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Australia Government Games

New Aliens Vs. Predator Game Doesn't Make It Past AU Ratings Board 277

Posted by Soulskill
from the gauntlet-thrown dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Australia refused to give Rebellion's new Aliens Vs. Predator game a rating, effectively banning it in the country. Rebellion says it won't be submitting an edited version for another round of classifications, however. (As Valve did with Left 4 Dead 2.) They said, 'We will not be releasing a sanitized or cut down version for territories where adults are not considered by their governments to be able to make their own entertainment choices.'"
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New Aliens Vs. Predator Game Doesn't Make It Past AU Ratings Board

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  • by He Who Has No Name (768306) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @04:46AM (#30333526)

    Refusal to put up with bullshit like Australia and Germany's ratings boards is the only way to bring them down. Tolerance for censorship only breeds familiarity and further tolerance.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Shakrai (717556)

      How do you refuse when they are backed with the full force of law? You can vote the Government out -- but that would require convincing the sheeple that free speech is worth more than "think of the children!" Good luck with that.

      At least here in the US they don't have the power of the state behind them -- yet. Of course it's almost as stupid over here -- there's many games that should be rated 'AO' but such a rating means that most retailers won't stock it and the game isn't commercially viable. The en

      • by Mr. Freeman (933986) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @05:48AM (#30333728)
        "How do you refuse when they are backed with the full force of law?"

        You do something illegal. Very simple. Armed rebellion IS a legitimate choice.

        I'm surprised to hear all of this "I want to change the government because it is poor and doesn't represent my interests.... but I won't do anything illegal". FUCKING PICK ONE. Either put up with the bullshit, or do something about it, don't sit there and bitch like a whiney fuck.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Shakrai (717556)

          Armed rebellion IS a legitimate choice.

          Not in Australia. They willingly surrendered most of their firearms quite some time ago as I understand it.

          Either put up with the bullshit, or do something about it, don't sit there and bitch like a whiney fuck.

          Hey, I'm with you. Now how do you suggest we convince the vast majority of the populace that eats this shit up hook, line and sinker?

          • Considering that the US Government has nukes, and the Australian Government does not, the Australian public is actually well armed WRT their Government. Much better armed than the US public.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Nadaka (224565)

              nukes are not a valid tool for removing rebellious citizens on your own soil.

          • So you can't stab, smash or blow up anything once your firearms are gone?

        • by Rennt (582550) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @06:20AM (#30333828)

          Armed rebellion IS a legitimate choice

          Bullshit. The best one man can do to "rebel" is to assassinate an elected leader. Thus derailing the whole democratic process. If you could convince a group of men to resist they become terrorists. If you could convince a whole county or state to resist THEN you might have a legitimate contention, but the fact of the matter is the idea of armed rebellion is quaint and irrelevant today.

          But all that aside, do you REALLY believe violence is an appropriate response to the banning of a video game? And what about when you realize the banning is largely symbolic because the game can easily be ordered online? Put down your guns and gain some perspective you psycho!

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Shakrai (717556)

            Thus derailing the whole democratic process.

            What if the democratic process has already been derailed? Just because someone was "elected" doesn't mean that democracy matters for spit. As a random example, in the United States, our politicians get to pick their voters [wikipedia.org]. How is that compatible with Democracy?

            If you could convince a group of men to resist they become terrorists

            One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter.

            but the fact of the matter is the idea of armed rebellion is quaint and irrelevant today

            Why?

            But all that aside, do you REALLY believe violence is an appropriate response to the banning of a video game?

            No, but it is an appropriate response when the ends of government have been perverted and all other means of redress are ineffectual.

            • "What if the democratic process has already been derailed?"

              Our democratic process may have been derailed in many ways but the fact is the vast majority of Aussies don't want people wandering around with semi-autos and handguns. The NRA did come over here and try to derail that wish after the Tasmaninan massacre. We saw through their insensitive sales pitch and they were visably shaken when angry (unarmed) mobs turned up at their rallies and sent them packing back to the US. Like you they were mystified a
              • We aren't that fearfull of our fellow countrymen, our prime minister can go for a jog in the morning without a bullet proof vest and a small army,

                That's greater sign of his low relevance than of the success of gun control laws.

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by Shakrai (717556)

                We aren't that fearfull of our fellow countrymen

                Then why do you feel the need to disarm them?

                • by TheLink (130905)
                  He's not fearful because most of them don't have guns.

                  It's the criminals and wackos people worry about, and sometimes it's quite subjective who they are - your neighbour could see you as a wacko, and thus buy a gun, you see him as a wacko buying a gun, so you buy more guns. It just degenerates into an arms race.

