The Australian Classification Board has “refused classification” on at least four video games in the last three months alone for content that we barely bat an eye over when it’s in a movie or TV show. So is the government actually protecting us from harmful content, or are they just censoring the shit out of us?
But Australia having a bit of an issue with video games is far from a new thing.
Basically, back in the 90s we introduced a video game classification system, which is good because 8 year olds probably shouldn’t be playing Call of Duty. But until 2013, we didn’t have an R18+ rating, which meant that anything above an MA15+ would immediately be refused classification and effectively banned in the country.
But even now that we’ve got the R18+ rating, we’re still banning games on the reg for stuff as harmless as the use of marijuana in a game. Yes. Weed in a game is enough for it to be completely banned from the country.
According to Kotaku, We Happy Few, Hotline Miami, an unnamed title from Rockstar Games (Grand Theft Auto), and most notably DayZ have all been effectively banned from Australia in 2019 alone.
DayZ is a fucking zombie game. But it wasn’t the killing zombie bit that got it banned. Nope. According to the Australian Classification Board, it was banned because “interactive illicit or prescribed drug use is not permitted”.
VIRTUAL WEED. We’re censoring things because of VIRTUAL. WEED.
The creators of DayZ later modified the game to remove the bud, because apparently Australia is too fragile to look at those harsh green pixels on the screen.
However, it looks like they’re facing further backlash from the Board and might still be banned because one of the downloadable extra content features also includes drugs. Not to mention, each dispute with the board costs the publisher a whopping $10,000.
But that’s not the point.
In the age of streaming, downloading and unlimited digital content, a ban on anything digital is pretty hard to police. Anyone with a decent understanding of the internet and a computer could probably locate and download the game.
Why are we censoring stuff in video games that we see in movies and TV on the reg?
According to a recent study by the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association, the average age of video gamers in Australia is 34-years-old. If a 34-year-old can’t comprehend the fact that shooting someone in a video game doesn’t make it okay to pick up a gun and shoot someone in real life, that’s an issue for the individual, not a problem with the game.
A prime example of the ridiculousness of video game censorship is evident in Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs. According to 9News, despite the film being readily available in probably any JB Hi-Fi across the country, you won’t find the game because it was refused classification because of its “high impact violence and torture.” Funnily enough, that’s kind of the whole idea of the film.
Nudity, extreme violence and drug use is referenced in film, TV and music all the time and the Australian government rarely cares. Underbelly is one of Australia’s best homegrown TV series’ and the whole show is based on drugs, sex and violence. So why are we so scared of video games?
Despite a 2018 study by the University of York finding “no evidence to support the theory that video games make players more violent,” this remains the major argument for the censorship.Image: DayZ