Australia’s Move To An R18+ System

By Jim Rossignol on July 22nd, 2011 at 9:05 am.

Australia, yesterday.
Australia’s tortuous and wobbly journey towards sensible classification of games has take a positive step this week with state and federal governments agreeing “in principle” to an R18+ rating for games. It’s a rating that has long seemed necessary for the country, and a recent meeting of attorneys general – at which only New South Wales abstained from the vote, with everyone else saying yes – looks like it is now, finally, going to be possible. That’s not to say that Australia is going to shy away from censorship, however, as ABC News reports: “Under the proposed guidelines, games containing high-level violence will be restricted to adults, while games containing extreme violence will continue to be refused classification and banned from sale altogether.”

It’ll be interesting to see whether this move dampens the ferocious pro-censorship noise coming out of Australia’s governmental types. Any antipodeans care to comment?

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89 Comments »

  1. Mut says:

    Well, it’s a step in the right direction.

  2. NegativeZero says:

    It’s taken over ten years, and it’s still not a done deal.

    Essentially it took the (incredibly unpopular at the moment) federal government stepping in and telling the children to stop squabbling. Apparently despite the vast majority of the country supporting the move, politicians don’t like to piss off certain powerful conservative lobby groups.

    • rivalin says:

      Don’t necessarily see why it’s the fault of “conservatives”, unless you’re conflating that with “Christians”. In the UK (a place with a very similar political culture), the Labour party has been the ones obsessed with the nanny state, banning computer games, restricting free speech and so on, while the liberals and conservatives have been the ones opposing all these restrictions on individual liberties.

    • Stormbane says:

      I do not know about Australia but theoretically an economically conservative outlook would dictate any law that furthers commercial interest as positive. On the opposite end a liberal perspective would dictate a law for more freedoms of expression as positive.

      The reason why Australia does not have a +18 rating is not a problem of too much conservatism or liberalism. The problem lies in the fact that Australia is too abundant in authoritarianism as apposed to libertarianism.

    • Muzman says:

      rivalin says:

      Don’t necessarily see why it’s the fault of “conservatives”, unless you’re conflating that with “Christians”. In the UK (a place with a very similar political culture), the Labour party has been the ones obsessed with the nanny state, banning computer games, restricting free speech and so on, while the liberals and conservatives have been the ones opposing all these restrictions on individual liberties.

      It’s one of those unfortunate collisions of ideals. In order to fend off the kind of “Soft on crime/bleeding heart/think of the children” criticisms typically leveled at supposedly left wing governments they sometimes knee jerk harder at these issues than their conservative opposites. That coupled with a political philosophy that is less intervention shy often takes them to weird crypto-authoritarian places.
      See also the weird, and seemingly electorally irrelevant, stance on gay marriage.

    • drewski says:

      @ rivalin – because in Australia, where this story is from, political parties aren’t the same as in the UK.

      Although it’s worth noting that whilst the “Liberal” party tends to be slightly to the right of the “Labor” party in Australia, on this particular issue the roles are reversed, although the reality is that both parties favour as much government control over everything as possible, they just pretend not to when they’re in “opposition”.

    • Tams80 says:

      But in practice in the UK, as far as I can tell it isn’t the same. Concerning video games, here in the UK there don’t seem to have been many video games that have been banned. Not that the age related ratings really work. When at school, so many of my classmates were playing 16+s and 18+s. Then again, I don’t know how it is in Australia concerning this.

    • DrGonzo says:

      Wait a minute we’re saying Labour are left wing? They ARE conservative and have been since the 90s.

  3. fionny says:

    This is one of the very few sh**e things about Aus, how can a modern “western type” country get away with banning games like that… its kinda pathetic.

    Glad they are changing slowly.

    • Symitri says:

      One of the few?

      We still have to contend with stupid price hikes on our games, both from local retailers AND digital distribution. The upcoming Deus Ex is selling for $62 on Steam locally ($20 more than it is elsewhere) and Saint’s Row 3 pre-order is at $89.99 ($40 more than it is elsewhere).

      Also, we still have to deal with dropbears.

      WHERE IS THE LOVE?

    • Mattressi says:

      Trust me, there are a lot of things about Australia that are crap. It seems that we’re slowly spiralling down the nanny state sinkhole. I’m quite surprised that they even agreed to this new classification, though it could just be more like “we’re changing the MA classification to R, and still banning everything we would have before”. Australia would be a great country if it weren’t for our horrible, horrible succession of governments.

