A Game Was Just Refused Classification In Australia

A Game Was Just Refused Classification In Australia

This is a little strange.

The game is called MeiQ: Labyrinth of Death. It’s a dungeon crawling RPG. It’s sort of amazing it’s even coming to Australia in the first place.

But here’s the strange part: MeiQ: Labyrinth of Death received a ‘teen’ rating in the US (13 years and up) and ‘B’ in Japan (12 years and above) but in Australia it has been refused classification.

The Classification Board has described MeiQ: Labyrinth of Death as a game that deals with “matters of sex, drug misuse or addiction, crime, cruelty, violence or revolting or abhorrent phenomena in such a way that they offend against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults.”

We’ve asked the Classification Board to send us a copy of the full report to clarify precisely why the game was refused classification.

In the US, MeiQ: Labyrinth of Death was given a teen rating as a result of “fantasy violence and suggestive themes”. The classification report also refers to a scene in which a child under the age of 18 appears to be involved in sexual conduct. With our without an R18+ rating, that sort of content has always been a big issue with the classification guidelines, particularly when sex is incentivised in any way.

Still, it feels strange that a video game is being refused classification again. It took over a decade for Australia to finally receive an R18+ classification and it’s been (mostly) smooth sailing since then, with Hotline Miami 2 being the most recent casualty. It’s very strange that MeiQ: Labrinth of Death, a game rated for teenagers in other territories, has caused issues.

We’ll update if we manage to receive a copy of the full report.


  • It’s a Vita game, so maybe this is part of Sony’s master plan to kill the handheld by having new games for it banned from sale? #TinFoilHat

  • Anyone else feel more desire to geohop and buy these games as a big F U to the Aus Nanny State?

      • The standards for what they think adult minds can comprehend without becoming irrevocably damaged are outright insulting.

        That, or the R rating is pure fucking bullshit lip-service and the REAL reason they don’t want to approve anything that’s suitable for adults is because they’re still hung-up on the idea that kids will get them anyway.

        • They’re still hung up on the idea that interactivity makes things 10x worse than simply watching a film. It’s the old ‘violent video games turns people into IRL killers’ chestnut.

          • Just imagine what is going to happen when they realise that you can virtually murder people by stabbing them or shooting them using the Oculus\Vive\whatever other VR platform you choose.

            You thought it was bad now..We are stuffed once they get wind of that.

        • Oh my god! Look what video games have done to me….

          I like lateral thinking, good story writing and keeping notes on paper with a fountain pen.


  • drug misuse or addiction

    I think that might have done it. Our R18 rating for games is mostly a slim super set over the MA 15+ rating.

    Years ago, Fallout 3 was RC-ed because one could take morphine and get both the benefit and an addiction to it. Despite the introduction of the R 18 rating for games, that same theme is still RC-ed from memory.

    • Yeah that’s right. IIRC they just changed the name to med-x and everything was apples. Pretty stupid from a classification standpoint though, given nothing you actually do with the morphine/med-x in game was changed in any way besides the name.

      • They didn’t just change the name. They took the addiction mechanic out of the game as well from memory.

        Didn’t use Med-X myself so if I’m wrong I make no protest.

        • Addiction is still there from Med-X (unless applied through the medical power armor) and all the other booze and chems, the issue was just that it had a real-world drug name. While the whole thing is pretty silly, I prefer “Med-X”, fits in with all the other fictional drugs that have been in Fallout since the beginning.

        • Nah they just changed Morpheine to Med-X and that was all. You can still get addicted. This was applied worldwide though instead of just to Australia.

          • and yet Saints row 4 was RC solely for the Suandi loyalty mission of her getting high on a made up alien drug ( the anal probe weapon was removed from the base game and sold as DLC which was fine for the ACB)

          • Not only that, the fact that when you do the alien narcotics in it, your character actually smokes it from a broken bulb and gains benefits from it. The restriction doesn’t occur simply from a drug existing in a game, the drug CAN exist, however the drug cannot give any notable benefits or positive side effects. It’s ridiculous, utterly ridiculous.

          • Yep. State of Decay had a similar problem on release because it used terms like “methadone, morphine, and amphetamines” for power-ups. The developers changed the names of the drugs and it got through.

