody splashes. Blood is also seen splashed about the game environment in the aftermath of fighting. Bullet impacts or explosions cannot cause dismemberment however, and there is no opportunity for the player to inflict further damage on enemies that have been killed. The game includes a sequence during which an interrogation victim is set alight, although this is viewed through the scope of a rifle and the detail is limited. The BBFC's Guidelines at '15' state 'Violence may be strong but should not dwell on the infliction of pain or injury. The strongest gory images are unlikely to be acceptable'. In this case there is some dwelling on the infliction of injury in a real world setting which places the game at '18'.

CALL OF DUTY: MODERN WARFARE 3 includes a level set in a fictional London in which Special Forces soldiers chase enemy Russian mercenaries through London Underground tunnels as the mercenaries attempt to escape on a train. The train, which contains no civilian passengers, crashes beneath Westminster Underground Station and the battle continues through the station up to street level. It is possible for passengers waiting on an Underground platform to be shot, however doing so almost immediately results in a check point restart. The action is firmly focussed on chasing and stopping the mercenaries. Some comparison has been drawn between the action in the game and terrorist attacks on the London Underground in July 2005. However, a full examination of the game makes clear that the storyline is far removed from these real events, neither drawing upon nor resembling real terrorist attacks on the Underground. Nevertheless the location of the action in familiar London settings, both above and below ground, establishes a context within which the tone and impact of the work may, for some, be more unsettling, and upsetting, than in previous games in the series. The BBFC's decision to restrict the game to adults primarily reflects moments of strong violence, but also takes account of these contextual elements.

The Guidelines at '18' accept the principle, repeatedly endorsed by the public, that adults should be free to choose their own entertainment in the absence of legal issues or material which raises a risk of harm.  The BBFC is satisfied that CALL OF DUTY : MODERN WARFARE 3 contains no material that requires restriction beyond the '18' classification.

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