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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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  • Australia seems to be pretty busy here lately.

    • by Lord Byron II (671689) on Friday February 25, 2011 @08:04AM (#35311098)

      Both of the Australia stories on the front page today are both reasons I turned down a job offer to work in Sydney. As an American, the idea that the government would get a say in which video games I play seemed ridiculous, as did the idea that Internet access would be handled by a closed monopoly.

      I'm not saying that the USA is whole lot better, but I do have the option of playing the original Manhunt and downloading the latest Ubuntu image without any bandwidth cap.

      I wish that countries would keep in mind that there are competitive advantages to keeping their systems more open and that it's not just about protecting the children. In my case, an Australian employer lost out on an employee they wanted because their government was busy playing censor.

      • Thats a really good point, something any country wishing to remain technologically competitive should understand. The best minds know they can go anywhere in the world and work, and they're gonna pick the most hospitable places. A lot of researches threatened to leave the US over the DMCA, although I don't know how many actually followed through. Look at Russia, they have an excellent school system but the US surpassed them long ago. China is making some gains, but it's still nothing compared to the US

        • Ya'know,

          I feel China is catching up faster than your post may think. For a while it's hidden because they have a huge country, but give them another 20 years and they'll turn into a big Chinese Dragon Engine.

          • Except that Chinese university students tend to (and I know I'm over-generalizing here) want to come to the USA for their post-graduate education. China can grow and educate, but as long as they have a repressive, over-controlling government, the brains are going to be leaving, not entering.

            • they also cheat and copy others work.

              A lot of China is based on copying others IP.

            • by tmosley (996283)
              They come here for post graduate education because it is prestigious. They then go right back to China to get jobs. The bad part is that they also get jobs at their own universities, so eventually, they will consider their own universities to be as good as or better than ours, at which point the US loses its last strain of relevance on the world stage.
      • by thegarbz (1787294)
        Somehow I doubt that an Ubuntu image affecting the 500GB download cap/month you can subscribe to for a pittance was NOT the reason you turned down a job offer in Sydney. Sorry but compared to Australia, the land formerly known as the land of opportunity's government makes ours look like it's run by saints.

        The topic of an 18+ rating is back on the table now that the infamous attorney general blocking it has resigned and has little to no opposition, the government is proposing a national broadband network
        • One day we get floods / cyclones of biblical proportions, but that only happens 1/365th of the year :-)

          And then it's back to business as usual the next day?

        • Well, there's also the fact that you live in the middle of millions of degenerate, hardcore criminals.

          • by biovoid (785377)

            Well, there's also the fact that you live in the middle of millions of degenerate, hardcore criminals.

            They're all dead now. Just like that joke.

        • by Nick Ives (317)

          Somehow I doubt that an Ubuntu image affecting the 500GB download cap/month you can subscribe to for a pittance was NOT the reason you turned down a job offer in Sydney. Sorry but compared to Australia, the land formerly known as the land of opportunity's government makes ours look like it's run by saints.

          I honestly have no idea what you're trying to say here.

      • So you refused a job on the basis of false assumptions? There is no closed monopoly on net access, and you can still download or import games which are only banned for SALE in Australia. Possession isn't banned, only the sale by Australian distributors.
    • by severoon (536737)

      Who could be against banning this???

      They also need to get on the books thing...there's lots of bad words in those. Sometimes you just have to step back and smile when governments finally start recognizing their proper role in society...the people aren't going to protect themselves from the outside world!

  • Apparently they're back in 1992? Haven't there been far gorier games released in Australia in the last 2 decades?

    I'm glad they have a society which supports openness, freedom, and tolerance...in the same way the middle east does.
  • Shit like this makes me glad I moved to the UK.
  • Wolf Creek (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Seumas (6865) on Friday February 25, 2011 @06:39AM (#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 @07:13AM (#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: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Seumas (6865)

        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

      • by norpy (1277318)

        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.

        Depends on what state you live in.

        WA and i think QLD have laws on their books that *criminalises* possession of RC material.

      • by SharpFang (651121)

        . 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 :(

        Especially if a person with definite veto power over the decision is adamantly against it. Then it may take long enough so that they first die of old age before the project can move ahead.

    • by black3d (1648913)

      Oh, that's because we have an R18 rating for movies, just not for games. For some reason parts of the government see R18 rated games as a special kind of evil, that they need to protect us from. Its just like there's no X-rating in the majority of the country - oh, except for the Australian Capital Territory (think, Australia's version of DC) so the government officials themselves are allowed X-rated material - just not the rest of us.

      • by DrXym (126579)
        The BBFC is more strict when rating games vs movies but they still see fit to offer an 18 rating. Their premise is a game is more likely to be played by a minor so they err on the side of caution. In some cases such as Manhunt 2 this will erupt into a minor controversy but it's usually a functioning ratings system. I'm not sure why Australia can't adopt something akin BBFC's 18 rating for games.

