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Censorship Role Playing (Games) Entertainment Games

Australian Ban On Fallout 3 – Why? 166

Posted by timothy
from the morphine's-a-stimulant-in-upside-down-land dept.
LSU_ADT_Geek writes "What could possibly be so controversial in upcoming E3 2008 headliner Fallout 3 that the Australian government would impose a dreaded 'RC' rating on Bethesda's upcoming tertiary post-apocalyptic RPG? No one knows for sure, but speculation is that the optional use of drugs in the game — specifically the option to employ morphine as a stimulant — may underlie the Aussie classification board blacklisting."
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Australian Ban On Fallout 3 – Why?

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  • by ZzzzSleep (606571) on Thursday July 10, 2008 @02:05AM (#24130593) Homepage Journal

    From the screenplay blog http://blogs.theage.com.au/screenplay/archives//009975.html [theage.com.au]

    POSTAL (aka LOOSE CANNON) Computer Games
    CD-ROM Refused Classification 28/10/1997

    GRAND THEFT AUTO III Review (Other)
    PlayStation 2. Refused Classification 29/11/2001

    BMX XXX Computer Games
    Multi Platform. Refused Classification 16/10/2002

    THE GETAWAY Computer Games
    PlayStation 2. Refused Classification 27/11/2002

    SHELLSHOCK NAM67 Computer Games
    Multi Platform. Refused Classification 22/06/2004

    LEISURE SUIT LARRY : MAGNA CUM LAUDE Computer Games
    Multi Platform. Refused Classification 09/09/2004

    MANHUNT Review (CG)
    PlayStation 2. Refused Classification 29/09/2004

    SINGLES FLIRT UP YOUR LIFE Computer Games
    PC Refused Classification 21/10/2004

    THE PUNISHER Computer Games
    Multi Platform. Refused Classification 23/11/2004

    NARC Computer Games
    Multi Platform. Refused Classification 08/04/2005

    POSTAL 2 SHARE THE PAIN Computer Games
    PC Refused Classification 10/10/2005

    50 CENT BULLETPROOF Computer Games
    Multi Platform. Refused Classification 24/10/2005

    MARC ECKO'S GETTING UP: CONTENTS UNDER PRESSURE Computer Games
    Multi Platform. Refused Classification 14/02/2006

    RESERVOIR DOGS Computer Games
    Multi Platform. Refused Classification 23/06/2006

    BLITZ THE LEAGUE Computer Games
    Multi Platform. Refused Classification 17/01/2007

    SOLDIER OF FORTUNE: PAYBACK Computer Games
    Multi Platform. Refused Classification 16/10/2007

    DARK SECTOR Computer Games
    Multi Platform. Refused Classification 13/02/2008

    SHELLSHOCK 2: BLOOD TRAILS Computer Games
    Multi Platform. Refused Classification 20/06/2008

    FALLOUT 3 Computer Games
    Multi Platform. Refused Classification 04/07/2008

    • by donaldm (919619) on Thursday July 10, 2008 @03:23AM (#24130961)
      The problem is that game censorship in Australia only goes to R15+ which still falls into the Child category. The only way to get games that are adult is to have a R18+ category however the present Government (Labour) as well as the previous Government (Liberal) don't appear to be interested in passing legislation for a R18+ category. It is not intransigence on the part of the gaming lobby groups since they really want this category it is the Government.

      Of course (puts on tin-foil hat) all Governments appear to like the "think of the children" slogan which can be a good vote getter, so if you can prevent or stall an R18+ classification the Government can milk the save the children platform (or rant) for all it's worth then they are perceived as protecting society.

      That is why IMHO I think most Government officials are "Technological Cretins" (we like to call them "idiots" and other more colourful words as well).
      • by ZzzzSleep (606571)
        I'm just waiting for Michael Atkinson to get hit by a clue-by-four, or for SA to get themselves a useful attorney general. I may be waiting for a while...
        • by unfunk (804468)
          Yeah. This issue, coupled with the fact that both parties in our state are a bunch of morons, is prompting me to vote Liberal at the next election...
          • by Malekin (1079147)

            You're angry over an issue of overly conservative social policy and so you're going to vote for Australia's largest socially conservative party?

