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Censorship Games

Left 4 Dead 2 Banned In Australia 215

Posted by Soulskill
from the scary-zombies dept.
An anonymous reader writes "According to Australia's Office of Film and Literature Classification, Left 4 Dead 2's content exceeds that allowable for an MA15+ rating. Any such game is rated as Refused Classification, effectively banning it. From the report: 'The game contains realistic, frenetic, and unrelenting violence which is inflicted upon "the Infected" who are living humans infected with a rabies-like virus that causes them to act violently. The player can choose from a variety of weapons including pistols, shotguns, machine guns, and sniper rifles. However, it is the use of the "melee" weapons such as the crowbar, axe, chainsaw and Samurai sword which inflict the most damage. These close-in attacks cause copious amounts of blood spray and splatter, decapitations and limb dismemberment as well as locational damage where contact is made to the enemy which may reveal skeletal bits and gore.'"
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Left 4 Dead 2 Banned In Australia

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  • Good advertising (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Shadow of Eternity (795165) on Friday September 18, 2009 @12:33AM (#29462523)

    I didn't know valve did such a good job of making a proper gorey zombie game.

  • by acid06 (917409) on Friday September 18, 2009 @12:33AM (#29462525)
    The player can choose from a variety of weapons including pistols, shotguns, machine guns, and sniper rifles. However, it is the use of the "melee" weapons such as the crowbar, axe, chainsaw and Samurai sword which inflict the most damage. These close-in attacks cause copious amounts of blood spray and splatter, decapitations and limb dismemberment as well as locational damage where contact is made to the enemy which may reveal skeletal bits and gore.

    Seriously. Did they pay the ratings board to write that?
    • I think that sentence should be Refused Classification and banned.
    • by Thanshin (1188877) on Friday September 18, 2009 @02:10AM (#29463005)

      Seriously. Did they pay the ratings board to write that?

      Probably, so I should fight my newly grown strong will to buy it.

      Fortunately I'm at work; at home I'd have bought it already.

    • by AftanGustur (7715)

      Seriously. Did they pay the ratings board to write that?

      That is not so unlikely, the Left4Dead community is not at all pleased with how Valve seems to be abandoning them, and have created a Left4Dead Boycott Group [steamcommunity.com] with over 40.000 members.

      Even if they sell each l4d II game for only 40 dollars (instead of the usual 49) that represents 1.6 million dollars in lost sales.

      So Valve has to generate more interest in the new title, and this is probably a part of that.

    • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

      These close-in attacks cause copious amounts of blood spray and splatter, decapitations and limb dismemberment as well as locational damage where contact is made to the enemy which may reveal skeletal bits and gore.

      OMG, it sounds like that game rawks

      What, are Australians pussies or something?

  • by straponego (521991) on Friday September 18, 2009 @12:37AM (#29462545)
    'However, it is the use of the "melee" weapons such as the crowbar, axe, chainsaw and Samurai sword which inflict the most damage.'

    That's odd, I think I'd rather be hit by a crowbar than blasted with a shotgun. Oh well, only one way to find out.
    • by ZiakII (829432) on Friday September 18, 2009 @01:03AM (#29462687)
      'However, it is the use of the "melee" weapons such as the crowbar, axe, chainsaw and Samurai sword which inflict the most damage.'

      That's odd, I think I'd rather be hit by a crowbar than blasted with a shotgun. Oh well, only one way to find out.


      Do you happen to live in Australia by chance?
    • by TheLink (130905)
      Well it depends on the attacker, and how many goes they have at firing/swinging the weapon. Assuming it's just one shot/swing. If it's a wimpy 95 pounder holding the shotgun/crowbar, I'd take the crowbar hit.

      If it's a construction worker or one of those "ultimate fight" martial artist, I think I'm fubarred either way, so perhaps I should let them shotgun blast my head off...

