This game has never had problems with the Australian censors. It is included because it was a controversial title.
In March 2004, HITMAN: CONTRACTS was passed with an MA15+ (Medium Level Violence) rating. Atari Australia was the applicant.
The OFLC were unhappy that the MA15+ rated HITMAN: CONTRACTS was being advertised before M-rated movies.
Games Turn Deadly Serious
The West Australian, May 24, 2004
"The Office of Film and Literature Classification last week asked Atari to withdraw the advertisement for Hitman from cinemas, where it was playing just before M-rated blockbuster Troy. But it has approved the game itself for the Australian market."
Chris Eade from Atari was quoted as saying:
"Games should have a classification system consistent with other entertainment forms," he said. "I don't think a game in which you 'get into the mind of a killer' is any more contentious than a movie portraying a serial killer - of which there are numerous examples."
In June 2004, the Advertising Standards Bureau dismissed a complaint against HITMAN: CONTRACTS.
Advertising Standards Bureau
1. Complaint reference number 132/04
2. Advertiser Atari Australia Pty Ltd (Hitman)
3. Product Toys & Games
4. Type of advertisement Cinema
5. Nature of complaint Discrimination or vilification Other – section 2.1
6. Date of determination Tuesday, 8 June 2004
7. DETERMINATION Dismissed
DESCRIPTION OF THE ADVERTISEMENT
The advertisement is for an Atari game called “Hitman Contracts”. It depicts a man in a room preparing his weapon to kill another man. The man about to be killed is depicted running through a car park to get to his car away from the killer. The tagline is “When you kill for money there are no rules. Enter the mind of a ruthless Assassin.” T
HE COMPLAINT Comments which the complainant/s made regarding this advertisement included the following:
“The ad itself was not violent. I just think it is disgusting that this type of material can pass and be promoted as entertainment.”
“It is my opinion that the ad gives the impression that a cold-blooded killer is superior and enviable for being cool to another man who is frightened at the thought of his being murdered. That’s just sick to me.”
THE ADVERTISER’S RESPONSE
Comments which the advertiser made in response to the complaint/s regarding this advertisement included the following:
“…. the letter of complaint acknowledges that the imagery was ‘Slightly Plasticky finish’ and also acknowledges that it was recognised as ‘Obviously Computer Graphics.’ The fact that this is known lessens the impact of the ad knowing that all is not real.”
“There are no depictions of violence, there are no depictions of the character mentioned being actually hurt.”
The Advertising Standards Board (“Board”) considered whether this advertisement breaches section 2 of the Advertiser Code of Ethics (the “Code”).
The Board found that the depiction did not contravene the provisions of the Code relating to discrimination/social values.
Further finding that the advertisement did not breach the Code on any other grounds, the Board dismissed the complaint.
Demand to ban thrill-kill game
heraldsun.com.au, July 19, 2004
Noel McNamara, from the Crime Victims Support Association.
"This is just encouraging kids to grow up to sneak around and shoot
people in the back of the head"
"It just begs disbelief, especially here in the hitman and crime capital of the nation."
"It's absolutely disgusting to promote heinous crime and build up such an unhealthy fantasy."
"It should be kicked off the market. The Government should step in and do something."
The Victorian Shadow Attorney-General Andrew McIntosh, who claimed not to believe in censorship.
"This is a matter where you would think the Premier would stand up
and call for a voluntary ban,"
"It is up to large corporations like Blockbuster and anybody else who is hoping to distribute this game to show some sort of responsibility.
"If you glorify a highly illegal activity in an environment of 27 gangland killings, where do you draw the line?"
The Victorian Attorney-General Rod Hulls was not getting involved in the media beat up. His representative said:
"It is up to the Federal OFLC to make this determination,"
Barbara Scott, the Liberal Shadow Minister for Children, Culture and The Arts argued against the game in the W.A. Legislative Council. Complaints from West Australia eventually saw the MA15+ rated MANHUNT banned by the Review Board.
Subject: VIDEO GAMES HITMAN: CONTRACTS AND MANHUNT?