    • fionny says:

      Dont worry mate Deus Ex is essentially 60AUD (45euro) in Ireland too we get ripped off also.

    • Shadram says:

      The Euro price comparison is a bit different, though, because it depends on the exchange rate. So yeah, it seems expensive at the moment, but that’s because the US dollar is up shit creek.

      The difference here on the Earth’s arse is that Steam actually charges us in US dollars, and they still think it’s OK to set the prices at 30-40% more than the US equivalent. $90 USD for Space Marine, $70 USD for Dark Spore (hahahahaha…), etc. Not all publishers do it, but some of the biggies do (EA, THQ, Take 2) and it’s utterly ridiculous. They don’t pay more money to publish games here, especially not online: our internets are not gold plated (although I wish they were, download speeds here are excruciating).

    • nakke says:

      “The Euro price comparison is a bit different, though, because it depends on the exchange rate. ”
      Um, what? No, that does not make any sense. EUR hasn’t dropped under 1.3USD in the last 5 years apart from a few short dips, yet prices are still usually eur=usd on steam.

    • drewski says:

      Publishers charge that much for games because Australians are stupid enough to pay that price.

      Simples.

  4. President Weasel says:

    It probably won’t change that much in practice; games that get 18s in other countries get MA15+ uncut in Australia. Some games get refused a rating, but the ABC news quote above suggests that won’t change – perhaps fewer games will be refused a rating though.

    • drewski says:

      As near as I can tell from reading the statements from the A-Gs, the idea is that the MA15+ rating becomes R18+ and nothing else changes.

  5. Fondue says:

    Idk if the current censorship is exactly “ferocious”, but if I can finally play L4D2 with all the gorey bells and whistles then I’m happy.

    • neolith says:

      I’m not sure if that’ll be the outcome of this. Germany has had a 18 rating for ages and still developers think it’s a bright idea to give us reduced violence versions of their games. In the past you still could get imported copies, but digital distribution made that impossible. Even if I get hold of a boxed UK version of L4D Steam will make sure it installs as the censored one on my machine… :(

    • WaveOfMutilation says:

      It appears that even if this goes ahead games that have already been refused classification under the old laws are not allowed to be reclassified. But it’s easy enough to get a uncensored copy of l4d2.

      Open the steam store in the the browser of your choice

      Add /?cc=US to the end of the URL

      Login and select whatever you want to puchase.

      For put in the USA address of your choice for billing details.

      Enjoy.

      P.S. This is also handy for avoiding Australias ludicrous digital pricing.

    • President Weasel says:

      @neolith: it’s not that “developers think it’s a bright idea” to give you a reduced violence version of the game, it’s that a reduced violence version is necessary in order to get a USK rating, which in turn is necessary in order to avoid the BPjM putting the title on the Index, effectively banning it from sale in Germany. No publisher wants to make a separate version of the game just for Germany if they can help it.

    • Ultimanecat says:

      @WaveofMutilation
      The method you describe will only let you see what is available in the various regional steam stores and their prices. To make a purchase from a specific region, you not only need a credit card with a billing address from it, but also need to have an IP from the region as well.

      Believe me, I know, I used to live in Aus and couldn’t purchase anything on the Steam store with my US credit unless I went through a proxy (which is against the TOS and not at all recommended, by the way).

    • neolith says:

      @President Weasel: It is in fact possible to recieve an 18 rating in Germany from the BPjM without having the game banned. The index is for games that are refused a rating for some reason (over-the-top violence, nazi propaganda, producer refusing to accept the rating etc.). You could sell the ordinary version of L4D in Germany without problems as long as you’d except that it will recieve an 18+ rating. Most publishers want their games to be rated 16 though – hence the reduced violence versions.

  6. seanminty says:

    I’d be interested to know what this has been doing for the number of pirated games in Australia.