        The funny part is that an outsider I would naively consider Australia to be a fairly liberal country but it is t

        • by black3d (1648913)

          It's all about "think of the children!". The government considers gaming here to be largely a domain of children (despite their own researching showing the majority of gamers are in the 18-25 demographic, followed by the 26-35 demographic, with children a somewhat distant third) and thus as any game is going to be played by children, "there should be no R18 category - as it's not appropriate for children".

          They seem to ignore the fact that introducing an R18 category would actually allow them to classify mor

          • by CoderJoe (97563) *

            The member of parliament in charge of IT believes that if you oppose filtering, you support child-porn. It's simply a case of incompetent people in positions of power.

            I'm not so sure... That seems like the perfect way to get your desired filtering agenda passed: link opposition to support for child porn, so that nobody would sabotage their political career opposing it.

    • by bloodhawk (813939)
      As you point on they didn't ban wolf creek because they can give wolf creek an R18+ rating, they can't do that with Mortal Kombat. This is all the fault of the Australian State Governer Generals who all have to agree to there rating coming into existence, unfortunately there is always at least one ludite/religious fanatic amongst them that feels they must protect Australia from themselves by imposing his beliefs on us regardless of what public opinion is.
  • Do they also ban R rated movies with bloodspray and limb dismemberment? No? I guess they don't understand that, like art, books, music, television and movies, video game companies cater to different demographics.

    Not really surprising though: The more I hear about Australia the more it reminds me of rural Kansas.
    • by Cimexus (1355033)

      Er no they don't ban movies like that, ~because an R rating exists in Australia for film~. So there is no problem.

      The problem is that, for games, the highest valid rating is MA15+. So something that would be happily classified as R and released without issue, if it were a film, must be refused classification if it's a game but can't fit into the MA15+ category. Note that I say 'refused classification', rather than 'banned'. I can buy it from an importer if I want. But to be sold in an Australian retail stor

  • by Lord Lode (1290856) on Friday February 25, 2011 @06:45AM (#35310820)

    Maybe they should release an Australian version of the game, where you just slap each other instead of fighting.

  • Mortal Kombat has always had this legacy. Its not a new occurrence.
  • Seriously?
    Duke Nukem forever is ok, but this isn't?

    I remember Duke Nukem and I wouldn't let my kids play it (but just try and stop me from playing it!)

    Oh well, I've never been a fan of Mortal Kombat - but now I must import the game as an act of civil disobedience

    • by acehole (174372)

      Actually, Duke Nukem 3D was censored when it originally came out. When the Atomic edition came out, it was uncensored. See the logic?

  • "Mortal Kombat is one of the oldest video game franchises around"

    I was on my 3rd gaming console half way though its lifespan when mortal kombat came out

    • I was on my 3rd gaming console half way though its lifespan when mortal kombat came out

      And your point was? Sure, there are indeed fighting games even older than that, but the franchises are all gone already years ago. Mortal Kombat however is still going and there are new releases even after 19 years. So yes, it is indeed one of the oldest video game franchises still around.

      • by Osgeld (1900440)

        yea your right, no one makes street fighter, king of fighters, capcom vs marvel or any other old fighting games anymore

        Mortal Kombat was released as a me too game, they just upped it one with bad blood and digitized actors, now its Oh !! me too, again after everyone has released theirs, its not one of the oldest, at best its middle age, and its not the only one, its just a quick cash in just like the first game

        • yea your right, no one makes street fighter, king of fighters, capcom vs marvel or any other old fighting games anymore

          That's why they said 'one of' instead of the oldest or something more definitive. Regardless of yours or anyone else's opinion on the game or it's competition, the original statement remains technically correct.

          • by Osgeld (1900440)

            sorry but 2 years before playstation is not an old franchise in ALL OF GAMING (cause technically they did not say fighting games) by any means

            its like lumping final fantasy X in the same age group as bards tale cause some dink thinks anything older than 10 years ago is all the same time period

            • sorry but 2 years before playstation is not an old franchise in ALL OF GAMING (cause technically they did not say fighting games) by any means

              I'd say anything that started in the snes era (first arcade release was '92 snes was '93), thats nigh on 20 years now, and is still going qualifies. Sure gaming has been going alot longer but how many names are still going? Not too many, which I think has unstated importance, and yes kids today consider the psx old, but this is alot of nitpicking over a relatively minor quote that is largely irrelevant to the main point of the story.

        • its not one of the oldest, at best its middle age, and its not the only one, its just a quick cash in just like the first game

          The first King of Fighters was released 1994, the first Capcom VS Marvel was release 1998, the first Mortal Kombat was released in 1992. By your argument then those are also "me too" games. Only Street Fighter is an older surviving franchise than Mortal Kombat of all those examples you mentioned. As for your argument.. well, there were PLENTY of fighting games even before Street Fighter came around, so again, even Street Fighter is a "me too" game by your logic.

          Besides, you clearly have trouble understandin

          • by Osgeld (1900440)

            cause its not fucking one of the oldest any thing what is hard to understand about that? and why are you trolling me? its a 1990's game that happens to be still made, but so what, that is a list of hundreds (no matter what you want to think) so its a retarded statement clear?

