Modern Warfare 2 classification appealed in Australia

South Australian Attorney-General Michael Atkinson says game allows players to be "virtual terrorists;" Classification Board says no appeal has been received to date.

Australian gamers have long considered South Australian attorney-general Michael Atkinson as the biggest obstacle in the path toward an R18+ classification for video games. Despite his part in delaying a public consultation on the issue, Atkinson declared himself the scapegoat in the matter, claiming he was not the only attorney-general opposed to R18+ for games after receiving masses of angry letters, e-mail, and death threats from disgruntled Aussie gamers.

Michael Atkinson says classifying Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 as an MA15+ title was "wrong".

Atkinson is in the spotlight once again for his views on video game classification. Speaking on the ABC’s Radio National program National Interest last Friday (and outlined in reports in The Age and Kotaku AU), Atkinson told host Peter Mares that he intends to appeal the Classification Board’s classification of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2--which was rated MA15+--because he thinks the decision “is wrong.” Atkinson told Mares: "This decision doesn’t surprise me. The Classification Board in Australia does everything to try and get games in under the radar."

If Atkinson's appeal to the Classification Board is successful, Modern Warfare 2 could be banned for sale in Australia. In a similar case, the 2006 action adventure title Marc Ecko's Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure was refused classification by Australia's Classification Board after an appeal by the then-federal attorney-general Philip Ruddock and the Local Government Association of Queensland. The game had initially been classified MA15+ but the decision was revoked following the appeal, with the Classification Review Board ruling that the contents of the game promoted crime through "positive reinforcement of graffiti writing on public buildings and infrastructure."

In an e-mailed statement to GameSpot AU, Atkinson confirmed his intention to appeal, and said this is the first time he has intervened on a game rating decision by the Classification Board.

"I worry about any game that encourages gamers to perpetrate extreme violence and cruelty on screen, but this game [Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2] allows players to be virtual terrorists and gain points by massacring civilians. Expecting game designers to be responsible by not glorifying terrorism will always lead to disappointment," he said.

GameSpot AU is currently waiting on a further clarification from Atkinson on this statement, given that players do not in fact gain points by massacring civilians in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. No further comment had been received as of time of publication.

During the Radio National interview, Atkinson went on to say he did not want "extremely violent, sexually depraved games in Australia," claiming the Classification Board was to blame for not applying the principles and guidelines for the classification of video games properly.

"Just because the system is not being applied properly, it doesn’t mean the principles of the system are wrong…I have no trust in the Classification Board to apply the guidelines sincerely and correctly," he said.

The Classification Review Board, which handles appeals, has to date not received an application to review Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. The Board told GameSpot AU that in order for the South Australian attorney-general to carry out his appeal to seek a new classification for the game, he must request the Federal Minister for Home Affairs, Brendan O'Connor, to apply for a review to the Classification Review Board. The Federal Minister for Home Affairs must then carry out this review application.

"The review will be conducted by the Classification Review Board, an independent statutory body that meets and views the material, hears any submissions from interested parties, and makes a fresh classification decision," a spokesperson for the Classification Board said.

The Classification Review Board could be forced to reclassify the game if Atkinson's appeal is successful.

According to the Board, those entitled to appeal a classification decision and seek a review include ministers, the original applicant for classification, the publisher of the film, publication or video game, and a "person aggrieved" by the decision. According to the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995, the term "person aggrieved" means any one person or body that "has engaged in a series of activities relating to, or research into, the contentious aspects of the theme or subject matter of the publication, film or computer game concerned."

The Board told GameSpot AU that government officials do not receive preferential treatment in the review process; the process is the same no matter who is making the appeal.

When asked what the Board thinks of Atkinson’s comments made on Radio National accusing the Board of being unable to apply the classification guidelines "sincerely and correctly," the Board spokesperson replied: "The Board has no comment on Mr. Atkinson’s statements."

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Discussion

295 comments
texhead
texhead

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

bad_fur_day
bad_fur_day

Seems like if it got classified to begin with he doesn't have much hope and I don't feel at all sad this guy is getting death threats.

Jim60360
Jim60360

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

Calibanmp
Calibanmp

Austrialia is a right wing dictatorship intent on censoring its society. They have banned several excellent games. If you're 18 and over, you should have the adult decision to buy whatever game you want without some government looney telling you what to do. All I got to say is God Bless America, no country tops our freedoms and rights.

shivLasers
shivLasers

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

SoyFish
SoyFish

The reality is that games such as Modern Warfare 2 are slipping into Australia with an MA15+ rating. Something is wrong because the exact same game was given an 18+ rating in the UK. An R18+ rating for video games just like movies would be a positive step for Australia. How parents and guardians control access to these products when they get them home from the store is the key to solving this problem.

GreetsWithFire
GreetsWithFire

I find it funny that Australia has such an issue with violence, seeing as most of them are descendants of violent criminals.

junglist101
junglist101

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

n00bproof
n00bproof

gain points by harming civilians? did he even see the mission?

