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Possible Half Life 2 Troubles in Australia 106

Posted by Zonk
from the aussies-have-laws dept.
Voodoo Extreme put up a quick piece on possible legal troubles HL2 may face in Australia. "In Australia, no games have been accepted if they fit into the R(18+) category, so this means HL2 needs to fit into at most the highest category of MA(15+), or it will be refused classification."
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Possible Half Life 2 Troubles in Australia

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  • by Vaevictis666 (680137) on Monday October 25, 2004 @02:38PM (#10623045)
    Wow... /. links to site that links to site that links to original. No wonder nobody reads the article [sumea.com.au] these days...
    • what pisses me off is when slashdot links to itself for "news" history... that is very presumptuous in my eyes. in order to be a news site you have to have your own news, not a link to someone else's news.

      this site should be called "Discussions for nerds. Stuff that matters."

      i don't even bother clicking any link on slashdot.org that points to slashdot.org unless its the "Reply to this" link.

      mod me down, i don't care. "He has an unpopular theory! SILENCE HIM!"
      • in order to be a news site you have to have your own news, not a link to someone else's news. ... this site should be called "Discussions for nerds. Stuff that matters."

        Unless you regard /. as a news "portal", which would be a fair definition IMO.
  • Censored version? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pan T. Hose (707794) on Monday October 25, 2004 @02:39PM (#10623055) Homepage Journal
    If releasing a censored version of Half Life 2 turns out to be the only option in Australia, wouldn't it be catastrophic? It might mean that instead of buying the censored version, kids will rather download the real thing from the Internet. Aren't such restrictions quite pointless in general? Because less sales mean not only less profits for Australian retailers, but also less taxes for the Australia itself.
    • *Aren't such restrictions quite pointless in general?*

      reasoning that those restrictions are pointless because you lose PROFITS isn't really valid.. they're not for making profit! they're for 'protecting the children' from bad influences.

      (sure yeah, never stopped anyone from playing.. but saying that pornography should be allowed for kids because it would increase profits doesn't sound that good either)
      • by clarkcox3 (194009) <slashdot@clarkcox.com> on Monday October 25, 2004 @03:07PM (#10623347) Homepage
        But the law isn't just saying that the game shouldn't be allowed for children. It's saying that it shouldn't be allowed at all; so the analogy to pornography isn't valid.
        • Porn is illegal in all states of australia with the exception of the ACT (not suprisingly, where the politicians spend most of their time).
          • Porn isn't illegal in any state of australian. The level and types of pornography are restricted in various states. With the exception of the territories (ACT, NT) porn has to be R rated at the best (in video format) and each state has different allowed-types of printed-visual pornography as well.

            Alas we also have powers that be that want to restirct access to online porn. Never going to happen too well though ;)

      • but saying that pornography should be allowed for kids because it would increase profits doesn't sound that good either
        You've obviously never been a kid... (Unless I'm being a male chauvanist pig, in which case, you probably didn't want pornography as a kid...) :) Just my R0.02 (~$0.0014) XeeRz, Jason
    • You're missing the point. Using your logic, one can argue that Australia's restriction on the importation of cocaine is "pointless," as Australian drug retailers and Australia itself is missing out on revenue.

      As elected officials they have made a choice that whatever the economic cost this ban causes, does not outweigh the societal cost of the proliferation of violent games. I don't agree...it's easy enough to recognize that 95%+ of the socialization process of children is, or at least should be, from t

      • The difference being, cocaine use by adults in Australia isn't legal. Also, people can't just download the cocaine from the internet.
    • Re:Censored version? (Score:2, Informative)

      by hammurderer (819640)
      ok so you cant buy a retail version of HL2 big deal thats why the wonderful people at valve have created steam. you can just download it off steam and order it online big deal i dont see how this is importiant /.
      • This of course assumes the Australian government doesn't 1) Ask valve to not sell to credit cards associated with addresses in Steam and 2) Sue them if they don't comply.

        Of course the fact that its relatively easy to get your buddy to borrow his credit card to purchase your steam copy.

