Games Censorship: Left 4 Dead Series


 

 

 

 

Left 4 Dead

Developed by Valve Corporation / 2008 / MobyGames

This game has never had problems with the Australian censors. It is included as an example of classification policy.

 

In September 2008, LEFT 4 DEAD was passed with an MA15+ (Strong Violence) rating. Electronic Arts was the applicant.

 

 

LEFT 4 DEAD: MA15+ Classification Board report

Thanks to Bjorn for sending in the Classification Board report. It shows that a minority wanted to award LEFT 4 DEAD an RC-rating.

 

Board Report T08/4034
Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995
CLASSIFICATION BOARD

DETAILS OF THE COMPUTER GAME:
FILE No T08/4034

Title: LEFT 4 DEAD
Version: ORIGINAL
Format: Nintendo DS
Duration: VARIABLE
Publisher: VALVE
Programmer: VALVE
Production Co: VALVE
Country Of Origin: USA
Language: ENGLISH
Application Type: Comp Game Assessed Level 1
Applicant: ELECTRONIC ARTS

PROCEDURE;
The Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995, the National Classification Code and the Classification Guidelines are followed when classifying films, computer games and publications

Written submissions: NO
Oral submissions: NO

MATERIAL CONSIDERED:
In classifying this item regard was had to the following:
(i) The Application YES
(ii) A written synopsis of the item YES
(iii) The Item YES
(iv) Other NO

DECISION
(1) Classification: MA 15+
(2) Consumer Advice: Strong violence
(3) Key:

 

SYNOPSIS:
This zombie style first person shooter game pits the player, a "survivor" and one of a team of five against numerous "infected" beings. The player can also assume the perspective of one of five "Boss" infected characters.

 

REASONS FOR THE DECISION;

In making this decision, the Classification Board has applied the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 (the Classification Act), including the matters set out in sections 9A and 11 of the Classification Act, the National Classification Code (the Code) and the Guidelines for the Classification of Films and Computer Games 2005 (the Guidelines).

In the Board's view this computer game warrants an MA 15+ classification as, in accordance with Item 2 of the Computer Games Table of the National Classification Code, it is unsuitable for viewing or playing by persons under 15.

Pursuant to the Guidelines for the Classification of Films and Computer Games, this computer game is classified MA 15+ as the impact of the classifiable elements is strong. Material classified MA 15+ is considered unsuitable for persons under 15 years of age. It is a legally restricted category.

The classifiable element is violence that is strong in playing impact.

 

VIOLENCE

The game contains violence that is strong in impact and justified by context.

The violence can be by way of shooting, being hit with a variety of missiles, immolation, or in hand to hand combat. The violence is accompanied by copious blood spray, blood pooling and occasional dismemberment and atomising of victims. The wound and site of dismemberment contains little detail other than the blood depictions and there is no detail of viscera, bone and cleft marks associated with the violence. The soundtrack contains sound effects associated with violence including moderate coarse language, pleas of victims and the guttural moans and roars of the creatures. The scenario is typical of this genre and the storyline is fanciful, acting to lower impact.

A minority of the Board is of the opinion that the continual and unremitting acts of violence with substantial blood detail is high in impact. In the absence of a classification at the R18+ level for computer games, this game in the minority view is therefore assessed at RC in accordance with item 1(d) of the computer games table of the National Classification Code.

 

DECISION

This computer game is classified MA 15+ with consumer advice of strong violence.

The classification decision is based on section 21A of the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 which states that if the Board is of the opinion that a classified computer game contains contentious material (whether activated through use of a code or otherwise) that was not brought to the Board's attention in accordance with subsection 14(4) or 17(2) before the classification was made and if the Board had been aware of the material before the classification was made, it would have given the game a different classification, the Board must revoke the classification.

 

Left 4 Dead - Electronic Arts [au] PC


 

 

 

 

Left 4 Dead 2

Developed by Valve Corporation / 2009 / MobyGames

In September 2009, LEFT 4 DEAD 2 was banned because of high-impact violence. Electronic Arts was the applicant.

 

 

LEFT 4 DEAD 2: RC Classification Board report

Thanks to Scott for sending in the Classification Board report. It shows that a minority wanted to award LEFT 4 DEAD 2 an MA15+ rating.

