In these cases, the Classification Board noted that a minority of their panel had considered that the game should be banned in Australia.
These borderline Refused Classification titles include CARMAGEDDON (1997), THOMAS AND TIM (1999), KINGPIN: LIFE OF CRIME (1999), SILENT HILL (1999) and LEFT 4 DEAD (2008).
Publisher SCi Games / 1997 / MobyGames
In June 1997, CARMAGEDDON was passed with an MA (High level animated violence) rating by the OFLC.
Hilad Corporation was the applicant.
A Board divided
October 1, 1997
Probably the most notable classification decision in the last twelve months has been the restricted MA15+ classification for the PC racing game CARMAGEDDON.
The game received quite a lot of media attention and caused some concern in the community both prior to and after its release on CD-ROM. Before being formally classified, a ‘demo’ version of the game had been (and apparently still is) available via the Internet to players of any age.
In CARMAGEDDON the player races an animated car around a track, and can gain bonus points by passing checkpoints and by driving over obstacles. Bonus points are also awarded for driving over pedestrians, and it is this aspect of the game that gained people’s attention.
Media reports concentrated on the presence in the game of ‘blind pedestrians’. This was presented erroneously as the targeting of a minority disabled group. In fact, the game contains an effect (which occurs when a particular object is run over by the car) which temporarily renders all pedestrians on screen blinded. The effect lasts for a number of seconds.
The Classification Board was divided in its opinion on the game. However, the majority were of the view that, despite the strong conceptual impact of aspects of the game, the depictions involved were unrealistic and undetailed, and the main focus in game-play was on competition and skill. These and other mitigating factors present in the game, such as an element of black humour, were noted in its decision.
The majority the Board was also of the view that the game was not appropriate for younger players and should be legally restricted to a mature audience 15 years and over.– Classification Board, Annual Report 1996-1997
In January 1998, an add-on to the original game, CARMAGEDDON SPLAT PACK (1997), was passed with an MA (High level animated violence) rating.
Again, Hilad Corporation was the applicant.
Thomas and Tim
Developed by ITE Media / 1997
In March 2000, THOMAS AND TIM was passed with an MA (Sexual references) rating by the OFLC.
Jack Of All Games was the applicant.
A mermaid breasts
September 29, 2000
THOMAS AND TIM was the game that perhaps received the most intense discussion by the Board. The debate centred on the interaction of a pirate character and a breast nude mermaid.
A minority opinion was that this element depicted sex and violence in such a way that it warranted RC, and a further minority considered it to be a mild sexual reference that could be accommodated at an M15+ classification.
The majority opinion of the Board was that this part of the game was a strong sexual reference, and the game was classified MA15+ with the consumer advice Sexual References.– Classification Board, Annual Report 1999-2000
Kingpin: Life of Crime
Publisher Interplay Entertainment / MobyGames
In July 1999, Interplay Productions had KINGPIN: LIFE OF CRIME passed with an MA (High level animated violence, High level course language) rating by the OFLC.
The applicant was Interplay Productions Australia.
September 29, 2000
KINGPIN: LIFE OF CRIME was classified MA15+, due to elements of high level violence and high level coarse language, although there was a minority Board opinion that these elements were sufficiently strong to warrant the game being classified Refused Classification.
This is a first person shooter game where you navigate through urban environments and try to become the “kingpin” of crime.– Classification Board, Annual Report 1999-2000
Publisher Konami of Europe / 1999 / MobyGames
In July 1999, SILENT HILL was passed with an MA15+ (Medium level animated violence, Horror theme) rating by the OFLC.
GT Interactive Software was the applicant.
Children & violence
September 29, 2000
SILENT HILL was also discussed at the MA/RC border. This game is essentially a first person shooter with some puzzle elements included. It has a horror setting with opponents that include zombies and werewolves.
The depictions of violence and bloodshed are similar to other games in this genre and with an MA15+ classification. The setting is in a deserted town and the player passes between ‘real’ and ‘haunted’ versions of the town during game play. The townscape includes the deserted school which apparently has walls covered in blood.
The minority opinion was that the school setting for some of the violent elements of the game (although no children are depicted in the game) offends against the standards of morality and decency generally accepted by reasonable adults to the extent that the game should be classified RC, but the majority opinion was that the horror scenario and lack of detail militate against the impact of the violence.
The game was classified MA15+, with consumer advice of Medium Level Animated Violence and Horror Theme.– Classification Board, Annual Report 1999-2000
See the SILENT HILL: HOMECOMING (2008) entry for more information about the banned sequel.
Left 4 Dead
Publisher Valve Corporation / 2008 / MobyGames
In September 2008, LEFT 4 DEAD was passed with an MA15+ (Strong Violence) rating.
Electronic Arts were the applicant.
Too violent for MA15+
Board Report T08/4034
Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995
Details of the Computer Game:
FILE No T08/4034
Title: LEFT 4 DEAD
Format: Nintendo DS
Production Co: VALVE
Country Of Origin: USA
Application Type: Comp Game Assessed Level 1
Applicant: ELECTRONIC ARTS
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
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
(1) Classification: MA 15+
(2) Consumer Advice: Strong violence
This zombie style first person shooter game pits the player, a “survivor” and one of a team of five against numerous “infected” beings. The player can also assume the perspective of one of five “Boss” infected characters.
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), including the matters set out in sections 9A and 11 of 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.
The game contains violence that is strong in impact and justified by context.
The violence can be by way of shooting, being hit with a variety of missiles, immolation, or in hand to hand combat. The violence is accompanied by copious blood spray, blood pooling and occasional dismemberment and atomising of victims. 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. The soundtrack contains sound effects associated with violence including moderate coarse language, pleas of victims and the guttural moans and roars of the creatures. The scenario is typical of this genre and the storyline is fanciful, acting to lower impact.
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. In the absence of a classification at the R18+ level for computer games, this game in the minority view is therefore assessed at RC in accordance with item 1(d) of the computer games table of the National Classification Code.
This computer game is classified MA 15+ with consumer advice of strong violence.
The classification decision is based on section 21A of the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 which 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
See the LEFT FOR DEAD 2 (2009) entry for more information about the banned sequel.