Banned Games of 2009

Seven games were banned in Australia in 2009.

NECROVISION (2009) was Refused Classification in April. This was followed by SEXY POKER (2009), RISEN (2009), ENZAI: FALSELY ACCUSED (2002), LEFT 4 DEAD 2 (2009), CRIMECRAFT (2009) and ALIENS VS PREDATOR (2009).


Necrovision

Publisher 1C Company / 2009 / MobyGames

NECROVISION was banned in April 2009 because it contained high-impact violence.

505 Games SRL were the applicant.

Necrovision (2009) - Game Cover 1
PC Cover

April 2009
Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games} Act 1995
Details of the Computer Game;
FILE No T09/750
Title: NECROVISION
Version: ORIGINAL
Format: Multi Platform
Duration: VARIABLE
Publisher: 505 GAMES
Programmer: 1C
Production Co: NOT SHOWN
Country Of Origin: EUROPE
Language: ENGLISH
Application Type: Comp Game Standard Level 2
Applicant: 505 GAMES SRC

PROCEDURE;
The Classification (Publications. Films and Computer Games) Act 1995, the National Classification Code and the Classification Guidelines are followed when classifying films, computer games and publications

Written submissions: NO
Oral submissions: NO

MATERIAL CONSIDERED:
In classifying this item regard was had to the following:
(i) The Application YES
(ii) A written synopsis of the item YES
(iii) The Item YES
(iv) Other NO

DECISION
(1) Classification: RC
(2) Consumer Advice:
(3) Key:

SYNOPSIS;
This game is a first person shooter game set in World War II and includes German Soldiers as well as zombies, vampires and other monsters as enemy combatants.

REASONS FOR THE DECISION:
In making this decision, the Classification Board has applied the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 (the Classification Act), the National Classification Code (the Code) and the Guidelines for the Classification of Films and Computer Games 2005 (the Guidelines).

In the Board’s view this game warrants an ‘RC’ classification in accordance with item 1(d) of the computer games table of the National Classification Code:

” 1. Computer games that:
(d) are unsuitable for a minor to see or play;” will be Refused Classification.

The game contains violence that is high in impact and is therefore unsuitable for persons aged under 18 years to play.

The game is a first person shooter game that is set in the trenches of World War II and includes German Soldiers, zombies and vampires as enemy combatants. A number of weapons are available to the player including hand guns, machine guns, barbed wire, explosives and knives. When the player shoots an enemy combatant, a large volume of blood spray results and the enemy may be dismembered or decapitated. Injury detail is high with pieces of flesh seen flying from bodies when shot or a high level of wound detail visible on bodies. Post mortem damage occurs when bodies are shot resulting in blood spray, dismemberment and decapitation.

This level of blood and injury detail occurs frequently and throughout the game and in the Board’s view, exceeds a strong playing impact and therefore cannot be accommodated within the MA 15+ classification level.

DECISION
This game is Refused Classification.

– Classification Board report

M-rating for censored version

In May 2009, 505 Games SRL Games were awarded an M (Violence and Coarse language) rating for a modified version of NECROVISION.

Movie-Censorship has as a comparison between the modified Australian and the uncut version.

M-rated report

May 2009
Classification (Publications , Films and Computer Games) Act 1995
Details of the Computer Game;
FILE No T09/750
Title: NECROVISION
Version: ORIGINAL
Format: Multi Platform
Duration: VARIABLE
Publisher: 505 GAMES
Programmer: THE FARM 5 1
Production Co: 505 GAMES
Country Of Origin: POLAND
Language: ENGLISH
Application Type: Comp Game Standard Level 2
Applicant: 505 GAMES SRL

PROCEDURE:
The Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1 995, the National Classification Code and the Classification Guidelines are followed when classifying films, computer games and publications

Written submissions: NO
Oral submissions: NO

MATERIAL CONSIDERED:
In classifying this item regard was had to the following:
(i) The Application YES
(ii) A written synopsis of the item YES
(iii) The Item YES
(iv) Other gameplay examples

DECISION
(1) Classification: M
(2) Consumer Advice: Violence and coarse language
(3) Key:

SYNOPSIS;
This computer game is a revised version of NECROVISION which was originally classified RC on 7 April 2009. This game is a first person shooter game set in World War II and includes German Soldiers as well as zombies, vampires and other monsters as enemy combatants.

REASONS FOR THE DECISION:
In making this decision, the Classification Board has applied the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 (the Classification Act), the National Classification Code (the Code) and the Guidelines for the Classification of Films and Computer Games 2005 (the Guidelines).

In the Board’s view this computer game warrants an M classification as, in accordance with item 5 of the computer games table of the National Classification Code, it cannot be recommended for viewing by persons who are under 15.

Pursuant to the Guidelines for the Classification of Films and Computer Games, this computer game is classified M as the impact of the classifiable elements is moderate. Material classified M is not recommended for persons under 15 years of age. There are no legal restrictions on access.

The classifiable elements are violence and language that are moderate in playing impact.

The Board notes that the original version of this computer game was classified RC on the 7 April 2009.

VIOLENCE
This revised version of the game contains violence that is moderate in playing impact and justified by context.

Players frequently kill zombie enemies with gunfire or by employing dynamite or hand-to-hand, “melee-style” combat. Some of the violence includes shooting with a nailgun, implied stabbing or slashing with bayonets and entrapment using barbed wire.

The Board notes that (as per the applicant’s statement regarding modifications to the game’s blood detail, wound detail and post-mortem damage) the blood detail appears throughout the game as a grey “dust” effect when enemies are hit. Zombies fly into the air or their bodies jerk when bullets impact. However no further injury or wound detail is visible. These modifications substantially reduce the playing impact of the game and it can therefore be accommodated at M.

LANGUAGE
The game contains use of strong coarse language in the form of “fuck” language which is used occasionally in a non-aggressive tone.

DECISION
This computer game is classified M with consumer advice of violence and coarse language.

The Board notes that section 21A of the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 states that if the Board is of the opinion that a classified computer game contains contentious material (whether activated through use of a code or otherwise) that was not brought to the Board’s attention in accordance with subsection 14(4) or 17(2) before the classification was made and if the Board had been aware of the material before the classification was made, it would have given the game a different classification, the Board must revoke the classification.

– Classification Board report

Refused Classification complaints

September 21, 2009
The Classification Board received 725 complaints in relation to the classification of computer games.

Five computer games were classified RC during the reporting period. These computer games were FALLOUT 3, SILENT HILL: HOMECOMING, F.E.A.R 2: PROJECT ORIGIN, NECROVISION and SEXY POKER. There were complaints about four of these decisions.

– Classification Board, Annual Report 2008-2009

Possible ACMA submission

In September 2010, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) had a computer game banned by the Classification Board. ACMA submissions are never identified. In this case, it was known only as ACMA 2010001752 ITEM 1 ACMA (LAPTOP).

We believe that this item was either NECROVISION (2009) or LEFT 4 DEAD 2 (2009). See the separate Games Censorship Database entry for ACMA 2010001752 ITEM 1 ACMA (LAPTOP) to see how we arrived at this conclusion.


Sexy Poker

Publisher Gameloft / 2009 / MobyGames

In May 2009, a Wii edition of SEXY POKER was banned by the Classification Board because it contained nudity as an incentive or reward.

Gameloft Australia was the applicant.

Sexy Poker (2009) - Game Cover 1
WiiWare Cover

May 2009
Classification (Publications , Films and Computer Games) Act 1995
Classification Board
Details of the Computer Game

FILE No T09/I734
Title: SEXY POKER
Version: ORIGINAL
Format: Nintendo Wii
Duration: VARIABLE
Producer: GAMELOFT
Director:
Production Co: GAMELOFT
Country Of Origin: FRANCE
Language: ENGLISH
Application Type: Comp Game Assessed Level 2
Applicant: GAMELOFT AUSTRALIA PTY LTD

PROCEDURE:
The Classification (Publications. Films and Computer Games) Act 1995, the National Classification Code and the Classification Guidelines are followed when classifying films, computer games and publications
Written submissions: NO Oral submissions: NO

MATERIAL CONSIDERED:
In classifying this item regard was had to the following:
(i) The Application YES
(ii) A written synopsis of the item YES
(iii) The Item YES
(iv) Other NO

DECISION
(1) Classification: RC
(2) Consumer Advice:
(3) Key:

SYNOPSIS:
SEXY POKER is a strip poker game with six female opponents drawn in the Japanese manga style. The game enables the player to choose images of five alluring women in multiple poses described as Sakura. the seductive nurse: Misaki. the fearless car race queen; yui, the provocative cop; Ryoko. the lovely business woman; Emi, the sultry movie actress and Mika, the hot volleyball girl.
Features include: 3 game modes: 5-card draw poker, video poker, and blackjack; a photo gallery, to enable the player quick access to all of the images unlocked so far and high-quality sound effects and dialogue to “bring the game to life”.

