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Australia Censorship Government Games

WB To Appeal Australia's Effective Ban on Mortal Kombat 129

Posted by timothy
from the wonder-how-they-like-the-name-gamepron dept.
dotarray writes "Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment have confirmed that they are appealing the Australian Classification Board's decision to effectively ban the reboot of Mortal Kombat in that country. The publisher has also confirmed that there is no intention to censor or modify the game – because then it 'wouldn't be Mortal Kombat.'"
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WB To Appeal Australia's Effective Ban on Mortal Kombat

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  • by Shadow of Eternity (795165) on Wednesday March 02, 2011 @03:16AM (#35354836)

    Mortal Kombat without the (often hilariously) excessive violence is more or less like going to a strip club to look at shoes.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Mortal Kombat without the (often hilariously) excessive violence is more or less like going to a strip club to look at shoes.

      so some of us have a shoe fetish..

      • The white half-calf, block-heel boots on a nice hispanic leg ALWAYS gets my motor running.
      • by c0lo (1497653)

        Mortal Kombat without the (often hilariously) excessive violence is more or less like going to a strip club to look at shoes.

        so some of us have a shoe fetish..

        Then you should be able to play a "sanitized" version of M.K. Is that what you imply, isn't it?

    • by c0lo (1497653)

      Mortal Kombat without the (often hilariously) excessive violence is more or less like going to a strip club to look at shoes.

      Watching a "sanitized" version of Tarantino's Kill Bill? How come the movie wasn't refused classification in Aus?

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Because movies have an R18+ rating which is what Kill Bill received and is what allowed it to be released, whereas games do not. Games have a maximum M15+ rating in this over-regulated nanny state of ours, so anything over that is simply banned. For the children.

        All thanks to a few crusty old politicians that think kids are the only people that play video games, and that we need protection from ourselves. Meanwhile, every second show on TV is some stupid cop show where they show gruesome crime scenes and mu

    • They tried it with Mortal Kombat vs DC Comics. Switched it to the T rating at the last minute, and the game did terrible.

      I think they heard the complaints, and have realized that violence is about all there is to the MK brand.
      • Actually, MKvDCU aimed for a hard T rating from the get-go, thanks to a decree from DC Comics.

        The game sold decently but it wasn't as big as this new MK. I put it down to two reasons: 1) it didn't have much outside the short story mode and arcade modes, and 2) the fans didn't really buy into the crossover. It didn't help that plans for DLC (Quan Chi and Harley Quinn as playable characters) were scrapped by Midway's bankruptcy.

        • All I know is that they showed off the Joker's fatality at E3 and it was pretty violent, and then the next year they showed off the final game and the fatalities had been watered down. If they were really planning on a T rating all along, then they didn't know what they were getting in to.
    • And yet they've done it before. Anybody remember the Super Nintendo version?

      • First thing that popped in my head. But, to be fair, I'd be surprised if anybody involved in the first game has anything to do with this one. too many different companies have owned (or published) MK.
      • by Stregano (1285764)
        The unfortunate side effect of that getting censored, is that if Australia does their homework, regardless of which company owned it at the time (which was the now defunct Acclaim), Australia will throw that in their face. It sucks, but is a reality that a simple line could be thrown out like this, "When Mortal Kombat was initially released for home consoles, it was censored for one console and all we ask is that you do that again since the censoring did not effect sales the first time".
    • by Meski (774546) *
      It isn't an effective ban. Individuals are able to import it.
      • I never said it was, just that the whole point of the franchise is really the fatalities and various violences. The actual combat is more or less filler.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 02, 2011 @03:17AM (#35354838)

    It's good to see a publisher appealing this totally stupid decision instead of folding and releasing another watered down "Australian" version. If enough publishers do this it will continue to let lawmakers know that Australians are not little kids who cannot handle mature video game content that the rest of the world can.

    • by thegarbz (1787294)
      ... I don't know of a single ban which didn't go through an often fruitless appeal process. Both AVP and L4D2 went through appeal processes as well. They very rarely if ever get overturned. There's nothing at all stupid about this decision, nor is there anything that even has room for an appeal. We don't have an 18+ rating, so anything that isn't suitable for 15 year olds gets on the refused classification list. Lets face it there's no way that the various horrendously bloodthirsty endings in Mortal Kombat
      • To overturn a stupid decision "wouldn't be Australian".

