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OFLC - Australia's Video Game Rating System Explained Print E-mail
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Written by Christophor "SuperGuido" Rick   
Thursday, 08 November 2007

[OpEd]

Australia's OFLC - Office of Film and Literature Classification, has a simple 4-level system similar to the ESRB but looking more like the film ratings in America. I believe that they are by far the strictest rating system I have seen and openly admit to censoring things. Usually after the fact. Additionally, trying to get information from them is akin to squeezing water from stone and just about as effective. If you head to their website you will most likely have a headache before you find what you are looking for. To save you some time I have outlined the system below and included a few useful links.


  This article and my other article on the OFLC would probably be banned in Australia because I have criticised them and the government. But luckily, I don't (and now never will) live there. Here are the possible classifications for games on Censorship Isle. The Thought Police take a top down approach to things, must be because they spend their lives upside down, and so I have done the same.

 At the top of the ladder is RC (Refused Classification) which means the game is illegal. These games 

  • depict, express or otherwise deal 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 to the extent that they should not be classified; or
  •  describe or depict in a way that is likely to cause offence to a reasonable adult, a person who is, or appears to be, a child under 18 (whether the person is engaged in sexual activity or not); or
  • promote, incite or instruct in matters of crime or violence; or
  • are unsuitable for a minor to see or play


Recent Games that have been refused classification include: Soldier of Fortune: Payback (2007), Blitz the League (2007), Spin the Bottle (yes, it's a video game now!), Reservoir Dogs, 50 Cent Bulletproof and Postal 2: Share the Pain (2005) (only 2 titles this year it says)

The first tier of games that are allowed distribution in Australia carry an MA 15+ rating that depict, express or otherwise deal with sex, violence or coarse language in such a manner as to be unsuitable for viewing or playing by persons under 15.
Recent games with this rating include: Crysis, Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, Unreal Tournament 3, Haze, Hellgate: London, Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles, Beowulf, The Witcher, Mass Effect, Dead Head Fred, The Orange Box, Kane & Lynch, Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts, Assassin's Creed, Turok, Silent Hill Origins... (A total of 46 titles this year)

Next step on the censorship ladder is M for Mature. This content is simply 'moderate in impact.' This is another thing I have noticed about the OFLC. Computer games (except RC and MA 15+ computer games) that cannot be recommended for viewing or playing by persons who are under 15. Recent games with this rating include: Flatout Head (PSP), Syphon Filter: Combat Ops, Eternal Champions, Blacksite, Conflict: Denied Ops, ATHF: Zombie Pro Am, Orcs & Elves (126 titles this year already)

PG is for Parental Guidance. If you have children and you're a parent you might need to guide them away from this title or maybe even avert their eyes forcibly if you are one of the supporters of the OFLC. Just be sure to make exasperated huffing noises as you walk past these titles. Computer games (except RC, MA 15+ and M computer games) that cannot be recommended for viewing or playing by persons who are under 15 without the guidance of their parents or guardians. Recent games with this rating include: Rolling Thunder 2, Cybernator, Pain, Bleach: The Blade of Fate, Omega Five, Final Fantasy XII Revenant Wings, Ratchet & CLank Future Tools of Destruction (239 titles so far this year)

G for General Audiences. Apparently this game is so innocuous that it managed to make it past the bloodhounds without them so much as raising a whisker. As there is no E, though there are conflicting reports on internet. G stands to be the bottom of the ladder for the Australian ratings system. You can imagine this game would have absolutely nothing that anyone would ever find offensive. Sickly sweet, perhaps, but not offensive. Recent games with this rating include: Dark Mist, Riff: Everyday Shooter, Donkey Kong Jet Race, Disney's High School Musical 2, Anubis II (416 titles total so far this year)

Allegedly there was an E rating in Australia but the OFLC must have refitted their rating system and rolled that into G. It makes sense as G is basically the same as E for everyone.

If you would like to do a search of the OFLC database click here which was seriously buried on the website. For example you can find out that CARMEN ELECTRA'S AEROBIC STRIPTEASE: IN THE BEDROOM is a PG title on DVD, how odd.


Of course if you want to submit something they are happy to take the money and the fee schedule was readily available directly from the main page. To get a video game classified will cost you, if I'm reading this correctly, a minimum of $2,000 Aus. But if you change the title of the game and then need to have the rating still apply you have to pay an additional $460 Aus. But if you just want to have them check out the game demo then it's only $1070 Aus. I'm not really sure what the levels of Assessed Computer game are but there are 3 of them and they will set you back between $470 and $810 Aus.

Censorship is an expensive business!

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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 07 November 2007 )

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