REASONS FOR THE DECISION:
In making this decision, the Classification Board has applied the Classification (Publications. Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 (the Classification Act), the National Classification Code (the Code) and the Guidelines for the Classification of Films and Computer Games 2005 (the Guidelines).

In the Board’s view this game warrants an ‘RC’ classification in accordance with item 1(a) of the computer games table of the National Classification Code:

“1. Computer games that:
(a) depict, express or otherwise deal with matters of sex, drug misuse or addiction, crime, cruelty, violence or revolting or abhorrent phenomena in such away that they offend against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults to the extent that they should not be classified:” will be Refused Classification.

The Guidelines for the Classification of Films and Computer Games state that: “Impact may be higher where a scene encourages interactivity”.

It further stales that “Interactivity includes the use of incentives and rewards, technical features and competitive intensity. As a general rule: except in material restricted to adults, nudity and sexual activity must not be related to incentives or rewards, and material that contains drug use and sexual violence related to incentives or rewards is Refused Classification.”

In the unanimous opinion of the Board this game warrants an RC classification as it offers depictions of nudity as an incentive or reward to interactive gameplay.

The main objective of the game is playing Poker with female opponents who bet their clothing – “if the player is good enough, the female characters will bet their clothes to stay in the game. As the player progresses and wins – the female opponents reveal/remove an item of their clothing”.

The females undress according to game events “for a teasing and rewarding experience: when they don’t have any money to bet in the game, they bet clothes instead”. Throughout the game, the female talks with a real voice or text on screen according to the player’s poker performance.

The six female characters have sexualised poses to ‘tease'” the player. Once the player wins, the female characters strip part of their clothing. The game includes six gradual strip steps for each female which progress from a completely dressed stage to a topless stage. Some of the characters do not show full frontal breast nudity as only the side of their breast without their nipples is depicted. The eventual outcome of the game is a depiction of a female character with full frontal breast nudity.

In the Board’s view, the general rule in the Guidelines for the Classification of Films and Computer Games prohibiting depictions of nudity as an incentive or reward, applies to the game play described above, as the player is shown increasingly detailed amounts of nudity following successful game-play.

In the Board’s view this computer game also warrants an RC classification in accordance with Part 1(d) of the Computer Games fable of the National Classification Code which slates, in part, that “1. Computer games that: … (d) are unsuitable for a minor to see or play.” will be classified RC.

In the view of the Board, the impact of the game exceeds strong as according to the Guidelines for the Classification of Films and Computer Games “except in material restricted to adults, nudity and sexual activity must not be related to incentives or rewards”. As such the game cannot be accommodated in a MAI 5+ classification

DECISION
This game is Refused Classification.

– Classification Board report

M-rated version

In July 2009, a modified version of SEXY POKER was passed with an M (Sexual references) rating.

The Refused Classification report stated that the eventual outcome of the game was the depiction of a female character with full frontal breast nudity.

However, the M-rated report states that female characters remove their clothing until they are down to their bikinis and there is no nudity.

Censored M-rated report

July 2009
Classification decisions are made in accordance with the Classification (Publications, Rims and Computer Games) Act 1995 (the Act), the National Classification Code and the Classification Guidelines.

Production Details:
Title: SEXY POKER
Alternate titles:
Publisher: GAMELOFT
Programmer:
Production Company: GAMELOFT
Year of Production: 2009
Duration: VARIABLE
Version: MODIFIED
Format: NINTENDO WII
Country/ies of origin: FRANCE
Language/s: ENGLISH
Application type: CG2
Applicant: GAMELOFT

Dates:
Date application received by the Classification Board: 29 June 2009 Date of decision: 03 July 2009

Decision:
Classification: M
Consumer advice: Sexual references

A senior panellist has confirmed that the application considered was valid under the Act and that this Decision Report accurately reflects the Board’s decision and any minority opinions.

Synopsis:
SEXY POKER is a strip poker game with six animated female opponents drawn in the Japanese manga style. The aim is to play various poker related games and cause the women to remove their clothing.

Reasons for the Decision:
In making this decision, the Classification Board has applied the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 (the Classification Act), the National Classification Code (the Code) and the Guidelines for the Classification of Films and Computer Games 2005 (the Guidelines).

In the Board’s view this computer game warrants an M classification as, in accordance with item 5 of the computer games table of the National Classification Code, it cannot be recommended for viewing by persons who are under 15.

Pursuant to the Guidelines for the Classification of Films and Computer Games, this computer game is classified M as the Impart of the classifiable elements is moderate. Material classified M is not recommended for persons under 15 years of age. There are no legal restrictions on access.
The classifiable element is sex that is moderate in playing impact.

SEX
Sexual references are frequent and moderate in impact.

SEXY POKER is a strip poker game with six animated female opponents drawn in the Japanese manga style. The aim is to play various poker related games and cause the women to remove their clothing. The female characters are depicted in various alluring poses and clothes such as a police officer uniform, nurse’s uniform and volleyball outfit. The player engages in various poker related games and the aim is to cause the female characters to remove their clothing until they are down to their bikinis. There is no nudity during the game.

The game contains a sexual overtone and also includes moderate sexual references (appearing as text on screen) such as “I’ll always know what’s in your hand” and “You deserve the handcuff and baton treatment”.

As the overall aim of the game is to cause the female characters to strip, the impact of the game is moderate. It also requires a mature perspective due to the sexual tone of the game.

The Board notes that a previous version of the game was refused classification due to nudity related to incentives or rewards.

DECISION
In the view of the Board, the impact of the game is moderate. The game therefore warrants an M classification with consumer advice of sexual references.

– Classification Board report

Complaints the Classification Board

September 21, 2009
The Classification Board received 725 complaints in relation to the classification of computer games.

There were…one complaint about SEXY POKER.

– Classification Board, Annual Report 2008-2009

Risen

Publisher Deep Silver / 2009 / MobyGames

In July 2009, RISEN was banned by the Classification Board because of drug use and sexual activity related to an incentive or reward.

Koch Media was the applicant.

Risen (2009) - Game Cover 1
PC Cover

July 2009
Classification decisions are made in accordance with the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 (the Act), the National Classification Code and the Classification Guidelines.

Production Details:
Title: RISEN
Alternate titles:
Publisher: KOCH MEDIA GMBH
Programmer: PIRANHA BYTES
Production Company: KOCH MEDIA GMBH
Year of Production: 2009
Duration: VARIABLE
Version: ORIGINAL
Format: MULTI PLATFORM
Country/ies of origin: GERMANY
Language/s: ENGLISH
Application type: CG2
Applicant: KOCH MEDIA GMBH

Dates:
Date application received by the Classification Board: 23 June 2009
Date of decision: 20 July 2009

Decision:
Classification: RC
Consumer advice:

A senior panellist has confirmed that the application considered was valid under the Act and that this Decision Report accurately reflects the Board’s decision and any minority opinions.

Synopsis:
A role-playing game set on a medieval island where the protagonist has to complete various quests to destroy a magical being and avert the apocalypse.

Reasons for the Decision:
In making this decision, the Classification Board has applied the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 (the Classification Act), the National Classification Code (the Code) and the Guidelines for the Classification of Films and Computer Games 2005 (the Guidelines).

In the Board’s view this game warrants an ‘RC’ classification in accordance with item 1(a) of the computer games table of the National Classification Code:

“1. Computer games that:

(a) depict, express or otherwise deal with matters of sex, drug misuse or addiction, crime, cruelty, violence or revolting or abhorrent phenomena in such a way that they offend against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults to the extent that they should not be classified;” will be Refused Classification.

The Guidelines state; “As a general rule…except in material restricted to adults, nudity and sexual activity must not be related to incentives or rewards” and “material that contains drug use and sexual violence related to incentives or rewards is Refused Classification,”

In the Board’s opinion, this game contains sexual activity and drug use related to incentives or rewards.

SEXUAL ACTIVITY
The game contains “quests” which a player may choose to complete by acquiring the sexual services of prostitutes. Though it is purportedly not a necessary element of game play, players gain rewards or advance through the game more easily by engaging in sexual activity with prostitutes. A player may also obtain the services of prostitutes to bribe or distract guards. Despite sex being given discreet treatment within the game, sexual activity is clearly linked to incentives or rewards. Examples include:

The protagonist may bribe or distract Romanov’s guard by going to a brothel and paying the mistress, Sonya, an amount of “50 gold” for “a girl for the cell guard at the quay”. He speaks to the prostitute Anika, saying “one of the guards would like to get to know you better”. Anika converses with the guard and it is discreetly implied that she engages in sexual intercourse with him.

The main character talks to Lily, a scantily-clad medieval prostitute. She offers “some Lily lovin'”. A quest appears onscreen as “New Quest: A Lovely Time with Lily”. Through implied sexual activity (which is not depicted), the player gains “100 experience points”.

