Banned Games of 2013

The R18+ game rating was introduced on 1 January 2013. However, this did not prevent three games from being banned.

SAINT ROW IV (2013) and STATE OF DECAY (2013) were both Refused Classification in June and SOUTH PARK: THE STICK OF TRUTH (2013) in September.


Saints Row IV

Publisher Deep Silver/ 2013 / MobyGames

The classification of games was introduced in 1994, with the highest rating being MA.

It was not until 1 January 2013, that an R18+ would be introduced.

The first title passed with the new rating was NINJA GAIDEN 3: RAZOR’S EDGE (2012). It was awarded an R18+ (High impact bloody violence) on 11 January 2013.

Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge (2012) - Game Cover 1
Wii U Cover

January 11, 2013
The Director of the Classification Board, Ms Lesley O’Brien announced today that NINJA GAIDEN 3: RAZOR’S EDGE was the first computer game in Australia to be classified R 18+ in the newly created adult category.

The Classification Board classified the game R 18+ (Restricted) with consumer advice of ‘High impact bloody violence’.

NINJA GAIDEN 3: RAZOR’S EDGE is an action adventure game for the Nintendo Wii U console in which players assume the role of Ryu Hayabusa, a cursed ninja battling a terrorist organisation.

Ms O’Brien said computer games classified R 18+ are legally restricted to adults.

“Under the Guidelines for the Classification of Computer Games, R 18+ computer games will have a high impact and it is for this reason that these games are not suitable for under 18s,” Ms O’Brien said.

“NINJA GAIDEN 3: RAZOR’S EDGE contains violence that is high in impact because of its frequency, high definition graphics, and emphasis on blood effects.”

When making decisions about computer games, the Classification Board must use the criteria set out in the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games Act) 1995, the National Classification Code and the Guidelines for the Classification of Computer Games.

The new Guidelines for the Classification of Computer Games came into effect on 1 January 2013. Prior to then, Australia did not have an adult category for computer games.

Under state and territory laws it is illegal to sell R 18+ computer games to people under 18.

An application to classify NINJA GAIDEN 3: RAZOR’S EDGE was received by the Classification Board on 3 January 2013 from Nintendo Australia Pty Ltd and the decision was finalised today (11 January). It was classified M (for ages 17 and over) by the Entertainment Rating Software Board (ESRB) in the United States and 18+ by the Pan European Game Information (PEGI) Scheme which covers most of Europe and the United Kingdom.

‘I encourage consumers to use the National Classification Database to find out about the classifications of computer games,’ Ms O’Brien said.

The database is on the classification website at www.classification.gov.au.

– ‘Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge’ first R 18+ computer game in Australia
– Lesley O’Brien, Director, Classification Board

First RC post-R18+

In June 2013, SAINTS ROW IV became the first game to be banned in Australia since the introduction of the R18+ rating.

The reason for the refusal was visual depictions of implied sexual violence which were not justified by context and elements of illicit or proscribed drug use related to incentives or rewards.

Koch Media GmbH was the applicant.

RC reasons

June 19, 2013
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: SAINTS ROW IV
Alternate titles:Publisher: DEEP SILVER
Programmer: DEEP SILVER VOLITION
Production Company:
Year of Production: 2012
Duration: VARIABLE
Version: ORIGINAL
Format: MULTI PLATFORM
Country/ies of origin: USA
Language/s: EFIGS
Application type: CG2
Applicant: KOCH MEDIA GMBH

Dates:
Date application received by the Classification Board: 13 May 2013
Date of decision: 19 June 2013

Decision:
Classification: RC
Consumer advice:

Synopsis:

This open-world action game, for the XBOX 360, is the fourth in the SAINTS ROW series and is a direct sequel to SAINTS ROW: THE THIRD . In this instalment players control the leader of the Third Street Saints, who has been elected as the President of the United States after it comes under attack from an alien race. Players navigate open world environments and complete missions with
the main objective being to destroy the Zin alien empire.

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 Computer Games 2012 (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.

Computer games that exceed the R 18+ classification category will be Refused Classification. At the R 18+ classification, the Guidelines state:

“Implied sexual violence that is visually depicted, interactive, not justified by context or related to incentives or rewards is not permitted”; and “Drug use related to incentives and rewards is not permitted”.

The Guidelines also state that computer games will be Refused Classification if they contain “illicit or proscribed drug use related to incentives or rewards”.

The game includes a weapon referred to by the Applicant as an “Alien Anal Probe”. The Applicant states that this weapon can be “shoved into enemy’s backsides”. The lower half of the weapon resembles a sword hilt and the upper part contains prong-like appendages which circle around what appears to be a large dildo which runs down the centre of the weapon. When using this weapon the player approaches a (clothed) victim from behind and thrusts the weapon between the victim’s legs and then lifts them off the ground before pulling a trigger which launches the victim into the air. After the probe has been implicitly inserted into the victim’s anus the area around their buttocks becomes pixelated highlighting that the aim of the weapon is to penetrate the victim’s anus. The weapon can be used during gameplay on enemy characters or civilians.

In the Board’s opinion, a weapon designed to penetrate the anus of enemy characters and civilians constitutes a visual depiction of implied sexual violence that is interactive and not justified by context and as such the game should be Refused Classification.

The game contains an optional mission which involves the player obtaining and smoking drugs referred to as “alien narcotics”. Smoking the “alien narcotics” equips the player with “superpowers” which increase their in-game abilities allowing them to progress through the mission more easily. The mission requires players to locate and kill a drug “dealer” to “score something to boost (them) up for killing”. During the mission onscreen prompts guide the player to “Go to deal location” and “Get drugs”. One character describes that the drug, referred to during the mission as an “alien narcotic”, will “enhance abilities on top of giving you a really wicked buzz”. After killing the dealer the player is depicted implicitly smoking from what appears to be a small glass pipe. The drugs they obtain from the first dealer do not achieve the desired effects and the player locates and kills a second dealer. After killing this dealer the player is again depicted implicitly smoking from a small glass pipe. Within moments the player begins to feel the effects of the drug, commenting “(my) powers feel limitless”, “(I) feel like every muscle inside me is going to burst” and “holy crap we have superpowers”. The player then embarks on a mission to locate and kill an enemy character and is depicted using superpowers which include increased speed and jumping abilities.

