'Gory' game gives cause for concern

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 March, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 March, 1994, 12:00am

A NEW computer game widely available in Hong Kong stores is prompting fresh calls for a change in the laws governing violent forms of entertainment.

Doom, a particularly violent game from Texan company id Software, is the follow up to last year's highly successful and gory Wolfenstein 3D. And, like Wolfenstein, it is certain to prove popular among younger players.

Once again, the story is pretty simple. You find yourself stranded and alone on a distant planet except for hoards of spectres, demons and post-nuclear mutants. Your aim is simply to race through the game, killing whatever comes in your way.

Doom is an extremely bloody and compelling game. With much improved sound and graphics, you can find yourself blowing your enemies to pieces, or even tearing them apart with a very realistic chain-saw.

If this were an arcade game, it would almost certainly be categorised for adults only. As a computer game, it is available to anyone.

Yung Kai-tai, president of the Hong Kong Computer Society, believes laws governing computer software should be changed.

Mr Yung said computers required more concentration than television and probably exerted a greater influence on children.

''Games projecting violent images are really not good for youngsters. And I think that is a problem because, right now, for television or video there will be some kind of rating,'' he said.

KPS director Russell Yeh said his company had not yet decided whether to carry Doom but it avoided stocking controversial games.

''If we read about one in the press or in magazines, then we will not carry it''.

Mr Yeh believed existing laws were not clear enough. ''I don't think they will have legislation, but good, strong, definite, non-confusing guidelines would be welcome.'' As the existing law stands, any game which comes before the Obscene Articles Tribunal (OAT) must conform to ''standards of morality, decency and propriety''.

This sounds tenable, if a little vague, but the problem comes not just in defining those standards, but in demonstrating whether a game stands up to them.

As Ng Hon-wah, Assistant Commissioner of the Television and Entertainment Licensing Authority, said: ''There is one practical difficulty. And that is we have to find someone who can play the game up to the most obscene or indecent level.''