Left 4 Dead 2

The latest game to be refused classification in Australia is Valve Software's Left 4 Dead 2. The game, similar to the original inception, can be considered as a classic "zombie shoot-em-up" game featuring four protagonists fighting for survival whilst facing hordes of zombie-like humans afflicted with a rabies-like disease. Whilst classic zombie shoot-em-up games featured slow-moving zombies, the "infected" in Left 4 Dead 2 can run, and run quickly. The game features rather gratuitous amounts of blood and gore which is seemingly typical of violent shoot-em-up games such as this.

The Classification Board mentions "High impact violence" as the general overview of why the game has been banned in Australia. The Australian arm of internet gaming blog Kotaku followed the progress of the announcement, banning and appeal processes of the game in Australia and described the report given to fellow internet and gaming site IGN AU and online news source News.com.au. The report stated:

"* The game contains violence that is high in impact and is therefore unsuitable for persons aged under 18 texternal image 500x_custom_1252051973974_c2m2_fairgrounds0050_NewA.jpgo play.
  • It notes that this violence is “inflicted upon ‘the Infected’ who are living humans infected with a rabies-like virus that causes them to act violently”.
  • The report singles out the use of melee weapons as those that “inflict the most damage” and cause “copious amounts of blood spray and splatter (sic), decapitations and limb dismemberment.. or even cause intestines to spill from the wounds”.
  • In conclusion, the Board finds that the “interactive nature of the game increases the overall impact of the frequent and intense depictions of violence. This coupled with the graphic depictions of blood and gore combine to create a playing impact which is high.”
  • Interestingly, the report also reveals that it wasn’t a unanimous decision and that “a minority of the Board is of the opinion that the violence is strong in playing impact and therefore warrants an MA15+ classification” instead. However, the majority voted to refuse classification." Here's Why Left 4 Dead 2 Was Banned In Australia | Kotaku Australia (September 17, 2009)

One week later Kotaku reported that Valve Software, the publishers of Left 4 Dead 2, appealed Australia's refusal to classify the game. Game Developer, Founder and Managing Director of Valve Software, Gabe Newell admitted he was surprised that the sequel Left 4 Dead 2 had received different treatment to the original Left 4 Dead game. After resubmitting an edited version of the new game, Kotaku reported on October 8 that Left 4 Dead 2 had been given an MA15+ classification. The Classification Board described that the Australian-specific version of the game would “no longer contain[s] depictions of decapitations, dismemberment, wound detail, or piles of bodies lying about the environment”. The new game had been reported to give players the ability to use melee weapons including baseball bats and chainsaws, allowing for elements such as decapitation and dismemberment to be introduced into the game. This change from the original game may have been seen as the defining element in the banning and censorship of the game. The official ruling of the appeal is expected to be made on October 22.

Grand Theft Auto IV

The Grand Theft Auto series began in 1997 and was created by Rockstar North, a computer and video game developer.

The release of Grand Theft Auto IV in Australia on April 29, 2008 was met with a classification and edited version of the game by The Office of Film and Literature Classification . This decision was enforced in order to achieve an MA15+ rating. However, the game had been cautioned to be containing 'strong violence, strong course language, drug and sexual references' (SMH, 2008). But this was the not the first time the game had been censored, as 2002's Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and 2005's Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas also had edited versions of the game released.
The cover  of Grand Theft Auto IV
The cover of Grand Theft Auto IV

Currently, an R18+ rating does not exist here in Australia therefore, material had to be omitted from the game to meet the requirements of the system. Supporters of the game argue that Australia needs to lift the rating from MA15+, and take a similar stance to countries overseas. For instance, the UK, Germany and New Zealand all gave a R18+ rating for the game and the North American market had placed an M17+ rating.

However, criticism still surrounds the game for its stimulated sex and violence content. In New Zealand for example, GTA IV had been cleared with an R18+ rating with the warning 'contains violence, offensive language and sex scenes' (The Dominion Post, 2008). Supporters of the unedited version argued that gamers were unhappy for the restrictions placed on buying the edited Australian version of the game and stressed that the game was for adults only, not children (The Dominion Post, 2008). The new rating and the re-release of GTA IV was a result of an Auckland student who paid to submit the game to censors, which led to its clearance and its sale of an uncut version as a R18+ game instead.

Should Australia have followed the actions of New Zealand with the release of an unedited version of the game? Is it time that we introduce a R18+ rating to the system?