In the Board’s opinion, there is insufficient delineation between the “alien narcotic” available in the game and real-world proscribed drugs. The Board notes that the label “narcotics” is commonly assigned to describe a class of real-world drugs that include such proscribed substances as cocaine and heroin. In addition, the means by which the drugs are obtained (from a street dealer) and the method of administration (smoked using a small glass pipe) parallel realworld scenarios and, when used, the drug provides quantifiable benefits to a player’s character. This game therefore contains drug use related to incentives and rewards and should be Refused Classification.

Decision:

This game is Refused Classification.

– Classification Board report

Decision made public

June 25, 2013
The Acting Director of the Classification Board Mr Donald McDonald announced today that SAINTS ROW IV was the first computer game in Australia to be Refused Classification under the Guidelines for the Classification of Computer Games that commenced on 1 January 2013.

The Classification Board classified the game RC (Refused Classification) in accordance with item 1(a) of the National Classification Code and in accordance with the computer games guidelines.

In the Board’s opinion, SAINTS ROW IV, includes interactive, visual depictions of implied sexual violence which are not justified by context. In addition, the game includes elements of illicit or proscribed drug use related to incentives or rewards. Such depictions are prohibited by the computer games guidelines.

Mr McDonald said the Classification Board had now been applying the new computer games guidelines for almost six months and this was the first game to be refused classification.

“Apart from today’s decision, since the beginning of the year, the Board has classified 17 games R18+ under the new guidelines,” Mr McDonald said.

When making decisions about computer games, the Classification Board must use the criteria set out in the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games Act) 1995, the National Classification Code and the Guidelines for the Classification of Computer Games.

The new Guidelines for the Classification of Computer Games came into effect on 1 January 2013. Prior to then, Australia did not have an adult category for computer games.

An application to classify SAINTS ROW IV was received by the Classification Board on 13 May 2013.

– ‘Saints Row IV’: first computer game classified Refused Classification
– Classification Board

June 25, 2013
We can’t specifically comment on the Classification Board’s decision to issue SAINTS ROW IV with a Refused Classification as we aren’t privy to the specific content of the game. Broadly speaking though, one of the key reasons an R18+ was introduced was to ensure that we strike a balance between giving adult Australians access to adult games while protecting children from inappropriate content.

Under the new guidelines, we celebrate the fact that adults can now access age-appropriate games which may have otherwise been refused classification, but as we have argued, we also must accept that there will be some video games which will fall outside the scope of the R18+ guidelines. Whether we agree or not with this specific classification, it highlights that the classification system is functioning as it should and that R18+ was never meant to open the ‘floodgates’ for all types of content.

Overall, we remain confident that the Classification Board is applying the new guidelines as they see appropriate, but we also recognise that with any change to a system as subjective and complex as applying classification guidelines, there will always be a ‘settling in‘ period where all stakeholders strive to find an appropriate middle ground. Currently, we’re at the ‘high water’ mark where there’s a natural inclination to err on the side of caution.

– IGEA’s response to the Refused Classification (RC) of Saints Row IV
igea.net

Why RC?

June 26, 2013
The game includes a weapon referred to by the Applicant as an “Alien Anal Probe”. The Applicant states that this weapon can be “shoved into enemy’s backsides”. The lower half of the weapon resembles a sword hilt and the upper part contains prong-like appendages which circle around what appears to be a large dildo which runs down the centre of the weapon. When using this weapon the player approaches a (clothed) victim from behind and thrusts the weapon between the victim’s legs and then lifts them off the ground before pulling a trigger which launches the victim into the air.

After the probe has been implicitly inserted into the victim’s anus the area around their buttocks becomes pixelated highlighting that the aim of the weapon is to penetrate the victim’s anus. The weapon can be used during gameplay on enemy characters or civilians. In the Board’s opinion, a weapon designed to penetrate the anus of enemy characters and civilians constitutes a visual depiction of implied sexual violence that is interactive and not justified by context and as such the game should be Refused Classification.

The game contains an optional mission which involves the player obtaining and smoking drugs referred to as “alien narcotics”. Smoking the “alien narcotics” equips the player with “superpowers” which increase their in-game abilities allowing them to progress through the mission more easily.

– An ‘Alien Anal Probe’ is the reason why Saints Row IV was Refused Classification
article @ kotaku.com.au

Rating appeal announced

July 19, 2013
The Classification Review Board has received an application to review the classification of the computer game SAINTS ROW IV.

SAINTS ROW IV was classified Refused Classification by the Classification Board on 19 June 2013.

The Classification Review Board will meet on Monday 29 July 2013 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 Thursday 25 July 2013. Please note that the Review Board can only consider submissions about the computer game (SAINTS ROW IV) itself and not any other matters relating to film classification 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 Classification Review Board is an independent merits review body. 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 Saints Row IV
– Classification Review Board

RC-rating confirmed

July 29, 2013
A three-member panel of the Classification Review Board has unanimously determined that the computer game SAINTS ROW IV is classified Refused Classification.

In the Review Board’s opinion, SAINTS ROW IV could not be accommodated within the R 18+ classification as drug use related to incentives and rewards is not permitted.

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

The Review Board convened on Monday 29 July 2013 in response to an application from Koch Media GmbH, to review the decision made by the Classification Board on 19 June 2013 to classify SAINTS ROW IV 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 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.

