back to article Oz censor, gamers fall out over Fallout 3 ban

Australia's censor has effectively banned Fallout 3 from sale by refusing to grant it a certificate. The reason: it believes the game rewards drug-taking. The chemical in question is morphine, which the player can inject during the game to reduce the impact of damage taken during the violent post-apocalypse shoot-'em-up. And …


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  1. Andy Barber


    "More to the point, since morphine is a first-aid drug, they believe it's laughable that its use is being compared with the taking of hard drugs."

    Herman Gering. I rest my case.

  2. Dave Harris Silver badge


    "The [Classification Board] is of the opinion that the use of morphine in the game has the positive effect of enabling the character to ignore limb pain."

    I thought that was actually the primary purpose of a painkiller. Does Australia also ban war films wherein a wounded grunt cries for a medic, who jabs him with a morphine shot?

  3. A J Stiles

    Just prudery

    This is just sheer prudery.

    I wonder if these people actually know how the body's pain-regulatory system works, or what causes the "warm fuzzy feeling" you get from (e.g.) helping an old lady across the road?

  4. Anonymous Coward

    A message for the BBFC

    Don't even dare. Seriously don't even think about it. This isn't Manhunt 2 a game that nobody gives a flying macaroon about. There are a great number of gamers who have been waiting for Fallout 3 for years. You hinder the process of this game getting to the shelves then... I'm going to get very annoyed indeed.

  5. Alex
    Paris Hilton

    BBFC Be Warned

    ..You DARE to not certify this long awaited game... or suffer from my wrath!!

    Oz Censors - Pathetic.. Next you'll ban Manhunt... oh wait.. you did..

    Paris, because she has done more in a movie than a Censor can ban!

  6. Stuart Van Onselen

    Bit backwards

    There was a time when I was desperate to emmigrate to Oz. But since then I've learned just how puritanical and prescriptive the last government was. And even if the new govt is a bit more liberal, it will still take years for this attitude to seep into the rest of the civil service.

    Of course, the UK also pulled silly, small-minded stuff like this. But the UK is just lost. The nation that faced down Hitler and the PIRA is no more.

  7. LaeMi Qian

    Morphine goooood

    Says a multiple and long-time kidney-stone sufferer!

    Ouch!!! :-(

  8. Jeff

    The game is teaching our ..18+ year olds...

    that if they're ever in a post-apocolyptic nuclear wasteground, fighting for their life against zombie-mutants and mad-max types... taking a pain-killer will help them ignore pain.

    I say the developers should be hanged for such immorality.

  9. Anonymous from Mars


    In other news, the Classification Board is of the opinion that the use of mushrooms in the game has the positive effect of enabling Mario to increase in size. This ability to progress through the game more easily is the incentive to take the drug while the reward is in the character's abilities.

  10. Anonymous Coward


    So if you get a headache you cant take an Ibuprofen cos its drugs that help your performance?


  11. Adam Foxton


    it IS a real drug.

    Why not just rename it in-game? Rather than Morphine it could become Lessfine or something similar. Aside from it being named after a real drug, what's the problem? Okay, the game is close to release. But it surely wouldn't be THAT hard to do a find + replace so "morphine" becomes "lessfine".

    Also, having not played Fallout previously I don't know if Morphine is used in the earlier games. If it is, couldn't they appeal to the censors?

  12. Brian Miller

    Pip Boy

    I have already pre-ordered my survival edition on the amazon USA site.

    You get the coolest watch ever in the form of a Pip Boy. Strictly limited numbers.

    Fallout 3 is going to be GREAT!!!

    I am re-playing fallout 2 just now. Poor Ozzies. Surely if they let Fallout 2 be released they have no reason to stop the release of fallout 3?

    or is it because Jet, Mentabs, and Psycho aren't real drugs, just made up? they are close parallels with Ectasy, Speed and PCP.

    Stimpacks might even be consisdered to be Cocaine??

    I suppose Bethesda could just rename the morphine, how about Pain-away, or Nullhurt. Then they could slide it right on in to Oz.