    • Shadram says:

      Probably nothing compared to this…

      http://img405.imageshack.us/img405/9152/dnfhahahaha.png

    • Mattressi says:

      That’s not the worst either. Warhammer: Space Marine, Saints Row 3 and Shogun 2 are all $89.99 USD in the Australian Steam store. Thankfully the highly praised Homefront has been lowered to only $79.99 USD…

    • Shadram says:

      Really? SR3 is US $50 in the NZ Steam store. Still a lot, but at least it’s the same as the US…

      EDIT: As is Shogun 2, but yeah, Space Marine is pre-order for US $90… Think I’ll pass. ;)

  7. Shadram says:

    As an Antipodean from the civilised side of the Tasman (where all the sheep and hobbits live), my comment would be “Hahaha, Aussies…”

    We’re lucky in that we get most games the same as their UK releases (usually in the same boxes, with kiwi rating stickers over the BBFC ones), but there have been a couple of times where we’ve had the censored Aussie version hoisted upon us. Notably Witcher 2. On the other hand, games are so overpriced here (most new releases $100, which is about US $85) I just import most of my games anyway. And no, Steam often is not our friend: lots of publishers, like EA and Take2, sell games for US $80 on steam and think we won’t notice… Bastards.

    • aerozol says:

      As a fellow citizen of that great nation, I will say that I also often ‘import’ big titles.
      $100 +/- for games that often gives less than twenty hours play? With a minimum wage of $13 NZD (before tax)? Jesus christ…
      I pity whatever youngster is forced to buy all their games off the shelf. That’s a sh*t load of paper routing.

    • avoidperil says:

      As a citizen of NZ currently earning crazy £ moneys and buying games from the UK steam, my hard drive is full and I have games enough to last me until the end of the world. Plus, the internet I used to download these was cheap and unlimited. I am the vanguard for an invasion force of kiwi gamers hungry for the sweet, sweet taste of gaaaames. Come my comrades, this country is ripe for the taking! It is time to leave the shire once and for all!

    • Fiatil says:

      Wow, when you put it that way it doesn’t really sound so bad. Minimum wage in my state in the U.S. is $7.25, and considering most new big budget PC games seem to be pushing towards the $60 price tag that doesn’t really work out too bad for you guys.

  8. Corrupt_Tiki says:

    I agree (about fucking time.), The censorship actually stopped me from buying L4D2, and hearing that it is not as good as the original has kept me from buying it, although I was tempted in the steam sale, but abstained.

    And also, If I want manhunt, I will get manhunt, there isn’t much they can do about that. And also, I have started buying most of my games digitally, so I assume, I wouldn’t get too much in the way of censorship, I know Steam was selling the Aus Censored version of L4D2. I didn’t/don’t know about The Witcher 2 being censored in Auss, Good thing I never bought that! I will at some point but, gah censorship, fuck off and do something useful you miserable git.

    • JackShandy says:

      On the plus side, that second head must be usefull.

    • Corrupt_Tiki says:

      I think that’s a sign I should get out of my work clothes, shower, and have a beer. haha

    • Raiyan 1.0 says:

      @Tiki: I remember hearing that GoG changed their policy and stopped tracking their clients’ region, so that people could buy uncensored and cheaper versions from their store simply by lying about which country they are from. So it’s very possible to get The Witcher 2 in Australia at the American price or the uncensored European version, and no one else will be the wiser.

      Correct me if I’m wrong, though.

    • Wunce says:

      Interestingly enough, I found that the censored L4D2 version made no difference- even with the bodies fading shortly after their demise. I guess it showed that violence in games is actually a gimmick (to me). Give me a game where I shoot rainbows at unicorns and I’ll still think its the most intense experience since playing Half Life 2.

    • scienceshoew says:

      @ Wunce: agreed, mostly. It’s still great, but man oh man I’m irritated every time I see zombies “on fire” with invisible fire.

  9. Rii says:

    This is less actual progress in the realm of speech and civil liberties in Australia than it is merely tidying up the embarrassing detritus of years gone by, akin to legislation relating to dueling etiquette.

    Some of the things people whine about that are not actually the problem:
    - That there is no R18 rating for games
    - That the classification board is an extension of the government
    - That various restrictions are imposed on retailers regarding the display of certain media and its sale to minors.

    The real problem is that the government has the power to prevent retailers from importing and selling certain media to adults, period. There’s an R18+ rating for films, but it hasn’t stopped the government from banning films like Baise-moi.

    The take-home message from this protracted struggle that has yet to bring about even this almost inconsequential change to the video game classification system is that it brings home just how far away real progress in the field of civil liberties is this country. Only last month it was Victoria I think that gave police powers to fine people for swearing in public.

