In June 2016, MEIQ: LABYRINTH OF DEATH was banned by the Classification Board. The applicant was Idea Factory International.
The Board's database gave the following reason for the RC-rating.
Games 1(a)&(b) 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," and
(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)."
Why That Game Was Refused Classification In Australia
kotaku.com.au, June 23, 2016
MeiQ: Labyrinth of Death was refused classification as a result of sexualised content. In particular, sexualised content featuring, what appears to be, an underage character.
According to the Classification Board, the character Connie is under 18, therefore the gameplay described above constitutes a “simulation of sexual stimulation of a child”. The report states this is “offensive or abhorrent in such a way that it offends against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults to the extent that it should not be classified.”
Also worthy of note: the Classification Board was explicit in stating that interactivity played a part in the decision to deny a classification to MeiQ: Labyrinth of Death. The report makes mention of guidelines, which state that repeated, interactive movements should be treated as having a higher impact compared to “similarly themed depictions of the classifiable elements in film”.
Classification Board Report
The game features a variety of female characters dressed in provocative clothing with their cleavage emphasised by their clothing revealing the sides or underside of their breasts. The five main characters in the game are ‘Machina Mages’, females who pair with robot-like guardians in order to do battle. Four of the five – Estra, Flare, Maki and Setia, although of indeterminate age, are all adult-like, with voluptuous bosoms and large cleavage that are flaunted with a variety of skimpy outfits.
The fifth main character, Connie, is depicted as child-like in comparison. She is flat-chested, under-developed physically (such as the hips), is significantly shorter than the other characters and wears her hair in pigtails. She also has a child-like voice, wears colourful child-like clothing and appears naive in her outlook on life. She is also referred to as a “girl” by the other main characters. In the Board’s opinion, the character of Connie depicts a person who is, or appears to be, a child under 18.
The game features use of the Playstation Vita’s touchscreen feature, that allows the player to touch or run their finger across the touchscreen in order to make any female character’s breasts move in response. The chest area of Connie is viewed moving slightly when this occurs, which is significantly different from the greater movement viewed when one of the four adult-like female characters is touched.
Within the character menu, the player can also touch the head, hips and legs of a character and a voice clip plays in reaction. When the player touches Connie in this mode it prompts verbal responses from her – either, “So flat. Super-flat.”, “Smooth”, “Just a little squishy” or two variations of a perturbed “Woah” sound. The application accompanying the game states there is a reaction to either the breasts, head, hips or legs of a character being touched. The touch response to each is indeterminate, as the gameplay footage does not indicate which area of the body is being touched when a response is heard.
In August 1996, an arcade version of MISS WORLD 96 was Refused Classification by the OFLC. The Victorian police was the applicant. It was most likely banned because of nudity, which was used as an incentive or reward.
The aim of the game was to expose areas of the screen to reveal a picture of a naked woman. This was similar to the LADY KILLER game that was also banned in August 1996. This YouTube clip has an example of the gameplay.
In February 2011, MORTAL COMBAT was banned because of violence that exceeded strong in impact. Warner Bros Entertainment was the applicant.
Thanks to Scott for this report.
File No: T11/0691
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.
Title: MORTAL KOMBAT
Publisher: WARNER BROS ENTERTAINMENT
Programmer: NETHER REALM
Production Company: NOT SHOWN
Year of Production: 2011
Format: MULTI PLATFORM
Country/ies of origin: USA
Application type: CG6
Applicant: WARNER BROS. ENTERTAINMENT AUSTRALIA
Date application received by the Classification Board: 15 February
Date of decision: 24 February 2011
This fighting/beat 'em up game sees Thunder God Rayden and his band of Earth warriors battling against Shao Kahn, the Emperor of Outworld, and his minions in order to prevent Armageddon. The game includes 25 characters and can be played in various modes including Story mode, Versus mode and Tag Team mode.
