Silent Hill: Homecoming unbanned in Australia
Australian Classification Board revises refused classification status; Konami's survival horror game green-lit for sale.
Australia's strict video game classification regime claimed several high-profile game casualties during 2008. Shellshock 2: Blood Trails, Silent Hill: Homecoming, Dark Sector, F.E.A.R 2: Project Origin, and Fallout 3 were all refused the maximum MA15+ rating, effectively banning them from sale down under. The latter three games were eventually passed fit for sale either by resubmission with edited content or through the appeals process. However, despite being banned in late September, Silent Hill: Homecoming's fate has remained unknown until now, with the game sitting in refused-classification limbo.
An update to the Classification Board's online rating database dated January 5, 2009 now clearly lists Silent Hill: Homecoming as conforming to the maximum MA15+ rating for video games, making it legal to be sold in Australia. The site lists the rating as "revised," with consumer advice identifying strong horror violence and themes.
At the time of the ban last year, an Atari spokesperson (Atari is the local distributor of the Konami game) confirmed to GameSpot AU that the board's grievances were with the game's high-impact violence, copious blood spray, decapitations, partial corpse dismemberment, and depictions of torture. The spokesperson also indicated that the distributor's intention was to resubmit the game "early next year," after discussing the feasibility of making edits to the game for the region. An Atari spokesperson was unavailable at time of print today to confirm what, if any, changes have been made to the Australian version of the game to pass Aussie censors.
In Australia, the highest rating available for a game is MA15+, as opposed to other forms of media, such as film or DVDs, which have an R18+ classification (the R rating prohibits sales to anyone under the age of 18). Games that feature content deemed unsuitable for an MA15+ rating are refused classification and are effectively banned from sale.
For more about Australia's game-classification system, check out GameSpot AU's in-depth Censory Overload feature.
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