Australia Censorship News

2019: July-Sept

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Rated MA for Madness...

More random games censorship from Australia's 'classification' Board, this time banning Hotline Miami, previously rated MA15+


Link Here 21st August 2019
Full story: Game Censorship in Australia...Classification board, video game, cuts
One of the biggest reveals from yesterday's Indie World presentation was the release of the Hotline Miami Collection on the Switch eShop.

Though most fans around the world can rejoice over this port, Australian fans have to watch as everyone else enjoys it, since Hotline Miami Collection has been pulled from the Australian eShop.

Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number was actually banned some time ago but it was a bit of a shock that the original Hotline Miami  was banned in June of this year. Before that it had been rated MA15+.

In fact Hotline Miami is one of those games that's had all 3 grown up ratings, ie MA15+, R18+ and of course banned with the RC (Refused Classification) rating.

 

 

Updated: Dayzed censors...

Australian Censorship Board bans video game DayZ, and a cut version for Australia will then be distributed worldwide


Link Here 21st August 2019
Full story: Banned Games in Australia...Games and the Australian Censorship Board
DayZ is a 2018 Czech first person shooter by Bohemia Interactive

The video game DayZ has been banned  by the Australian Censorship Board, despite having been previously granted an MA15+ rating under an alternative rating system.

DayZ has been available online via Steam since December of last year. As an online title it was rated MA 15+ for strong violence, online interactivity under the International Age Rating Coalition system. This is an automatic rating assignment software programme providing ratings based on forms filled in by the games company.

More recently the game was submitted for PS4 retail release by distributor Five Star Games. This time around it was assessed by human censors and was promptly banned.

gamesindustry.biz plausibly suggests that the ban is probably due to the game mechanism of using morphine to restore health. The Australian censors have strict rules prohibiting anything positive about drugs.

The game remains available online to Australian players via the Steam games distribution platform.

Update: Knocked out of joint

9th August 2019. See article from kotaku.com.au

The Classification Board first granted an RC rating to DayZ on June 4, following an application from local distributors Five Star Games to have the game sold in brick-and-mortar stores across the country. According to the report, which was supplied to Kotaku Australia on Friday afternoon, the game was banned over illicit or proscribed drug use related to incentives or rewards.

Through general gameplay, the player is able to collect and use a variety of equipment, supplies and weaponry, the report says. One of the options to restore the player's health is a marijuana joint, labelled 'cannabis', which is denoted by a cannabis bud in the player's inventory.

Kotaku Australia also reveals that the Classification Board is also working to have the game pulled from sale digitally in Australia.

Update: An Australian cut version will be distributed worldwide

13th August 2019. See article from kotaku.com.au

Bohemia Interactive confirmed to Kotaku Australia that DayZ would be getting modified globally to comply with the Classification Board's requirements. Bohemia could have opted to exclude Australians from DayZ s next major release to give themselves time to work out another solution, but in an email the studio explained that they did not want Aussie gamers to be separated from the rest of the world. Bohemia Interactive said:

At the moment, we are editing the global version of DayZ so it will fit into the Board's requirements. The key objective is to keep the gameplay as authentic as it was, so players are not affected by this change.

Update: It was the cannabis that done it

15th August 2019. See press release [pdf] from classification.gov.au

Dayz is a survival computer game set in the fictional post-Soviet Republic of Chernarus, where a mysterious plague has turned most of the population into zombies. The game is set in 1st and 3rd person where, as a survivor, the player must scavenge the land for food, water, weapons and medicine while killing or avoiding the "infected".

Dayz was initially put through the IARC (International Age Rating Coalition) Tool (the IARC Tool). A computer game developer answers an online questionnaire and the IARC Tool generates a rating and consumer advice which is consistent with current Australian classification guidelines. Based on the information provided by Bohemia Interactive in relation to drug use when completing the IARC questionnaire, the IARC Tool generated an MA 15+ classification with consumer advice of 'Strong violence, online interactivity' for the digital version of Dayz . The IARC Tool produces classifications for digitally delivered games for Australia.

When Five Star Games Pty Ltd applied to the Classification Board for a classification for an upcoming PlayStation 4 release of the game in Australia, they advised that drug use in the game included cannabis. The aim of Dayz is to stay alive and healthy during the conditions of the outbreak and the player's health is measured by vital statistics. Throughout general gameplay, the player is able to collect and use a variety of equipment, supplies and weaponry, with one option to restore the player's health being a marijuana joint, labelled "cannabis," which is denoted by a cannabis bud in the player's inventory. The player is able to select and use it when their vital statistics are low. When the player smokes the cannabis, their vital statistics of food and water increase and their temperature decreases. Therefore, in the opinion of the Classification Board, cannabis use during the game acts as an incentive or reward to boost overall health and survivability. The Board noted that there was no instance of intoxication resulting from this drug use depicted within the game.

