BlogThe federal and state Attorneys-General met in Canberra and on the agenda was an R18+ rating to be introduced for video games. They failed to come to a decision however have not rejected the idea just yet.
Federal Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor said:
Gamers have grown up. Games have grown up. We need to make sure we have a classification scheme that's grown up as well.1
The National Classification Code specifically states that:
1) Classification decisions are to give effect, as far as possible, to the following principles:
a) adults should be allowed to read, hear and see what they want;
b) minors should be protected from material likely to harm or disturb them;2
This is the main problem, the argument is that an R18+ rating will allow adults to play the games they want (with exceptions for RC content) and that children will be protected by an adults-only rating. The main argument to this however is that children will be able to obtain the R18+ games anyway through dodgy retailers or family/friends who can circumvent parental control.
Therefore it isn't really that suprising that this has been delayed; despite clear and overwhelming public support for an R18+ rating to be implemented for video games (to be aligned with not only other countries but the same guidelines that film already has) politicians know that if they make a quick and uncalculated decision it could have significant and negative ramifications for their career down the track.
The federal and state Attorneys-General must all agree if this is to be implemented which has caused much of the delay for this to be actioned fully. Perhaps what people don't realise is very few games are actually banned or censored here (ie: only one has been for the whole of 2010)3; I don't mean to say we don't need the change rather point to this when people become fearful an R18+ rating will let in all sorts of terrible material.
The proposal naturally still includes an 'RC' category - that is 'Refused Classification' - which essentially bands a game from sale, hire or advertisement in the country. So anything overly violent or sexual in nature will still be banned, and in most cases this isn't a cause for concern (when one considers the films/books/magazines etc that are classified RC4).
We at least can be thankful this is being taken seriously; the government has commissioned a fair amount of study into this area and I have no qualms with the AGs wanting to be fully educated on the matter in order to make an informed decision. What I have a problem with is if one AG decides this isn't going to be popular in their state (or for their political party) and rejects it; the nation will again not have this passed due to the decision of one man.
At the end of the day it is an issue that has far less emphasis on it given governments must, at the end of the day, govern for the majority. There are bigger issues at stake potentially including Australia's position on climate change and homosexual marriage. That said, the fact that this is being debated and discussed in the depth that it is proves our system at least attempts to be the liberal-democracy it should be; adult gamers that care about this may be the minority of adults in Australia but we are at least being considered.
Alex is a budding university student who decided to take on an Australian politics elective last semester and finds the ability to apply his new-found knowledge in nerdom strangely fun. In case it hasn't been made evident he supports an R18+ rating and believes parents needs to exercise control based on informed decisions provided by the classification system.