– Saints Row IV classified Refused Classification
– Victoria Rubensohn AM, Chair, Classification Review Board

Review Board report

July 29, 2013
23-33 Mary Street, Surry Hills, NSW

MEMBERS:
Ms Victoria Rubensohn
Mr Peter Attard
Ms Jane Smith

APPLICANT
Koch Media GmbH

INTERESTED PARTIES
Richard Schenke
Steven King
Andrew Brading
Antony Restifo
Dean Rosolen
Luke K

BUSINESS
To review the Classification Board’s decision to classify the computer game SAINTS ROW IV RC (Refused Classification).

DECISION AND REASONS FOR DECISION

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

2. Legislative provisions The Classification (Publications, Film and Computer Games) Act 1995 (Cth) (the Classification Act) governs the classification of computer games and the review of classification decisions. Section 9 provides that films are to be classified in accordance with the National Classification Code (the Code) and the classification guidelines.

Relevantly, the Code in paragraph 1 of the Table 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; are to be classified RC.

The Code also sets out various principles to which classification decisions should give effect, as far as possible.

Section 11 of the 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 film; and

(c) the general character of the film, 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 for the Classification of Computer Games 2012 (the Guidelines), determined under s 12 of the Act:

– the importance of context

– the assessment of impact, and

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

3. Procedure

The Review Board met on 29 July 2013 in response to the receipt of an application from Koch Media GmbH on 17 July 2013 to conduct the review.

The Review Board engaged in extended gameplay of SAINTS ROW IV upon the Xbox 360 platform prior to meeting with the applicant.

The applicant then took the Review Board through various aspects of gameplay and made an oral submission which was accompanied by a written submission.

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) Koch Media GmbHs’ application for review

(ii) Koch Media GmBHs’ written and oral submissions

(iii) the computer game, SAINTS ROW IV

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

(v) the Classification Board’s report

(vi) six submissions from individual gamers

5. Synopsis

SAINTS ROW IV is an Open World/Sandbox computer game for the PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. SAINTS ROW IV is the latest game in the SAINTS ROW series, with the original title released in 2006.

SAINTS ROW IV is a direct sequel to SAINTS ROW: THE THIRD. The game is set in a fictional Washington D.C. and simulated fictional city of Steelport, five years after the end of SAINTS ROW: THE THIRD. The leader of the Third Street Saints is elected President of the United States and immediately an alien invasion occurs and the protagonist (the Player) and the Saints are kidnapped by aliens known as the Zin and their leader Zinyak. The Player is transported to a virtual version of Steelport where the Player can use super powers to fight against the Zin empire. Various ‘side missions’ are options in the game.

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:

Violence
The game primarily utilises violence as the human race fights the alien invasion. The violence is frequent but stylised and unrealistic. One of a range of possible DLC weapons that can be purchased is called ‘The Rectifier’. The Rectifier is a long three pronged weapon utilised by the Player to impale any characters in the game. The Rectifier is thrust from behind (implicitly via the anus, but the area is pixelated), the victim is then raised and shot projectile-like into the sky, leaving a trail of stars. It was submitted by the producers of the game that the use of this weapon represents a parody of the tradition of alien probes of humans. In the opinion of the Review Board, there is no element of sexual violence related to the use of The Rectifier.

The violence in the game, though frequent, is justified by the storyline. The impact is no higher than strong and can be accommodated at the MA15+ level.

Language
The game contains frequent coarse language. The impact of the language is no higher than strong and can be accommodated at the MA15+ level.

Sex
The game contains no depictions of sexual activity. In the ‘Romance’ Option of the game there is sexual banter and brief implied sexual activity.

The impact of this element is no higher than strong and can be accommodated at the MA15+ level.

Nudity
One ‘side mission’ included in the game involves the characters becoming nude, although their genitals are permanently pixelated. There are also a number of other instances where at a distance; one can see a woman’s breasts upon a poster and magazine cover.

The impact is no higher than strong, and could be accommodated at the MA15+ level.

Drug Use
During the course of the game, there is an option for a ‘side mission’ where the Player can achieve an unlimited sprinting power or superpower. Having acquired alien narcotics, the Player then has to inhale the drugs to gain the necessary superpower. The game directly links drug use to incentives and rewards. The fact that at another point in the game, these superpowers can be acquired in a different manner is irrelevant to the fact that in this option the drug use directly achieves the incentive of acquiring superpowers. Though the drugs are referred to as ‘alien’ their usage is represented in a realistic manner using realistic drug taking methods. The means by which the drugs are obtained from a street dealer parallels reality. The dialogue of the Player and other characters underlines the link between the drug use and the achievement of superpowers e.g. “This alien shit should give us an edge” (spoken by a female character).

7. Reasons for the decision

Drug use related to incentives or rewards is not permitted. The game SAINTS ROW IV is therefore classified Refused Classification.

8. Summary

The Review Board decided that the computer game should be classified RC – Refused Classification.

– Classification Review Board report

In November 2013, the Attorney General’s Department’s made a freedom of information disclosure (FOI 13/145) related to the classification.

The 25-page PDF contained the RC decision report and KochMedia’s application and submission to the Review Board. Six submissions from interested parties were refused release due to ‘Personal privacy (s47F(1))’.

Complaints from fans

September 17, 2012
In the computer game SAINTS ROW IV, the player controls the leader of the gang called the Third Street Saints. Players navigate open world environments and complete missions with the main objective being to destroy the Zin alien empire. In the view of the Classification Board, the game contains a visual depiction of implied sexual violence that is interactive and not justified by context. The game also contains an optional mission which involves the player obtaining and smoking drugs referred to as ‘alien narcotics’ which has the effect of increasing the player’s in-game abilities.