      • by bh_doc (930270)

        The problem is that game censorship in Australia only goes to R15+ which still falls into the Child category.

        It's supposed to be called "classification" (and that should be "M15+", not "R15+"). But your version is probably closer to the truth.

        The only way to get games that are adult is to have a R18+ category however the present Government (Labour) as well as the previous Government (Liberal) don't appear to be interested in passing legislation for a R18+ category. It is not intransigence on the part of t

    • by mjwx (966435) on Thursday July 10, 2008 @03:35AM (#24131013)
      As an Australian please let me say, the Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC) needs to be beaten upside the head with a Cluebat, repeatedly. The only reason any of those games were banned is because Australia does not have an R18+ rating for video games so if it isn't M15+ it cant possibly get classification (yet it's there for Films, Books, Comics, portraits and artwork FFS). The OFLC did vote on an R18+ classification but voted against it because the idiot Attorney Generals had no understanding of the media involved.

      Well there's always play-aisa [play-asia.com], an online store based in HK. good for cheap PC and PS3 games (don't have a PS3 so don't quote me on that) but not for xbox and Wii due to region gouging, I mean coding

      Not only does it get around the OFLC (as long as its not banned, refusing classification just prohibits Australian retailers from selling it but you can still buy and import it from another country), it is also cheaper than going to EB games ($90 AU is now $84 US, so why am I paying nearly twice as much for a game when the same game is $49 US on Play-Asia even with US$10 for P&H).
      • by ZzzzSleep (606571)
        Oh... don't get me started on local/import prices. It just drives me nuts...
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Caged (24585)

        Actually it is illegal to import Restricted Classification items into Australia. Importing your average Hentai or a RC computer game will get you spanked by Customs officials and the police.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Deuterium224 (1136881)
          Surely anyone importing Hentai games would enjoy being spanked by Customs officials?
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by deek (22697)

          For the most part, Customs officials don't care, or just don't realise that something is on the Restricted Classification list.

          They're after the _actual_ dangerous stuff. Drugs, weapons, dangerous chemicals, etc. For the most part, they really don't give a stuff if some crusty group of conservatives say some movie or game is restricted. The customs officials will just go about their job as usual.

          Of course, if you get some overzealous official, then you'll have difficulty, but otherwise, they really don't

      • The main regions are: * Asia (NTSC-J) * North America (NTSC U/C) * Europe and Oceania (PAL, PAL/E) * China (NTSC-C)

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regional_lockout#Video_games [wikipedia.org]

        And because Australia would be considered in Oceania, wouldn't that mean that you can import European games even for systems with lockout? Because as far as I know all of them use that, with the slight exception for Nintendo which releases Commodore 64 Virtual Console games that get released in Europe but not Australia.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by drsmithy (35869)
      "Refused classification" is not the same as "banned". There is a subtle, but important difference.
    • by mcvos (645701)

      From the screenplay blog http://blogs.theage.com.au/screenplay/archives//009975.html [theage.com.au]

      [snip]

      Interestingly, Bioshock is rated MA15+ [classification.gov.au], because apparently harvesting your recreational stimulants from little girls' bodies isn't anywhere near as bad as paying money for them.

      The first thing I thought when I read this was: they just refused classification, right? That's not the same thing as banning. While mainstream shops won't sell it, surely it's still legally possible to buy it in some other way? Apparently not. From the Classification website [classification.gov.au]:

      Computer games that have been Refused Classification (RC) cannot be sold, hired or demonstrated in Australia.

      Sounds like Australians are out of luck. (Unless Fallout 3

      • by ZzzzSleep (606571)

        The first thing I thought when I read this was: they just refused classification, right? That's not the same thing as banning. While mainstream shops won't sell it, surely it's still legally possible to buy it in some other way?

