Aussie censor board explains L4D2 banning

Full Review Board report shows violence main factor behind the denial of the Left 4 Dead 2 appeal; delineation between humans, zombies, and infected deemed "irrelevant."

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The saga of Left 4 Dead 2 has been a long and disappointing one for Australian gamers. Initially banned for its "realistic, frenetic and unrelenting violence" in September, Valve and publisher EA resubmitted a toned-down, less-violent version which received the maximum MA15+ rating down under. But there was still a sliver of hope that the full version would make it as EA appealed the original banning. Hopes were soon crushed, however, when the Classification Review Board denied EA's appeal, meaning Aussie gamers will be left with blood-spray and dismemberment-less versions when the game officially ships to stores tomorrow.

While we all knew the Review Board's final decision, little was known about exactly why the appeal failed. Until now, that is. GameSpot AU has obtained a copy of the Review Board's report, and it seems that despite EA's attempts to clearly delineate the differences between humans, zombies, and infected in Left 4 Dead 2 (as well as justify the violence as being suitable for minors to see), the Board held steadfast to its view that the blood and gore displayed in unedited versions of Left 4 Dead 2 did not fit under Australia's games classification system.

According to the report, EA argued that Left 4 Dead 2 should be allowed as an MA15+ game due to the "unrealistic nature of the violence." Specifically, the EA rep called out the facts that: the game includes zombies who were not and never had been human; that zombies were fictional characters and that zombie killing was an ancillary component to the central objective of the game being played online and in multiplayer format; that 15-year-olds would know that the zombies were fictional characters and could distinguish them from humans, which therefore lessened the impact (but in any event it was not unlawful to kill zombies which meant that no crime had been committed); and that there was no moral issue involved in killing fictional characters.

But the Review Board didn't take those arguments to heart, saying that there was "insufficient delineation between the depiction of the general zombie figures and the human figures as opposed to the clearly fictional 'infected' characters." Even so, it was still the violence issue that sunk the appeal, with the Board report stating that "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."

The Board listed specific examples of violent content within the game, including:

• 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 Board Report also revealed some interesting background to the actual appeals process, unveiling that the Board members were shown gameplay videos and had an EA representative play a demo of the game. It's not clear, however, whether the Board had hands-on time with the game itself during the appeals meeting.

The violence-lite version of Left 4 Dead 2 goes on sale in Australia for the PC and Xbox 360 on November 19.

Discussion

156 comments
yasso
yasso

Living in a country where L4D and similar games aren't banned, and seeing how countless families and adults can be completely careless, sometimes desensitized to the level of being indifferent towards children seeing an adult playing a game like that and actually staring, I think I can understand the Aussies' concern. Heck, some adults think that allowing children to see scenes like this "makes them tougher". Not talking about uneducated adults, but university graduates thinking that way for their OWN children; I've seen this and heard it in front of me before. So heck, I'm happy to support the majority of Aussies with their decision if they ban a game like this, and I wouldn't have any problems living in Australia too. You can usually get this stuff in the black market anyway if you [really] were that desperate.

zxssded
zxssded

alot of people are already very very angry about this stupid problem, (incuding myself) but if it happenes to an even bigger game like god of war 3...alot more people will be affected by this.....and even the government is banning AvP game traliers....TRALIERS....WHAT~!!!!!

Bungiehalo
Bungiehalo

oh man, when you read that list you can start to see why they wouldn't want this game sold... sure it's a little harsh banning it all together, as appose to making it an adult only title, but man oh man, this has to be the goriest game i've played. and don't get me wrong its a great game, just definitly not for children, no way around it and i think thats what the austrailians are trying to get across.

Spl1nt3r_C3ll
Spl1nt3r_C3ll

The regulations are set in place at the behest of the majority of the public. This is political, nothing more. Like Serj Tankian's song "The Unthinking majority" These rules are favored by the majority of voters. Maybe parents in Australia are ignorant to violence in videogames in Oz? and don't trust their kids or adults not to be influenced by violence and go out and kill people. I for one believe the only solution is education. If you are educated properly, it should be easy to dicern the difference between right and wrong. It's the same people that view boxing and UFC as barbaric, whereas the more educated will see it as an art form.

