Continuing their tradition of banning videogames, the Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC) have decided that Fallout 3 isn’t going to get a classification in Australia (and thus can’t be sold legally). However, the OFLC reasoning seems inconsistent even with their own past censorship efforts, and has reignited the debate over Australia’s lack of an R18+ gaming classification. As Asher Moses reports:
The Classification Board effectively banned the role playing shooter game by refusing to issue it an age rating, citing the simulated drug use in the game. In Fallout 3, players can use drugs to augment their characters’ abilities such as stamina, health and intelligence. The ban stems from the lack of an R18+ classification for games in Australia, which means any titles that do not meet the MA15+ standard – such as those with excessive violence, drug use or sexual content – are simply banned from sale.
Gamers were outraged by the board’s decision because other games featuring a similar or higher level of drug use have passed through the censors unscathed. Game review site Gameplayer.com.au, which has begun a petition to “Save Fallout 3”, has compiled a list of 12 games with stronger drug use. They include Battlefield Bad Company, BioShock, Haze and Grand Theft Auto IV.
As the uneven hand of the OFLC becomes more obvious, surely the time is at hand to admit the practice of banning games which have less offensive content than many films needs to be curtailed and Australia finally needs an R18+ category for videogames.
Update (14 August 2008): After unspecified edits and changes were made to the game, the ban was lifted in August 2008, with the game gaining an MA15+ rating.