                  You make guns easily available, more criminals will have them. In my country there are criminals with guns, but most of them don't have them, they make do with machetes etc. That's bad enough for me,
              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by Rakishi (759894)

                The explaination is simple. We aren't that fearfull of our fellow countrymen, our prime minister can go for a jog in the morning without a bullet proof vest and a small army, most of us would like it to stay that way.

                Really? Is that why people in Australia are more afraid of walking in the dark and burglaries than those in the US?
                http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/cri_per_of_saf_wal_in_dar-crime-perception-safety-walking-dark [nationmaster.com]
                http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/cri_per_of_saf_bur-crime-perception-of-safety-burglary [nationmaster.com]

                Seems to me like you're very much afraid of your fellow countrymen. Then again given the lovely rape rate you guys have and the stunning burglary rate I'm not surprised.

          • Thus derailing the whole democratic process.

            It's already derailed, at least in the United States. The general public tend to choose among the top two to four candidates that have been on national TV. The TV news networks (ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox, NBC) control which candidates can be on national TV, and they're all MPAA members. Of course they won't give screen time to any candidate that won't toe the copyright industry's party line.

            And what about when you realize the banning is largely symbolic because the game can easily be ordered online?

            And have customs stop it at the border.

          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward

            The truly sad thing is that all of the attorney generals of each state of australia agreed in principle to having an r rating on video games (R being 18+ in Au, much like other nations), and there was a sole dissenting voice (Michael Atkinson of my home state South Australia - truly shameful).

            One man has held up the classification of R18+ games in this country. If the people of SA vote out the rann govt, a classification is more likely. I would never say certain, as the alternative party are rather conserva

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by Cimexus (1355033)

              Yes this is a good point and I think people outside Australia need to understand this...

              Most people in Australia, the Federal Government, and all the State and Territory Governments, support the introduction of an R18+ rating for games (much as we obviously already have for movies).

              All, of course, except one jurisdiction - South Australia, and specifically its Attorney-General.

              There isn't really a widespread opposition in Government against such a rating. It truly is the result of one man in this case ... u

        • by selven (1556643)

          Or civil disobedience. Setup an otherwise legal shack to resell copies of the game until someone takes you down.

        • by Knave75 (894961)

          "How do you refuse when they are backed with the full force of law?" You do something illegal. Very simple. Armed rebellion IS a legitimate choice.

          While I may want the government to respect my choices when it comes to games I play or movies that I watch (or the type of sexual activity that I have), I am not willing to kill another human to achieve that goal.

          • by selven (1556643)

            It's a matter of principle. It's not about tea being 20% more expensive, it's about taxation without representation. It's not about the video game, it's about censorship.

        • Am I the only one here who thinks armed rebellion over a video game is a tad extreme?
        • by kklein (900361)

          Marry me.

        • by Nazlfrag (1035012)

          Yes, if I can't get a computer game I want I won't break the law by importing it (which probably wouldn't break the law anyway to get a personal copy), I'll grab a rifle and shoot a politician...

        • by toppavak (943659)
          This is a political question that's long been discussed in India. Civil disobedience led to the formation of the country and has been used repeatedly in the past to unseat unfavorable governments at the State level. There are two schools of thought, one that believes that civil disobedience is always an acceptable response and another that believes the constant reliance on civil disobedience will lead to a tyranny of the minority as long as enough of the minority becomes vocal or active enough. This second
        • by master_p (608214)

          "Illegal" is always defined in relation to the laws set by the establishment.

      • by poetmatt (793785)

        The internet is a wonderful distribution. Not only could you distribute the game via digital download, but it doesn't matter who doesn't want you to have it at that point. As long as they take a paypal payment.

    • by DiSKiLLeR (17651) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @05:04AM (#30333598) Homepage Journal

      As an aussie.... /agreed!

      And anyway, its not gonna stop jack shit. Everyone will just buy the game off eBay.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by marcansoft (727665)

        Just wait until some console maker decides that Australia needs to be a separate region-locking region.

      • by Cimexus (1355033)

        Exactly. The lack of a rating just means Australian retailers can't legally sell the game. Doesn't mean you can't play if it you order it from ebay or an overseas website. Which is exactly what everyone does.