        I've heard that we're allowed to privately import it, but I haven't seen it anywhere official, so I'd love to know exactly what the law says we can and can't do here.

      • Sounds like Australians are out of luck. (Unless Fallout 3 turns into an Oblivion clone, in which case nobody cares.)

        But on the back of my import Nintendo games there is a big warning saying "For sale, rental and use only in Japan" yet I import games all the time. Then again, I am in the US, and here you can even buy games with no ESRB ratings.

        • by hedwards (940851)

          I believe that is because Nintendo doesn't want to have materials meant for one market available in a different one. Sega wasn't wild about that either.

          Back in the day the main reason for the master/genesis difference was so that you couldn't play games that were sent to the other market. I believe now you can buy a combo unit that will play both, but back then you had to get the console itself.

  • by DaedalusHKX (660194) on Thursday July 10, 2008 @02:06AM (#24130597) Journal

    Heh, people kept voting for the idiot who promised them more largesse and more "safety" programs. Well, the safest place in our world is strapped to a bed in a concrete bunker without anything nearby that can be "harmful" or "potentially harmful". As a result, you people get what you vote for, what you beg for, and what you desire. Safety. If you don't want safety, then its best to stop voting and start living. I'm sure I've beaten this horse to death.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by maglor_83 (856254)

      Its the South Australian Attorney-General who is the problem. All the others have agreed to an R18 rating, but it has to be unanimous. That said, lately he has (slowly) been backing down and I have hopes that it won't be too long before it gets through.

      Of course, then the console manufacturers also have to allow R18 games to be run...

  • From TFA:
    In 2002, Grand Theft Auto III was tagged with an RC-rating until Rockstar removed the option for players to solicit sex from prostitutes. Players could of course still kill them, underscoring the bizarre intercultural disconnect between wanton murder (AOK!) and the biological act of procreation (impolite and evil!).

    Now that's just hilarious. Altho I suppose prostitution has nothing to do with procreation.

    • by gbjbaanb (229885)

      That's just fine, in the double standards of today sex and drugs are bad, but violence is practically state-sponsored. Thank god politicians forget all they knew about rock n roll when they get elected.

      I blame the Victorians.

      • by maglor_83 (856254)

        I blame the Victorians

        Actually its the South Australian Attorney-General holding out on the R18 classification.

    • Re:Hilarious (Score:4, Informative)

      by Merls the Sneaky (1031058) on Thursday July 10, 2008 @03:07AM (#24130863)

      What is even more bizzare is that in Australia prostitution is legal.

      • I can't speak for the other states, but in Western Australia prostitution isn't legal, but the powers that be tend to turn a blind eye to it (except in the case of streetwalkers, as it is considered to attract unsavoury characters to the areas that said streetwalkers are plying their trade)
      • Re:Hilarious (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Hektor_Troy (262592) on Thursday July 10, 2008 @09:42AM (#24134183)

        Why is that bizzare?

        To quote George Carlin:

        I do not understand why prostituion is illegal. Selling is legal. Fucking is legal. Why isn't selling fucking legal?

        People talk about sex-slaves being forced to sell themselves for money. That's kidnapping and forced coercion and I'm pretty sure we have laws against that in most countries.

        Think about it - if prostitution was legal, these slaves wouldn't be scared about going to the police, because they wouldn't risk prison and being sent out of the country they're in.

        • Why is that bizzare?
          You must have missed the ancestor thread. The game was banned until the ability to pay a prostitute was removed, but doing that in real life is legal.

    • by quenda (644621)

      > removed the option for players to solicit sex from prostitutes. Players could of course still kill them,

      In movies in Australia, you can have strong sex scenes, or violence, but not together. Thats probably what happened with the game.

    • by Carewolf (581105)

      It is not inter-cultural just Anglo-Saxon. Probably some residual victorianism.

