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Censorship Entertainment Games News

Graffiti Game Banned in Australia 313

Posted by samzenpus
from the think-of-the-children dept.
afaik_ianal writes "The Sydney Morning Herald is reporting that 'Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure' has been banned in Australia. The game involves battling the authorities to overthrow corrupt officials using only street fighting skills and graffiti. From the article, "The decision was endorsed last night by the Federal Attorney-General, Philip Ruddock, who had asked the board to review of the game's MA15+ classification after local councils and state governments voiced concerns that the game would promote graffiti.""
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Graffiti Game Banned in Australia

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  • by ami-in-hamburg (917802) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @04:30AM (#14730859)
    Again, another government stepping in where parents and society in general should be the authority.

    Isn't it ironic though that the point of the game is to fight government corruption and promote freedom of expression.
    • by lxs (131946) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @05:32AM (#14731044)
      Isn't it ironic though that the point of the game is to fight government corruption and promote freedom of expression.

      No, it's standard practice in political censorship to attack some side issue and not the political message. For instance, Ulysses was written by an Irishman and criticised British rule over Ireland.

      Ulysses was banned for obscenity rather than for it's political content even though the so called obscene content was tame even for the time in which it was written. The same case can be made for the film of A Clockwork Orange, which I believe is still banned in the UK.
      • by LordSnooty (853791) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @06:23AM (#14731188)
        In the UK, A Clockwork Orange wasn't banned by any Government agency but by Kubrick himself, "on police advice after threats were made against Kubrick and his family" (link) [wikipedia.org]. It didn't get a video release until after Kubrick's death. But it was never "banned" in the traditional sense. The director refused to permit its release. Now it's been on TV & all sorts, and yes it's tame.
        • Now it's been on TV & all sorts, and yes it's tame.

          Come on! A Clockwork Orange is one of my favorite movies. I've read the book twice as well, but to say it's tame is an absolute lie, unless you consider rape, murder, graphic violence and gratuitous drug use to be kid stuff. Just because Hollywood etc. has desensitized you to the point that you consider these things tame, does not mean that they actually are.

          Even when viewed through a contemporary lens, the portrayal of the banality of extrem
          • Yes, it is pretty graphic, but I think it almost needs to be to get the point accross. Alex was a pretty screwed up kid, and they thought they could cure him by removing his free will to do as he wanted to. I think that a lot of people see the beatings and the rapes and the drug use and don't see the real social commentary that the movie is trying to make. However, I think the violence is necessary in order to get the point of the movie accross.
    • Indeed. I wonder what are they going to do with AWB and 300 milion handed over to Saddam, with Howard's approval. Fucking hypocrites. Everywhere.
    • Disclaimer: I hate grafitti. I hate crime. So don't pick out parts of sentences, (As Anonymous Coward no less), that I write and attack me. Read the entire commentary in context.

      All I'm trying to say is that it's not the government's responsibility to control what you do in your own home. That should be left to parents, period!

      If a game is violent, promotes gun use, promotes crime, grafitti, prostitution, gangs, etc..., etc...

      SO F'ING WHAT!

      If you don't want your kids to be affected by those types of in
  • that sucks (Score:5, Funny)

    by [cx] (181186) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @04:33AM (#14730871)
    I guess kids will have to stick to the real thing.
    • I guess kids will have to stick to the real thing.

      I only wish graffiti writing and street fighting would work to remove the current crop of corrupt government officials. Alas, it's not that simple.

  • by dustpuppy (5260) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @04:39AM (#14730897) Homepage
    I think we have long gone past the point were censorship of this nature will have any effect. What with bittorrent and other P2P networks, people will still be able to obtain copies. And by making such a big deal of it, all the authorities have done is made it into the latest 'must have' computer game.

    And I would love to read their position paper (which will apparently get relaeased) soon that explains the majority and minority positions. I cannot understand how they feel that they should ban this game and yet allow violent movies to not be banned.
  • Who else feels... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Vo0k (760020) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @04:39AM (#14730898) Journal
    ...that they were concerned the game would promote THE OTHER aspect of the gameplay?
  • by supertsaar (540181) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @04:41AM (#14730901) Homepage Journal
    So Spraying a tag on a wall is worse than the old knee-to-the-solar-plexus move? Chigago-Curb-Job? Columbian Necktie?
    That makes me very sad. We teach our kids that violence is cool, acceptable, exciting, fun.
    Then we complain about all the violence in the streets.
    If you want to ban a game, please ban it for excessive violence, not for some paint sprayed on walls.
    • I think the only justifiable time to ban a game is when it depicts a real life crime. Sexually explicit pictures of a minor, a murder being performed, and that type of stuff.