      • by Aeternitas827 (1256210) on Wednesday March 02, 2011 @05:33AM (#35355196)
        It's not a poor decision that adults shouldn't be able to hop on down to their local game outlet and pick up a title they want, because the kiddies' heads might be addled by it?

        It's not red tape, it's idiocy. Yes, the guidelines are set and codified, and they're ridiculous. Saying something isn't appropriate for a 15 year old (a generalization so ungodly vague, I can't even begin to analogize it) isn't suitable for sale to ANYONE in the country is preposterous; only someone saying that it's completely off-base (for one reason or another) is going to have a chance to bring attention to, and possibly change, the status quo.

        End of the day, here's a brilliant idea: how about, worldwide, parents be parents. Take an interest in your child(ren)'s idle time, monitor what they do, what they buy, how they act, and how they communicate with the world outside of your home. And, holy hell, if you see or find something you find unsettling, talk to them about it, and if you're not successful in doing that, get outside help. Will there be some children that still fly off the handle? Unfortunately, yes, there will be--there's no sure-fire way to prevent someone who is truly ill from slipping through, and in some cases, those who are ill will take inspiration from creative works. But, remember, correlation does not equal causation, and if a parent pays goddam attention, some of the bull being blamed on games probably becomes avoidable.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by DrScotsman (857078)

          I think you completely missed the point of the grandparent. He's saying that thanks to there not being an 18+ rating ("bureaucratic red tape"), banning the game was not a "poor decision", as the only other decision that could be made at the time is to make it 15+, which shouldn't be acceptable (something you don't seem to contest)

          He never said that the lack of 18+ rating wasn't a poor decision - it's simply not the decision he's referring to (Unless when reviewing a game the ratings board have the power to

          • >>>the only other decision that could be made at the time is to make it 15+

            If I were a bureaucrat, that's exactly what I would do rather than be a Government Censor. If people complained I'd hold a press conference and tell them point blank, "Yes this game is violent, and it deserves a higher rating than 15, but your politicians didn't give me any other options. 15 is as high as they provided for the ratings boards. Obviously we need to update our laws to include an 'adults only' rating like the

            • by 517714 (762276)
              So you are good with kiddie porn? This is not freedom of press or speech, this is commerce. Defending gratuitous violence is a bit like defending one's right to yell, "Fire!" in a movie theater, the only negative consequences of such a ban are slippery slopes.
            • by thegarbz (1787294)

              If I were a bureaucrat, that's exactly what I would do rather than be a Government Censor.

              If you were a bureaucrat then you wouldn't be making these decisions. Only standard employees of the OFLC make these decisions. They simply review and follow a set of guidelines. Your stand would be short lived, ignored, and you'll simply find yourself out of a job. The entire department is located up shit creek because they are simply tools used to place a mark on something.

              Also the thing most of you fail to realise time after time is that the game is not banned. Just not able to be sold by an Australi

          • by AK Marc (707885)
            In the US, it's possible to sell unrated items. In Australia, it's not. That's the issue. You don't need 18+ if you just ban under 18 from buying unrated and let adults buy unrated.
      • Sorry to break the news to you, but the fact that you "don't know" of something means very little. Manunt was originally given an M-15 rating but the AG of the time appealed (not the game publisher) and it was then refused classification. No appeal was made. Postal 2 is a prime example of a game which was refused classification and was not appealed. Reservoir Dogs was again refused classification and not appealed. Source: http://www.r18games.com.au/case-studies/ [r18games.com.au]
      • >>>It's not a poor decision as much as a result of bureaucratic red tape.

        Wow.

        Nice spin-doctoring of censorship ("it's good to be oppressed"). Banning of movies or games is a suppression of first amendment and ninth amendment rights (or whatever Australia's constitution has to protect freedom of speech/expression/thought). Hell even the bureaucratic EU has free speech protections, such that these games can not be banned by the central government.

