Rumours are circulating that the Australian Classification Board has banned the video game Fallout 3.
Apparently the game includes the use of Morphine by your character. By all accounts this did not sit well with the Board as the portrayal of the unregulated use of proscribed substances is a bit of a no no and will damage the fragile minds of
Australia's game-playing populace.
The post says the information comes from a "senior" person in the organisation.
Australian Gamer managed to get its hands on the OFLC's report for Fallout 3 . The ban had nothing to do with decapitation, gore or dismemberment. It was the drugs, and only the drugs.
From the report:
The game contains the option to take a variety of "chems" using a device which is connected to the character's arm. Upon selection of the device a menu selection screen is displayed. Upon this screen is a list of
"chems" that the player can take, by means of selection. These "chems" have positive effects and some negative effects (lowering of intelligence, or the character may become addicted to the "chem"). The positive
effects include increase in strength, stamina, resistance to damage, agility and hit points.
Corresponding with the list of various "chems" are small visual representation of the drugs, these include syringes, tablets, pill bottles, a crack-type pipe and blister packs. In the Board's view these realistic visual representations
of drugs and their delivery method bring the "science-fiction" drugs in line with "real-world" drugs.
The report then states that "material promoting or encouraging proscribed drug use" is grounds enough to refuse classification. Furthermore, the use of morphine is highlighted, as well as its in-game effect: allowing the player to ignore
To Robert McClelland (Australian Attorney-General)
We the undersigned wish to express our disappointment with the recent decision to ban the game Fallout 3 .
The decision is inconsistent with previous rulings where games with similar content were granted an OFLC rating and their sale permitted.
There are many precedents for games with similar content passing classification, and no precedent that justifies Fallout 3 's banning.
We request that you review this assessment. We welcome fair and just assessment of computer games, but we feel strongly that this decision causes confusion and can only result in a lack of faith in the ratings system for computer games.
We are concerned that this decision will result in Fallout 3 being purchased from overseas sources, which in turn will hurt the computer games industry as a whole.
We are especially concerned that this is yet another example of computer games being viewed needlessly harshly when compared to other forms of media with more mature content.
The game is available at UK Amazon
for release on 3rd Oct 2008
Someone who has contacted the South Australian Attorney Generals office regarding the lack of an R18 rating in video games, and they received a response from Michael Atkinson! Quoting a segment from the letter:
Given this data, I cannot fathom what State-enforced safeguards could exist to prevent R18+ games being bought by households with children and how children can be stopped from using these games, once the games are in the
home. If adult gamers are so keen to have R18+ games, I expect children would be just as keen. I have publically argued that because electronic games are interactive, the violence and other adult content in games have a strong impact. I am
particularly concerned about the impact these games have on children, who can spend a lot of their unsupervised leisure time gaming.
As per usual, it's all about 'protecting the children', and skirts around the issue of adult gamers HAVING the choice to play the games they want. I didn't realise it was the job of the government to do the parents job for them.
Games website Kotaku posed a few questions to the Australian Classification Board and received a few useful replies of which this was one:
Kotaku AU: Regarding the use of drugs in computer games - could you elaborate on what specifically made its use in Fallout 3 too much for an MA15+ rating, and what was changed in the revised version to bring it
Classification Board: The Guidelines for the Classification of Films and Computer Games (the Guidelines) provide that at the MA 15+ classification (the highest classification for computer games) drug use may be strong
in impact and should be justified by context. The Guidelines also provide a general rule that material that contains drug use and sexual violence related to incentives or rewards is RC (Refused Classification).
Accordingly, computer games may include the depiction of drug use. However, if the use of drugs provides an incentive or reward the computer game must be RC. An incentive may be the ability to progress faster through the game. A reward may be a gain in
points or access to a wider choice of weapons.
In regard to the computer game Fallout 3, the Board is of the opinion that the use of morphine in the game has the positive effect of enabling the character to ignore limb pain. This ability to progress through the game more easily is the incentive to
take the drug while the reward is in the character's abilities.