One quest involves the main character obtaining a “friendly and flexible girl” from Sonya. He talks to the prostitute Olga, saying “I’ve already paid Sonya for you”. Another “100 experience points” are gained by Implicitly engaging in sexual activity with Olga. The game cuts to an implied post-coital moment, where the fully-clothed participants stand on either side of a bed and discuss intercourse in euphemistic terms. Olga then gives the protagonist a “scroll” which, it is implied, may be of use later in the game.

DRUG USE
The game contains references to, and explicit use of, a drug known formally as “brugleweed” but commonly referred to in text and dialogue as “weed” or a “weed reefer”. A player can both trade and smoke this drug, which mirrors an illegal Yeal-world’ drug in its terminology, use and depiction. Dialogue refers to the drug as having a “relaxing effect” on the character. “23 experience points” are gained by using the drug for the first time whilst every use thereafter leads to a moderate gain of “3 experience points”. This direct link between the use of “brugleweed” and a positive increase in “experience points” is an example of “drug use…related to incentives or rewards”.

DECISION
This game is Refused Classification.

– Classification Board report

The final word

September 7, 2010
RISEN is a role-playing game set on a medieval island where the protagonist has to complete various quests to avert the apocalypse. These include quests which a player may choose to complete by acquiring the sexual services of prostitutes.

The game also contains references to, and explicit use of, a drug which, in the Board’s view, mirrors an illegal ‘real-world’ drug in its terminology, use and depiction. The player gains ‘experience points’ by using the drug. In the Board’s opinion, this game contains sexual activity and drug use related to incentives or rewards and as such, classified it RC.

– Classification Board, Annual Report 2009-2010

Enzai: Falsely Accused

aka ACMA 2009000868 Item 1

Publisher Langmaor / 2002 / Wikipedia

In 2009, the following entry appeared in the National Classification Database.

August 2009
ACMA 2009000868 ITEM 1 ACMA (Online)
Classification: RC
Consumer Advice:
Category: ACMA – Computer Games
Version: Original
Duration: Variable
Date of Classification: 21/08/2009
Author: N/A
Publisher: N/A
Production Company: N/A
Country of Origin: Not Shown
Applicant: Australian Communications And Media Authority
File Number: T09/4244
Classification Number: 236236

– Classification Board

Items submitted by ACMA are listed only as a number, and never by their actual title. This is supposed to prevent members of the public from being able to search for prohibited content.

Occasionally, the Classification Board list the name of the item. This is what happened with ACMA 2009000868 ITEM 1, which their Annual Report revealed to be ENZAI: FALSELY ACCUSED.

Enzai: Falsely Accused (2002) - Game Cover 1
PC Cover

September 7, 2010
The ACMA referred content to the Classification Board which consists of a computer game titled ENZAI supplied on a laptop computer. The Anime style game follows the story of a character who is placed in jail and convicted of a murder which he did not commit.

Whilst in jail he suffers physical and sexual abuse from guards and other prisoners. The game is primarily an interactive story, however, there are several options to choose between to change the path of the storyline.

In the Board’s view this computer game warrants an RC classification as it contains depictions of sexual violence that depict matters of sex and violence in such a way that they offend against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults to the extent that it should not be classified. It also contains descriptions and depictions of child sexual abuse involving a person who is, or who appears to be, a child under 18 years.

– Classification Board, Annual Report 2009-2010

Left 4 Dead 2

Publisher Valve Corporation / 2009 / MobyGames

In September 2009, LEFT 4 DEAD 2 was banned because of high-impact violence.

Electronic Arts were the applicant.

RC report

September 2009
Classification decisions are made in accordance with the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 (the Act), the National Classification Code and the Classification Guidelines.

Production Details:
Title: LEFT 4 DEAD 2
Alternate titles:
Publisher: VALVE
Programmer: VALVE
Production Company: VALVE
Year of Production: 2009
Duration: Version: ORIGINAL
Format: Country/ies of origin: USA
Language/s: ENGLISH
Application type: CG4
Applicant: ELECTRONIC ARTS

Dates:
Date application received by the Classification Board: 08 September 2009
Date of decision: 15 September 2009

Decision:
Classification: RC
Consumer advice:

Synopsis:
A 1st person action/shooting game where you can play as one of four human characters through a campaign to reach a safe house after fighting through hordes of infected humans or play as an infected human with the aim of trying to prevent the human survivors reaching the safe house.

The game also has several other multiplayer modes.

Reasons for the Decision:
In making this decision, the Classification Board has applied the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 (the Classification Act), the National Classification Code (the Code) and the Guidelines for the Classification of Films and Computer Games 2005 (the Guidelines).

In the Board’s view this game warrants an ‘RC’ classification in accordance with item l(d) of the computer games table of the National Classification Code:

“1. Computer games that:

(d) are unsuitable for a minor to see or play;” will be Refused Classification.

The game contains violence that is high in impact and is therefore unsuitable for persons aged under 18 years to play.

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. Projectile shots to infected humans can cause abdominal wounds which can reveal innards or even cause intestines to spill from the wounds.

The Infected attack the player In an unrelenting fashion, with numerous foe attacking the player at one time. The use of the “melee” weapons can wipe out several Infected in one blow which cause the above mentioned blood and gore effects. The player kills a very large amount of enemy characters to proceed through the game. Whilst no post mortem damage can be inflicted, piles of bodies lay about the environment.

The interactive nature of the game increases the overall impact of the frequent and intense depictions of violence. This coupled with the graphic depictions of blood and gore combine to create a playing impact which is high.

A minority of the Board is of the opinion that the violence is strong in playing impact and therefore warrants an MA 15+ classification with the consumer advice of strong violence.

Decision
This game is Refused Classification.

– Classification Board report

Valve challenges RC-rating

October 6, 2009
The Classification Review Board has received an application to review the classification of the computer game LEFT 4 DEAD 2.

LEFT 4 DEAD 2 was classified RC (Refused Classification) by the Classification Board on 15 September 2009.

The Classification Review Board will meet on 22 October 2009 to consider the application. The decision and reasons will later be published on www.classification.gov.au.

The Classification Review Board is an independent merits review body. Meeting in camera, it makes a fresh classification decision upon receipt of an application for review. The Classification Review Board decision takes the place of the original decision made by the Classification Board.

– Classification review announced for the computer game Left 4 Dead 2
– Classification Review Board

Censored MA15+ version

Valve was not confident that the Classification Review Board challenge would succeed, so at the same time they decided to submit a censored version.

On 7 October 2009, the modified LEFT 4 DEAD 2 was passed with an MA15+ (Strong bloody violence) rating.

Left 4 Dead 2 (2009) - Game Cover 1
Xbox 360 Cover

Gabe Newell from Valve spoke in Sydney on the same day that it was passed with an MA15+. He explained that it was done so that the November 17th release date would not be missed should the appeal fail.

October 8, 2009
Newell told GameSpot AU yesterday that the publisher had resubmitted two versions of LEFT 4 DEAD 2 to the Australian Classification Board following the Board’s decision earlier this month to refuse the game classification; the two versions are the original, unaltered version as well as one with some modifications.

“Right now we’re pursuing two tracks: the first track is to release the product that we’ve created as is in Australia,” Newell said yesterday. “This is our very strong preference and what we’re working with the [Classification Board] to see if we can achieve–so we have an appeal of their decision. The issue there is that that process is fairly slow and that the next step on that isn’t going to occur until October 22.

“At the same time we’ve also submitted an Australia-specific version of the game which we think is fully compliant with the [Classification Board’s] guidelines for content. We may actually hear about that version today. So the goal is to guarantee that something will be available on November 17 in Australia while at the same time pushing to get approval for that to be the full version of the game.”

– Left 4 Dead 2 classified down under
gamespot.com

MA15+ report

October 2009
Production Details:
Title: LEFT 4 DEAD 2
Alternate titles:
Publisher: VALVE
Programmer: VALVE
Production Company: VALVE
Year of Production: 2007
Duration: VARIABLE
Version: MODIFIED
Format: MULTI PLATFORM
Country/ies of origin: USA
Language/s: ENGLISH
Application type: CG4
Applicant: ELECTRONIC ARTS

Dates:
Date application received by the Classification Board: 25 September 2009
Date of decision: 07 October 2009

Decision:
Classification: MA 15+
Consumer advice: Strong bloody violence

A senior panellist has confirmed that the application considered was valid under the Act and that this Decision Report accurately reflects the Board’s decision and any minority opinions.

Synopsis:
A revised version of computer game LEFT 4 DEAD 2, which is a 1st person action/shooting game where you can play as one of four human characters through a campaign to reach a safe house after fighting through hordes of infected humans, or play as an infected human with the aim of trying to prevent the human survivors from reaching the safe house.