Parliament of Western Australia
House: Legislative Council- QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
Date: Thursday, 26 August 2004
Member: SCOTT MS B; PRESIDENT; CHANCE
Page: 5696c - 5697a / 1
678. Hon BARBARA SCOTT to the minister representing the Minister for Justice:
I refer to her responsibility under the State Censorship Act and to The West Australian dated 13 September 2003, with articles titled “Game linked to crime spree” and “Violence is the name of the game”.
(1) Is the minister aware of the video games titled Hitman: Contracts and Manhunt?
(2) Is the minister aware that the nature of the games is to murder people and avoid detection?
(3) If not, will the minister make herself aware of the nature of the games?
Hon Tom Stephens: The Liberal Party has done more to promote those games than anyone else. Nobody knew about them before.
Hon BARBARA SCOTT: The member should read the hundreds of e-mails I have received in support of our move to have them banned. I have had hundreds of e-mails from Western Australians concerned about them.
Several members interjected.
The PRESIDENT: Order!
Hon BARBARA SCOTT: Thank you, Mr President.
(4) Will the minister restrict access to the games by ensuring that they are not available to be played in prisons and youth detention centres?
(5) If not, why not?
(6) Is the minister aware that New Zealand has banned Manhunt?
(7) Will the minister request the Office of Film and Literature Classification to ban both these video games?
(8) If not, why not?
Hon KIM CHANCE replied: I thank the member for some notice of this question. I provide the answer on behalf of the minister assisting the Minister for Justice.
(3) Not applicable.
(4) The Department of Justice advises that the games are not permitted in prisons or detention centres.
(5) Not applicable.
(7)-(8) The Minister for Justice advises that she has written to the commonwealth Attorney-General seeking a review of the computer game Manhunt. The minister is seeking a copy of the classification board’s reasons for its decision on the computer game Hitman: Contracts before deciding what action to take.
Several members interjected.
The PRESIDENT: Order!
The parliamentary secretary bench seems to be suffering from neglect, by the sound coming from it. I hope the Leader of the Opposition will ask one of them a question.
Hon Norman Moore: I was hoping to get a copy of that game so that I could work out how to do it!
We received one report of customs seizing HOOLIGANS: STORM OVER EUROPE in 2005.
This particular victim of the ACS decided to write to the OFLC for more details.
Customs victim to the OFLC.
Could you please verify for me what the Australian rating for the computer game 'Hooligans' is? This title is subtitled "Storm Over Europe". I have searched your online database and could find no reference to the title, but the box cover shown at this URL suggests that it has been given a 'Mature rating'.
Reply from the OFLC.
The game isn't classified in Australia.
Customs can seize it if they believe it exceeds Reg 4A of their Act, which means if it is equivalent to an R game (or since we don't have R here, a game above MA). It's up to them to decide that, using our guidelines as a guide.
You won't get a permission to import such a game.
You may submit it for classification at your cost (see our website for details) but that would make it a very expensive game, if in fact it didn't exceed MA.
Customs victim to the OFLC.
Am I correct, then, in assuming that Customs have complete control over the import of any game that is not in the OFLC database, subject only to their own interpretation of the OFLC guidelines? I wonder if I were to import the American boxed release of the game (ESRB rating 'M', as opposed to 'R') if they would let it through.
Reply from the OFLC.
They'd still potentially seize it if it were unclassified.
It's a bit of a lottery really. Thousands come in to the country un-noticed, and some get stopped. Not really fair, I agree.
The Australian Customs Service does not publicise the video games that they confiscate. We have always found this to be very unfair to anyone who attempts to do the right thing, and check the status of a game before ordering.
In the period 1997 to 1998, customs submitted 447 items to the Classification Board; by 2006 to 2007, this was down to four items. In their 2003 to 2004 Annual Report, the Classification Board explained the reason for this huge drop.
At the request of the ACS, nine sessions were held for ACS officers in Adelaide, Brisbane, Darwin, Melbourne, and Sydney, resulting in 137 people being trained.
Officers were trained in applying Regulation 4A of the Prohibited Imports Regulations, and comparing this regulation, and the refused classification category of the National Classification Code.
The training enables ACS officers to make decisions about intercepted material and only refer items to the Board where there is need for advice.