      • I think the real issue here is neither the actual accessibility of the HL2, nor the profits. Australians (like myself) shouldn't have access to the game to generate tax dollars, but rather because the benefits of censoring it don't outweigh the lost civil liberties. Of course I'm assuming the difference between MA15+ and R18 (for those who don't know how to order online) isn't the difference between columbine and not.
  • by WormholeFiend (674934) on Monday October 25, 2004 @02:44PM (#10623103)
    does this mean you can heal your character by visiting a prostitute, and then mugging her to get your money back?
  • Some things (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ADRA (37398) on Monday October 25, 2004 @02:47PM (#10623141)
    I think this is purly agism between the older law makers and the 18-36 type demographics. Do these law makers really believe that adults don't/shouldn't play video games? Are the laws really that out of date? Really, Adults playing video games have been well established for at least 20 years, and adult themed games have been out of just as long. As long as there's a niche, there's a way.

    Anyways, why can't they just treat the games like movies and have bold warnings on the package and allow the reatailers to self-enforce the restrictions on child use of video games?

    When I begged my mom to buy me a leisure suit larry when I was like 15 she sould read the box and say no, this is smut. I don't know why we can't live with that in today's protectionist world...
    • Re:Some things (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      A industry-volunteered rating system is what the US has. In fact the movie rating system was also setup by the industry, under public, and Congressional pressure: "rate yourselves before we pass a law making you do so".

      This was done to provide some guidelines to the public as to what to expect when going to a movie, or buying a game, free from slick PR campaigns or marketing bliss.

      From many previsous /. discussions, this apparently does not work too well either.

      Damned if you do, damned if you don't, I g
    • by Dark Lord Seth (584963) on Monday October 25, 2004 @03:10PM (#10623401) Journal
      Anyways, why can't they just treat the games like movies and have bold warnings on the package and allow the reatailers to self-enforce the restrictions on child use of video games?

      Lack of lobbyist organisations. If Aussieland were to ban... Say, the Alien vs Predator movie, the entire aussie equivalent of the MPAA would get worked up and fight the goverment over it. Maybe we should form a gamer's lobbyist group called the Gamer's Network Association of America, or GNAA for short.

      Then again, maybe not...

      • Gamer's Network Association of America

        You mean the Gamer's Network Association of Australia, right? Because the IDSA is already active enough in the US.
    • Re:Some things (Score:3, Interesting)

      by kabocox (199019)
      When I begged my mom to buy me a leisure suit larry when I was like 15 she sould read the box and say no, this is smut. I don't know why we can't live with that in today's protectionist world...

      Short answer is we have complaining idiot parents. People that would have bought you the leisure suit and given it to you as a birthday present. Then after you've played it for 3-6 months, they'd complain because they walked into the room and saw one screen shoot that they didn't like. They'd ground you for a week
      • by ajd1474 (558490) on Monday October 25, 2004 @07:09PM (#10626297)
        The worst part is, it ISNT even parents that are complaining! Manhunt was originally classified MA15+ but after a complaint by a Western Australian Minister, Michelle Roberts (the minister for Justice), was banned. If parents were the ones complaining then that would be totally OK, because that means that they are actually parenting. At the moment Manhunt gets banned, but violence like that seen in Doom is A-OK. The fact is that parents dont know what their kids play to know that they should be complaining. Oh the irony.
    • Anyways, why can't they just treat the games like movies and have bold warnings on the package and allow the reatailers to self-enforce the restrictions on child use of video games?

      When I begged my mom to buy me a leisure suit larry when I was like 15 she sould read the box and say no, this is smut. I don't know why we can't live with that in today's protectionist world...


      Indeed, and hasn't it been demonstrated a lot that if a game is censored/banned, everyone runs out and buys it.. it amazes me that gov
    • I think this is purly agism between the older law makers and the 18-36 type demographics. Do these law makers really believe that adults don't/shouldn't play video games? Are the laws really that out of date? Really, Adults playing video games have been well established for at least 20 years, and adult themed games have been out of just as long. As long as there's a niche, there's a way.

      There are a couple of factors, partly related to the agism of the people making the laws. When the video games ratin

  • Is it common that games get banned in Australia? Because it's rather common that they get 18 ratings from PEGI or the USK (unlike the ESRB ratings which require sexual content for an AO rating). Doom 3 would be a recent example*. If it's really that common to have games banned in Australia, that might be a concern but an 18 rating by PEGI isn't that rare a thing.

    *: If you want to search for it on pegi.info spell it "Doom III".
    • I don't know if it is that common. There have just been a couple of high profile games banned lately LSL, and if this report is true, HL2.

