Left 4 Dead in the Aussie Censorship System

It looks like Left 4 Dead 2 has been banned in Australia. The reason: [C]lose in attacks cause copious amounts of blood spray and splatter, decapitations and limb dismemberment as well as locational damage where contact is made to the enemy which may reveal skeletal bits and gore.

This was not deemed suitable for 15-year-olds.

Despite the average Australian gamer being 30, the country is the only Western democracy not to embrace an adult rating for video games.

This is the result of a 1996 piece of legislation that followed a moral panic over the Sega CD game Night Trap. It was basically grounded in the belief that only kids and teens play games. (For more info see this thesis [PDF] and this excellent article.)

In 2009, Aussie gamers still have to endure the result of this obsolete thinking (which was never accurate in the first place).

The sole person responsible for maintaining Australia's status as one of the few Western countries without an adult rating is West Australia's attorney general, Michael Atkinson. He has plenty of reasons, none of them overly convincing—at least not to the vast majority of the Australian population.

Several games have been banned before or—in the case of Fallout 3—had to be reworked to suit the criteria. But Left 4 Dead 2 is the first high profile title to endure this fate.

Given that other highly violent zombie titles like Dead Rising (banned from sale in Germany) and House of the Dead Overkill (not released in Germany) passed the rating process without problems, this will surely lead to more intense discussions about the future of Australia's censorship system. Hopefully for the better.