Dematrix
Dematrix

when i was reading this all i could think of was Demolition Man, yeah its not to that extreme for aussies yet but its things like this act that seem little and eventually pile up to where your not even allowed to have salt on your food cause its unhealthy.

Emrys7
Emrys7

So I guess where I'm confused is that this game is banned because it's not suitable for children, but the game is clearly intended for adults. Does this mean that legal adults in Australia can't buy this game either? I guess the system just confuses me. What age are you considered a legal adult at in Australia?

rtalmadge
rtalmadge

In my honest opinion, if they want to stir up all this controversy and ban entertainment industries from their country, why don't they let the consumer decide whether or not to ban the game. Voting, anyone?

darkcomedian
darkcomedian

Whats wrong with blood? Isnt it something we all have and is natural? Who one day decided "Blood, nudity, and sex are all demons and if children see them they will worship satan."?

Cloud737
Cloud737

Sigh, and you wonder why piracy is rampart in Australia...

MrHatnClogs
MrHatnClogs

Wow.......... I'm really glad that in the U.S. all we have to complain about is Jack Thompson and a few lawsuits. I feel your pain guys!

whitewolfleal
whitewolfleal

Ok, you can call me selfish, but my only concern is, if an aussie guy buy this abortion (my way to describe this version of the game) it will only work in aussie servers, or everyone on that lobby will have the same cuts on violence? I'm asking because the baseball bat bonus is for everyone in the room, even those who didn't preordered the game. Is it possible to work in the same way?

wahyudil
wahyudil

make me want to laugh .... luckily I'm not living in aussie

SpunkyB0B
SpunkyB0B

Meh............. (what else can I say?)

lostn
lostn

This is not even the most violent game. Not even close. GoW and MW2 did the blood on camera effect too, and Ninja Gaiden 2 on 360 is way more violent than this game.

Romper72
Romper72

To those international readers, we here in Australia have a man by the name Michael Atkinson who is basically in a position of power that has allowed him to veto a decision to review our Classification System. His view is that if we were to have a +R18 system for games, all games would be allowed into the country. So its basically handicapped our Classification board to make the only decision it could - but looking at past decisions on games, they've squeezed other titles into a +M15 bracket where they should maybe be +R18. So Aussies have a few more years of this sort of treatment at the hands of one man basically. There's no guarantee that once he is removed from his office, that the next moron won't think that he/she knows whats best for Australians better than the public. To Aussies out there - Check out 'Gamers 4 Croydon' on Facebook, now here's some people willing to do something out our current problem. For the record - I'm an Aussie, over 18 and love my gaming uncensored!

deathnight_2000
deathnight_2000

I do feel sorry for you Aussies, i don't know how it would work but they blocked internet Download ? off of valves website ? you could always get the NZ ver, we have the uncut one. If they are blocking this game with zombies, hate to see what they are going to be like when it comes to a game like god of war 3

GetafixOz
GetafixOz

How is this footage any more graphic than Fallout 3, where most of the thing you blew and hacked to bits WERE human. As per usual no sense at all from the christian zealot, ludites we call a classification board. The fact that some closet homosexual, monarchist f4g can decide what I see and hear really upsets me in case its not obvious. Having said all that.... Ill get mine from overseas.... so FU

airshocker
airshocker

I have to say after watching the Aussie version, I understand the out-cry. Buy your things off ebay, Aussie gamers. You don't want to be stuck with the toned down version.

Atari_7200
Atari_7200

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

H0rr0rG4m3r
H0rr0rG4m3r

Well NO ONE is going to buy the Aussie version cause it'll be worthless, video games are all about ENTERTAINMENT, oh my god why cant those idiots get that through their heads... Import ftw!! lol

TurambarGS
TurambarGS

One word, kids: "import". If they want to screw us with ridiculously censored versions, then get your uncensored copy from New Zealand or the UK - both use the PAL standard. Money talks and importing the game takes money away from local retailers.

therealsomeguy
therealsomeguy

well considering it takes about 30 seconds to remove the censorship, i think it doesnt matter

Paul2004
Paul2004

Sounds like Manhunt 2 all over again, and i remember hearing about someone spreading uncensored versions !. The ban means nothing, gamers will always find a way to get what they want. Games dont kill ppl, Ppl kill ppl !. Some are just too retarded to know what that means tho, ive played violent games for years and even seen some banned from TV stuff (Incredibly violent !) yet i know whats right and wrong. Its pathetic and they really should get a younger board in, reviewers who know what their taking about !

