Is The Australian Video Game Classification System Still Broken?

Is The Australian Video Game Classification System Still Broken?

Last night, the Australian Classification Board gave the video game Saints Row IV an RC rating, which means it cannot be legally sold in this country. This is despite the fact that video games now have an R18+ classification in Australia. So is Saints Row IV — a tongue-in-cheek action game — really worse than “torture porn” movies like Hostel and Saw? Or is the Classification Board still backwards when it comes to classifying games?

It has been less than six months since Australia received an R rating for video games and already a game has been effectively banned in this country. Under Australia’s new video games classification guidelines, a game can still be refused classification if it contains “high impact” content, just like a film or magazine. The Board classifies six separate elements for games: themes, violence, sex, language, drug use and nudity.

    Here are the factors that the Board takes into account when judging video games for classification:
  • the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults
  • the literary, artistic or educational merit (if any) of the computer game
  • the general character of the computer game, including whether it is of a medical, legal or scientific character
  • the persons or class of persons to or amongst whom it is published or is intended or likely to be published.
  • [clear] [clear] In the case of Saints Row IV, the game was refused classification due to a range of material deemed unsuitable for adults, including drug-based rewards and sexual violence.

    “In the Board’s opinion, Saints Row IV includes interactive, visual depictions of implied sexual violence which are not justified by context,” the Classification Board stated. “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.”

    The Board took particular offence to an alien anal probe weapon which could be used to violate the backsides of enemies and civilians. As the Board explained in its report:

    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…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 decision to refuse Saints Row IV a classification rating has caused plenty of shock in the gaming community. After finally receiving an 18+ classification many thought the days of banned games were done and dusted. As Kotaku editor Mark Serrels said: “To be perfectly honest, I didn’t think we would ever be in this position again.”

    While we don’t claim the above content has any artistic merit, it’s worth noting that the Saints Row series are slapstick comedy games with consciously cartoony graphics. To suggest this game is unsuitable for adult gamers due to a novelty dildo weapon is frankly ridiculous. It’s basically in the same ballpark as the buggery gags in South Park and Family Guy (indeed, the weapon’s attack animation is completely pixelated from view.) Again, the issue here isn’t whether the game is suitable for minors, but for gamers over the age of 18.

    Perhaps we shouldn’t be too surprised. The Classification Board has a history of being extra hard on video games due to the addition of interactivity. This opens up a whole different kettle of fish which aren’t present in other entertainment mediums.

    “Interactivity is an important consideration that the Board must take into account when classifying computer games,” the Guidelines For The Classification Of Computer Games explains.

    “This is because there are differences in what some sections of the community condone in relation to passive viewing or the effects passive viewing may have on the viewer (as may occur in a film) compared to actively controlling outcomes by making choices to take or not take action.

    “Due to the interactive nature of computer games and the active repetitive involvement of the participant, as a general rule computer games may have a higher impact than similarly themed depictions of the classifiable elements in film, and therefore greater potential for harm or detriment.”

    While I’ll acknowledge that video game interactivity does heighten impact in some circumstances, the cartoony graphics of the Saints Row series diminishes the impact hugely. I think it’s safe to say that most adults would be more emotionally affected by a gruesome horror movie than anything contained in Saints Row IV; anal probes ‘n’ all.

    What does everyone else think? Did the Australian Classification Board get it right, or are we being denied something that is perfectly acceptable for adults? Let us know in the comments section below.

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  • Hmmmm. Apparently we all need to have a conversation about rape culture and how rape and its consequences are portrayed in popular entertainment – including games.

    • That’s a legitimate but completely separate topic. The point is that adults-only games are still being banned despite containing content that is significantly tamer than movies (especially when you factor in the cartoon graphics).

      • this exactly, these board members obviously still have the opinion that only kids play video games. otherwise the game would have passed with no issue

      • That’s not the point that matte or the Classification Board are making about the sexual violence aspect. Just because there’s worse stuff out there doesn’t mean that the game content is acceptable. It means there are wider problems to address. And your view also ignores context – are the other instances you refer to portraying sexual violence in a positive or negative light? From the description the game portrays rape in a positive light. A movie highlighting the realistic consequences of a rape, on the other hand, does not.

        I agree with the suggestion (in one of the other LH/Giz articles) that the offending side mission could be excluded and the game rated as R18+ rather than simply banned. However that’s not the same as saying that because other stuff gets through this should as well. And it’s definitely not the same as saying that we should address the worst things first and let this one slide until those are sorted out. We can do more than one thing at a time, and we need to take responsibility for the culture we perpetuate by being vocal in what is and isn’t acceptable.

        • So should all episodes of South Park and Family Guy be banned which contain buggery jokes/visual gags? While I don’t condone anything that trivializes rape, going crazy with censorship just creates its own separate problems.

          • As I said, it depends on the context. I haven’t watched Southpark and Family Guy for years and can’t remember the jokes they had. But they tend to fall into the satire category, and that’s a good way to address cultural problems. If they promote rape in a positive light, then I’d seriously think about censoring *aspects* of them. But from my memories of them I doubt they do.

            In general I’m not in favour of censorship of anything, as in hindsight it tends to look reactionary, narrowminded and shortsighted. (As with most of James Joyce’s work, for example.) I definitely don’t think that all rape references should be banned. But there is definitely a rape culture problem in Australia, and based on the reports the game content will perpetuate and reinforce this. And that is not acceptable.

            For the record, I never suggested anything like “all episodes … be banned” or “going crazy with censorship”. You’re heading towards strawman territory there.

          • the thing you miss is that what they didn’t like was in context with saints row. the game is all about the insane and ridiculous. having played saints row you would realize this. remember sr3? you could beat people down in the street with giant purple dildo. yet is wasn’t banned. All the things in this game are withing the context of this game

          • Not at all. I’m simply pointing out that the “rape” in Saints Row IV is on par with countless visual gags in freely available cartoons that aren’t even rated R. And many of these cartoons certainly aren’t being satirical — one episode of Family Guy had an entire subplot where Peter was repeatedly raped by a bull and turned into his “bitch”.

            Any reasonable adult is capable of dismissing the above as a silly, bad-taste joke. Same applies to the Saints Row “alien dildo” weapon. Is it stupid and in poor taste? Certainly. Should it result in the entire game being banned for adults? Nope.

          • The anal probe attack is still implied sexual violence which is mentioned in the R18+ guidelines for games if I remember correctly (maybe we all got caught up in the moment and forgot to read the small print).
            Here is one such example that it’s just not video games, the porn movie Pirates XXX could only be released here if the violent content was on a separate DVD so the DVD has 2 discs – Porn and Violence.
            The thing is the guidelines were there to be followed right or wrong. internet forums are not the place to make a difference (unless it’s Microsoft) Take it up with your local MP but remember that your local MP and Australian Classification Board represent the “average Joe and Jane” and I think you will agree the average Joe and Jane would find dildo anal probing in any media offensive.

          • @bigcheez77 Actually the review board and the classifications board are not representative. They have for the last decade been stacked with conservative type people, and almost exclusively with South Australians, who as a state are already more conservative than the rest of Australia. Classification and censorship in Australia are a joke. In addition, the review board has never allowed anything that has been challenged after an R18+ rating to maintain its rating, and in every case I’ve looked at almost every letter of challenge (often over 100 letters a challenge) has come from the same ACL address in Queensland, with the rest being Family First, in South Australia. Those hard-line conservatives are hardly the ‘average Joe and Jane’.

          • Shooting people with a fictional super dildo gun which rockets the person into the air does not promote rape in a positive light – it promotes running around doing crazy stuff in a crazy game. There is no way that the dildo aspect is even R18+ let alone be your justification to supporting the decision to refuse classification.

          • “it depends on the context. I haven’t watched Southpark and Family Guy for years and can’t remember the jokes they had. But they tend to fall into the satire category”

            I admittedly haven’t played Saints Row games, but every review I’ve read of the second game onwards paints the game as being very much a satire of the whole open world gangster type games such as GTA. Certainly, the games being “serious” isn’t a comment I’ve heard about any Saints Row game in any period of time.

        • the game in no way portrays rape in a positive light, the game is not some life simulator in which you stalk an unsuspecting person and graphically rape them and earn an achievement with zero consequences, its a silly cartoonish slapstick comedy world where an alien probe is used as a gag weapon, a weapons whose use would garner you instant consequences in the games police force chasing you, its no worse then any butt,dildo,anal probe joke in any tv show or movie, which are and have been classified as ok for adult audiences, as should be the same here.

          no one is saying this is appropriate for kids learning the ways of society, but its also not so heinous that adults cant be allowed to make the choice themselves, you can choose not to buy it for instance.