The game also has several other multiplayer modes.

Reasons for the Decision:
In making this decision, the Classification Board has applied the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 (the Classification Act), the National Classification Code (the Code) and the Guidelines for the Classification of Films and Computer Games 2005 (the Guidelines).

In the Board’s view this computer game warrants an MA 15+ classification as, in accordance with Item 2 of the Computer Games Table of the National Classification Code, it is unsuitable for viewing or playing by persons under 15.

Pursuant to the Guidelines for the Classification of Films and Computer Games, this computer game is classified MA 15+ as the impact of the classifiable elements is strong. Material classified MA 15+ is considered unsuitable for persons under 15 years of age. It is a legally restricted category.

The classifiable element is violence that is strong in playing Impact.

VIOLENCE
The game contains violence that is strong in impact and justified by context.

The game contains frenetic depictions of violence as the player fights his way through hordes of “the infected”, who are humans infected with a rabies-like virus that causes them to act violently. Weapons used include projectiles such as pistols, shotguns and assault rifles or melee weapons, which include swords, axes, crowbars or chainsaws. During the player’s attacks on the infected, large and frequent blood splatters are seen as the infected fall to the ground. No wound detail is shown and the implicitly dead bodies and blood splatter disappear as they touch the ground. The associated sound effects accompanying the acts of violence contribute to the strong impact of this game.

It is the Board’s view that the interactive nature of the game and amount of bloody violence results in a strong impact, thus warranting an MA15+ classification.

The Board notes that the game no longer contains depictions of decapitation, dismemberment, wound detail or piles of dead bodies lying about the environment,

OTHER MATTERS CONSIDERED OR NOTED
The Board notes that section 21A of the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 states that if the Board is of the opinion that a classified computer game contains contentious material (whether activated through use of a code or otherwise) that was not brought to the Board’s attention in accordance with subsection 14(4) or 17(2) before the classification was made and if the Board had been aware of the material before the classification was made, it would have given the game a different classification, the Board must revoke the classification.

The Board notes that LEFT 4 DEAD 2 was previously refused classification on 16/09/2009.

It is the Board’s view that the element of violence in the game has been sufficiently modified and is now able to be accommodated within the MA15+ classification.

Decision
This computer game is classified MA 15+ with consumer advice Strong bloody violence.

– Classification Board report

Rating appeal fails

October 22, 2009
A three-member panel of the Classification Review Board (the Review Board) has unanimously determined that the computer game LEFT 4 DEAD 2 is classified RC (Refused Classification).

In the Review Board’s opinion, LEFT 4 DEAD 2 could not be accommodated within the MA 15+ classification. The computer game contains a level of violence which is high in impact, prolonged, repeated frequently and realistic within the context of the game.

In addition, it was the Review Board’s opinion that there was insufficient delineation between the depiction of general zombie figures and the human figures, as opposed to the clearly fictional ‘infected’ characters. This was a major consideration of the Review Board in determining the impact of this game on minors.

Computer games classified RC cannot be sold, hired, advertised or demonstrated in Australia.

The Classification Review Board convened today in response to an application from the distributor of the computer game, Electronic Arts, to review the decision made by the Classification Board on 15 September 2009 to classify LEFT 4 DEAD 2 RC.

In reviewing the classification, the Classification Review Board worked within the framework of the National Classification Scheme, applying the provisions of the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995, the National Classification Code and the Guidelines for the Classification of Films and Computer Games. This is the same framework used by the Classification Board.

The Classification Review Board is an independent merits review body. Meeting in camera, it makes a fresh classification decision upon receipt of an application for review. This Classification Review Board decision takes the place of the original decision made by the Classification Board.

The Classification Review Board’s reasons for this decision will appear on the Classification website when finalised.

Statement authorised by Victoria Rubensohn, Convenor, Classification Review Board

– Left 4 Dead 2 classified RC upon review
– Classification Review Board

Review Board report

October 22, 2009
23-33 Mary Street, Surry Hills, NSW

MEMBERS
Ms Victoria Rubensohn (Convenor)
The Hon Trevor Griffin (Deputy Convenor)
Ms Ann Stark

APPLICANT Electronic Arts Pty Ltd

INTERESTED PARTIES None, but one letter from a member of the public was received and noted.

BUSINESS To review the Classification Board’s decision to classify the computer game LEFT 4 DEAD 2 RC (Refused Classification).

DECISION AND REASONS FOR DECISION

1. Decision
The Classification Review Board (the Review Board) classified the computer game RC.

2. Legislative provisions

The Classification (Publications, Film and Computer Games) Act 1995 (the Classification Act) governs the classification of computer games and the review of classification decisions. Section 9 provides that computer games are to be classified in accordance with the National Classification Code (the Code) and the Guidelines for the Classification of Films and Computer Games (the Guidelines)

Relevantly, the Code, under the heading ‘Computer Games’, provides that computer games that:

(a) depict, express or otherwise deal with matters of sex, drug misuse or addiction, crime, cruelty, violence or revolting or abhorrent phenomena in such a way that they offend against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults to the extent that they should not be classified; or

(b) describe or depict in a way that is likely to cause offence to a reasonable adult, a person who is, or appears to be, a child under 18 (whether the person is engaged in sexual activity or not); or

(c) promote, incite or instruct in matters of crime or violence; or

(d) are unsuitable for a minor to see or play

are to be classified RC.

The Code also provides that:

Computer games (except RC computer games) that depict, express or otherwise deal with sex, violence or coarse language in such a manner as to be unsuitable for viewing or playing by persons under 15

are to be classified MA 15+(Mature Accompanied).

Section 11 of the Classification Act requires that the matters to be taken into account in making a decision on the classification of a computer game include:

(a) the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults; and
(b) the literary, artistic or educational merit (if any) of the computer game; and
(c) the general character of the computer game, including whether it is of a medical, legal or scientific character; and
(d) the persons or class of persons to or amongst whom it is published or is intended or likely to be published.
Three essential principles underlie the use of the Guidelines, determined under
section 12 of the Classification Act:

* the importance of context
* the assessment of impact, and
* the six classifiable elements – themes, violence, sex, language, drug use and nudity.

3. Procedure

A three member panel of the Review Board met on 22 October 2009 in response to the receipt of an application from the original applicant on 23 September 2009 to review the RC classification of the computer game, determined by the Classification Board. Those three members had previously determined that the application was a valid application.

The Review Board was assured that the computer game, the subject of the review application, was the same game as had been classified by the Classification Board.

The Applicant provided a written submission and recorded gameplay of the computer game before the hearing. The Review Board viewed the recorded gameplay and a demonstration of the game on 22 October 2009.

The Review board heard an oral submission from Mr Paul Hellmrich representing the Applicant and he demonstrated the game.

The Review Board then considered the matter.

4. Evidence and other material taken into account

In reaching its decision the Review Board had regard to the following:

(i) The application for review
(ii) Electronic Arts’ written and oral submissions
(iii) the computer game, LEFT 4 DEAD 2
(iv) the relevant provisions in the Classification Act, the Code and the Guidelines, and
(v) the Classification Board’s report.

5. Synopsis

A 1st person action/shooting game where a person can play as one of four human characters through a campaign to reach a safe-house after fighting through hordes of infected humans, or can play as an infected human with the aim of trying to prevent the human survivors reaching the safe-house.

The game also has several other multiplayer modes. In addition, it should be noted that Mr Hellmrich indicated that the computer game was intended to be played on-line but that that could not be demonstrated because the servers were not yet live.

6. Findings on material questions of fact

The Review Board found that the computer game contains aspects or scenes of importance under various classifiable elements:

(a) Themes –
Mr Hellmrich submitted that the game ‘was all about self-preservation and working as a team’. The Review Board does not contradict that submission and concludes that the classifiable element of ‘Themes’ could be accommodated in a classification lower than RC.

(b) Violence –
Weapons used in the computer game included a pistol, axe, shotgun, chainsaw, rifle, machinegun, acid/bile, cricket bat, saucepan and Molotov cocktail.

The game contains humans, ‘zombies’ and grotesque fictional ‘infected’ characters.

Mr Hellmrich made a submission in which he analysed the provisions of the National Classification Code as it describes the circumstances in which a computer game would be classified RC. That submission, in essence, relied very much on his assertions that:

– the game includes zombies who were not and never had been human;

– zombies were fictional characters and that zombie killing was an ancillary component to the central objective of the game being played on-line and multiplayer;

– 15 year olds would know that the zombies were fictional characters and could distinguish them from humans and that therefore lessened the impact, (but in any event it was not unlawful to kill zombies which meant that no crime had been committed); and

– there was no moral issue involved in killing fictional characters.

Mr Hellmrich also submitted that all figures (apart from the four humans) were stylized and not real, and that this lessened the impact.

