Games Censorship: Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure (2006)


 

 

 

 

Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure

aka Marc Ecko's Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure

Developed by The Collective Inc / 2006 / MobyGames

In July 2005, Atari announced that MARC ECKO'S GETTING UP: CONTENTS UNDER PRESSURE would be released worldwide in the autumn.

 

The press release talked of the graffiti element of the game.

ATARI AND MARC ECKO ANNOUNCE ‘MARC ECKO’S GETTING UP: CONTENTS UNDER PRESSURE’ FOR XBOX® AND WINDOWS
NEW YORK, NY, July 19, 2005

Marc Ecko’s Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure promises a new genre of gameplay by combining urban navigation and vertical gameplay with graffiti, street combat and sneak. The game uses a thrilling graffiti-driven framework to tell its story of self-expression and the fight for creative freedom. A thug, an outcast, and a rebel, the game’s protagonist, Trane, initially sets out to earn his street cred by getting his graffiti tag up throughout the politically oppressive city of New Radius only to find himself the unlikely leader of an urban revolution.

 

 

July 2005: GETTING UP controversy in the U.S.

A few days later, Peter Vallone, a member of the New York City Council issued a statement attacking the game.

From what Atari's putting out, it appears they want to make crime exciting and to teach children how to get away with breaking the law,

I'm just glad they aren't giving out cans of spray paint with this game. I think irresponsible corporations like Atari must get the message loud and clear, we don't want them supporting criminals and punks and if they do we won't support them.

 

 

August 2005: The Australian protest begins

It did not take long for the controversy to reach Australia, with the protests beginning in Queensland. At the time, MARC ECKO'S GETTING UP: CONTENTS UNDER PRESSURE had not yet been submitted for Classification.

 

COUNCILS CALL ON ATARI TO STOP ANTI SOCIAL COMPUTER GAME
Local Government Association of Queensland
News Release
August 8, 2005

Queensland councils are calling on computer game company, Atari, to ditch plans to release a new game next month which promotes anti-social behaviour.

“The new game, Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure, promotes graffiti writing on railway networks and community buildings, train surfing, fighting and other anti-social behaviour,” Local Government Association of Queensland president, Cr Paul Bell, said today.

“It is based on extreme, hard-core graffiti and gang violence and councils who have previewed the game on the Atari web site say it carries an overwhelming undertone that graffiti is every young person’s right,” Cr Bell said.

“Councils believe an increase in graffiti offences is inevitable if the release of the game goes ahead. New offenders are also likely to emerge,” he said.

“The cost to council ratepayers for graffiti removal is considerable. One example is the Gold Coast City Council, which spends more than $1 million a year in its removal and prevention.

“We’re calling on the Atari company to show some social responsibility and withdraw its plans to market this game,” Cr Bell said.

 

 

 

Mayor of Townsville vs. GETTING UP

Mayor calls for withdrawal from sale of graffiti game
City of Townsville
Media Release
August 8, 2005

Mayor Tony Mooney has called a new electronic game that promotes illegal graffiti to be withdrawn from sale.

Cr Mooney said the Atari game, called Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure threatened Townsville’s on-going campaign against graffiti through its Graffiti Action Plan.

The game, which can be played on Playstation 2 and X Box, encourages players to battle against city authorities and rival “graf” gangs to get their tag up.

Cr Mooney’s call follows condemnation of the game’s sale by the Local Government Association of Queensland and the Brisbane City Council.

“Graffiti cost the council $52,000 last financial year and $80,000 the year before. The damage to private property puts the overall cost to this community much higher,” Cr Mooney said.

“Promoting graffiti to impressionable young kids as something that is cool and anti-establishment is irresponsible and plain wrong.

“Graffiti is illegal in Queensland and the State Government should look at every avenue to have Atari withdraw this game from going on sale.”

Cr Mooney said the council’s Graffiti Action Plan had been highly successful in providing a rapid response to cleaning graffiti off private and public facilities, and was being copied by other local governments.

But he warned that the work the program was doing to encourage graffiti offenders to take up legal aerosol art would be undone through the promotion of a culture glorifying illegal graffiti.

 

 

GETTING UP in Brisbane

Councils attack graffiti game
couriermail.com.au, August 8, 2005

Brisbane Deputy Mayor David Hinchliffe said he was also appalled that the game promoted train surfing – a dangerous and frequently deadly activity that involves riding clinging to the outside of a train. But the game has received good reviews from players.

"Underground, you'll be surfing and jumping subway trains in a way that would make Teen Wolf envious," said one Internet review of the game.

Cr Hinchliffe said he was "appalled" that any game would be available that promoted something as dangerous as train surfing and as irresponsible as graffiti.

"But I don't think banning things will work. I would much prefer if Atari had the good sense to remove it from circulation, that's a much more effective way of dealing with it."

Fair Trading Minister Margaret Keech said she would ask for a report on the new game but said the classification of games was a Federal Government responsibility.

 

 

Peter Beattie calls for GETTING UP ban

Three days later the Premier of Queensland, Peter Beattie, took up the fight against GETTING UP with a statement in Parliament, followed by a media release.

 

Violent Video Games
MINISTERIAL STATEMENT
Queensland Parliament
51st Parliament
Thursday, 11 August 2005

Hon. PD BEATTIE (Brisbane Central—ALP) (Premier and Treasurer) (9.36 am):

I am today writing to the federal Attorney-General, Philip Ruddock, seeking his action to ensure that a new video game is banned in Australia. The game has not yet been released in Australia and I hope it never is. The game Getting Up: Contents under Pressure glorifies high-risk, law-breaking, violent and even deadly behaviour. It flagrantly promotes graffiti, including the highly dangerous tagging of the inside of railway subways and entire rail carriages, and other civil disobedience. It makes heroes of a cast of reckless characters. One of them is described as ‘the notorious Bronx bomber and destroyer’ and another has supposedly taught a fellow tagger to bomb entire subway cars.

From a gaming point of view, I am told that it is very slick and will appeal to 10- to 30-year-old males. The makers, Atari, brought in Sean ‘P Diddy’ Combs and a range of other celebrities to do voice work on it, which indicates that they expect it to be popular. It has worrying potential to steer impressionable young people into activities that will endanger life and limb and earn them criminal records. If the prerelease publicity and media reporting on the game are factual, then there is a compelling case for banning it from sale throughout Australia. Anything less than a national ban would not prevent young people from accessing the game.

In the course of seeking information this week about Getting Up, I learned of the existence of another computer game which also may warrant action. Fable, which has been classified M15+ with the consumer advice ‘medium level animated violence’, is said to promote violence. Women’s groups have complained that it encourages male violence against women. This is anathema to most Queenslanders and certainly to this government. Domestic violence is a crime; it can murder, it can maim and it can leave women and children traumatised and emotionally scarred. As we see too often in Queensland, it can throw families and entire communities into dysfunction.

The government encourages creativity and Queensland’s home-grown computer game industry as well, but we condemn the glorification of violence to young people. The Office of Fair Trading’s classifications officer is currently examining Fable. If it is determined that the game promotes violence, we will not hesitate in asking the federal government to take appropriate action.

 

 

Peter Beattie attacks GETTING UP and FABLE

Beattie Urges National Ban On Graffiti Video Game
Premier & Treasurer
The Hon. Peter Beattie MP
11 August 2005

Premier Peter Beattie is calling for a national ban on a new video game that glorifies graffiti and law-breaking.

He said the game 'Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure', has not yet been released in Australia, "and I hope it never is".

"If the pre-release publicity and media reporting on this game are factual, then there is a compelling case for banning it from sale throughout Australia," Mr Beattie said.

"It glorifies high-risk, law-breaking, violent and even deadly behaviour.

"It flagrantly promotes graffiti (including the highly dangerous tagging of the inside of railway subways & entire rail carriages) and other civil disobedience.

"It makes heroes of a cast of reckless characters.

"One of them is described as "the notorious 'Bronx bomber and destroyer' " and another has supposedly taught a fellow tagger to "bomb entire subway cars".

"From a gaming point of view, I am told it is very slick and will appeal to 10 - 30 year old males.

"It has worrying potential to steer impressionable young people into activities that will endanger life and limb and earn them criminal records."

Mr Beattie has written to the Federal Attorney-General, Phillip Ruddock, asking him to take whatever action is needed to impose a national ban.

"Anything less than a national ban would not prevent young people from accessing the game," Mr Beattie said.

The Premier told Queensland Parliament he was also concerned about another video game, which is said to promote violence against women.

'Fable' is sold in Australia with a M15+ classification and the consumer advice "medium level animated violence".

Women's groups have complained that it encourages male violence against women.

"Domestic violence is a crime. It can be murder, it can maim, and it can leave women and children traumatised and emotionally scarred," Mr Beattie said.

"The government encourages creativity and Queensland's home-grown computer game industry.

"But we condemn the glorification of violence to young people."

"The Office of Fair Trading's classifications officer is examining Fable.

"If it is determined that the game promotes violence, we will not hesitate in asking the Federal Government to take action."

 

 

November 2005: MA15+ in Australia

It took another three months for MARC ECKO'S GETTING UP: CONTENTS UNDER PRESSURE to be classified. On November 18th 2005, Atari Australia were awarded an MA15+ (Strong Violence, Strong Themes) rating for the game.

 

 

December 2005: Campaign begins to review MA15+

Councils Call For Ban On Graffiti Urging Computer Game
Local Government Association of Queensland
News Release
12th December 2005

Queensland councils are seeking a ban on a new computer game which urges its players to indulge in graffiti “to make a statement”.

Following a MA15+ classification of the Atari game, Getting Up – Contents Under Pressure, the Local Government Association of Queensland has applied for a review of decision and called for Office of Film and Literature Classification to refuse classification.

Association president, Cr Paul Bell, said that the release of the game would have serious consequences for local government.