In the Classification Board’s opinion, there is insufficient delineation between the ‘alien narcotics’ available in the game and real-world proscribed drugs. At the R 18+ classification, the guidelines state:

‘Implied sexual violence that is visually depicted, interactive, not justified by context or related to incentives or rewards is not permitted’; and

‘Drug use related to incentives and rewards is not permitted’.

As such, the Classification Board classified this computer game RC.

– Classification Board, Annual Report 2011-2012

August 9, 2013
The Classification Board received 795 complaints about computer games. Seven hundred and seventy-seven of the complaints were about the RC classifications of the two computer games SAINTS ROW IV and STATE OF DECAY.

There were 507 complaints about the classification of SAINTS ROW IV. The Classification Board classified the game RC due to a visual depiction of implied sexual violence that is interactive and not justified by context and depictions of illicit or proscribed drug use related to incentives or rewards. The overwhelming majority of the complainants did not want the computer game to be refused classification.

– Classification Board, Annual Report 2012-2013

Censored MA15+

On 2 August 2013, a modified version of SAINTS ROW IV was passed as MA15+ (Strong violence, Gaming experience may change online).

The extended classification information describes,
Strong impact: Violence
Moderate impact: Themes, language, nudity, sex
Mild impact: Drug use

All Interactive Entertainment was the applicant.

Saints Row IV (2013) - Game Cover 1
PC Cover

August 3, 2013
After SAINTS ROW IV was refused a classification in Australia, we appealed this decision. Despite our appeal, that decision was eventually upheld at the start of this week. The Australian Classification Board has now finally approved our slightly edited version with an MA 15+ rating.

For this version, we had to cut one optional Loyalty Mission from the game. Loyalty Missions are optional side missions that you can do with your homies. This mission in particular involves alien narcotics in the simulation, which eventually have a positive effect in terms of gameplay. As you cannnot depict any positive effect for using narcotics in video games in Australia, this was the reason the game was refused a classification.

While we are very proud of all our different missions, we do feel that SAINTS ROW IV on the whole remains largely the same without this single optional mission, and we also feel that you deserve to know what you are getting in Australia. Due to the changes we were forced to make, this version is different than the version rated by rating boards like the ESRB, USK, and PEGI, which is why it will be incompatible with those versions in co-op.

As for the “Rectifier” weapon that was mentioned as an “alien anal probe” weapon recently — it launches enemies into the sky — this is and always has been a bonus weapon for the Season Pass. At this point in time we are still awaiting details on whether we can include it in the Season Pass in Australia or not. Of course we would have very much preferred to have been able to offer our Australian community everything as planned, but we also still want to offer the option to get SAINTS ROW IV in their home country; alas without the single side mission.

New Zealand will still get the “uncut” version like the rest of the world, and the Rectifier weapon in the Season Pass.

For our fans in New Zealand, EB Games has the “Presidential Edition” with a bonus Uncle Sam hat and Saints flag.

– To our fans in Australia and New Zealand
– facebook.com/SaintsRow

August 2013
“Deep Silver and [distributor] AIE are pleased to report that the Australian Classification Board has now approved SAINTS ROW IV for sale. They have granted the game a MA15+ rating.

To achieve this rating one loyalty mission featuring the character Shaundi has been removed. This mission has been widely reported on and contains the use of alien narcotics to obtain certain superpowers. This mission represents approximately 20 minutes of gameplay out of the hours available to purchasers. The removal of this mission has no negative impact on the story or the superpowers and will not detract from the enjoyment players will get from their SAINTS ROW IV experience.”

“The rectifier weapon will be available as part of a DLC package as originally intended. Deep Silver respects this decision and thanks the Australian Classification Board for their assistance with this matter.”

– Deep Silver statement

MA15+ explained

August 8, 2014
Out of the total of 458 computer games classified in 2013–14, 47 computer games were classified MA 15+.

SAINTS ROW IV is an open-world action-adventure game in which the player assumes the role of The Protagonist, leader of the Third Street Saints who has been elected President of the United States and whose objective is to liberate Steelport and free humanity from an alien invasion led by Zinyak, Supreme Overlord of the Zin Empire. The game contains violence that is strong in impact and justified by context. The game allows the playable character, The Protagonist, to fight humans in a ‘real world’ setting as well as simulated humans in a (matrix-like) virtual reality.

Players frequently engage in battle against aliens, cyborgs, humans and, at certain times, strange creatures such as a monstrous soft drink can or a mutant man-cat using a variety of weapons including pistols, rifles, machine guns as well as ‘alien weapons’ which can be used to suck victims into black holes or set them on fire. The player also uses hand-to-hand combat moves (including punches, kicks and head-stomps) and can also employ a range of super powers that can freeze, levitate, electrocute, shrink and ram their enemies.

The violence within the game has a strong playing impact owing to its frequency and emphasis on blood effects. However, in the opinion of the Board, the depictions of violence were mitigated by the stylised and unrealistic attacks that occur within a futuristic science-fiction setting against (predominantly) non-human characters. As such, the game was able to be accommodated within the MA 15+ classification with consumer advice of ‘Strong violence, gaming experience may change online’.

The Board notes that an earlier version of this game was submitted for classification during the previous reporting period and the Board classified.

The Board received 355 complaints about computer games. Two hundred and sixty two of the complaints were about the Refused Classification (RC) decisions for the computer games SAINTS ROW IV and STATE OF DECAY which were classified in the previous reporting period.

– Classification Board, Annual Report 2013-2014

August 8 2014
The Review Board received 78 complaints about its decisions in the reporting period.
There were 77 complaints that the computer game SAINTS ROW IV should not be Refused Classification.

– Classification Review Board, Annual Report 2013-2014

Drug use & anal probe

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

Richard S. reports.
This YouTube clip contains the depictions of drug use to which the Classification Board and Review Board objected. They were removed from the Australian MA15+ version of the game.