The following list has been compiled in a number of ways. These include members of the public sending in details of their confiscations, forum posts, web sites etc. Please send in details of any confiscations you may have heard of.
This listing is not meant to encourage anyone to attempt to import a prohibited Item; it is more likely to act as a deterrent.
Please do not direct any questions about the workings of the ACS to this site. Question them directly.
All titles have separate entries in our Games Censorship Database.
We take no responsibility for errors in this list.
See our Film Censorship Database for a list of list of movies, videos, and DVDS that have been confiscated by customs.
See our Book and Magazine Censorship Database for a list of publications that have been confiscated by customs.
In January 2015, HOTLINE MIAMI 2: WRONG NUMBER was banned by the Classification Board.
Their database gave the following reason for the RC-rating.
Games 1(a) The computer game is classified RC in accordance with the
National Classification Code, Computer Games Table, 1.
(a) as computer games that "depict, express or otherwise deal with matters of sex, drug misuse or addiction, crime, cruelty, violence or revolting or abhorrent phenomena in such a way that they offend against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults to the extent that they should not be classified."
Mark Serrels from Kotaku obtained the full Classification Board report. He quotes the following, but notes that the report makes clear that this was not the only reason that the game was refused classification.
Hotline Miami 2 Refused Classification Because of An Implied Rape Scene
kotaku.com.au, January 15, 2015
In the sequence of game play footage titled Midnight Animal, the protagonist character bursts into what appears to be a movie set and explicitly kills 4 people, who collapse to the floor in a pool of copious blood, often accompanied by blood splatter. After stomping on the head of a fifth male character, he strikes a female character wearing red underwear. She is knocked to the floor and is viewed lying face down in a pool of copious blood. The male character is viewed with his pants halfway down, partially exposing his buttocks. He is viewed pinning the female down by the arms and lying on top of her thrusting, implicitly raping her (either rear entry or anally) while her legs are viewed kicking as she struggles beneath him. This visual depiction of implied sexual violence is emphasised by it being mid-screen, with a red backdrop pulsating and the remainder of the screen being surrounded by black.
Hotline Miami 2 Australian Classification Statement
devolverdigital.com, January 15, 2015
We are aware of the recent report published by the Australian Classification Board in regards to Hotline Miami 2 and have been in communication with them. As such, we and Dennaton Games would like to clarify a few things:
First, to clear up any possible misconceptions, the opening cinematic that was first shown in June of 2013 has not changed in any way. We also want to make clear that players are given an choice at the start of the game as to whether they wish to avoid content that alludes to sexual violence. The sequence in question is presented below in context, both after choosing the uncut version of the game and after choosing to avoid content that alludes to sexual violence.
Second, in response to the report itself, we are concerned and disappointed that a board of professionals tasked with evaluating and judging games fairly and honestly would stretch the facts to such a degree and issue a report that describes specific thrusting actions that are not simply present in the sequence in question and incorrectly portrays what was presented to them for review.
Though we have no plans to officially challenge the ruling, we stand by our developers, their creative vision for the storyline, its characters and the game and look forward to delivering Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number to fans very soon.
- Devolver Digital and Dennaton Games
Classification Board Annual Report 2014-2015
RC Refused Classification
The computer game that was classified RC during the reporting period was Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number. The game is a third person shooter game set in a 1980s Miami underworld and is a conclusion to the Hotline Miami saga. In the view of the Board, this game warranted an ‘RC’ classification in accordance with item 1(a) of the computer games table (clause 4) of the National Classification Code.
This game featured an animated sequence depicting sexual violence. This content exceeded what is able to be accommodated within the R 18+ guidelines, which states that "implied sexual violence that is visually depicted, interactive, not justified by context or related to incentives or rewards is not permitted".
Classification Board Annual Report 2014-2015
There were 94 complaints about the computer game Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number being Refused Classification (RC).
On 14 January 2015 the Board classified Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number Refused Classification (RC). The Board was of the view that the content of this game exceeded the R 18+ classification, as per the Guidelines for the Classification of Computer Games which state that: "Implied sexual violence that is visually depicted, interactive, not justified by context or related to incentives or rewards is not permitted".