    On a related note it seems that South Australia – my state, yay – is planning to abolish the MA15+ rating regardless of the outcome re:R18+. Of itself I actually don’t think that’s a terrible idea – there are too many bloody ratings in the system – but the fallout promises to be interesting.

    • soldant says:

      By the same token though outright anarchy sure as hell isn’t an improvement. You can’t use games as a rallying cry against governance. Sure, the system is a bit ridiculous, but I highly doubt that we’d want to remove all forms of censorship, otherwise child exploitation material, snuff films, and similar deviant material would be legal. Adults aren’t always rational and acting with a sense of moral justice.

      That’s not an argument against R18+ (which we need, the system is stupid as it is) but to claim that this is just representative of a larger problem with civil liberties is absurd.

    • drewski says:

      I think you can fairly easily make a distinction about allowing the production and sale of material where people are actively harmed in the making of it, and material where the only creatures being harmed are the poor hamsters running inside the developers’ computers.

  10. Limey says:

    I think the Australian government should place a $50 tax on each game sold and then enforce plain packaging with graphic images of mentally scarred videogame addicts on the side.

    That’ll save the world.

    • poop says:

      they already have the $50 tax! *slide whistle*

    • Corrupt_Tiki says:

      Haha you win the internets for the day!

    • wcaypahwat says:

      Stop them displaying them in plain view, too. Lock the nasty things up so the children aren’t tempted

  11. poop says:

    I’ll believe it when it actually happens, its been “r18 just around the corner if only THIS ONE THING wasnt blocking it” for like the last five or six years

  12. Hagane says:

    “Under the proposed guidelines, games containing high-level violence will be restricted to adults, while games containing extreme violence will continue to be refused classification and banned from sale altogether.”
    A step in the right direction, but it still doesn’t seem right to me that, as a mature adult, I still don’t have complete control over what I can play. Nobody has the right to tell me what content is “too violent” for me.

    • drewski says:

      Ahh, armchair anarchism.

    • Mattressi says:

      Clearly. I frequently equate the desire to abolish laws that ensure people don’t participate in non government-approved victimless activities with the desire to abolish all laws, including the laws which make it illegal to murder and rape.

  13. John P says:

    This does not seem to be good news, actually. See this: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/australian-it/r18-games-a-step-closer-says-brendan-oconnor/story-e6frgakx-1226099968647

    The Christian Lobby supported this R rating. Why? Because: “it appears that the existing ceiling for games has been maintained with a commitment to move the more extreme MA15+ games into a newly-created R18+ rating.”

    If the existing ceiling really is maintained, this is a bad result. Games that were banned will continue to be banned. It will solve nothing. Worse, it will make it much, much harder to get a genuine adult rating, because politicians can just fob it off with ‘You got your R rating, stop complaining.’

    • Merus says:

      It’s hard to say – The Australian’s a NewsCorp paper and they’re quoting the ACL. Part of what was going on was the ratings board were calling quite violent games ‘medium’ violence, qualifiying it for an MA15+ rating, because it was that or refusing to classify something that really wasn’t that bad. The argument has been that there’s plenty of games in the MA15+ band that would have been R18+. It’s quite possible that the ACL has been diddled into allowing an expansion of what games are allowed to do by couching it as reclassifying what they already do as being ‘high-level’.

      The trick is that ‘high-level’ violence is also the qualifier for R18+ movies, and ‘extreme’ (or rather ‘very high’) is the qualifier for movies refused classification, and the ratings board, not the ACL, decides what qualifies as ‘high-level’ and ‘extreme’. We’d have to look at the final guidelines to see what they’re doing – it’s distressing that they’re not bringing the two into alignment, because that’s the best feature of the system as it stands.

    • John P says:

      I agree it’s hard to know how this will work in practice, but either the governments are pulling the wool over the eyes of the ACL, or of R18+ supporters. The ACL supporting something they vehemently opposed for so long is a warning sign.

    • scienceshoew says:

      I don’t know, it’s still the OFLC classifying it, and presumably their raters will judge a game R18+ in more or less the same way they judge a film R18+.

      Even if they’ve got different reasons for supporting an R, a push for an R18+ from ACL types makes this a lot more likely to happen. So it seems like a good thing to me.

  14. Merus says:

    Between this and the mooted removal of the mandatory rating requirement (because technically every app in the iOS app store would require a rating), this is actually pretty positive.

    Technically games haven’t been banned in Australia so much as ‘refused classification’ – invariably this means that the developer makes a minor tweak and the game is released on schedule.