          Refusing a classification is supposed to be reserved for things so vile and morally wrong across the spectrum or so accurate its basically a how to guide that you wonder why it was ever made in the first place not for some slapstick comedy that makes a few monocles fall out

    • Hang on just a minute. In all the comments below I haven’t seen anyone challenge this ever increasingly used term – “rape culture”. Just what IS “rape culture” because if it in anyway implies that the modern Australian society accepts, promotes or trivialises rape then I would vehemently defend that.

      • There is no standard definition, that I’m aware of. The term gets thrown about a lot, and not very consistently (and occassionally a little hysterically, which doesn’t help). The earliest reference I can find is this paper from Diane Herman in 1988:

        It’s conclusion is that “rape culture” is a complex mix of societal attitudes and gender roles regarding portayals and acceptance of sex and sexuality, a general permissability of violence, and perceptions of male dominance and female subservience. It’s not so much about the portrayal or acceptance of sexual assault in a society, as much as to what degree a society or culture considers sex as an act that males “inflict” on females. Given all those factors, determining whether or not it exists within a given culture – be it Australian culture, male culture, gaming culture, household culture, whatever – is always going to be a fairly subjective exercise, with conclusions that can’t really be applied universally.

  • Really now? Rape culture has nothing to do with censorship. I’ve seen plenty of games and movies with rape scenes and yet I’ve never acted out or changed my position that rape is an awful thing.

    We are falling into extreme fascism

    • Reminds me of a line in a spoken piece on Stone Sours self titled album by Corey Taylor.

      Huh, what luck. Fascism you can vote for.

      Sad that it’s becoming such, or has become such..

  • How can something be “not suitable for adults”? Who do you think made the game? Content filtering of taboo subjects at its finest. Welcome to Big Brother Australian Government. Geez, talk about freedom…

    • There are plenty of things that society agrees shouldn’t be out there. Such as child pornography. While absolute freedom is a nice idea if there isn’t some form of control it just leads to chaos. While I agree that they of been a bit harsh on saints row 3 I think everyone can admit that it’s hardly the epitome of mature and sophisticated gameplay and support.

      • Child pornography involves an actual crime being committed though, it’s not comparable to a video game where there is no victim.

        • Not necessarily true – Australian law also prohibits fictional depictions of child porn such as in anime or manga (on, in one case, Simpsons characters). There have been actual cases with actual convictions for this.

  • I think the point of having the R18+ classification is so that adults can be trusted to make their own decisions on the content that they choose to consume. How is this any different to refusing classification to Watchdogs as it promotes illegally hacking into devices, not to mention vengeful homicidal feuds? I fear for the next GTA game, it certainly won’t have the cartoony graphics and slapstick humour to hide behind (not that it even worked for Saints Row), it really has become a gritty realistic protrayal of a story first and with the old comedic element off in the background. I find it difficult to believe that the classification board is going to find interactively running around with a dildo worse than interactively blowing someones brains out – whether the brains blowing was part of a mission, accidental, or because you damn well like to shoot civilians that wear red!

    I don’t think that they understand that by giving it a classification it doesnt automatically mean that all adults must then consume the content, it only means that adults have the choice to consume it or not. Idiots.

    • GTA will most likely be fine because as of yet there hasnt been any “gratuitous or out of context sex” or “in your face” drug use which seems to be the big issue the ACB like to focus

      • Which I don’t get. How can the difference between getting classification or not be whether you are rewarded with drugs – even if the game that will receive classification will likely reward you for dealing drugs, or at least assisting with murderers and drug distribution networks, not to mention violently kill anyone you want to. How is that consistent?

        • i dont think its really to do with drug selling, there are plenty of illegal and dangerous “jobs” performed in many games, its more about the use of drugs, glorifying drug use is a big no no to the ACB

          • It’s utterly depressing, really. Smoking cannabis as a reward? Total ban. Gouge someones eye out with a blowtorth, ala hostel? Totally fine.

            But then, people have been given longer jail sentences here for a few ounces of pot than a convicted rapist, so it goes without saying that our drug laws are fucking ridiculous and nonsensical.

  • Yep, still broken to the point of it being useless, the R rating was supposed to be and should be a catch all for games that dont fit into the lower categories, save for things like child porn, instead what we got was a rating only slightly more lenient then the current MA15 rating and as such most games that would have failed before, will still fail now.

    the ACB is still under the impression that “playing instead of watching” turns us all into mindless morons who will instantly replicate the actions we play out in games, they are also under the impression that all games sold ultimately end up in the hands of 10 year olds, they certainly dont treat us like adults with level heads and ages above 18

  • I just find it odd how a FPS that allows you to blow a person’s head off, usually with realistic graphics, can get past censorship but a game with a clearly fictional “alien anal probe” weapon, coupled with cartoony graphics, gets banned.

