Dark Sector refused classification in Australia

The OFLC strikes again!Dark Sector has been refused classification in Australia, disallowing the sale, advertisment or importation of the game.

Now this isn’t the first time the OFLC — the Australian Ratings Board — has banned games because of extreme graphical violence. Soldier of Fortune: Payback was similarly refused classification late last year.

In their report the OFLC stated Dark Sector was a "violent and sometimes gruesome game with a sinister storyline and ominous outcome. The violence and aggression inflicted upon the protagonist is of a high level, naturalistic and not stylised at all." The board did recognise that the violence was in context, as the player must "defeat a scientist that has infected people with a mutant virus," but still decided that the violence "exceeds strong and as such cannot be accomplished in a MA15+ classification." Herein lies the problem.

Australia’s highest rating for video games is MA15+, so any game with content that is deemed to exceed "strong" (i.e. "strong sex scenes" or "strong language"), is refused classification and banned. On the other hand, there are already R18+ and X18+ ratings for films and R Cat1 and R Cat2 ratings for literature. Australia is the only Western country in the world that has no adult rating for video games.

As shown here, a recent market research report showed the average age of a gamer in Australia in 2007 was 28. How then, can the ratings board disallow the sale of a game simply because it is not suitable for minors. If you had an adult rating, any game that is too extreme would simply have an R18+ rating slapped on it and everything would be dandy. Games such as Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude, Reservoir Dogs, Soldier of Fortune: Payback, Postal and Postal2, Manhunt and Mark Ecko’s Getting Up wouldn’t have been banned. Similarly, games such as GTA III, GTA: San Andreas, BMX XXX and The Punisher could have been released without the need for censorship of certain aspects of the games.

The lack of an adult rating for computer games has been the subject of complaint in the Australian gaming community, with the majority of gamers questioning why computer game content is effectively censored, while movies with similar violence or sexual content are simply given an R18+ rating. Furthermore, a line in the official OFLC guidelines state "adults may hear, read and see what they wish." Seeing as it is illegal to buy, sell, advertise or import games that are refused classification it’d be pretty bloody hard for an adult to "see what they wish."

With the ratings system unlikely to be changed any time soon, we Aussie gamers will unfortunately just have to miss out on Dark Sector.

[via IGN]


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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