Govt Releases R18+ Discussion Paper For Public Consultation

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Govt Releases R18+ Discussion Paper For Public Consultation

The Federal Government has this afternoon released a discussion paper on the merits of an R18+ classification for video games. The move is part of a round of public consultation on the issue that will continue until the end of February next year.

The paper contains a brief overview of the National Classification Scheme and outlines the arguments both for and against the introduction of an R18+ rating for video games. It also describes how the Australian public may make a submission and let their voices be heard in the debate.

Briefly, the key arguments against are:

* Computer games should be treated differently from films given the specific, negative effects of interactivity on players, particularly their participation in violent and aggressive content.
* It would be difficult for parents to enforce age restrictions for computer games.
* Minors would be more likely to be exposed to computer games that are unsuitable for them.
* An R 18+ for computer games would exacerbate problems associated with access to high level material in Indigenous communities and by other non-English speaking people
* There is no demonstrated need to change existing restrictions.

And, the key arguments for are:

* The R 18+ classification category sends a clear, unambiguous message to parents that the game material is unsuitable for minors
* Consistent classification categories for films and computer games are easier to understand
* A new classification will supplement technological controls on minors’ access to age inappropriate computer games
* Adults should not be prevented from playing R 18+ level computer games simply because they are unsuitable for minors
* Comparable international classification systems have an adult rating for computer games – international parity is desirable
* Consumers access games which would be R 18+ illegally – it would be better if they were legally available with appropriate restrictions

Please download the full discussion paper at the link below, along with the instructions on how to make a submission.

An R18+ Classification for Computer Games – Public Consultation
[Attorney-General’s Dept]

Comments

    • By releasing it to the public, we can have our say and show that there is alot support in the public for this rating.

      Then that can put pressure on Atkinson if he contiues to hold the minority view and he can be painted as being on a Moral Crusade against this and denying the public what they are asking for because he doesnt share the same views.

      The ACT and VIC AG’s are in favor of it, if we can get 2 or 3 more to publically voice support for it AND get positive and constructive submissions showing there is more benefit to having this rating….then hopefully enough pressure will be on him to change his view…lest he piss off the public more.

      If there is public pressure in favor of the adoption of an R18+ Rating, it would be in Gamers 4 Croyden’s interest to hammer Atkinson on it in his electorate and getting the people there onside and painting him as following his own wishes, not what the public wants.

      Either way, finally some official recognition of the of the issue. Government’s dones something right for once.

    • Sorry to say it but this still needs a UNANIMOUS VOTE from the same people who defeated this last time. Don’t get me wrong i hope it works, but what is the point if at the end of the day, it can be de-railed by one angry old man. I really have no faith in this country anymore, the people running it are completely detached from the people who live in it.

  • Finally! What we need now to make solid submissions is data on all the key points of our arguments.

    For example, how many titles shoe-horned into MA15+ in Australia have been classified in higher classifications in other countries? We need answers to these kinds of questions to really put forth the strongest submissions we can.

    • Also would be good to find the results of studies pertaining to “Computer games should be treated differently from films given the specific, negative effects of interactivity on players, particularly their participation in violent and aggressive content.”

      I know there have been studies that have shown people that play violent video games are actually more calm, and less prone to violence in real life.

      Also this point is clearly wrong: “There is no demonstrated need to change existing restrictions” and we need to show this.

      • Well, the easiest argument there is that no study cited has done comparisons between different forms of media (comparisons are done within the same media). So there’s nothing to demonstrate the idea that games are more impactful because of their interactivity, especially when Craig Anderson (who was cited) has done studies that show the same increases in aggression when comparing violent and non-violent films and oddly enough increases in temperature (I think it was based on discomfort, I only skimmed that one).

        Seeing as it’s a key argument, the lack of evidence to back it up is kind of a big deal.

        • I believe the problem here is of an intuitive nature. It seems intuitive that interaction would have a larger impact on a persons mental state. As has been shown with a number of issues, human intuition is often wrong and can’t be the basis of decision making in this regard. We need facts.

          So this means we’d need to show studies that show A. Does interaction have a larger affect on a persons futuer actions (like you said).
          B. Does increased violence etc, assuming A is found to be true, lead to positive or negative results on people.