“Atari will be making money from this game and local government will be spending money as a consequence of it,” Cr Bell said.

“Councils spend enormous amounts on graffiti removal each year. One council estimates the annual cost of graffiti removal is $1.2 million. It is irresponsible for any company to encourage people to vandalise their community,” he said.

“The Atari game depicts extreme violence, anti-social behaviour and rallies people to graffiti as a way of making a statement.

“Councils encourage people to be part of their community and not to alienate themselves by becoming involved in crime. Graffiti is an illegal activity and any person caught can be directed through the court system.

“The game is a direct assault on the efforts of councils, police, the state government and community groups to control graffiti.

“If the release of the game goes ahead, there would most certainly be an increase in graffiti in our towns and cities. The level of violence and gang warfare in the game could also have an impact on community safety,” Cr Bell said.

The LGAQ was awaiting a date for the review and will make a written submission on behalf of Queensland councils demanding that the game be refused classification.

 

 

January 2006: W.A. GETTING UP Protest

In January, the Western Australian Local Government Association also joined in.

 

Call for Levy on Graffiti Game Sales
WA Local Government Association
www.walga.asn.au
Media Release
11 January 2006

A levy should be imposed on sales of the video game that promotes graffiti with the funds used to assist with the cost of clean-up.

WA Local Government Association President, Cr Bill Mitchell said it cost the WA community an estimated $25m each year for removal of graffiti and repairs to property.

He said a recent survey of WA Councils showed the cost of removing graffiti from Government assets was estimated at $2.7m each year.

Meanwhile, the State Government has spent more than $2m over the past 18 months on graffiti programs, including $275,000 to assist Local Government to purchase removal equipment and $200,000 to assist Councils record and report graffiti to police.

“A considerable amount of resources is being channelled into removing graffiti from property in Western Australia and if there are companies who plan to profit by glorifying graffiti then they should help pay the costs of the clean-up,” Cr Mitchell said.

“Certainly the Association would prefer to have games such as this banned, but if that is not going to happen then the next best alternative is that all sales of these games be subject to a levy that goes directly back to meeting the clean-up costs.

“It should not be overlooked that graffiti is a crime and to have a game that has the risk of normalising such behaviour among young people should be a concern to all the community.”

Cr Mitchell said it was not enough for the companies that profit from creating video games based on antisocial behaviour such as graffiti to simply place a statement on their website saying they did not encourage the behaviour.

“The impact these antisocial games have on behaviour is best demonstrated by the finding by the American Psychological Association that violent video games perpetuate violent behaviours,” he said.

“If a company is going to be permitted to make criminal behaviour into a game then it should be prepared to accept the logical implications and contribute to the resultant costs to the community.”

Cr Mitchell said the Association was currently working with the State Government to develop practical amendments to the Local Government Act 1995 to assist Councils in addressing the problem, including entry to private property to remove graffiti.

 

 

Philip Ruddock requests GETTING UP review

Following pressure from local councils and the Queensland Government, the Attorney-General Philip Ruddock asked for the MA15+ rating to be looked at by the Review Board.

 

GRAFFITI COMPUTER GAME REFERRED FOR REVIEW
ATTORNEY-GENERAL THE HON PHILIP RUDDOCK MP
NEWS RELEASE
19 January 2005
003/2006

Attorney-General Philip Ruddock has today asked the Classification Review Board to review the classification of the computer game, Mark Ecko’s Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure.

The Classification Board classified the game MA 15+ with consumer advice ‘Strong violence, Strong themes’ on 18 November 2005. The MA 15+ category is legally restricted. Material classified MA 15+ is considered unsuitable for persons under 15 years of age.

“The request for the review responds to the concerns of local councils and state governments who have written to me in relation to the way in which the game is said to condone and incite the use of graffiti,” Mr Ruddock said.

“This is an important issue for our community and further consideration of the classification of this computer game is warranted.” He said.

A number of Queensland councils have called on the game’s distributor, Atari, to abandon plans for its release on the basis it promotes anti-social behaviour, will cause an increase in graffiti offences and create new graffiti offenders.

Under the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995, the Australian Attorney-General may apply to the Classification Review Board for a review of a decision of the Classification Board.

 

 

Classification Review Board confirm date

Review announced for Marc Ecko’s Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure
Australian Government
Classification Review Board
19 January 2006
MEDIA RELEASE

An application for review of the computer game Marc Ecko’s Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure has been received from the Attorney-General.

Marc Ecko’s Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure was classified MA 15+ with the consumer advice "Strong violence, Strong themes" by the Classification Board on 18 November 2005.

The Attorney-General may make an application for review of a classification decision at any time. However, any other party that applies for a review must make their application within 30 days after the applicant received notice of the classification decision.

The date on which the Classification Review Board will convene is yet to be confirmed.

The Classification Review Board’s decision and reasons for its decision for this review will appear on the OFLC website once the review has been finalised.

The Classification Review Board is an independent merits review body. Meeting in camera, it makes a fresh classification decision upon receipt of an application for review. The Classification Review Board decision takes the place of the original decision made by the Classification Board.

 

Date set for review of Marc Ecko’s Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure
Australian Government
Classification Review Board
26 January 2006
MEDIA RELEASE

The Classification Review Board will convene on Monday 6 February and Wednesday 8 February 2006 to consider the classification of the computer game Marc Ecko’s Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure.

Applications for review have been received from the Attorney-General and the Local Government Association of Queensland.

Marc Ecko’s Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure was classified MA 15+ with the consumer advice “Strong violence, Strong themes” by the Classification Board on 18 November 2005.

The Classification Review Board’s decision and reasons for its decision for this review will appear on the OFLC website once the review has been finalised.

The Classification Review Board is an independent merits review body. Meeting in camera, it makes a fresh classification decision upon receipt of an application for review. The Classification Review Board decision takes the place of the original decision made by the Classification Board.

 

 

Queensland Local Government applauds GETTING UP review

Film Classification Board to Hear Councils Bid To Ban Graffiti-Urging Computer Game
Local Government Association of Queensland
News Release
06 February 2006

The Local Government Association of Queensland will urge the board of the Office of Film and Literature Classification in Sydney tomorrow to ban Atari’s graffiti-urging game, Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure, association president, Cr Paul Bell, said today.

The review had been ordered by attorney-general, Philip Ruddock, Cr Bell said.

"The game, now classified as MA15+, urges players to indulge in graffiti ‘to make a statement’," Cr Bell said. "The game also depicts extreme violence and anti-social behaviour."

Representing the LGAQ before the OFLC board (the office is on Level 6, 22 -23 Mary St, Surry Hills, hearing beginning at 10am) will be association executive member and Gold Coast Mayor, Cr Ron Clarke, and the association’s policy and representation director, Greg Hoffman.

"Councils spend enormous amounts on graffiti removal each year. We estimate the annual cost to Queensland councils of removing graffiti removal is more than $10 million and close to $60 million annually for Australian councils," he said.

"These costs are quite apart from the costs incurred by state and federal governments and the private sector.

"It’s good to see the federal government has taken a stand against the Atari company’s irresponsible moves to encourage young people to vandalise the community.

"The game is a direct assault on the efforts of councils, police, the state government and community groups to control graffiti. If the game is not banned, there will almost certainly be an increase in graffiti in our towns and cities. The level of violence and gang warfare in the game could also have an impact on community safety.

"We are hopeful the OFLC will make a decision to ban this outrageous game," Cr Bell said.

The OFLC board is expected to give its decision after a meeting on February 8.

Local Government Association of Queensland LGAQ House, 25 Evelyn Street, Newstead Qld 4006

 

 

GETTING UP review pleases Gold Coast Mayor

Stop this game now
Ron Clarke
Gold Coast City Mayor.
The Mayor's Views - 11 February 2006

Last Monday, I joined legal representatives of the Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) in Sydney to argue against the release of a computer game encouraging graffiti. The Censorship Board has previously given it a M15+ rating.

I have never seen a more evil attempt to influence youngsters to break the law, fight the police and deface public buildings than this product marketed under the name of “Getting up: Contents under Pressure”.

In one incident a cigarette lighter is held in front of a spray can and flame is thrown into the faces of the police who are trying to arrest the player for vandalism.

In another scene, a street cleaner is violently struck down from behind by the player with a baseball bat so that the ‘artist’ can reach a road sign and deface it.

Police, council employers, construction employees and security staff featuring in the game are merely obstacles to sneak past or brutally bash with whatever is handy – wooden planks, garbage tin lids, spray cans made into flame throwers.

The player scores more points by defacing a prominent signs such as road signs. Six ‘legends’ of the graffiti world provide advice to the player throughout the game.

Since October, Gold Coast police have made 116 arrests covering 545 different acts of vandalism. So why was the LGAQ the only group lodging a formal protest?

 

 

Classification Review Board bans GETTING UP: CONTENTS UNDER PRESSURE

Marc Ecko’s Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure refused classification upon review
Australian Government
Classification Review Board
15 February 2006
MEDIA RELEASE

The Classification Review Board has determined, in a majority 3 to 2 decision, that the computer game Marc Ecko’s Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure should be refused classification.

The Review Board met on 6, 8, 13 and 14 February 2006 with the Convenor exercising a casting vote because the members were equally divided in opinion.

A computer game that is refused classification (RC) is immediately banned throughout Australia. It cannot be demonstrated, sold, hired or imported into the country. A computer game is refused classification if it exceeds the guidelines for the MA 15+ classification.

“Both the National Classification Code and the Guidelines for the Classification of Films and Computer Games state that a computer game will be refused classification if it includes or contains detailed instruction or promotion of matters of crime,” Convenor, Maureen Shelley said. “It is the Classification Review Board’s determination that this game promotes the crime of graffiti.”

