Why The Mortal Kombat Decision Changes Nothing

We can spit the dummy, we can throw our toys directly out of the pram - we can run the cliche gamut, but ultimately Mortal Kombat being refused classification in Australia changes absolutely nothing. It serves as reminder of what we knew already: our classification system is broken and in immediate need of repair. That's it. Nothing more, nothing less.

You say we can't play the game. Well, you probably can. Importing this game will be a likely option for many. Head on to any number of sites and if customs are lenient you'll probably have a copy of the game roughly a week after it goes on sale, with an adult rating, in Europe and the US.

You say this is an injustice. Maybe. We don't have an adult rating for games in this country - so when a game that receives an adult rating in every other country gets refused classification, it merely serves as a reminder of what we are already painfully aware: our classification system is out of date and requires reform. It doesn't change anything, it merely reinforces what we already know.

And, despite what some may say, this decision won't affect the Games Industry in Australia - not really. This is a blip and Australia is a small market. If anything, it will add an extra layer of notoriety to Mortal Kombat and help drive sales. Sure, some may resort to piracy, but many will import - regardless, it won't make that much of a difference.

This decision doesn't make our position stronger and, conversely, it doesn't weaken it either. Rest assured, those with a vested interest in opposing an R18+ rating would have found a way to spin this decision regardless of the outcome. The Australian Christian Lobby and friends are just as happy showing footage of the 'ultra-violent' games already available in Australia as they are screaming ill-informed rhetoric about the banned games lurking behind the dreaded 'floodgates'. Either approach works for them. Again, this decision changes nothing.

The only thing that matters is our reaction. How do we react to this news in a positive manner? Go ahead and import Mortal Kombat - that is completely fair given the circumstances - but don't pirate. Go ahead and get angry - but direct that anger in a meaningful way. The Classification Board are not to blame, they are doing the best job possible with the broken system at their disposal. It's the system that needs to change here - technically Mortal Kombat shouldn't be in the hands of 15 year olds.

Go ahead and write to your local representatives, but make sure you write in a way that is rational and impossible to ignore. Don't give anyone a reason to ignore or dismiss your arguments.

This decision changes nothing - in the end it's meaningless. It's how we move forward from this point that will really make the difference in the long term. Brendan O'Connor has promised that the R18+ issue will be resolved by July, and we need to do everything in our power to make sure that the correct decision is made. By now the Attorneys-General should be well aware this is an issue that matters, but we need to continue that pressure in the lead up to July. Don't let them forget.

The vast majority of Australians are in favour of an R18+ rating for games and, if we continue to push, hopefully the Attorneys-General will finally vote with their contituents in mind, as opposed to an obnoxious vocal minority. If we do this properly, and direct our disappointment in the correct way, we can become the vocal majority - and then we'll be impossible to ignore.


Comments

    I thought it was illegal to import an RC game, and that customs could seize it? Is this article correct in telling us we're fine to import?

      You'd have to check your state laws, I think. IIRC it's illegal here in WA, but I still have my L4D2...

      Also, I can't help but read your name ('isthat legal') in the voice of Nute Gunray.

        LOLOLOL "My Lord, is that.. legal?" I just totally visualised that line. + 1 dude!

        It doesn't matter what state you are in: Customs laws are federal.

          But in some states such as WA it's actually illegal to be in possession of RC material.

            Yes, but the question was about whether it was okay to import the game. It is just as illegal to import the game if you're in WA as NSW, since the same law is being broken.

            You are right though that if you don't get caught when importing, you will be breaking state law by possessing the game in WA.

      No, it's not fine to import it technically. Customs can seize it and destroy it, and you can be added to a "registered offenders" list. There's also the possibility of a hefty fine and a criminal conviction if you're caught.

        Which only shows to serve how utterly stupid and broken the laws are - shouldn't they be worried about something that actually has the potential to damage the community at large, instead of picking on a video game (RC or whatever - yes, because a video game has clearly destroyed society as we know it -_-)?

        There's a letter of the law, and a spirit of the law, and if the spirit of the law says "ignore anything stupid about the letter" then that is what I'll do.

      Illegal to import, not to own, so once it gets through customs (assuming it does) you should be fine.
      The exception is Western Australia, where it is illegal to own or possess RC content, and kiddy porn, which is illegal to own, possess, view, etc. no matter where you are.

        although having 10,000 adults getting caught importing something like this would probably add a helpful boost to the push for an adult rating.

    Eh. I'd rather handle the news badly. I'm no big mortal kombat fan, but I'm still furious over Left 4 Dead 2.

    Do the classifications board classify books as well? Because I find the whole old testament quite abhorrent, violent, and I do not believe it should be widely available to anyone under 18 years old.

