The Australian Office of Film & Literature Classification, an official Government body, has ruled, in a majority 3 to 2 decision, that Atari's console game Marc Ecko's Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure
should be refused classification, meaning that it cannot be sold in Australia, in one of the more extreme classification decisions by the board in recent years.
According to an official statement, the OFLC's classification board met on several occasions in early February regarding Atari's title, with the committee Chairman "exercising a casting vote because the members were equally divided in opinion."
There has already been some controversy
over the game, with fashion designer and game co-brander Marc Ecko winning a lawsuit the filed against New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the City of New York, following a previous decision by the City to block a street party based around the game, but the title is already available in North America under an M (Mature) rating.
OFLC spokesperson Maureen Shelley explained of the decision: "Both the National Classification Code and the Guidelines for the Classification of Films and Computer Games state that a computer game will be refused classification if it includes or contains detailed instruction or promotion of matters of crime. It is the Classification Review Board's determination that this game promotes the crime of graffiti."
The statement continued by explaining some factors contributing to the decision, including: "...the realistic scenarios whereby the central character Trane acquires his knowledge of graffiti tips, techniques and styles - including meeting with five real graffiti artists who pass on details of tips and techniques... the reward for and positive reinforcement of graffiti writing on public buildings and infrastructure." The board also particularly singled out "...interactive biographies of 56 real graffiti artists, with details of their personal tags, styles and careers. The game detail states that all these artists began their careers performing illegal graffiti on public buildings and infrastructure and that some continue with this practice today."
Due to a quirk in Australia's classification system, it is impossible for game titles to be rated MA18+, a mature rating which can be applied to games, meaning that games in Australia can either be rated MA15+ or banned entirely. In recent months, this topic has come under more intense discussion in Australia, Electronic Frontiers Australia renewing the call for a MA18+ rating to be instituted, since Australia is one of the only major Western countries not to allow 'adult' classification of games.