AU Diary: Mortal Kombat… Where No Australian Has Gone Before

Today is going to be an interesting one. Today, despite the fact that the game was refused classification, I'm going to be checking out Mortal Kombat.

My trip to GDC was organised long before the Classification Board's decision, but when the circumstances changed, I wondered how Warner Bros would react - would the Australian press still be allowed to see the game? Would anyone from the studio be able to comment on the decision?

While I'm still going to be playing the latest build of Mortal Kombat, I'm expecting it to be a strange experience. I'm also anticipating that most of the US developers will refuse to comment on the situation in Australia.

As Elly reported yesterday, Warner Bros intend to appeal the decision and, without jinxing proceedings, I'm pretty confident that Mortal Kombat will be released in Australia, with minor adjustments if necessary. It's just a shame that an antiquated system, in clear need of reform - from the ground-up - has resulted in a decision that clearly negates one of the key elements of the classification guidelines: adults should be able to read/see/play what they want.

Of course both sides will spin this decision to suit their own particular argument. The vocal minority will no doubt use Mortal Kombat as a prime example of the content we don't want to see in this country, but I on the other hand - while not questioning the decision itself - simply see this as another reason why an R18+ rating is needed in Australia. As adults we must be trusted to make our own judgements on such material - and we need a rating system that helps us make those decisions. As it stands such a system does not exist, and that makes it difficult for adults from all walks of life - including parents - to make informed decisions.

We need a change. And hopefully that change is coming soon.


Comments

    I'm no marketing expert but I don't think the publishers of this game will be disappointed with this controversy. It has got more talking about the game at the very least.

      How is Mortal Kombat going to benfit from the marketing in Australia? Its not for sale. I am aware that it can be imported, but the % of people that import (need a credit card, know what site to trust, what version will run on Australian equipment etc etc) are in the minority.

        Ummm.... So the retailers complaining about people importing instead of buying from them have nothing to be concerned with.
        Most adult gamers are tech savvy enough to have this sorted... and children probably shouldn't be playing MK anyhow.

    I've got my fingers crossed, but I would never get my hopes up. Considering the way things have gone in the past, I have no amount of confidence that this will come through untouched :|

    I don't understand why now does the OFLC stand up against Mortal Kombat's violence? It hasn't changed in terms of gore since the 90's

      I had the same thought initially, but I assume it's got something to do with those x-ray style shots of bones breaking etc.

        Yeah I'd say it was the detail that got it banned.

          As Fenixius said there are some other articles about the issue, specifically why it was banned. I believe the 'realistic graphics' were also a greater factor here than in the past.

      ACB, not OFLC. They changed their name to the Australian Classification Board a few years ago.

      As to why, there was an article last Friday about the reasoning the ACB provided which included excerpts from their own papers that clearly explain the ban.

    The classifciation board need to realise that their decision is a glitch not an impediment for gamers.

    Given the PS3 has no region coding and the XBOX is same as the UK, gamers will go overseas and buy MK9.

    If anything, it hurts retailers as they will be denied sales from a popular franchise.

    Another silly decision from an antiquated government body that hurts local business.

    If it doesnt pass just import it from overseas.
    yes it hurts our local game economy but what else are we supposed to do?
    Our protests and constant complaining have done next to nothing.

    Hell we should have had a decision LAST YEAR! We also should have one around NOW. Not holding my breath of the ratings system to change any time soon.

    In the meantime im going to import the games i cant get here, and if people start telling me off for it, ill point at the ratings board.....

    "with minor adjustments if necessary"

    Hello no. Either release it unedited o don't release it at all. MK is one game that should not be edited.

    I'm sure the developers and Warners are well aware that Australian consumers have numerous avenues to get the game regardless of classification or not (science be praised for the modern age).

    The OFLC are just peeing into the wind with their mouths open now.

    People importing RC games seem to forget that customs considers them 'prohibited goods' and WILL kick your ass if the find them(or perhaps 'when' if the decide to call a blitz).

    Unlike FEAR2 and AvP, Warner Bros will not be successful with their appeal for Mortal Kombat, for a number of reasons, but mainly because the ACB need that one game to draw the line with in our achaic system. That one game that stands as an example of 'too violent to just shuffle in as MA15+'.

    If they allow MK9 an MA15+ unedited, they lose the moral right to call bans based on violence ever again. IMO, Mortal Kombat will be the most violent and gory video game to come out for a while, and if the ACB bans anything violent after letting MK9 through, a developer will say 'but you let Mortal Kombat through'.

    They'll lose all credibility, and I'm pretty sure they don't want that.

      Ummm... AvP is already that example, there was nothing changed in that game when it was resubmitted, you can still decapitate in the game.

      If anything, I'd say that it would be a good chance of actually passing.

      The Classification Board don't need that "one" game, they have RC'd games in the past and those games are a benchmark of sorts, I personally think we actually NEED more of these RC'd/overturned cases, as this simply highlights the need for the video games classification to be completely overhauled, regardless of whether or not an R+18 classification is made.

      The ACB already has no credibility. Teh interwebs, by offering unrestricted access to content, completely stripped them - and, by extension, our entire classification sysstem - of it.

      I'm not entirely sure thats the case. At worst they could possibly confiscate it, but the issue with our rating system is that the game has been "Refused Clasification", you can't sell something that is RC, as you ned a rating to be able to sell it.
      RC is NOT technically banned or restricted, simply unavailable for sale within the country.
      IANAL but I'm not sure customs have any legal reason to do anything about importing RC material (Banned material is different, but RC is not the same as an actual ban... even if the AG's like to use it as one)
      (Any lawyers wanting to educate us better on this area? Maybe Kotaku could do an article on what the law actually says... and what it means)

    I guess my Aussie MK Fatality ideas may become a reality then.

