[clug] R18+ rating for games

Brendan Jurd direvus at gmail.com
Sat Apr 18 06:15:39 GMT 2009

Hi cluggers,

It's <soapbox> time: the Commonwealth has finally gotten tired of the
state Attorneys General being unable to reach a consensus and is going
to release a paper for public consultation on whether to introduce an
R18+ rating for games. [1]

For those who don't know, games have the same rating system as films
and TV shows, except that, bizarrely, the R18+ classification is
missing.  The Office of Film and Literature Classification has never
really given a good reason for this mysterious disparity, but various
politicians (notably Michael Atkinson, South Australian AG) have
claimed that because games are interactive, they have a higher impact
on the participant.  Apparently this means that R18+ games would be a
bad idea.  Or something.

The end result of this choice is that games which ought to be
classified R18+ (and therefore only sold to people at least 18 years
old) are instead either refused classification (which means that they
can't be sold in Australia at all) or crammed into the MA15+
classification inappropriately.  A lot of really great games have been
banned in Australia because of this weirdness.  In other cases, the
developers have had to make daft changes to their game to squeeze it
into MA15+, just so they can offer it for sale here.

This probably seems like a minor issue when we've got things like the
NBN and the net filter looming over our heads, but it's something
that's been a thorn in the side of the games industry in Australia for
a long time, as well as being internationally embarrassing.  Since the
paper is being released for public debate, now is the right time to
make a noise about it and get this silly omission corrected ...
otherwise it will just get shoved under the political rug for another
couple of decades.

It's not the government's job to tell us what computer games we can or
can't play for our own amusement.  By all means, classify it -- it
helps people to make informed choices.  But outright banning a game
because it's only suitable for adults is the kind of overzealous
censorship I think we can do without.


[1] http://au.gamespot.com/news/6208112.html

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