      Games do seem to be put in a different category than film and literature. I suspect that it is the belief that 'games are for children, not adults.' Notice also that it is the Office of Film and Literature Classification, not the Office of Film, Literature, and Games Classification. There's probably no one in that department who understands computer games, while there w

      • The report merely says that HL2 got rated 18 by the PEGI and therefore suggests that HL2 might get banned in Australia. It wasnt banned yet. Your post made it seem like you read that as "HL2 is banned in Australia", the article is merely about the possibility of a ban.
      • However, with Steam, it shouldn't be too hard to bypass the retail channel and get HL2 directly from Valve.

        Ahh, but don't forget it's something like 4gigs or so of data.
        I believe australia still has the stupid low caps on broadband. 256/128k doesn't count as broadband. (I think, I havn't checked recently. I know it's still that way in New Zealand)
        • I had cable back in Oz, not DSL, and on several occasions got around 500k download speeds. I remember downloading a 130MB install in under four minutes. This was just after I went from dialup to cable, so I was mightily impressed.

          They did have the usage caps though. My package at that time was 1GB a month which generally was enough. However, I believe that those caps have now been removed.

        • Average ADSL "broadband" plans here are 512/128k with between 10-20gig download a month.
    • Another thing to consider is that, at least in the case of movies, things that re rated R18+ in the US (and maybe in Europe) often only get an MA15+ rating in Australia. From what I understand, the US R18+ covers all the content that the Australian MA15+ and R18+ categories cover.

      In general, I get the impression that Australia has a reasonably liberal stance on what movies are permitted to be shown (Ken Park and Baise Moi being notable exceptions), although a less liberal stance on computer games (ref. GTA
  • big fuss (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Ratso Baggins (516757) on Monday October 25, 2004 @02:54PM (#10623206) Homepage
    I bet this is a marketing fuss, you see the censors rated good ol' Harry Potter as M (15+) but the uproar from the people the system is designed to protect saw it dropped to PG in short order.
  • by weizur (787688) on Monday October 25, 2004 @03:02PM (#10623279)
    For a country started by convicts they sure are conservative.
    • Re:Australia hah (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ripsnorta (697485)
      Well, a little bit I agree.

      But... nowhere as near conservative as the residents of the USA. Some examples...

      Janet Jacksons boobie would have raised some eyebrows, but would have caused nowhere near the shitstorm that occured in the US.

      TV after 9pm is about as unrestricted as you can get. While some stations blank words and edit content, thats somewhat optional, and you'll still see quite a few titties and hear a bit of cussin too! And... when someone gives someone else the finger, it doesn't get blurred

      • Just to calrify things for those people who dont live in the US

        The boob thing caused a problem more cause it was a high profile event with a huge audience and was in prime time (IE it was before 9 for most audiences)

        You see those things in the US too, technically showing a boob (even with the current administration) wasnt a crime and infact we have seen Denis Franzes (sp?) ass more times than I would ever want to remember, Still get some cursing and everything else too.... The only problem is exsesive n

        • I'm not a view of NYPD Blue, so fortunately, I don't get to see Denis Franzes arse. [Insert Sideshow Bob shudder here]

          Having said that, I don't think I have seen an unpixelated boobie, arse, or finger (used rudely) since I have been here. Ok, maybe once or twice, but the general rule is that scenes with these things are either completely missing, or heavily edited.

          Unfortunately, it seems that they are editing even those things that are to do with the story. Case in point. I was watching the Matrix the oth

          • Ah but see here lies the problem, Cable TV is a strange land.... they bleep out more on Cable TV than they do on network tv now, (especially since even CSI and Law and Order Isee the "finger" on a regular basis)

            The stranges part is that for the most part, they are not required to do jack shit. Thats all up to the broadcaster (which I bet you for the Matrix was TBS who used to have heavy christian programing and I think still does on Sundays)

        • The boob thing caused a problem more cause it was a high profile event with a huge audience and was in prime time (IE it was before 9 for most audiences)

          Not only that, but it was over the public airwaves which our tax money pays for. Had it been on cable, there might have been less of an uproar. It was also the context, basically the whole "performance" looked like a bunch of dry humping culminating in Jackson getting her top ripped off. Children like to imitate things, so most parents don't like thei
          • "looked like a bunch of dry humping culminating in Jackson getting her top ripped off" And so... kids might immitate that. In the name of our sweet Christian Lord, this sounds like a serious threat to their well-being.
      • The word you're looking for is "prudish".

        Considering we're probably the most powerful country in the world (USA that is) we sure are populated with a lot of morons. Conservative morons at that.