          Given that you will get bad and good eggs no matter what, cherry picking individual cases of a person losing the plot, who happened to play computer games, doesn’t show a trend, nor prove computer games were at fault.

          • The available literature on the subject is extremely contradictory – for every paper demonstrating a causative link between violent video games and aggressive behaviour, there’s a study that shows games of this nature have a positive impact on behaviour, and two more that are inconclusive. I was actually reading a literature review on the matter today, and the authors of that paper came to this conclusion. They also had some choice things to say about the way the studies they examined had been conducted.

  • Please everyone read this paper, its fine that you support this or that, but we need to actually be INFORMED and not just ranting and full of rage. Read the paper and make a reasonable submission!

  • This is great news. However the arguments against seem like Atkinson has written them himself. They really don’t sit well with me at all. “no demonstrated need to change” “difficult for parents to enforce” “Indigenous communities and by other non-English speaking people”. Seriously these arguments against have not been thought out and are deeply flawed.

    • “by other non-English speaking people” yeah i particularly felt this part was very racist and emotive. People in foreign countries have access to these games, whether they live in this country matters not.

      I can understand the point of view with regards to Indigenous communities given events over the previous few years with other R rated material and Alcohol, and thus computer games would fall into that category.

    • Thats a good thing, this gives us the opportunity to show that.

      We need to seperate the legitimate argument from the moral panic and argue against it accordingly, don’t get bogged down trying to educate because they simply don’t care.

      Atkinson claims that we are a ‘vocal minority’ trying to force our will on the people of australia, it falls to us to prove that we are vocal for a reason… And that he is the one forcing his will upon us.

      If you *do* write something about this and send it in try and avoid mentioning him at all. He’s a grouchy old twat swelled to the brim with pride and self-importance, turning this into a shit-slinging match isn’t going to get us what we want… (unfortunately).

      The trick is to simply focus on the facts, there is no proof that videogames harm people, studies that claim that are flawed. Other countries have 18+ ratings and they work fine.

      Those two points should be reason enough for Australia to move to a position of parity with those other nations so at least we can compete economically in the industry. After all, we are not the conservative moral compass of the world, there is no reason for us to be different on this point.

  • “It would be difficult for parents to enforce age restrictions for computer games.”

    If there has been no demonstrated increased harm from video games compared to other media (and Anderson’s research, which has been cited, shows similar results across multiple forms of media not just video games, and all studies seem to test across the same media and not comparing games to film), then surely this argument applies to all age restricted content.

    It should apply to MA15+ (and higher) content across all mediums.

    Also: “There is no demonstrated need to change existing restrictions.’ “It’s not broken, so why fix it” is not an argument against a clear improvement. Some soapy water and some corrugated iron will clean your clothes just fine, so why have a washing machine?

  • Does anyone get the feeling that Atkinson himself wrote the arguments against section?

    Theres no solid facts in the against section. – Theres no proven link between violence and video games.
    – All current generation consoles have age restriction capabilities.
    – Opinion and debatable. Responsible parenting + parental restrictions on consoles FTW!
    – Opinion and debatable, see point 1. If there is no proven link between games and violence in the general public, why should it be any different for Indigenous communities and by other non-English speaking people. This just feels like a cop out.
    – No demonstrated need? I’m sure the current political party, numerous facebook groups and its thousands of members and 500+ residents of SA feel differently.

    Hopefully this will lead to change in the very foreseeable future.

  • Re: arguments against…

    *There is little reliable scientific evidence of increased impact due to interactivity, and significant evidence that it in fact diminishes the impact because pressing buttons reinforces the fact that it is not real. The classification system also includes the provision that interactivity is to be taken into account, thus an R18+ film and R18+ game would be the same ‘impact’.

    *It would not be more difficult than for films, and in many instances with the easy to use parental controls on modern consoles and PCs, potentially easier. Limited use of parental controls is a reason to increase education for parents, not restrict adult liberty.

    *Less adult-oriented content would be placed in the MA15+ category, making less adult content available to minors. The size of the Australian games market is not significant enough to urge developers to create higher-impact games with the introduction of an R18+ for games, something that every other western democracy has.

    *Again, education is a preferred response to poorly-understood classifications, rather than censorship.