    Sense. It makes none.

  • Perhaps actually going and reading the Classification standards would help @chrisjager – They have done exactly as they said they would – Violence is now viewed differently but substance use and sexual violence is judged just as harshly, as it should be. Is it broken? I don’t believe so, its working as intended. Can it be amended? Certainly, if theres enough people out there that really want to have the choice to be interactivly sexually violent in a video game (i note your quote left out most of the important info…

    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.

    So its not being refused as you said due to a novelty dildo weapon but rather that said novelty dildo weapon is used to anally penetrate enemies and civilians without their permission so is in fact a simulated rape. I have been saying it all day and I will say it again… If you feel the need to have this as a choice in a game that you want to play, and the lack of it being there as a choice affects whether or not you buy said game… you have an issue.

    I will also note that the same RC category also covers sexual content involving children… should we also have this added into games now? If you are all about choices – this is in the same criteria

    • I didn’t include the entire quote for reasons of brevity. If anything, the bit you highlighted further proves how silly it is — the cartoon characters remain fully clothed throughout the attack. Again, I’m not saying this has any artistic merit or is in any way positive to society, but I’d hardly call it unsuitable for adults either.

    • I think you underlined half a sentence and the second half is very important to this debate. …“and then lifts them off the ground before pulling a trigger which launches the victim into the air” How does this point not make the use of the dildo gun entirely satirical? This is not simulated rape, this is shooting people in the anus with a super dildo gun before launching them into the air – it’s a satirical use of a novelty and fictional gun.

      • How is this either ironic or sarcastic humor? That’s satirical…. its just blatantly stupid.
        It says they are clothed but the after effect is pixelated – after being implicitly inserted into the victim’s anus the area around their buttocks… that’s longhand for penetration, its not like they are lifting off the ground like they are riding a horse… No “shooting” involved – if it was people being shot with a dildo gun – then perhaps it would have been viewed differently

        • if it was people being shot with a dildo gun – then perhaps it would have been viewed differently And herein lies the hypocritical double standard, and why the classification standards are broken. In what world is shooting someone with a dildo gun somehow “better” than shoving said gun up their backside? If you say “because the second one is simulated rape”, you’re then implying that raping someone is worse than shooting someone. While both are abhorrent, I think it’s generally accepted that murder is a worse crime than rape (and this is reflected in the legal penalties for both).

        • But that’s your opinion of humour. Dont ‘imply’ stuff like ‘longhand for penetration’, because there is no proof. Since when has ‘implied’ anything been context for banning in an R18+ context? Never.

        • Okay, forget satirical, it’s obviously meant to be funny though – regardless of whether YOU find it funny or not. Ironically though, the blurring yet obvious nature of what is happening, plus the fact that clothes are being worn, and the unlikely nature of this ever happening in the real world, does actually make it ironic and sarcastic.

          From what I have read, including as part of the report for the RC, the person is actually launched into the air when the trigger is pulled – clearly an exaggeration and not like a realistic penetration.

          When boobs are blurred on TV you know there are boobs behind the pixelation – but it’s considered sufficient. You’re using self censorship through pixelation as a bad thing? Would it be better if you saw the persons pants ripped open and anal penetration in all of it’s glory?

    • you are exactly the type of person that an R18 rating is designed to appease, its a rating designed to ensure certain things are unobtainable to children whilst allowing adults the freedom to choose, this keeps the young ones safe and allows the grown ups to make an informed decision.

      I, and clearly a large group of people, can see the satire and comedy in this game as just that and are mature enough to know that this being in a game doesn’t make it ok to go out and rape someone (with a giant alien probe if you want to be situation specific), you on the other hand cant look past the implied rape at the core.
      I would choose to buy this game, you would not, thats how things are supposed to work when your an adult, its not supposed to be up to some group of middle age lawyers to ban things they think adults wont like.

      using the old, “they also ban child porn, so should we allow that too” is just a cop out, of course there are thing so vile etc they should never see the light of day, but thats not what we are talking about here, in this case the issue is sexual content which is covered under the blanket of “depends on the context”, graphical depiction of a real rape with how to improve tips, not cool, educational or comical satire, thats ok (to be put to adults personal choice). well thats hows its supposed to work and how it does work in film and tv, but for some reason clearly not here.

