Once again, yet another game has fallen victim to the South Australian Attorney General, Michael Atkinson — the man unelected by the majority of the people that he has control over — and the OFLC.
CrimeCraft, an upcoming MMOFPS game, has been refused classification by the Office of Film and Literature Classification not because of violence or sexual content, but because the names of the in-game drugs come close to those of the real world. You might remember that was the reason that Fallout 3 was originally refused classification too, the healing drug was called morphine. The developers later changed the name and the game was approved.
It’s a ridiculous situation in Australia at the moment. We have a R classification for movies, but not for games. The argument by Atkinson is that children can get a hold of and play a R rated game despite the best efforts of parents. The problem is that children can get a hold of and watch R rated movies despite the best efforts of parents. I even snuck into an R rated movie when I was 17 — Friday the 13th Part 3 — it wasn’t that hard. If kids want to do something badly enough they’ll do it.
The worst part of all this is that the rating system, more than anything else, is a guide for parents, and by not having an R classification some games that deserve an R are getting classified as MA15.
Then when 16 year old little Stroppy comes to mum or dad with a copy of Death to Hookers: San Francisco rated MA (with the Iced Coffee mod in place), the parental unit looks at the rating and thinks it’s okay, despite the rather obvious signs of adult content. If the parent had the correct information, they might not be so quick to buy it.
Of course, the Australian rating system only applies in Australia, and games are only refused classification if they are submitted to the OFLC in the first place. My suggestion to game developers: Unless you really want a box on the shelves of Australian stores and your game has the potential to be RC, don’t submit to the OFLC. Just get the classification done in your own country, and put the game up for digital download.