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 1 (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 exceeds strong in impact and is therefore unsuitable for persons aged under 18 years to play.
The game, which is said to be the ninth in the Mortal Kombat series, contains various playable modes. In Story mode, a player engages in a series of one-on-one fights which progress a storyline involving Rayden trying to prevent Armageddon by pitting his Earth warriors against agents of Outworld. Story mode includes more than 15 hours of gameplay.
Versus mode involves one-on-one fights where a player battles against computer-controlled characters in a tournament (with customisable difficulty settings), or against other players. Tag Team mode is similar to Versus mode but allows a player to select two characters and switch between them during a fight.
Fights are depicted in side-view using realistically rendered 3D graphics, although a player is only able to move in two dimensions. The game is set in a dystopian fantasy realm and its cast of 25 characters includes humans, humanoids, creatures and robots. These characters are each able to perform punches, kicks and signature moves during a bout. Signature moves often involve a character's particular weapon or supernatural ability. For example: Scorpion is armed with a spear on a chain which he can hurl into an opponent's chest (with accompanying bloodspray) and pull them towards him; Baraka has blades at his wrists with which he can repeatedly stab an opponent in the stomach, again causing bloodspray; and Sub Zero can temporarily freeze an opponent or stab them in the chest with a blade made of ice.
The game also includes the ability to perform "x-ray" attacks. Given the correct preconditions, a player is able to push a simple button combination to initiate a short non-interactive series of attacks. The internal injuries caused by these attacks are depicted in close-up, including depictions of skulls cracking, ribs breaking and, occasionally, organs being damaged.
At the conclusion of a bout, a character is invited to perform a "finishing move" or "fatality". To perform a fatality, a player has to push a series of button combinations within a short period of time. If this is successfully accomplished, a non-interactive cut scene is triggered which depicts a character explicitly slaughtering their opponent
Initially, the Move List within the game includes one finishing move per character, although a player is able to unlock up to four per character. The Board notes that fatalities cannot be performed in Story mode and are unlikely to be performed frequently during gameplay; however, it is also noted that there are more than 60 fatalities available and they are an important component of the game. Examples include but are not limited to:
- Kung Lao throws his metal hat into the ground and it spins like a buzz saw. He grabs his prone opponent by the ankles and drags their body through the saw, explicitly slicing them vertically in half. Copious bloodspray is noted. Kung Lao then holds up both halves of the corpse as blood pours out.
- Jade explicitly kicks an opponent into the air and plants her fighting stick into the ground. The opponent falls backwards onto the stick and is explicitly impaled, with the stick protruding from their chest. Jade then explicitly tears her opponent's head off, with bloodspray noted, and explicitly plants it on the stick.
- Stryker tasers his opponent and then explicitly shoots their head off with his gun. Blood and gore is noted.
- Quart Chi explicitly rips his opponent's leg off, accompanied by copious bloodspray. As they lie on the ground, he explicitly beats them with the severed leg for a prolonged period of time.
- Scorpion explicitly slashes an opponent horizontally in two at the waist, with Wood and wound detail noted. He then explicitly decapitates them and kicks their body over. As the severed head falls through the air, he explicitly slices it vertically in two.
- Mileena throws two blades at an opponent, which explicitly lodge in their chest. She slowly approaches and explicitly rips their head off, causing their severed neck to spray blood as their body topples. She then explicitly bites into the severed head before throwing it to the ground.
- Kabal uses long hooks to explicitly pull out an opponent's intestines before explicitly impaling the opponent on two spikes.
- Shao Kahn uses his hands to explicitly rip an opponent's body vertically in two.
- Baraka explicitly lodges a blade (attached to his wrist) in an opponent's stomach and hoists them above his head. He spins them round and explicitly decapitates and dismembers them, accompanied by copious bloodspray.