GBPackersrule
GBPackersrule

So let me get this straight... if a painter got out his supplies and did an EXACT stillshot of when you open fire on the people and put it on canvas, he can call it art with no problems, yet if it happens in a game, Jack Thompson creams his pants and it stirs up controversy. That is a double standard in my opinion.

vegitossj7
vegitossj7

I still dont see whats the problem between killing civilians or terrorists/the enemy army or team. Still you kill peoples.Also, its just a game, so it shouldnt really bother.If you cant bear violence, dont play war games.

masterdeath31
masterdeath31

but how is GTA any different when you shoot civilians in the street and blow up cop cars? The fact is MW2 is not the only game to depict violence against civillians in that manor. Although the graphics in MW2 make the depictions far more realistic looking than I have ever seen before

Battlefield53
Battlefield53

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

KillerWabbit23
KillerWabbit23

Augh. Maybe these people should actually get the context of these scenes instead of just being like "OMFG THER KILLN CVILANS TAHT MAKES THEM TERRORISTS".

x_agramon_x
x_agramon_x

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

Extreme18
Extreme18

The game is amazing. I love it.

in_Out
in_Out

"Oh, and I made a wrong decision for DEAD SPACE as well as GTAIV", Mr Atkinson says...LOL

Da_Nameless_One
Da_Nameless_One

I disagree with mr. atkinson. Me and my terrorist cell have been playing this games for hours on end and we still don't feel more violent than usual.

klasco
klasco

should force him to play the game so he can get his facts right No points are gained for killing Civs You don't have to shoot them It's one level, which you can skip In all other levels killing Civs = misson failure Other games have already had this feature of killing civs such as of course GTA IV

Kfoss
Kfoss

considering that MW2 turned a 1/2 billion dollar profit in less than a week and has had more than 2 million on line users at a time with out a single terrorist incident.. i would say his opinion is rather B.S.

-Pi3-
-Pi3-

@008Zulu That's probably one of the reasons he doesn't trust them.

Rx_Nightmare
Rx_Nightmare

They ban this game due to censorship controversy of vulgar content (a completely non-influential and skipable level) yet you go to the theaters and BAM! There "Twilight: New Moon" is. That movie's existance makes me want to go out and murder people more than any game would. What the f*ck censorship bureaus?

AIRWALKTDK666
AIRWALKTDK666

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

GamingBoy2009
GamingBoy2009

Good thing I dont live in Australia. By the way, it lets you skip that airport massacre scene so I dont see Atkinson having a good excuse to win this fight. But I do think that gamers giving him death threats is really uncalled for, its just a game!

9thedevilmaycry
9thedevilmaycry

(sarcasticly) O gee now im going to go on a killing spree because i played gta

008Zulu
008Zulu

The people at the top of the OFLC here in AU have openly supported Australias' need for a R18+ classification. That and they do sneak titles past whenever they can, like Dragon Age Origins, it has sex scenes in it with party members and prostitutes, albeit they are very PG scenes (except for that one scene in guards barracks), but no doubt Mr Attkinson and his loyalist bible-bashing fundraisers would heavily object to it.

rann89
rann89

I don't see anyone complaining that you mow through a military base for the sole purpose to nuke the United States' capital.

jarrodchon
jarrodchon

If Michael Atkinson uses 'the player gains points for massacring civilians' as the basis of his argument the appeals board would just laugh in his face and walk out the door.

shin_kagato
shin_kagato

This is totally insane, the BBFC where quite bad back in the SNES/Megadrive days but never as bad as this! I really think they need an 18+ certificate for games, its not just kids playing games now but adults too and for the system not to reflect that is seriously backwards. Surely stores in Oz are loosing out on a lot of potenial revenue due to problems like this...

knight83
knight83

I wonder if there is special skin mod for that level that looks so much like Michael Atkinson. :P

myron22
myron22

what no no nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo why

Sirwinston89
Sirwinston89

@ zxssded Okay, the attorney general is MICHAEL Atkinson, Rowan Atkinson is Mr. Bean.

rockatanski
rockatanski

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

brandan1515
brandan1515

piss off with this classification bull$hit wat makes our country different to the other 100+ countrys were it dosnt get banned y did we get the dicks on the board

zxssded
zxssded

this rowan attkision dude needs a par...lol

raptor1906
raptor1906

Damn, i never thought there would actually be a politician who has nothing better to do with his life then try to give young people a hard time. Just cause he cant control the amount of 13 years olds watching R18+ videos, he decides to control 25+ years olds playing MA15+ games.

rockatanski
rockatanski

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

ryannathans
ryannathans

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

Warpspawn
Warpspawn

Dear Mr Atkinson, We need an R 18+ catergory for games, unfortunately it dosen't exist. This game would be perfect for that classification. By introducing an R 18+ category many games that went under the radar as MA 15+ could be reclassified. Also put some rules and guidelines in place in how R 18+ games are merchandised and advertised. Also include in the game a loading screen which explains the purpose of R 18+ and have some boxes to enter the owners name and date of birth, and a final box which is a declaration of agreement and understanding. Also have an optional password setting. All the above should allow people to be informed and be responsible with their purchase. Thanks Warpspawn.

Auhsoj100
Auhsoj100

Is there any possible way of getting rid of this fool from government? "...gain points by massacring civilians." I do not recall ever gaining 'points' in this level, and you are even able to skip the whole damn level! I don't think he knows what he is talking about AT ALL.

thibbledorfP
thibbledorfP

It seems 10-20 years ago Australians were excited about modernizing the country, but now many people here are rebelling and are resentful about the modernization of society. What happened?

Deano
Deano

who's the dumbass who's sending the attorney-general death threats. This just proves his point about linking violence and games. If you want an R18 classification that is NOT the way to do it. idiots, I notice there's a few that post here. You really think sending abusive emails is going to acheive anything. grow up

Potat0e_Masher
Potat0e_Masher

i bet you i can find a beatles song to fit this moment...................... I am the Walrus. because this makes no f****** sense!

unkipower
unkipower

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

-theMisfits-
-theMisfits-

...but this game [Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2] allows players to be virtual terrorists and gain points by massacring civilians." When i played, I don't remember any +100 popping up everytime I killed a civilian. The game shows the cruelty of war, and the "No Russian" massacre mission perfectly sets the mood for it.

xboxbobx
xboxbobx

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

adh105
adh105

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