    *There is little demonstrated need to watch films, read books or listen to music. They, like games, are choices. The impact that the lack of a R18+ for games has on the economy is significant. Anecdotally, dozens of game stores across Adelaide sold tens of thousands of dollars, each, of Modern Warfare 2. If, as Mr Atkinson wants, this game is retroactively Refused Classification, the ongoing sales of that product – a single game – will cease. Gamers in WA who purchased the game legally will become criminals for possession of RC material. Left 4 Dead 2 sold pitiful numbers in Australia due to the lack of an R18 and its subsequent censoring. That is money that instead of going to Australian retailers has gone to international stores. Aliens vs Predator, another highly anticipated game, would likely have seen millions of dollars pass through the local economy. Now, it will go oversees.

    Chris Prior
    Gamers4Croydon Councillor
    I game, I vote.

    • Gamers4Croydon is currently working on a submission, and will provide a list of key points for people to address in their own submissions.

      Chris Prior
      Gamers4Croydon Councillor
      I game, I vote.

  • “There is no demonstrated need to change existing restrictions… The risk of possible harm through increasing the exposure by children to unsuitable material is not theoretical and the classification system should be kept in its present form.”

    How can this paper encourage discussion when it not only subjectively but explicitly states that the system should be kept in its present form? This language is jaded, compromised by weasel words and straw man BS. I worry.

  • There are so many things wrong with the CONS of having a R18 but also their are some valid points.

    I agree that Video Games should be treated differently compared to films. Firstly, the film business is bigger than the video game business.

    Secondly, i think Video Games should be treated in a more lighter tone than films. Films are much more accessible to minors than games. Films are cheaper and a minor can still get into a MA15 movie and possibly a R18 if a guardian was with them.

    Films are more easily accessible through the internet compared to video games, especially retail video games that are R18 etc…
    Video games are more expensive than films and minors, especially those around 10-12 wouldn’t always have the money to purchase a video game without seeking permission or $$$ from their parents.

    There is no demonstrated need for a change? seriously? They refused classification to the standard edition of Left 4 Dead 2 – a somewhat popular game. It affects retailers and not only that, i guess Australian publishers and developers could claim it effects them in making games that are most popular to the fans they cater.

    Back to the films – a game that receives a R18 rating may be because their are certain parts of the game that contain extreme violence or language etc… But that doesn’t mean the whole game is violent all the way through. The point I’m making – in games you need to take control in order to view/experience the violence or whatever warrants the R rating. In a film, you witness doing nothing but sit their. Therefore, violence or sexual references in a film are much more accessible to a child than a video game.

    Not every child (or household) has a console and therefore video games don’t necessarily affect those group of people. Also, i bet a lot of statistic could confirm my prediction that most families and households with children under 15 would own a Wii rather than a PS3 or Xbox 360. And going back the past few years, i would safely bet without knowing, that no games on the Wii have been refused classification and a very SMALL percentage would have M or MA rating.

    I know alot of minors have 360’s and PS3s also, but more would have a Wii. A console that is marketed and viewed as a more child friendly console that caters to children and adults/older people. A more family console.

    • Excellent points, but you have to remeber, the video game industry is becoming ALOT bigger. It earns alot more money than it used to, with some games having $100 Million budgets. Games are soon going to be just as big as film is when it comes to money, if not more. DVDs dont sell anywhere near as much as would be liked, and video games dont need to worry about selling in both cinema and stores. They sell straight from stores, with the average cost in australia being $90-$100. Film is $9 in cinema and then $30 on dvd. If a movie sells 10million tickets and 5million dvds, and games sell only 7.5million copies, they still make more then a film does.

    • Unless they check and realise that our numbers have been artificially inflated by non-Queenslanders and duplicate signings.

      One signature per person, Queenslanders only please. We need more numbers, but for those numbers to mean anything that have to be real people.

  • Just remember guys – treat this with respect. Don’t go off and make spontaneous random submissions without thinking your answers through.

    We need to make our voices heard and need to make them count.

  • Most of their arguments are just plain wrong. Thankfully the Australian public can now make commentary on this subject =)

    * It would be difficult for parents to enforce age restrictions for computer games.

    And they will have trouble with R18 & X18 movies too, so make them RC aswell.

    * Minors would be more likely to be exposed to computer games that are unsuitable for them.

    Hardly, they currently are already being exposed to levels well beyond what a MA15 should allow.