In the Review Boards majority opinion, Marc Ecko’s Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure warrants refused classification as it promotes crime. Some factors contributing to this promotion include:

· the realistic scenarios whereby the central character Trane acquires his knowledge of graffiti tips, techniques and styles – including meeting with five real graffiti artists who pass on details of tips and techniques

· the reward for and positive reinforcement of graffiti writing on public buildings and infrastructure, and · interactive biographies of 56 real graffiti artists, with details of their personal tags, styles and careers. The game detail states that all these artists began their careers performing illegal graffiti on public buildings and infrastructure and that some continue with this practice today.

The Classification Review Board convened in response to applications by the Attorney-General and the Local Government Association of Queensland to review the MA 15+ classification decision made by the Classification Board on 18 November 2005.

The Classification Review Board received written and heard oral submissions from representatives of the Local Government Association of Queensland and the original applicant for classification, Atari.

In reviewing the classification, the Classification Review Board worked within the framework of the National Classification Scheme, applying the provisions of the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Films) Act 1995, the National Classification Code and the Guidelines for the Classification of Films and Computer Games.

The Classification Review Board is an independent merits review body. It meets in camera to make a fresh decision when an application to review a matter previously determined by the Classification Board is made. Its reasons for this decision will appear on the OFLC website when finalised.

 

 

GETTING UP: Review Board report

The full Review Board report for MARC ECKO'S GETTING UP: CONTENTS UNDER PRESSURE was released in mid-March 2006.

 

Australian Government
Classification Review Board
6, 8, 13 & 14 February 2006
23-33 MARY STREET SURRY HILLS, NSW

MEMBERS: Ms Maureen Shelley (Convenor) Mr Rob Shilkin Mr Anthony Hetrih Mrs Gillian Groom

APPLICANTS: The Hon. Philip Ruddock MP, Attorney-General, represented by Mr Josh Faulks The Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ), represented by Mr Greg Hoffman PSM, Director of Policy and Representation, Ms Rachael Uhr, Youth Policy Project Officer, Councillor Ronald Clark MBE, Mayor Gold Coast City Council, and Mr Robert Livingstone-Ward, Solicitor, King & Company Solicitors Brisbane.

INTERESTED PARTIES: Atari Australia P/L, the original applicant for classification, represented by: Mr Ron Curry, Commercial Director, Mr Simon Slee, Product Manager, Mr Stephen O’Leary, Communications Manager.

Mareeba Shire Council, not represented.

BUSINESS: To consider whether the LGAQ has standing to apply for review of the decision

To simultaneously consider the LGAQ and the Attorney- General’s applications for review of the decision of the Classification Board to classify the computer game Marc Ecko’s Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure MA15+ (Mature Accompanied) with the consumer advice ‘Strong violence, Strong themes’.

 

DECISION AND REASONS FOR DECISION

1. Decision
1.1 The Classification Review Board (the Review Board) in a majority decision classified the game RC (Refused Classification).

 

2. Legislative provisions

2.1 The Classification (Publications, Film and Computer Games) Act 1995 (the Act) governs the classification of computer games and the review of classification decisions. Section 9 of the Act provides that computer games are to be classified in accordance with the National Classification Code (the Code) and the classification guidelines.

2.2 Relevantly, the Code in paragraph 1(c) of the Table under the heading ‘Computer Games’ provides that computer games that promote, incite or instruct in matters of crime or violence, are to be classified RC (refused classification).

2.3 Three essential principles underlie the use of the 2005 Guidelines for the Classification of Films and Computer Games (the Guidelines), determined under s.12 of the Act:
· The importance of context;
· The assessment of impact; and
· The six classifiable elements – themes, violence, sex, language, drug use and nudity.

2.4 Section 11 of the Act requires that the matters to be taken into account in making a decision on the classification of a computer game include:

(a) The standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults; and

(b) The literary, artistic or educational merit (if any) of the computer game; and

(c) The general character of the computer game, including whether it is of a medical, legal or scientific character; and

(d) The persons or class of persons to or amongst whom it is published or is intended or likely to be published.

 

3. Procedure

3.1 A four-member panel of the Review Board convened on 6 February 2006 to determine the validity of two applications for review of the decision of the Classification Board to classify the computer game Marc Ecko’s Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure (the game) MA15+ on 18 November 2005 from the LGAQ, received on 16 December 2005 and from the Attorney General, the Hon Philip Ruddock MP, dated 19 January 2006.

Preliminary Issues
3.2 The Convenor advised the applicants and the original applicant that she is a currently-serving councillor for a NSW local government authority and invited submissions on this point. No submissions were made by the parties.

3.3 The Review Board unanimously determined as a preliminary issue, that the LGAQ had standing as a “person aggrieved” under subsection 42(1)(d) of the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act, for the following reasons.

3.4 The LGAQ is a peak body created under the Queensland Local Government Act 1993 and is charged with responsibility in connection with representing local government. The business of the LGAQ includes areas of finance, governance and community, roads, transport, infrastructure, environmental protection, planning and development public buildings and infrastructure.

3.5 The Review Board noted that there existed a clear, direct link between the theme of the game – namely graffiti – and the responsibilities of local governments and the LGAQ. Local councils are charged with the responsibility of graffiti removal and the Review Board noted evidence supplied by LGAQ as to the continuing and substantial cost of its removal for councils, in particular the Gold Coast City Council. The LGAQ therefore has more than a mere interest or an intellectual inquiry or an emotional interest in the matter of graffiti; it’s a direct responsibility that its members have and the LGAQ is charged under the Queensland Local Government Act 1993 with representing the interests of local councils in Queensland.

3.6 Further, the Review Board noted that the Retail Traders Association had been granted standing in Brown v. Classification Review Board (1997) 145 ALR 464 ("Brown I", commonly known as the Rabelais Case), which went on appeal to the full Federal Court (Brown & Ors v. Members of the Classification Review Board (1998) 154 FCA 67) ("Brown II"). It appears that the Retail Traders Association would have a similar relationship in regard to retailers as does the LGAQ in regard to councils. Neither the Court in Brown I nor the Court in Brown II questioned the standing of the Retail Traders Association in that matter. The Review Board unanimously determined that the LGAQ has standing as a person aggrieved in relation to the game Marc Ecko’s Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure.

3.7 The Review Board also noted that the application for review by the Attorney General was lodged on the approved form, was signed and related to a decision of the Classification Board. The Review Board noted that the Attorney General may lodge an application for review at any time and is not required to pay a fee. The Review Board unanimously determined that it had received a valid application from the Attorney General.

3.8 In regard to the LGAQ, the Review Board noted the application was on the approved form and was signed and related to a decision of the Classification Board, a partial fee waiver had been granted by the Director and the LGAQ had paid the balance of the fee required, the LGAQ’s application was lodged within 30 days of the Classification Board’s decision being notified to the general public. The Review Board unanimously determined that it had received a valid application from the LGAQ.

Substantive Issues
3.9 At its meeting on 6 February 2006 the Review Board watched a video of what the original applicant stated was the contentious material contained in the game. The Review Board then observed a demonstration of the game through the interactive game play of the applicant’s Communications Manager Mr Stephen O’Leary. The original applicant’s representatives made oral and written submission to the Review Board.

3.10 The LGAQ’s representatives also made oral submissions to the Review Board on 6 February 2006 and these were provided in addition to written submissions. The Attorney General’s representative declined to make submissions, written or oral, to the Review Board but accepted the opportunity to attend and hear submissions from other parties to the Review. The Review Board then met in camera to begin considering the application.

3.11 Finding that it had viewed insufficient game play to reach a decision, the Review Board members, having obtained copies of the game in X-Box console format from the original applicant, proceeded to play the game themselves. Individual members then played the game during several days, totalling more than 30 hours of game play.

3.12 The Review Board reconvened on 8 February 2006 to consider the substance of the application. At its meeting on 8 February 2006 the Review Board determined it was not yet ready to reach a decision and agreed to reconvene via teleconference at a later date for further deliberations.

3.13 The Review Board convened again via teleconference on 13 February 2006 and on 14 February 2006 and, after careful consideration of all of the issues, determined that the members were equally divided in opinion. In accordance with section 79(2)(a) of the Act the Convenor exercised a casting vote and the Review Board, in the majority, reached a determination that the game should be refused classification as it promotes matters of crime.

 

4. Evidence and other material taken into account

 4.1 In reaching its decision the Review Board had regard to the following:

(i) LGAQ’s application for review;

(ii) The Attorney General’s application for review;

(iii) LGAQ’s written and oral submissions;

(iv) Atari’s written and oral submissions;

(v) The game;

(vi) The relevant provisions in the Act;

(vii) The relevant provisions in the Code, as amended in accordance with s.6 of the Act;

(viii) The Classification Board’s report; and

(ix) The Guidelines for the Classification of Films and Computer Games 2005.

 

5 Synopsis

5.1 The game is set in a city called New Radius (the buildings are stylised versions of the New York skyline, Brooklyn Bridge and other areas of New York) where graffiti has been banned and freedom of expression has been suppressed by a tyrannical city government. The product is a role playing game with Trane as an anti-hero. He rises to win back his ‘hood (neighbourhood) and become an urban legend (graffiti artist with the respect of his peers) of the city of New Radius. The player starts the game as a “toy” (beginner) graffiti artist with the “street-smarts”, athleticism and “vision” necessary to become an “All City King” (the most reputable of all graffiti artists).

5.2 The player is the son of an imprisoned graffiti artist whose false imprisonment is uncovered as Trane risks his life navigating vertical landscapes while battling rival graffiti “crews” (other groups of graffiti artists), a corrupt mayor and the city’s Civil Conduct Keepers (CCK) (who are charged, amongst other things with graffiti removal and prevention of the placement of graffiti) all in an effort to reach the “sweet spots” (the places where an artist can gain the most reputation by placing graffiti – these are usually in seemingly-inaccessible places) of New Radius where a well-placed “tag” (stylised signature of the artist) brings respect and rep (reputation).

