Graffiti artist Marc Ecko has hit back at Australia's entertainment ratings board after PC, PS2 and Xbox title Marc Ecko's Getting Up was refused classification and thereby effectively banned in the country.
Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald, Ecko said he was "extremely disappointed" by the decision to revoke the game's original MA 15+ rating, a decision which was "based solely on a perceived notion that it will somehow promote the crime of graffiti."
"To blame gaming for everything that is inherently wrong in our homes, in our schools and on our streets is much easier to do than to actually figure out ways to fix the systemic problems that exist within our culture," he continued.
"If a kid wants to learn how to write on the wall, he or she will figure it out. They have done it since prehistoric times, in fact... You just have to dig a little deeper and be willing to open your mind to two artistic mediums - gaming and graffiti - you may not fully understand or appreciate."
Atari Australia has also issued a strong statement condemning the ratings board's decision, describing it as a form of censorship which is "tantamount to book burning."
"The [ruling] is an ironic instant of life imitating art in that Getting Up takes place in a world where freedom of expression is suppressed by a tyrannical government," the statement reads.
"Banning any form of artistic expression suppresses creativity and begs the question, 'Where does it end?'"
Atari argues that Getting Up "does not condone or encourage any criminal act", but merely provides "amusement and escape in a fantasy world where players can vicariously experience different lifestyles."
"The look and feel of the game reflect many aspects of [graffiti] culture, including its music, fashion, and language, giving the player the ability to 'experience' the graffiti art form in a safe and legal setting. The focus of the game is on expression through art and Atari will vehemently fight its censorship.
Atari has already appealed to Australia's Interactive Entertainment Association for support, claiming that the board's decision will have an adverse impact on the entire industry.