In September 2015, HOTLINE MIAMI 2: WRONG NUMBER was banned again, this time under the International Age Rating Coalition (IARC) system.
Devolver Digital posted a clip on YouTube that shows the 'Midnight Animal' sequence containing the rape. The sexual violence lasts for less than ten seconds. The game gives the option for it to be played with the removal of 'scenes that allude to sexual violence'. The video contains both versions of the 'Midnight Animal' sequence.
In May 2008, Sega Australia had THE HOUSE OF THE DEAD: OVERKILL (2008) rated MA15+ (Strong horror violence). The game was for use on the Nintendo Wii console.
In August 2011, the multi-platform version of THE HOUSE OF THE DEAD: OVERKILL - EXTENDED CUT was banned because of additional gameplay that exceeded strong in impact. Again, Sega Australia was the applicant.
This Is Why House Of The Dead: OverKill – Extended Cut Was Refused
kotaku.com.au, Aug 24, 2011
It’s a particularly strange decision, considering the fact that the original Wii version was released as MA15+ without incident, but the Classification Board’s issue is with a new ‘Hardcore mode’ which has been added to the game.
“The “Hardcore” game mode allows players to play in a manner that exceeds strong in impact,” claims the report, “engaging a headshot-only mode which results in frequent, detailed blood and gore as the zombies and mutants [sic] heads explode into bloody pieces that spread around the environment and onto the screen. The game also contains an “Extra mutants mode” which increases the amount of mutants the player must kill to proceed, resulting in an increased intensity and frequency of violence. In addition the game contains a baby mutant that jumps onto the screen and explodes into bloody chunks when killed.”
Classification review announced for the computer game, House
of the Dead Overkill: Extended cut
Classification Review Board
September 2nd 2011
The Classification Review Board has received an application to review the classification of the computer game, House of the Dead: Overkill Extended cut.
House of the Dead: Overkill Extended cut was Refused Classification (RC) by the Classification Board on 23 August 2011.
The Classification Review Board will meet on 26 September 2011 to consider the application. The decision and reasons will later be published on www.classification.gov.au
If an individual or organisation wishes to apply for standing as an interested party to this review, please write to the Convenor of the Review Board.
The closing date to lodge your application as an interested party and any submission is 5.00pm on 21st September 2011. Please note that the Review Board can only consider submission about the computer game, House of the Dead Overkill: Extended cut, itself and not any other matters relating to classification policy or issues generally.
Submissions should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or sent to:
The Convenor Classification Review Board
Locked Bag 3
HAYMARKET NSW 1240
The Classification Review Board is an independent merits review body. 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.
House of the Dead: Overkill Extended Cut classified MA15+
Classification Review Board
26 September 2011
A three member panel of the Classification Review Board (the Review Board) has by unanimous decision determined that the computer game House of the Dead: Overkill Extended Cut is classified MA 15+ (Mature Accompanied) with the consumer advice ‘strong horror violence, strong coarse language’.
Computer games classified MA 15+ are considered unsuitable for persons under 15 years of age. It is a legally restricted category. This computer game contains strong horror violence and frequent coarse language.
In the Review Board’s opinion the overall impact of these elements is no higher than strong.
The Review Board convened today in response to an application from Sega Australia Pty Ltd, to review the decision made by the Classification Board on 23 August 2011 for the computer game House of the Dead: Overkill Extended Cut. The Board classified the computer game RC (Refused Classification).
In reviewing the classification, the Review Board worked within the framework of the National Classification Scheme, applying the provisions of the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995, the National Classification Code and the Guidelines for the Classification of Films and Computer Games. This is the same framework used by the Classification Board.
The Review Board is an independent merits review body. Meeting in camera, it makes a fresh classification decision upon receipt of an application for review. This Classification Review Board decision takes the place of the original decision made by the Classification Board. The Review Board’s reasons for this decision will appear on the Classification website when finalised.
Statement authorised by Victoria Rubensohn, Convenor, Classification Review Board
The full HOUSE OF THE DEAD: OVERKILL EXTENDED CUT report was released in late October.