The clip starts with the line quoted by the Review Board, ‘this alien shit should give us an edge’. The first drug use scene begins at 02:23, and the second at 04:50. It then continues to show the incentive/reward as the group develop superpowers as a result of their drug use.

Saints Row IV (2013) - Drug use 1
Drug use
Saints Row IV (2013) - Drug effects
Drug effects
Saints Row IV (2013) - Drug Use 2
Drug use

This YouTube clip contains depictions of ‘sexual violence’ that the Classification Board gave as a reason for an RC-rating.

Saints Row IV (2013) - The Rectifier 1
The Rectifier
Saints Row IV (2013) - The Rectifier 2
The Rectifier
Saints Row IV (2013) - The Rectifier 3
The Rectifier
Saints Row IV (2013) - The Rectifier 4
The Rectifier

The Classification Review Board had a different idea, and found that there was no element of sexual violence related to the use of ‘The Rectifier’. It was therefore passed in the MA15+ version.

Accidentally uncut

On 20 January 2015, SAINTS ROW IV: RE-ELECTED + GAT OUT OF HELL was released in Australia.

This double-pack contained a high-definition makeover of the original game called SAINTS ROW IV: RE-ELECTED (2014), as well as a new stand-alone expansion pack called GAT OUT OF HELL (2015).

Saints Row IV: Re-Elected (2014) & Gat Out Of Hell (2015) - Game Cover 1
PlayStation 4 Cover

It soon became clear that the PlayStation 4 version of SAINTS ROW IV: RE-ELECTED was uncut and contained the gameplay that led to it being banned in June 2013.

January 26, 2015
Unfortunately over the weekend, it has come to light that the PlayStation 4 retail release of SAINTS ROW IV: RE-ELECTED has a serious manufacturing issue and a nationwide recall is now underway in Australia.

A manufacturing issue has caused an incorrectly classified version of SAINTS ROW IV: RE-ELECTED for our territory to be released. This strictly affects PlayStation 4 retail versions.

All customers who have purchased the PlayStation 4 version of SAINTS ROW IV: RE-ELECTED are encouraged to return to their retailer for a full refund.

Replacement copies with the correct content are on order and will arrive with retailers soon.

– Saints Row IV: Re-Elected – Recall
– QV Software

State of Decay

Publisher Microsoft Studios / 2013 / MobyGames

In June 2013, STATE OF DECAY became the second game to be banned in Australia since the introduction of the R18+ rating.

Microsoft was the applicant.

The reason given was.

June 26, 2013
Games 1(a) The computer game is classified RC in accordance with the National Classification Code, Computer Games Table, 1.
(a) as computer games that “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.”

– Classification Board

June 26, 2013
The game contains the option of self-administering a variety of “medications” throughout gameplay which act to restore a player’s health or boost their stamina. These “medications” include both legal and illicit substances such as methadone, morphine, amphetamines, stimulants, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, codeine, aspirin, “trucker pills”, painkillers and tussin. Of these, methadone, morphine, and amphetamines are proscribed drugs and the term “stimulant” is commonly used to refer to a class of drugs of which several are proscribed.

Players obtain drugs by scavenging for them in the environment or by manufacturing them in a “Medical Lab”. When players find drugs in the environment the name of the drug appears onscreen and the drug is also represented by a visual icon such as a pill bottle or syringe. Within the “Medical Lab” players are prompted to make substances such as “Potent Stims”, “Mild Stims” and “Painkillers”. The laboratory includes a “research library” and “chemical dictionary”.

When administering drugs, the player is briefly depicted moving a pill bottle toward their mouth. The sound of pills rattling in the bottle accompanies the depiction. The name of the drug appears onscreen along with its representative icon. Consumption of the drug instantly increases a player’s in-game abilities allowing them to progress through gameplay more easily. The Applicant has stated that a “player can choose not to make any drugs or scavenge for them, but it would be very difficult to complete the game without some form of medication”.

In the Board’s opinion, the game enables the player’s character to self-administer proscribed drugs which aid in gameplay progression. This game therefore contains drug use related to incentives or rewards and should be Refused Classification.

– Classification Board report
via article @ kotaku.com.au

The developer comments

June 26, 2013
Hola Australian STATE OF DECAY fans, I have bad news to share: STATE OF DECAY has been refused classification by the Australian Classification Board (ACB). We’ve run afoul of certain prohibitions regarding the depiction of drug use. We’re working with Microsoft to come up with options, including changing names of certain medications in the game to comply with ratings requirements. Whatever our path forward, it’s going to take a bit.

I know this is frustrating — believe me, we’re frustrated too — but each country has the right to set its own rules about content, and it’s our responsibility to comply with them. Rest assured we’ll do everything we can to find a way to get the game into your hands. Stay tuned. Jeff

– Jeff Strain, Executive Producer
– undeadlabs.com

Censored R18+

July 2, 2013
Australians, I can OFFICIALLY tell you that the special edition of the game is now in the hands of your review board. Stimulants out! “Supplements” in! Who could possibly not like vitamins? They’re good for you. Anyway, we’re feeling pretty optimistic about our chances.

– facebook.com/UndeadLabs

On July 11 2013, this modified version of STATE OF DECAY was passed with an R18+ (High impact violence) rating.

The extended classification information describes,
High impact: violence
Moderate impact: themes, language
Mild impact: drug use, sex
Very mild: nudity

State of Decay (2013) - Game Cover 1
Xbox One Cover

Censor vs. the public

August 9, 2013
STATE OF DECAY is a third-person survival shooter computer game set in a small American town during the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse. Players navigate open-world environments, battling zombie attacks, as they scavenge for supplies and collaborate with other survivors to ensure survival of the human race.