      FWIW, a samurai sword is probably more lethal than a handgun at close range. Surgeons don't do very well at stitching the two halves of
  • Heh (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ShooterNeo (555040) on Friday September 18, 2009 @12:38AM (#29462555)

    " These close-in attacks cause copious amounts of blood spray and splatter, decapitations and limb dismemberment as well as locational damage where contact is made to the enemy which may reveal skeletal bits and gore."

    Sounds like a pretty convincing advertisement for the game! Darn astroturfers....

    Seriously, the game is sold on Steam. Will steam sell you the game and let you play online if you have an australian IP address? Do they have to block you from purchasing it or not?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by ScytheBlade1 (772156)
      They sell boxed copies as well. A search on gamestop.com shows this. [gamestop.com]

      And as that search shows, they also sell copies for the 360, which is definitely not steam. Plus, something tells me that most game companies don't like pissing off an entire national gov't. Just a thought though.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      They would have to block the sales of the game, or face legal penalties. There is a workaround, however, that is used in every sizeable gaming community where Game A is not available in Region B for whatever reason -- a friend who *is* in Region A can buy the game as a gift, and then gift it to the person in Region B (whereupon B paypals money to A). Inconvenient? Definitely. But not insurmountable, if you're a regular on a gaming forum like Shacknews.
    • Re:Heh (Score:4, Interesting)

      by anomnomnomymous (1321267) on Friday September 18, 2009 @08:09AM (#29464789)
      Steam can disable certain games from being sold in your country, or only let you download the censored version (as is being done with the German version of L4D). The weird thing is that there is a way around that: If someone from another country buys the game for you (and gives it as a gift to your account), it will only have the restrictions for the country it's bought in. I've bought L4D for someone in Germany, and they can now enjoy the full experience (as it should be anyways...)
  • by holophrastic (221104) on Friday September 18, 2009 @12:46AM (#29462589)

    As someone who enjoys the first L4D, this is a really great description of the next one. I'm looking forward to it based on this description alone.

  • The game contains realistic, frenetic, and unrelenting violence which is inflicted upon "the Infected" who are living humans infected with a rabies-like virus that causes them to act violently.

    It must be interesting to work in HR at this company.

  • by Korey Kaczor (1345661) on Friday September 18, 2009 @12:52AM (#29462629)

    Looks like somebody high up in Austrialia is a wee-bit angry about not having any of the promised downloadable content of l4d...

  • by Anonymous Coward

    For some reason I thought this was China. I guess I stopped reading after I saw the word Banned.

  • And... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by BaronSprite (651436)
    This is different than the evening news? I'm all for sex over violence and a happy world but honestly the stuff that happens in that description is up nightly on TV. My friend down in AU says he watched 28 days/weeks later, so how is this any different?
    • Re:And... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Quothz (683368) on Friday September 18, 2009 @01:07AM (#29462737) Journal

      This is different than the evening news? I'm all for sex over violence and a happy world but honestly the stuff that happens in that description is up nightly on TV.My friend down in AU says he watched 28 days/weeks later, so how is this any different?

      Well, don't take this as support of the ban, but there is a difference between totally passively watching violence (and simulated violence) and actively controlling simulated violence. Different bits of the brain get used, and I believe there's some evidence that both can negatively impact social development in children, with the latter having a measurably stronger impact. I'm not aware of any research showing that either adversely affects adult behavior when viewed as an adult.

      • Not disagreeing with anything you said but this is clearly not a game for kids, and is not marketed as such.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Quothz (683368)

          Not disagreeing with anything you said but this is clearly not a game for kids, and is not marketed as such.

          Hm? Of course not. I disagree with the ban. I just object to analogizing the impact of film and video games - they're different media that stimulate different parts of the brain. They are different and should be treated differently: Specifically, age limitations based on content should probably be slightly lower with film than games.