5.3 The Review Board noted that the game is divided into:

· Main Mode – the normal game-play mode involving several game-play levels, featuring an ongoing, continuous narrative of Trane working through different challenges, attempting to tag the city. Main Mode contains “cut scenes”, which are short cinematic-style scenes over which the player has no control. These scenes advance the narrative and put the game-play into context.

· Black Book Legends – a separate feature, containing written narrative, images of five graffiti artists who the gamer “meets” in game play, reproductions of the work of 56 real-life graffiti artists, their personal biographies, including detail of their “achievements” including, the placement of graffiti on public property and infrastructure and on private property. In the game, the Black Book allows the gamer to select pieces and tags for the next mission, browse the graffiti legends’ art and information and view the game credits. The manual states that the Black Book is “a graffiti artist’s life” and that “there are 56 graffiti legends whose art you can find and photograph in the game”.

(A Black Book is a book with plain sheets of art paper that artists, particularly graffiti artists, use to record particular styles or techniques or aspects of some design. The books are usually spiral bound for ease of having the pages flat when recording some technique or detail.)

· And has the further elements of “unlocks” to unlock concept art, films and Beat Down content and “statistics” to view the current profile, rep, graffiti bonus objectives, freeform challenges completed, legend photos taken and secrets found.

 

6 Findings on material questions of fact

6.1. Themes – The majority of the Review Board found that Marc Ecko’s Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure contains aspects and scenes of importance under the classifiable element of ‘Themes’, namely the depiction of graffiti, which is a crime in all Australian States and Territories and under Commonwealth law. This game is about drawings and designs commonly depicted on public infrastructure. The CRB understands that not all graffiti is illegal, however this game deals with the illegal kind and not graffiti as legal art. Further, the Review Board understands that graffiti crime is conduct which is prohibited with penal consequences in all States and under Commonwealth law.

6.1.1 The game is “dedicated to all the graf (an abbreviation for graffiti) writers whose art was dismissed as filth”, according to the manual and has as a theme the use of graffiti as a political protest.

6.1.2 The majority determined that the game contains a very strong message about the effectiveness of graffiti as a tool for political activism. During the game, comment is made about placement of graffiti for maximum impact. The crime of graffiti is depicted as smart, cool, clever and daring. The game glorifies graffiti by depicting the artists as “Robin Hood” figures.

6.1.3 Other crime depicted related to the application of the graffiti during the game includes:

· jumping transport ticket machines so as to evade the fare;

· trespassing on railway tracks;

· breaking and entering;

· train surfing; and

· wilful damage to property.

6.1.4 In the game, graffiti is depicted as a quick, simple, low-cost way to get a message across. It is portrayed as an accessible activity.

6.1.5 During the course of gameplay the player meets five “legends” (graffiti artists with high levels of respect from their peers and with a reputation that extends beyond their city) who are real, living graffiti artists, all of whom are still active on the US graffiti art scene, who provide tips and detail techniques in the art of graffiti.

6.1.6 Further, within the game play the gamer is introduced to the language of the graffiti artist. This language is obtuse to those unfamiliar with it, however, the gamer learns what the terms mean in reproducing the styles and techniques of the living legends in the game. For clarity, the Review Board used definitions from the Graffiti Management Strategy for the Australian Capital Territory, Prepared by Canberra Urban Parks and Places (CUPP) Policy and Planning Unit (August 2004) and the honours thesis of Ilse Scheepers Graffiti and Urban Space (2004 University of Sydney). The glossary is appended.

6.1.7 In ordinary game play, the gamer is rewarded with the phrase “no drips” as praise. If a piece is well executed in the game, then a number of phrases appear on screen over the work. The phrase “no drips” refers to what happens in the real world, when using an aerosol can in graffiti. If the work is performed quickly, with an even spray “no drips” will be the result – that is the artwork will have a clean, even finish and outlines where excessive paint hasn’t run. This can be learned by the gamer in the game when repeatedly going over the one spot with an aerosol can. If too much paint is “applied” in the game, the piece will “run” and visuals of drips of paints will run down the screen. If the action of applying the paint is done for an appropriate amount of time – simulating the real-world action of painting – then “no drips” will be the result. Drips on a work are the mark of a “toy”, so “no drips” means the beginner artist is learning the techniques required to be a better artist.

6.1.8 Other written “rewards” include the words or phrases “time” – as in the piece is completed in the allotted time, “go big” – an encouragement to produce large works of graffiti and/or works that make a “big” impact, and “go over”, which means to place a graffiti piece over someone else’s work.

6.1.9 Sweet spots are good places to place graffiti, usually on public or private property. Heaven spots are dangerous places where graffiti art can be placed within the game (these are usually over freeways on freeway signs, or seemingly-inaccessible places on trains, buildings or public infrastructure).

6.1.10 The gamer, as Trane, “meets” the legends and acquires more graffiti styles – starting with freeform graffiti including tagging, stencils, markers, spray paint, stickers, posters and moving on to painting with a squeegee mop, using wheat paste (posters), glass etching, wild styles, roll ups and murals. As Trane meets each legend they give him tips such as “don’t rush, make it look good”. These phrases have limited application within the game play. Trane is told that he shouldn’t stay still in one spot for too long as he will be seen by security cameras” “the trick to beating security cameras is to know where they’re looking. Just don’t let ‘em track ya for too long or they’ll call down the heat (the authorities)’’. Trane sprays the lens of the security cameras with paint, rather than avoiding them as he becomes more experienced.

6.1.11 The gamer earns more points in the Main Mode, as do graffiti artists earn more reputation in the non-gaming world – based on information within the game from the legends, if the graffiti is placed in hard-to-get at places such as freeway signs, high places on walls, or if large pieces are executed with several colours and extensive styling. Alternatively, the gamer (or artist) can earn more points by bombing – that is by creating many pieces in a short space of time over an area.

6.1.12 Also in the game, as with reputation for the graffiti artist in the real world, the gamer can earn more points by placing graffiti in dangerous places such as on trains, roofs of buildings, freeway signs over freeways.

6.1.13 In the game, Trane uses Montana Gold aerosol paints, a proprietary brand spray paint favoured by graffiti artists and an Apple iPod to hear current real, hip-hop and other popular music artists.

6.1.14 In regard to the use of the aerosol paint, Trane is shown using an aerosol can as a flamethrower. This is demonstrated as an animation in the game. The position of the lighter and the can and the appropriate distance between the two is shown from several angles. That the arms are to be held out straight, to avoid injury to the holder of the can, is also shown.

6.2 Violence – The game is a linear one. As the gamer becomes more proficient in performing the in-game graffiti acts, they move up levels and gain more skills. However, much of the game is typical of the fighting/action genre.

6.2.1 There are frequent scenes of violence that have strong impact contained throughout the game play. Whilst the Review Board noted these scenes, and the submission of the LGAQ that these scenes were of sufficient impact for the game to be refused classification on this ground, it was the view of the Review Board that the majority of the violence in the game play could be accommodated in an MA15+ classification.

6.2.2 However, one scene – where Trane ignites the spray from an aerosol can with a cigarette lighter and uses the can as a flame thrower to ignite his opponents is dealt with under themes in regard to instruction or promotion in matters of crime.

6.3 Sex – There are some fleeting visual and significant verbal sexual references in the game, mostly in the cut scenes or in the lyrics of the songs. The sexual references could be accommodated in an MA15+ classification.

6.4 Drug use – There are some verbal and visual detail of drug use in the game. These could be accommodated in an MA15+ classification.

6.5 Language – There is frequent use of strong coarse language in the lyrics of the songs contained in the game and some strong coarse language in the game play. The coarse language could be accommodated in an MA15+ classification.

6.6 Nudity – There are some scenes of fleeting partial female nudity in the cut scenes of the game. These could be accommodated in an MA15+ classification.

 

7 Reasons for the decision

7.1 In Brown v. Classification Review Board (1997) 145 ALR 464 ("Brown 1"), Merkel J (at 481-2), stated that no aspects of the Code should be "twisted against speech nobody means to bar".

7.2 On appeal in the full Federal Court (Brown & Ors v. Members of the Classification Review Board (1998) 154 FCA 67 ("Brown II"), French J noted (at 76) that "the value accorded to freedom of expression will support a conservative approach to the construction of statutes which would impair or abrogate it."

7.3 "Promote" is defined in the Macquarie Dictionary, as “to further the growth, development, progress, etc., of; encourage.” However, as noted by French J in Brown II at 81, the dictionary meaning of the term "instruct" is not automatically the appropriate meaning to use in interpreting that term under the Code. The same would apply for the term "promote".

7.4 The word "Promote" in the context of the Act should contain some element of instruction and incitement. French J notes in Brown II (at 81) that
"the phrase 'promote, incite or instruct' is a collocation of overlapping meanings. …. the word "instruct" does not have to be
construed in a way which excludes all elements of
promotion or incitement. To do so would lead to a broad construction satisfied by the mere fact that a publication furnishes the reader with knowledge on "matters of crime"…"

7.5 Given this collocation of overlapping meanings, so too the word "promotes" does not exclude all elements of instruction and incitement. Otherwise the term could be satisfied by the mere fact that a film, publication or game provides a favourable depiction of a criminal character, without spurring the viewer, reader or player to undertake the activity, or giving any tangible detail about how such criminal activity could or should be undertaken. At least some element of specific instruction and incitement is required.

7.6 The term "instruct" is explained by Merkel J in Brown I, at 476-7 (subsequently endorsed by French and Sundberg JJ in Brown II):

· an instruction, to fall within the Code, must do more than state the obvious;

· an instruction must do more than inform or convey knowledge of matters in such a general way that, in a real and practical sense, no instruction has really been given.

