NEWS - Friday, April 15, 2005

NARC Banned From Sale In Australia

Australia’s Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC) has refused to grant classification for Midway’s latest action title NARC, effectively banning the game from sale in the region. NARC is a third-person shooter that lets players take on the role of a police operative battling to end the war on drugs - but controversially, allows the player to go down the route of becoming a drug user themselves. A panel of seven OFLC officers voted on the game. One member argued that it did meet guidelines stating that drug use in games is acceptable if "justified by context". The remaining six panel members, however, denied classification on the grounds that the game fell into the category of titles "unsuitable for a minor to see or play." This has caused some Australian gamers to call for an overhaul of the ratings system - at present the highest classification that can be awarded to games in Australia is 15+, and many feel an 18 certificate should be introduced. NARC also recently came under fire in Victoria’s House of Assembly, according to Australian website refused-classification. Labor Party politician Jude Perera is quoted as saying: "A video game supposedly coming into the USA market shortly will involve the taking of drugs, showing how drugs can create blackouts, drug addiction, job loss and, finally, overdose and death. These types of games glamorise drug addiction and could be triggers for psychotic behaviour." Yes, you read that correctly - blackouts, addiction, job loss, overdose and death are now apparently considered glamorous. According to refused-classification, John Fitzgerald of Melbourne University’s School of Population Health also believes the politicians are overreacting. "Gamers are more interested in fantasy, not usually into drug-taking, and they deal with drug-taking in fantasy differently than in reality," he said. "They would see drug-taking as a fantasy behaviour rather than one that affected real life behaviour." NARC isn’t the first game to fall foul of the OFLC in recent months - it also banned Vivendi’s Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude from sale just before Christmas.


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