Getting Up banned Down Under

Aussie Classification Review Board refuses game's classification two days before planned release, making it illegal to display, sell, or import.

While the long wait for the oft-delayed Marc Ecko's Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure has ended for North American gamers, it's only just begun for their Australian counterparts. With the game set to release in Australian stores on Friday, the country's Classification Review Board today denied the game a rating, banning it throughout the country.

Despite the costs associated with promoting and producing the game for an Australian release only to have it scuttled two days before launch, Atari vice president of corporate communications Ryan Barr told GameSpot his company's biggest concern was that the government was censoring entertainment.

"Essentially they banned the game, which in our opinion is rather ironic considering that the game takes place in a city with a tyrannical government that tries to suppress the freedom of expression," Barr said. "Life is imitating art right now. This is censorship, plain and simple. This is tantamount to burning books. If you start censoring video games, where does it stop?"

Last November the Australian Office of Film and Literature Classification gave the game an MA 15+ classification, meaning it was not suitable for people under 15 due to strong violence and strong themes. Roughly equivalent to an ESRB rating of M for Mature, this is the same classification given to games like Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. The Attorney-General and the Local Government Association of Queensland asked for Getting Up's initial MA 15+ classification to be reviewed, leading to today's 3-to-2 decision on the part of the Classification Review Board to refuse the game a rating.

"Both the National Classification Code and the Guidelines for the Classification of Films and Computer Games state that a computer game will be refused classification if it includes or contains detailed instruction or promotion of matters of crime," the board's Convenor, Maureen Shelley, said in a statement. "It is the Classification Review Board's determination that this game promotes the crime of graffiti."

Barr disagrees. "Obviously we don't condone any criminal acts," he said. "We don't condone vandalism. [Getting Up] is really just a metaphor for getting out and getting your voice heard."

The review board listed the game's "realistic scenarios whereby the central character Trane acquires his knowledge of graffiti tips, techniques, and styles" as one such promotion. It also noted that the game rewards the player for graffiti, and includes interactive biographies of 56 real-life graffiti artists, pointing out that all of them began their careers engaging in illegal graffiti, and that some still do.

Barr said that Atari would appeal the decision immediately, but there was no telling how long the process would take.

Getting Up isn't the first game to run afoul of the Office of Film and Literature Classification. Titles like BMX XXX, Manhunt, Grand Theft Auto III, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude, Postal, Postal 2, 50 Cent: Bulletproof, Narc, The Punisher, The Getaway, Phantasmagoria, and the Roberta Williams Anthology (the American version of which featured a one-chapter preview of Phantasmagoria) have also been refused classification and banned in the country, although some of them (like Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and BMX XXX) have later been granted ratings.

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Discussion

114 comments
Sammojo
Sammojo

lol, DaDude253 must have lost his dictionary. No wait, I take that back, it must have fallen on his head. I'm not one to get picky about spelling, but some form of legibility would be appreciated by all.

Sammojo
Sammojo

lol, DaDude253 must have lost his dictionary. No wait, I take that back, it must have fallen on his head. I'm not one to get picky about spelling, but some form of legibility would be appreciated by all.

DaDude253
DaDude253

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Xionethic
Xionethic

lol, i guess over-rated game rejection is good, i mean look at America, :), if you guys say "oh movies are 18 why aren't they banned, yada yada," well, think of it in a more mature way, kids, teenagers are a major market in the gaming world, honestly, kids these days running around acting like fools that the s---- out of me, i guess a some lack ability to incorporate what is appropriate, but movies, i mean cmon. Movies and games are entirely different, why compare them as if they are the same.

soopa_man
soopa_man

yeah i live in australia so from now on im just gonna get all the banned games sent over from england

coolcat888
coolcat888

Australia you reallly really really need to loosen up on your videogame ratings. Your probably the only country that is that strict on games.

399M4N
399M4N

Who knew that Australians where so up tight, I never knew that graffiti was so violent and obscene.

o_sausage
o_sausage

15+!!!!!!!!!!!!! lucky ausie kids

slayerv2
slayerv2

Grafitti Is beautiful art!