· a publication does not instruct in matters of crime when it merely provides information as to how one may go about obtaining instruction in matters of crime.

7.7 To "incite" can be defined as to urge on; stimulate or prompt to action, by persuasion or threat (see Invicta Plastics v Clare [1976] RTR 251).

7.8 The need for the game to encourage a "disposition towards crime"

7.8.1 In Chief Executive Officer of Customs v. Carman [2004] QVC 433 ("Carman"), McGill DCJ interpreted the word "promotes", stating (at paragraph 20) that to promote crime a publication must do more than merely aid a person who is otherwise disposed towards crime. It must "encourage a disposition" towards crime in someone who does not otherwise have one, or "magnify a pre-existing disposition".

7.9 Objective purpose and the importance of context

7.9.1 French J also noted, in defining the term "instruct" in Brown II at 81, the following principles:

· "reflecting the theme of promotion or incitement", the provision of information on matters of crime will constitute instruction if it appears from the content and context of the article that its objective purpose is to encourage and equip people with the information to commit crimes;

· The existence of words in the publication which, literally read, constitute such instruction, is not definitive - the publication must be read as a whole and in context.

7.9.2 An assessment of a game's objective purpose in this holistic way is also required when determining whether it "promotes" crime.

7.10 Presumption that mere fictional depictions of crime do not promote, instruct or incite in mattes of crime

7.10.1 French J, quoted in Brown II at 81 and Heerey J at 83, have indicated that mere fictional depictions of crime are not the target of this particular aspect of the Code.

7.10.2 Numerous games exist in Australia featuring crimes and violence such as the use of guns, weapons, attacks on police officers, attacks on civilians, carjackings, reckless driving, assaults, thefts, property damage, break-andenter and graffiti. Consistent with the Court's view - which in turn recognises the intent of the classification regime - there is a well-recognised gulf between fictional depictions of crime, and material that should be refused classification for promoting crime.

7.10.3 The mere depiction of, description of, on-screen glamorisation of, ingame mission tips for and rewards for the performance of on-screen criminal activities are the routine, ordinary stuff of fictional computer games. Much more than this is required before a game “promotes” crime under the Code.

7.11 Interactive game play increases impact/ need for game to “instruct”

7.11.1 It was the determination of the majority that for a game to promote crime – that is to encourage or enable “the persons or class of persons to or amongst whom it is published or is intended or likely to be published” to commit crime – the interactive nature of the game must be harnessed to “train” those persons in the crime, in this instance in the crime of graffiti. It was the view of the majority that such conditions exist in the game.

7.11.2 It is a matter of common knowledge that simulations are used by educators and industry to instruct in matters from learning the rules of the road, to touch typing, through to flying jumbo jets and military aircraft. Conditions are reproduced that simulate what the learner may face when undertaking a task in the real world in a safe, re-created environment.

7.11.3 An examination of learning methods show that the techniques used by trainers are all present in the game. Training is more effective when it is Student-centred, when it Motivates the student to persist with the training, when there is simulated or real Activity related to the subject to be learned, where the training is Reinforced within the training module, when the learning that takes place within the training situation can be readily Transferred to the real world and when an Environment is created that fosters the learning in the trainee.

7.11.4 The game is a role-playing game and can be played in the first person – that is that all the “camera angles” and situations presented are depicted from the perspective of the gamer. Role playing is a technique used by trainers to make learning student-centred. The student is motivated to practice the game by the in-game rewards and by the real-world rewards of being able to emulate the living “legends”. Motivation is both positive and negative – the gamer is a “toy” at the beginning but as they learn the techniques of the game – and of the crime of graffiti – they are rewarded with in-game praise, in-game points, and real-world knowledge which is readily transferable to the real world. The game has a linear construction whereby the learning is doled out in small chunks (another established training technique), which is reinforced by real live graffiti artists, with whom the gamer interacts within the game, and the gamer is given the opportunity to repeatedly practice the techniques demonstrated in a safe, simulated environment.

7.11.5 The game offers a familiar world in terms of the interaction with the built environment and the types of obstacles to be overcome in regard to that environment. All the road and other signs used, the freeway and railway infrastructure, including the tiles and styling of the subway stations in the game is directly comparable to that in use in cities today, in particular to New York.

7.12 The game as fantasy/ real-world instruction

7.12.1 The original applicant said in its submission that the game is placed in the future in a fantasy world. It was the view of the majority that whilst the game contained some fantastical elements, much of the game play was based in current experience. All the buildings depicted looked similar to that of any modern city; the trains, cars and helicopters all had the appearance, motion and sounds of transport currently in use, the dress of the characters was similar to that currently in vogue. The depiction of and interaction with real graffiti artists, who currently are all alive, in the game play would not lead a gamer to suppose that the game is set in any futuristic setting – rather that it reflects a simulation of today.

7.12.2 Had the game been set in some Matrix-like scenario or other fantasystyle setting then the original applicant’s statement that the game was pure fantasy may have been given more weight by the majority. Further, it would reduce the likelihood of the transfer of the game-world knowledge of graffiti to the real world.

7.12.3 Whilst the styles of the legends are reproduced in the game, the tips and techniques are not used in playing the game rather they are tips and techniques that would be of benefit in performing graffiti art in the real, nongaming world. The game instruction goes beyond that necessary to perform the limited actions available to the gamer in the game. For example in the game script a legend is giving advice: “Use fat caps (modified aerosol caps that allow different paint spray to be achieved) for top-to-bottom outlines, you’ll get greater coverage . . . faster’’. Such a tip cannot be used in the game, due to the restricted way in which the in-game graffiti is applied.

7.12.4 Also, in the extras to the game a demonstration is given as to how to make a stencil out of cardboard, and a detailed description of the creation of stencils is given in the script. As the stencils are supplied for in-game play, it is the determination of the majority that this instruction is provided to enable or encourage the gamer to make stencils in the real world.

7.12.5 Further, in the Black Book mode the gamer has the opportunity to interact with the images, styles, biographies and tips of 56 real graffiti artists.. All 56 of these artists began their careers as graffiti artists by applying graffiti to public infrastructure and public and private property. The interactive nature of the game, including the Black Book mode, provides greater impact than would be the case in the act of reading a magazine or passively watching a film that provided the same information.

7.12.6 Some of the tips given in the Black Book mode include “never take your black book bombing (performing large amounts of illegal graffiti in a short space of time) with you. It will get taxed (taken)”; “If you get caught between two trains, stand still between them and you won’t get hit”; and “make sure you know who you’re going over if you don’t want beef (trouble) with writers (graffiti writers) you don’t even know”; “doing whole car (railway carriage) productions will put you on the road to legend status”; “always be different. Develop you own style like it’s your DNA”; “develop your tag style. This is the signature of a true master.” Whilst some of these tips are so obvious as to not provide any real knowledge, others enable or encourage the gamer to perform graffiti in the real world and implicitly, this graffiti will be in illegal circumstances.

7.12.7 The majority of the Review Board noted that the game has a fictional storyline and the exaggerated, stereotypical depictions of the anti-hero action game genre. It also noted that the “leaping buildings in a single bound” style of athleticism demonstrated by Trane is unlikely to be reproducible in the real world. However, these elements do not provide a barrier to the game promoting crime by encouraging or enabling the gamer to commit graffiti crime through the methods outlined.

7.13 Instruction in matters of crime/ promotion in matters of crime

7.13.1 For the Review Board to accept that a game promotes crime it must determine whether the objective purpose of the game, when looked at as a whole, and in context, is to actively encourage a disposition towards crime, or to magnify a pre-existing disposition towards crime – in this game the crime of graffiti.

7.13.2 It was the determination of the majority of the Review Board that by the use of interactive game play in realistic simulations (although with some fantastical elements) and with the in-game interaction with living graffiti artists – five who are encountered in game play and those five and a further 51 who are interacted with in the Black Book mode – that the objective purpose of the game is to encourage or enable the likely audience of the game to undertake graffiti and participate in the graffiti culture.

7.13.3 This participation would include using the materials – real-world brands of paint, brands of music players, popular music artists and ranges of clothing, – of the graffiti artists. That the placement of products in popular films or games encourages the audience to purchase those products is a commonly known, marketing technique. Objectively, the producers of this game understand that by placing the Montana Gold brand of paint in the game, that it is likely that gamers will be encouraged to purchase it to perform graffiti art.

7.13.4 Further, this encouragement is not to perform graffiti art in some art course or college or to practice at home with paper or on public or private property with permission. Rather, all the situations encountered in the game world, and articulated by the real graffiti artists in their biographies, is the performance of this art in illegal situations. That many of the real graffiti artists now earn a living from legal graffiti art, does not detract from this conclusion. All of them commenced by performing illegal graffiti, many of them still do so. All of them have gained fame – or at least notoriety – from their illegal graffiti art and many of them derive income as a result of this. The crime of graffiti is not only glamorised it is normalised by this game.

7.13.5 It was the submission of the LGAQ that the majority of those charged with graffiti crimes are males aged 15 to 24. The Review Board noted that this is the same group of persons that would be the likely audience of the game.

7.14 The minority view

7.14.1 It was the view of the minority that the game does not contain any promotion, in the relevant sense, of crime, or detailed promotion of crime.

7.14.2 It is the considered view of the minority, based on their experience and game-play that the game is likely to appeal most to 15 to 30 year olds.

7.14.3 It is the view of the minority that the game, on any objective assessment, is intended as a piece of fantasy, rather than a serious work designed to bear any direct relevance to the real world.

7.14.4 The main elements that keep the player engaged are the storyline, physical fights and incentives such as earning points and unlocking music and the “graffiti legends” profiles that appear in the Black Book in the game.

7.14.5 The tone of the game is escapist and has been designed as entertainment.

 

8 Summary

8.1 The Review Board determined, in the majority, that the theme of graffiti as depicted and detailed in the game was beyond that of fantastical game play and provided elements of promotion of the crime of graffiti.

