Watch How Misinformed Aussie Politicians Are About Video Games


The above snippet is taken from a relatively new ABC show called Q&A, which gives everyday people the chance to pose questions to politicians, journalists and the like. The latest episode saw the panel field a question about the lack of an R18+ rating for video games. The result... well, all I can say is wow. At this rate, we don't stand a chance.

Thanks to Daniel Silk, who pointed me in the direction of the clip. Daniel also went to the trouble of putting together a letter to complain about the panel, which I've included after the jump.

If you'd like to read more information about games classification, I urge you to check these out: Michael Atkinson, No R18+ For Games In Australia: Why It Hurts Children R18 Classification & Video Games: What You Can Do Why Michael Atkinson's Opposal Of An R18+ Rating For Games Does Bugger All To Protect Kids, Promotes Crime

Q&A episode 10 [ABC TV]

To whom it may concern,

I watched you show for the first time last night (24/7/08) as I was informed that the question of "Why Australia doesn't have an R rating for video games". I must say that I am thoroughly disappointed at how misinformed most of you panel was on the subject and how quickly the original question was side tracked from.

To start off, the host had a completely wrong idea about the game "Fallout 3" which was used to start the question. This game was only refuse classification (not banned mind you) because of the use of the drug morphine as a pain killer. Why this ONE game was pick up for its use is beyond me, as there have been countless others that have been classified fine with use of the drug in the game (Half life 1 and 2, Fallout 1 and 2 just to name a couple of popular games).

Also the description your host used to describe Fallout 3 was a bit incorrect, yes there is violence in the game - but the "main purpose" is not to kill everything. The game takes place in a post apocalyptic world - as was stated - but the player is then given the choice of how to interact in this now war torn, almost primitive new world. The player CAN just kill everyone, but that will have ramification on how the rest of the game will play out. Or he could be diplomatic and talk to everyone - be friendly and help them out, and be rewarded for his actions.

This seems to be the idea that most of the older generations (I'm 25 myself and have been gaming since the age of 8) have stuck in their heads - that all these games are just full of violence for violence sake. Most 'adult' games have violent themes for the same reason that 'mature/restricted' movies have violent themes - to move the story and add suspense/tension.

Now to move on, as the first lady to answer the question decided to take it from a personal position of "I don't want my kids to play it - so nobody can!". This does nothing but hurt the Australian economy, but also stabs every parent by saying "You don't know how to look after you kids, so we'll let the government do it for you". I agree totally that minors should not be allowed to play violent games, and that we should have a solid, PUBLISIZED rating system in place (which I'll get to shortly) to stop minors from purchasing these games. But by refusing classification on games of a mature nature will not stop the minors from getting hold of them anymore than if there was an R rating. But if there was such a rating, at least the Australian economy can be injected with otherwise missing cash, and parents will be more informed about the games that their children are playing.

But like I said, they can still get hold of these games by other means, downloading from the internet (which is not only illegal, but hurts the economy) or importing them from other countries. Well to start, parents can monitor (and should try to monitor) their child's internet usage as much as possible - and in this day in age is surprisingly easy with numerous programs that allow parent to control what sites can and can't be accessed. And as far as importing the games goes (which apparently customs would seize all copies of 'banned' games) most of the new consoles have parent controls - which stops ANYONE from playing any game deemed so by the user (parent in this case) to a certain rating level.

Now about the rating system, which most of you panel were convinced doesn't exist in this country. We currently have in place a rating system to a maximum of M15+ which most of these controversial games must get released into in this country if they wish to be sold. This causes confusion in parents as they think "Well little Bobby watches M rated movies he should be fine with this" without realising how broad of a rating that is. If we were to have an R rating it would decrease some confusion, and to properly inform the public about the rating system (like we currently do with television rating) would decrease it even more. I have been in game stores behind a parent who, after being informed about a game by the clerk, says "It's only rated M so it can't be that bad".

How is it that Australia is the only country in the western world not to have an R rating? New Zealand has one and it isn't over run by people stealing cars and running over pedestrians, and the UK seems to be dealing with one fine. Heck, even in Japan - where they have some really controversial games - they have a Z rating which is illegal to be displayed and must be asked from specifically before showing ID to be purchased. There are many ways to combat any of the misconceptions that are brought up when talking about an R rating, and all of them are valid and proven to work.

This still doesn't lessen the disappointment I feel after watching your show, funnily called "Questions and Answers" to see the person who asked the question spend about 10 minutes with a raise hand to try (I can only guess) and correct your panel on the gross half truths they were saying. Also I must ask, why was the topic switch from talking about bringing in a new rating to compliment they current rating system, to how this would suddenly allow snuff films and excessive pokies to be brought into this country? I have never heard such useless propaganda spread in all my life! Snuff films and video games would still be illegal, even with an R rating, as they will always be deemed inappropriate and unnecessary; just like we can't have them now. How the topic swung to this I don't know, but to try and push this as fact is disappointing to hear from people in government. And the guy in the audience with his question about how this would allow more pokies to open? I think he must have confused gaming and Gaming. I can understand how that could happen, as they are both used to describe a similar experience, but they are not related in any way. One is to do with gambling, which as your panel successfully said is bad and does affect others, the other describes a pastime that many people are actively participative in. Neither affects the other. Another point I would like to bring to light is the passing of information about studies linking violent video games and violent acts. These studies are inconclusive at best and there are also studies that state the opposite, that the playing of violent games actually DECREASES violent outbursts in some people. Trying to state these studies as actual facts when the verdict is still out is just plain wrong and I'm shocked that no-one on the panel tried to debate this. Yes, there are some people who are drawn to violent media - be it games, books or movies; but you don't see us banning the latter two do you? To say that video games glorify violence is to say that Saving Private Ryan glorified the violence of World War II, or that America Beauty glorifies having sex with minors. If you are going to ban one, ban them all; don't just ban things based on how you are feeling at the time.