    • > The classification report also refers to a scene in which a child under the age of 18 appears to be involved in sexual conduct.

      You don’t think that’s it? That’s a hard ban for films or games, right there.

      • Not really – stuff like the Lolita film adaptions or Thirteen get through relatively easy.

      • ah no films have passed under ma15+ with that kind of content, basically Australia government HATES IT and HATES games more, spite it being super good for the economy

      • But they are talking about characters in a video game, not real actual people, surely there is a difference and should be treated so?

  • Why is it strange? Just because we have an R rating for games does not mean everything will be given a rating. There are still reviews that need to be done before it is given a rating. And these reviews are different from country to country.

    • Yeah but when it’s approved for teenagers in other freedom-loving first-world countries you’ve got to ask whether we are clutching our pearls a little too tightly.

      • to be fair, high powered automatic weaponry also seems to be available to teenagers in other freedom-loving first-world countries and we all know how that turns out 😛

    • Well.. if you read the article:

      “It’s very strange that MeiQ: Labrinth of Death, a game rated for teenagers in other territories, has caused issues.”


      • Our teenagers in this country are much more delicate flowers compared to those of other nations, and thus need extra protection.

    • Just because we have an R rating for games does not mean everything will be given a rating.

      That’s true. What many don’t realise is ratings in Australia are two fold. There is the rating that the end consumer sees and is hopefully informed (yet sadly we see parents buying GTAn for their 12 year olds) and the classification code.

      Before something can be given a rating the item in question still has to pass the hurdles in the code and some thing will get refused classification outright no matter how far the end rating system goes.

  • Think I might just obtain the game by other means anyway now, that description has my interest piqued.

  • matters of sex, drug misuse or addiction
    Every time a game is refused classification despite having an R18 rating I’m finding people need reminding… The R18 rating allowed for increased violence only, it changed nothing in regards to sex or drug use in games. It’s all in the original articles written when R18 was introduced, unfortunately people saw “Australia has an R18 classification” and stopped reading.

    This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone, yet here we are.

    • Not only that, what many don’t realise that there are some themes that get banned outright (game or otherwise) so it doesn’t matter if there is an X rating for mediaY.

      For example, sexualised violence no matter the form is refused classification outright (from memory, it’s been a while since I last read that mess).

        • Shouldn’t be a problem unless there is sexual violence or people under 18. This game has people under 18 in apparent sexual situations.

          • Porn generally gets an X rating, not R18. Games don’t have an X rating category. Same issue as not having the R18 way back, only it’s much harder to justify needing X compared to R18.

      • Lets not forget that the Big budget Porn movie “Pirates” had to be released on 2 seperate discs over here 1 containing the sex scenes and the other containing evervthing else just because you can have violence of any sort in a porn movie due to the guideline relating to the X category

  • I still find it hilarious that Atelier Totori Plus was given an R18+ rating so this doesn’t surprise me.

    • Yes and no, the weapon you’re thinking of was removed from all versions and added back in as a Season Pass bonus (that Australian versions of the Season Pass didn’t get).

      It was then made RC because of a certain mission involving Shaundi where you took alien narcotics in the matrix world and you got super powers. Its embarassing really. With the mission gone and version modified, Australia cannot play online with the rest of the world. Compared to something like GTAV, the SR4 mission is a joke.

    • Saints Row 4 got held up over an anal probe weapon that was 100% a cheap butt joke and in no way sexual. You shove it up people’s butts, which is really more just jamming it into their lower backs thanks to the animators not going into realistic detail and fire them off like rockets. Interestingly enough there was no way to use it on ‘real’ people since it was only accessible inside the simulation.
      South Park: Stick of Truth also got into the same hot water with their anal probe gags. Interestingly they had no real issue with the portion of the game where you watch your parents have sex or the bit where you crawl inside a man’s ass.

  • The classification report also refers to a scene in which a child under the age of 18 appears to be involved in sexual conduct.

    Surely this alone would be enough for them to refuse classification?

    Also, I searched the ESRB website, and couldn’t actually find a listing for the game. They usually give pretty detailed descriptions of what’s in the game.

