Thursday, July 10, 2008

Fallout 3 Banned In Australia

Australia's Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC) has today handed down a decision refusing classification to upcoming next-generation RPG Fallout 3.

Under state and territory law, games refused classification in Australia cannot be sold or advertised. The decision has the effect of banning Fallout 3 from the Australian market.

While the OFLC does not provide reasons for its decisions to the public, speculation is that the ruling is based on the extensive drug use running through the Fallout franchise. In previous games players have had the option to use a variety of pharmaceuticals including morphine, usually with realistic consequences, to negotiate the post-apocalyptic Fallout world. If this is the case, it seems unlikely that the game can be edited for the Australian market so as to fall within classification guidelines.

Previous games banned by the OFLC have by and large not been top-quality titles, including names like Manhunt 2 and Shellshock 2. While censorship in this fashion is unjustifiable wherever it occurs, those games have boasted little in the way of compelling gameplay or artistic merit. However, Fallout 3 was expected to be a top seller, and judging by the history of the franchise and the back catalogue of developer Bethesda it seems likely to have boasted an impressive and relevant plot and a visually breathtaking setting.

The remit of the OFLC is to assist the Australian public in making informed decisions about their media consumption; however, more and more in the realm of gaming they are acting as censors. Not only are Australians prevented from engaging with the thoughts and ideas contained in these games, but they are prevented from deciding for themselves the merits or otherwise of these titles.


Nismo said...

While technically illegal to import a game (or product as far as I know) that is banned in this country, I am definitely considering importing this game now that the ban has happened. As you mentioned, the chance of it being edited and then resubmitted like Dark Sector recently is not that high and I don't see it releasing here, unfortunately.

I admit, I know nothing of the previous two games and am only interested in this game because of what everyone else is saying (I guess you could say I'm falling for the hype), but regardless of whether I end up liking the game or not it is absolutely pathetic that it the game was banned for the rumoured reasons. While different mediums, it isn't fair that movies and TV shows can have drug references, sexual themes and whatever else while games can't.

I imagine actually that if people and places like the OFLC actually allowed gaming as a medium to mature even more than it has, rather than stopping it via bans or whatever, then we would see less FPS and violent games in favour of games with more mature story based content like sexual themes and whatever. Who knows though, I guess. Anyway...

Post Simian said...

I tend to agree with most of nismo's comments here. I certainly would like to see games mature because more interesting and dynamic by testing boundaries.

I do wonder why they are allowed to ban a game without entering into any discussion on the topic.

If they don't state why it is being banned people can not argue against that. Doesn't that go against the concept of the government serving the public in a transparent manner?

People don't seem to remember that the government and it's departments work for us. Give us the option to make the value judgement. I am as much a person as the person who has made this decision for me.

If the censors/classifiers have seen it, does that mean they are now forever tainted? Are they taken out the back and shot after classifying such a game?

David said...

As the full OFLC report has been leaked to the internet here., we can now establish that the main reason for the ban was the drug use, which is present in the previous Fallout games (And countless others), specifically the use of morphine, which I do not believe was previously present in the series.

Without doing any research whatsoever I can think of 2 games where morphine use is prevalent, firstly in Half-Life 2 and subsequent episodes the HEV Suit can be heard saying things such as "Minor Fracture Detected, administering morphine" when the player takes damage. This is not player controlled however, so perhaps that is where the line is drawn, giving the games (I believe) a rating of MA15+. Secondly, in the 2005 title, Call of Cthulu:Dark Corners of the Earth, the player can use morphine in much the same way as described in Fallout 3, with the possibility of an overdose if too much is used in a short period of time. This game is rated MA15+.

I fail to see how Fallout 3 was Refused Classification for containing content that have previously been deemed allowable under the MA15+ bracket, or why content in video games is considered infinitely worse than the same content in books, films or any other form of media.