Mr Hellmrich submitted that ‘the game is a high MA15+ but due to the unrealistic nature of the violence still feel that this game should be within the MA15+ band’.

The following scenes and acts (not an exhaustive list) were noted by the Review Board:

* in the early stages, a body on the ground was shot at repeatedly, a body disintegrated leaving a head on the ground with copious amounts of blood;

* a fire left a visibly charred body;

* a body was lying face down on a bathroom floor with a trail of blood – screaming and moaning accentuated the impact;

* copious blood including repeated instances of blood splatter on camera lens;

* in a store with buses and trucks, blood splatters, a body on the ground having been dragged leaving a trail of blood;

* a person hanging by fingertips from a beam with fingers being stamped on, another person with arm shot off;

* swords used to behead and dismember with blood everywhere;

* in a swamp, with an aircraft crashed, persons being attacked, as they run towards camera some are shot with blood everywhere and fleeting glimpses of stomach entrails spilling out;

* a group between several buses shot at, copious blood including on camera lens, and several heads blown off;

* chainsaws used on attackers, heads cut off and lots of blood; and

* exclamations and coarse language from time to time accentuating the impact of acts of violence.

The Review Board concludes that the level of violence is high in impact, prolonged, repeated frequently and realistic in the context of the game.

It is also of the view that there is insufficient delineation between the depiction of the general zombie figures and the human figures as opposed to the clearly fictional ‘infected’ characters. This means that the objects of the violence could not easily be distinguished as human or unreal or fictional creatures. However, the Review Board is of the view that the question whether the objects of the violence were fictional or real, and whether a 15 year old could discern the difference, is largely irrelevant where the game displays the level of realism this one does.

(c) Language –
There are several instances of coarse language but it is infrequent and can be accommodated in a classification lower than RC.

(d) Sex –
There is no sex in the computer game.

(e)Drug Use –
There is no drug use in the game.

(f) Nudity –
There is no nudity in the game.

7. Reasons for the decision

The Review Board is of the view that the violence in the computer game is the principal classifiable element upon which the Review Board should make and has made its decision.

The Review Board is unanimous in its view that the game is not suitable for playing by minors because of the level of violence and its high impact.

To be classified MA 15+ as sought by the Applicant, the Guidelines will allow violence justified by context but with an impact no higher than strong. Having regard to those Guidelines and the constant and recurring acts of violence in the computer game, the Review Board unanimously determines that the computer game cannot be classified MA 15+ and falls into the RC classification for computer games.

8. Summary

The Review Board determined that the computer game LEFT 4 DEAD 2 is classified RC as a game where the impact of the violence is high and, therefore, not suitable for playing by minors.

– Classification Review Board report

Uncut vs. Censored

The modified MA15+ version of LEFT 4 DEAD 2 was released in late October 2009.

It did not take long for the games community to identify the missing footage.

October 28, 2009
So you may think the only content removed was the visual content you are WRONG!

Visual Content Removed: Blood Spatter (greatly minimised) Bodies Disappear NO GORE AT ALL

Now for something that CHANGES GAMEPLAY:
Uncommon Infected (UCI) completely removed (Riot Cop i.e Bulletproof Zombie) If Someone with an uncut version joins a game with Australians with the cut version Uncommon Infected will NOT spawn

Now lets see what conflicts here:

Visual effects: Bodies Disappear: Now this DID NOT happen in LEFT 4 DEAD 1 and it gained the MA15+ Rating why the hell was this removed? and why are prop corpses present if corpses disappear Gore and Blood: This has been drastically tuned down compared toLEFT 4 DEAD 1 (MA15+) and even removed decapitation which was present in LEFT 4 DEAD 1.

Gameplay: UCI’s (UnCommon Infected) were removed which is a new key gameplay mechanic which allows L4D2 to be just that more Different to L4D1 The Riot Cop will not Spawn on Australian Cut versions why is this? Shooting Cops is not allowed? Give me a valid reason the Riot Cop was removed ALSO the fact they were Security and not the law enforcement conflicts the reason for removal.

– The Australian version thread
– forums.steampowered.com

Movie-Censorship and this YouTube clip both document the changes to the Australian version.

Seized by Australian Customs

Jason reports.
I was intending to import a copy of LEFT FOR DEAD 2 from the UK. The vast majority seem to have got it through with no problems, but I was shocked to find at least four cases of customs confiscating the game. I decided against importing a copy as I am sure I would have been in the 1% that lost the game and not the 99% who get it through.

Here are the four cases that I found mentioned on the net.

Case No. 1
This came from the ecogamer site in November 2009.
A copy coming from 365games.com was taken.

Case No. 2
This came from the colonyofgamers site in November 2009.
A person in WA had an uncut copy taken.

Case No. 3
This came from the Whirpool forums in December 2009.
An uncut UK copy was taken in late 2009.
He quotes the customs letter as saying.

2009
An Officer from Australian Customs and Border Protection Service suspects on reasonable grounds that the goods are forfeited to the Crown as Prohibited Imports.

– Australian Customs and Border Protection Service

The person wrote to customs and got this reply.

2009
Thankyou for your email and explanation of the circumstances of the purchase of the goods. This particular version of the game LEFT FOR DEAD 2 has been refused classification by the Classification Board and is therefore considered a Prohibited Import to Australia. An approved version of the game is available for sale in Australia but my understanding is that it is quite expensive. We have had many other importers caught out with this.

Any items considered to be prohibited imports under Regulation 4A of the Prohibited Import Regulations are also Prohibited Exports and cannot be returned overseas. I recommend that you contact the supplier and advise them of this situation. They may provide a refund. Most suppliers should be aware that there are issues with sending computer games to Australia as the only ones approved for import are ones that are suitable for children under 18 to view. This is quite different to other countries.

Alternatively, if you paid via paypal you may be able to obtain a refund through them.

– Australian Customs and Border Protection Service

Case No. 4
This came from the ABC’S Good Game forum in April 2010.
A person lost an uncut version when ordered from e-bay UK.

They quote the customs letter as saying.

2010
These goods are classified as ‘objectionable goods’ as they are likely to cause offence to a reasonable adult and as such should not be imported.

– Australian Customs and Border Protection Service

Part 1 (2008) vs. Part 2 (2009)

Bjorn reports on how the Classification Board treated the MA15+ rated original game and the banned sequel.

Point No. 1

LEFT FOR DEAD: CB report
‘The wound and site of dismemberment contains little detail other than the blood depictions, and there is no detail of viscera, bone and cleft marks associated with the violence.’

LEFT FOR DEAD 2: CB report
‘These [melee] 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.’

Bjorn
The improved damage model appears to be the key factor in the Board’s decision. They specifically noted the lack of detail in wounds and sites of dismemberment in LEFT FOR DEAD, so the new, more detailed melee damage model attracted particular attention and specific mention in the decision report for the sequel.

Point No. 2

LEFT FOR DEAD: CB report
‘The scenario is typical of this genre and the storyline is fanciful, acting to lower impact.’

LEFT FOR DEAD 2: CB report
‘The interactive nature of the game increases the overall impact of the frequent and intense depictions of violence. This coupled with the graphic depictions of blood and gore combine to create a playing impact which is high.’

Bjorn
Context and interactivity are dealt with inconsistently by the Board, as these elements would seem to have changed little from the original game, yet are assessed quite differently. Interactivity is a strong contextual factor in-game classification, however, when read one after the other, it is hard to understand how it is a key factor in LEFT FOR DEAD 2 and not the original. This is yet another example of the inconsistency with which the Board applies the Classification Guidelines.

Point No. 3

LEFT FOR DEAD: CB report
‘A minority of the Board is of the opinion that the continual and unremitting acts of violence with substantial blood detail is high in impact [and recommend RC].’

LEFT FOR DEAD 2: CB report
‘A minority of the Board is of the opinion that the violence is strong in playing impact and therefore warrants an MA 15+ classification.’

Bjorn
Both games were split decisions for the Board. The Board has five new members since LEFT FOR DEAD was classified, although of course there is no way of knowing which members classified either game.

LEFT FOR DEAD 2 was the subject of controversy for a reason other than classification in Australia. Fans believed it to be no more than an expansion for the original game, for which they would be unfairly charged, rather than receiving it as a free update to the original game. From this background, it is interesting to compare Review Board decisions for these two very similar games and discover the very fine line that separates the game able to be sold to 15-year olds, and the one deemed unable to be legally sold to anyone at all in Australia.

Zombies in Senate estimates

LEFT 4 DEAD 2 was mentioned in Senate estimates when Guy Barnett (Liberal) questioned if this was the type of game that would receive an R18+.