    • What are people supposed to do? No politician is going to get elected on the platform of allowing an R18+ category or doing away with censorship. Australian isn't the US, we have a different culture and people in general are quite happy for the government to "protect" us from certain things. There isn't much support for the lack of R18+ category in gaming (or refusing classification for merely having factual information about drugs in a game) but the pollies can stir up enough talk back radio rants to stop

      • by lwoggardner (825111) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @05:23AM (#30333658)

        What are people supposed to do? No politician is going to get elected on the platform of allowing an R18+ category or doing away with censorship.

        I suspect these guys [pirateparty.org.au] hope you are wrong about that.

      • by Shakrai (717556) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @05:23AM (#30333662) Journal

        Australian isn't the US, we have a different culture and people in general are quite happy for the government to "protect" us from certain things.

        Unfortunately that attitude isn't unique to your country and there are plenty of people here in the states that would willingly surrender their freedom and liberty in exchange for "protection" from various things.

        • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Saturday December 05, 2009 @09:29AM (#30334458) Homepage Journal

          there are plenty of people here in the states that would willingly surrender their freedom and liberty in exchange for "protection" from various things.

          However, this "willingness to give up freedoms for safety" only shows itself statistically when talking about terrorism. Harris Interactive did a poll a few days after 9/11 asking the question and by 80%, Americans were willing to lose some freedoms. A second poll in 2007, halfway through the second GWBush administration, showed similar results.

          It's interesting that of all the dangers in the world, the one that turns Americans into quivering masses of fear is something that is so statistically insignificant as to be nearly nonexistent. We hear conservative members of congress, big tough guys who like to swagger and threaten, worry about the 200 Gitmo detainees as if they were James Bond supervillians who could destroy American with their minds. Khalid what's-his-name, the supposed "9/11 mastermind" is actually so dangerous, they say, that he can't even be allowed to be tried in a court of law. Now that's fear.

          Seriously, if you listen randomly to a segment of any US "conservative" media, one of the most common expressions you'll hear is "I'm afraid..." or "I fear...".

          • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

            by Shakrai (717556)

            Khalid what's-his-name, the supposed "9/11 mastermind" is actually so dangerous, they say, that he can't even be allowed to be tried in a court of law.

            I don't think it matters how dangerous he is. Enemy combatants whose only connection to our country is the desire to destroy it are not entitled to access to our civilian justice system. It's patently absurd in my mind to treat these people as common criminals. They are war criminals and deserve to be treated accordingly.

            • by selven (1556643) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @11:29AM (#30335180)

              They aren't acting on behalf of a sovereign state, so they can't be war criminals. They're common criminals. It doesn't matter how heinous their crime is, everyone deserves access to the civilian justice system. Someone who murders his wife deserves access to the civilian justice system, someone who murders 20 college students deserves access to the civilian justice system, and someone who assists in the murder of 3000 people deserves access to the civilian justice system. It's called rule of law, you can't circumvent it just because you fell like it.

            • by ultranova (717540) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @12:07PM (#30335432)

              I don't think it matters how dangerous he is. Enemy combatants whose only connection to our country is the desire to destroy it are not entitled to access to our civilian justice system. It's patently absurd in my mind to treat these people as common criminals.

              Indeed. Why, if declaring someone "enemy combatant" wouldn't put them outside the normal legal system, and able to be hold prisoner for as long as his captors desired, then how would the powerful get rid of their enemies? Why, the very thought that "everyone is equal before law" might lead someo to question the divine right of the king and the status of the aristocracy!

              Kudos for Khalid, thought; he might be a freedom-hating murdering bastard, but not many people can have freedom die a little bit just by having their name mentioned on an Internet forum.

              They are war criminals and deserve to be treated accordingly.

              Very well, then bring them before a court. You did know that war criminals get sentenced or released on those, didn't you?

    • by u38cg (607297)
      In fairness, the cynical side of me wonders about the calculus of re-tooling the game for an Australian release and the likely profits from doing so; it's just lucky they can present it as standing up to the guv'ment.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by asdf7890 (1518587)
        Exactly. Even if retooling a bit to make it past the censors would (after accounting for the cost of having an extra version to support if there are problems that need patching and such) increase the profit a bit, the difference is probably much smaller than that gained from free advertising garnered from "standing up to the censors". Also "banned in X countries!" will increase sales to certain demographics, and coincidentally some of these are demographics that an AvP game is likely targeted at.
        • by Patch86 (1465427)

          Not only that, but there are very few game/book/film bans that have stayed in place forever. The AU will change their mind eventually, at some point in the future; and when they do, the "been banned for x years" tag will ensure it gets a boost in sales.

          Just look at the huge commercial success of, for example, the thoroughly mediocre Lady Chatterley's Lover.