- Kitana uses her 'folding fan' weapon to explicitly dismember then decapitate her opponent, with copious blood flow noted,
The game includes over 60 fatalities (some of which are noted above) which contain explicit depictions of dismemberment, decapitation, disembowelment and other brutal forms of slaughter. Despite the exaggerated conceptual nature of the fatalities and their context within a fighting game set in a fantasy realm, impact is heightened by the use of graphics which are realistically rendered and very detailed.
In the opinion of the Board, the game contains violence that exceeds strong in impact and is unsuitable for a minor to see or play. The game should therefore be Refused Classification pursuant to item 1 (d) of the computer games table of the National Classification Code.
This game is Refused Classification.
Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
February 24, 2011
The highly anticipated video game Mortal Kombat, published by Warner
Bros. Interactive Entertainment (WBIE) in Australia, has been refused
classification by the Australian Classification Board and will not release
in Australia. We are extremely disappointed that Mortal Kombat, one of the
world's oldest and most successful video games franchises, will not be
available to mature Australian gamers.
WBIE would not market mature content where it is not appropriate for the audience. We understand that not all content is for every audience, but there is an audience for mature gaming content and it would make more sense to have the R18+ classification in Australia. As a member of the iGEA, WBIE is reviewing all options available at this time.
Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
March 02, 2011
After careful consideration, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment Australia have decided to appeal to the Australian Classification Review Board against the RC (Refused Classification) decision given to Mortal Kombat.
After reviewing both the gameplay and the Board's original decision, WBIE Australia believes the violence in the game is on par with numerous other titles readily available for sale in the Australian market. As such the company wants to exhaust all options to make the game available to Mortal Kombat fans in this country. An identical version of the game will be submitted for appeal.
Classification review announced for the computer game, Mortal
Classification Review Board
Monday 7 March, 2011
The Classification Review Board has received an application to review
the classification of the computer game, Mortal Kombat.
Mortal Kombat was Refused Classification by the Classification Board on 25 February 2011.
The Classification Review Board will meet on 11 March 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 for standing as an interested party and any submissions is 5:00pm on Wednesday, 9 March 2011. Please note that the Review Board can only consider submissions about the game Mortal Kombat 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:
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.
Mortal Kombat classified RC upon review
Classification Review Board
14 March 2011
A four-member panel of the Classification Review Board (the Review Board) has by majority decision determined that the computer game Mortal Kombat is classified RC (Refused Classification).
In the Review Boards opinion, Mortal Kombat could not be accommodated within the MA15+ classification as the level of violence in the game has an impact which is higher than strong. As MA15+ is the highest classification category available to computer games under the Australian Classification Scheme, the Classification Review Board must refuse classification to Mortal Kombat.
Computer games classified RC cannot be sold, hired, advertised or demonstrated in Australia.
The Classification Review Board convened on 11 March 2011 in response to an application from the distributor of the computer game, Warner Bros Entertainment, to review the decision made by the Classification Board on 15 February 2011 to classify Mortal Kombat 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 AM, Convenor, Classification Review Board
Classification Review Board
Date: 11 March 2011
23-33 MARY STREET SURRY HILLS, NSW
Ms Victoria Rubensohn AM (Convenor)
Ms Helena Blundell
Dr Melissa de Zwart
Mr Alan Wu
Warner Bros Entertainment
None, but one email from a member of the public was received and noted.
To review the Classification Board’s decision to classify the computer game Mortal Kombat RC (Refused Classification).
DECISION AND REASONS FOR DECISION
The Classification Review Board (the Review Board) by majority 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.
A four-member panel of the Review Board met on 11 March 2011 in response to the receipt of an application from the original applicant on 28 February 2011 to review the RC classification of the computer game, Mortal Kombat, determined by the Classification Board. Those four 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 game play of the computer game before the hearing. The Review Board viewed the recorded game play and a lengthy live demonstration of both recorded and non-recorded elements of the game by the distributor on 11 March 2011. The Review Board also engaged in separate lengthy live game play assisted by its own officer.