Classification Review Board
Review Date: 26 September 2011
23-33 MARY STREET
SURRY HILLS, NSW
Ms Victoria Rubensohn AM (Convenor)
Ms Ann Stark
Dr Melissa de Zwart
To review the Classification Board's decision to classify the computer game, House of the Dead: Overkill Extended Cut, RC (Refused Classification).
DECISION AND REASONS FOR DECISION
The Classification Review Board (the Review Board) by unanimous decision determined that the computer game, House of the Dead: Overkill extended cut, should be classified MA15+ with the consumer advice 'strong horror violence, strong coarse language'.
2. Legislative provisions
The Classification (Publications, Film and Computer Games) Act 1995 (the Classification Act) governs the classification of computer games and the review of classification decisions. Section 9 provides that computer games are to be classified in accordance with the National Classification Code (the Code) and the Guidelines for the Classification of Films and Computer Games (the Guidelines).
Section 11 of the Classification 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. Three essential principles underlie the use of the Guidelines, determined under section 12 of the Classification Act:
-the importance of context
-the assessment of impact, and
-The six classifiable elements – themes, violence, sex, language, drug use and nudity.
A three member panel of the Review Board met on 26 September 2011 in response to the receipt of an application from Sega Australia dated 25 August 2011 to review the RC classification of the computer game, determined by the Classification Board. Those three members had previously determined that the application was a valid application.
The Review Board was assured that the computer game, the subject of the review application, was the same computer game as had been classified by the Classification Board.
The Review Board viewed and extensively played the computer game on 26 September 2011.
Darren Macbeth, Neroli Baird, Khiet Chu and Paul Hunt appeared on behalf of Sega Australia. They attended the Review Board to further demonstrate the game and to answer any questions from the Board.
The Review Board viewed various aspects of game play and play modes and then considered the matter.
4. Evidence and other material taken into account
In reaching its decision the Review Board had regard to the following:
(i) The application for review;
(ii) the computer game, House of the Dead: Overkill Extended Cut;
(iii) the relevant provisions in the Classification Act, the Code and the Guidelines; and
(iv) the Classification Board's report.
The House of the Dead: Overkill Extended Cut is a prequel to the action which is depicted in the earlier Sega arcade series of the same name. It is the same as The House of the Dead: Overkill game classified MA15+ in 2008 with some additional content and features and is the fourth game in this franchise. The game can also be viewed in 3D mode. It is a first person 'shooter on rails' game that gives limited control to the player regarding how to proceed through the ten levels of the game, thus reducing overall interactivity. Players can only play as the predetermined characters for each level.
It takes place in Bayou City, Louisiana, in the southern part of the US. The scenes are stylised, paying homage to the grind house film style of the fifties and sixties, reflecting the B grade schlock/horror genre. Settings include a plantation house, the Pink Pussycat night club, a fun fair, and a speeding train, with the action ending up in a hidden dungeon laboratory. Players aim to dispose of the zombies using a variety of weapons and collect money, used to purchase additional weapons, and other items (such as medi kits) throughout the game. There is also an opportunity to save civilian hostages from zombie attack.
6. Findings on material questions of fact
(a) Themes – The theme of the game is zombie horror, which is a common theme in contemporary horror films and games. The Review Board concluded that this theme could be readily accommodated within a MA15+ rating.
(b) Violence – The game is a zombie 'rail shooter' game, with the aim to destroy zombies and to save hostages and Bayou City, and therefore contains frequent violence featuring shooting, melee and hand to hand combat. The violence occurs between the four human protagonists and the zombies and mutants (including three 'mini mutants'). The game has various modes (including 'hardcore' and 'classic' mode) and there are nine levels available. As the game is a 'rail shooter' game, players have little choice over the path taken in play or over camera angles. The presentation of the game itself is not graphically sharp and features generally dark or muted/faded colours.
The violence in the game is stylised, relatively graphically unsophisticated and the vast majority of attacks do not occur in close up. The close up scenes using knives to perform finishing moves on a mutant are infrequent and repetitive in their imagery, thus decreasing their impact. The zombies and mutants are graphically homogeneous and stylised with very few exceptions. The mini mutants are grotesque smaller creatures parodying babies by wearing nappies. However, they do not appear as human babies. Blood and gore are depicted unrealistically (a range of colours), are not graphically detailed and disappear from the game within seconds.