    Consider: games use nearly the same rating standard as movies, so anything that’s considered ‘high-level violence’ in a movie is considered the same for games. There’s a few special cases for games, but I imagine they’ll be sanded away when the bureaucratic stars align once again.

    Really the problem is less puritanism and more bureaucracy. The classification scheme is a compromise between the states to cede some of their traditional power to the federal government while alowing them to feel like they’re in control. As a result, in order to change anything, it’s required universal consensus from nine different politicians, each of whom have varying agendas and sensitivities to moral guardians and wowsers. The situation is untenable, and a review of the entire system is going ahead later this year. Who knows if it’ll go anywhere, but I don’t think anyone is seriously thinking that having a law which requires someone to rate every app on the app store is a good idea either.

  15. ankh says:

    I’m a South African who has met many an Aussie on my travels (Aussies really like traveling it seems, that’s awesome) and all of them are open minded fun loving people. So according to my anecdotal evidence it seems strange to me that they elect prudes into government.

    • John P says:

      The trouble is there’s no alternative. Both major sides are prudes, so they dominate public discourse. Any other voice is treated with fear and suspicion (in this specific case, the fear that violent games will corrupt Our Kids).

      And the trouble is, even those laidback people you’ve met are affected by that fearmongering. They might be laidback face-to-face, but they’re still more willing to vote for pollies with conservative attitudes to stuff like this.

    • ankh says:

      I don’t really understand to be honest, but that’s probably because I hardly ever take any interest in politics and in my country politics is as simple as “blacks vs whites” none of this pc nonsense. Thanks for your insight though much appreciated.

    • Ergates_Antius says:

      The confusion is that it’s not Australians who are “open minded fun loving people” it’s people who like to travel that are.

      Prudish conservative types (of all nations) tend to stay at home (or travel within their own country/continent) rather than explore the world.

    • ankh says:

      Ive met WAY more aussies than americans or britons though, which leads me to believe that a large proportion of aussies are awesome. Not arguing with you though, just saying.

    • Muzman says:

      Australia is a very small country for a federal system don’t forget. It only takes a few prudes in a few key positions to really skew things their way.
      This issue is more testament to how hard it is to change these particular laws than anything else. They did half a job in the first place and now it takes absolute consensus on a divisive and easily politicised subject to fix it

  16. agent47 says:

    I don’t know why half the games that are rated R18 in Europe and the USA etc. are rated that way anyway, most of the violence is over the top and nothing like reality, that said we should definitely have the rating for cases where an R18 rating is necessary.

  17. Wozzle says:

    Austialia needs to read On Liberty. Seriously seems like Mr. Mill’s worst nightmare is running that country.

  18. ReV_VAdAUL says:

    Australia’s current games rating policy certainly has flaws and needs to be improved but people screaming about a complete breakdown in civil liberties and an all encroaching “nanny state” because some games aren’t sold is just hilarious.

    I’ll bet all those people rescued by the government during the floods earlier this year were extremely upset about the nanny state encroaching on their freedom to drown.

    • ankh says:

      How the fuck does censorship help in rescue efforts? That’s absurd.

    • ReV_VAdAUL says:

      Because the nanny state is pathetically overused buzz word people use in place of “a thing the government did I don’t like.”

      :qq: “I can’t play my videogames” is a much smaller intervention in people’s lives than a massive and expensive rescue operation. If you’re only going to complain about government intervention when you don’t like it then use a more accurate term.

    • John P says:

      A nanny state means the government is telling us what we’re allowed to see, read, hear and play, and is preventing us from seeing things it deems too mature for us, instead of allowing us to make that determination for ourselves. The term is accurate in this case.

    • ankh says:

      Questioning your government can never be a bad thing though, surely?

    • JackShandy says:

      Whiners complaining about videogames: What about those people who could’ve drowned that time? Did you consider their feelings?

    • ReV_VAdAUL says:

      The Nanny state apparently means whatever you want it to mean. All states control to some extent what you can see, hear and read, they decide how fast we can drive and they decide for us what dangerous chemicals aren’t put in our food.

      We elect governments to control how we and everyone in our society behaves, thats what laws, a guarantee of acceptable conduct across society. Thus screaming “the government are imposing rules they’re nannying us is an absurd blanket statement that drowns out any critical examination of government policies.

