Australian Ratings board Bans Mortal Kombat…

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It is yet another sad day for Aussie gamers everywhere, as the new heavily anticipated return of Mortal Kombat has officially been canned by the Australian Government’s ratings board for receiving a rating of R18+. If you remember, the ratings board for the country has made it extremely tough to release titles with adult content. The Classification system is known to be outdated and many officials have been making a move to make changes, but sadly it just wasn’t soon enough for the age-old fighter. Warner Bros. Interactive confirmed this grim news with a statement that was released earlier today:

“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 [Interactive Games & Entertainment Association], WBIE is reviewing all options available at this time.”

I imagine many of you are as baffled by this decision as I am, and the official reasoning behind the ban doesn’t quite make sense either. The ratings board fully elaborated with this statement which lead to the decision:

“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,”

Now, if you by chance follow what is allowed in the country, you should know that the whole ratings system is Australia is completely broken and filled with hypocrisy.

First off we have the FAQ which is listed on the official Australian Government’s Classification website, which sheds light on how these decisions are made when it comes to the release of titles of all sorts in Australia.

Here is a breakdown of the “code” of ethics which goes into ratings:

Under the Code, classification decisions are to give effect, as far as possible, to the following principles:

1. adults should be able to read, hear and see what they want
2. minors should be protected from material likely to harm or disturb them;
3. everyone should be protected from exposure to unsolicited material that they find offensive;
4. the need to take account of community concerns about:
1. depictions that condone or incite violence, particularly sexual violence; and
2. the portrayal of persons in a demeaning manner.

The needs of the Australian public are varied and the guidelines seek to strike a balance between permitting adults to make choices about their viewing, gaming and reading habits, while at the same time respecting that others need not see material they find confronting and protecting children from inappropriate content.

What baffles me is that the Mortal Kombat series has been around in Australia since the start (rated MA15+ for most titles in the series) , and we are just now seeing the first title in the series banned for having in the same content as it’s predecessors. Fatalities and Mortal Kombat are nothing new, so why ban what has never been stopped before is my question. The fatality listed above is just about what we have seen in nearly every MK release dating back to the originals on the SNES and Genesis.

It is also extremely disheartening to know that movies like Saw, which feature even more realistic gore are rated for an age 15+ market are freely available in the country. In the U.S., the Saw series has been rated R, which means no one under 17 are allowed to purchase or view any of the movies unless adult consent is given. I am not picking on that movie series by no means, it is just an example of the hypocrisy in the system.

These are just my opinions though so they really do not matter at all as I am just a U.S. onlooker, but for the gamers who are now deprived of seeing a release of Mortal Kombat, this news is yet another reminder that changes need to come to this system, and getting your voice out there may be the best way to do this, even if it just results in a watered down release. Below I have attached a link which can be used to contact the very people who make these decisions, so if anyone wants to get their voice out there, even if it is ignored, by all means go right ahead. Please act like adults though as threats and trash talking will show that you are not mature to handle a mature title to start with. Write a letter, send an email, make a call. Decisions like this rarely get lifted, but maybe Aussies out there can protect this from happening in the future.

Contact Information for Australian Classification Board

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