The Review Board heard an oral submission from Paul Hunt, representing the Applicant. Mr Hunt was accompanied by Mark Aubrey, Melissa Faustmann and Nick Wong on behalf of the Applicant. Mr Wong demonstrated both live aspects of game play and he and other representatives of the Applicant answered questions regarding different aspects of the game including higher levels of play.
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) Warner Bros Entertainment’s written and oral submissions
(iii) the computer game, Mortal Kombat
(iv) a disc of material provided by the Applicant which depicted aspects of game play and the ‘fatalities’
(v) A submission from Alex Williams, a member of the public
(vi) the relevant provisions in the Classification Act, the Code and the Guidelines, and
(vii) the Classification Board’s report.
Mortal Kombat is the ninth instalment in the Mortal Kombat franchise, which has existed since 1993. It portrays the fights that are staged between Thunder God Raiden and his band of Earth Realm warriors against Shao Kahn, Emperor of the Outer Realm, and his followers, in order to prevent Armageddon. The game is played as a flashback from the point of Armageddon, which occurs in the opening scenes of the game. The Mortal Kombat tournaments have been prescribed by the Elder Gods as a mechanism to maintain balance between the realms.
The game includes 25 characters, some of which are ‘locked’ at the beginning of the game and can only be unlocked as the player successfully advances through the game or upon use of a ‘key’ provided with the PlayStation version of the game. Characters include humans, humanoid aliens (such as lizard men) and robots. For humans, the ‘blood’ which is shed during a bout is red, for robots it is brownish/grey and for aliens it is green.
The game may be played in story mode, player versus player mode or challenge mode. In story mode (which includes more than 15 hours of game play), the player has no choice regarding the sequence of characters that they play. This mode is designed to guide the player through the back stories of each of the characters and how they came to be at the Mortal Kombat competition. The main aim in this mode is for the player to win all bouts and matches and win the Tournament and then defeat Shao Kahn in order to avert Armageddon. In other modes the aim is simply to win matches and bouts.
In player versus player mode the player or players can choose which of the characters they play as. Each character has different abilities, strengths, weapons and powers (including magical powers). Players can play in tag team mode and online.
In challenge mode, players can choose to undertake a series of challenges which requires the player to complete a range of tasks. The Applicant informed the Review Board during the oral submission that two out of three hundred challenges involve fatalities.
There is also a training mode in which players are given instructions as to how to practice the special moves needed to control the various characters, and, in particular, to execute the fatalities. Initially, only six of the characters are available for playing in this mode, though the others are progressively unlocked through game play. The fatalities are most easily accessible in this mode.
Fights between players take place in a variety of locations, including the Sewer, the Forest, the Dungeon and the Train Station.
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 – The Applicant submitted that the main theme of the game is fighting, featuring aliens and robots as well as humans, with the ultimate outcome that if the player is not successful the Earth Realm will cease to exist. The Review Board concluded that themes of the game could readily be accommodated within a classification lower than RC.
(b) Violence –
The computer game Mortal Kombat consists largely of a series of fights between two or more characters in the game. These fights are linked in the ‘story mode’, providing the player with no choice over the choice of combatants. However, in both challenge mode and player versus player mode, the player can choose which character they play, giving the player a choice over which characters do battle.
The various characters have differing fighting moves, powers, skills and weapons. Weapons include a hand gun, swords, knives, staves, a hat with a sharpened rim, chains, clubs, and magical abilities (ice, fire, lightening and smoke). Fighting bouts are depicted in realistically rendered three-dimensional graphics. Mortal Kombat includes, for the first time in this franchise, a feature known as ‘X-ray view’, which may be initiated when a player reaches a certain power level during the fight, and executes a series of commands. X-ray view (which is non-interactive) shows an injury being inflicted on one combatant. The vision slows down and the action and resulting impact is shown close up and in greater detail. The detail shown varies from character to character, but depicts injuries such as bones being displaced and snapped, skulls being fractured, ribs cracking and teeth being knocked out of jaws. Even with the less humanoid characters, these X-ray views depict a human type skeleton and underlying physical structure. The injury is often shown from multiple viewpoints. The X-ray view focuses on the injury, although the Review Board noted that in story mode the physical injury inflicted, such as a broken spine, did not seem permanent and the character continued to fight unaffected by the apparent injury.