Reiken37
Reiken37

Epic Fail. Why the hell do they not havea an 18+ rating? And why do they think that 15 year olds cannot handle gore and violence? Cm'on people, turn on the T.V. and open your god damn eyes! Violence and Gore is everywhere! Also, why isn't every single shooter game or any game including death or assocation to death not heavily dimmed down or banned like this? Aussio Review Board are just made up of housewives with nothing to do but piss people off.

tjtanz
tjtanz

Aussie review board is retarded, and seemingly inherently biased. How come gears of war wasn't banned in Australia? Multiplayer clearly shows many human men, and 'human-like' men getting decapitated and sawed to bits. But no, this is different. Video games don't cause murders, mentally unstable people do.

mattisgod01
mattisgod01

Can't we still import a copy from the UK or even a region free one from china?

Kenji_Masamune
Kenji_Masamune

but.. but.. those are all the reasons to want to play the game

Antherian_being
Antherian_being

Making a deal of the camera-lens blood is stupid. Watch this game's lens blood then watch CoDMW2's blood. MW2 has far worse lens blood (its extremely realistic)

synclorize
synclorize

dn worry guys, buy the original. and eventually ppl will find a crack to uncensored it

poppen695
poppen695

Everyone has the right to be wrong.

FF_fan2004
FF_fan2004

Umm... it's zombies... it's the "us or them" scenario and it's survival of the fittest. The blood splatter, gore, mutilation just makes it look real but not actual, physically real that you get blood splatter from the screen to your face...

J0EVSY0U
J0EVSY0U

lol how much faker a game can you get?????????????? zombies come on how much fake can it get? ok humans vs aliens is more realistic then brain-less humans running around

314566
314566

Australia's review board is childish and afraid for nothing. So u see zombies getting beheaded thats whats supposed to happen but don't crash when a game tries to give u the realistic fell of killing things that are already dead.

Snipes_2
Snipes_2

"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." I seriously feel bad for Australian gamers. I can't believe they have to deal with this kind of Garbage. Gaming SHOULD NOT be CENSORED.

airshocker
airshocker

Hah, I bet those critics will be sorry when the zombie apocalypse happens in Australia and they're completely unprepared for it..

Koushin
Koushin

I feel bad for all those Aussies out there on this issue. Hopefully you guys can find a way (on the PC that is) to access the game in true form.

BattleSword1
BattleSword1

I'm 15, and I don't think I need other people telling me what I can and can't distinguish from real life.

Evilnator
Evilnator

@ herodotus2006 thanks for the awnser, im not astralian myself, neither i live in australia, but heck they ban all the good stuff there. Unfair if you ask me.

Malscyllis
Malscyllis

So is this the reason most people come to America? hehe

herodotus2006
herodotus2006

@Evilnator: Yes it will be censored. I've played the Demo of the "Low Level Violence" version we're getting and it's awful.I can see the potential in the game, but a zombie gets hit, there is a very small puff of red (if that) and they vanish. It is utter garbage. It's like watching actors in front of a green screen before the CGI is added. Would you pay for that? I'll stick with L4D 1.

im-a-roustabout
im-a-roustabout

Also remember folks, you can't spell Pirate without irate ;)

im-a-roustabout
im-a-roustabout

Too bad 360 is region locked :( no ebay. Oh well, it's a good game and I believe the core element of fun has not been taken away. Gratuitious blood is a perk for the mature.

GhoX
GhoX

From what I've heard, the zombies in the censored L4D2 has -zero- blood, and when the zombies are killed they just vaporize into the thin air.

Jhraxlin
Jhraxlin

XD I hate L4D and L4D2, but I wouldn't ban some one from playing it, that is, if they were 17 and older.