    • by mjwx (966435) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @05:36AM (#30333698)
      First off, this was hardly a surprise.

      Refusal to put up with bullshit like Australia and Germany's ratings boards is the only way to bring them down. Tolerance for censorship only breeds familiarity and further tolerance.

      Unfortunately the publishers boycotting nations will do nothing. It's the citizens that need to act. That being said, I agree with the publishers stance.

      In case you don't know, the R18+ rating for video games in Australia is being held up by 1 man, South Australian Attorney General Michael Atkinson. There are already several campaigns underway to remove Mr Atkinson from his seat of Croydon. Video games are the only media in Australia that do not use the R18+ rating so the highest rating a game can get is M15 which is why L4D and AVP were rejected (extreme graphic violence), if they had of been books or movies they would have got the R18 rating and been released under our classification guidelines, because there is M15 is the highest rating our classification board can give to a video game they have no choice but to follow their mandate and give an RC rating to the game. It's the law that must be changed, that means changing Atkinson.

      Our Parallel import laws are another thing, this way we can get around these stupid RC classifications as we can order games from the US, UK or Asia (Hong Kong being quite popular) so for PC gamers this isn't so much of an issue, for console gamers you still have to contend with the region locks.

      • "Unfortunately the publishers boycotting nations will do nothing."

        It sure as hell will have an impact when the government realizes that they've lost all their tax revenue from video games because 80% of them aren't being sold there anymore.
        • by mjwx (966435)

          It sure as hell will have an impact when the government realizes that they've lost all their tax revenue from video games because 80% of them aren't being sold there any more.

          Not big enough to get noticed. Parallel importing was permitted as the tax revenue on movies, music and games sales wasn't worth protecting, it's just not big enough as most of our taxes are on energy (fuels), alcohol, tobacco and primary exports. This is why I can import games, movies and electronics for half the price of buying the

      • for console gamers you still have to contend with the region locks
        Afaict the PS2, gamecube and wii only have one PAL region so you can import from any PAL country (e.g. the uk).

        The PS3 seems to have australia in a seperate region BUT afaict most if not all PS3 games aren't actually region locked.

        I dunno what the situation is with MS consoles.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by shut_up_man (450725)

        Well said. As a possible alternative to encouraging Mr Atkinson to move on, the Queensland Government is considering allowing "refused classification" games to be considered as R18+ within that state. There is a e-petition available here: http://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/view/EPetitions_qld/CurrentEPetition.aspx?PetNum=1346&lIndex=-1

        The associated wordage is:

        Queensland residents draws to the attention of the House that the Classification of Computer Games and Images Act 1995 is currently out of step wit

  • I think more games should be banned, especially popular ones, it's the only way something will eventually get done about it. Most people don't do anything until they get a kick in the arse.

    And also this will hopefully let more people know about importing and digital distribution.

    I'll be importing or buying it from Steam anyway, but I wonder if there will be any official Australian servers, might have to make do with New Zealand ones.
    • I think more games should be banned, especially popular ones

      How will a game become popular, if it is banned, and, thus, no one can play it and have an opinion in the first place . . . ?

      • by Toonol (1057698)
        'Cause your cool American friends are playing it, and you're stuck in Australia...

        I'm pretty sure Australians will be aware of the game. There isn't a TOTAL information firewall around Australia; they're not China, not yet.

        (I think I wrote about five things in this post that are likely to result in troll mods... Ah, well, damn the torpedoes and click the submit button.)
  • by Toonol (1057698)
    "We will not be releasing a sanitized or cut down version for territories where adults are not considered by their governments to be able to make their own entertainment choices."

    That is the proper response. Good Job, Rebellion. I hope other developers follow your lead. I have a hunch there will be a lot of piracy of the game in Australia... but I guess it really won't be hurting their sales, will it? I wonder if they'll allow online play from Australia?
    • by mjwx (966435)

      That is the proper response. Good Job, Rebellion. I hope other developers follow your lead. I have a hunch there will be a lot of piracy of the game in Australia... but I guess it really won't be hurting their sales, will it? I wonder if they'll allow online play from Australia?

      For those not inclined towards swashbuckling there is parallel importing from Asia. This co-incidentally is often cheaper then buying games locally and I'm including A$20 shipping from HK.

      • Keep plugging away mate. You have posted some very informative stuff to counter this well designed publicity stunt.
  • by ghmh (73679) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @05:01AM (#30333586)

    Quick explanation: Pretty much most of Australia would be happy to have an 'R' rating for computer games.

    This guy (Michael Atkinson) [wikipedia.org], however would not. He has the power to veto it and continues to do so.