February 8, 2010
Senator BARNETT —I am advised that in the US the unmodified version of the game LEFT FOR DEAD 2 was given a ‘mature’ rating—so, suitable for persons aged 17 and older—but was classified ‘refused classification’ in Australia. ‘Mature’ games in the US may contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and strong language. What is the minister’s intent in wanting to open the possibility of these extremely violent and sexually explicit interactive games being made available in Australia? That is a question for the minister. I am happy for you to take it on notice, Minister.

Mr Wilkins —That is one for the Classification Board.

Senator BARNETT —I am happy for the board to respond.

Mr D McDonald —Senator, I can give you the history of the classification of that game in Australia—this is LEFT FOR DEAD 2. On 15 September 2009, the Classification Board classified an original, unedited version of LEFT 4 DEAD 2 as RC—that is to say it was refused classification. In the board’s view, the game was unsuitable for a minor and contained violence that was more than strong in impact. The interactive nature of the game increased the overall impact of the frequent and intense depictions of violence. This, coupled with the graphic depictions of blood and gore, combined to create a playing impact that was considered high. The distributor applied for a review of this decision and, on 22 October 2009, the Classification Review Board met and also classified the game ‘RC’—in other words, they refused classification. A modified version of the game was later submitted to the Classification Board and was classified MA15+, with consumer advice of ‘strong, bloody violence’.

Senator BARNETT —All right. Thank you for that. Did the minister want to respond to that question as to why the minister or the government would want to make such a video game legal?

Senator Wong—I am not sure I have got any instructions or advice from the minister about the view on that specific game. I would have to take that on notice. I am not sure I can agree with the assertion you have just made either.

Senator BARNETT —I am happy for you to take it on notice.

Mr Wilkins —Can I just comment on that, Senator. The Classification Board classifies according to the existing law. The discussion paper is out there precisely because the government is trying to elicit what the public view is and it will then make some policy decisions on the basis of that. So that is the position. The government has not got a concluded view on this issue.

– Guy Barnett (Liberal), Penny Wong (Labor)
– Donald McDonald, Director, Classification Board
– Roger Wilkins, AO, Secretary, Attorney-General’s Department
– Senate estimates, Parliament of Australia

Possible RC-rating following ACMA submission

In September 2010, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) had a computer game banned by the Classification Board. ACMA submissions are never identified. In this case, it was known only as ACMA 2010001752 ITEM 1 ACMA (LAPTOP).

We believe that this item was either LEFT 4 DEAD 2 (2009) or NECROVISION (2009). See the separate Games Censorship Database entry for ACMA 2010001752 ITEM 1 ACMA (LAPTOP) to see how we arrived at this conclusion.

The public responds

September 7, 2010
LEFT 4 DEAD 2 is a first person action-shooting game that can be played in single or multiplayer modes. The Board found that the game contains violence that is high in impact and unsuitable for persons aged under 18 years to play and classified it RC. The Board found that 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 Board was also of the view that the interactive nature of the game increases the overall impact of the frequent and intense depictions of violence. This, coupled with the graphic depictions of blood and gore, combine to create a playing impact which is high.

On application from the game’s distributor, the RC classification for LEFT 4 DEAD 2 was reviewed by the Classification Review Board which also classified the game RC.

Complaints
The Classification Board received 194 complaints in relation to the classification of computer games.

Of the 156 complaints about LEFT 4 DEAD 2, 138 disagreed with the original RC classification by the Classification Board. Following an application for review of the Classification Board’s decision, the Classification Review Board also classified the game RC. A modified version was subsequently classified MA 15+ by the Classification Board with consumer advice of ‘Strong bloody violence’. Seventeen complaints were received about the game being modified to fit into the MA 15+ classification. One complainant could not tell the difference between the MA 15+ version and the one classified RC.

Nine correspondents complained that the MA 15+ classification for CALL OF DUTY: MODERN WARFARE 2 was too low, with many citing the violence and terrorism themes. One complained of an inconsistency between the classification of this game and LEFT 4 DEAD 2. This game was classified RC by the Classification Board, but on appeal was subsequently classified MA 15+ by the Classification Review Board, with consumer advice of ‘Strong science fiction violence’.

– Classification Board, Annual Report 2009-2010

September 1, 2011
The Classification Board received 674 complaints in 2010–11. The Board had received 1,090 complaints in 2009–10.

The classification of the game LEFT 4 DEAD 2 was the subject of six complaints. The complaints were about the RC classification for the game being too high and also that the game had subsequently been modified to fit into the MA 15+ classification.

– Classification Board, Annual Report 2010-2011

Passed R18+ uncut

The R18+ games rating was introduced in January 2013.

In August 2014, Valve Software submitted the uncut PC version of LEFT FOR DEAD 2. It was passed with an R18+ (High impact violence, blood and gore) rating.

The extended classification information described,
High impact: violence
Strong impact: themes
Mild impact: language

September 1, 2014
Doug Lombardi of Valve.
“We are delighted that the full version of LEFT 4 DEAD 2 will be available to fans age 18+ in Australia,” he said. “We are making plans to deliver that version to those who have already purchased the game. We will announce more details on that soon.”

– Uncensored Left 4 Dead 2 finally gets classified In Australia
article @ kotaku.com.au

Classification Board on the R18+

October 14, 2015
Out of the total of 514 computer games classified in 2014–15, 15 computer games were classified R 18+.

LEFT 4 DEAD 2 is a team-based co-operative first person shooter game. The game is set post-zombie apocalypse in the bayous, backwoods, streets and parishes of the southern United States, where groups of one to four players work co-operatively to battle the “infected” and reach safe houses at the end of each campaign. The ultimate goal is for players to reach an extraction point where they are rescued. The game’s online capability allows for co-op play and user generated content.

The computer game was classified R 18+ with consumer advice of “High impact violence, blood and gore”.

– Classification Board, Annual Report 2014-2015

Further reading

See the LEFT FOR DEAD (2008) entry in the Game Censorship Database for more information about the borderline RC original.


Crimecraft

Publisher THQ Inc./ 2009 / MobyGames

In November 2009, CRIMECRAFT was banned because of drug use, which was used as an incentive or reward.

Vogster Entertainment was the applicant.

Crimecraft (2009) - Game Cover 1
PC Cover

November 2009
File No: T09/5626
Decision Report

Classification decisions are made in accordance with the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 (the Act), the National Classification Code and the Classification Guidelines.

Production Details:

Title: CRIMECRAFT
Alternate titles:
Publisher: VOGSTER ENTERTAINMENT
Programmer: VOGSTER ENTERTAINMENT
Production Company:
Year of Production: 2009
Duration: VARIABLE
Version: ORIGINAL
Format: MULTI PLATFORM
Country/ies of origin: USA
Language/s: ENGLISH
Application type: CG2
Applicant: VOGSTER ENTERTAINMENT, LLC

Dates:
Date application received by the Classification Board: 23 October 2009
Date of decision: 26 November 2009

Decision:
Classification: RC
Consumer advice:

A senior panellist has confirmed that the application considered was valid under the Act and that this Decision Report accurately reflects the Board’s decision and any minority opinions.

Synopsis:
This massively multiplayer online (MMO) game is a third person shooter set in a rundown city in which a player can play in free for all, team death match, capture the flag, capture the points or player versus environment modes. A player can also undertake missions set by non-playable characters, learn a profession, trade goods and form a gang, The aim of the game is to become the most reputable player, achieve the highest character level, form the best gang, possess the best wares and kill the most players.

Reasons for the Decision:
In making this decision, the Classification Board has applied the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 (the Classification Act), the National Classification Code (the Code) and the Guidelines for the Classification of Films and Computer Games 2005 (the Guidelines).

In the Board’s view this game warrants an ‘RC’ classification in accordance with item 1(a) of the computer games table of the National Classification Code:

“1. Computer games that:

(a) depict, express or otherwise deal with matters of sex, drug misuse or addiction, crime, cruelty, violence or revolting or abhorrent phenomena in such a way that they offend against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults to the extent that they should not be classified;” will be Refused Classification,

The Guidelines for the Classification of Films and Computer Games state:

“Interactivity includes the use of incentives and rewards, technical features and competitive intensity. As a general rule:…material that contains drug use and sexual violence related to incentives or rewards is Refused Classification.”

The game contains the option to manufacture, trade and self-administer legal “medicines” and illegal “boosts”, which are made up of various elements and sold “on the streets”. Boosts are sometimes referred to as “drugs” both in the game and in the Applicant’s submissions to the Board. There are five categories of boosts as follows:

– Bolsters, which “improve a player’s health”;
– Cicatrizants, which “improve a player’s regeneration rates”;
– E-genes, which “improve a player’s ability to resist attacks”;
– Anabolics, which “improve a player’s ability to cause damage”; and
– Psychostims, which “improve a player’s accuracy”.