  13. Duncan Lees
    Thumb Down


    So Pacman is similarly banned in Oz too, since it's necessary to pop pills to progress in the game?

  14. Mark

    Ban Band Of Brothers

    Lots of uses of surettes (morphine). Ban it!!!

  15. Corrine


    If morphine usage is the worst things the censors can come up with, something went horribly wrong with making this game. They should be banning it for Jet and Mentats.

  16. jai


    but GTA4 doesn't promote drug use - there's no point where Niko shoots up

    it's even anti-drink&drive because if you go out drinking, you exit the pub staggering all over the place, it's hard to drive and if the cops see you they immediately give chase, and because your inhebriated and can't drive straight, it's tough to loose them

    so actually, there's no parallels between Fallout and GTA4

    all that said, how stupid does the australian censor board think that average australians are? are they really likely to confuse living in a post-aplocalyptic wasteland where you have to fight off mutants and zombies with real life?

  17. Simon Neill

    Whole story...

    I seem to recall fictional drugs in the other fallout games, certainly Fallout tactics that I'm playing with atm.

    What they don't tell you is that after taking drugs (assuming they stay true to previous versions)

    1) You have a withdrawl period when the drug wears off that at least counters the high

    2) you have a chance of becoming addicted (really bad).

    Sounds like they represented drugs pretty accurately to me.

  18. Anonymous Coward

    Max Paine anyone?

    Didn't he chow down pain killers like they were going out of fashion... making him feel better and heal from countless bullet wounds?

    Mine's the one that rattles.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Say what now?

    "More to the point, since morphine is a first-aid drug, they believe it's laughable that its use is being compared with the taking of hard drugs."

    A First-Aid drug? Do they imagine that it's a bit like a sticking plaster?

    What do they think the difference between morphine and heroin actually is? Less time on games, a bit more finding out what you are taking about.

    Surely the issue is what effect games have on real life. Will taking morphine in a game really make anyone think of taking it (or heroin) in real life?

  20. Anonymous Coward

    Hold on a moment...

    Enough of your Oz bashing. UK is worse. Pacman, etc is not banned. The only reason Fallout 3 got unclassified is due to the lack of an 18+ classification. It's not unreasonable to ban a dramatically violent / etc game from 15 yr olds, but i wouldn't say not give it at 15+ certification due to morphine, but due to violence. I doubt morphine is about to get any kid wanting to shoot the stuff up due to the game.

    The current Oz government is dramatically different (in a mostly but not always good way) to the last, so do NOT group the last semi-facist dictatorship with the current government. They do need to introduce a 18+ classification, but they haven't been in power all that long for a new bill to come up regarding classifications of media.

    The classification board don't even represent the population, just as the BBFC act like a bunch of twats too, but atleast the BBFC has an 18 classification, so they have no excuse for their pathetic behaviour.

  21. ben


    Ban it because nuclear weapons have been used. I'd hate to see get their hands on WMD just because of a stupid game.

  22. Ian

    BBFC please ban this just like you tried with Manhunt 2.

    Because if you do, that'll be the end of you and then perhaps we can get a decent certification and rating process in place that treats games equally to books and films.

    I really hope the BBFC bites because there's no way they'll be able to come back from another defeat and defeated they will be as the case is even weaker than with Manhunt 2.

    It's likely PEGI or similar will get to take over ratings so that they will be dealt out fairly.

  23. Anonymous Coward

    "Choose Life...

    .... Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fucking big television, choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players and electrical tin openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol, and dental insurance. Choose fixed interest mortgage repayments. Choose a starter home. Choose your friends. Choose leisurewear and matching luggage. Choose a three-piece suite on hire purchase in a range of fucking fabrics. Choose DIY and wondering who the fuck you are on Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing, spirit-crushing game shows, stuffing fucking junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pissing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, fucked up brats you spawned to replace yourselves. Choose your future. Choose life...

    But why would I want to do a thing like that? I chose not to choose life. I chose somethin' else. And the reasons? There are no reasons. Who needs reasons when you've got *morphine*?"