So in conclusion, I am disappointed that your show seemed more like a platform to spout inconclusive propaganda and misinformation; and when your original question asker had a point he was obviously wanted to raise, was turned down and not allowed to speak out. Australia needs an R rating for its video games to bring it in line with the rest of the world, and to allow a more uniformed rating on games that should never be allowed in minor's hands. The rating systems in Australia need to be publicized more as the public at large seems to be grossly misinformed and needs to be set straight. And seeing that there is only ONE MAN that is holding this country back in the 'stone age of ratings' shows that they way that these things are brought into this country need to be looked at as soon as possible.

While I'm not really fussed that I probably won't get a reply to this letter, I do hope that you will bring these facts to light on your next show - as I feel bad for anyone who was watching to get the wrong idea about this new media type that has now shadowed the Movie and Television industries.

Sincerely,

A concerned citizen.


Comments

    Wow, I'm sorry but I couldn't get halfway through it just made me feel depressed.

    Must stop beating head against wall!

    I really appreciated the last question they fired at the panel: How can the government have such double standards? They freely support a very liberal system of gambling (which it was noted has far more proven social problems than games do) in all Australian states, yet they play the role of the morally righteous crusaders in the great war against video games.

    I wonder if they can hear themselves?

    I appreciated the applause that the question received even more.

    Can't someone dig up some dirt on Michael Atkinson so we can get him out of government?

    Those panelists had no idea and formed opinions based on their own assumptions. I want my 7.5 minutes back...

    Yeah, that has pretty much ruined my day. People like barnaby Joyce i expected to spout off that crap, but i hoped at least one of the others would be even slightly informed or open minded. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to sell totally unrated games to minors.

    As a side note my captcha is 'total dislike'

    highly appropriate

    Please dont tell me that letter was submitted to someone? That would have to be the worst letter I have ever read before - didnt the author even bother to re-read it and check the vocabulary and spelling? No wonder Politicians think us game players are kids, unworthy of an R18+ rating when the basics of English writing were ignored in the first paragraph of the letter - firstly try adding an "r" at the end of you so it actually says "your" and the very first sentence isnt complete - surely the author meant to add "was brought up" or "was discussed" at the end of the sentence....

    Its quite sad to watch that, i cant say im not suprised though. Its funny that most of their basis of their arguments of it being banned was because of the violence, however AFAIK the sole reason it was banned was because of the drug use and not the violence?

    I dont think the conversation got off to a great start either when the game was simplified down to such a level and then described to have a thing in your arm which you administer drugs into that help you kill more people. I mean when you describe any game like that i dont blame the politicians, as ignorant as they may be, for not understanding why we need the games like fallout 3.

    I think it'll be a long, long time before we get justice on the r18+ matter, props go to the audience member who mentioned the pokies though, thats really something ive never thought about before.

    I think another point they should have brought up is that without the r18+ classification here, other games that would in other countries be classified under such rating, are changed to fit into a ma15+ rating here. Im sure they'd all agree it'd be better to offer a r18+ rating for these games, rather than have them resubmitted and be available to a younger audience.

    I so hope that letter prompts a response and (please god, please) an apology from the program. Fingers are well and truly crossed, but I'm not holding my breath.

    "AS A MOTHER" I stopped listening at that moment to anything she had to say.

    The responses were offtopic and irrellivant as expected..

    We're boned!

    I would have to agree with Daniel - if I was the person receiving that letter in its current form, my opinion of gamers in general would be lowered as a result. The spelling and grammar are atrocious - plus the author puts his worst spelling mistake in all caps to emphasise it! "PUBLISIZE"? Seriously?

    *sigh*
    We dont stand a chance.
    As far as they are conerned, anything you point a gun at on screen is representative of a living, normal, happy person. Having violence in the context of the story doesnt even occur to them. In that respect its no different to a movie.

    What really pisses me off, no offense to the guy in audience who asked the question, is that it would seem we have dont have a good voice to communicate with these types of people. Noone who gest to speak to these guys about this issue are truely prepared and researched, noone seems to have any skills to debate their arguments. Christ that guy didnt even get to have a word in edge-ways. That was a slaughter.

    The ignorance is just astounding.
    Rape people? RAPE PEOPLE?!
    *smacks Nationals around*

    All we need is a forum where intelligent and articulate gamers can speak to these people and properly construct the arguments for an R18+ rating. I don't think it's as far away as people are saying - we just need to lay the smack down.

