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Australia bans video game "Fallout 3" over drug use

CANBERRA, (Reuters Life!) - Australian officials have banned the sale of “Fallout 3” due to the use of drugs in the post-apocalyptic, action video game which has won accolades as one of the year’s most anticipated releases.

Australia’s Office of Film and Literature Classification refused to issue an age rating to the third game in the “Fallout” series because the highest rating available in Australia is “MA15+.” Australia does not have an 18+ rating.

“Fallout 3”, developed by Bethesda Softworks and scheduled to hit shelves at the end of the year, is currently awaiting classification in the United States.

The Australian classification board, which usually bans two or three games a year, described “Fallout 3” as first person shooter game where the player directs their character though a Washington D.C. wasteland after emerging from a vault after hundreds of years.

The player has the option to take various drugs known as “chems” using a device connected to the character’s arm which can have positive effects, such as increasing strength and agility, or negative effects, such as lowering intelligence or addiction.

The board said with the list of “chems” there was also visual representation of the drugs which included syringes, tablets, pill bottles, a crack-type pipe and blister packs.

“In the board’s view these realistic visual representations of drugs and their delivery method bring the ‘science-fiction’ drugs in line with ‘real-world’ drugs,” said the board in a statement.

The player can also select and use “morphine,” a proscribed drugs which lets the character ignore pain.

“In the board’s view the drug use, in particular the use of a proscribed drug, via means of selection from a menu, is related to incentives and rewards as the incentive to take the drugs is to progress through the game more easily and the reward is an increase in the character’s abilities and as such is refused classification,” said the statement.

The board said the violence in the game could have been rated “MA15+.”

This is the third video game to be refused a rating in Australia this year which means it cannot be sold or promoted in the country. The board also refused to rate “ShellShock 2: Blood Trails” and sci-fi shooter “Dark Sector”.

Australia’s ban of “Fallout 3” renewed calls for the introduction of an R18+ rating for games in Australia, similar to that used for movies. The decision to refuse the game a rating was also criticized as being inconsistent with other ratings.

“What are the syringes in “Bioshock” filled with - magic fairy dust?,” read one post on Australian Gamer, referring to an MA15+ rating give to the game “Bioshock” in which players inject themselves with “plasmids” to get special abilities.

No one was immediately available to comment from Bethesda, a unit of ZeniMax Media Co. which was founded in 1999 by Robert Altman.

(Editing by Miral Fahmy)

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