READY Mythbusters: Children Will Have More Access To Inappropriate Games

First off, a concession – regardless of whether Australia receives an R18+ rating or not, at some point there will be children out there playing games that aren’t appropriate for their age group.

But at Kotaku we believe that the existence of an R18+ rating will lead to less children having access to these inappropriate games, not more.

Mythbusters is a regular section intended to help dispel the misinformation being distributed around the issue of an R18+ rating. Kotaku readers are amongst the most highly informed gamers when it comes to such issues, but we hope that READY Mythbusters will help provide info for when it comes time to inform others of the confusion surrounding the debate.

An R18+ rating will educate parents
At this stage I would suggest that the problem of children having access to video games is primarily an issue of perception – on a number of different levels.

It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. Uninformed parents incorrectly believe that video games are primarily for children, and this is reinforced by the fact that video games do not have an R18+ rating.

But certain video games are absolutely not for children, and the very act of denying Australians an R18+ rating reinforces the opposite belief – that games are for children.

Providing games with an R18+ rating will send a very strict message to uninformed parents across Australia: games are not exclusively for kids. There are out there games that are not appropriate for your child, and you should be aware of this fact and filter this info into your decisions when choosing what games you children can and cannot play.

An R18+ rating will result in a more accurate ratings system
There are video games on the market that feature adult content – ignoring that fact is tantamount to burying your head in the sand. Without an R18+ rating the Classification Board don’t have the tools with which to classify games accurately.

That wouldn’t necessarily be an issue, since the Classification Board do a great job of making sure that games are rated correctly, but problems arise when it comes to a specific directive set out in the code: “adults should be able to read, hear and see what they want.”

Since this core directive is so important when it comes to classification, there is an argument to be made that certain games that exist on the precipice of an MA15+ rating are being approved as a result of that directive. If an R18+ rating existed, is there any doubt that a game like God of War III would have received that rating instead of an MA15+?

This is not to say that the classification board are rating games inaccurately – they’re not, God of War III does fit within the confines of the MA15+ rating – we’re merely pointing out that an extra rating would allow classifiers that extra step when it comes to more violent titles. This would help protect children.

An R18+ rating will bring sense and consistency to the ratings system
Consistency is of paramount importance when it comes to classification, and the lack of an R18+ rating is making it extremely difficult for classifiers to accurately rate material across different types of media. As the Media Classifiers’ Association stated, this inconsistency weakens classification and results in a loss of legitimacy.

Modern media is converging, and evolving constantly – classifiers need a ratings system that is consistent across all media in order to accurately rate material, to make sure inappropriate content doesn’t fall into the hands of children.

At the moment the lack of an R18+ rating is making it difficult for classifiers to do their jobs properly, and that may result in children gaining easier access to inapproriate games.