The problem with simply raising the classification to R18+ is that it assumes people over this age are somehow immune to the content of these games. The fear is that there are many people with psychological problems (including anger and violence problems) that may be exacerbated by exposing themselves to these games. I'm not sure adding an extra classification age is going to solve any problems as they serve their purpose best as a general guide as to what age they are appropriate for. In the case of Grand Theft Auto I don't see much point in placing it as an R18+ game when placing it in the MA15+ would be sufficient in advising buyers of the kind of people it would appeal to and to what age group it is appropriate. In short however, I believe most games should be allowed to be sold as we all should have the right to buy what we want within the legal limits.


RapeLay box cover
RapeLay box cover
In 2006, a Japanese video game company (Illusion Soft) released RapeLay, in which a man stalks and rapes a mother and her two underage daughters. It featured a realistic sexual simulator which allows the player to grope and undress the characters on a crowded train. Later, the player may have forced intercourse (they are tied up or handcuffed) with all three women at his leisure.

RapeLay in particular had come to a wider attention. Critics of violent game imagery, such as British Member of Parliament Keith Vaz vowed to bring the issue into the British Parliament to prevent the game from being sold on Amazon.com. Amazon had removed the game from its website since. Equality Now followed up on the game, urging activists to write to Illusion Soft and Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso in protest, arguing the game breaches Japan's obligations under the 1985 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

Articles of defence have also been written, many noting that rape is a lesser crime compared to murder, yet there are thousands of legal video games in which the goal is to kill enemies. Illusion Soft's response to the controversy was one of bewilderment and a reiteration that the game passed Japanese laws and it is not sold outside Japan. Illusion Soft later removed references to the game from their website and ceased distribution of the game, citing concerns over the impact on the industry.

Cara Kulwicki, an American feminist and liberal at The Curvature has an analysis of this game:

“Genuine and logical criticism of the game, I think, isn’t about it causing an actual number of rapes, but about it supporting and expanding the conditions that already exist, virtually around the world, that allow rape to be committed. The game might not create rapists, but it does make life more comfortable for the rapists who already exist, and life a lot more difficult for their victims.” (2009)

While there are thousands of legal video games promoting violence, is it unfair to censor video games promoting sexual violence issues?

In addressing this question it must first be noted that most games involving violence tend to include other greater objectives (such as to gain something or save other characters). Whilst the allure of this kind of gaming escapes me I can at least see why these games may cause less of a fuss in comparison to 'RapeLay'. This is mainly due to the fact that the sole objective of this 'game' is simply to commit rape on other characters. Surely there is something mentally not right with anyone who takes pleasure from playing it. However, I believe it to be a most valid point made above in that other games promoting violence and killing are allowed to be sold whilst RapeLay is not, despite promoting what is legally deemed a 'lesser' offence. I must say that I agree with the total censorship of this game for a number of reasons. Firstly, it involves a most abhorrent crime as its primary focus and secondly, violence and killing in video and computer games have been commonplace for decades as opposed to this game's content. However, it serves as a poignant reminder of what we are subjecting our children to (and indeed ourselves) in video games as well as movies. When did such extreme violence become so acceptable as the theme of such games? Who decided that a game with killing as the objective was to be more enjoyable than racing car games for instance? My point being that a video game can be just as as enjoyable without such negative themes. That does not mean that they should be banned completely as most gamers are not going to be influenced to commit these crimes in real life. They do however need to be subjected to classification. The games that do become completely censored tend to be ones that cause outrage in society because they are so blatently abhorrent (like RapeLay).

The argument that is made in RapeLay's favour, that it is a game promoting "a lesser crime" than murder is ill-informed. In addressing the above question it is important to note that many games which involve violence (particularly first-person shooters, or FPS) tend to include greater objectives to be attained through violence, such as the use of weaponry to kill "bad guys" in order to rescue another character. The allure of this kind of game is that it puts the player in a position of power from which they can control actions from the safety of their own living room, actions which often lie outside the realm of possibility. For this reason it can be seen why perhaps such games warrant MA15+ but do not require removal from shelves. The issue with RapeLay, then, is that it portrays a very real crime which lies very much within the realm of possibility. Although any reasonable adult could be expected to take the game for what it is - a game - it can also be expected that there will be a minority within society to whom this game is readily available and who might feel compelled to relive the actions they perform on screen. The biggest concern is that the game does not take into consideration the ideas of responsibility and morality and the consequences that can arise from eschewing them.
RapeLay serves as a poignant reminder of what minors can potentially be subjected to in video games as well as movies. Extreme sexual violence as portrayed in this game, with no apparent consideration of the consequences of the "how-to" style in which it is played, historically has never held a place within the video game genre. The comparison that can be drawn between movies and a game such as this is valid insofar that they may both portray unacceptable or even abhorrent practices, but within a movie the audience is detached, the only part they play in the action is watching the plot unfold. Within the realm of gaming the player is "put in the driver's seat" from which their actions shape the outcome of the gameplay and with a game such as this it can be understood why such outrage has been caused within society.