          As I said, I'm not aware of any negative impact on adults, and even if there were I dislike the notion that the government should protect us from it. There's a long slippery s

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by norpy (1277318)
        By this logic it should be just as illegal to direct a film like 28 days later in Australia

        By the way, you should be modded down for the "but its harmful to children" argument you just used. The average age of an australian gamer has been shown to be over 30 [kotaku.com.au]
        We are not asking for games like this to be available to children, only that we can have a suitable rating for adults that wish to play games with adult content not intended for sale or consumption by chidren.
        • He didn't use an "it's harmful to children" argument. In fact, he specifically stated that he doesn't support the ban. Did you even read his comment, or do you just knee-jerk oppose things whenever an argument involving children is involved? That's almost as bad as invoking the argument in the first place.

          The GPs point was that in fact, there is a difference between TV violence which is watched passively, and video game violence where the viewer becomes an active participant. And he is correct.
      • by Jaysyn (203771)
        In other words, Australia thinks it's adult subjects are children.
  • by rve (4436) on Friday September 18, 2009 @12:58AM (#29462663)

    Don't they have an 18+ rating for games in Australia?

    Polls consistently show that the vast majority of gamers are adults.

    • by Merls the Sneaky (1031058) on Friday September 18, 2009 @01:05AM (#29462715)

      No we do not.

    • by Pyrus.mg (1152215) on Friday September 18, 2009 @01:06AM (#29462723)
      Few Australians escape the dingos to reach the ripe old age of 18 and those who do have usually lost limbs to crocodiles or tragic boomerang incidents, assuming they haven't been paralyzed by some sort of venomous critter. Not exactly hardcore gamers in other words.
    • by afidel (530433) on Friday September 18, 2009 @01:07AM (#29462735)
      Sounds like the nanny state is extending across the former empire. We all know the Indians are even more prudish than us Americans, the Aussies appear to be bowing to the idea that a game can be too violent for an ADULT to play, what's next the Canadians deciding drinking is too much fun and that it keeps people from serious work? The Puritans may have died out as an organized religion but the harm they have done to the western world is pretty endemic.
    • by grapeape (137008) <mpope7@NOSpam.kc.rr.com> on Friday September 18, 2009 @01:07AM (#29462739) Homepage

      Nope, their rating system goes from G, PG, M, MA15+ (which is a mishmash of what we have as T and M in the ESRB though nearly all end up on the MA15+ side) and then RC games classified as RC are automatically banned from sale and display.

    • by The Moof (859402)

      Don't they have an 18+ rating for games in Australia?

      No, strangely enough, they actually don't [wikipedia.org]. Apparently, they have an 18+ rating, but it's not applicable to video games. Games that would receive such a rating are refused classification and banned from sale in the country. Which I find very stupid, given the number of games that aren't geared for kids and the average age of gamers is, what, 27 now?

      • Part of the reason may be that 18+ movies only get limited release because of the economics of that medium. As you point out most gamers are over 18 so the 18+ rating would not deter game developers and 18+ games would proliferate.

        • by Thanshin (1188877)

          . As you point out most gamers are over 18 so the 18+ rating would not deter game developers and 18+ games would proliferate.

          ...And so, the market would determine what should be produced, instead of an arbitrary governor.

          Where's the problem?

          • . As you point out most gamers are over 18 so the 18+ rating would not deter game developers and 18+ games would proliferate.

            ...And so, the market would determine what should be produced, instead of an arbitrary governor.

            Where's the problem?

            I agree with you.

        • by maglor_83 (856254)

          Since when do 18+ movies only get limited release? There have been huge blockbuster movies with R ratings. They get shown everywhere.
          Now it's also probably true that most R movies get a limited release, but that is due to the movie, not the rating.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Lord Pillage (815466)

          ...the 18+ rating would not deter game developers and 18+ games would proliferate.

          I'd have to disagree. I'm sure there are many game developers who actually enjoy making content that is not necessarily violent or objectionable. Developers don't have to make gory content just because they can.

      • Introduction of such a rating would require consensus (and possibly unanimity) from the state's Attorney Generals. Atkinson, the AG from South Australia currently opposes this and is also refusing to allow publication of the results of public poinion on the matter.