The game contains the option of self-administering a variety of ‘medications’ throughout the gameplay which act to restore a player’s health or boost their stamina. These ‘medications’ include both legal and illicit substances such as methadone, morphine, amphetamines, stimulants, acetaminophen, ‘trucker pills’ and painkillers. Of these, methadone, morphine, and amphetamines are proscribed drugs and the term ‘stimulant’ is commonly used to refer to a class of drugs of which several are proscribed.

In the Classification Board’s opinion, the game contains drug use related to incentives or rewards and therefore STATE OF DECAY was also classified RC.

The Classification Board received 795 complaints about computer games.

The Classification Board also received 270 complaints about the computer game STATE OF DECAY. The Classification Board classified the computer game RC as it contains illicit or proscribed drug use related to incentives or rewards. Again, a majority of the complainants did not want the computer game to be refused classification.

– Classification Board, Annual Report 2012-2013

Why R18+?

August 8, 2014
STATE OF DECAY is a modified third-person survival/horror shooter game set in a small American town during the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse. Players navigate open-world environments, battling zombie attacks, as they scavenge for supplies and collaborate with other survivors to ensure the survival of the human race. The game contains violence that exceeds strong in impact.

Throughout this third-person horror shooter, players battle hordes of zombies using melee weapons, guns and explosives. The violence is sometimes frenetic and is the primary aspect of gameplay. Zombies (which mostly appear human-like) can be injured with ranged or melee weapons, causing large, stylised wounds to appear on their bodies. It is possible to dismember, decapitate and stomp on the heads of zombies; these depictions are accompanied by significant wound detail as well as sprays of flesh and blood.

In the opinion of the Board, the game’s blood and wound detail coupled with the frequency of the violence exceed strong in playing impact. Therefore, the Board classified the game R 18+ with consumer advice of ‘High impact violence’.

The Board notes that an earlier version of this game was submitted for classification during the previous reporting period and the Board classified that game RC, due to inclusion of drug use related to incentives and rewards. This content was modified in this classified version.

The Board received 355 complaints about computer games. Two hundred and sixty two of the complaints were about the Refused Classification (RC) decisions for the computer games SAINTS ROW IV and STATE OF DECAY which were classified in the previous reporting period.

– Classification Board, Annual Report 2013-2014

South Park: The Stick of Truth

Publisher Ubisoft / 2013 / MobyGames

SOUTH PARK: THE STICK OF TRUTH was first listed in the National Classification Database when it received an R18+ (High impact crude humour, Sex scenes and References to sexual violence) rating on December 12 2013.

Despite there being no previous entries, the game was listed as being ‘modified’. It was soon revealed that there had been three previous submissions, two of which had been Refused Classification.

Submission No. 1 – Sep. 19 – RC

This entry was originally missing from the National Classification Database.

It was eventually added under the title SOUTH PARK: THE STICK OF TRUTH / CODENAME.

September 13, 2013
Production Details:
Title: CODENAME
Alternate titles:
Publisher: UBISOFT
Programmer: NOT SHOWN
Production Company: NOT SHOWN
Year of Production: 2013
Duration: VARIABLE
Version: ORIGINAL
Format: MULTI PLATFORM
Country/ies of origin: FRANCE
Languages: ENGLISH
Application type: CG2
Applicant: UBI SOFT

Dates:
Date application received by the Classification Board: 09 September 2013
Date of decision: 19 September 2013

Decision:
Classification: RC
Consumer advice:

Synopsis:

CODENAME (SOUTH PARK THE STICK OF TRUTH) is an action adventure, role playing game for PC which features characters and storylines from the television series South Park.

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 Computer Games 2012 (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.

And;

“1. Computer games that:

(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);” will be Refused Classification.

Also, pursuant to the Guidelines for the Classification of computer games, computer games will be Refused Classification if they contain: “Descriptions or depictions of child sexual abuse or any other exploitative or offensive descriptions or depictions involving a person who is, or who appears to be, a child under 18 years.”

Computer games that exceed the R18+ classification category will be Refused Classification. At the R 18+ classification, the Guidelines state:

“Implied sexual violence that is visually depicted, interactive, not justified by context or related to incentives or rewards is not permitted”.

This game features animated sequences depicting sexual violence which also features a child character. While the Board acknowledges that the game is satirical in tone and intent, the content exceeds what can be accommodated within the R18+ guidelines.

Examples include but are not limited to the following:

The interactive animated sequence titled Alien Probing features buttock-nude male characters, captured by aliens, repeatedly having an oversized, phallic probe thrust into their buttocks. The probe is repeatedly thrust in and out, mimicking sexual thrusting and accompanied by squelching sound effects. The adult characters’ voices and comments suggest that they are sedated or deeply asleep and, while one character, Mr Slave, seems to find the probing pleasurable and says “can we try the big silver one again”, no indication of explicit or implicit consent is viewed in the sequence, the characters are secured to the tables and comments made by probed characters include “Not that way!”, “Oh God no! Shut it off! And “no no no that kills! Switch it back!”. The child character, referred to as “the new kid”, never speaks, but is viewed being dragged across the ground, a look of fright on his face, before being placed on the table. As the probe implicitly enters his buttocks, he grimaces in pain. After the probe has been removed, the Randy Marsh character comments that “this is the kind of stuff you put up with living in a remote mountain town”. While the probe is inserted, the player is given instructions to bring about a “dragonshout” which, if carried out successfully, causes the new kid character to fart flames which causes the probe to be destroyed. The probe breaks off in the new kid’s anus.

A minority of the Board is of the view that game contains thematic content which, due to the interactive nature of the sequence, also warrants Refused Classification. The sequence is set in an abortion clinic with male characters disguised as females. The player controls the doctor’s hands and repeatedly thrusts a length of wire between the patient’s splayed legs (implicitly to bring about an abortion) before applying a vacuum device to the patient’s genital region (below screen). A minority of the Board is of the view that, due to the interactivity of this sequence, it is very high in impact and offends against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults to the extent that it should not be classified.

