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Censorship Australia Games

Australia Bans New Mortal Kombat 119

Posted by Soulskill
from the finish-him dept.
daria42 writes "Mortal Kombat is one of the oldest video game franchises around, but it looks as though Australia's classification board hasn't heard of it. Today the organization confirmed it had banned the newest version of the game from being sold in Australia, citing excessive violence, such as 'bloodspray' and 'limb dismemberment.' In a Mortal Kombat game? Who would have thought?! The ban comes because Australia does not have an R18+ classification for video games, despite extensive lobbying efforts by the video game industry and consumers."
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Australia Bans New Mortal Kombat

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  • Wolf Creek (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Seumas (6865) on Friday February 25, 2011 @07:39AM (#35310792)

    And yet, they didn't ban Wolf Creek. A horror film that purports to be based on a true story, but is really the fictionalized telling of a number of true stories and news reports formed into one brutal, disgusting, almost torture-porn film.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wolf_Creek_(film) [wikipedia.org]

    I understand that it's because of problems with the rating system that differentiate the two, but come the fuck on.

    Also, this is why you don't want the ESRB, MPAA, or other ratings becoming some sort of absurd first-amendment violating law in America (remember, ESRB/MPAA are private organizations that serve a voluntary industry . . . even if the unwillingness of stores to sell non rated content makes it a nearly de-facto one).

  • Re:Wolf Creek (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Cimexus (1355033) on Friday February 25, 2011 @08:13AM (#35310914)

    They didn't 'ban' Mortal Kombat either. It was refused classification, meaning that Australian retailers can't ~sell~ it. Merely possessing a copy isn't an issue.

    Anyway, as you rightly allude to, the problem in Australia is not that is that content is treated inconsistently. It's that games are 'missing' the R18 rating that exists for film, literature and other media. When they designed the video games rating system way back in the early 90s, they basically assumed that, since games were for kids, no rating higher than MA15+ was needed. Whereas for film, literature and other media, the ratings include an R18 rating. So films like Wolf Creek are still OK. But video games that are deemed unsuitable for 15-17 year olds must unfortunately be refused classification.

    Note that the classification board itself is as irritated about this state of affairs as the public is. It's not their fault: they can only operate with the rating criteria they have been given to work with. They aren't on a moral crusade to ban things for the hell of it - they simply couldn't validly fit it into the MA15+ rating. The wheels are in motion to get a R18 classification for games happening (to bring them into line with film etc.), but like anything in politics, it takes a long time :(

    In the meantime I'll just import this game like everyone else. No big deal. Usually cheaper to buy games from overseas anyway.

  • Re:Wolf Creek (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Seumas (6865) on Friday February 25, 2011 @08:37AM (#35311014)

    And that's exactly the same problem faced here, in America (without the criminality aspect of it being a law, of course). Retailers can carry anything they damn well please. Technically, they can even sell to anyone they damn well please. The whole first amendment thing, and such. Granted, there's an exception for pornographic content (which is itself a very convoluted issue with enormous first amendment thorns). There's no law that says a retailer can't sell an M-rated game to a ten year old and there's no law that says your game has to even be rated or labeled. It is all voluntary, across the board.

    Of course, the problem with that is that if the government censors content or distribution of content, that's censorship. If private industry does it, it's just business. But isn't it censorship, if the industry's self-governance is only the result of a threat by politicians to come in and take things over? In a very real sense, there is no practical difference between "we will take over your industry and make sure 16 year old kids don't get a copy of Call of Duty" and "we will voluntarily make sure 16 year old kids don't get a copy of Call of Duty, because we don't want you to step in and make sure 16 year old kids don't get a copy of call of duty". It's censorship by coercion and, in my mind, even dirtier than outright censorship.

    And, because of that, you also have problems like AO (adult only) games nearly not existing, because no retailer will carry or sell them. So, we're stuck with M-rated games that label-wise should be on-par with rated R movies. That is, enormous amounts of violence and torture and drugs and language and tense situations, but only mild nudity and no sex (and, no games containing sex or significant nudity, because again that'd get an AO rating). So the impact of this entirely voluntary system is that even games which by definition are only available to people who are also old enough to see R-rated movies are tamed down to nothing more than your GTA and your Deadspace. You and I as grown adults have our content watered to the point that it's drinkable children (who, of course, aren't supposed to be drinking it per the voluntary, but not exactly voluntary nudge nudge rating system).

    Not to mention, the MPAA and ESRB boards are basically a couple of corrupt money-grabbing organizations. Most indie developers and certainly no garage developers could even afford to submit their games to the ESRB for rating, because the cost would easily be more than their entire development fund.

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