  • Why? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Stormwatch (703920) <rodrigogirao@hotmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Thursday July 10, 2008 @02:09AM (#24130619) Homepage
    Because we can. Because we know what's good for you. Oh, and think of the children, or something.
  • Is to help Australian nerds the butt of "in Soviet Australia" jokes.

  • Gee, I wonder? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Grey Ninja (739021) on Thursday July 10, 2008 @02:10AM (#24130625) Homepage Journal
    I wonder if that [kotaku.com.au] might have something to do with it?

    Word has it that that the OFLC may only give out R18+ ratings on games when there is unanimous support from all the attorney generals in Australia. And they all agree it should be allowed, except for one asshat [wikipedia.org] who wants to think of the children.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by invader_vim (1243902)

      Yep, sad but true. I encourage all South Australian – hell, all Australian /.ers – to let him know [alp.org.au] your feelings.

      As always, keep it polite and intelligent. Show him that we are mature enough to make up our own minds about what we deem appropriate for our own personal gaming pleasure.

      • I think it is funny to think you could possibly know what is best for you. Think of how horrible your country would be if adults had good video games?

    • Re:Gee, I wonder? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Malekin (1079147) on Thursday July 10, 2008 @03:21AM (#24130953)

      Please, show a little respect. You may not agree with him but you shouldn't call him an asshat - the correct term in this case is arsehat.

    • From your link:

      Corresponding with the list of various "chems" are small visual representation of the drugs, these include syringes, tablets, pill bottles, a crack-type pipe and blister packs. In the Board's view these realistic visual representations of drugs and their delivery method bring the "science-fiction" drugs in line with "real-world" drugs.

      Yet in Saints Row (Xbox360) it was perfectly OK to smoke a bong and go driving around stoned? Maybe weed isn't "science-fiction" enough for refusal of classification.

  • Mother (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Xonstantine (947614) on Thursday July 10, 2008 @02:12AM (#24130633)

    Hush, my baby. Baby, don't you cry.
    Momma's gonna make all of your nightmares come true.
    Momma's gonna put all of her fears into you.
    Momma's gonna keep you right here under her wing.
    She won't let you fly, but she might let you sing.
    Momma's gonna keep Baby cozy and warm.

    Hush, my baby. Baby, don't you cry.
    Momma's gonna check out all your girlfriends for you.
    Momma won't let anyone dirty get through.
    Momma's gonna wait up until you get in.
    Momma will always find out where you've been.
    Momma's gonna keep Baby healthy and clean.

    Replace Momma with the nanny state, and you get the general idea. You are all children, unfit to make your own decisions about how you are going to live your own life.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by CRCulver (715279)
      Of all the noble and respected philosophers you could have quoted, you quote from an early 1980s rock concept album envisioned by a dude now widely reviled for the pomoposity of his lyrics?
      • I didn't really think Kant or Godel would be appropriate here.

        • by Nasajin (967925)
          Maybe not Kant or Godel, but Theodor Adorno springs to mind, as does Walter Lippman. Adorno being the man that showed unbounded contempt for the intelligence of the 'mass audience' and describing inital functions of state and corporate run hegemonic systems, and Walter Lippman for encouraging their usage to control the 'ignorant masses.'
        • by krilli (303497)

          I didn't really think Kant or Godel would be appropriate here.

          Don't worry about CRCulver, he's simply worried - on your behalf - about what people think. The "right" thing for you to have done was to quote an Approved Philosopher that has already been quoted by someone else, and that is not seen as pompous by Someone Else.

          Someone else that isn't here.

          I approve of your quote it was kind of awesome actually, though my approval doesn't count, as sadly I can't be a Someone Else as I am real.

        • by S3D (745318)

          I didn't really think Kant or Godel would be appropriate here.

          Goedel [wikipedia.org] would probably think it's an intricate conspiracy to kill him.

      • Who exactly is doing this wide reviling of his lyrics? I never even heard of that before (and I even checked Wikipedia's article on Roger Waters to see if I was missing something). My circle of friends tends to love Pink Floyd, the lyrics most of all.