The revised version of the game has been modified to remove the incentive and reward of progressing through the game more easily from the element of drug use. The revised version has fictional drugs depicted as stylised icons which will alter the
physiological characteristics of the characters in the game.
In the decision of the Board, there is no incentive or reward to select drug use.
Speaking to Edge, games make Bethesda has explained what it calls a “misconception” regarding the classification of Fallout 3 in the Australian region. Edge has also learned that due to concerns and issues raised in
the process of international classification, Fallout 3 will not contain real world drug references in any territory.
Fallout 3 was originally refused classification by the Australian Censor Board, citing among other reason the in-game use of Morphine in order to ignore limb pain. According to the censor's guidelines, material promoting or encouraging
proscribed drug use is banned.
In mid-August, the OFLC announced that a revised version of the game had been granted a rating in Australia, thanks to edits that changed the context of the in-game drug use.
While it has been assumed that these changes would only be in place in the Australian release of the game, Edge has been told by Bethesda vice president of PR Peter Hines that there will be no differences between the version that releases in
Australia and the versions that will release in other territories, including Europe and the US.
Hines said, An issue was raised concerning references to real world, proscribed drugs in the game, and we subsequently removed those references and replaced them with fictional names. To avoid confusion among people in different territories, we
decided to make those substitutions in all versions of the game, in all territories.
Microsoft India has announced that it has cancelled its plans to release Fallout 3 for the Xbox 360 in India. A press statement issued by Microsoft states that the game included certain content that could potentially
hurt Indian sensibilities.
Here's the statement from Microsoft India:
Microsoft constantly endeavors to bring the best games to Indian consumers in sync with their international release. However, in light of cultural sensitivities in India, we have made the business decision to not bring Fallout 3 into the
Games fail to release in India for various reasons - high prices, lack of distribution - but cultural sensitivities is a first.
Perhaps something to do with the ever more unstable country next door with nuclear weapons.
Games company Bethesda recently sent out a number of e-mails asking certain websites to remove videos containing footage of the just-released Fallout 3 .
Shacknews was among the sites contacted, and according to the message they received, the takedown notices were in reaction to possible violations of the ESRB guidelines on game advertising.
In connection with ESRB's advertising guidelines, you are instructed to remove immediately any of our Fallout 3 trailers from your website, pending further notice, wrote Bethsda's vice president of marketing Pete Hines in the e-mail
received by Shacknews.
It seems that Fallout 3 is a target for institutional censorship.
Fallout 3 is scheduled for release in Japan next month and developer Bethesda has decided to make some PC changes to the Japanese version.
For starters, the possible detonation of an unexplored nuclear bomb has been edited out, along with Mr. Burke, the non-playable character.
Bethesda also noted that one weapon title was changed because it was inappropriate and this is most likely the Fat Man, as it was the code name for the atomic bomb that was detonated over Nagasaki, Japan, by the US during WWII.
The irony is that despite Bethesda's best intentions to be culturally sensitive to a country and their history, online reactions from Japanese users, however, indicate complete irreverence and disappointment regarding the censorship.
German game censors have officially lifted their ban on the popular post-apocalyptic RPG, Fallout 3.
Germany originally banned Bethesda's Fallout 3 in 2009 citing its overly violent content, and eventually ended up offering gaming fans in the country a censored version of the open world title. Now, however, as IGN Germany has reported, with just three
years left before the end of the statutory ten-year sentence for its banning, it seems as if the development studio "initiated a difficult and rarely-successful trial" with the Federal Department for Media Harmful to Minors (BPjM) in
order to get Fallout 3 delisted from the banned list.
The censors hearing the appeal said in a statement that Fallout 3 will be removed from the list because its content is no longer classified as harmful to minors from today's perspective.
Indian and Australian games censors also banned Fallout 3. The games censorship regime in Australia has changed since the ban so perhaps if the Bethesda appeal was initiated by plans for some sort of re-release then perhaps the ban will be overturned in