 

Australian Government
Classification Board
File No: T09/4697
Decision Report

Classification decisions are made in accordance with the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 (the Act), the National Classification Code and the Classification Guidelines.

Production Details:
Title: LEFT 4 DEAD 2
Alternate titles:
Publisher: VALVE
Programmer: VALVE
Production Company: VALVE
Year of Production: 2009
Duration: Version: ORIGINAL
Format: Country/ies of origin: USA
Language/s: ENGLISH
Application type: CG4
Applicant: ELECTRONIC ARTS

Dates:
Date application received by the Classification Board: 08 September 2009
Date of decision: 15 September 2009

Decision:
Classification: RC
Consumer advice:

 

Synopsis:
A 1st person action/shooting game where you can play as one of four human characters through a campaign to reach a safe house after fighting through hordes of infected humans or play as an infected human with the aim of trying to prevent the human survivors reaching the safe house.

The game also has several other multiplayer modes.

 

Reasons for the Decision:
In making this decision, the Classification Board has applied the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 (the Classification Act), the National Classification Code (the Code) and the Guidelines for the Classification of Films and Computer Games 2005 (the Guidelines).

In the Board's view this game warrants an 'RC' classification in accordance with item l(d) of the computer games table of the National Classification Code:

"1. Computer games that:

(d) are unsuitable for a minor to see or play;" will be Refused Classification.

The game contains violence that is high in impact and is therefore unsuitable for persons aged under 18 years to play.

The game contains realistic, frenetic and unrelenting violence which is inflicted upon "the Infected" who are living humans infected with a rabies-like virus that causes them to act violently. The player can choose from a variety of weapons including pistols, shotguns, machine guns and sniper rifles. However, it is the use of the "melee" weapons such as the crowbar, axe, chainsaw and Samurai sword which inflict the most damage. These close in attacks cause copious amounts of blood spray and splatter, decapitations and limb dismemberment as well as locational damage where contact is made to the enemy which may reveal skeletal bits and gore. Projectile shots to infected humans can cause abdominal wounds which can reveal innards or even cause intestines to spill from the wounds.

The Infected attack the player In an unrelenting fashion, with numerous foe attacking the player at one time. The use of the "melee" weapons can wipe out several Infected in one blow which cause the above mentioned blood and gore effects. The player kills a very large amount of enemy characters to proceed through the game. Whilst no post mortem damage can be inflicted, piles of bodies lay about the environment.

The interactive nature of the game increases the overall impact of the frequent and intense depictions of violence. This coupled with the graphic depictions of blood and gore combine to create a playing impact which is high.

A minority of the Board is of the opinion that the violence is strong in playing impact and therefore warrants an MA 15+ classification with the consumer advice of strong violence.

 

Decision: This game is Refused Classification.

 

 

Valve challenges L4D2 RC-rating

Classification review announced for the computer game Left 4 Dead 2
Australian Government
Classification Review Board
6 October 2009
MEDIA RELEASE

The Classification Review Board has received an application to review the classification of the computer game Left 4 Dead 2.

Left 4 Dead 2 was classified RC (Refused Classification) by the Classification Board on 15 September 2009.

The Classification Review Board will meet on 22 October 2009 to consider the application. The decision and reasons will later be published on www.classification.gov.au.

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.

 

 

Censored MA15+ LEFT 4 DEAD 2

Valve were not confident that the Review Board challenge would succeed, so they decided to submit a censored version as well. On October 7th 2009, the modified LEFT 4 DEAD 2 was passed with an MA15+ (Strong bloody violence) rating.

 

Gabe Newell from Valve spoke in Sydney on the same day that the censored version was passed with an MA15+. He explained that it was done so that the November 17th release date would not be missed should the appeal fail.

 

Left 4 Dead 2 classified down under
au.gamespot.com, October 8, 2009

Newell told GameSpot AU yesterday that the publisher had resubmitted two versions of Left 4 Dead 2 to the Australian Classification Board following the Board’s decision earlier this month to refuse the game classification; the two versions are the original, unaltered version as well as one with some modifications.

"Right now we're pursuing two tracks: the first track is to release the product that we've created as is in Australia,” Newell said yesterday. “This is our very strong preference and what we're working with the [Classification Board] to see if we can achieve--so we have an appeal of their decision. The issue there is that that process is fairly slow and that the next step on that isn't going to occur until October 22.