The Board notes that the category “anabolics” is named after a class of proscribed drugs and that the Applicant described boosts as “like real-life steroids”. In addition, the names of boosts mimic the chemical and colloquial names of proscribed drugs. Examples include “K-dust”, “Birth”, “Chimera”, “Majoun”, “Betadyne ResistX” and “Zymek Stim-Ex” as well as the anabolics “Raze” and “Frenzy”. Boosts are depicted by a range of icons including pills, medicine bottles, syringes, rubber tubes, medicinal equipment, weights, DNA-strands and plants,

A player can choose to pursue the profession of chemist as either a “Bio-Forger”, who crafts customisable illegal boosts, or a “Med-Seeker”, who crafts legal medicines. A detailed list of available ingredients for creating boosts includes many real-world items such as base chemicals, nucleotides, hormones and enzymes as well as tools and objects associated with the production or use of drugs including syringes, disposable rubber tubes and silkscreen filters. Available fictional ingredients are given abstruse names such as “alemomycin”, “obelprofen”, “adenaze”, “ODP”, “lithione” and “schenoids”. These names parallel existing chemical compounds and this, along with the detailed crafting prodecure, strengthens the correlation between boosts and rea’l-world proscribed drugs.

All boosts are administered in the same manner. The character quickly injects him or herself in the leg with an auto-injector device in a depiction reminiscent of the administration of an adrenaline shot. The text “drug effect” appears onscreen and there is a positive effect in one set of player statistics coupled with a negative effect in another set of statistics. For example, a boost may increase accuracy but decrease regeneration rates. The Applicant has stated: “The negative effect is sometimes substantial, but this effect is balanced against the increased strength of the boost’s positive effects.” Boosts are intended to be used to gain short-term rewards or benefits in various scenarios within the game where the negative effects are mitigated by the positive effects.

Furthermore, a skill which a player may acquire is known as “Addicted” and is represented by an icon depicting a bloodshot eye. The skill is described by in-game text as follows: “After a long period of usage, you have learned the fastest way to start feeling the effects of medicines and boosts while not endangering your health. This ability leads to a global reduction in the cooldown timer of all medicines and boosts.”

The Applicant has stated: “In CRIMECRAFTt there are drug enhancements called “Boosts”. They are fictional drugs that improve a players stats [sic] while in battle for a small period of time.” In the Board’s opinion, there is insufficient delineation between the “fictional drugs” available in the game and real-world proscribed drugs. Boosts parallel the names, chemical elements, administration, treatment and addictive effects of real-world proscribed drugs and, when used, provide quantifiable benefits to a player’s character. This game therefore contains drug use related to incentives or rewards and should be Refused Classification.

Decision:
This game is Refused Classification.

– Classification Board report

The censor speaks

September 1, 2010
CRIMECRAFT is another computer game that was classified RC by the Board during the reporting period. This multiplayer online game is a third person shooting game set in a rundown city in which a player can play in various modes.

In the Board’s opinion, there is insufficient delineation in the game between the fictional drugs or ‘boosts’ available to players in the game and real-world proscribed drugs. Boosts parallel the names, chemical elements, administration, treatment and addictive effects of real-world proscribed drugs and, when used, provide quantifiable benefits to a player’s character.

The Board found that the game therefore contains drug use related to incentives or rewards and classified it RC.

– Classification Board, Annual Report 2009-2010

Aliens vs Predator

Publisher SEGA / 2009 / MobyGames

In December 2009, ALIENS VS PREDATOR was banned because of high-impact violence.

Sega Australia was the applicant.

Refused Classification report

December 2009
File No: T09/6139

Decision Report
Classification decisions are made in accordance with the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 (the Act), the National Classification Code and the Classification Guidelines.

Production Details:
Title: ALIENS VS PREDATOR
Alternate titles: AVP / ALIENS VERSUS PREDATOR / ALIENS VS PREDATOR / ALIENS VS. PREDATOR
Publisher: REBELLION
Programmer: SEGA
Production Company:
Year of Production: 2009
Duration: VARIABLE
Version: ORIGINAL
Format: MULTI PLATFORM
Country/ies of origin: UK
Language/s: ENGLISH
Application type: CG4
Applicant: SEGA AUSTRALIA

Dates:
Date application received by die Classification Board: 01 December 2009
Date of decision: 03 December 2009

Decision: RC
Classification:
Consumer advice:

A senior panellist has confirmed that the application considered was valid under the Act and that this Decision Report accurately reflects the Board’s decision and any minority opinions.

Synopsis:
In this first-person science-fiction shooter, a player has to undertake campaigns as a US Colonial Marine, Alien or Predator following the awakening of deadly parasites by an archaeological team. The game can be played in single player and various multiplayer modes.

Reasons for the Decision:
In making this decision, the Classification Board has applied the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 (the Classification Act), the National Classification Code (the Code) and the Guidelines for the Classification of Rims and Computer Games 2005 (the Guidelines).

In the Board’s view this game warrants an ‘RC’ classification in accordance with item 1(d) of the computer games table of the National Classification Code:

“1. Computer games that:

(d) are unsuitable for a minor to see or play;” will be Refused Classification.

The game contains violence that is high in impact and is therefore unsuitable for persons aged under 18 years to play.

The game is loosely based on the film of the same name and a player can choose to play as a Colonial Marine, Alien or Predator. It is a three-dimensional first-person shooter set in a science-fiction context and involves a player having to partake in close-quarters or melee combat with humans, Aliens and Predators.

The game contains first-person perspective, close-up depictions of human characters being subjected to various types of violence, including explicit decapitation and dismemberment as well as locational damage such as stabbing through the chest, throat, mouth or eyes. Characters can be stabbed with a Predator’s wrist blade or an Allen’s tail in depictions reminiscent of impalement. The Predator collects “trophies” by explicitly ripping off human heads, their spinal columns dangling from severed necks. Heads can be twisted completely around in order to break a character’s neck. Eyes can be stabbed through or gouged, leaving empty, bloodied eye sockets. It is noted that a player is able to combine manoeuvres together in quick succession, which further increases impact; for example, a Predator can stab a character through both eyes with its wrist blade and then rip off their head, with spinal column still attached. Extensive post mortem damage, including decapitation and dismemberment, is also possible.

Depictions of violence such as the above are accompanied by copious amounts of blood and gore, including ample wound detail and visible skeleton.

In the opinion of the Board, the violence in the game causes a high playing impact due to its first-person, dose-up perspective, conceptual nature and the level of explicit detail involved in the depictions. The game is therefore unsuitable for a minor to see or play and should be refused classification.

Other matters considered or noted
The Board notes that the appearance of some visual elements of the game suggests that it has not been rendered in its final form.

Decision:
This game is Refused Classification.

– Classification Board report

Sega appeal RC-rating

December 9, 2009
The Classification Review Board (the Review Board) has received an application to review the classification of the computer game ALIENS VS PREDATOR.

ALIENS VS PREDATOR was classified RC (Refused Classification) by the Classification Board on 3 December 2009.

The Review Board will meet on 18 December 2009 to consider the application. The decision and reasons will later be published on www.classification.gov.au.

If an individual or organisation wishes to apply for standing as an interested party to this review, please write to the Convenor of the Review Board. The closing date to lodge your application for standing as an interested party and any submissions is Monday 14 December 2009. Please note that the Review Board can only consider submissions about the computer game ALIENS VS PREDATOR itself and not any other matters relating to computer games policy or issues generally.

Submissions should be emailed to crb@classification.gov.au or sent to:

The Convenor Classification Review Board Locked Bag 3 Haymarket NSW 1240

The Review Board’s decision and reasons for its decisions will appear on the Classification website once the review has been finalised.

The Review Board is an independent merits review body. Meeting in camera, it makes a fresh classification decision upon receipt of an application for review. The Review Board decision takes the place of the original decision made by the Classification Board.

– Classification review announced for the computer game Aliens vs Predator
– Classification Review Board

Dropped to MA15+

On 18 December 2009, the Classification Review Board lifted the ban on ALIENS VS PREDATOR and awarded it an MA15+ (Strong science fiction violence) rating.

Aliens vs. Predator (2009) - Game Cover 1
PlayStation 3 Cover

This was the first successful games appeal since F.E.A.R. 2: PROJECT ORIGIN in 2008.

December 18, 2009
A three-member panel of the Classification Review Board (the Review Board) has unanimously determined that the computer game ALIENS VS PREDATOR is classified MA 15+ with the consumer advice ‘Strong science fiction violence’.

In the Review Board’s opinion the violence depicted in the game can be accommodated within the MA 15+ category as the violent scenes are not prolonged and are interspersed with longer non violent sequences. The violence is fantastical in nature and justified by the context of the game, set in a futuristic science-fiction world, inhabited by aliens and predators. This context serves to lessen its impact. The more contentious violence is randomly generated and is not dependent on player selection of specific moves.

Computer games classified MA 15+ are not suitable for persons under 15 years of age. MA 15+ computer games are legally restricted.