    * An R 18+ for computer games would exacerbate problems associated with access to high level material in Indigenous communities and by other non-English speaking people

    WTF Racism?!?

    * There is no demonstrated need to change existing restrictions.

    A large number of games rated MA15 are rated as an adult classification overseas e.g. R18

    • You should send this to the discussion paper,

      It completely disproves there points and is exactly what most people are thinking when they read though those ludicrous reasons against having the ratings.

  • I don’t usually get involved in this sort of thing, but I would like to have my say. I have been playing games since I played the first Super Mario Bros on the Nintendo in 1990 or so. My parents were extremely careful in the content that I was exposed to, and the reason that they were able to make a informed decision was that there was a ratings system in place. If people can remember a game called Carmageddon that was released some years back, the idea was that you would drive around and run down pedestrians. If I remember correctly this was the first Game rated MA15+ released in Australia (correct me if I’m wrong) however judging on the content of the game, it perhaps should have been rated R18+. This brings the point up that, games that have been getting through as an MA rated game shouldn’t be. This is the prime reason that we need a R18 rating. Think of the major titles that have caused problems when being released in Australia. Left 4 Dead 2, Grand Theft Auto 4, Modern Warfare 2. All of these titles have content within them, that really should classify them for an R18 rating. If we have a mature and fully functioning ratings system here in Australia, then the content that we should be able to make our minds up about, will be handled in a correct and mature way. We won’t have to edit or modify games in a way to allow them to be released in a version that should be classified as R18, but is being allowed as MA15. When I played the ‘No Russian’ level in MW2, I didn’t feel the need to fire at anyone, however (and I believe this is what Infinity Ward intended) I felt repulsed in the stomach. Now the rating on the box says ‘strong violence’ but it does not go into anymore detail than this. Perhaps if we are to get a R18 rating for games, then more detail, like some of the movie ratings show now, would also be advisable. I’m 27, and I feel I have the right to make an informed decision BUT lets make sure these decisions are being made with the correct and best system in place to do this. One question I do have is, if we receive an R18 rating, would this allow Left 4 Dead 2, to then be patched to allow the unedited version of the game for existing copies, or allow Valve or Sega/Rebellion to then go back and resubmit a game for classification if it was refused on initial submission?

  • Why dont the government make some legislation where MA15+ and R18+ has to come with a pamphlet with details and instructions on how to use the parental controls on all consoles, or at least give them to the a responsible adult at the point of sale.

    • This brings to light that games in fact have even better access-prevention methods than movies – console parental controls.

      * It would be difficult for parents to enforce age restrictions for computer games.

      Because all parents will obviously forget where they hide / lock away their R18+/X18+ movies and just put their games in their children’s MOUTH. At least, that’s what Atkinson would do.

    • I long for the day when we get an online shooter that’s R rated, then I won’t have to spend so much time muting the squeaky-voices.

  • Admittedly, I may have missed this, but did they not make any mention in the paper of how games that are restricted elsewhere getting shoved into our MA15+ rating? Games like Modern Warfare 2 and Fallout 3 were 17+ in the USA, and 15+ here.
    That’s one of the more important reasons for getting an R18+ rating here, so why wasn’t it brought up?

  • The entire paper is written by Atkinson himself and is completely biased. I am sickened to the stomach.

    Although obvious, I will point out that you don’t have to print out the submission template in order to complete it, you can just delete the unnecessary answers in word and email it off. Cheers.

    Knowing Atkinson, that email address is set up to delete everything it receives anyway.

    Good luck! I hope we get somewhere in all this!

  • Quite frankly, the points against are very easy to refute. I think it’s time for us to show these polly’s just how misinformed they are.

  • If videogames are that much more potent at eliciting emotional responses from people than films are, why have developers been struggling so hard to try and make us cry when we play?

    Every new console generation that comes out you hear devs going on and on about how much more emotion they’re hoping to deliver.

    I know there are extremely beloved characters and moments in games, don’t get me wrong, I’m just making the point that it’s a tough medium to generate emotions in.

    Thank god this is finally open to public debate. Can I be a pillock and remind everyone to spell and grammar check their submissions? Nothing destroys credibility of an author faster than poor spelling and we need every submission to count.