    • Pretty much. Funny though how they refer to a ‘child’ under the age of 18. I’ll bet it’s one of those 1000 year old dragons appearing like a young girl things where the age isn’t specified but some crusty old hack has decided that the character ‘looks’ too young.

      Case in point:

      The second article also says Ms Patten attended a training session at the Censorship Board where she was shown material that had been refused classificiation due to the size of women’s breasts in the material. The article says Ms Patten says some of the banned titles include “Barely Legal”, Finally Legal” and “Purely 18” – the links go to the Classification Board’s database showing the bans on each of those publications.

      The Australian Classification Board (ACB) has confirmed to Somebody Think Of The Children that a person’s overall appearance is used by the Board to determine whether someone appears to look under the age of 18 in a film or publication.

      Asked whether breast size was considered by the Board when determining age, McDonald said he had no further comment to make.


      In other words, if the actress or model is over 18 but has a physical appearance that looks under 18 (whatever the fuck that means holy shit it is so subjective) then the publication MUST be refused classification.

      • It can actually be illegal to share pictures of a woman over the age of 18 who looks under the age, it’s covered under Australian Child pornography laws.

        • Because of the perverted porn of where adults are dressed up to look like underage children. If someone looks naturally young but is shown to be an adult, then there’s no problem.

          • Look it’s really not written that way, you might hope there’s not a problem, but the law is written in a way that it very much could be.

        • Difference between refused classification and child pornography – if you could show that the actors in the RC film were adults, you’d be in no legal trouble. The young people who look older might not get picked up in the first place, but if they were you’d have more than refused classification to worry about…

  • they offend against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults

    How can you make such a strong statement like that about a Japanese ecchi dungeon crawler with a straight face? ludicrous. feels like your describing a criticism of Mein Kampf here.

        • David Bowie?!?!?!?!

          I am absolutely sorry for not seeing it sooner.

          The valet will take you to the deluxe first class.

          [Rolls out the red carpet and has James Dyson himself clean it while the valet, who happens to be Cate Blanchett, arrives.]

  • Did they ever review previous denials once the R rating was back in? Or does the publisher have to re-submit? I’ve wondered whether Hotline Miami 2 ever got out here after R18 came in. The steam store doesn’t tell me anything because I already own the game thanks to a workaround.

    • Did they ever review previous denials once the R rating was back in? Or does the publisher have to re-submit?

      The creators (developers and/or publishers) had to resubmit. The introduction of the rating never was about retroactively reclassifying content.

      This meant that some games that should have been R 18+ in the first place (such as GTA4 and it’s expansion) kept their original rating.

  • “…offend against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults.”

    Seriously? We elect people like Corey Bernadi and Barnaby Joyce and all of a sudden we’re enforcing standards. Sheesh.

    • It’s not the point, though.
      While this game may not appeal to you, what happens when a game you are interested in gets RC’d?
      Placing the proper scrutiny on the OFLC in all of its decisions means that we can make sure that everything is being judged fairly.

  • While on the subject, whatever happened to the SUPERHOT release on Xbox One that was awaiting classification? Or Castle Crashers Remastered for that matter (it’s a remaster of a classified game for crying out loud)? The Classification Board is either too strict, too slow or just simply don’t give a damn about gamers in this country. They still see it as a child’s past-time and not an entertainment medium for all ages.

    • The Classification Board is either too strict, too slow or just simply don’t give a damn about gamers in this country. They still see it as a child’s past-time and not an entertainment medium for all ages.

      They live in fear of Wallace and Atkinson.

      • Which is why the process is mostly automated for digital releases and we now have an R 18+ rating…
        But no rape or child porn means it’s a nanny state…

        • The automated system only applies to games that would be expected to get a rating in a non-restricted category. MA15+ and R18+ are categories that come with legal restrictions on who can buy them etc. and have to be reviewed via the normal process.

          The automated system is also really designed to cope with iOS etc. not packaged console games. Though I have to suspect that if this game had gone through the automated process it’d be passed through without anyone batting an eye.

    • I haven’t seen any update on Castle Crashers Remastered since late last year, when they released in a few more European countries.

      I’m not even sure it was submitted for classification here. Surely it wouldn’t take that long?