        • by Cimexus (1355033)

          It's not ~really~ spin-doctoring. There are genuine differences between this situation, and a situation of genuine government censorship. Namely, intent. The problem in Australia has arisen due to an inconsistency in the law, not through any active desire to censor or ban content. Indeed, the current government has publicly expressed their support for getting the problem fixed and introducing an R18 rating for games. And it will happen ... but legislative change takes time.

          It is important to understand exac

          • >>>his is partly an oversight, partly a lack of thought as to how this would effect things in the future (when gamers were mostly adult)

            I don't buy this argument.

            I think Aussie politicians left-off the "adult only" rating for games on purpose. If such a rating existed, then they'd have no justification to ban the games. --- The fact they never bother to fix this, with a quick-and-easy passage of a bill to add AO or 21+, sustains my viewpoint.

            • by Cimexus (1355033)

              OK, I'll agree with you that it wasn't entirely 'an oversight'. Much of it did come from (as I mentioned) an ideological position that some politicians have. I'm sure R was omitted 'on purpose', because they thought they could get away with it for games (but obviously couldn't get away with it for films ... remember this is the early 90s we are talking about here: films were mainstream, games not so much yet).

              However, please note that the problem cannot be fixed by the method you outline (which is why it ~h

      • by richlv (778496)

        Lets face it there's no way that the various horrendously bloodthirsty endings in Mortal Kombat deserve anything other than an 18+ rating.

        ...just so that kids would pirate it, get others to buy it etc ?
        i don't recall when we played the old versions of mk, but we definitely had many years to sweat in the school before finishing it. at the time it was freely obtainable in the markets - it was shortly after the collapse of the soviet union, so regulations in some areas were... sane ;)
        we had mastered most of the fatalities and memorised them. i still recall some vivid details. i think subzero was one of my favourites - freeze-roundkick-freeze...

        • by thegarbz (1787294)
          Years of Mortal Kombat have left a lot to imagination. Back in the days where it was actually a violent game you could barely make out body parts let alone HD and almost realistic graphical depictions of these events.

          The piracy question doesn't come into it. The OFLC has always had one single goal and that is to moderate the content sold at stores by providing a rating to go on the boxes. Separate laws then come into play which then force store to co-operate. Just because a game is RC doesn't mean it is
          • But it's still banned from stores, isn't it?
            • by thegarbz (1787294)
              "Banned" from sale by Australian stores in Australia yes. But then a lot of things are. Pornos are banned for sale to minors as well. That doesn't mean if a minor is caught with a porn mag that they will feel the full force of the law. Mortal Kombat is not banned in that it is not a restricted item. You can not be charged with anything for owning it, or lending it to someone. You are free to import it or acquire it anyway you wish.
      • by AK Marc (707885)
        And there's nothing wrong with the process except that "refused classification" means "illegal to sell." In the US, there are plenty of movies that are unrated. And games that are unrated. And books that are unrated. And music that's unrated. In some cases, "unrated" means that the people showing/selling them place some restrictions on who they show/sell it to. But even then, I've grabbed some "unrated" child cartoon DVDs they would have sold to anyone, while the "unrated" versions of rated-R movies r
    • by SimonTS (1984074)

      I think the problem is not that the lawmakers think all Australians are "little kids who cannot handle mature video game content". It's more likely that they realise that a lot of parents will buy this game for their children and the lawmakers are actually worried that little kids are "little kids who cannot handle mature video game content".

      • by Dhalka226 (559740)

        So they don't think Australians are little kids who cannot handle mature video game content, they just think that they're better at parenting than a child's actual parents?

        And you think that's better?

        • by SimonTS (1984074)

          Given the way that many parents seem to act towards their children here in the UK (and I suspect that the same applies in most English-speaking nations), then they are almost certainly correct. That doesn't mean it's 'better' as the parents should show far more responsibility. When I walk round the shops and hear parents shouting at their pre-teens, calling them "little shits", saying things like "fucking get here" etc etc - I wonder what sort of example they are setting to the next generation. These are

          • When I walk round the shops and hear parents shouting at their pre-teens, calling them "little shits", saying things like "fucking get here" etc etc - I wonder what sort of example they are setting to the next generation.