      • While I agree with the majority of your comment, fury-s12, I cannot agree with the notion that there are things ‘too vile to see the light of day’. That is a restriction applied based on moralistic principles, which are entirely relative. Instead, I propose that the only thing that should be prohibited is footage of a violation of a person’s human rights. This way, the creation of media which requires people to be harmed is not promoted, but entirely non-occurring (ie: fictional) depictions are not censored. Note of course that restriction of such material to specific age groups (etc) is something I absolutely support.

        This alternate method allows for literally harmful material to be illegitimised, without anyone being an absolute moral arbiter for anyone else.

    • The only thing that should be banned is something that actually has victims. We don’t live in the moral backwater hicktown, we’re supposed to have the sense to be able to decide for ourselves what is right and wrong, what’s fiction and what’s not.

      You mention sexual content involving children. Why is that any different to cold blooded murder? If you’re disturbed enough to think things you do in video games is appropriate in real life, surely you shouldn’t have access to games that encourage you to kill people.

  • There is absolutely no solid grounding for the notion that interactive violence is any worse than non interactive violence. (Most of the scientific studies that have shown links are terribly poorly designed). They cannot give one single ounce of evidence that provides any form of support for interactivity being any worse than non interactivity. The ACB has standards, but they are indeed backwards and dare I say it, hypocritical (see what Dman said on FPS)…

    EDIT 1 : I havent ever played saints row, but do know a couple of things about how to conduct scientific studies of the kind that they would need to do to find reason for banning games over movies.

    EDT 2: Also, while rape and simulated rape is wrong whatever the context.circumstances, I believe the point is that the ACB is incorrectly making a distinction between interactive rape/interactive simulated rape and non-interactive rape/ non-interactive simulated rape. They ban it in games but not in movies for no good reason. They think that interactivity is worse than non interactivity, but have absolutely no proof of it. None at all.

  • Yep its definitely still broken, the actual guidelines were written up in 1995, sure they may have had amendments to them but really were written back when games were still considered kiddie past time, to really accommodate the R18+ classification they need to readjust those guidelines with a new act.

    At the moment R18+ is just a rebadged MA15+ classification and at the and of the day doesn’t really mean much and the progress what we thought Australia actually made was just a cruel mirage.

  • They RC’d a game with non-contextual sexual violence and a rewards for drugs mechanics. The system works perfectly fine. The game isn’t going to be diminished in any way and to suggest otherwise is naive.

    • How does that show the system working fine when the content should be available for adults to decide if they want to be exposed to it or not? Even if you ignore that stupid dildo guns and their use would be in context when used in this game, historically the game is full of this stupid stuff, AND drug mechanics for an adult is reasonably acceptable in a satirical game about seizing control of a gang and it’s territory, it should be left up to the adult to choose whether they want to play the game the way the maker intended it.

    • Exactly. Films have been refused classification in the past and will likely be refused in the future.

      In this game the protagonist can commit an act of aggravated sexual penetration and the use of drugs as a reward is a no-no. The classification guidelines aren’t as touchy-feely as people seem to think, they are very specific, and if there’s something in the media that would be refused classification then it will be RC, simple as that.

      You want a sillier example? Any media showing two consenting adults peeing on each other in a sexual context is illegal in WA.

        • I’m afraid, fryiee1, that you are mischaracterising the word ‘aggravated’. It is a legal term, and any scenario of sexual crime involving weaponry (such as a weaponised anal probe) or multiple perpetrators will be classified as aggravated, which increases the penalties significantly.

          • I’m a third year law student, you don’t need to lecture me on the legal use of ‘aggravated’. While you could argue that the insertion of an anal probe amounts to aggravated assault, there’s no way it would fall under the definition of ‘aggravated sexual assault’. Don’t believe me? CA 1900 NSW s61J(1).

          • Apologies, and no offense meant, fryiee1! It looks like there may be a difference here between Western Australian law and New South Welsh law: WA makes it a CoA just for having a weapon when you do the offensive act (CCA (WA) 1913 s319), NSW looks like it mentions inflicting bodily harm (CA (NSW) s61J(2)(a)), and threatening to do so with a weapon (s61J(2)(b)) but doesn’t have anything for just being armed.