Various weapons are available to a player for a cost and grenades may be picked up during play and used. Projectiles thrown at players by zombies may be shot in the air. The nature of the game as a fast-paced rail shooter precludes lingering over victims, who vanish after being eliminated by a range of methods, including shooting with guns or crossbows, using knives or with grenades, which may cause explosion and consequent dismemberment on impact. The game contains an 'extra mutants' mode which increases the number of mutants attacking but not by a large number. This mode, which is available in the original game, does not change the weapons or modes of elimination available. The impact of the violence in the game is strong and is justified by the horror context of the game. This element can be accommodated in the MA15+ category.
(c) Language – The game contains frequent strong coarse language, used in a conversational style which is not aggressive. The coarse language occurs in the cut scenes and in game play, and is used as a game feature in the "shoot the sh*t" mode, where the player can shoot swear words as a competition feature and replace them with blips or replace swear words with animal and other random sounds. This element can be accommodated in the MA15+ category.
(d) Sex – There is no sex in the game. Any sexual references are humorous. This element could be accommodated in a lower category than MA15+.
(e) Drug Use – There is no real drug use in the game, nor are there references to real drugs. In a hospital setting in the game there are needles containing toxins which are to be injected into mutants. One character, Jasper, is turned into a mutant after being injected with a toxin. This is portrayed in a stylised comic-horror manner rather than a realistic manner. This element could be accommodated in a lower category than MA15+.
(f) Nudity – There is no realistic nudity in the game. Nurses are scantily dressed and other mutants appear in bikinis in a strip club scenario. Two large female mutants are depicted with grotesque and unrealistic breasts revealed. This unrealistic nudity is infrequent and is not sexualised. This element can be easily accommodated in the MA15+ or lower categories.
7. Reasons for the decision
It is the view of the Review Board that the violence in this computer game, occurring in a familiar fighting game format, is stylised, unrealistic and graphically relatively unsophisticated compared to other computer games available in the Australian market. Given the fantasy theme of zombie horror and the characteristics of that genre, the violence, although frequent, is justified by context. The zombies and mutants themselves and most of the combat action involving them is lacking in realistic detail and occurs at a distance rather than in close up. The zombies and mutants are visually homogeneous and with a couple of exceptions that are individually grotesque, are not humanised. Victims and blood and gore disappear within seconds from the game. The settings in Bayou City are stylised and not realistic. It is therefore the opinion of the Review Board that the cumulative impact of the violence in the game is no higher than strong and as noted above, is justified by the fantasy zombie horror, 'rail shooter' 'context.
In addition, the game contains frequent strong, coarse language which is not aggressive and is used conversationally. The cumulative impact of this language is no higher than strong.
As the impact of both the violence and the language in House of the Dead: Overkill Extended Cut is strong, the game is not suitable for persons under the age of 15.
Pursuant to the Guidelines for the Classification of Films and Computer Games, this computer game is classified MA15+.
The Review Board determined that the computer game, House of the Dead: Overkill Extended Cut, is classified MA15+ with the consumer advice of 'strong horror violence, strong coarse language.'
Films and Computer Games
RC Refused Classification
Classification Board Annual Report 2011-2012
The House of the Dead: Overkill – Extended Cut is for the Play Station 3 and is an updated version of the previously classified game, The House of the Dead: Overkill. The computer game, which can be played in 3D using a move controller, is a first-person shooter-style game where the aim is to exterminate zombies and mutant beings using a variety of weapons. In the Classification Board’s view, the additional modes included in this modified version and the interactive nature of the game increases the overall impact of the frequent and intense depictions of violence and, coupled with the graphic depictions of blood and gore, combine to create a playing impact which is high. This computer game was determined to be unsuitable for persons aged under 18 years to play and was classified RC.
On application from the computer game’s distributor, the RC classification for The House of the Dead: Overkill – Extended Cut was reviewed by the Classification Review Board who classified the computer game MA 15+ with the consumer advice of 'strong horror violence, strong coarse language'