      No, these systems of classifications only apply to films and videogames, and videogames are the only medium that lacks an R18+ rating.

    You're right, Mark. The only group this will directly affect are the Australian retailers who won't be able to make money selling it here, giving more gamers a glimpse of the savings available overseas.
    Oh, and adult gamers without credit or debit cards.

    It's important to note that if the system matched that of how we rate movies - keeping in mind that 'strong impact violence' is the maximum allowed under the R rating then the game would still be refused classification ("In the opinion of the Board, the game contains violence that exceeds strong in impact and is unsuitable for a minor to see or play.") and the R18 rating will have accomplished little in the way of allowing mature games into the hands of mature gamers. The only difference is that gamers between the ages of 15 and 18 would be unable to purchase many games that fit under the R18 rating.

      Publications (printed media), movies, TV, art exhibitions, concerts/Music, games and even people can and have been classified and banned.
      Books: "American Psycho" - Bret Easton Ellis (R18+) "Join the Caravan" - Sheikh Abdullah Azzam (Refused Classification)
      Movies: "A Serbian Film" (Refused Classification)
      TV: "Californication" - "The Devil's threesome" (exceeded MA15+ classification)
      Art Exhibition: Bill Henson 2008 Exhibition (halted then allowed to continue)
      Concerts/Music: Cannibal Corpse (Banned then given R18+)
      Games: "Mortal Kombat 9" (Refused Classification)
      People: David Irving (Refused a Visa due to opinion on Holocaust)
      There are numerous other examples but I think my point has been made. Even in the areas where an R18+ classification is present stuff is still being refused classification.
      My gripe is not the fact that Games do not have an R18+ but the fact that any media that the classification board refuses to classify cannot be legally possessed by any person in Australia.
      It is an offence under the Classifications Act 1995 to possess any material that has been or would likely be refused classification.
      In the end, it is not only the gamers that are being treated like children, any person who reads, listens to music, watches movies, goes to art galleries or even attends lectures are subject to the same (albeit, less restrictive) laws.

    Hey everyone who's wondering about what customs is going to do...

    NOTHING.

    They've got bigger things to worry about. Like actual proper criminal acts.

    When I imported GTA IV, all they did was write 'GAME' on the packet and send it on to me.

    To be honest, encouraging importing is a perfect way to highlight this issue. What Serrels has written here should be on billboards.

      I agree you can import from the UK or NZ for xbox360 and UK,NZ,US for the ps3 and it usually works out cheaper too even with postage.
      I recommend game.uk and hmv.uk, used both before no problem with customs ever.

    let's all buy an imported copy of MK and send it to the ACL, just to show them how redundant their opposition viewpoint is.

    I'll simply pirate the game if the decision to RC continues to hold, as I've done for every other banned/censored game that I've wanted to play. Nanny Nation be damned.

    I agree that Mortal Kombat shouldn't be played by people under the age of 15, but there are many other games that fall into that category as well.

    On a side note I received a letter from Brendan O'Connor today which pretty much reiterated the Governments support on R18 games. He even signed it himself which I though was nice.

    yeah pretty stupid bunch of comments so far and irresponsible.

    import a banned game break the law and get all game imports banned.

    has everyone here got shares in harvey Norman?

    gerry's got his ammo loaded , courtesy of the board and he and the rest of the retailers are ready to fire at all of us.

    think people, think. Tactical decision taken in the war against imports - you have been warned.

      not getting passed here means it cant be sold, there is nothing wrong with getting the game from an Different means as long as it is in the boundaries of the law (meaning purchase it not steal it)

      War against imports? Really?

      And what exactly are you warning us about? Consequences? What consequences? That the rest of the country might wake up about this issue and start caring about adults being treated like children?

      In what parellel universe am I supposed to put Gerry Harvey's feelings ahead of my personal freedoms?

      Give me a fucking break.

      Perfectly legal to own and import RC games in most of Australia with the exclusion of the NT and WA I think...

        Until such time that you guys start pulling out rulings and precedents and laws which said you can import RC games then its really not correct

        RC games/movies are prohibited items. Prohibited items are not allowed to be imported

        Feel free to prove us wrong, but i guarantee you won't find a law or legal document that says importing RC games is ok and legal.

          i'll do the job for you

          http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_reg/cir1956432/s4a.html

          shame it says that its a prohibited good...

          (2) The importation of goods to which this regulation applies
          is prohibited unless a permission, in writing, to import the goods has been granted by the Attorney‑General or a person authorized by the Attorney‑General for the purposes of this subregulation.

          (c) in relation to a computer game -- are unsuitable for a person under 18 to see or play; or

          "computer game" means a computer program and associated data capable of generating a display on a computer monitor, television screen, liquid crystal display or similar medium that allows the playing of an interactive game.