  • This comes hot on the heels of TMNT 2 getting reclassified down from a M to PG, I saw it yesterday and I would NOT give it a PG, nor would I advise anybody to actually watch it.

    I know they have to be harsher on games because they’re interactive, but it’s also getting to the point where they’re doing it to cutscene content too (Blood Dragon). This is why I’m scared for We Happy Few.

    • TMNT doesn’t have sexual violence or depictions of under age people in sexual situations. A movie would be just as banned as a game regarding this.

      • I’m not defending MeiQ’s use of sexual violence and underage content, I’m more referring to how the classification board is harsher on some things than others.

      • Huh? A movie would be banned because of sexual violence or under age people having sex? Since when? Plenty of movies deal with sexual violence and have under age people having sex were released here – Once were warriors (young girl gets raped), 8mm (whole movie about violent snuff porn), 50 Shades of Grey, American pie movies, Super bad, and many more I can’t even think of.

      • “TMNT doesn’t have sexual violence or depictions of under age people in sexual situations. A movie would be just as banned as a game regarding this.”

        There are countless movies going back decades which contain what you describe which are neither banned nor censored in Australia.
        Irreversible – not banned here
        The Accused – not banned here
        Once Were Warriors – not banned here
        I Spit on Your Grave (original 1978, and all 3 recent remakes) – not banned here
        The Blue Lagoon – not banned here
        Lolita (especially the 1998 version) – not banned here
        The Tin Drum – not banned here
        Pretty Baby – not banned here
        Mysterious Skin – not banned here
        Bandit Queen – not banned here
        Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song – not banned here
        Last House on the Left – not banned here
        Cannibal Holocaust – not banned here
        Lilya-4-Ever – not banned here
        The Virgin Spring – not banned here
        Straw Dogs – not banned here
        The Human Centipede parts 2 and 3 – not banned here
        Visitor Q – (necrophilia scene) – not banned here
        Scum – not banned here
        The Life and Death of a Porno Gang – not banned here
        Snowtown – not banned here
        All Things Fair – not banned here
        To Die For – not banned here
        Notes on a Scandal – not banned here
        One Wild Moment – not banned here

        Australian movies from the ’80s – Puberty Blues and Shame
        Australian movie from the ’90s – Lillian’s Story
        Just examples.

        Even a Dirty Harry movie has sexual violence in it. Neither banned nor censored in Australia.

        The Tin Drum won an Oscar for best foreign language film in 1980 and well as the Palme d’Or (best film award) at the 1979 Cannes Film Festival and it has “depictions of under age people in sexual situations”. ..notwithstanding the problems in Oklahoma and Ontario.

  • I think your all forgetting South Park: A stick of Truth, one scene was cut from the game (for Australia only) and it pretty open at how stupid Australia classification board was too.

    • I clicked this page thinking they were talking about the next game Fractured But Whole. I hope we dont get Sad Koala again under an R rating.

  • Whaaaat? Australia not rating a game for stupid reasons? That’s NEVER happened before.

  • Not disappointed there’s no mention of IARC here, just confused.

    I thought….let’s call them obscure…….games like this were better served by having a rating designated by a body that many countries have already signed up to….including Australia.

    If publishers and the stereotypical indie in their garage either ignore or flat out have no knowledge of IARC, what bloody good is it?

  • Not really that surprising. The rating board does this not infrequently primarily when it comes to JP stuff. Be that game or anime. Just go look at the Atelier game that got an R restricted rating. Likewise Azumanga Daioh when that was released here one volume likewise got R. Lots and lots of other examples. The board is very strict on what it deems “suggestive”.

  • Just watched a trailer for this game having heard nothing of it before now. Based on the clothing of the anime characters alone I’d give it an MA 15+ rating. If the themes are then overt (I can’t tell, trailer was Japanese) then I can see how the board would want to refuse classification.

    18+ should still be enough really though. I get that they’re old fashioned on the classification board but the game doesn’t seem like it should be refused outright.

  • I’m not worried that a game with apparent underage sex is RC. Child porn includes cartoons and CGI and not just photos or video of actual humans.

