Australia bans Dead Island: Riptide advert over depiction of suicide

In a none-too-unusual fashion something associated with video games has yet again been banned in Australia.

Most of you will be aware of the rather strict rules in Australia that get a number of games banned, high profile cases include Left 4 Dead 2 and Syndicate. A number of games have also had changes made to them as a result of censorship down-under, Fallout 3 for example had Morphine changed to Med-X worldwide as a result and The Witcher 2 had a quest slightly changed to remove sex as an incentive for a minor quest.

This time at least it isn’t a game being banned or censored, just the advert. Here is the Dead Island: Riptide ad for your viewing pleasure

[youtube width=”602″ height=”350″ video_id=”mEmXLn7mSM8″]

There’s no doubt that this is a rather unpleasant advert. It is meant to be though. These are two people about to die in a painful, violent way in a zombie apocalypse. A quick death through explosion would be my preferred exit.


The advert came into question amongst complaints sent into the Advertising Standards Bureau, one of which said

I think that the ad is too graphic in terms of its depiction of suicide, particularly in 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).

Following complaints such as this the advert was banned. The local publisher, AIE, defended the advertisement unsuccessfully through saying

The first scene of the advertisement does imply the suicide of the protagonists; however this is implied rather than explicit, and is presented in a context readily recognisable as a fantasy i.e. an overwhelming zombie invasion. The scene does not imply that suicide is a viable option in a real world situation. I believe it is substantially dissociative and is unlikely to draw any parallels in the mind of anyone who has had the deep misfortune to have been affected by the suicide of a family member or friend.
The second scene which is primarily the logo of the game does not imply or portray suicide in any fashion. The silhouette of the zombie hanging from the tree is presented without any explanation or back story, and no connection to the preceding scene is offered; certainly it could not be extrapolated that the implied suicide by explosion of the couple might lead to either of them being hung by the neck from a tree. I acknowledge the possibility that any portrayal of a body (even a silhouette) hanging by the neck may be unpleasant for a person who has recently experienced the suicide of a family member or friend, and am of course sympathetic to anyone who has been affected by suicide, but believe that the silhouette image does not represent violence out of context, or otherwise offend prevailing community standards.

The reply from the ASB was unfavorable and the ban will stand. AIE have replaced this advertisement with an alternative. The full case report can be found here (Case source: Mumbrella)

Ali Moin

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