        It's perfectly legal to own, yes, but it is NOT perfectly legal to import it.

          Correct

          so if you can somehow get it without actually importing it through the border, well...

          and this brings up a WHOLE ton of questions which the Government is trying to deal with behind the scenes right now such as is downloading something digitally seen as passing the border

          What if that stuff is hosted locally?

          They are dealing with this right now trying to figure it out.

          If MK went up for DD there is potential that it could legally be 'imported', if it was argued in court etc.

          Part 10 of the Classification Act 1995:

          http://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/C2011C00026/Html/Text#_Toc282094392

          level 2 prohibited material means:
          (a) a publication, film or computer game classified RC; or
          (b) an unclassified publication, film or computer game that contains material that would be likely to cause it to be classified RC.

          Division 2—Offences:
          102 Possession or control of level 2 prohibited material in prescribed areas
          A person commits an offence if:
          (a) the person has possession or control of material; and
          (b) the material is level 2 prohibited material; and
          (c) the material is in a prescribed area.

          "Mortal Kombat" has been "refused classification" which makes it "level 2 prohibited material." Which means it is an offence to "possess" or be in "control" of the material.

          So basically anyone who imports or possesses material that has been, or is likely to be "refused classification" is committing an offence.

            So it appears the laws seem to have been changed recently to now make them illegal to own, too.

            Super.

              Actually if you read that section properly, it says at the top:

              "The main object of this Part is to enable special measures to be taken to protect children living in Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory from being exposed to prohibited material."

              In other words, this "prescribed area" is the Northern Territory. It doesn't seem to apply anywhere else.

                Yeah, was just reading a little more...

                Each state has slightly different laws! In SA, where I'm from, I can possess it but I can't demonstrate it in a "public place" nor sell it.

                Also, I can't leave the "material" in a "public place" nor can I leave it on "private premises" without the "occupier's" permission.

                I guess the best advice here would be to check the classification laws of your own state! Big fines if you ignore these laws!

      Harvey Normans immovable stance and inability to compete with online sales has signed its death warrant according to a futurist asked to comment on ABC Radio recently. They were derived on selling tactic of solid state products that are no longer solid i.e. the product prices shift daily on the net and better deals can be found. They have a permanent price (solid state) and maybe a small cash deal if you ask but an inability to compete with a rapid price drop online. This kind of business will not work as we move forward and Gerry and others needs find a new tactic besides complaining about the future.

    already pre-order my copy from NZ, knew it wouldn't pass MA+15 rating its too gory for it.

    we may of lost this battle

    but we shall win the war in the end.

    R+18 will come soon

    www.playasia.com is where I get all my games from as they are cheaper than here in Aus and don't have to worry about classifications!

      www.play-asia.com is where I get all my games from

    ...that just felt like I was reading the script for a present-day Braveheart.

    Audio version please, Mark.

      They may take our games, but they'll never take our freedo-
      Oh, wait... they already have. :`(

    While I agree with the gist of this article - particularly regarding the need for a rational response rather than a bunch of people going off half-cocked at the ACB and making us look like self-entitled twats - I think you're understating the importance of the reinforcement of what we already know provides for our position. We need evidence. We need *timely* evidence, and the global release of MK will take place just as the classification review kicks off, and a couple of months before SCAG finally meets again. And we need something that can grab mainstream attention in a way that is positive for our position. The MK decision provides us with that.

    Indeed, the ban is particularly good in this respect because MK is a franchise that's been subject to unfounded moral panics before. We can use it to demonstrate that the anti-game crowd has been talking our of their arses for years. We can also use it to point out how very little respect for this law there is, to the point where major community figures, groups and sites are outright telling people to import in violation of the prohibition.

    http://www.mightyape.co.nz/search/?i=All&prev=&s=mortal+kombat&SearchButton=Search

    NZ this is where i have mine from (getting it)

    it will work on Aussie ps3 and Xbox 360 100%

    importing is the perfect mission lets SEND IT CLEAR

    I still don't understand what they think will happen if kids play this game.
    It's almost like they believe kids will play this game. Then the next day children all over Australia will be freezing each other and uppercutting peoples heads off, Cant they spend there time and money on stopping underage drinking and smoking a far more logical thing, You know things that are PROVEN to cause harm or does the government make to much money from these products?

      spot on! haha

    So if you want to play this game, you have to break the law.

    If you import, you break the law and risk having your game confiscated, putting you $50 in debt plus possibly receiving a fine. Not to mention that you won't get to play the game.

    If you pirate, you break the law, but have a very small chance of being caught, there is a more likely chance that they will go after your ISP than go after you.

