Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Censorship in Australia











As you may or may not know, I live in Australia. What you probably do know is that our government doesn't exactly love violent video games. As is constantly ridiculed by the rest of the world, quite a few games have either been banned or censored here in the last decade or two. In wake of the recent outrage over the banning of the new Mortal Kombat in Australia, I've decided to talk about our video game laws and why we don't have an R18+ rating. These are the ratings used for television shows and movies here in Australia:



Suitable for all audiences.



Parental guidance recommended for young audiences.




Recommended for mature audiences.




Restricted to ages 15 and over.




Restricted to ages 18 and over.



The problem is that we don't actually HAVE an R18+ rating for video games, because back when squishing goombas was as violent as it got, who would've thought we'd need one? If a video game is violent enough to be rated R18, it is banned in Australia. Of course, this issue has garnered a lot of debate over the years, but nothing has been done about it yet.
Unfortunately, the Attorney-General for every state has to vote yes on issues like these, and the Attorney-General for NSW, Michael Atkinson, decided to vote no, thereby denying us the chance to finally grow up. His reason was basically "violent video games are bad for children". Remind you of anyone? What he and is clueless colleagues don't seem to realize is that a lot of games that SHOULD be rated R18 are being rated MA15 and are therefore accessible to children under the age of 18. An adult is way more likely to buy a child Grand Theft Auto IV if they see it has an MA15 classification rather than a R18 classification (as it does in every other country). Most adults here either decide to import their games from other countries or simply pirate them from the internet.
Perhaps the worst part is the Classification Board's terrible inconsistencies in how they rate games. Gears of War 2, a game in which you can chainsaw people in half, and in one part of the game swim through a pool of blood, was given an MA15+ rating, whereas Left 4 Dead 2 was banned (and later censored) for far less. GTA IV was originally supposed to be censored, but when Rockstar sent the Classification Board an uncensored version of the PC version it was given the all clear. Taking this as a sign that the original game was fine after all, they then released a patch allowing both console versions to be completely uncensored. Aliens vs Predators was another game that faced being banned, until Sega simply appealed the ban, causing the board to change their minds for apparently no reason at all.
EB Games even started a nation-wide petition for the approval of an R18+ rating, called "Grow Up Australia", which gained over 16,000 petitions, contributing to the 58,487 total petitions to the government. Even with all that support it's still not decided whether we WILL get an R18+ rating for video games or not. The deadline has been set for July this year and the politician who replaced Michael Atkinson seems to support the vote. Thankfully, our Home Affairs minister, Brendan O'Connor, is also pro-R18 rating and had this to say about the issue: “We’re becoming the laughing stock of the developed world, where we’re the only country that doesn’t have an R18 classification level for video games." Unfortunately, even if the Attorney-General's DO unanimously decide to support the new rating, it will be too late for games like Left 4 Dead 2, Manhunt and Mortal Kombat.

36 comments:

  1. i signed a petition for this. At least the guy that was keeping it from going through is/has quit. So hopefully they get this through quicksmart.

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  2. Well hopefully the new politician will turn things around for you guys.

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  3. here in germany the cencorship of games is worse too

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  4. I guess I'm lucky enough Ireland doesn't suffer to much from censorship

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  5. Man, I didn't realize places had such harsh censorship laws. Thats horrible. :(

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  6. believe me, censorship in germany is quite worse

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  7. I heard that the german version of TF2 has permanent party mode no matter what. and yeah, I agree with the R18/MA15 point. There needs to be an R18 rating and possibly an AO(adults only) rating.

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  8. I had no idea games were censored like that in Australia.

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  9. Freddy: Punky: mac-and-me:
    Yeah, Germany's censorship is pretty bad aswell. Their TF2 has no gibs or anything, and their L4D2 is censored like ours. Even though they're censored in the same way, Germany got free weapons from CSS, which is disappointing for Aussies. Sort of glad though, because they look tacky and don't fit in the game.

    This article was partly towards Americans to make them realise it's not as bad as they keep saying (main arguments for Americans against Australians are usually "LOL CENSORSHIP" or "LOL CONVICTS XD") but I guess it had the opposite effect, haha.

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  10. Come to Sweden there is no bullshit about that the goverment is trying to be a parent here.. ;)

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  11. Censorship isn't that bad in Holland :) Never noticed anything of it atleast..

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  12. Wow. I remember reading articles in passing related to the censorship over there. Didn't actually see what the censorship was. F that. I hope it gets changed.

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  13. believe me, censorship in germany is quite worse

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  14. Kinda the same here in europe. Germany has a brutal banning and censorship, so everybody comes to austria to buy the uncensored german-speaking versions

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  15. that must be very frustrating

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  16. Wow that sucks, especially since there has still been no scientific proof that violent videos games affect children in a negative way.

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  17. That would really make me mad. Good thing I don't live down under!

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  18. HAHAH love when we gamers unite to create something so geeky :P as "grow up"

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  19. ever since l4d2 news all over, i thought australia had some issues. feel bad for ya ;/

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  20. I am still waiting for a steam deal on L4D2.

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  21. interesting!
    followed!

    http://all-around-toto.blogspot.com/

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  22. Fricken awesome man, thanks for the info +follow

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  23. Are these restrictions even enforced?

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  24. I don't understand the complete involvement of the Government over there, they need to stick to things they're good at and understand.. Sadly up here that seems just to be wasting money and making people unhappy!!

    Sure hope the petition gets the job done.. however I won't hold my breath!

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  25. Censorship is almost never a good thing. Hopefully they reverse their call and get their act together and release the game!

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  26. Wow, I didn't realize all that was going over over there :(

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  27. I didn't know you had a whole section of games banned from the shops... In England we had 'Manhunt' banned but that's about it...

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  28. Australia is way too picky when it comes to censorship

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  29. Perhaps something you're fed up with hearing, but: That is absolutely hilarious.
    As far as patronising governments go this certainly takes the cake.

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  30. Here you can buy 18+ games when you 14 or so. I'ts just an advice age, well here atleast.

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  31. ive hearda bout this, nice to see more info

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  32. why are Australia's lawmakers so fail and their people so cool

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  33. Australian rating symbols look... weird

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