In player versus player mode, the injuries sustained by combatants are cumulative in effect and displayed clearly on the body and clothes of both characters. For example, if one player harms another character, their blood and gore will spatter on both characters and on the floor. This blood and gore does not disappear but instead accumulates as the fight progresses. In story mode, the blood splashes are not as intense and disappear during bouts.
In several of the locations or ‘Arenas’ where bouts take place, such as the Sewer, there are dead bodies lying on the floor and hanging from the ceiling. There are also wounded people lying on the forest floor in the Forest scene and tortured bodies in the Dungeon. In three of the locations players can use special finishing moves that result in a non-interactive sequence in which the opponent is thrown from the fighting platform and dies. In one, the opponent is impaled on spikes. In another, the opponent is thrown into a pool of acid, from which they struggle before their body melts away, exposing tissue and bone. In another, the opponent’s face is held against the carriages of a passing train. Their body is then thrown in front of another moving train.
The game includes (in its extended mode) a possible 65 fatalities. A fatality is a unique, non-interactive finishing move that results in the explicit death of the character upon whom it is performed. These fatalities may be executed by a player when the game recognises the other player is close to defeat and issues the command ‘Finish Him/Her’. The player must then execute a pre-determined sequence of movements and commands within a defined area and within a limited time. These movements and commands are available in the menu and may be practised in the training mode. Thus fatalities are recognised as being a challenge to achieve. The Review Board noted, in particular, the following fatalities which represent a non-exhaustive sample of explicit violence:
• Baraka: knives -- slices off arms with knives, stabs knife into chest and slices body laterally in two with the other knife, one half held up on first knife. The side view provided of the dismembered body is like a carcass.
• Baraka: knives -- thrusts knife into chest, lifts body on knife, spins body, holds up second knife to cut off spinning legs, arms and head and throws down torso.
• Quan Chi: no weapon -- grabs leg, tears leg off, beats opponent with leg and crushes head. The beating with the detached leg is prolonged and repetitive, suggesting brutality.
• Sheeva: no weapon-- tears arms off, slaps opponent with severed arms, kicks body over and then claps severed arms.
• Jax: no weapon -- hits top of head, hammers opponent into the ground and kicks off the head.
The Applicant submitted that the violence in the game is highly stylised and unrealistic, in the tradition of fighting games, with the characters inflicting and sustaining injuries that could not be sustained in real life.
The majority of the Review Board concludes that the computer game Mortal Kombat includes elements where the violence is higher than strong and which could not therefore be accommodated within the MA 15+ classification. The majority view is that this is the case even though the fatalities may occur infrequently during normal story mode game play, which is one of three playing modes. The majority notes that the fatalities can, however, be performed repeatedly in practice mode when the player develops the requisite skill. The fatalities explicitly depict decapitation, dismemberment, disembowelment and a number of other brutal methods of slaughter. In the majority’s view the overall impact of the fatalities is high. The majority of the Review Board also considers that the X-ray view serves to emphasise and humanise the impact of injuries, which also increases the overall impact of the violence in the game to higher than strong.
(c) Language – There are several instances of coarse language but they are infrequent and can readily 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 computer game.
(f) Nudity – There is no nudity in the computer game.