“At the same time we've also submitted an Australia-specific version of the game which we think is fully compliant with the [Classification Board's] guidelines for content. We may actually hear about that version today. So the goal is to guarantee that something will be available on November 17 in Australia while at the same time pushing to get approval for that to be the full version of the game.”

 

 

LEFT 4 DEAD 2: MA15+ Classification Board report

Thanks again to Scott for this report

 

Australian Government
Classification Board

Decision Report
Classification decisions are made in accordance with the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 (the Act), the National Classification Code and the Classification Guidelines.

Production Details:
Title: LEFT 4 DEAD 2
Alternate titles:
Publisher: VALVE
Programmer: VALVE
Production Company: VALVE
Year of Production: 2007
Duration: VARIABLE
Version: MODIFIED
Format: MULTI PLATFORM
Country/ies of origin: USA
Language/s: ENGLISH
Application type: CG4
Applicant: ELECTRONIC ARTS

Dates:
Date application received by the Classification Board: 25 September 2009
Date of decision: 07 October 2009

Decision:
Classification: MA 15+
Consumer advice: Strong bloody violence

A senior panellist has confirmed that the application considered was valid under the Act and that this Decision Report accurately reflects the Board's decision and any minority opinions.

 

Synopsis:
A revised version of computer game Left 4 Dead 2, which is a 1st person action/shooting game where you can play as one of four human characters through a campaign to reach a safe house after fighting through hordes of infected humans, or play as an infected human with the aim of trying to prevent the human survivors from reaching the safe house.

The game also has several other multiplayer modes.

 

Reasons for the Decision:
In making this decision, the Classification Board has applied the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 (the Classification Act), the National Classification Code (the Code) and the Guidelines for the Classification of Films and Computer Games 2005 (the Guidelines).

In the Board's view this computer game warrants an MA 15+ classification as, in accordance with Item 2 of the Computer Games Table of the National Classification Code, it is unsuitable for viewing or playing by persons under 15.

Pursuant to the Guidelines for the Classification of Films and Computer Games, this computer game is classified MA 15+ as the impact of the classifiable elements is strong. Material classified MA 15+ is considered unsuitable for persons under 15 years of age. It is a legally restricted category.

The classifiable element is violence that is strong in playing Impact.

VIOLENCE
The game contains violence that is strong in impact and justified by context.

The game contains frenetic depictions of violence as the player fights his way through hordes of "the infected", who are humans infected with a rabies-like virus that causes them to act violently. Weapons used include projectiles such as pistols, shotguns and assault rifles or melee weapons, which include swords, axes, crowbars or chainsaws. During the player's attacks on the infected, large and frequent blood splatters are seen as the infected fall to the ground. No wound detail is shown and the implicitly dead bodies and blood splatter disappear as they touch the ground. The associated sound effects accompanying the acts of violence contribute to the strong impact of this game. It is the Board's view that the interactive nature of the game and amount of bloody violence results in a strong impact, thus warranting an MA15+ classification.

The Board notes that the game no longer contains depictions of decapitation, dismemberment, wound detail or piles of dead bodies lying about the environment,

OTHER MATTERS CONSIDERED OR NOTED
The Board notes that section 21A of the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 states that if the Board is of the opinion that a classified computer game contains contentious material (whether activated through use of a code or otherwise) that was not brought to the Board's attention in accordance with subsection 14(4) or 17(2) before the classification was made and if the Board had been aware of the material before the classification was made, it would have given the game a different classification, the Board must revoke the classification.

The Board notes that Left 4 Dead 2 was previously refused classification on 16/09/2009.

It is the Board's view that the element of violence in the game has been sufficiently modified and is now able to be accommodated within the MA15+ classification.

 

Decision:
This computer game is classified MA 15+ with consumer advice Strong bloody violence.

 

 

LEFT 4 DEAD 2: Appeal fails

Left 4 Dead 2 classified RC upon review
Australian Government
Classification Review Board
22 October 2009
MEDIA RELEASE

A three-member panel of the Classification Review Board (the Review Board) has unanimously determined that the computer game Left 4 Dead 2 is classified RC (Refused Classification).