            So you’re probably right: If we’re in NSW, the act so depicted doesn’t invoke s61J. It still meets s61I by way of the definition in S61H, which is similar to WA’s s325 and s319 respectively. However, we’re absolutely having bodily harm in both cases caused by an insertion, so we’re definitely in the red for CoA regardless of which state you’re in (s319 WA; s61J(2)(a) NSW).

          • …you know you’re in the right course of study when you spend 15 minutes double-checking legislation from different states for fun ^^;

          • Yeah, on further inspection of the Crim Act (its been a while since i did crim law) penetrating the anus with a weapon is enough to classify it as ‘sexual assault’ per the definitions you listed, so there’s a good chance it would.

            Either way, I’d argue that the merits of the Crimes Acts have little to do with explaining classification rhetoric.

    • That is not the argument here, as adults we make choices everyday of our lives but we live in a country that is supposed to be free but the core argument is that as a supposed “free” country we still have people deciding what we as adults may or may not be offensive, shouldn’t i have the right to make that decision for myself?

      The current classification model doesn’t fit with the games that are currently being developed and released, the initial guidelines were introduced back in 1995, nearly two decade ago back when games were just starting to become more realistic, sure they have made amendments to the intial guidelines but the system needs a major overhaul to make it more in line with the sort of content that is being released.

      Don’t get me wrong here, we need classification but we need new guidelines and people who are more in touch with current gaming trends.

      • It’s exactly the argument. These things were clearly outlined in the guidelines BEFORE the game was submitted for classification. They do nothing to enhance the experience (hence the ‘out of context’) and the title of the article was “Is the classification system broken?”

        Just because you feel that you are mature enough to make a rational decision on what content you consume, doesn’t mean you should. Judging by the amount of vitriol I’m seeing in my twitter feed over this topic, I’d dare say many of the people I know aren’t as mature as they think they are.

  • Step 1: Constantly refuse classification for “adult level” video games because there is no 18+ classification.

    Step 2: Eventually, FINALLY get an 18+ classification so we can all be mature adults about entertainment obviously not designed for children.

    Step 3: Explore this new classification a little, toy with it, explore what it means, show that it can create a genre of games a little more edge and adult-orientated.

    Step 4: Get the opportunity to use it, the perfect game that isn’t horrific, pornographic or sadistic, decide to not actually use the new classification.

    Step 5: Continue to treat the population like children and refuse to use the tools you are given to create a proper, mature classification scope.

    Step 6: Spin in circles on your swivel chair because we’re obviously all children.

  • So let me get this right I can in Saints Row The Third obtain a car which has a cannon that sucks people up and allows me to splatter them onto a building, then there’s the sonic pulse weapon that turns people into a pile of goo, but an alien probe gun? Nope that’s way too far. I guess Sci-Fi, movies, books, graphic novels, comics & tv shows have been going way too far for decades with implied happenings.

    Oh well. I was going to happily part with 60 bucks for a local release from EB. But now I think i’ll just hang onto my money and buy it from Oz Game Shop or somewhere for potentially cheaper again.

  • Yes, it is still broken. It’s still censorship, and censorship is not ok. End of story.

  • Can someone remind me why the censorship board introduced an R classification for games?

  • Everybody should listen to Kodos:

    “We have reached the limit of what rectal probing can teach us.”

    Argument nullified.

  • I look forward to the edited version:

    “Frankly my dear, I LOVE YOU LET’S REMARRY”
    * The End *

    • In all seriousness, didn’t that movie used to have a war in it?

      But while the weapon does sound a little gruesome, is it really any worse than watching someone get their face blowtorched off and yellow goo coming out of their eyeball, as was the case in Hostel?

      I’m torn between “Rape is no laughing matter” and “It’s a video game, people” and “If you’re stupid enough to imitate these acts outside of the game, you don’t deserve to play video games”..

  • I’m amazed at the number of gamers who embrace the idea of “interactively” murdering people repeatedly but draw the line at “interactively” raping someone with a giant dildo gun because it doesnt agree with their moral code. Surely if the latter is so heinous a crime that the game should be banned, the former should also be a legitimate reason for banning a game?

    • I think the main difference is that “rape culture” is a real issue in Australian society, whereas “condoning murder” is not. The former encourages sexist, misogynistic behavior in real life. That said, I don’t think it makes sense to start banning anything and everything that may fall into this category. As adults we should be allowed to decide for ourselves what is and isn’t acceptable.