    • by freman (843586)

      Mortal Kombat title was released for Arcade during October 1992 - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mortal_kombat#Fighting_games [wikipedia.org]
      We did play games before you young whipper snappers got your dang fangled consoles - now get off my lawn

  • by Anonymous Coward

    In Germany we have an 18+ rating but that doesn't mean adult games are available to adults.

    Our official rating monopoly can deny a rating and effectively ban a game alltogether. As a result of that (and the desire to achieve lower age ratings, which are notoriously higher than PEGI or ESRB) almost all remotely violent games are cut. As a rule of thumb, if a game is 18+, you can safely assume it has been censored for the German market.

    Even 18+ rated games are harder to get as online retailers have to comply

    • by mcvos (645701)

      In Netherland the problem seems just the opposite. 18+ games are easily available to kids. Bioshock and similar games are sold in toy stores, right next to Lego and Playmobil. And it doesn't look like most toy stores check the age of their customers.

      • by Hatta (162192)

        Why is that a problem? What demonstrable harm comes from children playing these games?

        • by mcvos (645701)

          It defeats the purpose of the rating system, and can result in people (at least those in politics) supporting much more restrictive measures. Despite our pretty liberal attitude here, some people are suggesting that if the retailers don't reduce the sale of 18+ games to minors, the government should.

          • by Hatta (162192)

            It defeats the purpose of the rating system

            Defeating censorship is a good thing.

            and can result in people (at least those in politics) supporting much more restrictive measures

            Ah, so the problem isn't a lack of enforcement of the rating system, but an ignorant and bigoted populace.

            • by mcvos (645701)

              It defeats the purpose of the rating system

              Defeating censorship is a good thing.

              Yeah, but that's not the case here. Read what I wrote: It's not censorship. Yet.

  • Does anyone know what exactly "banned" means in Australia?

    Will the game simply not be for sale? I think most people were planning to download it anyway

    Will people get sued for playing it? That seems unlikely, as it will be impossible to check.
  • Just wait until the Daily Mail gets a load of this..

    Kung Lao Buzzsaw fatality [youtube.com]

  • Why not label it as a movie with "bonus features". All you need is a few quicktime events or a cutscene and you're good. Most bluerays have minigames in them now days.

  • I didn't know there was a new MK coming out. Thanks Australia for the heads up! You can always count on censorship to raise awareness of things I'm interested in.

    • by game kid (805301)
      Hell, for at least the last few weeks I seriously forgot there even were games called Mortal Kombat, and I've played (to wildly varying extents) the original, II, like several versions of 3, and 4.
  • Hopefully they don't make a separate title without the blood which contains new sucky fatalities. I don't think my mom could handle another round of begging for a Sega Genesis.......esp now that I'm 30
  • Australia wants to ban zombie games, where the targets are already dead. Seriously, what were the odds they'd allow dismemberment of still living ones?!?
  • by h0dg3s (1225512)
    "Mortal Kombat is one of the oldest video game franchises around" Um....no it isn't.
  • by Kagato (116051) on Friday February 25, 2011 @10:36AM (#35312430)

    A dingo ate my video game!

  • The problem is that the ratings system is a legal institution. In the US, we have industry ratings systems that businesses use voluntarily. There's no law that says you can't sell "Duke Nukem" to a 6-year-old. It's just that the retailers have a policy not to.

    It works pretty well. There are probably some ways in which it could work better, but it's a hell of a lot better than what Australia and Germany are doing. When it comes to ratings, our corporate overlords know their markets and, in this narrow case,

    • Private ratings systems are not that reliable and fail to address a great many issues; the movie ratings are an example of how bad the game ratings will become.

      We forced food makers to print nutrition information with a huge battle opposing it by the industry with the usual propaganda that today gets significantly more traction with large segments of the population. Its as stupid now as it was then, there are just more suckers today.

      Rather than a poor completely arbitrary ratings system setup by private par

      • by Homburg (213427)

        The British ratings body, the BBFC, doesn't quite take the quantitative approach you suggest here, but it does provide quite detailed breakdowns [bbfc.co.uk] of the elements that led to a particular classification for a given work. I'm surprised the MPAA doesn't do something similar.

      • by Geminii (954348)

        I like it. Parents who brainlessly buy X-rated stuff for their kids would have less of a leg to stand on complaint-wise if all the ingredients were listed right there on the product.

        "Don't tell me what to buy! Cartoons are for kids! Come on little Jimmy, get your copy of La Blue Girl and let's go."

  • As an 18+ yo Australian male, I could join the army and be given a fully-automatic machine gun.

    In 12 months (?) I'd find myself in Afghanistan where, under some circumstances, I would be required to shoot another human being.

    But the law forbids me from playing a fantasy game ...

  • I thought a little of the old ultraviolence was awwwwwwwwwwright given the films that pass unmolested by Australian censors. What, does the new Mortal Kombat have a character with A-cup breasts?

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