        I figure it's probably another 20 years or so before people like Shrub are dead, so we only need to hold out another 5 presidential terms.
    • Unlike the US:h for a country started by slave owners it sure hasn't changed much at all.
  • Compare it to games like Doom 3 or GTA. At least the game's not about killing cops to enable a drug heist (not that this is necessarily bad gameplay, but from a censor's POV). Doom or even UT2k4 had more violent death sequences (complete with bad anatomy lessons). How did these games fare for the Auzzie censors?
  • by node 3 (115640) on Monday October 25, 2004 @03:04PM (#10623295)
    Thanks for making America look "enlightened" by comparison. It's kind of rare these days.

    You kind of overdid it with Howard though. You didn't have to re-elect him just for us.
  • by Zareste (761710)
    Wow, and I always heard the thought-control psychos were at a minimum in Australia. Guess they're spawning everywhere these days. Maybe we should be doing more to rid society of them.
  • Easy (Score:2, Funny)

    by maddh (608481)
    Its nothing another 6 month global release delay couldn't fix, right?
  • You can play Grand Theft Auto in Australia, so why would HL2 be banned? It surely wouldn't be as graphic GTA or Doom or any of those first person shooters.

    What a stupid concept.
    • As said from *sumea* 'Keep your eyes peeled at the OFLC website to see if Half Life 2 gets rated. If there's one game that WILL force the issue of our lousy games classification system up for serious discussion, it's definately Half Life 2!'

      As usual the OFLC has the last say on everything (and if you don't like it, you can talk to the Attorney General of Aussieland - Philip Ruddock - who has the overall say over what the OFLC does).

      It's not unusual for the OFLC to 'ban' games, they allowed Man-Hunt into t
  • Man, ratings (of anything) are annoying, having kept me out of countless educational films before I reached 18, but banning something based on a rating is just downright wrong.

    I think I'll personally buy and ship a copy of HL2 to anyone in Australia braindead enough not to be able to order it abroad.
  • I woudnt be suprised if valve used this as another excuse to delay HL2.
    • Excuse? These aren't mere excuses! They've got a secret deal with 3D Realms because they're porting Duke Nukem: Forever into the source engine and they're gonna be released as a bundle!
  • Well, being an aussie my self I cannot see this happening.

    The rating rules in australia are not as harsh as the american rules. Yes it is true that we dont have r18+ and XXX. But many of the games that get a 17/18+ rating in america get a 15+ rating here.

    The did have to censor GTA3 to remove the ability to have sex with prostitues then beat them to death. But I really dont think that is going to happen in HL2.

    HL2 will pass just fine and this article is just a person trying to make news by starting a rumo
  • Shadow Warrior (Score:2, Insightful)

    by TheLoneIguana (126589)
    Didn't 3DRealms have a similar problem with Shadow Warrior some years ago? Something about having to convert the throwing stars to darts...
    As I recall they had a patch on their web site that unlocked the game. Seemed a clever way to circumvent the censorship.
    • This has happened many times over the years, from Shadow Warrior to Duke Nukem 3D to Blood (the first two were parent-locked, Blood was banned outright for a long time). Without being Australian (I'm a New Zealander, we get fallout from this but don't have the sane regime), I should point out that Australia isn't one big unit in terms of cultural acceptance. Certain of the states are extremely conservative, while others (Queensland) are perfectly "normal"(whatever that means, but they'd be unlikely to ban g
    • (NOTE: Shurikens are throwing stars, iirc the translation is "palm knife")
      It happened in Tenchu and Tenchu 2 as well... US version had shurikens, EU version had throwing knives (can't remember the name for them). Does anyone know why this is done? They serve exactly the same purpose...
      -ReK
      • I dont know if its related but I do know that several things with the word "ninja" in it (most notably the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Ninja Gaiden) had the word "ninja" removed in some places for some wierd reason.
  • Australia has banned the release of Microsoft's Project Gotham Racing 2 - not because it encourages reckless driving, but because one of the courses is set in Sydney. Gotta love a government that decides for you what is moral.
    • by Tarison (600538) on Monday October 25, 2004 @07:46PM (#10626609)
      I'm sure you're fishing, but what the hell. I live in Australia, and own PGR2. I bought it at a store, without doing any shady backroom deals, so I'm not sure where you get your info. Technically, we're supposed to have banned Manhunt, but you can still buy it, or could until about a month ago. It's true my country did ban the recent leisure suit larry (though from what I've seen in reviews, that may have been a good thing anyway), but when games such as Doom 3, Manhunt, etc do make it through, I don't see HL2 getting stopped.
  • If Australia wants to do things like knock out violence in their country by banning video games and blaming others for their own problems then they don't deserve to have it. I think many Americans had this point after columbine, yet nothing happened. As I stated before, video games are not violent, the people that play them are. Also, any video game can teach a person to have better aim, catch blocks [ebaumsworld.com], still teaches aiming techniques, so is it just as violent?
    • Nice attitude. Do you really think the people that espouse these views give a stuff whether they could buy HL2 or not? No of course they dont, its the rest of us that have to suffer.