In the Review Board's opinion, Left 4 Dead 2 could not be accommodated within the MA 15+ classification. The computer game contains a level of violence which is high in impact, prolonged, repeated frequently and realistic within the context of the game.

In addition, it was the Review Board's opinion that there was insufficient delineation between the depiction of general zombie figures and the human figures, as opposed to the clearly fictional 'infected' characters. This was a major consideration of the Review Board in determining the impact of this game on minors.

Computer games classified RC cannot be sold, hired, advertised or demonstrated in Australia.

The Classification Review Board convened today in response to an application from the distributor of the computer game, Electronic Arts, to review the decision made by the Classification Board on 15 September 2009 to classify Left 4 Dead 2 RC.

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 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 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. This Classification Review Board decision takes the place of the original decision made by the Classification Board.

The Classification Review Board's reasons for this decision will appear on the Classification website when finalised.

Statement authorised by Victoria Rubensohn, Convenor, Classification Review Board

 

 

Full Review Board report

Australian Government
Classification review Board
Review Date: 22 October 2009
23-33 MARY STREET
SURRY HILLS, NSW

MEMBERS: Ms Victoria Rubensohn (Convenor)
The Hon Trevor Griffin (Deputy Convenor)
Ms Ann Stark

APPLICANT Electronic Arts Pty Ltd
INTERESTED
PARTIES None, but one letter from a member of the public was received and noted.

BUSINESS To review the Classification Board's decision to classify the computer game Left 4 Dead 2 RC (Refused Classification).

DECISION AND REASONS FOR DECISION

 

1. Decision
The Classification Review Board (the Review Board) classified the computer game RC.

 

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)

Relevantly, the Code, under the heading 'Computer Games', provides that computer games that:

(a) 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; or

(b) describe or depict in a way that is likely to cause offence to a reasonable adult, a person who is, or appears to be, a child under 18 (whether the person is engaged in sexual activity or not); or

(c) promote, incite or instruct in matters of crime or violence; or

(d) are unsuitable for a minor to see or play

are to be classified RC.

The Code also provides that:

Computer games (except RC computer games) that depict, express or otherwise deal with sex, violence or coarse language in such a manner as to be unsuitable for viewing or playing by persons under 15

are to be classified MA 15+(Mature Accompanied).

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.

 

3. Procedure

A three member panel of the Review Board met on 22 October 2009 in response to the receipt of an application from the original applicant on 23 September 2009 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 game as had been classified by the Classification Board.

The Applicant provided a written submission and recorded gameplay of the computer game before the hearing. The Review Board viewed the recorded gameplay and a demonstration of the game on 22 October 2009.

The Review board heard an oral submission from Mr Paul Hellmrich representing the Applicant and he demonstrated the game.

The Review Board 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) Electronic Arts' written and oral submissions
(iii) the computer game, Left 4 Dead 2
(iv) the relevant provisions in the Classification Act, the Code and the Guidelines, and
(v) the Classification Board's report.

 

5. Synopsis

A 1st person action/shooting game where a person can play as one of four human characters through a campaign to reach a safe-house after fighting through hordes of infected humans, or can play as an infected human with the aim of trying to prevent the human survivors reaching the safe-house.

The game also has several other multiplayer modes. In addition, it should be noted that Mr Hellmrich indicated that the computer game was intended to be played on-line but that that could not be demonstrated because the servers were not yet live.

 

6. Findings on material questions of fact

The Review Board found that the computer game contains aspects or scenes of importance under various classifiable elements:

(a) Themes -
Mr Hellmrich submitted that the game 'was all about self-preservation and working as a team'. The Review Board does not contradict that submission and concludes that the classifiable element of 'Themes' could be accommodated in a classification lower than RC.

(b) Violence -
Weapons used in the computer game included a pistol, axe, shotgun, chainsaw, rifle, machinegun, acid/bile, cricket bat, saucepan and Molotov cocktail.

The game contains humans, 'zombies' and grotesque fictional 'infected' characters.

Mr Hellmrich made a submission in which he analysed the provisions of the National Classification Code as it describes the circumstances in which a computer game would be classified RC. That submission, in essence, relied very much on his assertions that:

- the game includes zombies who were not and never had been human;

- zombies were fictional characters and that zombie killing was an ancillary component to the central objective of the game being played on-line and multiplayer;

- 15 year olds would know that the zombies were fictional characters and could distinguish them from humans and that therefore lessened the impact, (but in any event it was not unlawful to kill zombies which meant that no crime had been committed); and

- there was no moral issue involved in killing fictional characters.