            You think cursing is bad parenting? Try abusing or even worse...neglecting.

            Do you doubt for a second that the government can do a better job of parenting than most of the parents?

            Than most parents? YES! Most parents are still well capable of educating their children on a personal level. Children with a problematic education have worse problems than their parents handing them Mortal Combat. But rather then spending time on the real problem, the government is yet again fighting symptoms with no regard for the ones who do no harm.

          • >>>Given the way that many parents seem to act towards their children here in the UK (and I suspect that the same applies in most English-speaking nations), then they are almost certainly correct.
            .

            Even lousy parents are better Decision makers than Politicians ~1000 miles away who have never met your kids. The decision of whether or not to buy Mature games/movies/et cetera should remain with the custodian closest to the children (i.e. me, my wife, etc). Banning by politicians should never, ever, n

          • Do you doubt for a second that the government can do a better job of parenting than most of the parents?

            What governments do is not parenting.

            Parenting is not simply laying out and enforcing "the rules."

            Parenting properly understood is meant to prepare children to be functional adults. Banned content and arbitrary age restrictions does not accomplish that end.

      • by wildstoo (835450) on Wednesday March 02, 2011 @05:43AM (#35355216)

        It's more likely that they realise that a lot of parents are fucking morons who don't give two shits about what they're buying for their children and the lawmakers are actually worried that little kids are a hot-button issue that could mean the difference between re-election and having to get a real job.

        FTFY.

        • by AgentSmith (69695)

          It's more likely that they realise that a lot of parents are fucking morons who don't give two shits about what they're buying for their children and the lawmakers are actually worried that little kids are a hot-button issue that could mean the difference between re-election and having to get a real job.

          Too right.

          Which is why I say - rename it Mortal Wombat, throw in a couple marsupial related characters that probably appeal to these crusty politicians' patriotic and national sympathies then call it a day.

          B

    • Some people might ask whether a private corporation should be entitled to make the decisions over how a country is run (e.g. what their citizens have access to) in preference to its elected government. Personally, I'd rather be ruled by an elected government rather than a private corporation. At least I can vote out the public representatives if I don't think they are making the right decisions. I have no power over what private companies choose to do.

      Surely it's up to the Australians and their government t

  • So the only way for someone living in australia to get a copy of this game is pretty much to pirate it?
    It's highly likely that australians will stumble across advertisements for the game online, or people talking about it...

    At least it's not the actual publisher creating the restriction for once.

    • by devxo (1963088)
      They can easily order it online.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 02, 2011 @05:26AM (#35355186)

        No, they cannot. As a German I can tell you that stores like Direct2Drive, Gamersgate, Impulse, Steam, etc. ALL enforce region restrictions. Games that are censored/banned here generally aren't being sold to Germans, even if the seller is a US (or some other country) company. It's fairly common to see restrictions like "this game is not available in your country" or even "this game is available worldwide except Korea, Germany and Australia".

        • by mjwx (966435)

          No, they cannot. As a German I can tell you that stores like Direct2Drive, Gamersgate, Impulse, Steam, etc. ALL enforce region restrictions

          As an Australian I can tell you that stores like Play-Asia, Zest (Thailand) and DVD.co.uk will ship the Euro, UK or US version of any game to Oz.

          Thus further proving the irrelevance of the Classification Board as a moral police force, they should go back to doing "recommendations" rather then restrictions (P.S. Aussies, let your local blue arsed fly that you think t

    • by Lliam33 (1881990)

      It's highly likely that australians will stumble across advertisements for the game online, or people talking about it...

      It's been in the news, both on and offline.

      Only the game is banned. You make it sound like any related content is filtered too. It's not -- well, not yet anyway.

