Report: Dark Sector Banned in Australia

February 14, 2008 -
IGN Australia reports that third-person action game Dark Sector has been refused a rating by the Office of Film and Literature Classification. The move is, effectively, a ban on selling the game in Australia.

In rendering the decision, the OFLC offered its impression of Dark Sector:
...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 level of violence] exceeds strong and as such cannot be accomplished in a MA15+ classification... When Hayden cuts off his opponent's limb with the glaive, large amounts of blood spray forth from the stump and the injured person screams in agony which increases the impact.

IGN writes that Dark Sector, developed by Digital Extremes and publisher D3Publisher, is likely to be edited and re-submitted for a more marketable classification. A rep told the site:
This is (hopefully) not the end of the line for the game however, just a pretty substantial, but temporary, set-back.

Dark Sector is scheduled for release in the North American market on March 25th for Xbox 360 and PS3 and has been rated M (17 and older) by the ESRB.

Comments

And yet when you compare it to the number of games produced, it's still a drop in the ocean. Perspective please?

Michael,

What are you getting at?

Are you saying that it's acceptable for an organization to refuse Australians the option of playing certain games as long as the number of restricted titles pales in comparison to the total number available?


Andrew Eisen

@Micheal

If we banned 1/4 of all M games it would still be a small percent compared to all the other games out there.

Although still one game banned purely because people found the violence offensive is one game too many in my opinion.

In the absence of an R-rating, there are some games that should be banned for needlessly gratuitous violence. Usually you find companies use needlessly gratuitous violence to make up for a complete lack of content, story or gameplay. I can't see a single game on that list I'd WANT to play.

Note that I say "In the absence of an R-Rating". Personally I think we should. But if you think it'JUST a matter of slapping a sticker on the box and that's it, your very much mistaken. Industry needs to be consulted, legislation must be drafted and approved, laws written, appropriate punitive measures put in place and it has to be communicated to all retail outlets that sell game and that information being filtered all the way the the checkout people. It's a long and complicated process which will cost the max payer a lot of money .... and you wonder why they haven't bothered yet? We've just got a labor government that's slashing services in an effort to save money.

Short term. Not going to happen.

But you still have the option of playing those games. You just can't buy it over the counter. I consider the R-Rating to be those games you HAVE to purchase over the internet.

@Michael

Its people like you who help governments take away more and more people's freedoms.

@Discombobulator

Australia has banned way more games than the UK has. The only 2 games I can think of that are banned in the UK are Manhunt 2 and (I think) Rule of Rose.

@ Michael

You're right, that it would cost a significant amount of time and money, and with the Labor government trying to increase the budget surplus in order to hopefully reduce inflation it's not likely.

However, we can still hope...
Besides it is a step in the right direction. I think a better step would be to fire the current staff of the OFLC and replace them with 1/3 representatives of the Video Game industry, 1/3 Gamers and 1/3 members of the general public, and on top of that require a 66% vote minimum on ratings. So the gamers can make a decision based upon their past experience with video games (not to mention that it makes it more likely that they'd be able to actually play and finish the games in time to make a rating), the industry people would be able to have their say, and the general public would be able to have an opinion. THEN, on top of that, you make the process transparent to the public at large, and make any decision appeal able with a sufficient signature collection campaign.

Bear in mind, i am making up this idea as i type and there are probably more holes in it than i realize, but thats why I'm posting it here and not elsewhere...

@Zerodash: I'm not helping the government do anything. They are already doing it without my help.

I'm simply voicing my opinion, which I have every right to do. As soon as governments cross that line of what I believe they should do, I'll voice my opinion just the same. I just happen to agree with them ... and I think that it's simple not cost effective or financially responsible policy to spend millions of dollars of tax-payer money introducing an R-Rating (especially in our current political/financial climate) that affects less than 20 games in as many years (most of which were crap anyway).

Why do game companies think that unnecessarily gratuitous violence is the perfect substitute for ACTUAL game content? And why is the younger generation so keen to lap it up? As an older gamer (I'm in my 40's), I prefer substance over shock value.

@Black Patriot: Totally agree. A reform of the OFLC is definitely in order. It is definitely an organisation that is out of touch right now. Unfortunately they are one of the most organisationally stagnant as well.

@Michael

Who are you to say what is unneccessary? What makes you trust the government to decide what is appropriate for YOU? Keep in mind that plenty of games with real depth and "merit" are just as easily banned for so-called objectionable content. BioShock was plenty violent, and there were voices calling for it to be banned.

Why should someone else have to decide for you what is best for you?

@Zerodash: If I REALLY wanted a game, I'd buy it over the internet. The rating system doesn't stop me from getting any games if I really want them.

Who am I to say what is unnecessary? I am ME. I have an opinion. I express it. Who are YOU to say I'm not allowed to express my opinion. Are you trying to censor me? Your argument is making no sense to me.

What you still fail to understand is that I am doing nothing apart from voicing my opinion that I agree with the government's position in THIS PARTICULAR CASE! I have on many occasions taken an anti-government position as well. But I don't enforce government policy, so I have no idea why you seem to be making me out to be the villain. *boggle*

As for games WITH substance, I've yet to see a single one get banned perhaps with the exception of GTA:SA ... but that was pulled AFTER Hot Coffee and put back on the shelves after it was patched, which was much the same as happened in the US.

The following were banned or censored:

Manhunt
GTA III and San Andreas
Mark Ecko's Getting Up
Rule of Rose
Punisher

Yes some of Australia's banned games are terrible but the above are good to great (or in the case of Getting Up and Rule of Rose, at least worth a look). Getting Up isn't even particularly violent.