Mr Hellmrich also submitted that all figures (apart from the four humans) were stylized and not real, and that this lessened the impact.

Mr Hellmrich submitted that 'the game is a high MA15+ but due to the unrealistic nature of the violence still feel that this game should be within the MA15+ band'.

The following scenes and acts (not an exhaustive list) were noted by the Review Board:

* in the early stages, a body on the ground was shot at repeatedly, a body disintegrated leaving a head on the ground with copious amounts of blood;

* a fire left a visibly charred body;

* a body was lying face down on a bathroom floor with a trail of blood - screaming and moaning accentuated the impact;

* copious blood including repeated instances of blood splatter on camera lens;

* in a store with buses and trucks, blood splatters, a body on the ground having been dragged leaving a trail of blood;

* a person hanging by fingertips from a beam with fingers being stamped on, another person with arm shot off;

* swords used to behead and dismember with blood everywhere;

* in a swamp, with an aircraft crashed, persons being attacked, as they run towards camera some are shot with blood everywhere and fleeting glimpses of stomach entrails spilling out;

* a group between several buses shot at, copious blood including on camera lens, and several heads blown off;

* chainsaws used on attackers, heads cut off and lots of blood; and

* exclamations and coarse language from time to time accentuating the impact of acts of violence.

The Review Board concludes that the level of violence is high in impact, prolonged, repeated frequently and realistic in the context of the game.

It is also of the view that there is insufficient delineation between the depiction of the general zombie figures and the human figures as opposed to the clearly fictional 'infected' characters. This means that the objects of the violence could not easily be distinguished as human or unreal or fictional creatures. However, the Review Board is of the view that the question whether the objects of the violence were fictional or real, and whether a 15 year old could discern the difference, is largely irrelevant where the game displays the level of realism this one does.

(c) Language -
There are several instances of coarse language but it is infrequent and can be accommodated in a classification lower than RC.

(d) Sex -
There is no sex in the computer game.

(e)Drug Use -
There is no drug use in the game.

(f) Nudity -
There is no nudity in the game.

 

7. Reasons for the decision

The Review Board is of the view that the violence in the computer game is the principal classifiable element upon which the Review Board should make and has made its decision.

The Review Board is unanimous in its view that the game is not suitable for playing by minors because of the level of violence and its high impact.

To be classified MA 15+ as sought by the Applicant, the Guidelines will allow violence justified by context but with an impact no higher than strong. Having regard to those Guidelines and the constant and recurring acts of violence in the computer game, the Review Board unanimously determines that the computer game cannot be classified MA 15+ and falls into the RC classification for computer games.

 

8. Summary

The Review Board determined that the computer game Left 4 Dead2 is classified RC as a game where the impact of the violence is high and, therefore, not suitable for playing by minors.

 

 

Uncut vs. Censored Version

The censored MA15+ version of LEFT 4 DEAD 2 was released in late October 2009, and it did not take long for the games community to identify the missing footage.

 

The Australian Version Thread
forums.steampowered.com, October 28, 2009

So you may think the only content removed was the visual content you are WRONG!

Visual Content Removed: Blood Spatter (greatly minimised) Bodies Disappear NO GORE AT ALL

Now for something that CHANGES GAMEPLAY:
Uncommon Infected (UCI) completely removed (Riot Cop i.e Bulletproof Zombie) If Someone with an uncut version joins a game with Australians with the cut version Uncommon Infected will NOT spawn

Now lets see what conflicts here:

Visual effects: Bodies Disappear: Now this DID NOT happen in Left 4 Dead 1 and it gained the MA15+ Rating why the hell was this removed? and why are prop corpses present if corpses disappear Gore and Blood: This has been drastically tuned down compared to Left 4 Dead 1(MA15+) and even removed decapitation which was present in Left 4 Dead 1.