        Copies will be downloaded or imported just as they have for previous iterations of 'Refused Classification' games. Sure, kids who rely on their parents buying their games will probably be unable to get a hold of a copy - but that is already true o

        • Wait, so the Attorney Geeral isn't allowing publication of public opinion [polls] on the matter? (I'm assuming you meant to say that; what other public opinions could there be? Editorial-types, which are anecdotal? Nah, polls makes sense; they're the ones that represent more people.)

          So, why does the attorney general have any say over what gets published by the Aussie media? What kind of backwards system is that, where the person having a hand making the law can also prevent public opinion from being display

          • Presumably he is holding back government analysis of this rather than independent surveys. It was quite a shame - we need all the AGs to agree to make a change to the ratings system and everyone was willing to do it but this retard. As a result no change!
    • by adamkennedy (121032) <adamk@c[ ].org ['pan' in gap]> on Friday September 18, 2009 @01:35AM (#29462861) Homepage

      R18+ is not applicable to video games, which has been an ongoing complaint of the industry for a LONG time now.

      So in the sense this isn't "banned" as such, it's just that the censors are given the game and told to work out the category.

      Normally, anything so bad that it doesn't fit into the R18+ classification (which usually means stuff like "realistic depictions of rape" and varying gradients of behaviour heading towards but falling short of "child pornography") are the only things that end up beyond the available ratings and in the "Refused Classification" area.

      The problem is just that they WOULD quite happily give it R18+, but they aren't allowed to. Which leaves violent games like this thrown in with rape video and similar stuff, where they don't belong.

      Everyone knows it's fucking ridiculous, and as the game-playing public ages I imagine it will get fixed eventually. It just results in stupid edge cases in the short term.

      • Everyone knows it's fucking ridiculous, and as the game-playing public ages I imagine it will get fixed eventually. It just results in stupid edge cases in the short term.

        Naive much? Lets look at history to see how well thats worked out for us:
        1. Alcohol: At first anyone could drink. Then nobody could drink, then 16 year olds could drink, then 18, then 21. Note that you can vote and be drafted at 18 but still can't buy a beer. So no the edge case did not get fixed.
        2.Marijuana: A native weed that has been cultivated in the US for over 400 years. Only in the past 60 years has there been prohibition (thanks refer madness). Growing 1 plant in most states will land you wit

        • > Give me one example where some government restriction or prohibition has been
          > "fixed eventually". I can't think of any.

          alcohol prohibition in the US...your constitutional amendments for it

    • by Hecatonchires (231908) on Friday September 18, 2009 @01:38AM (#29462885) Homepage
      Adding a new rating requires an all in favour vote by the Attorney Generals of each state. There is a particularly rabid religious AG who always votes no. We're waiting for him to die.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by imrehg (1187617)

      Don't they have an 18+ rating for games in Australia?

      Polls consistently show that the vast majority of gamers are adults.

      in connection with this... Just because a kid "shouldn't" play the game, nobody is allowed to? Ratings are for the parents, if i was a parent and wanted to get a 18+ classified game to my kid, who give the right to the government to stop me? No-one. They cannot buy the game themselves, but that's all. So, again, because some board of someones thinks that it is not suitable for children, who the hack are they to tell what is available for sale. Oh, right, the law.... And because it's about "just some game an

    • by Techman83 (949264) on Friday September 18, 2009 @01:52AM (#29462939)
      Unfortunately no we don't, M15+ is the highest. We need to have a unanimous vote by the Attorney Generals to get something like an R18+ for video games and Michael Atkinson voted no to the change (everyone else voted yes).

      "He doubts whether any safeguards could be put in place to deter young people, who after all (are) the most computer literate and savvy in our society, from being able to access material."

      news.com.au [news.com.au]

      Until he is replaced or retires, there will not be any change to the classification system.

      • "He doubts whether any safeguards could be put in place to deter young people, who after all (are) the most computer literate and savvy in our society, from being able to access material."

        Well he's right, which is also the reason they will be able to evade his ban on the stuff in the first place. What an idiot, if you've got a moral objection just come out and say it you hypocrite.