      A reasonable critique is to examine what controls the state imposes upon us are reasonable, not to state rules are being imposed in general.

      The state is increasingly trying to alter people’s diets so they’re less unhealthy and people complain about a “nanny state” yet when government healthcare “nannies” people so they don’t die of the consequent health problems people suddenly have no problem with nannying.

      @ankh
      But by reducing your complaint to “nanny state” you make your compliants about the government meaninglessly vague. The Australian system of regulation of games is deeply flawed but complaining that “nannying” or regulation is occurring at all means nothing.

      Whether it is self regulation or government regulation I think we all agree providing guidance on what game content is suitable for children and what isn’t is reasonable. The problem is with flaws in a system of regulation not that regulation is occurring at all.

      The government does good and bad things, complain specifically about the bad things rather than moaning about the fact it does “things”.

    • Merus says:

      There’s an assumption in the use of ‘nanny state’ that implies that it’s an irreversible trend that people are pointedly ignoring, and so it must be brought to people’s attention before it’s too late. The problem is that it’s not quite a nanny state; it’s wowserism. The symptoms are pretty similar, but the difference is that wowserism is an old facet of Australian public life and has a natural antidote, larrikinism. It’ll swing back the other way, as has happened before, and will happen again, because there’s not much evidence that there’s anything different about this outbreak of wowserism to suggest that it will calcify into something more permanent.

      National character is an important part of reading the political landscape. There aren’t a lot of anarchists in the US, there aren’t a lot of libertarians in the UK, and yet both groups want fairly similar things.

    • drewski says:

      Maybe I’m being inconsistent, but I happen to believe it’s possible to support both individual liberty *and* saving people’s lives.

    • Muzman says:

      ReV_VAdAUL: bravo sah.

    • ankh says:

      You make a good point but vague question is better than no question at all.

    • wcaypahwat says:

      Well I don’t know about these ‘video games’, but my state (Territory) has decided to tell me exactly how much alcohol I can purchase on any given day. Assuming I haven’t been blacklisted, which is their new fancy idea. If it’s a sunday, I need to be driving a car to get any, too.

    • JuJuCam says:

      ReV_VAdAUL Thank you, you’ve neatly summed up my feelings about political discourse in our country.

      Fact is, the choice we have between the two major parties is questionable at best. Politics here is far too heavily influenced by the way politics works in places overseas in places that have a much higher population and therefore much more complicated issues with wider varieties of interest groups. As a result parliament have an annoying tendancy to squabble over storms in teacups and molehill mountains without actually getting on with advancing Australia fairly.

  19. Punchbowled says:

    These censorship arguments, on both sides, are so tiresome. Modern games are fantastically, grotesquely violent because images of dominant masculinity sell well to a large sector of the target demographic, male children between the ages of 9 and 18. I have a problem with this. But there are other problems: not least that older gamers play with a certain disinvestment in the narrative or imaginative content (which doesn’t preclude secondary play of the New Games Journalism kind), tolerating crude forms of narrative and of representation in games that they wouldn’t tolerate in other kinds of cultural production, preferring to appreciate technical invention and accomplishment in design and execution (whether the game is fun, whether it is a good game). We let games off the hook in ways we wouldn’t countenance with films or books.

    I got tired of that toleration years ago. It’s dismal and shameful that the gaming industry relies on modes of the representation of males and of male-gendered struggles for domination which in other cultural contexts would be immediately understood as barbarous and fascistic. It is arrogant and irresponsible enough to peddle these images to children (never mind the childish), and to cry out in horror whenever its supposed right endlessly to generate this manipulative low-grade nonsense is challenged. The video games industry deserves every iota of criticism that it gets for the stupefying, exploitative, and unethical content of its absurd productions. Any responsible community would take measures to redirect the energies of that industry to develop more advanced forms of play.

    But this Australian reform, like all those before it, is incoherent, piecemeal, ill-informed and clumsily populist. One day, perhaps, there will be a government, somewhere, which has a more fully developed understanding of games and gaming culture, with policies intended to foster creative talent and educate consumer sensibilities. But, heh, well, it probably won’t be in Australia.

    • ankh says:

      You can’t play a book.

    • Punchbowled says:

      Can so.

    • drewski says:

      Anyone who thinks that main demographic for gaming is males aged 9-18 really need to do a lot more research.

      What’s more disturbing is that the material you seem to think is marketed at 9 year olds is actually marketed at 25 year olds…and is very effective in that demographic.