    • Does it actually contain that though?
      ESRB rated it ‘Teen’, and the US is hardly a safe-harbour for child-porn enthusiasts, and is very conservative when it comes to children being exposed to sexual content.

    • Whether it actually has that or not is debatable. That sort of thing usually doesn’t fly in commercial games in Japan, either. This game has an ESRB Teen (13+) and the Japanese release was CERO B (12+), and before you start accusing Japan of being more tolerant, if you look at an example of a dungeon crawler that actually has highly sexualized content, then they do get high ratings – Dungeon Travelers 2 for example had some images that had to be censored for the US release, and that got a CERO D (17+). EDIT: The local release of that was only given MA15+, too.

      What it is, is the current classification board coming down way too hard on anything with a remotely sexual connotation, because the whole board is currently comprised almost entirely of conservative 50-something grannies right now. Fairly certain what this ‘underage sex’ will end up being is something like the ‘High Impact Sexual Violence’ that got Atelier Totori’s Vita port slapped with an R18+ and apparently nearly banned (despite the same content being in the PG-rated PS3 release!). In that case it turned out that there was a skippable, text-only scene in which one of the side characters gets drunk and touches the protagonist in a way that made her uncomfortable (the text is not descriptive and it’s not even stated if she was touching her inappropriately or Totori was just not into being hugged by a drunk, mind you).

      • Atelier Totori’s R 18+ consumer advice was “References to sexual violence.”


        The PG / R 18+ for the same game issue is because (I think) the first submission of AT was under the Assessor Scheme where a trained person in the games industry recommends a rating and the Classification Board just waves it through (rubber stamps it) maybe just doing a quick google of the game’s content or see which ratings AT got in other countries (something like that) and for whatever reason the Vita port wasn’t subjected to the Assessor Scheme maybe because the industry (a different person than last time) felt it was a title likely to be rated above M so they gave it to the Classification Board for ‘classification’.

        But aside from all that I agree the whole thing is laughable and a joke. I actually sent the Classification Board an email telling them about the situation in the first paragraph and they just ignored me. I said “Maybe the director can use her call-in powers to re-assess the PG rating given to AT.” Nope.. ignored.

        “(despite the same content being in the PG-rated PS3 release!)”

        That’s exactly it.

        Both classification reports are still online:


        Just noticed that you commented on that page as well LOL

        Your second comment on that page explains the mix-up. Probably the only comment on the internet to do so. So disappointing that Australia doesn’t have a classification system / board that we can be proud of and does things properly. The powers that be shouldn’t have tacked on games classification onto an existing films / publications classification board, but whaddaya gonna do.

        The problem of the R 18+ games guidelines and its hyper sensitivity to ‘sexual violence’ is due to the attorneys-general of WA, Vic and NSW at the time only giving their support to R 18+ (unanimous support needed grr!) once the proposed guidelines were amended to make them more strict. Those 3 states all had ultra conservative attorneys-general from the Liberal Party’s right faction at the time. Especially NSW with the horrible combo of Greg Smith and Damien Tudehope (Turdhope?) – professional religious right god botherers. Just google ‘Damien Tudehope classification’ for an idea of his past handywork. Or this: http://ow.ly/RqOZ301xTKQ. While WA is naturally conservative anyway.
        So unfortunately the religious right crazies were let loose on the R 18+ games guidelines, it was the only way to make R 18+ a reality 🙁

        On a different note, to add to my comment on the previous comment page (1), (since I can’t edit my posts), I just thought of some more movies with rape scenes in them 🙂 which are available in Australia – Twentynine Palms, Ex-Drummer, Bad Boy Bubby, Deliverance, Ichi the Killer, A Clockwork Orange and Salo. Peace out

        • The Totori situation was utterly laughable. It’s so not that sort of game in any way. But according to Australia it has a higher violence rating than God of War 3!

  • I wonder what due diligence was done by Mindscape before applying for classification. It looks like their entire catalogue to date has been edutainment software.

    I personally think the CB is a gross waste of public monies, but their findings don’t particularly bother me.

    • I don’t think this was Mindscape? MeiQ is part of Idea Factory’s ‘Number 1 House in Hell’ franchise, where the first game was Trillion: God of Destruction, and the Classification entry for that lists Idea Factory International as the publisher.