8.2 The Review Board in a majority decision determined that the computer game is Refused Classification as it promotes the crime of graffiti.

8.3 It was the view of the minority, that the game was a fantasy and that all elements could be accommodated by the MA15+ classification with the consumer advice Strong violence, Strong themes.

 

Appendix A:

Graffiti Management Strategy for the Australian Capital Territory (August 2004): Glossary of graffiti terms

Bomb To undertake prolific graffiti writing.

Bombing Tags, throw-ups and pieces are done in a spree. As much graffiti as possible is done as quickly as possible.

Crew A locally organised group of writers.

Graffiti Graffiti incorporates an entire culture including legal art and graffiti murals.

Graffiti vandalism or illegal graffiti Any illegal message or image – painted, written or scratched on a surface that will be seen by the public.

Hit To tag any surface with paint or ink.

Panel A mural painted on a section of wall or panel.

Piece Painted graffiti, short for masterpiece. Pieces are intended to be complete art works most often done with spray paint.

Legal street art Legalised graffiti on public and private assets with artistic merit.

Offensive graffiti Graffiti vandalism, which is offensive in nature. For example, racial, homophobic, or abusive language which may be degrading to a section of society.

Tag A graffiti writer’s signature stylised in form.

Tagging Written in one colour, a tag is usually done with curves and letter deformations.

Tagging vandalism A written, spray-painted or scratched communication between members of the graffiti subculture, usually including a tag. The preferred sites are in a prominent place, such as along main roads or rail lines.

Throw-up A tag painted quickly with one layer of spray paint and an outline.

Writer A person who writes graffiti.

Writing This term encompasses the simplest illegal tag to the most elaborate legal mural.

Glossary taken from: Graffiti Management Strategy for the Australian Capital Territory, Prepared by Canberra Urban Parks and Places (CUPP) Policy and Planning Unit (August 2004), p. 21. http://www.parksandplaces.act.gov.au/
policiesandpublications/graffitistrategy

 

Appendix B:

Student thesis ‘Graffiti and Urban Space’ (2004):
Glossary of graffiti terms

Tag stylised signature, done quickly and in many areas and on many surfaces.

Throw up: an outline of a name, or a few letters, usually outlined in one colour and roughly filled in with another. Piece a full colour masterpiece, done over a significant amount of time and with a great deal of planning.

Panel a piece painted onto the side of a train.

Materials:

Solids compressed oil paint sticks.

Textas ink markers, often with a broad tip and often with ink mixed by writers themselves from various staining elements.

Cans spray cans

Caps, fat or skinny the nozzle on the can that creates a thick or thin line of paint.

Terms:

[to] bite to copy or rip off another's style.

[to] bomb to cover in graffiti, most often to cover with tags.

[to] buff to clean off graffiti, using chemicals or by painting over.

[to] cap to cross out or deface another writer's work a.k.a. to 'line out' or to 'cross out'.

[to]rack to steal, usually paint.

The line the train line.

The yard a place where trains are housed over night or when not in use.

layup see, yard.

Toy a young, inexperience writer, also a dismissive insult insinuating another writer is inferior.

King an experienced, dedicated and prolific writer, also referred to as 'king of the line'.

Writer graffiti writer, also called a graffiti artist, but for the sake of neutrality in this study they will be referred to as 'writers' rather than 'artists'.

Glossary taken from: ‘Graffiti and Urban Space,’ by Ilse Scheepers 2004 - University of Sydney (Australia), p.1. http://www.graffiti.org/faq/
scheepers_graf_urban_space.html

 

 

Philip Ruddock announces GETTING UP ban

CLASSIFICATION REVIEW BOARD REJECTS GRAFFITI GAME
ATTORNEY-GENERAL THE HON PHILIP RUDDOCK MP
NEWS RELEASE
15 February 2006
014/2006

The Classification Review Board has determined the computer game Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure should be Refused Classification, Attorney-General Philip Ruddock confirmed today.

A computer game must be Refused Classification (RC) if it promotes, instructs or incites a matter of crime or violence.

Mr Ruddock last month asked for a review of the computer game’s MA15+ classification after concerns raised by local councils and state governments about the impact of the game’s content which they believed promoted graffiti crimes.

“I am satisfied the decision to refuse classification is consistent with the proper function of the Review Board to reflect community standards and apply the Act, Code and Guidelines,” Mr Ruddock said.

 

 

Queensland Local Government happy with RC-rating

Atari's Graffiti Urging Game Banned
Local Government Association of Queensland
News Release
15 February 2006

The Classification Review Board has refused classification for Atari’s graffiti-urging computer game, Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure – effectively banning it - following a hearing last week of an application by the Local Government Association of Queensland.

Association president, Cr Paul Bell, said the board advised the LGAQ yesterday that the game, previously classified as MA15+, had been refused classification. The game had been scheduled for release on Friday.

“This decision is a win for councils throughout Australia, the general public and commonsense,” Cr Bell said. “We have fought the release of this game, which urges players to indulge in graffiti ‘to make a statement’, since its existence was first brought to our notice in August last year.

The LGAQ was represented before the Review Board by association executive member and Gold Coast Mayor, Cr Ron Clarke, and the association’s policy and representation director, Greg Hoffman.

“Councils spend enormous amounts on graffiti removal each year. We estimate the annual cost to Queensland councils of removing graffiti removal is more than $10 million and close to $60 million annually for Australian councils,” Cr Bell said.

“These costs are quite apart from the costs incurred by state and federal governments and the private sector,” he said.

It’s good to see the Review Board has recognised the Atari company’s irresponsible moves to encourage young people to vandalise the community. Previously, our appeals to the company to withdraw the game had fallen on deaf ears.

“We’re grateful for the responsible stand of the attorney-general, Philip Ruddock, who ordered the review. The federal government’s move shows it’s time now for the state government and the community as a whole to follow the example and take a stand to banish graffiti vandals for good,” Cr Bell said.

 

 

W.A. Local Government happy with banned game

Graffiti Game Banned
WA Local Government Association
www.walga.asn.au
Media Release
February 15th 2006

Atari’s graffiti-urging computer game, ‘Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure’ has been refused classification by the Commonwealth Office of Film and Literature Classification Board following a hearing last week of an application by Local Government.

Western Australian Local Government Association President, Cr Bill Mitchell applauded the Board’s decision.

“The application by the Local Government Association of Queensland was supported by Local Government throughout Australia. The decision to refuse classification effectively bans the game which was scheduled for release on Friday,” said Cr Mitchell.

“This is a win for Local Government and the community. It is the best outcome that we could have hoped for. Millions of dollars and considerable resources are being channelled into removing graffiti from property in Western Australia.”

Local Government spends an enormous amount of time and resources on the management of graffiti vandalism.

“It should not be overlooked that graffiti is a crime and anything that risks the normalising of such behaviour should be a concern to the whole community,” said Cr Mitchell.

“We will continue to fight for more equitable outcomes for the communities we serve and call upon State and Commonwealth agencies for greater involvement, support and coordination of this community issue.”

Cr Mitchell said the Association was currently working in partnership with the Office of Crime Prevention to develop strategies and tools to assist Local Government in graffiti management

 

 

Atari Australia on the GETTING UP ban

GETTING UP BANNED FROM SALE IN AUSTRALIA
Atari Australia Statement
16.02.2006

Atari Australia responds to OFLC Review Board ruling

On February 15, the Office of Film & Literature Classification Review Board announced it had determined that Marc Ecko's Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure should be refused classification. This decision overturns the OFLC's original MA15+ rating given in November 2005.

Atari Australia who is the official distributor of Marc Ecko's Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure strongly disagrees with the Office of Film & Literature Classification Review Board's decision and defends the original classification by the OFLC as a title that attracts a rating of MA15+.

Atari Australia is briefing the industry body, the Interactive Entertainment Association of Australia (IEAA) as this is considered a decision that will impact the industry and not specific or isolated to one company.

Marc Ecko's Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure is yet to be released in Australia. The game has not been banned from sale in any other territory in the world and will be released worldwide in February.

Atari Australia will issue a full statement upon receipt of the Review Board's written decision

If you would like to have your say on whether or not videogames like Getting Up Contents Under Pressure should be banned in Australia, then head over to the Atari.com.au forums by clicking HERE

 

 

Atari USA speak about the ban

Marc Ecko's Getting Up Banned in Australia, ATARI Answers Back
Atari USA
Press Release
Feb. 16th, 2006 12:52 pm

"The Australian Government's recent ruling to ban Marc Ecko's Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure is an ironic instant of Life imitating Art in that Getting Up takes place in a world where freedom of expression is suppressed by a tyrannical government. It is unfortunate that during this day and age a government will implement censorship policies which are tantamount to book burning practices from the past. Banning any form of artistic expression suppresses creativity and begs the question "Where does it end?" Atari prides itself on providing innovative entertainment experiences like Getting Up and does not condone or encourage any criminal act.

Just as classic works of art such as music, books and paintings or modern forms of entertainment such as films and television shows present fictionalized entertainment depicting stories, cultures, characters and actions that may be exaggerated versions of "real-life" people or events, video games such as Getting Up provide amusement and escape in a fantasy world where players can vicariously experience different lifestyles.

The game environment and narrative present a unique setting and look based on the lifestyle and legend of graffiti artists and their chosen art form. The look and feel of the game reflect many aspects of this culture, including its music, fashion, and language, giving the player the ability to "experience" the graffiti art form in a safe and legal setting. The focus of the game is on expression through art and Atari will vehemently fight its censorship."

 

 

Media Reaction to RC-rating for GETTING UP

Computer game refused classification over graffiti tips
abc.net.au, February 15, 2006

Quotes Paul Bell from the Queensland's Local Government Association as saying:

... it is a big win as the game was scheduled for release in Australia at the end of the week.

