The Australian Christian Lobby: R18+ No Game

The Australian Christian Lobby has recently set up a website which allows users to send emails directly to the Minister for Home Affairs Brendan O' Connor, and their State's Attorney General, in opposition to the R18+ rating.

The website encourages users to consider points such as "the interactivity of video games means that users identify with the aggressor", "research has shown that there is a clear link between playing violent games and aggressive thoughts and behaviours", and "the rate of violence in video games is much higher than on film and video."

A number of things about this site worry us. The first being that, despite the fact that polls have consistently shown that over 90% of Australians are in support of an R18+ rating, the Australian Christian Lobby is representing a number of Christians by taking a viewpoint they may not support. Secondly, the ACL is encouraging their membership to write emails based on misinformation, and straw men argument based on outdated studies.

We had a quick word to a representative from the Australian Catholic Bishops and they, while understanding of the Australian Christian Lobby, stood by their position: they are in support of an R18+ rating.

"Our view is that in an ideal world we wouldn't need an R18+ rating," claimed the spokesperson, "but we live in the real world and you can't ignore the situation. The fact of the matter is that you can chuck any of these games into google and you'll be able to find them.

"When we put our submission in support of an R18+ rating, we got a furious call from the ACL, but we said 'go and read the submission'. It's simply not practical to try and ban all these games. How are you going to ban them. They were a bit angry but such is life."

According to the spokesperson, the Australian Catholic Bishops are speaking to the people that matter in this debate, and they are saying the precise same thing as they said in their submission.

"We're talking to the Attorneys-General," he claimed, "and we're going to continue to talk to them. We're saying the same thing to them as we said in the sumbission. That's basically our view. Certain games - like GTA for example - they need something a little extra so parents understand the game is not for children."


Comments

    I'm Catholic and for the R18+ rating.

      I was a catholic, and am for the R18+ rating too.

        I am a follower of Jesus and a chaplain at a primary school in a low socio economic (heaps of housing commission) and I very much support an R18 rating!

          I completely agree it should be allowed because of the fact that people have a true right to know that a game that is currently rated MA 15+ in this country is actually rated R 18+ in America or any other country or at least if they don't bring out the R 18+ rating for games in Australia make it so they have to advertise what the game is rated in another country like America. but we do truly need this R 18+ rating here in aus because of the fact that alot of parents are letting there 13 and 14 year olds play games that should be a rating of an R 18+ porn movie and i very much doubt any parents out there would allow there child at that age watch an R 18+ movie.

    Is there anything to stop us using their site to send off mails in SUPPORT of the R18+ rating?

      Ideas like this are exactly what I love about the internet

      email sent: I fully support a r18+ category for games classification.

      winner!

        Email submission also sent in support of a R18+

        We should really push this for everyone to flood them with positive requests for R18+ using their site :)

    It appears the ACL's objection to R18+ is based far more on a kind of moral panic about violence and sex in general than any reasoned argument, mainstream community opinion or a considered view of the issues. The information on their website has no consideration of the (apparent) rights of adult gamers, the benefits of R18 in providing a clear standard for parents to avoid buying, and so on. I couldn't find many objections beyond "we don't like certain kinds of content and therefore nobody should play it."

    It also hardly needs to be said that the ACL is a major supporter of the contentious mandatory internet blacklist, pushing for a mandatory filter of all adult material, not just content that is already refused classification (adults would need to 'opt-in' with their internet provider to access such material).

      moral panic is a pretty apt description of this

      The ACL isn't too concerned about the views of the rest of Australia. They want to see the morals of the bible in the laws and policies of Australia. To be more concise, Evangelical views on the bible. Even when I was an Evangelical Christian, I didn't agree with their stance (I believed that people shouldn't come to God or follow his commands through coersion by the state. A view I think is backed up by the bible).

