San Andreas banned in Australia
In news that can hardly come as a surprise to the gaming community, the Australian board of Film and Literature Classification has taken the decision to ban Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, in the wake of the 'Hot Coffee' scandal which has rocked the game in the United States. The 'Hot Coffee' mod enables gamers to access a pornographic mini-game, and the revelation that the community-created mod actually uses in-game content sparked a furious gaming 'morals' debate stateside. The American ESRB organisation subsequently upgraded the title's classification to 'AO' (Adults Only) in the wake of this controversy. Australia's censors are notoriously conservative, having banned titles like Manhunt in the past - and unlike the ESRB's ratings - the fact that ratings are legally enforceable down-under appears to have signalled the end for San Andreas. American lawmakers are considering making ratings stateside similarly legally-binding, as they already are in much of Europe too.
Had the content of Hot Coffee been originally disclosed to those rating the game at launch, then San Andreas might have been granted an 18 certification (as opposed to the '15+' rating at the time), but the fact that said adult content remained hidden appears to have angered the Australian board enough for them to withdraw classification. "Businesses that sell or hire computer games should remove existing stocks of this game from their shelves immediately," commented Des Clark, director of the classification board. "Parents are strongly advised to exercise caution in allowing children continued access to the game," he added.
It is already known that Rockstar are hard at work creating a 'clean' version of San Andreas, minus the offensive Hot Coffee content, and it is possible that the publisher may try and re-submit this new version for sale down-under. More soon.
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