This game won't be available in Australia and we think it's a significant recognition that this game in itself had some pretty anti-social activity and behaviour recognised in the game and we've been able to substantiate that it was a game against the law of all the states of Australia,

 

Graffiti video game banned in Australia
abc.net.au, February 15, 2006

Quotes Maureen Shelly, from the Classification review Board as saying:

Different legislation applies in different countries and in Australia, the promotion of crime is something which must be refused classification.

Personally, on a personal level, I'm a great believer in free speech. This is one of the hardest decisions I've ever made - that on my say-so, a game gets refused classification.

We don't have to make the link [with encouraging crime]. What we have to do is see objectively, undertake an objective test of the material presented to us as to whether we believe this promotes crime. That is, does it encourage or enable crime. And I knew very little about graffiti before playing this game, and I now know all the terminology, the different styles, the techniques.

 

Internet sales bypass graffiti game ban
abc.net.au, February 16, 2006

The chair of the Classification Review Board says she is concerned a banned computer game about graffiti is still freely available on the Internet.

The game was originally granted an MA rating but was yesterday refused classification after the board ruled it promotes criminal activity.

It is not banned in the US and Europe and can still be purchased by Australians on the Internet.

Board convenor Maureen Shelley says parents must also take responsibility for what their children buy online.

"I would hope that any responsible parent would be taking advice from the Government," she said.

"If the Government says this game is one which should be refused classification, I would hope that Australian parents would take serious note of that."

 

Australia first to ban graffiti game
theage.com.au, February 17, 2006

Gold Coast Mayor and former Olympian Cr Ron Clarke is claiming the credit for stopping the Australian release of a computer game that its critics say incites the crime of graffiti vandalism.

Cr Clarke said Getting Up promoted graffiti on public property, train-surfing, fighting and other anti-social behaviour.

"I am delighted the Review Board has voted in favour of preventing the potential escalation of these social and financial costs to our community," Cr Clarke said in a statement.

Atari Australia, said it would be examining all legal avenues to overturn the ban.

"We are definitely investigating all our options at the moment. If we can appeal it we will," said Mr David Wildgoose, public relations manager at Atari Australia.

Atari is unlikely to act until the board's findings are published in full next month.

If Atari does choose to appeal, its case would have to be made through the Federal Court.

While the company would not be able to launch an appeal directly against the Classification Review Board's decision, it could seek to pursue a case based on flaws in the legal process undertaken by the Board in reaching its decision.

The convenor in this case was Ms Maureen Shelley who said it was the view of the board's determination that the game promoted the crime of graffiti. She said the dissenting view was that the game was fantasy.

 

 

IEAA on the RC-rating of GETTING UP

Response to Banning of the Video Game Marc Ecko's Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure
Interactive Entertainment Association of Australia
17 February 2006
Media Release 

The IEAA strongly disagrees with the decision by the Office of Film and Literature Classification's Review Board, to ban the video game. "The IEAA contends that the game does not exceed the guidelines for the MA15+ category" said CEO Chris Hanlon.

The decision by the Classification Review Board was made on the basis that the game promotes crime and that this is something that must be refused classification. "There has never been any evidence that links playing computer games to increases in crime" said Mr Hanlon. "In fact, OFLC publications state that none of the independent research published to date has demonstrated serious affects of aggressive game play upon young peoples' behaviour."

The decision has significant implications for all entertainment content providers. "Any film, game or publication and especially that related to graffiti, can potentially be banned under this precedent" said Mr Hanlon.

"It's important that the classification laws are clear, consistent and are applied equally to films, games and publications" said Mr Hanlon. "Business needs a consistent set of rules, rather than original decisions overturned and then re-determined by one person. "Every time this happens it costs business hundreds of thousands of dollars. Stock needs to be withdrawn, advertising changed and retailers have to deal with an angry public."

The process of seeking a review of OFLC classification decisions, needs reviewing," said Mr Hanlon. "Usually those who object to a film or game have never actually seen it." With Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure the game was due for world wide release in February yet the complaint process started months before. This leaves the system open to vexatious complaints from vested interests.

"An effective classification system is one that is consistent and free of political interference that can make decisions that reflect the diversity of Australian society" said Mr Hanlon.

 

 

OFLC's Des Clark on GETTING UP ban

Luke Van Leuveren from PALGN interviewed Des Clark, the Director of the OFLC.

 

PALGN speaks to the OFLC On Mark Ecko, an R rating for games and more
palgn.com.au, February 24, 2006

PALGN: Marc Ecko’s Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure was recently refused classification because it promotes the crime of graffiti. Is there a reason why previous graffiti games (such as Jet Set Radio Future) haven’t been given the same treatment?

OFLC: This decision was made on Review.

The Classification Review Board is a separate review body. It needs to be understood that both boards are also completely independent from one another and it is possible for them to reach different decisions on the same content.

Previous graffiti games have not been reviewed by the Review Board. The Classification Review Board will release their reasons for decision about Getting Up: Contents under pressure in due course, and I am unable to comment on the decisions of the Review Board.

 

PALGN: One of the main thrusts for Marc Ecko’s Getting Up being declassified was that it promoted crime. Can the OFLC (or the OFLC Reviews Board) point to research that proves a connection between playing a video game and committing an associated crime? If not, why is such a reason allowed to review an initial classification?

OFLC: It is important to understand that the game was Refused Classification by the Classification Review Board. “Refused Classification” is a classification. (Declassification means revocation, which is a different power under the Classification Act.)

As mentioned, the legislative classification tools are used by the Board to make their decisions.

It is also important to understand that Classification decisions are not always unanimous and the majority decision becomes the decision. This is what makes the system fair – it accommodates various viewpoints.

In the case of this review, the Classification Review Board was constituted by four people and the Convenor exercised her casting vote because there was, until that point, an evenly split decision.

As the Review Board is an independent, I am unable to comment on their decision-making process. The Classification review Board will release its reasons for decision in due course.

 

PALGN: Is the recent banning of Marc Ecko’s Getting Up likely to set a precedent for future game classifications? Can we expect to see driving games banned because they promote reckless driving or first person shooters banned because they promote murder?

OFLC: All classification decisions are considered on a case by case basis, following the processes I have explained earlier. As all games and films are different, it would be pre-emptive to make a comment either way.

 

 

March 2005: Victorian Councillors applaud GETTING UP ban

Graffiti game ban win for campaign
starnewsgroup.com.au, March 2, 2006

Erasing the problem: Graffiti fighters councillor Steve Beardon and councillor Wayne Smith took up a successful campaign to ban a video game promoting graffiti in Australia.

TWO Casey councillors believe their successful campaign to ban a video game promoting graffiti has set a precedent for the reclassification of other titles in Australia.

Cr Beardon, co-founder of RAGE (Residents Against Graffiti Everywhere), said he and Cr Smith launched the Victorian campaign to ban the Atari game last year.

He claimed the game incited criminal behaviour and violence toward authority.

“We had the support of many politicians here and overseas, including the mayor of New York (Michael Bloomberg).

“RAGE wrote to Atari, the Australian Federal Government and lobbied through the press to harness community awareness and support for the banning of this game.

“As this game was modelled on graffiti culture and even designed by ex-graffitists, it was imperative that it be banned so as not to further give street cred to the illegal activity,” he said.

Cr Smith said the ban was a victory for the protection of young people from games glorifying graffiti and anti-social behaviour.

“This game was rewarding criminal activity and sending a message to kids that it was OK to commit illegal acts.

“I think this win will set a precedent for the banning of other games that promote illegal activities.

“It is significant that Casey played a part in an international campaign,” he said.

The video game ban comes in the wake of threats made against Cr Beardon by graffitists who last week warned of pay back for his anti-graffiti stance.

Vandals have threatened to paint Cr Beardon’s face across Melbourne and published messages of hate on a website promoting graffiti.

“I have received plenty of threatening comments over the years and it’s never stopped me before.

“I certainly won’t be backing down. Why should I? I would be conceding defeat if I stopped campaigning,” he said.

The matter is being investigated by police.

 

 

Marc Ecko on the Australian ban

Game banned for 'teaching vandalism'
smh.com.au, March 17, 2006

The multimillionaire US creator of a computer game that has been banned in Australia has lashed out at what he describes as an "outdated" system of gaming classification.

Mr Marc Ecko said he was dismayed by the "complete dismissal" of comments in support of the game made by two of the four members of the Classification Review Board which last month reviewed then withdrew the game's MA15+ rating.

"I'm dismayed by the complete dismissal of these opinions, and until Australia's outdated ratings system allows for a mature rating on videogames, it is reasonable to assume the precedence set with Getting Up will allow for widespread non-classification decisions moving forward, " Mr Ecko said in a statement.

 

 

April 2006: IEAA and Atari back away from court challenge

At the time of the ban, Atari hinted that they might challenge the RC rating in the courts. They eventually backed away from this position.

 

Banning of Video Game Highlights Flaws in Classification Review Process
Interactive Entertainment Association of Australia
13 April 2006
Media Release

The Board of the Interactive Entertainment Association of Australia has determined that it will not appeal the refused classification category given to the video game Marc Eckos Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure. The game was originally classified MA15+ but following a request for review by the Local Government Association of Queensland, the Classification Review Board determined that the game should be refused classification.

"Our advice indicated that we have strong legal grounds to contest the decision of the Classification Review Board" IEAA CEO Chris Hanlon said.

"For example the Review Board mistakenly found that the "Black Book" and the use of the graffiti "Legends" in the game operated interactively and were of a high impact. In fact the biographies of the graffiti artists are not interactive and hence they can not instruct in matters of crime."

"We also believe that the Review Board did not consider the artistic merit of the game and adopted an extreme definition of detailed instruction or promotion in matters of crime."