Gameplay: UCI's (UnCommon Infected) were removed which is a new key gameplay mechanic which allows L4D2 to be just that more Different to L4D1 The Riot Cop will not Spawn on Australian Cut versions why is this? Shooting Cops is not allowed? Lets see what games do this that are classified: CS 1.6 CSS Prototype Resident Evils GTA Series Give me a valid reason the Riot Cop was removed ALSO the fact they were Security and not the law enforcement conflicts the reason for removal.

 

Left 4 Dead 2 - Censor Comparison L4D2
youtube.com, October 29, 2009
Video Comparison Between The Uncut version of Left4Dead2 and the Australian "Low Violence" version

 

Left 4 Dead 2 Comparison
Movie-
censorship.com
Censored Version Rating: MA 15+ Region: Australia
Uncensored Version Rating: PEGI 18+ Region: Europe

 

 

LEFT 4 DEAD 2 seized by the Australian Customs Service

Thanks to Jason for this rundown of the LEFT FOR DEAD 2 customs confiscations.

 

I was intending to import a copy of LEFT FOR DEAD 2 from the UK and did a search to see how other people had done it. The vast majority seem to have got it through with no problems, but I was shocked to find at least four cases of customs confiscating the game. I decided against importing a copy as I am an unlucky person, and am sure I would have been in the 1% that lost the game, and not the 99% who get it through.

Here are the four cases that I found mentioned on the net.

 

CASE #1
This came from the ecogamer site in November 2009

A copy coming from 365games.com was taken

 

CASE 2
This came from the colonyofgamers site in November 2009

A guy in WA had an uncut copy taken.

 

CASE #3
This came from the Whirpool forums in December 2009.

An uncut UK copy was taken in late 2009.

He quotes the customs letter as saying.

"An Officer from Australian Customs and Border Protection Service suspects on reasonable grounds that the goods are forfeited to the Crown as Prohibited Imports."

The guy wrote to customs and got this reply

Thankyou for your email and explanation of the circumstances of the purchase of the goods. This particular version of the game Left 4 Dead 2 has been refused classification by the Classification Board and is therefore considered a Prohibited Import to Australia. An approved version of the game is available for sale in Australia but my understanding is that it is quite expensive. We have had many other importers caught out with this.

Any items considered to be prohibited imports under Regulation 4A of the Prohibited Import Regulations are also Prohibited Exports and cannot be returned overseas. I recommend that you contact the supplier and advise them of this situation. They may provide a refund. Most suppliers should be aware that there are issues with sending computer games to Australia as the only ones approved for import are ones that are suitable for children under 18 to view. This is quite different to other countries.

Alternatively, if you paid via paypal you may be able to obtain a refund through them.

 

CASE #4
This came from the ABC'S Good Game forum in April 2010.

A guy lost an uncut when ordered from e-bay UK.

He quotes the customs letter as saying.

"These goods are classified as 'objectionable goods' as they are likely to cause offence to a reasonable adult and as such should not be imported".

 

 

LEFT 4 DEAD 1 (MA15+) vs. LEFT DEAD 2 (RC)

Here is Bjorn's comparison between the Classification Board reports for LEFT 4 DEAD 1 and 2

 

Point 1

Left 4 Dead:
“The wound and site of dismemberment contains little detail other than the blood depictions, and there is no detail of viscera, bone and cleft marks associated with the violence.”

Left 4 Dead 2:
“These [melee] close in attacks cause copious amounts of blood spray and splatter, decapitations and limb dismemberment as well as locational damage where contact is made to the enemy which may reveal skeletal bits and gore.

Bjorn: The improved damage model appears to be the key factor in the Board’s decision. The Board specifically noted the lack of detail in wounds and sites of dismemberment in Left 4 Dead, so the new, more detailed melee damage model attracted particular attention and specific mention in the decision report for the sequel.

 

Point 2

Left 4 Dead:
“The scenario is typical of this genre and the storyline is fanciful, acting to lower impact.”

Left 4 Dead 2:
“The interactive nature of the game increases the overall impact of the frequent and intense depictions of violence. This coupled with the graphic depictions of blood and gore combine to create a playing impact which is high.”

Bjorn: Context and interactivity are dealt with inconsistently by the Board, as these elements would seem to have changed little from the original game, yet are assessed quite differently. Interactivity is a strong contextual factor in game classification, however when read one after the other, it is hard to understand how it is a key factor in Left 4 Dead 2 and not the original. This is yet another example of the inconsistency with which the Classification Board applies the Classification Guidelines.