    Mark 'Rent-boy' Renton

  24. Edward Pearson

    Poor BethSoft...

    If I were BethSoft, I'd be PISSED. Not only have my projected sales in Aus just plummete 0, but also I KNOW that all the Aus gamers will simply pirate the game rather than go without.

    Congrats [Classification Board], you're encouraging copyright infringement.

  25. GrahamT

    Re; Morphine is first aid, not a hard drug

    Morphine is boiled with Acetic acid to create Dia-Morphine which has improved medical qualities. However:

    "Dia-morphine is more lipid soluble than Morphine and so delivers the drug across the blood brain barrier more quickly and efficiently. Although dia-morphine itself does not attach to the opiate receptors in the brain, it quickly breaks down to Morphine and other metabolites that do." I.e it is the morphine that makes dia-morphine addictive.

    Morphine addiction was known as the "Soldier's disease" because of its use on the battlefield. Dia-morphine was originally used as a cure for morphine addiction, because it was thought not to be addictive itself.

    By the way, the Bayer trade name for dia-morphine is Heroin.

    Not a hard drug, eh?

  26. jai


    you might have a valid point there

    if Morphine is in the game, it does suggest that the other Fallout traditional drugs are not. also, from the censor's description, it seems that the side-effects of OD'ing are not present.

    what else is missing from the game? what else has been made more realistic and moved away from the traditional feel of the original Fallout games?

    WTF have Bethesda done?????

    have they removed Nuke-cola too?

    does this suggest they've taken one of the greatest games of all time and turned it into Eldar Scrolls with a big scorpions damnit!!!!!

  27. Anonymous Coward


    ...does anyone thing that the point is that the drug use isn't that bad?

    Nobody thinks that the fact that a government is banning any piece of media (whether it be a book, a movie, or a game) for EVERYONE because it's not suitable for SOME people is an outrage in and of itself?

    Whether or not the depiction of drugs in the game is positive or negative or neutral has ZILCH to do with this decision. The issue is that, in 2008, a modern, supposedly non-autocratic country is deciding what it's OK for adults to watch, read, and think.

    It would be bad enough if the government forced parents to not buy certain games and books for their kids based on age, but this is completely beyond the pale. And nobody seems to have a clue what the real issue is!

  28. Iain

    Surely it would be easier...

    ...just to ban the Real World(TM?) and have done with it?

    Just had to take a bnuch of exciting diazepam (FO3-"triazepam"?) for my damaged back... please don't moderate me!

  29. alistair millington
    Thumb Down

    LOL this is nothing.

    I am confused, for them to get uppity about morphine when the country embraces gambling and alcohol with so much reckless abandon that it is rife.

    A handy cash machine in every pub, right next to the slot machines. And 20% of earths supply of slot machines in that country

    And 24 hour drinking laws with the best invention ever - Drive though off licences. (which I find amazingly odd when they also ban drink drivers but promote it in every town)

    Nearly all aboriginals in the cities being alcoholic and there are handouts in every pub on "know your units" and how much you can drink per hour to remain safe on the roads because nobody does.

    Anyway from a games point of view morphine is nothing.

    Still I remember duke nukem 3d which had "steroids" that made you go twice as fast and the sound of your heart racing increased as did blurred vision. And that was back in 95. (you also gained health from using the urinals)

    Blood (like duke nukem but you played the unliving) you gained health by practicing Voodoo with the doll as well as eating hearts from your victims. But I don't see canabalism and worshipping the unliving being a massive headliner in the 90's.

    And Doom3 has a similar thing with the adrenaline tabs, as did Quake and unreal tournament. (1 2,3,4,5)

    Rise of the triads had drunken mode where you were seriously p1ssed and staggering everywhere. As well as god hood that granted you godlike powers.

    Let us not forget Prey or Fable, one of them... In which being on drugs is required for play, otherwise it makes no sense what so ever.

    All passed by Certification. I think they are just recruiting jobsworths nowadays.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    @A message for the BBFC

    Yess! Here here.

    An absolute classic of a game that I have been waiting for for years.

    I'll be the first in line outside the stores, 72 hours before it goes on sale.

