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Australian Ratings Board Refuses Left 4 Dead 2 Appeal

Illustration for article titled Australian Ratings Board Refuses Left 4 Dead 2 Appeal

After the Australian Classification Review Board first refused to classify Valve's zombie first-person-shooter Left 4 Dead 2, Valve appealed the government's decision.

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Valve's Zombie shooter was refused classification, which means it can't be made commercially available in the country. Not quite the same as a banning, but it has the same effect.

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The company's appeal to overturn the Board's earlier decision has been refused, and the original, unedited version will not be sold in Australia later this fall when the game launches there.

As Valve told us earlier, the version of Left 4 Dead 2 submitted to the Australian government for rating is "the adjusted version." This version has been rated and will be commercially sold in Australia.

Valve's Gabe Newell told Kotaku Australia that this edited version, Australia-only version is "fully compliant with the guidelines" for a 15-years-old and up rating.

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"We think Left 4 Dead 2 is a lot of fun," Newell said then. "It's a game for adults. But we're aware that different countries have different restrictions, and we want to make the choices that make the game the most fun for that country."

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The recent decision regarding Valve's appeal to sell the unedited version reads:

According to the Classification Review Board, the game has been once again refused classification due to violence.

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.

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Thanks Clement for the tip.

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DISCUSSION

OK, most of the things that the ratings board takes issue with seem like accurate descriptions of things present in the game. But I take exception to this one:

"...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."

OK, it's great that the board has that opinion[/sarcasm], but last I checked, opinions were supposed to have at least SOME reasoning behind them, and that opinion seems like it has none.

Yes, obviously the Special Infected (which is what I think they mean when they say "infected") are cartoonish exaggerations and look nothing like humans.

But really, I think the game delineates the difference between general zombie figures and the human figures as well. In fact, that is a key part of the game. There is a marked difference between the zombies and humans, because the player is encouraged to avoid shooting their human teammates at all costs.

But let me break it down for them:

Humans in the game:

-talk to each other

-appear tired, but healthy

-move and act like normal human beings

Zombies in the game:

-don't talk (they don't even say "BRAAAAINS"), they just growl, moan, and scream incoherently

-appear extremely dirty, pale, sick and/or decaying

-move erratically, like a feral animal, and viciously attack humans with their bare hands

So sure, the board can have problems with the level of violence. But the passage I quoted seems to be saying that a big factor was that they thought minors wouldn't be able to distinguish zombies from real humans, and that minors would be negatively affected by this game where you can graphically kill hundreds of humans.

I strongly disagree. I think even a very young minor would be keenly aware that the game is NOT like GTA, and you aren't just mowing down innocent human civilians. While the zombies do often wear everyday clothes, I think it is VERY apparent that they've lost their humanity and are a very large threat to the human players. The game clearly delineates that the things you fight are not human. The ratings board is quite mistaken in their conclusion. #left4dead2