      • Mindscape acquired Idea Factory International in 2015. Mindscape handles the sales, marketing and distribution across Australia and New Zealand for Idea Factory Internationals titles.

        • Mindscape are their distribution partner. They definitely didn’t acquire Idea Factory International (which is the US offices of Idea Factory). IFI is still the publisher, Mindscape’s just doing sales & distribution. Dunno if they’d have been involved with the classification submission or not but the previous IFI classification entries do list Idea Factory as the distributor & publisher, not Mindscape, so maybe not?

          • Cool, thanks for the correction mate. I had thought it was acquired; clearly a distribution partnership.

            I had thought that the distributor was responsible for applying for the rating. That was my initial understanding.

            Under the National Classification Scheme, states and territories are responsible for the enforcement of classification decisions. Here in my native SA, the Act states that “A person who is, or proposes to be, the distributor, exhibitor or publisher of an unclassified film or an unclassified computer game may apply to the Council for an assessment of the likely classification of the film or computer game”

            So you’re right again, the publisher can apply as well. I had assumed this would be addressed in the MOU for a distributor to attend to. Shouldn’t assume 🙂

          • It’s possible that Mindscape submitted on their behalf but I bet it’s more likely that they put together one submission package and sent it to all the classification offices (ESRB, PEGI etc) at once and if so it’d probably fall to Idea Factory themselves to put that together. But completely speculating either way.

  • I’m over this shit already. What the hell is the point of the classification then? Yeah, its bad… but its not beyond R18…. seriously such a bloody nanny country we live in now

  • Not something you’d come to expect from a country obsessed with sex, drugs, crime, cruelty and violence.

  • God damn it, I just wanted my cute girls in cute robots game, you bastards.

    I guess I’ll import it, can they intercept Amazon orders?

  • So, a game that I have never heard of has been banned!? Time to download it and see what all the fuss is about…

  • Our system is still broken then. I remember when Risen came out and it got banned. I actually was interested as it was by the people who did the Gothic games, which I enjoy. What always struck me as bizarre was that it was a game about stabbing people with swords but it got banned because you could have sex with prostitutes. I found this odd because prostitution is legal in Australia while stabbing people with swords is not. Yet it gets banned for depicting prostitution, not for violence. Talk about mixed messages.

  • ” I found this odd because prostitution is legal in Australia ”

    Google says Legal in QLD and VIC, Decriminalised in NSW, Illegal everywhere else.

    That would be the licensed brothel type of prostitution, not streetwalkers, work from home, etc.

    What tipped it from illegal everywhere to the situation we have now.. would be concerns about maximising the health / safety / security of everyone concerned.. and taking prostitution out of the hands of criminals.

    Still would be a million hoops / red tape / strict rules of course.. no alcohol allowed on premises for one. The councils probably wouldn’t allow any more (new) licensed brothels to open because there’s already enough.
    To the author of this article.. The games guidelines (both the pre-R 18+ and post-R 18+ guidelines) always stated that “(as a general rule), except in material restricted to adults, nudity and sexual activity must not be related to incentives or rewards”. It was never an automatic RC like you may have thought.

    Yes.. it’s silly and doesn’t make sense to have that ^ written into the games guidelines pre-R 18+ but that’s what it says.

    The words “as a general rule” don’t appear in the current games guidelines.

    Current games guidelines:

    Pre-R 18+ guidelines: (combined film/games guidelines)

    ” It took over a decade for Australia to finally receive an R 18+ classification and it’s been (mostly) smooth sailing since then ”

    Clearly you’ve forgotten about the 250+ indie games banned in Australia last year (IARC related).

    ..and several non-IARC titles.

    Here’s a list(s) :


  • It is very strange. Australia has normally had lower ratings than other countries e.g. Deadpool.

    It is bad to see and could give way for change in the strictness of the Australia rating system.

  • The R18+ rating has given violence the green card but sex and drugs are still a big no-no. The Australian Classification Board is like a backward attitude parent. They’ve given little Timmy permission to hammer cane toads, but if they walk in on him watching porn or sniffing sharpies they’ll crucify him.

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