In 2003, a video game company Rockstar Games released a game called ‘Manhunt’ and released its sequel ‘Manhunt 2’ in 2007. It is a third-person stealth action game in which the main character escapes from a mental hospital and kills people with a wide variety of weapons, ranging from plastic bags, baseball bats, crowbars and all sorts of bladed items to firearms for the purpose of revenge.

‘Manhunt’ was available for a while in Australia but eventually both games were banned in Australia and New Zealand by The Office of Film and Literature Classification due to the manner in which it depicts and deals with matters of sex, horror, cruelty and violence. In the United Kingdom ‘Manhunt’ is currently rated as R18+ but its sequel ‘Manhunt 2’ is banned by the British Board of Film Classification.

In the same year as ‘Manhunt’ was released and banned, the modified version was released in Australia and it is now rated as MA15+.

Other related points

- The murder of Stefan Pakeerah http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manhunt_(video_game)


pangea.jpgPangaea is a online-based video game (launched in 2007 by Pangaea) and is consist of adult content, gambling centre and adult bars. Pangaea MMO(Massively Multi-player Online) is released world-wide and has gained its popularity due to its explicit adult base theme of woman, gambling centre, adult bar and war.
The game was controversial in oversea since it contains hard-core adults themes in terms of prostitution theme and sexual factors regarding character's items which deals with sexual skills. It was also draw an attention of public that it has a stong violence of killing zombies and brutality such as detailed description of blood pumping and body cutting in combat situation. It is being widely serviced on online networks and moreover the server is based overseas, so it is not directly censored by The Office of Film and Literatre Classification(OFLC). However it will be affected by and most likely to be banned by OFLC since Australian government is carrying out with their new plan on enacting a new law of blocking any internet website contatins information on classsified games(above the rate of MA15+).

Dark Sector

In 2008 the PS3 videogame 'Dark Sector'has been re-classified in Australia. The Office of Film and Literature Claassification(OFLC) demonstrated that this game included strong violence and gruesome scenes. So 'Dark Sector's distributor said that an altered version of the game was being prepared for classification. The new version of 'Dark Sector' has no decapitaion. However the OFLC asserts this should rated as MA15+ and a warning against 'Strong Violence'.


Australia’s Office of Film and Literature Classification(OFLC) has rated the Bethesda Softworks’ Fallout 3 as RC in 2008. The game is banned and is illegal to sell or promote within Australia. The main reason of the ban was not officially announced to the public but it can be identified that the characters of the game uses nacrotic painkillers and also the morphine within the game was deemed offensive. The game described the chemicals that characters uses as if they are using a drug in a real stuation. Those realistic description of chemical usage and its delivery method to the game users were seen rather unacceptable.

Debate: Do violent games contribute to aggressive and violent behavior?

This is the main concern we need to consider of why some video games need to be restricted.
According to Kierkegaard (ScienceDaily, 2008) explains, there is no obvious link between real-world violence statistics and the advent of video games. If anything, the effect seems to be the exact opposite and one might argue that video game usage has reduced real violence. Despite several high profile incidents in US academic institutions, "Violent crime, particularly among the young, has decreased dramatically since the early 1990s," says Kierkegaard, "while video games have steadily increased in popularity and use. For example, in 2005, there were 1,360,088 violent crimes reported in the USA compared with 1,423,677 the year before. "With millions of sales of violent games, the world should be seeing an epidemic of violence," he says, "Instead, violence has declined."

Using data from the U.S. Department of Justice, the chart plots the rate of crime victimization per 1,000 citizens over the past couple of decades. Superimposed over the graph are several violent games, depicted chronologically by release date. One will notice that where DOOM is introduced the line graph takes a nose dive and continues falling all the way through the releases of Postal, Mortal Kombat, and GTA.



However it is possible that certain types of video game could affect emotions, views, behavior, and attitudes, however, so can books, which can lead to violent behavior on those already predisposed to violence (
ScienceDaily, 2008)

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