7. Reasons for the decision
The Applicant submitted that Mortal Kombat is a ‘standard fighting game’ in line with other games in the Mortal Kombat franchise, which are known to have ‘more blood and guts than normal fight games’ but which are in keeping with the MA15+ rating. Mortal Kombat games are also known for the ‘fatalities’ and players familiar with these games will know and expect them to contain a certain level of violence, including the fatalities. The fatalities feature ‘over the top’ violence and, occasionally, elements of humour. The Applicant submitted that the events depicted in Mortal Kombat occur in a ‘fantastical realm, featuring fantasy characters and fantasy locations’. The Applicant also submitted that players know that the moves are not realistic, that the fatalities could not be executed by a human in real life and that the players are expecting unrealistic violence. While the Review Board notes the points made by the Applicant regarding the history and context of the Mortal Kombat franchise, it is cognisant that it is required to view each computer game submitted for review on its own terms, rather than those of predecessor games and must judge each submitted game on the basis of relevant legislation, the Code and guidelines. The majority of the Review Board notes the stylised, fantasy elements of Mortal Kombat, but concludes that the overall impact of the graphically detailed and realistically rendered violence, particularly that inflicted on human or humanoid characters, is not sufficiently ameliorated by the fantasy setting. Whilst much of the fighting takes place in designated, stylised arenas where violence may be anticipated, this context does not significantly reduce the impact of combat which results in violent injury or death. In the Review Board’s view the impact of such scenes is higher than strong and not justified by context.
Further, the Applicant submitted that the moves are difficult to achieve. The Review Board accepts on the basis of its own playing of the game and the demonstration provided by the Applicant that, depending on skill and speed, the fatalities may be difficult to achieve, as they may only be executed within both a defined area and a certain limited time within the game and may often be missed. The majority of the Review Board concludes that even though the fatalities may not occur frequently or regularly during normal game play, the graphic nature of many of the fatalities is such that the overall impact of the violence in the game is higher than strong. Whilst the player experience may differ significantly from player to player and game to game, and is dependent upon playing mode, the violence is unsuitable for accommodation at the MA15+ level. The Review Board majority accepts that the fatality moves are non-interactive once successfully initiated by the player. However, the majority is of the view that the fatalities are for many, perhaps the majority of players, a major, important feature of the game and they will strive hard to achieve them. It is impossible to predict how many times a player may succeed in initiating such moves (although they are readily available in practice mode) but in any case, they constitute a central element of the game and many of them are high – rather than merely strong – in impact.
Further, in the view of the majority, the fatalities do not constitute the only violence in the game with an impact higher than strong. For instance, in player versus player mode, there is extensive blood and gore splatter that accumulates and remains in the game, with even victorious characters evidencing significant injury. As noted previously, the realistic, detailed X-ray view also heightens the impact of the violence. It humanises the damage inflicted on the characters, with even the less humanoid characters appearing more human (with a human-like skeletal structure), and it accentuates the injury damage and detail. The fact that in story mode characters get up and walk away after a fight does not lessen this impact, which is higher than strong.
In the opinion of the Review Board majority, Mortal Kombat contains violence that exceeds strong in impact and is unsuitable for a minor to see or play.
In the view of the minority, the impact of Mortal Kombat’s violence – the most impactful classifiable element – is strong. Mortal Kombat can thus be accommodated in the MA15+ category.
Mortal Kombat features a level of frenetic action and violence comparable to its predecessors, and to many contemporary fighting games. The most impactful violence is that featured in the fatalities. (In the view of the minority, the new X-ray view does not feature violence of a stronger impact than that in the fatalities.)
This impact is mitigated by the relative infrequence of fatalities in the context of usual game play. Fatalities are only available for execution in specific, limited circumstances, at which time players must perform a difficult combination of moves in order for the fatality to be realised. Even if successful, fatality sequences last only a few seconds. These sequences are non-interactive.
The impact is further mitigated by the fantastical and heavily-stylised nature of the violence, featuring implausible and unlikely combinations of sorcery and superhuman strength, endurance and agility and often involving identifiably non-human characters. In several instances, the fatalities feature dissonant humorous elements, pushing the sequences towards caricature. Though the game features advanced graphics, the violent action often lacks detail and realism. Finally, this action all occurs in a broader fantasy storyline and familiar fighting game format. The cumulative effect of these factors is to reinforce the artificiality of the violence and to reduce its impact.