The Review Board convened today in response to an application from the distributor of the computer game, Sega, to review the decision made by the Classification Board on 3 December 2009 to classify ALIENS VS PREDATOR RC (Refused Classification).

In reviewing the classification, the Review Board worked within the framework of the National Classification Scheme, applying the provisions of the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995, the National Classification Code and the Guidelines for the Classification of Films and Computer Games. This is the same framework used by the Classification Board.

The Review Board is an independent merits review body. Meeting in camera, it makes a fresh classification decision upon receipt of an application for review. This Review Board decision takes the place of the original decision made by the Classification Board.

The Review Board’s reasons for this decision will appear on the Classification website when finalised.

– Aliens vs Predator classified MA 15+
– Classification Review Board

Review Board report

December 18, 2009
23-33 Mary Street, Surry Hills, NSW

MEMBERS:
Dr Melissa de Zwart (chair)
Ms Helena Blundell
Mr Alan Wu

APPLICANT
Sega Australia

INTERESTED PARTIES
None, however fourteen emails from members of the public were received and noted.

BUSINESS
To review the Classification Board’s decision to classify the computer game ALIENS VS PREDATOR RC (Refused Classification).

DECISION AND REASONS FOR DECISION

1. Decision

The Classification Review Board (the Review Board) has classified the computer game ALIENS VS PREDATOR MA 15+ with the consumer advice ‘Strong science fiction violence’.

2. Legislative provisions

The Classification (Publications, Film and Computer Games) Act 1995 (the Classification Act) governs the classification of computer games and the review of classification decisions. Section 9 provides that computer games are to be classified in accordance with the National Classification Code (the Code) and the Guidelines for the Classification of Films and Computer Games (the Guidelines). Section 9A of the Classification Act states that ‘A publication, film or computer game that advocates the doing of a terrorist act must be classified RC.’

Relevantly, the Code, under the heading ‘Computer Games’, provides that computer games that:

(a) depict, express or otherwise deal with matters of sex, drug misuse or addiction, crime, cruelty, violence or revolting or abhorrent phenomena in such a way that they offend against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults to the extent that they should not be classified; or

(b) describe or depict in a way that is likely to cause offence to a reasonable adult, a person who is, or appears to be, a child under 18 (whether the person is engaged in sexual activity or not); or

(c) promote, incite or instruct in matters of crime or violence; or

(d) are unsuitable for a minor to see or play

are to be classified RC.

The Code also provides that:

Computer games (except RC computer games) that depict, express or otherwise deal with sex, violence or coarse language in such a manner as to be unsuitable for viewing or playing by persons under 15

are to be classified MA 15+(Mature Accompanied).

Section 11 of the Classification Act requires that the matters to be taken into account in making a decision on the classification of a publication, film or computer game include:

(a) the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults; and

(b) the literary, artistic or educational merit (if any) of the publication, film or computer game; and

(c) the general character of the publication, film or computer game, including whether it is of a medical, legal or scientific character; and

(d) the persons or class of persons to or amongst whom it is published or is intended or likely to be published.

Three essential principles underlie the use of the Guidelines, determined under section 12 of the Classification Act:

” the importance of context

” the assessment of impact, and

” the six classifiable elements – themes, violence, sex, language, drug use and nudity.

3. Procedure

A three member panel of the Review Board met on 18 December 2009 in response to an application from the original applicant dated 7 December 2009 to review the RC classification of the computer game, determined by the Classification Board. The Review Board had previously determined that the application was valid.

The Review Board was assured that the computer game, the subject of the review application, was the same game that was classified by the Classification Board.

The Applicant provided a written submission and recorded gameplay of the computer game before the hearing. On 18 December 2009, the Review Board viewed the recorded gameplay and a demonstration of the game and heard an oral submission from four persons representing the Applicant, Sega Australia.

The Review Board then considered the matter.

4. Evidence and other material taken into account

In reaching its decision the Review Board had regard to the following:

(i) The application for review

(ii) Sega’s written and oral submissions

(iii) the computer game, ALIENS VS PREDATOR

(iv) the relevant provisions in the Classification Act, the Code and the Guidelines, and

(v) the Classification Board’s report.

Fourteen emails received from members of the public regarding the computer game were noted by the Review Board.

5. Synopsis

In this first-person science-fiction shooter, a player has to undertake campaigns as a US Colonial Marine, Alien or Predator following the awakening of deadly parasites by an archaeological team. The game can be played in single player and various multiplayer modes. The player is assigned a mission determined by their chosen character. During this mission they undertake combat with a range of other player and non-player characters. The game is set in a futuristic alien environment.

6. Findings on material questions of fact

The Review Board found that the computer game contains aspects or scenes of importance under various classifiable elements:

(a) Themes – The game is in the first person shooter (FPS) style, with science fiction / horror themes.

The Review Board is of the opinion that these themes can be accommodated in the MA 15+ classification.

(b) Violence – The Board notes that the game includes the following violent scenes:

” ‘signature moves’ executed by the alien or predator character which include decapitation, removal of heads and spines, stabbing to the eyes, torso and head, tail stabbing;

” close up of melee / close combat between marines, aliens and predators;

” ‘face-huggers’ attaching larval aliens to human hosts;

” aliens biting to the head and body;

” removal of heads for retinal scan;

” use of various weapons;

” post-mortem damage which can include decapitation and removal of limbs;

” depictions of skinned bodies

” blood splatter including some blood splatter on camera lenses; ichor and acid splatter.

It appears that a significant proportion of the violence in the game is against non-human characters and only armed humans may be attacked. However, unarmed humans may be harvested as hosts for larval aliens and will implicitly die as a result.

Despite these violent scenes, the Review Board is of the view that the violent scenes were relatively brief, meaning that the overall impact was no more than strong. The overall sense of violence was not relentless or prolonged, as each violent scene is interspersed with gameplay, dictated by the tasks assigned to the character. The Review Board is of the view that the game depicts strong violence, which is typical of the science fiction/ horror genre. The impact of individual violent scenes is strong, warranting classification at the level of MA15+.

(c) Language – The use of coarse language in the game is infrequent and appropriate to context and can be accommodated within the MA 15+ classification.

(d) Sex – There is no sexual activity apparent in the game.

(e) Drug-use – There is no drug-use apparent in the game.

(f) Nudity – There is one depiction of a scantily clad, stylised (holographic) exotic dancer. The image may be accommodated within the MA 15+ classification.

7. Reasons for the decision

The Review Board is unanimous in its view. The Review Board is of the view that the violence in the game is the principal classifiable element upon which the Review Board should and has made its decision. The Review Board concluded that the violence was strong in impact.

The violent scenes are not prolonged and are interspersed with longer, non-violent gameplay sequences during which the player must complete missions assigned to the character.

The violence is fantastical in nature and justified by the context of the game, set in a futuristic science fiction world inhabited by aliens and predators. The violence is typical of the science fiction/horror genre.

It appears that a majority of the violence is directed against non-human characters, with non-armed humans seemingly incapable of being directly attacked or injured at all. (However, unarmed human may be harvested as hosts for larval aliens and implicitly die as a result).

The ‘signature moves’, which constitute the more serious violence of the game, do not permit player interactivity in selecting the particular move to be performed. Furthermore, these signature moves are particularly implausible, being executed by alien characters with non-human physiology and weaponry.

The effect of these circumstances is to lessen the impact of the violence, such that its overall impact is no higher than strong.

8. Summary

In a unanimous decision, the Review Board has determined that ALIENS VS PREDATOR contains classifiable elements that are no higher than strong in impact and therefore is classified MA 15+ with the consumer advice ‘Strong science fiction violence’.

– Classification Review Board report

Film vs. Game classifications

Nexiva produced this YouTube clip to demonstrate the inconsistency in the Australian Classification system. ALIENS VS PREDATOR can be banned, while the film PREDATOR (1987), is available with an M-rating.

Nexiva were told by the Board that their clip was screened, presumably by Sega Australia, during the appeal.

The final word

September 7, 2010
ALIENS VS PREDATOR is a first person, science fiction shooter game which can be played in single player or multi player modes. The player is assigned a mission which involves combat with a range of player and non-player characters. The game is set in a futuristic alien environment.

The Classification Board found that the depictions of violence in the game are accompanied by copious amounts of blood and gore, including ample wound detail and visible skeleton. In the opinion of the Board, the violence in the game causes a high playing impact due to its first-person, close-up perspective, conceptual nature and the level of explicit detail involved in the depictions. The Board found the game to be therefore unsuitable for a minor to see or play and classified it RC.

On application from the game’s distributor, the RC classification for ALIENS VS PREDATOR was reviewed by the Classification Review Board which classified the game MA 15+ with consumer advice of ‘Strong science fiction violence’.

– Classification Board, Annual Report 2009-2010

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