World of Warcraft’s ultimate force of evil: Kevin Rudd
The online virtual world of Northrend - complete with Gnomes, Dwarves, Warlocks and Dragons – was the last place I expected to find people swearing about Kevin Rudd.
I can’t remember the torrent of abuse exactly ‘cept that the oedipal noun was used a few times.
The beef? Their world, in the massively popular online role-playing game World of Warcraft (WoW) played by 11.5 million people worldwide, could be headed for the Rudd Government’s dreaded internet blacklist.
Broadband and Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has confirmed the Government is looking at blocking all online content that is refused classification – ie exceeds the maximum MA15+ rating in Australia.
This, according to Conroy’s spokesman is just enforcing laws agreed by the States and Territories that say it’s illegal to buy, sell or play games deemed too explicit for those 15 years or younger.
WoW players are peeved despite the game at the moment being safe. Due to some bizarre legal loophole the game is technically a grey area and sold in Australia without classification. Any 10-year-old with a wad of cash can walk into any computer shop in the country and buy it (an argument for another time).
But WoW gamers are losing their shit because, in light of Conroy’s proposed filter, WoW is only one complaint away from being refused classification and blocked if the Australian Communications and Media Authority say so.
The World of Warcraft has been abuzz with this for weeks but it wasn’t until I logged on on Monday that I saw the extent of gamer’s fear.
Armed with a mate’s password, I took to the World of Warcraft. I was no longer Alex, but a level 78 Healing Druid.
I headed to the cobbled streets and crystal-peaked towers of the floating city Dalaran where, I was told, lots of WoWers gather to yarn about this-n-that.
It wasn’t long before I came across some disgruntled Australians.
“If we get blocked there’s going to be a war,’’ said a level 80 Dwarf Warrior who wanted to remain anonymous and IRL (in real life) is a 32-year-old engineer from Adelaide.
“We as Australians don’t have access to a R18+ rating like the rest of the world so if its too gruesome for 15 year olds than it’s too gruesome everyone? Why is that fair?”
“A few more steps and we’ll have our very own Great Firewall of China.”
A few expletives were uttered before a level 79 Warrior Rogue (17-year-old student from Brisbane) overhears us and joins the chat.
“WoW’s never been classified in Australia before… since 2004,” he says. “Why would they (change) it now?”
The rogue has a good point. A spokesman for Federal Attorney-General Robert McClellan says WoW has never been submitted for classification while industry groups say it technically isn’t a game under the outdated Commonwealth Classification Act and doesn’t need to be classified.
What’s sold in stores just connects users to the game which is actually hosted online, outside Australia’s jurisdiction, they say.
What worries WoWers is that the ACMA will deem the game to be contrary to the National Classification Code. I.e. that it “describes, depicts, expresses or otherwise deals with matters of sex, drug misuse or addiction, crime, cruelty, violence or revolting or abhorrent phenomena in such a way that they offend against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults to the extent that they should not be classified.”
It’s understood the only reason World of Warcraft hasn’t been scrutinised by the ACMA is that not one’s officially complained about it yet.
This is despite the game being plagued with controversy since its release in 2004, including in July 2007 when Adelaide woman Tamara Broome, 31, was arrested in the US accused of trying to abduct a 17-year-old boy she met and romanced on a World of Warcraft server.
There’s been well over 10 deaths attributed to the game including a Beijing man who hunted down the player who stole his virtual sword in WoW and stabbed him to death IRL. In Korea, two young parents addicted to WoW were arrested after their child died from neglect. Another Korean, Lee Seung Seo, died after playing WoW for 50 hours straight without eating or drinking.
The general feeling is that an official complaint is just around the corner.
By now a small group has joined our discussion including a Level 80 Dwarf from Longreach in central Queensland.
“Why is everyone so worried? This game has friends in high places,” he says before citing what he says is categorical evidence Kevin Rudd’s son Marcus, 14, is a regular WoW player.
“There’s no way they’ll block us now.”
The conspiracy theory is met with hoots and calls of derision from the others that have gathered. One grabs his battle axe and actually smacks the dwarf on the head.
“Well if that’s not true then we’re screwed,’’ he says. “Our days are numbered.”
Here’s WoW cult hero and caster Leroy Jenkins rippin it up:
Read all about it
Up to the minute Twitter chatter
The latest and greatest
Good morning Punchers. After four years of excellent fun and great conversation, this is the final post…
I have had some close calls, one that involved what looked to me like an AK47 pointed my way, followed…
In a world in which there are still people who subscribe to the vile notion that certain victims of sexual…