    Or, if it doesnt go on sale, I will spend the 72 hours burning out McDonalds in the city centre (as it is my right to protest), like a good citizen. Just need to get some of that morphine...

  31. bluesxman

    RE: tar dead

    Pain killing drug kills pain?

    There's a concept that will surely corrupt society to its very core. Its core I tells you!

    I don't recall any hoo-hah about the similar idea in the Max Payne games ... does using a fictional/generic drug to counteract the effects of being shot not count as "rewarding" drug use with a "positive effect"?


    Actually most of the recreational drugs I've come across have a (perceived) positive effect. Surely they're just showing it like it is? :)


    A simple hack to change it to something other than "morphine" could do the trick (assuming they're being entirely transparent about the reason for the ban); rather like the use of green blood (etc) in games of yore.

    Oh and @Andy Barber -- Godwin's Law invoked.

  32. Liam


    1 - morphine is a massively addictive substance - not just a 'first aid drug'. heroine was marketted as the saviour to the adictive morphine! they are both opiates doing a similar thing

    2 - gta contains hardly any drug usage - especially by the main character who even refuses a joint!

    3 - the fact that taking a syringe of morphine will make you so vegged you wont care about baddies attacking you. its like calling weed a performance enhancing drug :)

    4 - wtf rating did GTA get then if they only have a 15 limit to anything?

    5 - MA15+ - 'MA' stands for Mature Adult - in what world is any 15 year old a mature adult?

    6 - morphine IS a hard drug - its the same calibur as heronine - just less refined - and i know someone here uses morphine for pain but thats the massively watered down version - like comparing shandy with absynthe!

    7 - morphine is just as addictive as smack - its almost the same frikkin thing

    for me this is stupid tho - make the game 15+ and its fine. maybe they need an 18 system like here? although to be honest any vietnam / ww2 film (plenty in saving private ryan from memory) will see plenty of morphine being used - mainly tho to people just before they die!

  33. Rachel

    Are they serious?

    What's next? Banning medical TV shows (ie, House) because morphine given to some of the patients has the positive effect of making them feel the pain less?

    @ alistair millington: I think the game you're referring to is Prey, as I have Fable, and it made plenty of sense without drugs (and it was... interesting when I was recovering from surgery and pumped up with Vicodin. But not as interesting as Guitar Hero).

  34. Liam


    @ alistair millington...

    "Still I remember duke nukem 3d which had "steroids" that made you go twice as fast and the sound of your heart racing increased as did blurred vision. And that was back in 95. (you also gained health from using the urinals)" - you cant compare steriods with morphine! thats like comparing shandy and whisky!

    "And Doom3 has a similar thing with the adrenaline tabs, as did Quake and unreal tournament. (1 2,3,4,5)" - adrenaline is something FOUND IN YOUR BODY. the closest they have got to synthetic adrenalyn is ephadrine - quite like speed but with a slightly more edgy high - makes you tingle like fuck tho :)

    @ David Wiernicki...

    "Whether or not the depiction of drugs in the game is positive or negative or neutral has ZILCH to do with this decision. The issue is that, in 2008, a modern, supposedly non-autocratic country is deciding what it's OK for adults to watch, read, and think." - but they havent have they! they have stopped something being made available to 15 year olds that maybe shouldnt be. the problem is their lack of an adult rating system. how do they do it with films? do they let 15 year olds watch sicko films like hostel?

    also morphine isnt a pain killing drug - its an everything killing drug. makes you numb as fuck, very mellow, and trip like hell (if taken in decent quantities)... thats like saying coke is an ENT drug as it makes your nose numb and makes your throat so numb you cant feel it sometimes - its great for a sore throat - and dentists used to use it years ago too :)

    "I don't recall any hoo-hah about the similar idea in the Max Payne games ... does using a fictional/generic drug to counteract the effects of being shot not count as "rewarding" drug use with a "positive effect"?" - i guess this is due to them being entirely fictional and impossible to get hold of eh? cant see many kids going and asking for some nuke-pills or whatever from the local dealers can they? - remember alcohol and nicotine are 2 lethal drugs (killing more people worldwide by far that all the other put together)

    its such a simple problem to rectify - create an 18 system and have done with it. some shit 15 year olds really shouldnt see...

