Lack Of R18+ Rating Is "Turning People Into Criminals"

So says The Movie Show's Margaret Pomeranz in this interview with Byteside concerning the issue of video game classification in Australia.

While Pomeranz admits she isn't a gamer - but she will "fight for your right to play them!" - it's clear her experience in the film industry and all of its classification issues over the years have provided her with plenty of insight into the topic.

She tells Byteside's Ben Mansill:

"I think it's dangerous... it's the start of danger when you have a government effectively saying, this is what we will allow you to see, and this is what we will not allow you to see. Fortunately they have very little power these days because we can see anything we want... as long as we're prepared to break the law. And what you're doing is turning people into criminals."

Byteside held a lively debate on video game classification on Tuesday night. The full discussion will be up on the site soon. Check it out.


Comments

    I never really payed much attention to this lady aside from the odd movie review, but after watching this, she's my new hero!

    I would love her to take a more public role in this debate, it would help us immensely.

    When I read the headline I was thinking 'HUH?' and ready to pounce, but upon considering it, and before reading it, I understood where she was about to go. And she's right. I've imported because of banning. I imported GTA 3 and VC from England, uncut. That's illegal, because by australian standards theyre unrated, therefore, I'm a criminal. Did it harm me? No. I'm better for the experience to be honest, I didn't have to be subjected to a watered down, mollycoddled version which was just plain ridiculous.

    Hopefully with the debate really gaining ground now, we'll get our R rating and Atkinson will step down off his damned high horse...

      There is nothing illegal about importing GTA3 or VC, nor is it illegal for you to play them in Australia. The actual content of these games is in no way illegal, but the selling of games with such content is against the law here. Go figure

        Actually, it is illegal to import anything which is RC as well as sell it in Australia. (I had thought otherwise too, but this was clarified by Customs.)

        The likelihood, however, of actually being caught importing RC games is very slim and customs don't seem to police it too strictly (I assume it's since there's far more important things to stop).

    Right on, sister!

    Normally I'd say I can't stand this woman but kudos where they are due...

    She has a valid opinion based on real world experience.

    You go girl!

    if she was more into games... she should be our r 18 spokes person lol. she put it pretty well.

    it WILL change eventually. Its just being delayed.

    I'm a seasoned criminal according to the government... and i'm liking it.. a lot. With all these pissweak sentences handed down in the courts, a life of crime is looking more and more enticing every day.

    Excellent, more publically known people stirring up drama and brigning publicity to this crap. This will get more and more people onto the issue, and increase pressure on the government State of Affairs/whoever he was and lift this ban.

    Atkinson isn't going to do it. "People can still have fun with games that arn't violent" This is 100% proves that he doesn't understand gaming at all. He lacks the proper leadership and skills needed for his position as state attorney of SA.

    She once held a 'protest' screening of a banned film at Sydney Townhall (I think) which the police tried to shut down - got news coverage and everything.

    Perhaps a similar sought of protest is in order for the R18+ debate - set up a LAN party for L4D2 (I'm sure someone can work out how to get it running without steam), tell the media, advertise it, and hold it in a public meeting place as a 'protest' then see the authorities reaction and get some headlines...

      THIS. Government cannot function without the consent of the governed.

        Actually they can.
        There really is no form of political action one can take that is A- effective and B- legal. Peaceful protesting has never accomplished anything (ever), and an 'active' one would get shut down pretty quickly by the police.
        Sure you might grab the public's attention there, but keep in mind that almost no one cares about violent video games and you'll then suffer under the stigma of being a violent manchild.

        And on the 'protest' note Reducto, I hope you and everyone else at that LAN enjoy getting fined by Valve for software piracy and fined by the Government for possession of illegal materials.

          @Paul's first comment

          It is true the government would shut it down rather quickly, as we don't have any Bill of Rights or similar. It's legal for cops to detain anyone for lengthy periods of time without giving a real reason. Don't believe me? Do you research.

          However Valve wouldn't be doing any fining. Buy 8 copies of the game, and just fix them. Run it on lan with steam in the background but not through steam and whammo you have a working legal l4d2 lan party. The fix to get around the censorship was found by a guy on the Valve forums, they would have instantly cut it off and banned everyone involved. But why would they? They want people to enjoy their games, and if the only thing stopping them at that point is a few characters in a text file then who are valve to do the authorities job.

        Yeh right. Tell that to the Chinese.

        GENIUS

        @Paul: How ironic you make such an ignorant and defeatist remark on Ghandi's birthday. In this day in age, the technologists are always one step ahead of the censors.

        For a truly freedom loving people, the only option is to defy until a competent group of representatives can be found. You can go ahead and do as you're told, but I won't have my kids growing up to heel at the orders of prudes, sycophants, and zealots.

        @Paul. Parents should care about this. what this IDIOT in SA is achieving is just letting kids play most games that they would be unable to buy if there was a R18 rating. only the odd one gets banned, the rest come through as MA15+ when they would be R in other countries.

        the banning issue is completely the wrong problem here. it is the ones that actually don't get banned but should be R18.

        i really hate the complete lack of common sense in this world these days. this douche in SA is completely wrong and out of touch, no matter how you look at it.

        @glennc
        You're right.
        But that doesn't change the fact that no one in any position of power cares. I challenge you to find a single member of parliament who's played a game system other than the Wii.

        @Arglebarf
        Try double checking your dates before you start spouting trash.
        And really, come on... Your stance is an admirable one, but everyone is just too afraid of the government for anything to ever happen. Sure, if we were like France where masses of people will picket for any little thing, but no.
        The only way to turn the tables on this predicament would be with a huge public outcry on the issue, and we both know that is just not going to happen.