Why do game companies think that unnecessarily gratuitous violence is the perfect substitute for ACTUAL game content?

It's not a substitute for game content, it is the game content. If you don't like it, don't buy it. Simple. But it should never, ever be censored or banned because someone out there wants to play and enjoy it.

Manhunt has substance. It has a story. It has social commentary. It's also very violent. If that turns you off, you don't have to play it.

Andrew Eisen

I also thought Leisure Suit Larry was funny. Not that great of a game but pretty damn amusing in places.

Anyway, I wanted to add that the crap games that have been banned in Australia (BMX XXX, 50 Cent, Narc, Postal 1 and 2) weren’t crap because they were violent.

They were crap because of poor gameplay, lousy control, and/or they were just plain not fun to play.

Violence and sexuality does not make a game good or bad.

Andrew Eisen

@ Michael

You state you are agreeing that a government in a democracy can deny their citizens the right to choose what media they consume. Am I missing something?

Eh, I'm not too woried about this one, but if they ban GTA 4 they're in for trouble.

BTW the current goverment party in office makes such a minuscule impact on these ratings it isn't worth mentioning.

I can agree with him on one point: the violence is kinda excessive, but not for a game of its genre. I think that excessive violence in games is there to make the player feel discomfort at his own actions, which might be the case with stories revolving around a "reluctant hero/villain".

Still, outright banning the game is overreacting. I still don't know why people in power aren't actually researching what they're trying so hard to ban/censor"whatever.

@Zerodash: And while I'm thinking of it .... media? When was the last time you could order kiddie porn or snuff in the US without hte government intervening. Or perhaps the Anarchist Handbook. Or all obtain the interest of the FBI on any number of books or publications that fall awry of the Patriot Act. I'm sure they'd really be interested if you ordered a copy of "Why the Christians are wrong" by that Muslim cleric who's name escapes me ....

... Do you REALLY think you are free? Freedom is only the fence you cannot see.

@Michael

Of course the US has it's flaws, but this site is Gamepolitics, so most of the time issues discussed here are related to games. Still, you'll find plenty of criticism of US politics and government in general in the comments sections for some news posts.

As flawed in some ways as the ESRB and the current US rating system is, I do prefer it over Australia's system. I think many people here do. That doesn't mean that we are trying to imply that it makes the US "better" than Australia or that there aren't other things that Australia handles better than the US. But the fact that Australia apparently has a very nice health care system isn't really related to this current article, nor does it change the fact that many people here really don't want the US adopting controls on game content similar to what Australia has, but some politicians and other people are hoping to do so. (And if the US did do that, it's not like it would fix our health care system. We'd have a bad health system and a bad game censorship system.)

One other thing. You said that if you really wanted a game, you'd just buy it over the Internet, because the rating system doesn't effect Internet sales. But if I recall correctly, in the case of Mark Echo's Getting Up, didn't the government try to stop even Internet sales?

@Mad_Scientist: Good question. That I don't know. I've ordered stuff over the net from EB other Online stores and unless they open the package there is no indication as to what it is. And if it's a digital download, I can't see any way they could stop you.

Essentially what happens in the OFLC refuse to classify a game. That means it cannot be SOLD in Australia. It doesn't mean it can't be owned. It's not a restricted publication. The word BANNED is bandied about, but it's not really banned .... it just means you can't buy it over here. People need to understand that distinction.

damn im in the uk and i REALLY want rule of rose now.

anyone know where i can get it, its not on any internet retailers. It looks really interestin, n reviews say the story is great. looks like lord of the flies in a different setting.

http://www.refused-classification.com/ A list of everything banned by the OFLC

All of this stupid nonsense about banning in the US.

No games could get banned just given a certain rating by which a couple had stuff cut out so they could get the game on the consoles right away for the money.

If a game producer was so eager to have us play the full uncut version of a game that got the AO rating they would go out of their way to pursuade the console makers to allow AO rated games or for there to be a new system in place so adults could at least play any uncut violent games yet they do not because they just care about getting the money in as fast as possible by making cuts.

Everyone needs to stop the ignorance about banning because no game gets banned in the US just sometimes rated wrong.

The worst that could happen with graphically violent games is that they are made even harder for children to play not banned because people would be all over the government about the Amendment and all the other problems in the country.

@ Jason Sackey

Thanks for that, i now feel the warm glow of hope for us Brits, perhaps the BBFC are starting to see sense.

The game description sounds like most movies, such as the movie "Kill Bill". Is "Kill Bill" banned in Australia? NO! Why? Because IT'S A MOVIE and not REAL and doesn't effect ANYONE.

You know, I'm glad that I live in the states where this doesn't happen very often. >.>;;; Unless Hillary gets elected, then it'll probably happen all the time.

@Francesco D.

Unfortunately, Australia seems pretty much arse backwards when it comes to censorship and that is being said by an Australian.
We produce one of the most gruesome horror movies in years (Wolf Creek) which is far more impressionable than a game like Dark Sector yet it is the 'interactive media' that gets banned.
There is also a huge double standard with Getting Up and a game like Need For Speed Underground. We Australians have huge problems with hoons and street racers yet it is the game involving the far less dangerous incident of graffiti gets banned?

Nanny states FTW!!

@ZippyDSMlee

Which is what one get's when voting for Ron Paul.

The OFLC, our glorious Mini-truth comrades determine Dark Sector to be double-plus-ungood, sickle and banhammer dropping ensues!...

It looks like this is the year of the banhammer once more for Australia again, last year it was the controversial Manhunt 2 and the visceral mediocre-ware Soldier of Fortune 3… now it’s Digital Extremes’ Dark Sector.
......
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