HighPowered94
HighPowered94

Damn, Austrailia is phailing in terms of rating games.

jimbo102671
jimbo102671

If this kind of game can get banned, than so can Mario or Sonic as jumping on top of someone would be assault. Then on sexual innuendos, they'd go as far as go after the Mario sports games just because Peach and Daisy show a little more leg than they do in the other games. These people who believe they are doing a favor with censorship need to grow up.

hart704
hart704

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

spartan202
spartan202

they wouldn't ban it if was a movie cuz the companies that makes the movies already got use to of government doing this king of stuff on them, so they always have lawyers ready for anything. The video game industry needs to do the same thing, so this wont happen again

steve757
steve757

It is sad how they do video games like this because it has graffiti and violence. if this was a rated R movie that had the same thing as a video game they wouldn't ban that.

noxian
noxian

graffiti is an art. spray painting on things that aren't your property is vandalism. two separate and distinct concepts. If you want to graffiti on the side of your own house, you're free to do so (outside of maybe neighbor's complaining). Graffiti on the side of someone else's office building is vandalism. Vandalism is illegal. It is not a grand expression of your rights, its you violating someone else's right to have a clean building free of your spray paint. nowhere does the law say you have the right to vandalize other people's property. this doesn't have much to do with whether tha game should be allowed in Australia but some of you really needed a quick clarification on what exactly it is that all these folk find objectionable about street graffiti. I know plenty of guys that do awesome graffiti...on buildings that they got permission to do so...or on some medium where they got permission to do so. there are colleges where the art building has some sort of open wall for such things. that's fine and ok. But the guy who tags someone else's private property without permission of any sort, is violating the law, and should be treated as such.

Royas
Royas

I've used to have a great desire to visit Australia, and was laying plans to do so this year, thought the place looked fantastic in pictures and I wanted to see it in person. Just lost that urge, I have no desire to visit a nation that condones censorship to that level. I don't even like the level of censorship in the US, but at least here the anti game nuts keep losing in court.

neocaleb
neocaleb

People are forgetting this is a video game and there is no proven link to inspiring crimes. If I can't spray paint in a video game, where the hell can I do it?

MWRHC
MWRHC

How would you guys like it if someone were to go up to your shop and scribble his misspelled name on the front of it. Games influence people more than you think. Australia made a smart move( now only if America could catch on).

burrito_nator
burrito_nator

I don't understand how they could ban this game but not GTA.

MotherShabubu
MotherShabubu

Man, you people are sad. Australia is the best country in the world and yous are getting all worked up because they've banned a game. People using words like "dictatorship", "repressive", have no clue. Your acting like Australia is the worst country in the world. To bad if the game is banned, import it if you want to get it.

Gen-Gawl
Gen-Gawl

I love all the people that say graffiti is fine. That's it's just another art form and should be allowed. I would agree to that only if they got permission from the property owner first. Otherwise it's no different from smashing windows or keying someones car.

andy_chris02
andy_chris02

Last time I heard Australia was a country that thrived on Freedom of Speech, Expression and stuff like that, our government seems to enjoy having a go at other countries that don't allow their people to voice their opinions and beliefs, but look at what they're doing to us, it's time little Johnny Howard (our Prime Minister) took a leaf out of his own "Freedom of Speech" book and let us Australians have our own opinions about what movie we want to watch, what book we want to read and yes, what game we want to play. Just because someone goes around spraying graffiti in a Game such as Mark Ecko's doesn't mean that any Bruce or Sheila the Aussie that plays it is going to go out and graffiti up the bland old Aussie country side, Johnny mate, give us a break!! Time for a new Australian Prime Minister I think, one thats not into babysitting the Australian public. While you're at it John why don't you start closing the Art Galleries, stop magazine/newspaper publishing or better yet, just close down the whole country to the outside world, hell, we may as well just go back to the Sone Age. As you may have guessed I'm an Aussie, I haven't lived in Australia for 6 years and the way it's going I never intend on living there again, GOOD ONE Mr. Howard, you idiot! (By the way, anyone from the Australian Office of Film and Literature Classification or Government who may read this: This a matter of opinion from myself and last time I checked (but obviously not for much longer) we were entitled to that in Australia!)