      What is being done in Australia is blatent censorship. The government needs to realize it's up to the parents to raise their children right. There is no substitute for a parent teaching a child right from wrong.
    • I wasn't able to find what "chicago curb job" means, except that it's Nederlander slang.
  • Strange laws (Score:5, Informative)

    by grimdawg (954902) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @04:41AM (#14730902)
    I'm in a bind about this. What most people don't know is that Australia lacks an Adults only game rating, so any game unsuitable for people between 16 and 17 must be banned, as 15+ is the hardest rating. This was the reason for the banning of games such as GTA3 (before changes) and BMX XXX. I'm torn on this issue, because I don't believe these games are suitable for kids under 18, and so by Aussie law, they're banned. Sure, it's up to the parents, but a game can't be rated 18+, so any 16yo would be able to get his hands on any game without parental consent. In summary, the ban is correct under Australian law (we should by no means lower the rating of titles to get them oin shelves), but the OFLC needs an 18+ rating, pronto.
    • but a game can't be rated 18+, so any 16yo would be able to get his hands on any game without parental consent.

      I don't think there is that much of a difference between 16 and 18. Kids who are going to be influenced by a game to go out and spray paint stuff would have to be much younger than 16.

    • I'm in a bind about this. What most people don't know is that Australia lacks an Adults only game rating

      Umm... Okay? So I fail to see the problem (or rather, I fail to see why your government doesn't just implement the trivially obvious solution to the problem)... Allow adult-only ratings to apply to games.

      AU already has higher ratings for movies, or so I've inferred from other comments on this topic. Just extend them to apply to games, and you have no problem. No more need to outright ban games.
  • Philip Ruddock (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MichaelSmith (789609) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @04:41AM (#14730903) Homepage Journal
    the game features a world where freedom of expression is suppressed by a tyrannical city government.

    I've got an idea for a character in the next version of the game.

    But seriously, most of the games out there promote violence, road rage, all kinds of stuff, and they can still be sold. What makes graffiti so important?

    • Sorry, the form heading said "Reply to: Philip Ruddock" and I got carried away by the moment....
      • I got carried away by the moment

        We need to be carefull. His media manager's assistants are going to have to print out 50 pages of /. on friday morning. Phil is not going to be a happy chap after spending friday reading at -1.

        Better carry my passport around for a while, just in case.

      • by ynotds (318243)
        You certainly got me with that heading.

        I've been having this night^H^H^H^H^Hday-mare for some time that I was driving down the road and Phil and Johnny were crossing in front of me but so far apart that I could only choose one.

        Now I just need to find somewhere to show the contrasting pics of graffiti and authorised murals I took at the weekend.

        Maybe a carrot for the kids in terms of something interesting to do might achieve a lot more than forever telling them what not to do.
  • by CB-in-Tokyo (692617) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @04:43AM (#14730909) Homepage
    It used to be music that everyone said was a bad influence, now it is Video games.

    I love the following Frank Zappa quotation.

    "There are more love songs than anything else. If songs could make you do
    something we'd all love one another."
    -- Frank Zappa

    Not exactly the same, but close enough if we replace love songs with first person shooters and....

    Nevermind

    • by Prune (557140)
      I call bullshit. Love songs are usually about lust and romantic love, not loving your fellow human beings in general.
    • Zappa was especially good at pointing out the stupidity of our fine elected officials (and their wives more specifically), even without being actively involved himself. He once had an instrumental album get stickered by the PMRC for explicit lyrics.

      "I wrote a song about dental floss but did anyone's teeth get cleaner?" --Frank Zappa

    • ... it was comics "[1] [wikipedia.org] [2] [cbldf.org].

      Seems like there will always be a "scary bogeyman" "corrupting our children".

  • by iainl (136759) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @04:43AM (#14730912)
    The real issue, once again, is that Australia don't have the equivalent of the UK's "18" or US "M" for games, so the highest possible rating is the aforementioned MA15+. So games like the GTA series are already banned there.

    Since the game involves just as much violence against policemen as GTA does, and the only non-violent aspect to the game is the vandalism, my only surprise is that they considered it possible for an MA15+ in the first place.
    • The lack of an 18 rating was tangential to the issue at hand. (And GTA is not banned here, we have a modified version, though I got mine from New Zealand :)

      This game was not banned because it featured graffiti in a fashion similar to how GTA features violence. It was because it (apparantly) contains material that is instructional rather than a shallow representation like the violence in GTA (or graffiti in Jet Set Radio Future). It wasn't considered to "promote" illegal behaviour simply because it repres
    • In a free country, ratings and censorship are not codified into laws. In fact, freedom of expression is arguably the most important aspect of a free society.