    • by maglor_83 (856254)

      No we don't. Thanks to one man by the name of Michael Atkinson. I thought we're supposed to be a democracy, but I guess not.

    • by Benaiah (851593)
      No we don't.

      "We" really want the rating but our fatally flawed democracy wont allow it.

      Every now and then we try but it never succeeds [smh.com.au]

      In order to get the R rating we require the unanimous decision from our state governor generals, and the SA Governor General is an ultra conservative, and refuses every time. Can't get around it until he dies or they change the bureaucracy .

    • Australian politicians are still stuck in the mindset that "teh nintendoz" is for the kids. And that any adult that still plays games is some kind of deviant dole bludging waster who should go work three jobs and only sleep 4 hours a night like the PM.

      Of course the lack of an R category has backfired in that the censors quite often mark games that got R rated in America as MA15+. Ironically if they allowed an R catergory kids would have less access to violent games.

      I guess I will be firing up bittorrent or

  • by boxxertrumps (1124859) on Friday September 18, 2009 @01:02AM (#29462685)

    The game that was so good it was banned in Australia.

  • Wha... (Score:4, Funny)

    by Idiomatick (976696) on Friday September 18, 2009 @01:06AM (#29462727)
    Aren't there people over the age of 15 in Australia? If not the level of drinking in that country is really worrying.
  • by InfinityWpi (175421) on Friday September 18, 2009 @01:09AM (#29462749)

    Hey, at least there's no nudity!

  • here's an idea (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SEAL (88488) on Friday September 18, 2009 @01:32AM (#29462849)

    Valve's Zombie shooter has been refused classification, which means it can't be made commercially available in the country.

    Valve should thumb their nose at Australia's rating board and make the game freely available there.

  • L4D2... (Score:2, Funny)

    by pookemon (909195)
    Where the bloody hell are you?
  • ...that the first L4D was rather gory and that L4D2 is doubtless gorier still. Even so, I have difficulty understanding the "gore is gore, regardless of the context" type of thinking that seems to be going on here. Just as the treatment of gore in Saving Private Ryan is vastly different than the treatment of gore in <insert the latest rated R, B-quality film here>, I'd hold that some games treat gore very differently than others. Some games are simply designed to glorify gore and the act of murdering.
  • In other news, Valve just announced that the sequel to their game "Left for Dead" will have a special Australian version with localized content. The localized sequel, named "Theft of Bread", will have a horde of undead stealing bread, where the player equipped with appropriate tools is tasked with the mission to retrieve the bread the undead have stolen slice per slice. Valve has announced that the weaponry will include old-time classics such as the breadknife, the toaster and various kinds of jam. Players

  • I will never understand censorship.

    Left 4 Dead 2 is bad for people, Road Warrior is good for people.

    Australia, you have a wallaby in your dickhole. Crikey!

    Censor that and put another shrimp on the bar-bee.

    In all seriousness... Left 4 Dead 2 (a shitty expansion pack) and Road Warrior 2 are perfectly fine for entertainment. Stop the censorship. Chill out... and have a veggemite!

  • The message is clear (Score:3, Informative)

    by Opportunist (166417) on Friday September 18, 2009 @07:18AM (#29464477)

    Aussies, if you want to see blood and gore spluttering from some zombie's guts, it's time to go to your parlament!

    How you read that, well, that's up to you...

  • Sinudeity (Score:2, Funny)

    by SIInudeity (822415)
    Man, you suck at rugby, and now you cant even play L4D2... My heart breaks for you guys.
  • Meh (Score:3, Funny)

    by Nemyst (1383049) on Friday September 18, 2009 @08:43AM (#29465053) Homepage
    Valve will just do the classic of making green blood or saying that these are in fact robots hell-bent on transforming the survivors into furries or something like that...

    The "restoration" crack will be available approximately 30 seconds after release in Australia.
  • So it appears that it won't be on Australian retail shelves but will they somehow prevent AU L4D fans from downloading it from Steam?

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