Thursday, December 10, 2009

Watered down gaming.

It's something that I've written about a few times here. Adult games that in most other countries that would receive an R18+ rating, get banned here in Australia because there is no such rating for computer games here.

Now I'm not talking about those weird Japanese hentai games that would probably require an X rating. It's blockbuster games like Fallout 3, Grand Theft Auto and Left for Dead 2. None of these are kids games. All of them are designed to be played by adults. Like a lot of adult movies and novels, they may contain violence, coarse language and sexual themes.

Most games that are refused classification get re-released in a watered down and edited version so that it passes the Australian Government Classification Board's guidelines, often resulting in a washed-out game that lacks the very elements that make it great. Recently IGN did a review of the censored Australian version of Left 4 Dead 2. The review did not go well.

Look, I'm no sadist – I don't get off on violence, but I do like decapitating zombies. That's not wrong. I must have been leaking the lizard when the Australian Classifications Board suddenly deemed the undead 'too realistic' to be savaged by virtual machetes and cricket bats. Censorship sucks.-Patch, IGN.
It's clear that every time a game is refused classification, the game makers have to spend quite a bit of time rewriting code, altering artwork and perhaps even re-recording sound so it passes our classification system.

Essentially, it's the same as forcing the makers
of the Saw movies to rewrite and reshoot the gory bits of the movie just in case a five-year old child walks into the room while you're watching it. Would you go to see that?
So it's nice to see UK game maker "Rebellion Developments" taking a stand. They're simply not going to spend the time and money destroying their new game "Alien vs Predator" just so it can pass the Australian Government standards.

"The content of AvP is based on some of the most innovative and iconic horror movies, and as such we wanted to create a title that was true to the source material. It is for adults, and it is bloody and frightening, that was our intent. We will not be releasing a sanitized or cut down version
for territories where adults are not considered by their governments to be able to make their own entertainment choices."
-CEO Jason Kingsley, Rebellion Dev

According to the "National Classification Code", "Computer Games" will be refused classification if they "are unsuitable for a minor to see or play;" which doesn't really go along with the first opening principle of the code which states:

"(a) adults should be able to read, hear and see what they want;"
-The Code, Commonwealth of Australian Law.

Hopefully a lot more game makers will make the same stand. The computer game industry is growing faster than both the movie and music industries. For example, Spiderman 3 holds the record for opening day ticket sales for a movie at $59 million. Grand Theft Auto IV clocked up $310 million in sales on it's first day. The result of banning blockbuster games will be a loss in revenue for Australian game distributors.

Some gamers aren't content to simply do without and will order the forbidden games through overseas websites. New Zealand has a R18+ rating for computer games and it's online games stores happen to be on the same Internet as we are! I did a quick Google search. Note the "Sponsored Link"?

The solution is simple. Give games an R18+ rating and don't sell them to children.

Problem solved.

1 comment:

Mick Thackray said...

heh - you should look into the problems blizzard has had in making WOW suitable for chinese censors..its almost like they play a completely different game..