OTHER MATTERS CONSIDERED OR NOTED

The Board notes that the Guidelines state that “interactivity is an important consideration that the Board must take into account when classifying computer games”. The Guidelines also state “due to the interactive nature of computer games and the active repetitive movement of the participant, as a general rule computer games may have a higher impact than similarly themed depictions of the classifiable elements in film”.

Decision:

This game is Refused Classification.

– Classification Board report

Submission No. 2 – Nov. 7 – RC

There is no entry for this in the National Classification Database.

Player Attack and IGN both obtained this and the following report from the Classification Board. Their in-depth articles are quoted extensively below.

December 18, 2013
This is an attempt at a compromise. Both the Alien Probe sequence and the abortion clinic are still featured in the game. While only a minority objects to the abortion scene, the aliens are highlighted again as a problem. The interactive sequence “which visually depicts implied sexual violence involving a child character and adult characters” must be completed in order to continue with the game.

“While the Board acknowledges that the game is satirical in tone, intent and context, is based on, and true to, the SOUTH PARK television series, and that limited modifications have been made to the original game, this modified version includes visually depicted, implied sexual violence and, as such, exceeds what can be accommodated within the R18+ classification.”

The Alien Probe scene is detailed further – the probes “visually resemble penises”, and we’re told that only “some” of the adults being probed are sedated or asleep, with others expressing “both a lack of consent and pain experienced”.

Randy Marsh, who suggests that this is normal behaviour in a “remote mountain town” is, in turn, strapped to the table and probed. The new kid player character is given instructions on how to destroy the probe.

The Board observes that while these scenes are interactive, the player input is related solely to “destroying or disabling the probes”, and at no point does the player interact in an act of sexual violence.

“The Board notes that a scene in which characters make repeated verbal references to the character Kenny being raped can be accommodated within the R18+ classification as the references are verbal, no visual depiction of sexual violence is viewed and the implicit sexual violence has no interactive elements”

– South Park: The Stick of Truth – the offensive bits
– playerattack.com [dead link]

December 19, 2013
“Again, while the Board acknowledges that the game is satirical in tone, intent and context, is based on, and true to, the SOUTH PARK television series, and that limited modifications have been made to the original game, this modified version includes visually depicted, implied sexual violence and, as such, exceeds what can be accommodated within the R18+ classification,” the report reads.

– Anal probes caused South Park: The Stick of Truth’s Pain Down Under
article @ ign.com

Submission No. 3 – Nov. 21 – R18+

This submission was made under the title CODENAME.

It was passed as R18+ (High impact crude humour, Sex scenes and References to sexual violence).

The extended classification information describes,
High impact: themes, violence, sex
Strong impact: language, nudity

The National Classification Database entry was later changed from CODENAME to SOUTH PARK: THE STICK OF TRUTH (PC).

South Park: The Stick of Truth (2013) - Game Cover 1
PlayStation 3 Cover

December 18, 2013
The entire scenario of graphic, non-consensual alien probes has been removed. In its place, the Board finds:

“At several stages throughout the level which involves the player character being abducted and taken aboard an alien spacecraft, text appears onscreen which describes instances of sexual violence. The text includes “aliens forcibly probe your rectum with a dildo-shaped probe”, “probe his ass with violent force” and “causing his anal probe to penetrate him over and over”.

Rather than compromise on the problematic content, Stone, Parker, the team at Obsidian and the publishers at Ubisoft simply removed it altogether, and make no shame or attempt to hide it. The textual references – even as they describe the inappropriate content of earlier editions – is considered to be “comedic in intent”.

But the kicker? The descriptive messages appear on-screen accompanied by a still image of a crying koala and large, red text reading simply: “CENSORED”.

– South Park: The Stick of Truth – the offensive bits
– playerattack.com [dead link]

December 19, 2013
The ACB report describes the offending sequence has changed to segments of text in this version.

“At several stages throughout the level which involves the player character being abducted and taken aboard an alien spacecraft text appears on screen which describes instances of sexual violence,” goes the report. “The text includes “aliens forcibly probe your rectum with a dildo-shaped probe”, “probe his ass with violent force” and “causing his anal probe to penetrate him over and over.”

“The references are comedic in intent and are accompanied by a still image of a koala crying and the word “censored” written in large red text.”

The ACB explains that because these references to sexual violence “are justified by context, not visually depicted, interactive or related to incentives or rewards” they can be accommodated within the R18+ rating.

– Anal probes caused South Park: The Stick of Truth’s Pain Down Under
article @ ign.com

Submission No. 4 – December 12, 2013 – R18+

On 12 December 2013, the game was rated for the fourth time. This was the first under the SOUTH PARK: THE STICK OF TRUTH title.

This multi-platform submission received the same rating and extended classification information as the one on November 21 that was made for the PC.

European censored version

In early 2014, it was revealed that Europe would also be getting a modified version of the game.

February 2014
7 scenes of about 20 seconds each are censored in the EMEA console versions of SOUTH PARK: THE STICK OF TRUTH. The decision to cut this content from the game was made by Ubisoft EMEA.

These scenes include:
A mini-game where a doctor is performing an abortion on the player.
A mini-game where the player is performing an abortion on the character Randy.
Five ‘anal probing’ scenes in which characters are ‘actively’ being probed. These scenes play out as normal before and after the active probing sequences.
Each censored scene is replaced by an image background and a description text selected by Matt and Trey.

– South Park: The Stick of Truth
– Ubisoft Review Guide

Australian censored version

Meanwhile, in Australia, Ubisoft commented on what would be missing from the R18+ version. The game was released worldwide in early March 2014.

February 26, 2014
Ubisoft can confirm SOUTH PARK: THE STICK OF TRUTH was initially refused classification by the Australian Classification Board and a slightly modified version has now been approved for release, under the guidance of R18+.

