OFLC Report: Why Fallout 3 Was Banned In Australia

olfc_f3.jpg When I woke up this morning, I thought the Fallout 3 ban had been a dream. Yet, when I opened my browser to Kotaku AU's front page, there it was: my own post declaring the event as fact. When I wrote the post, I could only guess at the reasons why the game was refused classification, though rumours suggested drug references as the likely cause.

Well, 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. I should be shocked, but all I can do is shake my head. And shake it hard.

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 negitave 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 damage.

Wait, doesn't Call of Cthulu on Xbox have a similar morphine mechanic? It does indeed. What rating did the OFLC give it? An MA 15+.

As a lot of readers have mentioned, Half-Life constantly refers to the use of morphine. Yet, by the same guidelines, the OFLC gave the 1998 title an MA 15+. While the OFLC has no control over the guidelines - that's up to the Attorney-General's department - it does determine how they're applied.

I think in Fallout 3's case it was the addictive qualities of in-game drugs like Jet and Mentats and their visual representation, combined with the "morphine" mention, that pushed Fallout 3 into RC territory. Throw in a stricter board and we have our magic formula.

Yet, seeing as these drugs (with the exception of morphine) and their effects were present in previous Fallout games, it still feels like half-arsed application of the guidelines. Of course, none of this would be a problem if the Attorneys-General could agree on an R18+ rating.

Sadly, it is only a "vocal minority" that want such a rating, according to the AG office's 2007 report on games classification.

Update: A while back I made a post on what you can do to help make an R18+ for games reality. I plan on writing an update to the article in light of recent events. Remember, if you do email the Attorneys-General or the OFLC, be articulate, well-mannered and logical with your arguments - rants built of swear words will only hurt our chances.

Fallout 3 OFLC documents [Australian Gamer]


Comments

    get.............
    fucked....

    So sick of this shit

    Very, very disappointing.

    We're discussing the issue and linking to Kotaku's updates over at hyper magazine forums in this thread http://www.hyper.com.au/forums/showthread.php?t=10874&page=10

    Hopefully as this is a popular game this will motivate more people to write to Atkinson and come across as more than just a "vocal minority". I'd like to post up things people can do to make this an issue.

    It's funny. I could build a game where I can have slow motion death kills in all their gory detail and be given a M15+ rating.

    Yet if I have so much as a bottle of Panadole in the background, I get a RC.

    I change my mind. Being on a 18+ rating.

    You are effected by radiation poisoning.
    You attempt to use Rad-Away.
    You realise that you have no Rad-Away because the OFLC ordered it removed.
    You Die

    Cant wait for the AUS version....

    At least PC's and PS3's are region free.

    I don't get that classification report... it's seems kinda useless, in terms of the games classification area; they almost admit to only asking about it in offhand way.

    The "vocal minority" only applies to those with STRONG feelings, 7%... those who simply stated it was too strict amounted to 17%.

    First though in saying 70% are happy with the ratings, they refer to the group covered as the 'computer game market' - who the hell is that?? In the intro they mention having done 10 (?!?!?!) in-depth interviews, and ~1,500 phonecalls (though I didn't notice any breakdown of age, etc)... hardly a complete coverage of the population.

    And THEN they admit to having salience bias, in that the question was only asked in a very general sense, as to whether people think the rating are ok as is, and their base requirement for interviewees are people who buy/play new games every 5 months or more, which seems an odd criteria.

    Yes, the OFLC has made the right decision. There's enough immorality, specifically in Australia, as it is. Think of the children....

    Like piracy wasn't bad enough in Australia as it is. Come October many Australian game consumers will be torrenting Fallout 3 away and no money will come of it. Way to go, government.

    wow you'd think realistic depictions and negative addictive influence on your character would DISSUADE reliance on them in the game. and hey, i collected rings in Sonic the hedgehog, and jumped on mushrooms in mario, does that mean i'ma do it in reality? What now, are we going to remove all the REAL WORLD cars from gran turismo and forza because someone might try and drive like they do in the game on the real road?
    GROW THE FUCK UP CENSORS!! WE ARE ADULTS!

    I have no idea how they're going to edit this out, or even if there going to remove it - as it is a core part of gameplay. Maybe they'll replace the pills with M & Ms and the liquid with red cordial. I hate the senile liberal bastards at the OFLC

    Play-Asia here I come.

    From the guidelines: "Films and computer games will be refused classification if they include or contain any of the following (...) Material promoting or encouraging proscribed drug use." On this basis NFL Blitz was banned. The guidelines also indicate that to get an MA rating, the drug use in a game "should be justified by context". So if Fallout 3 has no justification (and the board have interpreted this as no down side to using drugs depicted in the game) then that's why they refused it classification.