    Due to his geographical location, there's bugger all the majority of Australia can do about it from a voting perspective.

    I don't blame game publishers for not releasing stuff here. Effectively we're all just waiting for 'Nanny' Atkinson to become senile and finally leave his post as South Australia's attorney general.

    The thing that really worries me is how come they have this veto power for things like this in the first place....

    • by bmgoau (801508) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @05:21AM (#30333650) Homepage

      The parent is correct. As a fellow Australian I am just waiting for this guy to move on.

      Someone wrote to him a couple of times before getting an extensive reply attempting to justify his position, consider reading it here [PDF]

      http://bunnitude.com/misc/files/R18-Michael%20Atkinson.pdf [bunnitude.com]

      Quotes
      "I think you will find this issue has little traction with my constituents who are more concerned with real life issues than home entertainment in imaginary worlds"
      "I am concerned about the impact of this extreme content on children"
      "It is true this restricts liberty, however I am prepared to accept this infringement"

      It's basically a long winded version of "will someone please think of the children!"

      • by TheLink (130905)
        > "I am concerned about the impact of this extreme content on children"

        Children? I thought the R18+ rating would mean the game can only be sold to people >= 18 years old?

        I dunno about your experiences but to me the thing that made the kids most violent was that stupid TV show with "power rangers".

        When that was showing there were far more little kids kicking and punching me than when it wasn't.

        Stuff like ultraman and Superman is good because the "best move" is not very physical. You can pretend to be z
    • by bertok (226922)

      Quick explanation: Pretty much most of Australia would be happy to have an 'R' rating for computer games.

      This guy (Michael Atkinson) [wikipedia.org], however would not. He has the power to veto it and continues to do so.

      Due to his geographical location [emphasis mine], there's bugger all the majority of Australia can do about it from a voting perspective.

      I don't blame game publishers for not releasing stuff here. Effectively we're all just waiting for 'Nanny' Atkinson to become senile and finally leave his post as South Australia's attorney general.

      The thing that really worries me is how come they have this veto power for things like this in the first place....

      I really don't understand why we've hung on to this ridiculously outdated notion of political power being assigned hierarchically by physical location. I have little in common with my neighbors, let alone people a mere suburb away, but I have the same political interests as other people in my field of employment literally thousands of kilometers away in Perth.

      Take a look at the insane degree to which Americans have taken Gerrymandering [wikipedia.org] - formerly simple voting territories have been made almost fractal in ou

      • by fyngyrz (762201) *

        I say, eliminate territory based voting

        Well, good luck with things like water, sewage, roads, street lights, schools, speed limits...

        Government - at least in my view - has only a few legitimate roles. An important one is building and maintaining local infrastructure that is too expensive (or too divisive) for individual or corporate undertakings. If you don't have local voting control, then how will you see to it that your taxes are spent for the benefit of the region? People on the other side of the

      • by rhsanborn (773855)
        There are some things that are necessarily locale based. I live in Michigan, USA, and (while I disagree with the mess that is the current political situation here) the fact is that there is a region that has a lot of things in common and needs a government that focused on the region and it's issues. Further, there tends to be a concentration of political ideals in certain areas, and local and regional power allow people to have at least some aspect of their government represent their views.
  • by zullnero (833754) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @05:57AM (#30333750) Homepage
    If a ratings board bans their game, even if it's a derivative piece of movie-spawned crap, it's pure gold for marketing. There's no way that the Australian government is going to block kids from getting the game...they will find a way one way or the other. But they're definitely doing yeoman's work in promoting the game everywhere by giving it a big "bad" rating. All the ratings system does is provide a free benchmark for a particular genre to strive for because they know that's what will turn heads and sell their product.

    I know that if I were representing the company for this product, I'd be scheduling a big party to celebrate the rating and ban, not trying to make a political/free speech point out of it. The ratings system is an amazing helping hand to this particular venue.
  • I'm sure this will get played up eventually. Remember when that crappy game Bully was pulled from certain shelves? Banning stuff seems to make it more desirable to complete dimwits.

    Even stuff that has never been banned from anything ever, but has implications of being banned is somehow more desirable. Consider that Affliction MMA special "Banned" from a few years back. I was in college at the time, and it seemed every cement head obsessed with mixed martial arts was going on and on about wanting to buy n
  • ... the honest, hard-working pirates of Australia (and maybe the world) will dutifully punish them for not properly distributing their game.

  • so people in aus can download it and not be a pirate?

    at lest pc's don't have region lock out.

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