  35. Anonymous Coward

    Begin sarcasm...

    Perhaps we should check and see if young people are living with an elderly person or someone with a painful disease and deny the afflicted person morphine and other drugs. After all, if Junior sees that Grandma feels better when she takes her percocet, he's just going to think it's good and want to try it, right? And we can't have that, people thinking that drugs are any good.

    Fact: Sick, twisted games/TV shows/people are going to find your child, one way or another. (unless perhaps you're Amish) How about some guidance and good parenting instead of trying to block out every possible negative thing your child could be exposed to? And then watching your child fail/freak out when he/she has to try and live in reality after a totally sheltered life.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture


    Yeah, cuz if GWB finds out they have WMD he might have to invade OZ,

    even if it's just a game - who's to say it's not REAL!

  37. Sooty

    @ a message for the bbfc

    you do realise that fallout 2 was cut to pieces in the UK, in some places breaking the game in order to get a rating? It was possible to shoot and kill a child!!! OMG its the end of the world as we know it!! It had horrific consequences, as you were branded a child killer and noone would have anything to do with you, if they duidn't attempt to kill you on sight.

    The drug taking in the original games paled in comparison to this percieved outrage.

    FO3 has skipped the issue entirely by removing anything that could even be deemed vaguely ofensive. Children have been removed from the game, you can't hit people in the groin. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if the sex/drug taking have been toned down/removed too to make a distinctly adult title, more family friendly.

    I wish we could go back to a sensible system wher 18+ meant adults, and so a game could deal with adult themes. It shouldn't matter if the game is glorifying sex/violence/drug taking (it's not exactly as if films don't) as it's aimed at adults.

  38. Julian Taylor Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    err, Bioshock ...

    Don't recall Aussie censors blocking Bioshock when it came out, and that had the ability to do something a lot nastier than just morphia, let alone kill little girls. Or could it possibly be that 2K Australia was one of the developers of the game?

    Off the top of my head, what about Deus Ex 1 (heroin, alcohol, hookers etc etc), or what about Max Payne 1 and 2 - pain killers. Just about every game has some new, or old, twist on med packs and mostly they can range from fun (Duke Nukem 3D) through to plain unoriginal (Doom 1/2/3).

  39. Pyros


    Perhaps they should ban BioShock, since you have to inject EVE directly into your veins like actual hard drugs?

    Oh, wait. EVE is fictional. That makes it ALLLLLLL better. <sarcasm=off>

    They need to sit down and understand the game, not just read the damned labels.

  40. Paul

    Bunch of southern pansies

    I've always admired the Aussie spirit, the kind of carefree, "I don't give a crap" no fear attitude, their lack of respect for the whole political-correctness nonsense, and all that.

    Looks like my admiration was misplaced, or more likely the Antipodeans have all gone soft on us.

  41. yeah, right.


    So it's ok to shoot people in the head/chest/groin, pull them apart, cut them with chainsaws.... but it's not ok to take a well known pain killer???

    Is the classification board on drugs perhaps?

  42. StopthePropaganda

    aww, quit trying to make it sound harmless

    and trying to weasel around the use of morphine as a drug, etc. Fallout 2 was LOADED with recreational drugs (manufacture, sale and use) prostitution, gun running, all sorts of nasty immoral and illegal activity.

    And that was the POINT of the game. To be able to play as the type of person no sane individual would want to in real life. Vicarious harmless nastiness.

    The problem needs to be addressed at your censorship board (funny how all those anti-Americans who scream about our policies give pass to all these nations with actual cultural and political censorship) and not with the game content. It's FALLOUT for chrissakes! It *better* be full of rewards for illegal activities and immoral choices! Consequences need to be based on reality and not current societal mores, since it's post apocalyptic!