    Of course, the guidelines also say games should be Refused Classification on grounds of violence if there is "Detailed instruction or promotion in matters of crime or violence.". Considering they banned Mark Ecko's Contents Under Pressure for supposedly providing detailed instructions on the crime of graffiti (hit circle to tag in real life kiddies), yet pass every FPS and sandbox games like GTA and Saints Row it's anyone's guess as to how we are supposed see any consistency in their ratings.

    Source: http://www.comlaw.gov.au/ComLaw/legislatio...A2574120004F72A

    I'll repeat my call to take the short term hit of having many games Refused Classification to show the ridiculousness of the current guidelines, their inconsistent application and the need for an R18+ rating. What I'm suggesting is that we write in to get EVERYTHING banned based on strict interpretations of the guidelines. Complain about the sexualised violence of Fruit Fuckers in Penny Arcade adventures, the drug use in every game with a powerup, and see what happens.

    Too many games get squeezed into an MA rating, when they could just as easily be refused classification. If we pushed all those games out to RC, then the call for an R18+ rating might have more weight.

    God, let's hope this game isn't reigon locked for the 360 *fingers crossed*

    over it

    is it any wonder ive imported all my consoles since the neo geo i saw this comming years ago when samurai showdown got censored ...

    you all only have yourselves to blame for buying PAL products

    all tv's made in the last 10 years come factory standard dual pal\ntsc there is no need for PAL other then to swipe more $$$ from blind people's wallets for the same product i get $50-$60 cheaper

    GG
    OFLC

    tell someone who cares

    In addition to my previous post about the (I think) rubbish 'survey' on Classifications, I found Jason Hill's 'The Age' post about Bond University's survey that found 88% in favour of an R...

    http://www.theage.com.au/news/livewire/r-rating-back-in-the-game-plan/2005/11/15/1132016799476.html

    Now that's a different number!

    Of course these things always rely on how the question is asked, and to be fair I didn't notice any mention of the number of people asked in the the above-linked survey either, but it shows how different 'conclusions' can be :-P

    So if they changed "morphine" to "morphininol" or something and changed some icons the OFLC would pass it?

    And yet this didn't stop Haze from being ADVERTISED here in Australian television.

    wow, so are they going to refuse classification next time i go to have a flu injection in the arm or get a blood test? seriously..
    kinda makes me wanna shoot ice, its so bad ass.:(

    This will go to appeal which is independant of the OFLC and the Government. Six people vote on the appeal and a 4-2 vote is allowed, its not majority rules.

    If Red Ant has half a brain they will reference previous games that have released in Australia with the same type of situations. This would be the precedent and considering the OFLC deals under legislation and law, as in the legal fraternity, precedents are a huge factor when determining outcomes.

    @ Over It

    …"you all only have yourselves to blame for buying PAL products" is such a throw-away comment. The audacity to say "I told you so" to the general consumer, who really shouldn't have to go OS for stuff like this, is just plain arrogant.

    It's hardly John Smith’s fault that he buys PAL. I certainly don't blame myself for buying PAL. As is obvious, it is other factors that make it difficult to enjoy certain gaming experiences here in AU.

    Just fucking import the thing.

    Eventually, perhaps, the slack arse retailers in this country will speak up and get an 18+ rating for games.

    The government doesn't give a shit about gamers, but big businesses, they'll probably listen if companies like EB complain loudly enough about lost revenue.

    Good link, Dempsey.

    Sending feedback now.

    Classification is mandatory, and films that are refused classification by the OFLC are banned for sale, hire, public exhibition or importation into Australia, carrying a maximum fine of $275,000 and/or 10 years jail. It is also illegal to possess content that has been Refused Classification due to illegal content.

    I can't remember which site I found this on last night but please be careful, I'm sure they could shoehorn this to fit computer games.

    For all you people out there cheesed off about Fallout 3 and other games that have been refused classification - there is something you can do.

    The reason for us not being able to play these games is because there is no R18+ rating for games in Australia. There is for movies and print media but not for games. There was political moves to introduce the R 18+ for games and every state EXCEPT South Australia was in favour. But because Michael Atkinson, the Attorney General there has a personal position of not allowing R18+ on games and therefore the whole of Australia is not allowed to have them. How's that for democracy?

    So what can you do? Everyone in Australia should start lobbying both their local Federal and State politician AS WELL AS every South Australian cabinet member; especially the SA Attorney General. Write or email and tell them exactly what you think and why you demand an R18+ rating. Why should the whole country be refused something that one man does not like?

    http://www.service.sa.gov.au/ContentPages/sagovt/PremierAndMinisters.aspx lists the contacts for all South Australian cabinet members. Hammer them mercilessly but keep it nice guys. You might want to be crude but if you want some action, make it sensible but firm.

    WHY???????
    So disappointed. I was so looking forward to the release of this game. why isn't there an 18 + rating. Its a joke.

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