      Its a moot point anyway as piracy and warez will take care of the supply...
  • This is a wonderful example of spreading FUD and treating idle speculation as journalism.
    For starters you cannot compare the Australian Office of Film & Literature Classification (OFLC), to the Pan European Games Information (PEGI). They both have different systems of ratings. A European R, does not correspond to a Australian R.

    Prime example, Doom 3 was rated 18+ in the UK and in Au it was MA15+.
  • It's not really the game makers fault, and Australia isn't at fault for having it like that. It's just different countries have stricter control on different things, it's just a way of life. These things happen all the time, but it takes a video game of this magnitude for it to get any kind of attention.

  • I'm curious what content in the game is so offensive--the previews I've seen are no gorier than your average FPS.

    Anyone have an idea what the specific "inappropriate" content might be?
  • I am wondering, if HL2 is banned from Australian stores what is to stop Australians from just buying it off of steam? I mean it is not like Australia has a nationwide firewall like China..

    Does it?
    • Re:What about Steam? (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      When a game is refused classification in Australia, it's forbidden to sell the game here. I'm not sure of the exact implications though, but it may be possible that action could be taken against Valve if they tried to sell a banned game via steam on our shores.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Do games in Australia have to have a rating to be sold legally?

    Would any retailer in their right mind refuse to sell Half Life 2 because it doesn't have a tiny little box on it that tells people it's rating?

    Would it be illegal (in Australia, which probably has no legal authority over Valve) for Valve to sell uncensored versions of the game over Steam?

    Won't this just drive all the gamers to buy the game over steam instead, thus pissing off Vivendi or wheoevr is publishing it in Australia, and then getting
    • by jonwil (467024) on Tuesday October 26, 2004 @10:20AM (#10630556)
      It would definatly be illegal to sell this game in australia if it was refused classification.

      In fact, I think there was some trouble back when GTA III came out because they released it before it had an OFLC rating, the OFLC gave it an RC rating so they had to recall stuff from shelves and remove the offensive content.

      Personally, I dont think that ANY video game should be banned unless it specifically encourages people to do illegal acts (e.g. how the whole aim of Manhunt is to kill innocent civillians for no reason)
      • Actually in Manhunt you kill psycotic gang members that are out to kill you. I don't think there are any innocent civilians or people you can kill at all in the game unlike the GTA series.
        • I agree with you.I am constantly amazed at how people spout off about Manhunt and how you kill innocent people.

          While the main character was a murder who was to be put ot death, he is actually one of the LEAST reprehensable characters in the game.
          He gets to try to protect his innocent family members, who are ultimately killed anyway while he is powerless to do anything but watch. The cops he runs into are dirty, on the payroll of the villian. The reporter he has to protect, same goes for the homeless guy.

          I
  • by trawg (308495) on Tuesday October 26, 2004 @09:39AM (#10630215) Homepage
    This article is based on a box shot of Half-Life 2 that shows an 18+ rating in the UK.

    As others have posted, there is no comparable rating in Australia. However, this DOES NOT IMMEDIATELY IMPLY that Half-Life 2 will face any problems.

    Searching the Euro classification database [pegi.info] shows that a bunch of games got Euro 18+ ratings, but were released (unaltered) with an MA15+ (the highest .au rating). Soldier of Fortune 2 is a good example.

    Most of the Australian concerns are because the OFLC (Office of Film and Literature Classification, the body responsible in Australia for ratings) have refused classification in the past for some titles - most notably, Grand Theft Auto titles and recently the new Leisure Suit Larry game. These titles had problems ONLY because of the sexual aspect (in particular with GTA the combination of sex and violence - specifically, the fact that you can nail a hooker, and then.. uh.. nail her).

    It is _hugely_ unlikely that Half-Life 2 will suffer any classification problems unless it contains heaps of sexually explicit content (or messages of racial hatred, etc, etc) - which one can almost certainly safely assume is not going to happen.

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