      Go bunny go!

      Hey Mark, any chance of a video diary each night your there? You can do it in your jammies :D

    WB should modify it to suit our censors. Instead of blood and gore have puppies and stars and rainbows.

    Whenever there is a fatality just throw up a huge CENSORED BY THE AUSTRALIAN RATINGS BOARD.

    Then just publish this online.

    Make us into an international Joke.

    Oh, but you can have some of the characters Spank eachother - as this will server for a PG rating.

      I know you are taking the piss, but that would be so awesome and I would buy both copies!

      Hell, I'd imagine that you could even sell some of the AU versions online and make a tidy buck from those overseas wanting a copy!

    Yeah if its getting edited, i'll be going overseas. I can't see them taking out anything without ruining the game, for me at least

    I think some people may be getting confused about the process of resubmitting a game unedited. It’s not as if WB are simply going to give them the game back and say “have another look” in the hopes they will change their mind. WB will have to provide some contextual information about the violence. A handful of games have actually been successfully overturned because the developers were able to convincingly argue that in the context of the game, the objectionable material was needed.

    To: Andrew Burdusel, your comment about fatalaties while a joke will be blown out of proportion by some pro-ban idiot.

    Now your all blaming the ACB, sorry but they called it right, R18+. But we don't have R18+ so it's refused. The ministers who won't give us an R18+ category aren't copping the flak.

    Simply put, if your job is to sort coloured blocks into coloured baskets it's easy. Blue goes to Blue, Green goes to Green, Yellow to Yellow and Red to Red. Now all of a sudden a Black block comes down the line and you have nowhere to put it. A lot of people say throw it in the Red basket because it's close enough and therefore good enough. But that's wrong, it's not Red it's Black so you reject it. But now people are complaining your imcompetant because Management won't give you a Black Basket, infact management are of the opinion nobody wants Black blocks, and that they are only for adults and adults don't want blocks at all.

    So instead of yelling about the imcompetance of the sorters, who may have given quite a few Black blocks a quick lick or Red paint, we should yell at Management that we want Black blocks and we need a Basket to put them in.

    And personally, I haven't seen anything via the youtubes that make me think it's more than MA15+. I have always found Mortal Kombat's over the top Violence funny and have never ripped a living person's spine out, despite owning MK1 (Mega Drive) at a young age. 12-13 if I recall right.

      ^ Comment of the week.

    Australia as a nation is pretty conservative and I get the impression that many people in our government and it attendant bureaucracy think games are still just for kids. The average age for a gamer in Australia is around 30, worldwide he average is slightly higher.

    I think it is high time that computer games were treated in the same manner as other media such as movies and books, both of which have an r18+ rating.

    even if the game gets Australian release it will be to costly to buy here with our ridiculous pricing of retails games by the super greedy Australian retailers.

    you will be able to buy this game from the UK or Asia for between 30%-60% cheaper than any bricks and mortar store.....so, who gives a crap what some stupid law that says i wont be able to buy it here. i have order hundreds of items from play-asia and oz gameshop, etc and not once has customs ever opened up a dvd looking package....

    yet again another stupid law just for stupid people..

    To Matt: I heard 42 somewhere...

    To old skool gamer: The Publisher sells the game to EB for $90, EB sell it you for $120, you'll price match it down to $100 they make $10, that's why they sell warranties and have insane trade in prices.

    Now if publishers sold the game for $30 and EB charged $100 I'd see it. But Heck if EB could sell you 2 games for $100 (2 x $50) and make $20 each game that would change their buisness model drastically.

    So what do we do? We buy overseas and let EB know that we're done being shafted so they tell the publishers no, we're not paying $90 a game.

      its true, and its even worse for the hardware.

      while there ARE greedy retailers. I am more and more getting the feeling that it really is the local distributors, who have MONOPOLIES (because of parallel import rules) and hide behind retailers who take all the flack and simply deflect with "its not our fault", which is mostly true...

      it really does seem like retail is going to have to take one for the team in this country, before the greedy regional departments and local distributors get the point... its a real shame, in a perfect world, reasonable distributors would drop their prices as people stopped buying... but many distributors over here are just so rich with cash from their massive margins, while retailers are to the wall with their expensive wages, rents, and paper thin margins... that if the distributors don't act quickly enough, they could find they have no stores left to distribute too...

      obviously I'm talking about retail in general, not just games.

      i am not sure if you are defending or supporting the retail game industry here in Australia DKnight1000.

      but whatever you take on the situation, the public will always go where they can save money. I certainly do not feel any remorse not shopping at EB games since it is a US owned company.

      If everybody bought their games from asia at 40% off Australian retail then the industry would have to change or disappear completely, no matter what something has to happen to the blatant overcharging of the Australian gaming sector.

        I'm trying to say you should always look for the cheaper price for games, but you need to let the retailers know why they aren't getting the sales.

        It seemed clearer when I originally wrote it.

        Nobody orders online to save $2, People will order online to save $20 or in most cases $50.

    Isnt it just illegal to sell and import on itention of selling the game (eg. 10 or more copies or somethin) in Australia not import for your own home use? Pretty sure I read that somewhere in an old hyper magazine when they interviewed Atkinson on the whole 18+ debate where he agreed on people should just import if they want a game so bad enough...

    I am probably very wrong and misguided though

      It's illegal to 'import' but not to possess - except for WA.

      However, i think if it would have passed with an R18+, it 'may' be acceptable, i forget the exact wording of the law, and can't find it right now. something to do with 'not being offensive to a reasonable adult'.

      Can anyone confirm?

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