    I fail to see why piracy isn't the best option here, especially for the Everyman who just wants to play the damn game. I don't want to hear any moral crusaders yelling that 'piracy is wrong' because in this case, whatever you do is wrong, and I'd rather do the one that has less risk of being caught thankyouverymuch!

    The only people who will miss out are the vendors who will not be able to sell the game. But the gamers will just buy or pirate it via the Internet or even get it sent over by post on blank DVDs. All this does is demonstrate the utter stupidity of the government and its censors, who are completely oblivious to the reality that they can no longer ban anything. The days of censorship are well and truly gone, with literally anything being able to be downloaded. For instance, the film "Salo" has yet again been rejected by Australian censors, but I bet that I can find it and download it within the next few minutes if I want it. The government needs to get a reality check and stop being such a pack of Luddites.

    Me and the girls think Mark did a real swell job with writing this piece together and the go-go dancing club ladies all agree he is straight down-the-isle marriage material through and through; he drives us wild!! GET THE CONFETTI & CHOOSE A BRIDESMAID, HONEY!!!
    But some of the girls were a bit dismayed with the final paragraph?
    Con-tit-uents? Like with tassels? YOU DIRTY BIRD! HOW COULD YOU? Please change this to constituents or face the very real prospect of alienating the entire go-go dancer sisterhood [of travelling pants]. Love, Lola.

    Anyone know where to order the PAL Kollector's Edition on PS3 with the Bookends? Play-Asia only listed the bookends version on the 360. Ozgameshop don't seem to list it, nor does that might ape mob in NZ.

      Ahh, found it on Play-Asia though would prefer PAL if possible. Trouble with NTSC, even though it will work on a PAL PS3, DLC tends to be region coded. For example, I've got the US version of Motorstorm but the DLC I purchased does not work with my copy, simply doesn't appear in the game but I if use a friends PAL disc, the DLC works.

        lack of an australian release will probably kill the DLC release here(which will suck for NZ).

        it's easy enough to buy a American PSN card on the net, and use it's code on the american PSN store to get the DLC for the right region

    Okay people let's get one thing straight. Importing the game is ILLEGAL! Regardless of where it comes from it's illegal to bring into this country. Don't try and sugarcoat it by saying only pirating is against the law, this is too. Having said that, if you want it bad enough do it! You play the odds in getting caught - but the odds are in your favour. Most places just write "VIDEO GAME" on your package. It's been said before but customs have bigger fish to fry looking for drugs, weapons, etc... I've imported countless times. Not only is it easier but much cheaper. Here's looking forward to release. RC'd or not I can't f***ing wait for this game! It's gonna be awesome!

    It's only a matter of time. R18+ now, tomorrow, next year. It will eventually happen which makes all this trivial and frustrating.

    Yes, importing an RC game is technically illegal (although its very seldom prosecuted).

    Yes, the classification system is broken. Why are you ignoring the elephant in the room?

    That elephant is a simple issue; adult individuals have an inalienable right (that pre-exists the State) to view any media content they wish, assuming that the process of content-creation wasn't a violation of individual rights (for instance, snuff films and kiddy porn by definition require the violation of someone's individual rights in the production process).

    This right of adult Australians has been violated time and time again by the government.

    That is the essential issue. Not "protecting the children," that's merely the politically useful argument (yes, its a correct argument and it may be the most useful from a practical standpoint, but it isn't the essential issue).

    On the basis of individual rights, it is clearly morally valid for adult individuals to import the game. There is no right to violate rights, and the State is not the source of rights. If the State disrespects individual rights, this at the very least justifies non-violent civil disobedience actions like importing a game for individual adult usage.

    More imports will mean the retailers scream and lobby for less restrictions. This is good from our perspective.

    More imports will de-legitimize the classification system as it applies to video games and generate more pressure for it to be reformed. This is good from our perspective.

    From my perspective, more imports shows the delicious universal solvent of commerce helping to undermine central authority. This, from my perspective, is a good thing.

    I am not interested in Mortal Kombat. However, those that are should consider themselves morally justified in importing the game.

      "However, those that are should consider themselves morally justified in importing the game."

      Unfortunately, that excuse won't hold much weight if customs catch you.

        That issue is why I specifically used the term "morally justified" rather than "legally justified."

        Customs may catch one or two people. That would highlight the issue in the press and inflame gamer sentiment. It could easily be the flashpoint for more vigorous public activism.

        Also, if this law is broken by a sufficient number of people, it will be de-legitimized even further.

    As long as the ACL holds wieght with politicians and one Attorney General is allowed to disrupt the vote, then no we won't get it

    The next time it comes to decide someone won't be there, they'll need more info to delay it or one of them will outright say no
    You'd have to make this such a big issue that even the ACls influence on these guys wouldnt make a difference

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