OFLC Report: Why Fallout 3 Was Banned In Australia

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]


  • 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?

  • 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.

  • 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


    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…


    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 😛

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • @HotDamn!

    hope you enjoy your edited version of fallout for $119.95 rrp at eb games

    mean while ill be playing the uncut ntsc version i preordered for $60 delivered most likely a good few months before the pal version is released like usual …


    ps. john smith! what does he know he gave GTA4 10\10 ffs

  • Jesus tap dancing Christ, it’s just MORPHINE. We’re perfectly able to think to ourselves, ‘well, the guy’s using drugs, but this is a game – doesn’t mean I can do it too.’
    And after all those government ads in mailboxes and on TV screens you’d think people would’ve gotten the point already.
    How disappointing that the OFLC is so… Jack Thompsonish when it comes to video games that it considers the average Australian to have an intelligence level below a rat’s.
    I’m not saying rats take drugs or play games, though.

  • In reference to why previous FALLOUT games get an MA15+ even though they have mentions of drugs, it is more than likely because the OFLC regard today’s games with much more realism than previous iterations.

    The fact that FALLOUT previously had only been a 3rd person perspective game also may have something to do with the MA rating. This time around, the game will include a 1st and 3rd person perspective, and if drugs are administered in the 1st person view coupled with the realistic interpretations of these drugs, it’s not hard to see why they’d have a problem with it.

    Give Mario realistic graphics and the consumption, and visual representation of Mushrooms like it’s real-life counter-part, and you’ll have yourself a banned game also.

    It’s probably a hard ask, but you people shouldn’t be blinded by your own frustrations.

    In my humble opinion, we should be grateful it WAS only the drugs, because like GTAIV, I don’t see this as a big change to the game.

    Having said that though, I’m still gonna import. 🙂

  • This is total bullcrap. They have to be crazy. What *sane* person honestly believes “ZOMG TEH GUI IN TEH VIDYA GAEM IS TOTALY DUIN DRGS SO I MST 2 LOLOLOLOLOLOL”

    Jesus, it pisses me off.

  • I put up an article on this whole bloody Fallout 3 banning last night for where I work but I am curious about one thing (which is something I did write about)…

    If the OFLC are so concerned about drugs and injecting yourselves with things in games, how in the hell did Bioshock make it in?

  • I wonder how Bioshock, with its ‘Let’s grab this here needle and jab it in my arm injecting myself with this drug that clearly makes people become insane murderers because it’ll make me stonger and faster’ got past just fine. I could go on with other games.

    Seems to me the OFLC or whoever’s really behind this just ban something big-but-not-too-big every now and then to assert their power. It’s inconsistent and sending a stupid message.

    This is ridiculous, and to be honest I don’t care if it’s illegal, I very well may import this.

    I will NOT be censored.

  • Someone really need to tell the Attorney Generals of Australia (or maybe just one? that Fallout 3 is a continuation of two games from 10 years ago in whcih you also could eat mind-altering drugs like mentats and in which there also were Jets and Stimpacks – no morphine, though.

    The concept of Fallout is a satire-irony 1950’s version of how live would be 150-200 years after the bombs hits. (bombs of course here being atombombs 🙁 ) Someone needs to convery this to the attorney generals.

    I weren’t around in the 1950’s but I have seen old science films from the 1950’s in which they predict that ‘taking a drug 100 years from now will make you smarter’. I have also seen 1950’s film set in the future in which people eat pills for everything…food, to get smarter, to cure diseases…

    That’s the world Fallout games worps 200 years into the future and spins the satire-irony over.

    I would much have preferred that the game’s gore level have had it gotten the RC treatment…Much would I have preferred the game not the be banned at all in the AUS….

  • It’s certainly a very blurry line they are applying. What about Bioshock? Every few minutes there was a visual depiction of my character injecting a huge frigging syringe full of junk!

    I have no problems with a rating system to classify content. I think giving gamers and parents of younger gamers an informed classification to guide choice is very useful.

    But a huge slab of gamers are adults now (average age is 28 in Australia). I have children of my own. I think I’m capable of distinguishing between fantasy and real drug-use.

    In fact most adults my age have already encountered and made choices about drug use 15 years ago. We need an R18+ classification.

  • @ Over It

    I never said I was going to get the local version sunshine. Now that would be just plain silly, wouldn’t it? 😉 I was merely making a point about your comment being moot.

    And please, leave John Smith out of it.

  • Fucking hell there is no way i am not going import this i mean we can have full nudity on our tv’s at 9:30 but cant have this crap……..

  • There’s a big contradiction in the OFLC’s statement.

    The first sentence:
    “The game contains the option to take a variety of “chems” using a device which is connected to the character’s arm.”

    And the last one:
    “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 delivery method from what the OFLC are saying doesn’t seem to be very realistic. Herein lies the argument’s flaws. The OFLC instead of focusing on the delivery method like their statement says, is instead focusing in on the realistic depiction of drugs.