 

Point 3

Left 4 Dead:
A minority of the Board is of the opinion that the continual and unremitting acts of violence with substantial blood detail is high in impact [and recommend RC].

Left 4 Dead 2:
A minority of the Board is of the opinion that the violence is strong in playing impact and therefore warrants an MA 15+ classification.

Bjorn: Both games were split decisions for the Board. The Board has 5 new members since Left 4 Dead was classified, although of course there is no way of knowing which members classified either game.

Left 4 Dead 2 has been the subject of controversy for a reason other than classification in Australia recently. Fans believed it to be no more than an expansion for the original game, for which they would be unfairly charged, rather than receiving it as a free update to the original game. From this background, it is interesting to compare Review Board decisions for these two very similar games, and discover the very fine line that separates the game able to be sold to 15 year olds, and the one deemed unable to be legally sold to anyone at all in Australia.

 

 

LEFT 4 DEAD 2 in Senate Estimates

During the February 2010 Senate Estimates hearings, the subject of LEFT 4 DEAD 2 was touched on when Senator Guy Barnett questioned if this was the type of game that would receive an R18+.

 

The speakers were:

Senator Guy Barnett Liberal Senator for Tasmania
Senator the Hon Penny Wong Labor Senator for South Australia

Legal Services
Sub Program 1.2.2—Classification and Copyright
Ms Helen Daniels, Assistant Secretary, Copyright and Classification Policy Branch

Attorney-General’s Department
Management and Accountability
Mr Roger Wilkins AO, Secretary

Classification Board
Mr Donald McDonald AC, Director

 

Database Estimates Committees
Date 08-02-2010
Source Senate
Committee Name LEGAL AND CONSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS LEGISLATION COMMITTEE
Place Canberra
Department Attorney-General’s Department

Senator BARNETT —I am advised that in the US the unmodified version of the game Left 4 Dead 2 was given a ‘mature’ rating—so, suitable for persons aged 17 and older—but was classified ‘refused classification’ in Australia. ‘Mature’ games in the US may contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and strong language. What is the minister’s intent in wanting to open the possibility of these extremely violent and sexually explicit interactive games being made available in Australia? That is a question for the minister. I am happy for you to take it on notice, Minister.

Mr Wilkins —That is one for the Classification Board.

Senator BARNETT —I am happy for the board to respond.

Mr D McDonald —Senator, I can give you the history of the classification of that game in Australia—this is Left 4 Dead 2. On 15 September 2009, the Classification Board classified an original, unedited version of Left 4 Dead 2 as RC—that is to say it was refused classification. In the board’s view, the game was unsuitable for a minor and contained violence that was more than strong in impact. The interactive nature of the game increased the overall impact of the frequent and intense depictions of violence. This, coupled with the graphic depictions of blood and gore, combined to create a playing impact that was considered high. The distributor applied for a review of this decision and, on 22 October 2009, the Classification Review Board met and also classified the game ‘RC’—in other words, they refused classification. A modified version of the game was later submitted to the Classification Board and was classified MA15+, with consumer advice of ‘strong, bloody violence’.

Senator BARNETT —All right. Thank you for that. Did the minister want to respond to that question as to why the minister or the government would want to make such a video game legal?

Senator Wong—I am not sure I have got any instructions or advice from the minister about the view on that specific game. I would have to take that on notice. I am not sure I can agree with the assertion you have just made either.

Senator BARNETT —I am happy for you to take it on notice.

Mr Wilkins —Can I just comment on that, Senator. The Classification Board classifies according to the existing law. The discussion paper is out there precisely because the government is trying to elicit what the public view is and it will then make some policy decisions on the basis of that. So that is the position. The government has not got a concluded view on this issue.

 

 

Possible RC-rating following ACMA submission

In September 2010, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) had a computer game banned by the Classification Board. ACMA submissions are never identified. In this case, it was known only as ACMA 2010001752 ITEM 1 ACMA (LAPTOP).

We believe that this item was either LEFT 4 DEAD 2 (2009) or NECROVISION (2009). See the separate Games Censorship Database entry for ACMA 2010001752 ITEM 1 ACMA (LAPTOP) to see how we arrived at this conclusion.