  • “Dear Government,

    I’m a bad parent. I can’t control my kid or even stop them from playing R18 games etc, please do my job.”

    is this what the country is about? people can’t look after their children so everyone suffers? pretty sure the big R18+ and red symbol is fairly well known to what it stands for. if not show some tv ads, I’ve seen enough about responsible drinking, how about responsible gambling

  • Ive sent mine:

    My argument is for the implementation of an R18 classification for video games. Being an adult video game player in Australia; I have to go without many video games I am interested in because they are refused classification and am forced to import them possibly breaking laws or guidelines. As an adult I shouldn’t have to go to this extent to buy the videogames I should legally be able to play at my age. Regarding exposure to children, I certainly would not let R18 rated video games to be played or viewed by children in my family. As with any other media, current and appropriate identification would be needed to purchase R18 rated video games stopping minors accessing them. I also believe parents understand the rating, as they know R18 is stricly for adults only and not to be played or viewed by minors. Adults of Australia are missing out on some excellent pieces of interactive entertainment they want to play simply because the video game rating system in Australia is currently rated for children and teenagers only. Most other countries in the world have an adult rating for video games, so should Australia. The time to implement one is now.
    Michael Barnes -Adelaide, South Australia.

  • Sent mine:

    The Australian National Classification Scheme should include an R18+ rating for games both to clarify standards of content in games to protect minors and to bring the Australian classification of games onto a level that is no longer sub-standard to that of international markets.
    Though the lack of an R18+ classification is intended to protect minors from adult content, it can also cause the OFLC to rate games that should fit in an R18+ category into the MA15+ category. An example of this is the 2008 bestselling game Fallout 3, which received an 18+ rating in all overseas markets for the exact same content (except America and NZ with 17+ and 16+ ratings respectively) but in Australia receiving a MA15+ classification, lower than that of all other markets. An R18+ rating would remove this issue of clarity and protect minors from inappropriate content that should be classified R18+ rather than MA15+.
    Australian adults should have the ability to obtain products that are available in most other parts of the world but have been refused classification due to lack of an R18+ rating. Lack of freedom of purchase domestically encourages illegal purchase of these games from overseas, where they are widely available to those over 18, affecting Australian retailers negatively due to lack of profit from a game that could have been purchased domestically with an R18+ classification. This lack of classification declines adult Australians the ability to purchase this content legally, something that most other worldwide markets entrust their adults.

  • David, is it possible to leave this at the top of the main kotaku.au website for a week or two? Also I’m going to print this out and fill it out tomorrow.

  • Dealing with the arguments “against”…

    1) Please cite more than one peer-reviewed academic study that demonstrates content X in a video game is any more impactful than content X in a movie. And make sure that this study is not funded by any socially-conservative advocacy groups. Additionally, please look at evidence on the other side, i.e. whether or not video games are a “catharsis” for darker impulses rather than an “exacerbater” of them.

    2) Games are as easy to procure as DVD’s are. DVD’s actually are easier to procure than games since games are sold in fewer places. If a child can get ahold of an R-rated game they certainly can get ahold of an R-rated DVD much more easily. If parents can be responsible enough to prevent kids from watching the DVD of “Basic Instinct” then they are responsible enough to prevent kids from playing Super Ultra Gory Death Chainsaw Rampage 4000.

    3) Would they? An R18+ rating by definition means minors are legally not allowed to buy it or gain access to it publically. Additionally, less adult content would be placed in the MA15+ category in the first place. And most importantly, why should adult liberty be sacrificed for the children?

    4) Cannot indigenous Australians and non-English-Speaking Australians deal with more violence, blood and gore? Is it seriously being suggested that their minds are less capable than English-speaking white Australians and as such we need to protect them? This is a very patronizing and racist attitude.

    5) No demonstrated need to change restrictions? This assumes the system is working fine. And it quite clearly is not. For one, the MA15+ category is being stretched to accomodate content that is probably excessive for it. For two, several games are being refused classification, even when adults want these games (and as the OFLC’s own act states, individual adults have the right to access the content they wish). For three, the job of a classification system is to INFORM potential consumers that the content may disturb them. Classification is meant to be ADVISORY rather than AUTHORITATIVE intervention; it simply tells the consumer what they can expect in terms of the content and is meant to leave the decision up to them. If it were properly called a “censorship” system, then this problem would exist, but it is NOT meant to be a “censorship” system. It is meant to CLASSIFY, not CENSOR.