The Guidelines for the Classification of Computer Games 2012 (the Games Guidelines) state interactive illicit or proscribed drug use is not permitted within the G, PG, M or MA 15+ classification. The Guidelines further state, drug use is permitted within the R 18+ classification, provided any interactive illicit or proscribed drug use is not detailed or realistic. Pursuant to the Games Guidelines, drug use related to incentives and rewards is not permitted at any classification level.

Accordingly, on 4 June 2019, the Classification Board had to classify the computer game, Dayz , RC (Refused Classification) . The RC category is commonly referred to as being 'banned'. This means that the game cannot be sold, hired, advertised, or legally imported into Australia. The IARC Tool classification has been updated to RC (Refused Classification).

The Board noted that if the use of cannabis within the context of this game did not act as an incentive or reward, its impact could have been accommodated within the R 18+ classification. Further, if this instance of drug use was absent from the game, then Dayz would be able to be accommodated within the MA 15+ classification.

Australia's censors also announce a review of the censorship rules

On 28 June 2019, the Council of Attorneys-General agreed that the Australian Government will coordinate a public consultation process on reviewing the Games Guidelines to ensure they reflect contemporary Australian community values. The review will be undertaken by the Department of Communications and the Arts.

Perhaps the censors can now quietly ditch their silly and embarrassing rules about drug use in games. The clause was only introduced as a political compromise when the R18 was being introduced for games. They were trying to say to reluctant politicians something along the lines of: Don't worry about allowing R18, we'll still have tough censorship rules for such games.

Update: Australia's the laughing stock of the world

19th August 2019. See article from sbs.com.au

Australia's decision to ban the popular zombie video game DayZ because of in-game drug use has been criticised in the Victorian state parliament.

Liberal Democrat MP Tim Quilty said:

The ban was absurd and has made Australia look like the wet blanket and laughing stock of the whole world.

Refusal of classification should be reserved for illegal materials, things like child pornography and snuff films that should never have been created in the first place. It should not be used for zombie survival video games.

Update: Duly banned from Steam

21st August 2019. See article from kotaku.com.au

While DayZ is still available for purchase on Steam in other territories that option isn't no longer available to Australians, unless you use a VPN. This does not affect anyone who has already bought the game, and they will continue to be able to play the game.

 

 

Rated R for 'Random'...

Australian games censors go into meltdown and award random ratings of Banned, MA15+, R18+ for We Happy Few


Link Here 20th August 2019
Full story: Game Censorship in Australia...Classification board, video game, cuts
Last week, Australia's Censorship Board was in the news for banning a game that it had just passed MA15+. The sorry story played out as follows:

DayZ has been available online via Steam since December of last year. As an online title it was rated MA 15+ for strong violence, online interactivity under the International Age Rating Coalition system. This is an automatic rating assignment software programme providing ratings based on forms filled in by the games company.

More recently the game was submitted for PS4 retail release by distributor Five Star Games. This time around it was assessed by human censors and was promptly banned.

Well the random Australian ratings have ht the news again, this time for the dystopian game, We Happy Few. This was famously banned by Australia's human censors and was the passed R18+ by the appeal board. Well recent resubmissions have resulted in both MA15+ ratings and another ban.

Kotaku reports that the recent submissions may be to do with a new downloaded content update called Lightbearer . But even if this is the case the Australian ratings database doesn't do much to make it clear which versions are banned, R18, or MA15.

 

 

Offsite Article: Films and games...


Link Here 14th August 2019
A history of Australian film and media censorship law

See article from kotaku.com.au

 

 

Miserable gits...

Australian politicians conspire against humorous slogans on Wicked Campervans


Link Here 4th August 2019
Full story: Wicked Campervans...Un polictically correct adverts wind up Australian and New Zealand authorities
Wicked Campervans with humorous slogans that offend easily offended politicians would be banned from being registered in all states and territories of Australia, under a plan signed off at a national meeting of transport ministers.

Each state agreed to deregister vans which refused to have humorous slogans taken down following a complaint, and then ensure the van could not simply be re-registered in another jurisdiction.

Queensland Road Safety Minister Mark Bailey has claimed Wicked is exploiting a loophole by registering the vans in other states to get around the ban.

 

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