      • by thegarbz (1787294)
        The game isn't banned. It's refused classification and can't be sold in Australia. You're free to buy it elsewhere and bring it into the country, customs won't take it off you. You're free to order it online too which is why it was surprising that Left4Dead2 was actually censored for Australian release since it is effectively an American online shop. There's nothing preventing you from legally owning or doing what you want with it.
        • by thegarbz (1787294)
          I should also mention that I had no problem legitimately getting Left4Dead 2 uncensored. I simply got a Canadian to buy a copy and "gift" it to me in Steam. The result was I ended up with the uncensored American version, and so did nearly everyone else in Australia too.
        • by Lliam33 (1881990)
          You're right, sorry. I meant to say refused classification. But I still was under the impression that games "refused classification" are illegal to import? Whether or not customs finds out is another matter.

          Maybe I'm wrong again. :)
        • >>>The game isn't banned. It's refused classification and can't be sold in Australia.

          Uh huh. Similarly - "The jews, gypsies, communists, and mentally ill weren't actually killed. They were just "refused classification" and can't be allowed in 1940s Europe." - Herr Hitler.

          Bullshit. The games were banned.
          Don't try and use double-speak.
          They were censored; banned; the people oppressed.

          • by Cimexus (1355033)

            It's hard to see how you can say it's 'banned' if mere ownership of the item is perfectly OK. 'Banned' would imply that you shouldn't have the item, no matter how you got it. Refused Classification only means Aussie retailers can't put it on their shelves, because it doesn't have the little ratings sticker that it needs to have. But there is nothing stopping you downloading it, importing it etc. And once it's in your hand it's perfectly, utterly legal to play it as much as you want. The law in question here

            • >>>Refused Classification only means Aussie retailers can't put it on their shelves

              So how the hell is an australian supposed to get the game legally? (Note that in the US importing games is now illegal - I presume the same is true down under.)

              • by thegarbz (1787294)
                Easy, In Australia there is nothing illegal about importing games or other media. This is the common way to get refused classification titles, you can buy them right from Amazon.com, or from several New Zealand online stores. You can take them through customs at the airport, heck if you have a steam account and a friend in America if they buy the game and then gift it, you'll receive the American version too.

                Some things are banned, but the bans can only be applied at the state level with very specific le
                • by Cimexus (1355033)

                  Mod parent up. I've been trying to get this point across on this thread all evening. RC is not banned. It is not censored. RC content itself is not illegal, it is simply ~unrated~, so stores can't sell it due to the existing (outdated) laws. But you can get it by other means and are perfectly free to do so, and free to own and use that content howsoever you please.

              • by Cimexus (1355033)

                Why would importing games (or anything else for that matter) be illegal? It's perfectly fine. Hell most gamers in Australia import their games ANYWAY, even if they aren't refused classification, because they are much cheaper than local prices! Not to mention stores like Amazon do a massive trade here. Amazon doesn't have an Australian presence or site, but they have no problems with Australians ordering on the US or UK site and shipping stuff here.

                Only thing you need to check is that the copy of the game yo

                • by Cimexus (1355033)

                  And that doesn't even touch on the issue of downloading. You can download most new (PC) games from Steam these days. No 'importing' necessary.

        • by RevWaldo (1186281)

          The game isn't banned. It's refused classification and can't be sold in Australia.

          Does this mean:

          "Sell unclassified games in your store/website and the cops will shut you down."

          Or

          "It's legal, but because it's unclassified none of the big distributors or retailers will touch it and no major media will carry ads for it. The only ones who could carry it are the small few-and-far-between independent stores who'd have to pay a higher markup for "imported" games and then pass the cost on to the customer, so it's barely worth the bother."

          .

    • by deniable (76198)
      There's no stumbling about it. The ironic headline: 'effectively' banned makes me laugh. It'll just be another Postal or Manhunter. Anyone who wants it will get it and more will want it now. It'll be even easier than removing the permanent parental lock on Duke Nukem 3D.
  • by metalmaster (1005171) on Wednesday March 02, 2011 @03:57AM (#35354932)

    Does this really matter? Someone mentioned in another story earlier this week that gamers will simply purchase this game from New Zealand if they want it that bad. Additionally, the PS3 is region-free so buying the game from an online retailer from another area isnt necessarily outta the question barring any silly import laws.

    Those people who really want the game will find a way to get it.

    Mortal Kombat without the (often hilariously) excessive violence is more or less like going to a strip club to look at shoes.