      One of my old housemates started volunteering with them. He went in a libertarian and came out a borderline theocrat. It was kind of sad chatting to him (months after he started, after I had left Christianity) and hearing the reason for his change in views. It didn't seem that his new views sat well with him but Jim Wallace (iirc his name correctly) was very convincing arguing the position from a theological perspective. For an Evangelical the bible is absolute and if you have a persuasive argument backed up by the bible, most Evangelicals fall in line.

      Groups like the ACL really worry me. Because the majority of Australians are so apathetic when it comes to politics, it gives the vocal minorities a lot of sway.

        Turning a libertarian into a theocrat is an impressive achievement ;)

        More seriously, I agree that the ACL have undue political influence, but they're just one noisy lobby group among many. One can be reasonably confident that the secular foundations of Australian democracy are solid enough to withstand such a shrill voice, and the presence of counter-lobby groups (including, for example, Kotaku on this issue) provides alternate perspectives on a lot of the ACL's pet topics.

        Many of the Lobby's cherished issues (internet censorship, R18+, secular ethics classes in NSW) have recently been moving away from their position, or have done so entirely.

    This is a massive hit against what we have all been working towards. Don't underestimate the pull and influence the ACL would have, especially with the conservative Attorneys-General.

    Countdown to 4chan, 3, 2, 1........

      Involving 4chan won't help the situation imo... the pro R18 sideo of thinga needs well-reasoned and well-written submissions in order to have any effect, not a million retarded teenagers spamming our Attornies General. That kind of behaviour discredits our entire position that it's "time to grow up".

    As a Christian myself, I'm saddened by how manipulative the ACL website is. Full of rhetoric, it is blatantly one-sided. How on earth did these people come to represent my religion?! I did not vote for them, and I object to them using the Christian name to further their own beliefs.

      +10

    This really pisses me off, They have absolutely no understanding of the situation and if they did they would know that we are actually fighting for protecting children from these types of games. As this article had said that there are no overly violent or sexual games out there waiting to be classified, the sex game they are thinking of are the Japanese ones that are in fact illegal to sell outside of japan.

    But considering the fact that they have sent off 4000 or so emails compaired to the 80,000 sent in through the AG website, they have some catching up to do and it sucks that no one from the public can give their opinion in front of the AGs or have a public debate this need to get out to all major australian online media outlets and get the word out or all this effort in Kotaku's part might be in vein.

    Keep up the good articles.

      The Japanese games you refer to are generally not illegal at all - they just couldn't be sold in Australia with our current ratings system in place. There are several that are sold in other English-speaking markets. It pains me to point this out, but with an R18+ rating there *are* some Japanese games which would probably become legal to sell in Australia. Generally the extreme end of that market is brought up as a strawman argument, but we shouldn't really be turning a blind eye to the fact that there are some which would become saleable in Australia, should some enterprising company wish to do so.

      However the point is that they'd be clearly marked as R18+, sending a strong message to parents that the material is inappropriate for their children.

        While some eroge will indeed become legal in AU if R18+ becomes available.. this whole "bad/pornographic games will flood our shelves" is nothing more than baseless moral panicking.

        Just because something is available does not mean it will suddenly flood the shelves of "normal" retail outlets like EB, Kmart, etc.

        Case in point... pornographic videos have been more than available for years now. You would still be hard pressed to ever see any major outlets like Target, DickSmith or Kmart EVER stock them on a shelf next to the Family/Action films. Thats what Adult Shops are for. If someone wanted to sell strictly adult games for the adult market then we already have specialised outlets for that.

        Also as a counterpoint so often mentioned just because there is an R18+ rating does not mean ALL such eroge would be allowed in illegal material is still illegal material.

    I just took a look at the Web site. I was barely past the first sentence when that incorrect phrase "The last thing our community needs is more explicit violence and sex" showed up.

    Will somebody please inform the Lobby that such content is already banned by the classification code?

    Need I even say this: "Such games are already here under the MA15+ bracket".

    Just go away Australian Christian Lobby...

    Your efforts are misguided and I find it highly unlikely that these people have ever properly experienced video games at all, especially the ones that they're so vehemently against.