No full sequences have been removed from the game, only small sections amounting to less than five minutes of game play. These modifications in no way detract from the narrative of the game, meaning the player will still enjoy an authentic SOUTH PARK experience.

– Ubisoft statement

Crying Koala No. 1 vs. Uncensored

South Park: The Stick of Truth (2013) - Crying Koala 1
Censored crying koala

December 2013
Sorry Australia, you’re not able to play this section of the game. In this part Mr. Mackey, Craig, Mr. Slave, and you have been abducted. They are bound to high tables, still appear to be asleep, and are being thoroughly probed through their anuses.

– South Park: The Stick of Truth – Australian Version
South Park: The Stick of Truth (2013) - Mr. Mackey gets an anal probe
Mr. Mackey anal probe
South Park: The Stick of Truth (2013) - Craig gets an anal probe
Craig anal probe
South Park: The Stick of Truth (2013) - Mr. Slave gets an anal probe
Mr. Slave anal probe

Crying Koala No. 2 vs. Uncensored

South Park: The Stick of Truth (2013) - Crying Koala 2
Censored crying koala

December 2013
Bad news, Australia. This part is censored for you too. Here, aliens attempt to forcibly probe your rectum with a dildo-shaped probe, but you clench your sphincter to destroy it. Then it is replaced by a bigger, blacker dildo and you are reamed again. Again, you destroy it by clenching your sphincter, and the whole machine breaks down, freeing you.

– South Park: The Stick of Truth – Australian Version
South Park: The Stick of Truth (2013) - Anal probe victim 3
Anal probe victim

Crying Koala No. 3 vs. Uncensored

South Park: The Stick of Truth (2013) - Crying Koala 3
Censored crying koala

December 2013
You lose again, Australia. This scene, where you try to disable the forcefield around Randy but instead accidently force the probing machine next to him to probe his ass with violent force, is not meant for your eyes. Randy, in obvious rectal pain, urges you to proceed onward.

– South Park: The Stick of Truth – Australian Version
South Park: The Stick of Truth (2013) - Randy gets an anal probe 1
Randy anal probe

Crying Koala No. 4 vs. Uncensored

South Park: The Stick of Truth (2013) - Crying Koala 4
Censored crying koala

December 2013
Sorry Australia, you’re not able to see or play this section of the game. In this part you interact with an alien terminal again. Each time you do, Randy is penetrated over and over again by an alien probe.

– South Park: The Stick of Truth – Australian Version
South Park: The Stick of Truth (2013) - Randy gets an anal probe 2
Randy anal probe

Crying Koala No. 5 vs. Uncensored

South Park: The Stick of Truth (2013) - Crying Koala 5
Censored crying koala

December 2013
I hope you’re sitting down Australia. Here we have a recurring joke where you think you are going to free Randy with this control console, but no matter how hard you try you just end up causing his anal probe to penetrate him over and over. Randy directs you to the third panel, across the energy bridge.

– South Park: The Stick of Truth – Australian Version
South Park: The Stick of Truth (2013) - Randy gets an anal probe 3
Randy anal probe

Koala No. 6 vs. Uncensored

South Park: The Stick of Truth (2013) - Crying Koala 6
Censored crying koala

December 2013
Great news, Australia. You and your children have been spared from the following scene: picture yourself at the third console, trying to save Randy. He is hopeful that this is the console that will save him. And it does. But not before it causes the anal probe machine in his cell to plug itself into his sphincter and ram him with great verve.

– South Park: The Stick of Truth – Australian Version
South Park: The Stick of Truth (2013) - Randy gets an anal probe 4
Randy anal probe

This YouTube clip shows the censored Australian version, while this YouTube clip contains the uncensored alien abduction walk-through.

Uncensored with PC Mod

March 13, 2014
…clever PC modders have done one better, creating a patch for the Steam version of the game that allows everyone to enjoy it fully uncensored.

You can find the patch on the Steam community forums here, and to install it, you simply need to download this file and extract it into the game’s directory. Fans are reporting that the patch works perfectly, allowing them to see the removed anal probe and abortion scenes, as well as the Nazi zombies for those users in Germany.

– South Park: The Stick of Truth’s Censorship Disabled by PC Mod
article @ escapistmagazine.com

Versions explained

August 8, 2014
On 19 September 2013 the Board classified CODENAME (Alternative title SOUTH PARK: THE STICK OF TRUTH) Refused Classification (RC). The Board received an application to classify a different version of SOUTH PARK: THE STICK OF TRUTH. Under classification legislation, any changes to a computer game make the game unclassified and therefore able to be submitted for a fresh classification decision.

On 7 November 2013, the Board classified this modified version of the game RC. The Board was of the view that content for the game exceeded the R 18+ classification, as per the Guidelines for the Classification of Computer Games which state that: “Implied sexual violence that is visually depicted, interactive, not justified by context or related to incentives or rewards is not permitted.”

On 21 November 2013, a third version of SOUTH PARK: THE STICK OF TRUTH was classified R 18+ with the consumer advice ‘High impact crude humour, sex scenes and references to sexual violence’. The Board observed that the game contained the classifiable elements of themes, sex and violence that were high in playing impact. The Board noted modifications made to this game which allowed the game to be classified R 18+. The Board further noted the game contained coarse language and nudity that could be accommodated within a lower classification.

There were 51 complaints about the computer games SOUTH PARK: THE STICK OF TRUTH being Refused Classification (RC).

– Classification Board, Annual Report 2013-2014

October 14, 2015
The Classification Board received 127 complaints about computer games.
Four of the complaints were about the Refused Classification (RC) and R 18+ decisions for the computer game SOUTH PARK: THE STICK OF TRUTH which was classified in the previous reporting period.

– Classification Board, Annual Report 2014-2015

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