    There are mountains of research and statistics that show that video games are no longer fringe entertainment. They are mainstream! Someone needs to send a copy of the "INTERACTIVE
    AUSTRALIA 2007 Facts About the Australian Computer and Video Game Industry" report to these people, and every politician. A national research report conducted by Bond University, randomly sampling 1,606 households and 3,386 gamers.

    Key Findings:

    79% of Australian households have a device for playing computer and video games.

    The average age of Australian gamers is 28 years.

    Interactive games are attracting new players. 41% of gamers are female. 8% are seniors.

    Parents and children are increasingly playing together. 35% of gamers are parents.

    61% of gamers play for up to an hour at one time. Playing computer games does not compete with non-media and outdoor leisure activities. Instead it competes with other media such as TV, film and music.

    Parents in game households say the positive aspects of game play are more than just enjoyment and happiness. 73% say games help their children learn about technology, 68% say games help their children learn maths, 64% say games help children learn to plan.

    70% of games classified by the OFLC in 2006 were rated G or PG.

    62% of Australians in game households say the classification of a game has no influence on their buying decision.

    Australians are very confused about the difference between the M and MA15+ classification.

    I'm 21, been gaming since I was 4 (Atari 2600). I'm a psychology student at Murdoch University and I've taken the time to look at quite a lot of the research of games and aggression. Saying that the research is inconclusive is being generous. In truth the majority of the better conducted research indicates that violent games have no significant causal link to increased aggression.

    @MRSHLEE

    ""AS A MOTHER" I stopped listening at that moment to anything she had to say."

    Ha! My reaction also. I can understand people relating the issue to themselves personally, but in a discussion such as this - its the bigger picture that is important. I.e. the entire Australian consumer market.

    That Xenophon and Barnaby are fucking idiots.

    THE CHILDREN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YOU ASSHOLES

    Firstly, yes! This concerned citizen is spot on, and more needs to be done in infultrating the complete and utter misuse of power involving such matters. I completely agree with what he has said, and support him all the way! Keep it up.

    That video and that letter are equally terrifying. The video because it's full of knee-jerk idiots peddling crap about a medium they don't understand, and that letter because the concept of "proof-reading" is apparently alien to the author. The spelling and grammar are terrible and sending that to anybody in authority does nothing to help the cause. Sorry Daniel.

    I'm glad someone Youtubed that segment since I'd missed it on TV. It's a shame the main issue was not addressed--that the rating levels are inconsistant between games and other media.

    The letter is a bit embarrassing, and incorrect e.g. games can be rated up to MA15+, not M15+.

    "AS A MOTHER" made me lol. Go Bill Bailey.

    Yeah, that letter needs a massive re-write, or at least be read for spelling.

    No offence to the guy who raised the question (and good on him for doing so), but he did a poor job of it. He didn't correct Tony Jones' description of the game (which purposely highlighted the violence) and he didn't answer the other questions well either.

    He was up against it though - the panel was clearly never going to be onside, even if he tried to interest them with the censorship angle. Basically I think we don't have a hope of this getting changed, meaning we either a) go without b) hope for a modified version or c) break the law. What a ridiculous situation to be in.

    "AS A MOTHER" made me lol. Go Bill Bailey.

    Made me think of Bill hicks ;)

    If the argument against an R18+ Rating stems from the assumed 'fact' that an R18+ rating will not restrict children from accessing restricted content doesn't that invalidate the entire rating system (i.e. movies etc ...) not only that of R18 games ?

    Should the best way to deal with this issue be to invalidate the points that are used to formulate the argument against an R18 rating, and a way to do that is to turn the arguments against the rest of the media that is covered by an r18 ratings system?

    I find it appalling that the CEO of an organisation that is meant to help Australian businesses run "more effectively and to become more competitive on a domestic and international level" is so clueless about one of the few entertainment industries that isn't sinking into the quagmire of global dept.

    I'd demand this woman step down from her position as an advisor to Australian industry.

    Furthermore, I want to see leadership on this issue from our own CEOs.

    I think Tom Crago, CEO of Tantalus and head of the GDAA needs to step up and demand an apology on behalf of all game developers in this country from this woman and her organisation.

    She called us all sick and appalling!

    Are you going to sit there and take that, Tom?

    I think calling this panel "misinformed" is too high praise. Outside of the bald ALP member and the woman with dark hair next to the host, the rest of the panel failed to admit they knew nothing about games... "the Queen has a Wii" showed them up very nicely! But then it didn't inform non-gamers it only reinstated false stereotypes.

    As for that Independent and Barnaby Joyce, I'd love to know what the hell they're on. They couldn't name one study they claimed that existed. Better yet how the hell will an R18+ rating get me snuff films and rape games?!

    In fact I think I might write to Barnaby and ask if he could give me the name of the rape game he's talking about and some of that North Queensland air he's smokin... ;)

    That's a tactic I support Dave. I have sent a letter asking Michael Atkinson why he is not campaigning against the R18+ rating available to films. Why he allows that sort of violence and sex and drug use in to the homes of our children. OUR CHILDREN! Awaiting the reply still.

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