    Hey guys I sent a message via the site stating that I am a Christian father of 4, and in favour of an R18 rating for games. I also mentioned that the ACL doesn't speak for all of us. I ticked the CC me box, but all I have received so far is the automated response:

    [Thanks for responding to our "R18+ no game" Campaign. Your action at this time does influence politicians. Australian Christian Lobby is spending considerable time and money working to win political support for this initiative.]

    But no copy of my "pollie mail".

    I sincerely hope they aren't filtering the emails first (although I suspect they probably are).

      I bet they use you in their statistics against R18+. Wouldn't put it past the ACL

    As a Christian, these guys make me hang my head in shame.

    What follows is not spam, merely an invitation:

    People interested in joining "R18 Games Australia" are welcome to join or simply look around for a while.

    There's information, videos, articles, pictures, discussions and more!
    (Including HYPER>>'s 1993 article proving the government had R(18) and X(18) for games: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=31090938&l=b85b668eee&id=1167150741 scanned recently from an old copy!)

    We've been around since at least early 2010 and don't intend to shut down until R18+ exists in Australia.

    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=110767468939052

    Check out their hilarious OMJC! NAUGHTY GAMEZ video, with some footage from "No Russian" (MA15+) followed up by "Shake your ass! Watch yourself!" covered-nipple stripper footage from GTAIV (MA15+).

    I felt tempted to send my message again via their service but a bit worried that if gamers descend upon it their "number of messages sent" might skyrocket and make them look successful / relevant.

    That's awesome to hear about the Catholics too. Word is they're using condoms now too.

      No they're not. The pope said: "There may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility."

      http://www.npr.org/2010/11/20/131469670/popes-says-condoms-can-be-used-in-some-cases

      He then called not a real or moral solution. The position is text book Ratzinger: ill/misinformed and androcentric.

    One potential downside to 'flooding' their website with emails is the ACL may report that the increased traffic shows growing support of their anti-R18+ stance.

    We already know they don't play fair. I wouldn't be surprised if they report "Over 5,000 people visited our site! The public is increasingly in favour of no R18"

    Wait, guys. There's a page on their site that allows you to email them.
    It might not work, but if we can calmly explain to them how they're wrong, we might be able to make them realise.
    http://www.makeastand.org.au/home/contacts.php?message=email_okay&pop_up_notification=1#mailform

    I've sent the following message to them:
    http://pastebin.com/TmsQb3Wy

    If a lot of us continue to send them such messages, we might not get ignored. Go for it.

      hate to say it but you can't debate the issue with these people, you cannot get them to see the flaws in their logic. They will continue to lobby against whatever they feel the need to, and the only way to combat that is to lobby for it (in this case an R18 rating for games).

      The link should be:

      http://www.makeastand.org.au/home/contacts.php?message=email_okay&pop_up_notification=0#mailform

      Small code flaw, but the popup in the old link is ignorable anyway!

      Sent my reasonable two cents, here's hoping they TRY to read it at least!

    Im an evangelical Christian and am in favor of r18. I will be sending an email to te acl letting them know of my disgust

      And we thank people like yourself who do this. :)

      Nothing wrong with someone's religion (any kind). It's people who misuse and abuse the religion that screw things up.

    I'm dissapointed in the ACL.
    I'm Christian and I am definitely for the r18+ rating in Aus.

    I'm a Christian and I'm also for the R18 rating.

    So I emailed in support of an R18+ (from their website so that I could CC them :-P) and the first thing I get is an automated email asking for money!

    "Thanks for responding to our "R18+ no game" Campaign. Your action at this time does influence politicians. Australian Christian Lobby is spending considerable time and money working to win political support for this initiative. If you would like to provide further help by way of a secure online donation..."

    LOL

    I am not a religious person, but I am glad to see the Bishops taking logical action to the debate.

    As for the lobby website, there are unfortunately extremists in every facet of life.

    Well there's a single very simple solution to this problem: tell the ACL to get f***ed. The end.

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