In the view of the minority, the violence in Mortal Kombat is justified by context. The fantastical, unrealistic nature of the violence, and the infrequency of the strongest violence, means that its impact is strong, and unsuitable for persons under the age of 15. Mortal Kombat should thus be classified MA15+.
The majority of the Review Board determined that the impact of the violence in Mortal Kombat is higher than strong and thus could not be accommodated within the MA15+ classification. As MA15+ is the highest classification category available to computer games under the Australian Classification Scheme, the Classification Review Board must refuse classification to Mortal Kombat. Accordingly, Mortal Kombat is classified RC.
This YouTube video demonstrates MORTAL KOMBAT’S cartoon violence.
GamespotAU interviewed asked the Australian Customs Service how they would treat imports of MORTAL KOMBAT.
See our database entry for HOOLIGANS: STORM OVER EUROPE for a list of games that we know have been seized by customs.
Aussie customs to seize Mortal Kombat imports
au.gamespot.com, March 15, 2011
The spokesperson said attempting to import Mortal Kombat is indeed illegal as it breaches the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations 1956.
"As Mortal Kombat has been refused classification in Australia, it is considered objectionable material. It is therefore a prohibited good and illegal to import into Australia," the spokesperson said. "Customs and Border Protection works closely with Attorney General’s Department to identify imported games that are banned in Australia. This includes games purchased over the Internet from foreign websites. Attorney General’s Department regularly updates Customs and Border Protection about classification decisions on publications, films, and computer games, including the reclassification of material, and about different versions of computer games (some of which may be refused classification), and how to identify those versions at the border. This information is then used to assist in identifying and seizing banned versions of games.
"Any copies of the games detected at the border, including via international mail, will be seized."
Thanks to Jason for this report.
Thought I would monitor how the net to see how many copies of MORTAL KOMBAT actually were stopped by customs. Prior to the release, there was so much hype about how customs were going to be on the look out for every copy that enters the country. In the end, I found two cases.
One person posted at http://boards.ign.com on May 5th 2011. He said:
"Imported mine from NZ, it was sent on the 29th April. I got a letter today from Australian Customs saying they had seized it in Melbourne. According to them, no further action will be taken unless I make a claim of return for the game in which case they may 'commence with legal proceedings'...WANKERS!!"
The second person was a Victorian who posted on the ‘Petition To Lift The Ban On Mortal Kombat In Australia’ page on Facebook. He imported his copy from mightyape.co.nz. On May 9th 2011, he posted that customs had taken his copy, and included a picture of the seizure notice.
Reading the comments on the aforementioned Facebook page, you can see that the vast majority of people had no problems. Some even had their packages opened, inspected, and then delivered.
In October and November 2011, the Australian Law Reform Commission conducted a study to gauge community attitudes to 'high-level material'. It was carried out as part of their research for the Classification: Content Regulation and Convergent Media Final Report that was released in March 2012.
The groups were asked to give their opinion on a violent scene from MORTAL KOMBAT.
See our Games Censorship Database entry for CALL OF DUTY: MODERN WARFARE 2 (2009) to see the results of this study.
RC (Refused Classification)
Classification Board Annual Report 2010-2011
Mortal Kombat is a fighting game which sees Thunder God Rayden and his band of Earth warriors battling against Shao Kahn, the Emperor of Outworld, and his minions in order to prevent Armageddon. The game includes 25 characters and can be played in various modes. The game includes over 60 fatalities which contain explicit depictions of dismemberment, decapitation, disembowelment and other brutal forms of slaughter. The Board found that, despite the exaggerated conceptual nature of the fatalities and their context within a fighting game set in a fantasy realm, the impact was heightened by the use of graphics which were realistically rendered and very detailed. In the opinion of the Board, the game contains violence that exceeds strong in impact and is unsuitable for a minor to see or play. The game was therefore classified RC pursuant to item 1(d) of the computer games table of the National Classification Code
On application from the game’s distributor, the RC classification for Mortal Kombat was reviewed by the Classification Review Board which also classified the game RC.