      • Agreed, hence the R classification, but this decision is so moronic its laughable. If killing people in a multitude of brutal and ever more realistic ways isn’t going to turn me and 99.999% of the gaming population into rampant mass murders, I doubt allowing me to jam a dildo gun up some NPC’s butt is going to push me over the edge.

        • That’s the classic conundrum when it comes to defining acceptable community standards and obscene material. Personally, I don’t think a comedy dildo weapon in a video game is pushing the envelope too far. Everything about it, from the context to the depiction, is cartoonishly farcical.

          • There’s a world of difference between being “A OK” with something and banning it for being illegally offensive. There’s obviously a middle ground here.

          • No there really isn’t a middle ground between banned and not banned. I’m not sure that you’ve cleared up where “cartoonishly farcial” interactive rape fits exists in a middle ground between A OK and banned. It’s either acceptable to you or it’s not – it can’t really be a little bit ok.

            I’m curious where the boundary lies if it’s not somewhere just a little before interactive (farcial thought it may be) anal rape?

          • “A OK” implies enthusiastic support. You can personally disagree with something without wanting to ban it — so clearly, there is a middle ground. And I do think that context and realism matter. For example, would you ban the episode of South Park where Cartman (a ten-year old child, no less) gets anally raped by an alien? It’s clearly played for laughs which makes it identical to the Saints Row situation. And yet it wasn’t even rated R.

            The whole point of my article is that there is still a double-standard when it comes to how games are rated.

          • Way to take things out of context. Not putting words in Chris’ mouth but I believe he is saying that cartoony depiction of someone unrealistically being attacked by a dildo gun should not serve as a reason to ban the game, which i’m sure you can clearly read. I’m okay with it in the real world, as long as it’s done in public – so A ok in my books 🙂

      • Can you point me in the direction of papers and other media in relation to the “rape culture” of Australia. I was not aware we had culture?

  • So they have no problem with belting people with a giant purple dildo, but take offence to this?

  • It comes down to the RC regulations – they are being held to what the regulations say – I suggest if you want to argue against them firstly go read the damn things here –

    The classification board followed these regs and that’s fine. If you don’t like these rules go talk to your local minister and get them to action it, otherwise its all useless hot air from fanboys.

    I would go as far to say that 90% of the people that bitch about it never went to their local minister and said boo about it. If you don’t like it – do something useful.

    Otherwise suck it up.

    • Well when they make their determination of something based on their own interpretation there is little point blaming the framework, or even going to a minister. It’s mostly going to be public outrage through media outlets such as Kotaku that will make a difference. This is also the place for people to share opinions, and complaints, about topics raised – if everyone just sucked it up as you so suggest then there will never be open discussions. I concede that perhaps if more can be done then people should do it, but that fact alone doesnt negate their outrage and sharing of it.

    • You are correct – the board did nothing wrong. The people who gave them their instructions, however…

      On the topic of representation: I didn’t vote for my local minister. Why would he listen to what I have to say? He’s a conservative, and I’m a progressive, and that means that my vote is worthless in my conversative electorate. This is true for both state and federal levels of government. What can I do about this?

  • Broken? No. But it’s working in a way that I find to be philosophically unsatisfactory. That is to say, it operates on the principle that someone makes arbitrary decisions about what is and is not acceptable for adults to possibly view.

    This is unacceptable; it should operate to protect people who might otherwise be victimised and to illegitimise the creation of media which depends on hurting people. Instead of acting as it does now, the ACB ought to block media involving criminal acts, not media involving depictions of criminal acts.

  • Well this is interesting.

    Over at Kotaku, which as you all know is the main gaming site, alot of people are actually agreeing with the ACB and believes that the ban is justifiable.

    • When you compare it to the movies that are allowed classification like hostel or saw I cannot see how games like State of Decay or Saints Row 4 can be banned in good conscience.

      • Theres always going to be a leniency for violence over sex and drugs, or at least when the generation gap closes. SoD and SR4 didn’t get banned for excessive violence and frankly I think the R rating only really covers violence since the ACB doesn’t know how to handle sex and drugs in video games.

        However I can see why SRIV would get banned, the offending weapon isn’t in any real context and of course they won’t see the comedic value in it. Its not like its going to radically change the game if it gets modified unlike Mortal Kombat where modifying that game would completely butcher it.

        On the other hand yes we have a R rating and its disheartening when adult games are still being denied from adults. I’m torn up about this one. They’re right but also not right.