        You seem to think that his lyrics are "pomopous", but I think they are insightful and I'm obviously not the only one who thinks so. They are very relevant to some people, not just him. But honestly, even if they were only relevant to him, would that make
        • by crotherm (160925)

          He just doesn't get them. Pink Floyd is one of Rock's true gems. Consider the album Animals . It is a great critique of the condition of man. The album art was also very good.

          • I bought the Roger Waters "The Wall: Live in Berlin" SACD not so long ago, and it is absolutely fantastic. I was 9 years old when that concert was held, and I wouldn't have understood had I been there.

            It's things like that, that make me really wish I had lived during such times. That concert must have been powerful to those who had lived in Berlin during the Cold War. I had but a small taste from the SACD. But it was good.

            And yes, completely agreed. Animals was a fantastic album. Whatever happen
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by RWerp (798951)
        Oh oh, we're snobbish, aren't we?
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Jedi Alec (258881)

        Of all the noble and respected philosophers you could have quoted, you quote from an early 1980s rock concept album envisioned by a dude now widely reviled for the pomoposity of his lyrics?

        For a moment there I read that as "pornoposity" and I was like "what? wtf? where?" before opening my entire pink floyd playlist.

    • by LanMan04 (790429)

      "Mother, do you think they'll drop the bomb?"

      God that song is so depressing. I 3 The Wall as a whole though.

    • by Nazlfrag (1035012)

      Amazing that this is part of our cultural history, yet the impact of its influence means nothing politically, it just helps us be more comfortable while our arse is slammed tight in the trap.

      Fuck it, break down those walls you slack bastards!

  • by Tallweirdo (657529) on Thursday July 10, 2008 @02:16AM (#24130651)

    A copy of the OFLC Board Report on Fallout 3 can be found at Australian Gamer [australiangamer.com].

    Basically, Fallout 3 has been refused classification because the majority of the Board consider that the use of "Chems" and specifically the Morphine chem to provide advantages in combat contravene the National Classification Code.

    From the text of the report it appears that renaming the Morphine chem to 'Painkillers'(or some other generic name that is not a prescription drug) and changing the icons presented in the menu for selecting chems will be sufficient to get the game classified MA15+.

    I have no idea why Fallout 3 has been singled out like this when other games such as Max Payne, Bioshock, Haze and the original Fallout games all have similar drug use.

    • From the text of the report it appears that renaming the Morphine chem to 'Painkillers(or some other generic name that is not a prescription drug)' and changing the icons presented in the menu for selecting chems will be sufficient to get the game classified MA15+.

      Not sure about Bioshock, but if I recall correctly none of the others had use of "real" drugs.
      Painkillers in Max Payne, Nectar in Haze and various imaginary drugs in Fallouts (Mentats, Buffouts, Jet... etc.).
      Imaginary drugs are OK. You can't ban something based on depiction of misuse of something that is imaginary.

      Hell... Buffouts in Fallout had those little crosses (+) on them.
      You could claim that (since it is an imaginary drug) that it is actually the power of Jesus that gives your character extra strengt

    • by Nazlfrag (1035012)

      Australia has a big difficulty with heroin abuse. We have shooting galleries where addicts can shoot up safely, methadone programs that sate the addicts with dangerous pharmaceuticals, yet we still have a serious heroin problem. We are close to many south east asian countries which produce opium in large quantities, and are the recipient of these illegal imports.

      While this is just the typical reactionary 'protect the children' bullshit it does have a fairly legitimate basis in trying to reduce the impact of

  • http://www.kotaku.com.au/games/2008/07/olfc_report_why_fallout_3_was_banned_in_australia.html [kotaku.com.au]

    In summary: from the OFLC report, it was the drug usage in the game. More information in the article.

    It's pretty sad really. I wonder when Michael Atkinson will step down from office, so that we can actually get a forward thinking attorney general for South Australia.

    In the meantime, we import.