  • Jet Set Radio (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nkh (750837) <exochickenNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday February 16, 2006 @04:46AM (#14730916) Journal
    Was Jet Set Radio [wikipedia.org] banned in Australia?
    • Re:Jet Set Radio (Score:2, Informative)

      by flamearrows (821733)
      No. But Jet Set Radio was far cuter... the action was deliberately cartoonish and hence rather unreal and irrelevant. Thus, there's no "promotion" of graffiti or violence, and the game was classified as M.
      • That's odd. I have both Jet Grinf Radio and Jet Set Radio Future, and both games are rated T, with the the reason cited being "inappropriate lyrics," I believe. Though the game DOES open with a disclaimer, saying it does not condone the act of vandalism in any way.
  • Don't you think that Federal Attorney-General, Philip Ruddock, the board and other authorities should be banned in Australia because they promote software piracy?
  • Wow (Score:3, Interesting)

    by squoozer (730327) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @04:47AM (#14730921)

    So it's ok to "promote" shooting people, running people down and using / abusing prostitutes (GTA and plenty of others) but it's not ok to "promote" tagging a wall. Hmmmm we have a very weird society.

    • Re:Wow (Score:5, Insightful)

      by tpgp (48001) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @05:30AM (#14731037) Homepage
      So it's ok to "promote" shooting people, running people down and using / abusing prostitutes (GTA and plenty of others)but it's not ok to "promote" tagging a wall.

      GTA was banned in Australia too [zdnet.com.au]

      Hmmmm we have a very weird society.

      I'm not sure whether you're talking about the USA or Australia - you seem a little confused. (but yes, they're both quite weird)
      • Either US or Oz or anywhere else for that matter (I'm from the UK) I meant society globally or certainly at least the westernized bits of it seem to have some strange values. It doesn't surprise me that GTA was banned in Australia but I'll bet there are a lot of similar games that aren't. I'm against censorship in general but I think it's about time we had some official sanctioned game ratings with more teeth. When the graphics were poor it was fair enough to have no ratings or industry imposed rates but mo

        • I'm from the UK...
          I think it's about time we had some official sanctioned game ratings with more teeth. When the graphics were poor it was fair enough to have no ratings or industry imposed rates but modern games are getting to the point where some of the content is quite disturbing.

          Um, did you not realise that we do have official sanctioned game ratings in the UK? Violent games are rated by the BBFC, the same statutory body who rate films, and their ratings are enforced by law - it is illegal for a shop a
  • by richlv (778496) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @04:48AM (#14730924)
    "The game [that] involves battling the authorities to overthrow corrupt officials..." "...has been banned by authorities"
  • Riiight ..... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ajs318 (655362) <sd_resp2@NOspAm.earthshod.co.uk> on Thursday February 16, 2006 @05:09AM (#14730983)
    What they have basically done, then, is turned this game into an instant automatic hit. Everybody in Australia will want a copy of this game now, because it's illegal. And they will get copies of it. Either paid-up ones, sent in an innocuous music CD box by friends or relatives abroad; or, much more likely, pirated copies. {Does anybody actually pay for games? I suppose there must be one or two.} Everybody outside Australia will want a copy because it's been banned in Australia.

    All things considered, this is a fantastic marketing stunt.

    My proposed solution, by the way, is to ban all sales of video games to {but not possession by} minors. That way, parents and guardians get to decide what is and isn't appropriate.
    • This whole 'scandal' is a cooked up piece of pathetic marketing but the middle class white boy who wishes he was a gangsta who designed this crappy game. He actually believes that ALL video games should be about graffiti, hip-hop and terrorism because 'thats what the kids dig'. He even posed on the front cover of 'Develop' magazine with a baseball cap on backwards. I reckon hes mid thrities. what a dick.
      And yes people DO buy games. Thankfully, otherwise nobody would be making them anymore. Thats called econ
    • Personally, while I buy all my games, and like to feel good about that, there's a point where the ethics don't matter. If there's a game that exists and I want to play it, but the stores won't carry it, then it's time to fire up BitTorrent and have no qualms about it at all. Problem solved. Not my fault if they won't accept my money for it.
  • by Jessrond (954908) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @05:14AM (#14731003) Journal
    I've never understood the whole idea behind banning video games and trying to blame them for various social problems. That's giving games much more influential power than they, or any form of media, ever has had. Really, if someone decides to spray paint just because they've been playing this game, they have other problems unrelated to video games. Parents should be regulating the games that come into their home, because they are the only ones who know if THEIR child is mature enough to understand them. It's not up to the government... And plus, the people in power today see video games as "new" and "confusing." Maybe when people raised on Atari, Nintendo, etc gain political power, we won't see such a witch-hunt on games.
  • by BlackMesaLabs (893043) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @05:36AM (#14731052)
    From someone who lives here, here's the deal with what gets banned (as in games), and the GTA oddities: GTA 3 was released here, uncut. Then they found out about the prostitutes, and revoked classification- forcing a recall
    After this, the game was edited to remove the prostitute functionality and re-released, conforming to Aus standards. The reason the prostitutes were removed was NOT because of the sexual content, rather, it was because of the very strict rules we have here about sex and violence. It was the fact you could kill hookers after sex that had the game censored.
    Vice city was pre-edited by the developers and had NO sex (the Candy Suxx FMV's were fucked up) Pardon the pun.
    GTA:SA came out WITH hookers, unedited. I have no idea how/why this happened.
    Generally games are censored here when sex and violence is mixed, IN ANY WAY. Duke Nukem 3D was censored because you could shoot the strippers.
    I dont understand the logic of this banning though
    • Generally games are censored here when sex and violence is mixed

      How do they know the content is there? They don't play them (obviously).