    But trying some whiny weaselly tack of "oh no, there's no real drug use in here! it's all wholesome kids' entertainment!" is complete b*llocks and even more dishonest. It creates more lies and ignores the source problem-political weenies reacting based on "feelings", emotional responses and "perception" instead of measured truth and logic. It tries to slime itself around a dangerous precedent-setting and culturally-stifling censorship system, instead of hitting it head-on and fixing it (or breaking it altogether!)

    Don't be passive-aggressive. Man up and tell 'em "yeah, the game's got guns. and violence. and whores. and booze. and drugs. Lots of 'em. And you're gonna let us buy it anyways. Because we're not criminals but free people. You won't treat us all as criminals to make it easier for you. Ban it from the prisons if you want. But hand over the Fallout box and go get a real job. Or, better yet, help me hook up the Xbox, grab a controller, and help me nuke a small town."

  43. Trix
    Dead Vulture

    Wot everyone else has been saying

    "More to the point, since morphine is a first-aid drug, they believe it's laughable that its use is being compared with the taking of hard drugs."

    Um, yeah, morphine is an opiate. It's very *addictive*, is on the drug schedule, which means it can only be administered by an authorised practitioner (ie. a doctor or paramedic with the appropriate certification). I've yet to see it turn up in a first-aid kit.

    Yes, the game restriction is stupid, but let's not bullshit about the fact that morphine is an illegal addictive drug, and is the precursor of heroin, but packs plenty of wallop by itself - it's used for palliative care for terminal cancer patients, FFS.

    And yes, about Max Paine - it's not banned in Oz either, from what I know. Of course, the magic pills are called "painkillers", not OMG-ILLEGAL-DRUG, so they could be aspirin or paracetamol for all we know. As if.

  44. Steve Roper

    And off to the torrents we go... again!

    As someone previously noted, the only effect the censors have on Australians is to drive piracy through the roof. The more so because of the "Streisand Effect" - a game gets banned, and everyone goes and downloads it off Demonoid or Pirate Bay to find out why. (@bunch of southern pansies: there's our free spirit for you; feck the government, we'll just get it another way!) Ironically, if the game wasn't banned, few would then be that interested or even hear about it to buy it...

    Interestingly, Australia has more piracy per capita than just about any other nation, with the possible exception of China. Our constitution and legal framework prevent the kind of fishing expeditions carried out by the MAFIAA in US and EU, and copyright law here is so rarely enforced that when someone does get done it's national news. I believe that the main reasons for this is 1) legal complexity and 2) population/market size: we have less people living in a country the size of the US than live in London. With such a small market, and our mess of conflicting State and Federal laws, there's simply no financial mileage for the MAFIAAs of the world to spend the millions required to pursue a few filesharers through the labyrinth of our convoluted legal system. (And the government probably doesn't mind that Australians aren't spending millions of our dollars overseas into the coffers of the US entertainment industry either!)

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Cheers Oz sensor

    Bethesda thanks you. If it wasnt for you being a pratt with knotted knickers I would not have bought the game from overseas for no other reason than sticking my middle finger up at some retard who thinks he can tell me what is good for me. So censors, feck you very much! :P

  46. lglethal Silver badge

    Those complaining

    Quit complaining on a f*cking IT website, go out and track down the relevant email addresses for the censorship board, relevant government agencies and possibly media outlets and start bombarding them with emails (preferrably rational arguments explaining the flaws in their decsion to ban this game citing precedent and analogies with film and literature).

    Show them that the gaming community of this country has a voice. I very much doubt the censorship boards read The Reg...

    Oh and when you find the addresses post them on here, so that everyone can let there voice be heard (rather then whining on about here...)

  47. Andy Worth

    Re:Hold on a moment...

    AC works for the Oz government? Either that or he sounds like a fanatical supporter.

    All they need to do is change it for the Oz market so that instead of shooting up he downs a couple of tinnies and grits his teeth.

    It'll probably get reversed at some point, after someone at the classification place gets a lovely envelope full of cash.

  48. Liam

    @ "Yeah, cuz if GWB finds out they have WMD he might have to invade OZ"

    nah - that will never happen - GWB will still be clicking his heels together for years before he realises! :)

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