    Following this same logic any game promoting realistic hazards such as alcohol causing drunkenness or guns causing damage should also be prohibited.

    Other games promote the same sort of cause and effect realistic usage of items akin to the drug use of Fallout. Two of these games, Morrowind and Oblivion show the same sort of drug use through the use of potions providing positive and negative effects on the character. This is akin to what Fallout’s drugs would use.

    Half Life 1 & 2 as previously sited in these posts further display the same usage of drugs in a more realistic way, by administering morphine when the player’s health was low (granted it didn’t actually have any real effect on gameplay it only allowed for a greater sense of realism). Max Payne also showed the same kind of drug use in the way of achieving better health when damaged.

    In both cases like Fallout 3 these drugs suited the games setting and intended audiences perfectly and added to a sense of realism, something that games strive to do all the time whilst giving enjoyment. Limiting it only damages the audiences’ sense of reality more. Based on the number of exceptions to this rule there is no basis for this RC.

    Even the later comment of “encouraging proscribed drug” use isn’t valid either based on the number of exceptions either. In Haze the drug use is evident throughout the entire game and needed for its completion. In comparison Fallout 3’s drug use is more optional than compulsory and as for encouragement; there are negative effects that nullify using drugs all the time. Player’s will have to use their judgment to determine the validity of using drugs.

    The question we need to ask the OFLC is why Fallout has still been denied an MA rating when other games sporting the same use of drug use (admittedly to a lesser extent but still in the same vein) were allowed into the country?

    A stricter board as Booker stated in the article above?

    Probably, but then the question we need to ask ourselves is again why?

    Do we need to be stricter in the way games are reviewed and the way we deal with them?

    The OFLC could of done this with any game, games certainly far worse than Fallout (GTA 4, Bioshock, STALKER) in it’s depiction of drugs, violence and sexism. But it choose to do it with this Fallout. Why? Perhaps to get gamers more involved with the OFLC rating process and more aware about the issues they are presented with in games.

    There are three roads this game could follow.
    A refused classification (as it is looking and happening), a MA+ rating (passing on the need for a R 18+ rating for a game even less deserving than this one) or what the OFLC system really needs a R18+ rating. This could be created and passed onto this game and the following ones bypassing this ungainly process completely of refusing classification.

    Of course this can only happen if there was enough opposition from a vast majority accepting the need for restrictions on games and thus the need for a higher (R 18+) rating. The issue isn’t really about Fallout 3 but of treating games as a piece of literature.

    If this is really so important to the gaming community it should be fought over. Much in the same way as books are/were (The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger in America) or films are/were (King Kong in 1942, Australia), games now have to go through their own development to be recognized as literature, even if it is controversial.

  • What is this faggot-tree?!
    THIS is why I hate censors. By this logic, they should ban the entire series, along with a few dozen other games.

    Seriously. If someone cannot understand the difference between taking “chems” in a GAME and in real life, they need to be eliminated from the gene pool…god only knows it needs a damn lot of chlorine.

  • i am so bloody annoyed with this constant junk, we as australian gamers should start to push for an R 18 + rating or for a public view on these matters, people who deal with these ratings are so out of touch with the gamers of australia *sigh* we can’t twiddle our thumbs and hope we need to send feedback and or start a list with our names and e-mails. there have been far worse games released that support drug use in game

  • So according to OFLC, its OK to display images of naked children for profit, but its not OK to represent drug use in a fantasy game.

    Bear in mind that the images of naked children are actual photos, not an artificial representation.

    OFLC obviously believes that pedophilia is less a problem than computer games, which makes you wonder about their personal beliefs. Perhaps Bethesda should have referred to Fallout 3 as a work of art instead of a computer game, that seems to make it all OK.

  • Here I am a 40 something bloke who wants to continue playing a game I started years ago, loved em all. I went out and showed my appreciation to Bethesda for all that fun by pre-ordering my collectors edition and now the only glimmer of enjoyment, the only game I have waited for with any degree of anticipation in years, has been kicked into touch by a bunch of inconsistent, incontinent, incapable, inbred book burning nethanderals. To the OFLC please come back and have another look at all the other games out there that have recieved classification, God there are hundreds that have some form of drugs use, games mentioned in this forum, GTA, Stalker & Bioshock just to name a recentish few. Let Ban ’em all, then let’s go one further let’s tar & feather the distributers and goal the developers….makes me want to do something violent….if only I can find a mindless violence game to do that…anyone hear of that game where you get to thump/shoot/run over a member of the OFLC??

  • i don’t give a shit what kids see on a dvd or video game, it is up to the parents to restrict things to there children and no one else.
    thats how it used to be and should still be that way.

    get real oflc.

    p.s. nudity in a movie will bring it right up to ma15+ but honoustly i think violence is much more vorse. nudity is natural why are people so offended by it

  • jesus christ yes okay fine for all those parents out there who dont want there lil timmy seeing a game with drugs in it fine, solution to those parents dont fucking buy it, im sick of these dick shit parents buying there kids MA 15+ games then going and having a waaa to every 1 cus they dont think its apropriate for their ten yr old son, jesus parents stop ruining it for the rest of us by complaining to olfc and shit really u guys shud be blamed for every game banned from australia

  • I may be mistaken, but didn’t Metal Gear Solid, and Metal Gear: Snake Eater, include Dimazepan in the game. Taking it helped calm your nerves when you were sniping at people, but taking too much of it resulted in you becoming addicted to it.

