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OFLC - The Art of Censorship at its Finest Print E-mail
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Written by Christophor "SuperGuido" Rick   
Thursday, 08 November 2007

[OpEd]

If you thought yesterday's articles on German Law and video game ratings was harsh. Wait until you read about Australia. The OFLC - Office of Film and Literature Classification is the governing body for all media down under. Sure they may have dropped the word CENSORSHIP from the office title, but it doesn't mean they stopped the practice.  

 The major problem in Australia and New Zealand with video game ratings is censorship and the lack of an adults only rating. While Film can receive and R 18+ and X 18+ a game cannot. Thus any title that they deem not suitable for a 15 year old can be prohibited from sale in the country. As if that weren't enough the game, if it does not receive a rating, is actually illegal to even be imported. So you would technically be breaking that law if you purchased it online or mail order. So you can go watch a hardcore sex flick with massively realistic blood and violence and even REAL sex in it. But you could not play a game at home that would only be simulated versions of any of that. I hereby dub Australia and the OFLC Kings of Hypocrisy and the Master of the Double Standard. All hail the king. Oddly enough, they don't classify mobile phone content.

Contentious material is classified by them as anything that may warrant an M or MA (15+) rating. Man who runs that place, my grandmother? Computer games, whether they are locally made or come from overseas, have to be classified before they can be sold, hired or demonstrated in Australia.

In the land down under if something describes, depicts, expresses or otherwise 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 should not be imported. Additionally if it describes or depicts in a way that is likely to cause offence to a reasonable adult, a person who is, or who appears to be, a child under 18 (whether the person is engaged in sexual activity or not) or in relation to a computer game – are unsuitable for a person under 18 to see or play likewise it should not be imported. Finally if it promotes, incites or instructs someone in matters of crime or violence it can be banned from importation.

Of course in recent years the OFLC does not seem to be very clever or stable. Duke Nukem 3D was give an MA 15+ rating for the shareware demo, but the full game was refused. The game was sold with a self-censory sticker and when the OFLC tried to have it pulled from the shelves they found the distributor had actually informed them of the plans and so they reclassified the game instead of pulling it.

Tender Loving Care
was refused a rating as an interactive CD-ROM yet got an MA15+ as an interactive DVD. I guess because technically it would be a film then right?

The Grand Theft Auto series is a favorite target of the OFLC. It banned GTA 3 for sexual violence but Vice City was modified and got an MA15+. San Andreas managed to squeak by but when the hidden sex content was found the game was pulled until versions with that content removed were made to be distributed.

Manhunt managed to sell for a year before it too was executed because someone high up in the government complained about it. I'm assuming it is nice to have a load of power like that.

Marc Ecko's Getting up: Contents Under pressure was banned because it too closely resembled Australia's censorship happy government. I mean because it was seen as to incite, instruct or encourage crime because it was about tagging and graffiti.

It would seem to me that the OFLC is the most powerful independent body in the world. It is not actually part of the government but the members are assigned by the government for 2 years. Fat chance of me ever being elected to that one I imagine. Maybe if the government had some sort of semi-permanent person on the board they would receive more standardized results. But I believe part of the problem to be that the Australian government is actually made up of a confederation of 9 states and each one probably has a different idea in regards to things. So the censorship will continue and if you don't like it we'll institute mandatory beatings and whippings for all dissenters. Any questions?

(Hey Australians... maybe it's time for a change) 

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Last Updated ( Thursday, 08 November 2007 )

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