    • ankh says:

      I’m 25 years old and I enjoy shooting people in the face. Especially competitively.

  20. Ergates_Antius says:

    “large sector of the target demographic, male children between the ages of 9 and 18″
    Except the majority of gamers are older than this – I believe 26 is the average age of a PC gamer. People don’t suddenly “mature” and start liking different things when they hit 19.

    “older gamers play with a certain disinvestment in the narrative or imaginative content ….., tolerating crude forms of narrative and of representation in games that they wouldn’t tolerate in other kinds of cultural production”
    Maybe because the types of games you are referring to stimulate different parts of the brain to a book or a film. Don’t forget about the joy from competion, or the catharsis of blowing shit up.
    Nobody expects advanced forms of narrative from game of football or a fireworks display either.

    • Premium User Badge toastmodernist says:

      I expect advanced froms of narrative surrounding football if that counts.

      People don’t suddenly mature at 19 and start liking different things but bet there’s a lot of six year old kids that don’t like [insert cultural reference signifying intelligence] who will end up liking it when they’re 19.

      Edited to make a tiny bit of sense.

  21. drewski says:

    I’d be surprised if this has any great effect on the way games are released and censored in Australia. The prevailing political wind in Australia is not “let adults play whatever they want”, it’s “stop our kids being exposed to this filth!” I expect the actual effect of this regulatory change, if it gets up, will in fact simply to be to restrict material currently available to 15-17 year olds upwards only to adults. The material itself? Probably won’t change. There might be a few games that the OFLC will allow through to R18+ uncensored that wouldn’t have made MA15+, but pretty much anything that’s missed MA15+ in the past has either only just missed it, and been wound back to fit the category, or missed it by miles, and therefore has no chance of being released in a revised R18+ category.

    • Muzman says:

      Generally I’d say you’re right. But there’s a few things it really has to change. Dumb stuff like Fallout 3 and the kids and drugs or whatever it was, and the various other ways publishers censored games to meet the rating in famous cases has got to surely slide by. Which is a good thing.

      The other aspect is that the OFLC reviewers are very careful to stick to the letter of the ratings definitions and do not venture any opinion or flexibility largely because they being watched like diamond mine workers. Any slip and complaints are brought, ratings challenged etc. An adult rating just in name alone gives them leeway. Where challenges before were brought on the fine print of what is and isn’t suitable for minors, the rubric of ‘suitable only for adults’ is a much broader and more defensible position even if the rating specifics stay more or less the same as MA. It’s also something the public can clearly see their side of. If something rated for adults ends up in the hands of minors then, regardless of what you think about that, it’s clearly not the ratings board’s fault at least. It’s not an argument over appropriate content quite as often anymore. It already says its not appropriate right there on the box.

      I haven’t read through it all yet, but I wager the conservative elements will notice this potential effect and try and shoe horn in more provisions that somehow redefine adulthood for all of us (or already have). But that’s why I’m cautiously optimistic despite it being a bit half-arsed.

    • drewski says:

      I’m not sure the original cut of Fallout 3 would have made even an R18+ rating, but given that the only change Bethesda made to get classification was to change the name of one of the chems, I don’t think it’s a good example.

  22. choconutjoe says:

    Whenever New South Wales is mentioned I always think of this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SY-u15WmQBE

  23. Bureaucromancer says:

    If you people seriously think the rating system is the biggest problem with Australia, I give you this.

    • Hindenburg says:

      Took me a few seconds to register that they’d actually done exactly what the article said that they did it. That it was a measure with bi-partisan support…. my god, you really weren’t kidding.

    • JuJuCam says:

      And there are still people (not a small minority) who still believe this was an acceptable course of action at the time and should be reinstated now. Despite one of the supporting incidents being a god damn lie.

      Shame.

  24. ResonanceCascade says:

    Regulating video games is a giant waste of money and effort for little effect.

    There’s no state regulating body for video games in the U.S., and *shock* as video games become more violent and more popular, we’ve seen no spikes in violent crime among young people. In fact, the crime rates have dropped for youths over the last two decades.

    Clearly this isn’t a huge problem requiring state intervention. Even the scientists who published the ISU studies which showed video games can increase aggression and decrease focus in children have said that the problem is so small that it would be better to spend the regulation money on better public education, which would more than offset any mild negative externalities caused by games.