  • I dislike the fact that you cannot digitally contact the Australian Classification Board.
    Send them a letter or fill in an online form and they’ll get back in 28 days.

  • If you could only target men with the anal probe it would have been permitted. Shown on TV in adverts and the Footy Show. Violence against men? Australia says, exclusively.

  • All this talk of implied unconsential sexual violence has generated a vivid and interactive image of unconsential sexual violence in my mind, should the general public be denied access to everyones comments? Or should we wait for a government body to force a brain-surgical method of censoring things deemed too “violent/sexual/taboo/whatever” on us…
    Last time i checked i have the ability to picture anything in my mind, and i mean anything, and that includes thrusting an alien anal probe weapon into an unwilling anus, which i could then make a movie about, write a book about, tell a friend for a laugh or just to creep them out…
    How is it so that if i took this idea and arranged patterns across some thousands of tiny pixels that i had control over when certain formations were displayed, then that now is unnacceptable to be viewed by myself or other members of the general public.
    Decisions are being made by geriatrics in black suits about what you are allowed to see, hear, feel.
    If you think that is acceptable then you need to wake up, the more power people think they have over you, the more they will try to exploit it.
    But what do i care il just illegally download this software… Hey maybe if we all do, the publishing companies will blame the australian classification board for the loss an then metaphorically anal probe rape them in court over the matter…
    Yeah, nah.

  • The fact of the matter is that any CLASSIFICATION board that bans anything has overstepped it’s purpose entirely. Classification is to provide a consistent framework of ratings to allow the consumer to make an informed decision about what content they engage in.
    The de facto banning of material through a “refusal of classification” is fundamentally at odds with the task of classification.

  • Yes. Yes it is.

    In the beginning, gamers were sick of being treated like children because of the lack of an R18 rating for games. They demanded to be recognized by the system, and they thought when Labor introduced the R18 rating, we thought we’d finally won. We thought we’d finally be recognized. Two games banned in 24 hours of each other, for content that makes it into primetime TV and MA15/R18 movies, prove that we were wrong.

    And it’s for this that I’d like to thank Labor.

    Because this happened before the election, gamers can now make a much more informed choice on voting day. Sure, we can still begrudgingly vote Labor, or we can show them that we still don’t appreciate being treated like children, and that we for one won’t be conned into giving them another term after pulling the wool over our eyes. This will show future governments of Australia that gamers aren’t fringe dwelling nerds, they’re a political force to be reckoned with. We almost managed to do this with Atkinson in the SA election, with him recieving a swing against him never seen before since he took that seat (and porbably only got in via preferences), if we united and actually toppled a government, we WILL get the recognition we deserve, and the change we hoped to achieve with R18 we can actually achieve in the future.

    This does not automatically mean “Vote for Abbott”. There are other options, including the Sex Party, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and if push comes to shove, The Greens (but watch your preferences to make sure your vote doesn’t slip right back to Labor).

    Censorship comes at a cost; the limitation of choice in a country that prides itself on giving adults the freedom to make their own life choices. When it comes to stuff like kiddie porn, real rape footage etc, the price is worth paying. 90% of the RC category is not worth the price of censorship. It is outdated and need to be scraped, with the content moved to something like a XXX-21+ rating. ONLY content that was made by causing real, tangible harm to life, persons or property without their consent needs to be censored. Anything else is not worth the price of censorship.

  • Are there any gamers on this Classification Board? Or are they all old, ignorant people who are out of touch and completely uneducated re: video games? Get some people in there who aren’t Tommy Lee Jones in No Country For Old Men. I’m a grown man for fucks sake, and I’m told I can’t play certain games because someone else (the old out of touch ignorant cunts) tell me it’s unsuitable. Who the fuck are they to tell me what is and isn’t suitable for me? I don’t need someone to hold my fucking hand thru life. I’m an adult and I don’t appreciate being treated like some helpless child who needs protection from, of all things, a fucking video game.

  • I don’t think there’s even a debate to be had here – Australia remains completely backward on this issue

    These bans don’t even happen in New Zealand, let alone the US, Canada or UK (except Carmaggedon nearly 20 years ago), there’s no reason for censorship

    We are adults, we can see anything the adults on the board can – if it’s inappropriate for kids, fine, but we don’t need nannies

  • what i find most annoying is the fact that they took ages pissing about with the classification then once they finally decided to allow it, they went and gave it an MA15+ rating. whats the point of the R18+ if they’re going to do anything to avoid needing it?

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