        Pontificate all you want, but I'd like to see that change anything.

      Sounds like an idea but I'm sure in the eyes of the media what worked for films as "sophisticated critics view film and protest censorship for the sake of art" will for games become "no-life criminal underground gamers ignore law and play ultra-violent game". I'm sure many uninformed people will see left 4 dead 2 on the news and say "yep they should ban all them violent video games from kids" Mabye instead we should set up a big LAN of the most objectionable (and obviously unsuitable even for teenagers) MA15+ games that are R18 in other countries and allow anyone over 15 to attend, preferably some sickly and innocent looking ones.

      The film was "Ken Park" and she got arrested for screening it. That seems like a fair idea too btw...

      Remember that it's supposed to be an R18+ game so it's not like it will be allowed to be shown in public. You could hire a private venue and put security on the door checking id's for people 18 and over.
      Apparently some guys from Valve are coming to Australia soon (for some other reason) it would be cool to hear what they have to say and even if they would condone a stunt like that.

      I'm all for a protest like that. Plus that means I get to play L4D2.

    Outstanding interview!
    I've been following this topic ever since I read about the reasons behind Fallout 3's refusal for classification and Margaret's comments are spot on and what I've been thinking all along. Some of the reasons for refusal and banning a title have been completely subjective, this is unacceptable for me.
    Also, we are not the only country with these problems. From what I've read, Germany has it worse than we do.
    It is scary to think that this kind of censorship is allowed because of one man’s views (which I've read elsewhere is generally the views of his church).
    I think all Australians should watch this interview if they are gamers, movie goers or not. People in this country should be made aware of this travesty.
    It feels just as bad to me as the recent rubbish in Victoria which allows church based organizations to refuse employment to people who are gay or single parents. What the hell is wrong with this country!
    There is something missing in this interview and every other article I've read on the topic. What can we do about it? There must be something we can do besides writing a letter to Atkinson (which I've done already). Surely there is a way to fix this problem.

      The thing that annoys me about the censorship topic here is just how seemingly fickle it is, such as the drug references from Fallout 3 initially refusing its classification to the presence of 'drug-like' behaviour in Bioshock.

      It seems like a double standard.

        Double standard, or just the point of view of the person who was at work that day doing the review.

        It even says in their own GUIDELINES FOR THE CLASSIFICATION OF FILMS AND COMPUTER GAMES under code: (a) adults should be able to read, hear and see what they want;

        http://www.comlaw.gov.au/ComLaw/Legislation/LegislativeInstrumentCompilation1.nsf/0/F0EC030A108C93DDCA2574120004F6B8/$file/FCGGuidelines2005.pdf

        The fact that there isn't an 18+ rating contradicts their own code.

    I was thinking that if in a debate on this topic someone brings up that the increased interactivity in video games vs movies could increase violent tendencies, this previous kotaku article could be useful: Buddhist Monk: Games Satiate My Desire For Aggression

    http://www.kotaku.com.au/?s=buddhism

    It's not the classification board's role to ban materials, only to classify them. There are laws pertaining to illegal material which should be enforced, anything outside of that is definitely beyond the classification board's mandate.

    Margaret for PM

    lol at the stupid pricks in our government who think they can control data (conroy and atkinson) to quote serenity "you cant stop the signal" and by signal i mean the internet

    My radical protest views got me banned on a few other sites about this issue, but this is exactly the truth that I was trying to show.

    I've loved Margaret ever since she did the whole public screening of Ken Park thing.

    She is an awesome awesome lady.

    i think we have our spokes person

    Atkinson isn't going to listen.
    If he didn't listen to all the other Attorney Generals and the general Australian public, what makes anyone think he is going to listen to Magaret Pomeranz?

    Governments have power, and can choose to abuse it and ignore the public, which is what ours does.

    I mightn't agree with all her reviews on SBS, but she hits the nail on the head when it comes to an R rating for video games.

      *cough* abc *cough*

        Abc? well thats shows you how much I watch free to air tv, ages ago she used todo reviews on SBS.

    Sweet, bout time we got some support on this absurdity by someone who is relatively well known and respected among more than just gamers in Aus.

    But unless you live in specific places in Australia, it's not illegal to own RC games...

    A worthwhile interview. Some important points were made which was pleasing to see with an exceptional performance by Pomeranz. I'll give it 4 out of 5 stars.

    I've no idea why any of you would 'normally hate' Margaret... Aside from it just generally seeming immature, she's done a number of significant things for our benefit in Australia, and seems to be a genuine person willing to share her opinion in the public arena.

    Beyond that, I am grateful to see someone (especially a public figure) who isn't the least bit interested in games stand up for the rights of people in our country. To be frank, this debate really has little to do with being 'allowed' to play the latest version of 'Hack an Engorged Prostitute Penis off with a Chainsaw 3' for Xbox, and much more to do with basic rights and legislation. I personally don't much care for the games that have thus far been banned in Australia, but very much care that out government think they have the right to impose that restriction!

    Not that you're likely to ever read this, but thanks Margaret for taking the time to discuss the issue from an impartial and sensible point of view.

    Go Ben!

    We may all secretly call her "elf women" behind her back, but deep down we all respect Margaret Pomeranz, and this is why.

      x100,000,000,000,000,000,000

    She wins.

      Heres something for you guys to all think about:

      Why is porn and pot illegal everywhere in australia...

      EXCEPT CANBERRA, HOME OF THE POLITICIANS?

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