 

 

Complaints to the Classification Board

RC Computer Games
Classification Board Annual Report 2009-2010

Left 4 Dead 2 is a first person action-shooting game that can be played in single or multiplayer modes. The Board found that the game contains violence that is high in impact and unsuitable for persons aged under 18 years to play and classified it RC. The Board found that the game contains realistic, frenetic and unrelenting violence which is inflicted upon ‘the Infected’ who are living humans infected with a rabies-like virus that causes them to act violently. The Board was also of the view that the interactive nature of the game increases the overall impact of the frequent and intense depictions of violence. This, coupled with the graphic depictions of blood and gore, combine to create a playing impact which is high.

On application from the game’s distributor, the RC classification for Left 4 Dead 2 was reviewed by the Classification Review Board which also classified the game RC.

 

Complaints
Computer Games
Classification Board Annual Report 2009-2010

The Classification Board received 194 complaints in relation to the classification of computer games. The Board made 1,055 classification decisions for computer games in 2009–10. Some titles received a large number of complaints while other titles received single complaints but overall, the complaints were about a small number of titles.

Of the 156 complaints about Left 4 Dead 2, 138 disagreed with the original RC classification by the Classification Board. Following an application for review of the Classification Board’s decision, the Classification Review Board also classified the game RC. A modified version was subsequently classified MA 15+ by the Classification Board with consumer advice of ‘Strong bloody violence’. Seventeen complaints were received about the game being modified to fit into the MA 15+ classification. One complainant could not tell the difference between the MA 15+ version and the one classified RC.

Nine correspondents complained that the MA 15+ classification for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 was too low, with many citing the violence and terrorism themes. One complained of an inconsistency between the classification of this game and Left 4 Dead 2. This game was classified RC by the Classification Board, but on appeal was subsequently classified MA 15+ by the Classification Review Board, with consumer advice of ‘Strong science fiction violence’.

 

Complaints
Computer Games
Classification Board Annual Report 2010-2011

The Classification Board received 674 complaints in 2010–11. The Board had received 1,090 complaints in 2009–10.

The computer games which attracted the most complaints were Mortal Kombat, We Dare, Halo: Reach, Duke Nukem and Left 4 Dead 2.

Many of those who complained about the decisions for computer games (primarily Mortal Kombat) also requested the introduction of an R 18+ classification for computer games.

The Classification Board received 387 complaints in relation to the classification of computer games. The Board made 891 classification decisions for computer games in 2010–11. Some titles received a large number of complaints while other titles received single complaints but overall, the complaints were about a small number of titles. This compares with the 194 complaints received about computer games classifications in 2009–10.

The classification of the game Left 4 Dead 2 was the subject of six complaints. The complaints were about the RC classification for the game being too high and also that the game had subsequently been modified to fit into the MA 15+ classification.

 

 

Uncut version passed R18+

The R18+ games rating was introduced in January 2013. In August 2014, Valve Software submitted the uncut PC version of LEFT FOR DEAD 2 for classification. It was passed with an R18+ (High impact violence, blood and gore) rating.

The extended classification information described,
High impact: violence
Strong impact: themes
Mild impact: language

 

Uncensored Left 4 Dead 2 Finally Gets Classified In Australia
kotaku.com.au, September 1, 2014

Doug Lombardi of Valve confirmed the news to Kotaku Australia.
"We are delighted that the full version of Left 4 Dead 2 will be available to fans age 18+ in Australia," he said. "We are making plans to deliver that version to those who have already purchased the game. We will announce more details on that soon."

 

 

The Classification Board on the R18+ rating

Classification Board Annual Report 2014-2015
R18+ Computer Games

Out of the total of 514 computer games classified in 2014–15, 15 computer games were classified R 18+.

Left 4 Dead 2 is a team-based co-operative first person shooter game. The game is set post-zombie apocalypse in the bayous, backwoods, streets and parishes of the southern United States, where groups of one to four players work co-operatively to battle the "infected" and reach safe houses at the end of each campaign. The ultimate goal is for players to reach an extraction point where they are rescued. The game’s online capability allows for co-op play and user generated content.

The computer game was classified R 18+ with consumer advice of "High impact violence, blood and gore".

 

Left 4 Dead 2 - Electronic Arts [au] Xbox360


 

 

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