    Please don’t misunderstand, I loved these games, but this was a case of a game, involving drug use with a clear effect and end result of addiction, and it was still allowed classification.

    So, unless I missed something with the facts I mentioned, what’s changed in the space of time since they were classified, and Fallout 3?

  • It is really disappointing to see this judgment. As with one of the previous comments, I am 37 an have been waiting 10 years for this, just for some ‘Politically Correct’ morons to come an edit it for me because I and thousands of others are apparently too stupid to distinguish between fantasy and reality. I have a 10 year old son who knows more about sex and drugs than I did at 18 and he sure as shit didn’t learn it from computer games. These ppl really need to come out of the fantasy land they live in, get in the real world and accept that these days a 12 year old would probably know more about sex and drugs than they do. We seems to be one of the most over governed countries in the world. Looks like I’ll be importing. I’ll just have to ask my son how I go about it!

  • It is really disappointing to see this judgment. As with one of the previous comments, I am 37 an have been waiting 10 years for this, just for some ‘Politically Correct’ morons to come an edit it for me because I and thousands of others are apparently too stupid to distinguish between fantasy and reality. I have a 10 year old son who knows more about sex and drugs than I did at 18 and he sure as shit didn’t learn it from computer games. These ppl really need to come out of the fantasy land they live in, get in the real world and accept that these days a 12 year old would probably know more about sex and drugs than they do. We seems to be one of the most over governed countries in the world. Looks like I’ll be importing. I’ll just have to ask my son how I go about it!

  • I think Michael Atkinson should pull that 7 meter pole out of his arse and do something about his inbreeding shit hole of a State, instead of banning games with “morphine” in them.No offence to any south Australians.They should bann hospitals, they have morphine in them. Seriously what retard would actually be so involved in a game to take morphine bacause they character is!!!!! Are Your Fuckin Retarded!!!!!!
    R 18+ should introduced in Australia, i’ve had enough of this censorship crap!! I just want the army to bomb South Australia, and maybe Tasmania aswell.

  • First of all i am extremely disappointed at the inconsiderate decision the South Australian Attorney General, Michael Atkinson Has made. He should be focusing his power in pulling the 7 ft pole out of his well penetrated South Australian Inbred arse. No offence to any prospective South Australian Fallout 3 players. Also how could such a simple drug, such as Morphine, be so influencial that it must be banned from the game, hey why dont we just ban morphine from Hospitals? You stupid Jackass!!!. Personally i think the Australian, American, Korean, Chinese an Russian Armies should deploy all of their military power into completely obliterating the State of shitty South Australia, and maybe Tasmania…. Then New Zealand, fucking Kiwi”s.

  • Wow chill, not like the rating would really matter that much. You get to buy a copy regardles, I used to have a copy of Playboy masion computer game, not sure how old I was when I got a hold of that, but I am sure I wasn’t 18. Haven’t seen anyone asked for proof of age so far.

    But that rating is truly a bit harsh on Fallout 3.

    In GTA the fictional police force will stop chasing you if you hide good enough after you club some pedestrian on the head, mug him then murdering a street full of people and law enforcement.

    On top of that, hollywood movies also wrongly protrait police as inefficient donut-eaters and glorify drinking and drug use even further but they are allowed, strange indeed.

    Plus alchohol would be killing more than morphine, morphine is not something you can get from a corner store. Go to brisbane CBD on weekend nights and you will see how many idiots die or get injured from drinking too much. Those troublemakers are simply drunk, not on morphine.

  • i cant believe they let a game like haze in which you kill people so your drug meter goes up then you inject yourself with drugs so that you can become a super soldier and kill more people to get mroe drugs then after missions you start to come down and spin out and all that its just plain stupidity. whereas if he is using morphene to stop him taking damage who really cares

  • In response to

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

    Firstly fuck you, secondly I did think of the children, which is why I bought Fallout 3. I was hoping to brutally murder them for fun 🙂

  • Don’t why anyone would want to ban virtual drugs, when they are not addictive or hurtfull to your physical health. Freedom is in the toilet.

  • this is getting annoying, GTA, L4D2 , fallout 3 , i mean i pay my taxes , i work , i enjoy my gaming, but where r my rights ??? the rights of children are with there families, if i wanna play a goery drugged up game i shud be allowed to without this bullshit restrictions on games, movies have R +18, wat makes a movie different from a game , your still viewing its content and taking in the violence so whats the difference? wgat because you have input to a game? i have input to a movie to, if i wanna watch it or not, AUSTRALIA SAYS YES TO R+18 GAMES

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