Will digital distribution ultimately trump game censorship efforts?
Possibly. And some government officials in Australia are angry about the possibility.
GamePolitics readers may recall the island nation’s 2006 ban of Marc Ecko’s Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure. This morning’s edition of the Sydney Morning Herald reports government concerns over a downloadable version of the game being offered by Quicky.com.au, an Australian site owned by Mindscape.
The ban placed on Getting Up relates only to import and retail sales, placing online distribution in a legal gray area. Gold Coast Mayor Ron Clarke, who fought to block Getting Up from the Aussie market, told the newspaper:
I’m absolutely appalled, astonished and disappointed. To be able to get it from an Australian dotcom site is upsetting. I would have thought the Government had some measure [of control] over that. It makes heroes out of criminals, in my opinion. They pretend to be talented and to be the forerunners of a new age of street art or something, which is just arrogant piffle.
GP: We’ve heard games called a lot of things by politicians and activists, but “arrogant piffle” is a first.
Tonia Belasco, a Mindscape executive, told the Morning Herald she was unaware that Getting Up was being offered on the Quicky site. Belasco said she would consult with Australia’s Office of Film and Literature Classification on the issue. Because the downloadable version of the game is hosted on a server in the United States, Belasco was unsure about the legal authority of the Australian ban:
[I am] currently waiting for the OFLC to get back to me on the regulations regarding non-classified games on USA portals. You can’t stop people on a US or Europe website from downloading games that haven’t been classified in Australia, because how do you enforce that?
Australian Attorney General Philip Ruddock, among those who pressed for the original ban, was reported to be looking into the issue. The Morning Herald notes:
Ironically, Getting Up – which is set in a city of the future – features a world where freedom of expression is suppressed by a tyrannical city government.
GP: This story may not have a happy ending for Getting Up. As of this morning we are unable to find the game on a search of the Quicky site.
Thanks to GP reader Tim Kowalenko for the tip!