In what seems to be a daily occurence in Australia, the recent classification and release of Sega's pulp-horror lightgun bloodbath House Of The Dead: Overkill has been met with outrage from one of the country's most vocal family lobbyists.
Today's Melbourne Herald Sun newspaper reports that Angela Conway, director of conservative parents' group Pro Family Perspective, has condemned the MA15+ rating given to Overkill and is calling for a review of Australia's already stringent - and sometimes bewildering - classifications system for videogames. Her statement reads in full:
The gaming industry has been mischievously misrepresenting the classification system on this issue. I feel very distressed that a large number of teenagers and adults would play this game and soak up this amount of sexually aggressive violence and aggressively violent language.
We need to draw a deep breath and look at the research, which will show a need to scale back this level of violence.
Given the increasing amount of knowledge now available of the effects of exposure to intense levels of violence on the adolescent brain, we should be reviewing the level of violence the MA15+ classification now allows.
Sega spokesperson Vispi Bhopti was quick to jump to the defense of Overkill:
House of the Dead: Overkill has been rated as suitable for people over 15. It is not an R-rated game. The swearing in it is very much stylised so it matches the Grindhouse cinema style made famous by director Quentin Tarantino.
In playing the game, players attack zombies or humanoid characters but never humans. This is an important distinction that the classification board makes when it gives a rating.
Any revision to Overkill's rating would almost certainly result in it being refused classification and therefore banned for sale within Australia, due to the lack of an 'adults only' R18+ rating for video games. Of course, the same individuals that demand more rigourous classifications for mature-themed games are also behind the indefinite delay of any efforts to adopt an R18+ rating, so for the time being the rights of Australian gamers to choose what and what not to play remains in the hands of fringe groups and individuals with a vested interest in censorship.
It'll be interesting to see how next week's release of Sega's stylised murder simulator Madworld plays out within the Australian media. At this point I suggest Vindi Bharti should probably start sleeping with a Hand Cannon under his pillow (assuming he can get one before it's pulled off the shelves, that is).
We'll have more coverage of Australia's censorship debate and the fate of Overkill here at Nintendo Life as it develops.