Kfoss
Kfoss

Umm who cares...if the people want to play it.....they will..if they raise enough hell

reetman
reetman

yea in real lige graffiti its like this to you just spray 1 colour over a wall and somthing realy complex and buitifull apears magicly on the wall and if they ban this they should ban g.i joe to cause if a child buys it he will get the flag tatood on his chest and buy hughe guns and shoots egyptients

SorcererLance
SorcererLance

That is truely ironic about what Ryan Barr said. Would'nt be surprised if there were protests in Australia against those censors banning everything they see fit, the Aussies are missing out on a lot of potentially amusing things we Americans are taking for granted and I can't help but feel sorry for the guys.

Puppy0
Puppy0

Censorship. Plain and simple censorship. Completely lame and repressive.

webby1
webby1

wtf? This goes for every country. Cant you just do something about everything else in the world before such stupid things. You know these things that are made up shouldnt be a problem its just real bad things like murder and everything else that goes off in this world. Just stop all this crap thats going on everywhere else before banning other things that arent even anywhere near as bad.

comb_over
comb_over

Sorry I may have something to apologise for there at the end of my previous post but I am really annoyed at comments posted by user usagi704 I came across tonight reading the article about Getting Up being banned in Australia. Sure we share the same sentiments on the censorship of this game but not paint all Australians with the same brush. Comments like: "I have absolutly NO control over my actions, so OF COURSE once I play this game, I'm OBVIOUSLY going to spread graffiti ALL over the place!! Yup, no THINKING going on in this brain, just monkey see, monkey do!! Apparently Australia is full of monkeys! Are offensive and only highlight that your ignorant of others point of view of the situation. Difference of opinion should not resort you to pettiness and offensive name calling which is why I am sorry for refering to you as an ass clown.

liamburke
liamburke

Graffiti is already prevalent. Ride on a train through london and it'll be everywhere. People do actually dodge trains, but they do not spray awesome patterns or anything you can call art, they simply spray their silly pseudonyms.

Impossibilium
Impossibilium

this game teaches kids graffiti techniques? Good. If they are going to vandalize a wall at least put some effort into making it look good. You don't need an instruction manual to paint on walls, just a can of spray paint, a felt pen and some time to waste. Most of the time you get to see a lovely picture of a penis, scrawled by someone with the art ability of a two year old or just words telling you where to go for a good time. And they are usually spelled incorrectly.

comb_over
comb_over

I personally do not agree with our Office of Film and Literature Classification's tough stance on a lot of games mentioned in the article including Getting Up. They should just put a mature age rating on it and let people decide for themselves whether or they think they or the person they are buying it for is mature enough to handle it. But I see there point in a way as the major game distributors flaunt the rules as I often see them selling these games to younger people which is an issue that needs to be addressed. Its Ignorance of people such as usagi704 and EcoBlues comments that grinds my gears. That said hopefully the powers that be will realise that if they educated people and policed the sales of mature content games to minors as they do with movies etc it would not be such a big issue. And for usagi704 Australians are not brainless monkey regardless of what you insinuate you ass clown.

frankeyser
frankeyser

this game has taught me to be a better graffitti artist my next target is a mosaic of king kong on all the talest buildings of the world.

langrisser2005
langrisser2005

I'm a strong aussie gamer, and you'll see in australia now, not only with the insane prices of games but the whole gaming industry people end up getting them illegally, you'll see that people are importing them from other countries and make huge bucks. Seriously though why can't there be a R rated or Adult version where at least people 18+ get a chance to play. Even if youngens manage to get a copy the ratio difference is still hugely in favor of the adults. You sacrifice for some stupid australian people who are against it for majority of people who have no complaints. Lately on the news they've been all these protests on banning games especially with graffiti and sex which one was San Andreas and really it's just unfair. We the rest have to suffer for others it's just stupid. It could be resolved half way if there was a version for us 18+ adults, if your child managed to get the game by other means then simply punish and strip the game away from them, don't take it out on everyone..

Angel_Belial
Angel_Belial

^ I agree with Paganstar. I live in Australia, and I still see signatures and all sorts of crap over walls, although lately it hasn't been happening as much, or so it seems. About nine years ago it was 'the in thing' and it was common for places like petrol station walls to be covered in signatures and profanity, as well as peoples' fences and garages. In fact, if there was a building wall that was free of graffiti, it would make you look twice because that was so uncommon. Good on Australia's Classification board for keeping that game out of here.

kaziechameleon
kaziechameleon

guys there is alot to be said about expression, yeah GTA is fun, but can't a game that doesn't include blow jobs be fun if it incorporated the same free form gameplay. yeah i know GTA is more tongue and cheek than alot of people make it out to be, but that doesn't excuse it entirely, i think boxes need/ requre a deeper explanation of the games contents. while censorship doesn't do anything good for any industry/art form, it is there to help protect a community, more often than control it. i think that kind of censorship that astralia is using is unjustified, but not totally unwarented. right now the government is trying to do the job that parents every where(excluding a few) are neglecting to do, and that is, to take responsibility for what they allow their kids to expose themselves to. the government should invest more in education, and hold parents more responsible for their children, hows that.

Paganstar
Paganstar

[quote]"Barr disagrees. "Obviously we don't condone any criminal acts," he said. "We don't condone vandalism. [Getting Up] is really just a metaphor for getting out and getting your voice heard." "[/quote] So make a game that does not glorify a criminal act that will allow you to get out and get your voice heard. And to Obotex: un-requested Graffitti is a crime. If it is in a public area it can be an eyesore and cost the taxpayers money to clean it up. If it is on private property the property owner will have to foot the bill for cleaning it up (and if he doesn't quickly will probably have to pay fines for it). There is Grafitti art that is quite beautiful and if it is done through the proper channels (getting permission from the authorities or property owners, showing a mockup of what the final art piece will be ahead of time and sticking to that image) then it is something that can be enjoyed by the entire community. Thugs popping tags is just not art... it is vanalism. So while I do not like censorship in principle, it is their right to set what they feel is appropriate for their kids (just as we (as parents) do for ours). If you want to change that then put down the game start studying for a law degree and get elected to your country's government. Petitions or whining about it while playing the game will not change anything. There is a saying in football that works here also... "listen to your fans long enough and soon you will be sitting with them" same is true about the public at large and politics.

xTwiztidMadrox
xTwiztidMadrox

thats B.S. why wouldnt they give this game a rating? its not like its nothing we havent seen before.

rambo_ando
rambo_ando

The ironic thing is that X-rated movies are only allowed to be sold in Canberra, which is the nation's capital and where all the politicians and public servants happen to live.... what does that say about 'parlimentary privelege' ??? I think its crazy that extremely violent movies are kosher but a game that depicts a minor offense (aka graffiti) which only attracts a fine, to my knowledge, is banned. It's high time Australian gamers banded together and petitioned against our archaic censorship and rating system (that still doesn't include R-rated games). Only then will public pressure swing out way for a change.

youwillbesorry
youwillbesorry

Well,although i have no interest in games like this, i do feel that banning a simple graffiti game is kinda extreme.Most kids arnt gonna pull out a can of spraypaint immediatly after playing.

diangelogrey
diangelogrey

Im glad all you people live in Canada as well.. I dont understand why you people are surprised, we have a Liberal conservative goverment in Australia, and a censorship board full of old farts with no clue about non mainstream media forms. Shock Horror! They banned San Andreas and GTA3 BUT.. remember too they also reevaluated there decision and it was sold here so no doubt in a few months once the heat dies off over this decision this game will be able to get released here. YAY more crappy clone GTAlike crime games. Fuuuunnn for ALL!. Weeeee!

TongLong
TongLong

What a pile of Vegimite. Is the Aussie governmet banning books and movies now, too? I feel bad for gamers down there, not only do they have to wait FOREVER for anything to come out, but their government decides what they'll play and how watered down it will be. Brutal. BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING!

paullondon
paullondon

Ban the game. It really pisses me off having my door full of graffiti.

forever_blank
forever_blank

Well people are just buying it off the internet. LoL. It was on the Nation News