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.
There were 305 complaints about the classification of the computer game Mortal Kombat. The Board classified the game RC (Refused Classification) due to high impact violence which could not be accommodated at MA 15+. On appeal from the game’s distributor, the Classification Review Board reviewed the decision and also classified the game RC. The 305 complainants overwhelmingly opposed the RC classification for the game and many also expressed their support for the introduction of an R 18+ classification category for computer games. Of the 305 complaints about Mortal Kombat, 128 were received on, or after, the date of the Review Board’s decision.
Classification Review Board Annual Report 2010-2011
There were 305 complaints received about the RC classification for the computer game Mortal Kombat in 2010–11. Of these, 128 were received on, or after, the date of Review Board’s RC classification of the computer game.
In March 2012, MORTAL KOMBAT: GAME OF THE YEAR EDITION was banned by the Classification Board. It was submitted for the handheld Play Station Vita console.
Warner Bros. interactive Entertainment told Kotaku why they thought the game would be passed.
Films and Computer Games
RC Refused Classification
Classification Board Annual Report 2011-2012
Mortal Kombat 9 – Game of the Year is a modified version of the fighting computer game Mortal Kombat, which is RC. This modified version is designed for the PS Vita and it appears to contain all the material from the original computer game with some additional features. In the Classification Board’s view, this computer game warranted an RC classification in accordance with item 1(d) of the computer games table of the National Classification Code. The computer game contains violence that exceeds strong in impact and is therefore unsuitable for those aged under 18 years to play.
For the most part, violence of the highest impact is noted in the fatality moves which are performed by pushing a series of button combinations within a short period of time. If the move is executed successfully, a short non-interactive full motion video is triggered depicting the winning character explicitly slaughtering an opponent. Visual depictions of violence within these fatalities are accompanied by vivid sound effects that heighten impact. In the Classification Board’s opinion, the relatively small size of the PS Vita gaming screen does not mitigate the impact of violence to the extent that it could be accommodated at the MA 15+ classification, especially giving consideration to the clear and detailed graphics that are rendered.
Classification Review Board Annual Report 2011-2012
The Review Board received 15 complaints about its decisions. There were five complaints about the computer game Mortal Kombat
Complainants did not think that Mortal Kombat... ...should be refused classification.
The R18+ rating was introduced for games on January 1st 2013. On January 11, NINJA GAIDEN 3: RAZOR'S EDGE became the first title to receive the new classification.
Warner Bros Entertainment soon resubmitted MORTAL KOMBAT in a 'KOMPLETE EDITION'. This uncut version was passed with an R18+ (High impact violence, blood and gore) for Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 on February 12 2013. It was the first previously banned game to be resubmitted under the R18+ guidelines.
Classification Board Annual Report 2012-2013
The Classification Board also assigned an R 18+ classification to the computer game Mortal Kombat Komplete Edition.
The game is set in a dystopian fantasy realm and its cast of playable fighters includes humans, humanoids, creatures and robots. These characters are each able to perform punches, kicks and signature moves during a bout. Signature moves often involve a character’s particular weapon or supernatural ability. Fights are depicted in side-view and presented in high definition resolution. The ‘fatality’ moves, whilst highly stylised and difficult to execute, include numerous depictions of dismemberment, decapitation, disembowelment and other gory forms of slaughter. The exaggerated conceptual nature of these fatalities and their context within a fighting game set in a fantasy realm mitigates impact to a degree.
The Classification Board classified this computer game R 18+ with consumer advice of ‘high impact violence, blood and gore’.