"Our decision to not appeal this matter in the Federal Court was made on the basis of the costs involved in establishing these facts in a court of law. The IEAA also believes it is more constructive to work with the Attorney Generals Department to improve the classification process."

"This game was refused classification three days before its worldwide release despite already being given an MA15+ classification. It cost the distributor Atari Australia hundreds of thousands of dollars to withdraw stock and refund advance purchases.

There needs to be a more timely process of review where those objecting to a classification decision are required to have detailed knowledge of the contents of the game or film. Usually those who object to a game or film have never played or watched it and this was the case with this game.

It's important that the classification laws are clear, consistent and applied equally to films, games and publications.

 

 

Getting UP: OFLC Complaints and Comments

The following information comes from the 2005 to 2006 OFLC report.

 

Classification Board & Classification Review Board
ANNUAL REPORT 2005–2006
Classification Board
Computer Games

The Classification Board classified the computer game Mark Ecko’s Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure MA 15+. The Classification Review Board subsequently refused classification to the game on the basis that it incited the crime of graffiti.

 

Computer games – complaints

The OFLC received 261 complaints about computer games. Of the total, 60 complaints were about the absence of an R 18+ classification for computer games. 30 complaints related to concerns about the Classification Board’s MA 15+ classification for Marc Ecko’s Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure. This decision was reviewed by the Classification Review Board which determined that it be RC.

There is some overlap between the figures quoted above as some people raised several of these issues in the one item of correspondence.

 

Ministerial correspondence

The OFLC processed 210 items of ministerial correspondence, including letters, emails and facsimiles, referred by the Attorney-General in the reporting period. This compares with 197 items of ministerial correspondence during 2004.05. The main issues raised in the correspondence were:

...the RC decision for the computer game Marc Ecko's Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure (27 items in support of the RC decision and 4 complaints about the RC decision)

...the absence of an R 18+ classification for computer games (9 items).

Note that there is some overlap between the figures quoted above as some people raised several of these issues in the one item of correspondence.

 

Classification Review Board
Maureen Shelly
Convenor

Controversies
Computer games
During the year, the Review Board refused classification to two computer games, namely 50 Cent Bulletproof and Mark Ecko’s Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure, with both of these decisions exciting considerable media coverage in Australia and internationally. In particular, the refusal of Getting Up for promoting the crime of graffiti sparked waves of online protest in Australia and overseas. Blogs (online weblogs) continue to receive commentary regarding these decisions and the matters were reported in more than 36 countries. The Getting Up decision has been included in Wikipedia (the free online encyclopaedia).

Much of the commentary has related to the lack of an R 18+ classification for computer games with the perception being that if such had been available, the games would not have been refused classification. Whilst this is not something that the Review Board considered, it should be noted that matters relating to promotion of crime are not related to the age of the likely audience.

 

Review Board Complaints

While 51 complaints were received about the Classification Review Board’s RC decision for the computer game Marc Ecko’s Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure, the OFLC received 30 letters raising concerns about the game and expressing the view that it should not be available in Australia.

Of the ministerial correspondence processed on behalf of the Attorney-General..... ......four were critical of the Classification Review Board’s RC decision for the computer game Marc Ecko’s Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure, although there were also 27 letters which raised concerns about the game or supported the RC decision.

 

 

March 2007: GETTING UP - The download controversy

In March 2007, Jason Hill reported on his Screenplay blog that GETTING UP: CONTENTS UNDER PRESSURE was being sold as a download on a newly launched Australian site.

The publicity soon saw Mindscape Asia Pacific remove the game.

 

What ban?
theage.com.au/digital-life/games/blog/screenplay, March 14, 2007

Mindscape Asia Pacific launched the web site www.quicky.com.au today and is selling Marc Ecko's Getting Up for $26.99, a game that was refused classification by the OFLC's Classification Review Board in February 2006 because it promoted crime.

Mindscape Sales and Marketing Manager Tonia Belasco.

"We've partnered with TryMedia in Australia and they've pretty much the source of all our games," says Ms Belasco." I would have thought they would have gone through all the legitimate outlets to ensure any games we're offering were classified and could be played in Australia.

"That's their job, we leave it in their hands to ensure that everything is done by the rules. I'm actually surprised that one's on there, I'll have to go through the list."

 

Game site skirts censors' ban
smh.com.au, March 15, 2007

The reappearance of the game is particularly galling to Gold Coast Mayor Ron Clarke, who fought a six month-long campaign to have Getting Up banned.

"I'm absolutely appalled, astonished and disappointed," Cr Clarke said in a telephone interview last night. "To be able to get it from an Australian dotcom site is upsetting. I would have thought the Government had some measure [of control] over that."

Cr Clarke, a former Olympian, said the game promoted crime and excessive violence.

"It makes heroes out of criminals, in my opinion," he said. "They pretend to be talented and to be the forerunners of a new age of street art or something, which is just arrogant piffle."

Mindscape's sales and marketing manager, Tonia Belasco, said she had not noticed that the banned title was available until Hill notified her. She said she would consider whether or not to remove the game after speaking to the Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC), but added that, because the online store was being hosted on a US server, it might fall beyond the jurisdiction of Australian law.

"[I am] currently waiting for the OFLC to get back to me on the regulations regarding non-classified games on USA portals," she said.

"You can't stop people on a US or Europe website from downloading games that haven't been classified in Australia, because how do you enforce that?"

A spokesman for Mr Ruddock said the Attorney-General was investigating the issue of online stores getting around Australian classification laws by hosting their servers overseas.

OFLC spokesman Brinsley Marlay said that, while the OFLC was in charge of classifying content, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) was in charge of enforcing those ratings when it came to online material.

A spokeswoman for ACMA was preparing a statement in response to the issue, but guidelines published on its website suggest there is little it can do to prevent online stores hosted overseas from selling banned games to Australians.

The website reads: "If the content is not hosted in Australia and is prohibited, or is likely to be prohibited, ACMA will notify the content to the suppliers of approved filters in accordance with the Internet Industry Association's Code of Practice."

It said ACMA would refer the material to law enforcement agencies only if it was "sufficiently serious", such as child pornography.

 

Banned game withdrawn from sale
theage.com.au
, March 19, 2007

Mindscape's sales and marketing manager, Tonia Velasco, insisted this was done voluntarily because Mindscape was a member of the industry body, Interactive Entertainment Association of Australia (IEAA), rather than because selling the game - Marc Ecko's Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure - was illegal.

"We could [legally] say 'well stuff you', but we can't because we are part of the IEAA," Velasco said.

"We don't want to be seen as the rebels that are a partner in all of this so we're just gonna regularly check what they [Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC)] have prohibited from classification [and ensure those titles are not being sold at our store]."

Although the game was refused classification (making it, in effect, banned from sale) by the Classification Review Board in February last year, regulator Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) could not force Mindscape to stop selling the game in Australia.

This is because Quicky.com.au is hosted on a server located overseas - in the United States.

ACMA said in a statement it would only investigate prohibited content located on an overseas server if it received a "valid complaint", but even then it would only "notify the content to the suppliers of approved filters in accordance with the Internet Industry Association's code of practice".

By contrast, if Quicky.com.au was hosted in Australia, ACMA could "direct the internet content host to remove the content from their service".

"If we received a valid complaint about the game [Getting Up], including the provision of sufficient details for us to download the game, we would investigate it," ACMA said.

Velasco was critical of ACMA's ability to do anything to prevent the game from being sold.

She said it was unlikely anyone would make a formal complaint to ACMA because "it's predominantly gamers going to those kinds of [game download] sites ... you won't get parents on there".

"Even in the instance of someone formally complaining, I don't know what action they can take because there's no law there that you're breaking," Velasco added.

 

 

Michael Atkinson's proposes graffiti crackdown

The SA Attorney-General Michael Atkinson put the issue of graffiti on the table at the 2005 to 2006 Standing Committee of Attorneys General Censorship meetings. His proposal was to make it even easier to ban films, games, and books that featured graffiti. Luckily, this was voted down at the 2006-2007 meetings.

 

Annual Report to the Council of Australian Governments 2005-06
Standing Committee of Attorneys General (Censorship)

"In response to a request from the South Australian Attorney-General a proposal to lower the threshold of the RC guidelines to deal with graffiti crime, was added to the agenda."

 

Annual Report to the Council of Australian Governments 2006-07
Standing Committee of Attorneys General (Censorship)

" Ministers in relation to RC Guidelines and Matters of Crime:
Graffiti expressed their views on a proposal to expand the current guidelines so that matters portraying crime in a favorable light would be refused classification, with a majority expressing opposition to the proposal. Ministers agreed to remove this item from the agenda.

 

 

GETTING UP: Further complaints to the OFLC

The following information comes from the 2006 to 2007 OFLC report.

Classification Board
Annual Report 2006-2007

Computer games: complaints
The OFLC received 57 complaints about computer games. Of the total, 32 complaints were about the absence of an R18+ classification for computer games. There were five complaints about the Classification Review Board's RC decision for Marc Ecko's Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure, which was originally classified MA 15+ by the Classification Board.

 

Classification Review Board
Annual Report 2007-08

Computer games: complaints
One complaint was received about a Classification Review Board decision made during the 2005-06 reporting period. This complaint related to the RC decision for the computer game Marc Ecko's Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure. This computer game was originally classified MA 15+ and was reviewed on application by the then Attorney-General, the Hon Philip Ruddock MP, and the Local Government Association of Queensland.

 

 

Graffiti and the Australian censors

In June 2006, a DVD of 70K, was banned by the OFLC. In September 2007, they refused it a film festival exemption to screen at the Melbourne Underground Film Festival.

The DVD features the work of the Melbourne graffiti crew 70K. Full details can be found in our Film Censorship Database.

 

Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure - Atari [us] PC


 

 

Next Games: Grand Theft Auto Series