Updated 10/8/2009 – a modified version of Left 4 Dead 2 has passed the Australian game classification board.
It’s a sad day for our Australian zombiephiles.
The Australian gaming commission has declined to give Valve’s Left 4 Dead 2 a rating after it was reviewed this month, effectively banning the zombie game in a country that requires that all video games have a rating.
What’s this mean? In a nutshell, it means that it’s highly unlikely that Australian gamers will be playing Left 4 Dead 2 anytime soon – at least, unlikely that they’ll be playing a legal, registered copy of the game – which means that it’s unlikely that we’ll be seeing many Australian players on Left 4 Dead 2 servers when the game comes out on November 17th.
The first Left 4 Dead game pitted four survivors against endless waves of zombies, armed only with a small variety of firearms, molotov cocktails, pipe bombs and their wits. A sleeper hit from Valve software, Left 4 Dead was originally intended as a Halflife 2 mod, but, as zombies are prone to do, gained a life of its own over time.
The problem in Australia boils down to the fact that Australia’s gaming commission does not have an “M 18+” rating, the video game equivalent of an “R” rating. If a game cannot be classified as “15+” it will simply not be classified at all, which effectively bans the game.
When Valve heard first heard the news in mid-September, they said they were “pretty bummed” that the game probably wouldn’t be hitting Australian soil anytime soon. A week later, EA upped the ante a bit, pointing out that Australia has been responsible for producing “some pretty violent material” in the past. They cited Mad Max specifically, although Australian slasher flick Wolf Creek might be a better example – one of the only slasher movies that’s made this zombiephile cringe in a long time.
With Left 4 Dead 2, the Australian gaming commission cited “violence that is high in impact.” What’s more interesting, they said that the reason this is a problem is that said violence is “inflicted upon ‘the Infected’ who are living humans…”
Tsk, tsk. Silly Australian gaming authority. They’ve made the first critical mistake in zombie survival – assuming that zombies are living, just because they’re moving. They’re not living – they’re undead, and that’s just how zombies work.
Indeed, it’s disingenuous of the gaming commission to pretend that they’ve never heard of zombies before. In fact, the word “zombie” doesn’t seem to appear in their documentation on the subject, at least not the parts that we’ve found on Kotaku.
This isn’t the first time that the Australian gaming commission has effectively “banned” a video game for release; Fallout 3 was banned there last year for graphic violence and the presence of children in the game.
Only two other countries still have yet to assign Left 4 Dead 2 a classification – The United Kingdom and New Zealand. We’re hoping they get smart and recognize that zombie games like Left 4 Dead 2 are an effective form of zombie survival training.
Still not sure how this all works? Check this Youtube video about the ongoing debate over Australia’s gaming classification system: