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Violent games edited for Middle East

New initiative will target Uncharted 3 first.

A new initiative has launched in the Middle East to remove violent or controversial content from videogames, allowing them to be released in conservative Arabic countries.

Abu Dhabi English language newspaper The National report that Rubicon Group Holding and Modern Electronics Company - Sony's Saudi Arabian distributor – are teaming up to localise games with unacceptable content.

As well as dubbing the games into Arabic and editing out forbidden material, there are apparently also plans to add in new Middle Eastern characters to make titles more culturally relevant.

"Those games that are extra-violent, or have sensitive issues for the region, will be edited for content," said Ghassan Ayoubi, Rubicon Holding's executive director.

"It's not purely dubbing in Arabic, but eliminating things that may be inappropriate for the region. It's introducing one or two elements that will be specifically for the region - maybe introducing a new character.

"It's not censoring. It's tailoring or customising it for the market. It's not deviating from the game itself."

Apparently, PlayStation 3 titles will be the focus, with "two to four games per year" being worked on. The article claims FIFA 11 and the as-yet unannounced Uncharted 3 will be the first titles on the butcher's block.

There are of course a whole raft of issues to address here – code access, copyright breach, freedom of expression concerns, compromised narratives and so forth - not to mention the existence, or otherwise, of Uncharted 3. We're following up with various publishers and developers to find out more about how this might work.

As it stands, games are regularly denied release in Middle Eastern countries due to strict censorship laws. Dead Rising 2, Mafia II and the Grand Theft Auto series have all recently been turned away.