    Typically I would agree with a statement like this, but MK is different. The original arcade versions contained silly red spray and spatter. Dismemberment looked cartoonish. Technology changed that, and today's versions of MK can be quite gruesome. The game evolved to show more blood and gore on purpose

    • by 615 (812754)

      Typically I would agree with a statement like this, but MK is different. The original arcade versions contained silly red spray and spatter. Dismemberment looked cartoonish. Technology changed that, and today's versions of MK can be quite gruesome.

      Your comment intrigued me and I decided to see for myself how Mortal Kombat has progressed since I last paid it any mind many years ago. So I watched a few gameplay trailers [gametrailers.com] and I do not agree that MK has gotten any less silly or more gruesome, relatively speaking.

      Yeah, there are more pixels on the screen now, but, importantly, the characters don't really seem to suffer. They don't realistically shriek or cower. They more or less shrug off being stabbed through the chest with a giant icicle, or having their

      • The fighting itself is still rather silly, but the fatalities are on par with other depictions of gore on consoles. Manhunt 2 received an AO rating before producers cut down a few of the gruesome fatalities. MK is only slightly less graphic.
  • We've had quite a few games banned here. It just means that you won't see it on the shelves of your local store when your browsing around at the shops. So if you know about a banned game, and still want to buy it, then you just buy online.
    • by Toam (1134401)
      Or pirate it, which is likely why Warner are appealing.
      • A valid point, but I somewhat doubt that's the main motivation here. Even if the title were to be granted classification, piracy would still happen in the case of those not inclined to pay for it. There's likely a segment that would pay for it in a local shop, but not to import it, but in the big scheme, it's likely relatively small.

        End of the day, it's worthwhile for publishers/developers/etc to push on this sort of thing to gain awareness of the issue, and try and affect public view, so that they don't
  • From TFA:

    "Furthermore, Curry said when a highly anticipated game was refused classification, two things could happen â" interest in the game would actually increase, and people would still get the game via importation or piracy."

    Will. They. Ever. [kotaku.com.au] Learn. [computerworld.com.au]?
  • by AbRASiON (589899) * on Wednesday March 02, 2011 @05:10AM (#35355152) Journal

    I own a PS3 (and a PC) - I just import my games, they are cheaper, region free on the PS3- and normally 50% cheaper (sometimes less, often MORE than 50% cheaper)

    Even if I haven't heard news that the game is going to be cut for Australian audiences anymore, I can't bare to risk the stupidity. Example GTA4, no one (in the public) really seemed to know about the US version having slightly different sex than the Aussie version until a few weeks after release. Fuck that stupidity, I'll just pay less - have the patience to wait a week or two and enjoy my games as they were designed.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Same here as a German. I bought exactly 2 games in the last 5 years or so in Germany (and only because they were in the bargain bin). I did however buy dozens of games from non-German stores. It's just too much to bother finding out whether a game is censored or not; basically everything 16+ and above can be asumed to be.

      Plus we have another annoyance Australians don't have to deal with: horrible localisation. German translation and voice-over companies are SHIT FUCKING INCOMPETENT. I cannot write that bold

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Listen to a few TV series episodes in German (you cannot tell which one you are watching by the voices alone, CSI/Bones/NCIS/etc. they all sound the same and devoid of any emotion, Futurama was also notorious for having literally translated proverbs and puns that made zero sense) or play a game like Scorpion-Disfigured (the evil zombies sound like a bored, squeaking teenager) before you vote me troll. It really is that horrible ;)

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        Plus we have another annoyance Australians don't have to deal with: horrible localisation. German translation and voice-over companies are SHIT FUCKING INCOMPETENT. I cannot write that bold enough. Whether it's TV series or games,

        I can't be the only one who is going to admit that they've watched German porn? It's not like I was watching the Cartman scheisse video. And anyway, they bring the same passion for voice acting to pornography.

  • The publisher has also confirmed that there is no intention to censor or modify the game – because then it 'wouldn't be Mortal Kombat.

    So the gaming industry is finally admitting why Mortal Kombat VS DC Universe failed to be a commercial hit...

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