  • Stimulant? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Psychotria (953670) on Thursday July 10, 2008 @02:54AM (#24130807)
    Since when has morphine been considered a stimulant?
    • by crossmr (957846)

      I'm allergic to codeine (and probably morphine as well, but I've never taken it). It makes me hyper and paranoid.

      • by erikina (1112587)
        That is just an allergic reaction to codeine (and not the morphine it breaks down to). Might not be a bad idea to have a small dose to test. Anyway, the GP is correct, morphine is certainly not a stimulant. But in the game it is not really used as such, more a way to ignore damage. (Although, they really should have used PCP)

        And in reply to the article - As an Australian I feel as if the government has lost touch. I haven't refined the thought, but I don't like the idea of political parties. It always end
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      While morphine itself isn't a stimulant (it's classified as a central nervous system depressant), clinical research suggests that one of its metabolites (morphine-6-glucoride) acts as a stimulant and at high plasma concentrations can provoke seisures. That being said, the usage of it in the game is out of context. Morphine-induced analgesia works is more likely to sedate you than allow you to ignore physical damage.

  • by plasmacutter (901737) on Thursday July 10, 2008 @03:13AM (#24130895)

    It's as if millions of australians fired up their ebay and bit torrent clients.

    • by mjwx (966435) on Thursday July 10, 2008 @03:46AM (#24131075)
      You mean there's a million of us Aussies that didn't have them open already,

      There's always a 6 month delay between when a show is aired in the US and when they air it in Australia (supposedly they've cut that down to a few hours or days, they say streamed live form the US but I doubt Americans are watching Lost at 3 AM) but I can verify that as I stopped watching TV years ago. Beyond that we're sick of being bombarded with ads, many of us will not pay upwards of A$50 a month for Foxtel (Pay/Cable TV) to be bombarded with ads and many good shows just aren't aired over here.
      • There's always a 6 month delay between when a show is aired in the US and when they air it in Australia

        Same around here (Denmark). Sure, part of it comes from texting (we don't dub anything but children's programs), but one of the niche channels manages to show The Daily Show (fully texted and ads removed) with two to three days delay. With the time difference that's down to between 37 to 63 hours.

        Very respectable, especially when they manage to do really nice translations of puns and jokes that wouldn't wo

  • I'm all for anything that boosts The Piratebay's ad revenue. Bethesda should sue the OFLC for this, as it directly harms their sales.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 10, 2008 @04:04AM (#24131165)

    Simple. Australian law only allows for games to be rated MA15+ (suitable for fifteen year olds and higher) at the strongest. In fact, this is the only restricted rating available to games in Australia; as all others are merely guidelines. This game was deemed unsuitable for fifteen year olds and therefore had to be unrated.

    NZ law allows video games to have the same ratings as movies, so the game could take an R16 or R18 rating here. It's not uncommon for us to see video games for sale that have "banned in Australia" as an advertising gimmick (and usually carrying an R16 or R18 rating). Also, the increased range allows the NZ cheif censor to have more descretion in dealing with things like this. See here [gameplanet.co.nz].

    US law doesn't have any ratings at all (merely industry guidelines.)

  • by jollyreaper (513215) on Thursday July 10, 2008 @06:42AM (#24131809)

    Fallout is an obvious competitor to the Australian national saga. Iceland has its sagas, India is vedas, and Australia has Mad Max. This is just protectionism.

  • The lack of an adult category for games is just a continuing embarrassment for Australia. What's more, they don't even seem to be consistent. In the 2005 Xbox game 'Call of Cthulhu', you use Morphine in the exact way it's been described in Fallout 3, yet (thankfully, as it's a favourite game of mine) it was released under the MA15+ rating. From the game's manual:"Because it's renowned as a potent pain blocker, morphine is provided to Jack to help subdue pain that may otherwise prevent rapid movement or st
  • ... it's now easier to buy actual morphine or heroin from your friendly dealer down the street, than an actual copy of Fallout 3 from a retailer.

    Now isn't that an improvement?

    (ducks)

    Sorry, couldn't resist.

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