      Perhaps the games are built with a "censor" interface. Or perhaps the censors rely on the documentation.

  • ...It looks like the only way to beat these corrupt officials is with street fighting skills and graffiti! Everybody was kung foo fighting WHAH! HOO HAH!

    (I don't know any lyrics for spray painting).
  • Stupid logic (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Neo-Rio-101 (700494) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @06:23AM (#14731187)
    In Japan, no game really gets publically banned for being violent or degrading (other than the pubes-mosiac thing), but then there is little violence in society and next to no graffiti. There is no fear of violence ever influencing anybody.

    The logic goes that maybe if there was less graffiti and less violence in Australia, then we could have violent games and nobody would care about any influence.

    Seems to me that the outside world influences video games more than the other way around.
    • next to no graffiti

      Where in Japan do you live? Go hang out in the big cities in Kinki, like Kobe or Kyoto, or Osaka. There's plenty of graffiti. It's not as wide spread as in say London or American cities, but its there (and some of it is quite good).
  • Don't Panic (Score:3, Funny)

    by craznar (710808) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @06:50AM (#14731253) Homepage
    The only differences this decision will have on the game in Australia are:

    1. Increased popularity of the game
    2. Lower profits to the manufacturer
    3. Larger US/AU bandwidth usage for a few weeks.

    That's about it really.
  • Gee... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Otis_INF (130595) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @08:01AM (#14731458) Homepage
    "The decision was endorsed last night by the Federal Attorney-General, Philip Ruddock, who had asked the board to review of the game's MA15+ classification after local councils and state governments voiced concerns that the game would promote graffiti."
    Gee, for a minute I thought they had concerns the game would promite violence, but *pfew*, violence is still normal, and accepted.
  • by slushbat (777142) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @08:06AM (#14731471)
    And from that day forward no graffiti was ever sprayed on the walls of Australia again. The clean grey concrete canyons were the envy of the rest of the world where no other nation had the foresight to ban this evil computer game.
  • So, I guess it was banned by those corrupt officials, eh?
    • So, I guess it was banned by those corrupt officials, eh?

      Ruddock may well be remembered that way - I certainly think so after the big "donation" by someone who wanted residency who then by "sheer coincidence" got it. The reputation of the Australian government is set to go spiralling anticlockwise down the toilet soon after the details of bribes in Iraq by what was at the time a wholly government owned body get some international attention. It's not nice to know we ripped off a UN fund allocated to stop

  • When you can no longer buy or sell something, just because some "corrupt officials" don't like the message it contains.

    It'd be too easy to say, "oh it's only Australia", because American and European legislature goes in the same direction.
  • All censorship debate aside. The total population of Australia is only 20.4m. I bet the value of getting your 'fight the evil system with graffiti' game banned in Australia far exceeds the couple thousand sales you where going to make there. I'm just surprised it was Australia of all places that took the bait, they generally seem like a pretty cool lot.
  • Many outside of Australian would know of a major political issue surrounding an abortion drug. Our health minister overided our medication authority to ban the drug and a conscious vote (non party binding) was held over a minister's ability to override certain decisions. And now (although on an issue of lesser scale) another minister is overriding the decision of an authority, our ratings board. It seems utterly stupid that a single man or women's opinion can affect an entire nation's ability to choose. G
  • ... the government of Australia is silent on the issue of banning corrupt politicians. One politician was quoted as saying that there's not evidence that corrupt politicians lead to a rise in graffiti. "That's just preposterous," sayeth MP Swindell.
  • NPR just ran an interview with the man behind this game a day or so ago. It certainly didn't sound like something worthy of such heavy handed treatment.
  • local councils and state governments voiced concerns that the game would promote graffiti

    The basic fact that all the would-be-do-gooders-for-everyones-own-good is that games do not encourage people to get up off their ass, let alone do something other than go to work and go to Mc D's and get home to play some games. Its a good public pacifier and should be included with the likes of retirement, minimum wages, and beer in any governments arsenal.
    I have to get some kidnappings accomplished in COV, I got no ti
  • hahaha (Score:3, Funny)

    by CrazyJim1 (809850) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @03:45PM (#14735826) Journal
    City officials attempt to shut down game that trains people how to overthrow Corrupt City officials.

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