    • Be careful, a few of those responses seems to indicate you only read the headline of the arguments and not the arguments themselves. For example, the argument related to Indigenous and non-English-Speaking Australians was related to the fact that they can’t speak English and therefore can’t understand the rating system. Apparently, there was a study where it was shown that in many Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory, pornographic material is kept in many homes and watched by children/minors. Now, whether that’s an argument for censorship or whether it’s an argument for better education is something that can be debated. But I don’t think it’s especially patronizing or racist. Personally, I think the solution is to provide classification guidelines in multiple languages. Regardless of whether you can speak English or not, you can still distiguish between the “MA15+” and “R18+” symbols on the package so as long as you know what they mean, you don’t have to speak English to be able to understand them.

      Also, I don’t really like the idea of requiring that studies not be funded by “Group X” with “Agenda Y”. The idea is that a study should be impartial REGARDLESS of who commissioned it. For example, the Bond University study that found the average age of gamers is 30 and that 98% of respondents support an R18+ classification was disparaged by Atkinson precisely BECAUSE it was commissioned by the IGEA. We don’t want to look to be doing the same thing here, do we?

      • Interesting. I didn’t know that.

        Anyway, games are probably an exception to this. Anyone who has a console or a computer should be relatively well educated. Certainly well enough to understand the rating system.

  • The simple fact is many user-created content raise games above the rating they’ve already been given(See: Both Oblivion and Fallout 3 have ‘Sex’ modifications which have been downloaded by so many people that trying to search for Mods based on popularity or rating on the main modification sites yield at least a page of related sex mods). R18+ games unavailable in Australia are pirated illegally by those who want them but are unable to obtain them, just as discontiuned or unreleased games are.
    Finally, games have been released in Australia where the sex-related content has been removed, yet the violence or drug-related content has remained. Wouldn’t an R18+ be precisely for that drug and violence-related content which is already permissable under an unsatisfactory system of classification?
    Most importantly, it might stop those goddamned twelve year olds from playing online games so I don’t have to listen to their squeals while blasting zombies.

  • PLEASE POST COMMENTS HERE

    “To participate in this consultation, you need to answer the question:

    Should the Australian National Classification Scheme include an R 18+ classification category for computer games?

    Submission forms are here http://www.ag.gov.au/gamesclassification

    Submissions can be sent by email in Word format without embedded images.
    Submissions can also be posted or faxed.
    You are also encouraged to keep any commentary short and succinct.
    Unless you clearly request confidentiality, submissions are public documents and may be accessed by any member of the public, may be published on a website and quoted in further review papers. If you do not want your submission to be published, or you would like to request anonymity, you must clearly request this in your submission.
    Submissions must be received by 28 February 2010. Submissions received after this date may not be able to be considered.

    Submissions should be sent to:
    Email: [email protected]
    Fax: 02 6141 3488
    Post: Classification Review
    Attorney-General’s Department
    3 -5 National Circuit
    BARTON ACT 2600″

  • The really sad part is the process the government use for submissions.

    Why on Earth do we have to complete an Ms Word file or printed file to mail/fax back.

    Where is the leveraging of technology by use of a government website to automatically receive/store and collate input/results for this public data.

    What a complete waste of time in motion and it makes me furious to know my taxes are paying for a group of lackies to collate all these submissions manually.

    The real reason they chose this method is to stop the enormous tidal wave of submissions they would receive online in favour of R18+ rating.

    I thought we lived in a democracy, why a unanimous vote and not a majority vote?

    • It’s to stop ‘bots’ filling out the form over and over and over again

      As well as this, by law, every submission must be placed into a report and publicly made available. Much easier to collate a report in word documents then an SQL database….

      • Hi Choc,

        Tell me you are not serious. Bots are easy to defend against. Forms validated correctly will halt bots in their tracks and keep the data clean.

        You seriously cannot be suggesting that collating a report in Ms Word is easier than a SQL database.

        I don’t want to rain on your parade but you are grossly misinformed and your lack of skills should have stopped you posting at all mate.

        I don’t mean to attack you but your points are the same old garbage technologically ignorant persons perpetuate this fallacy of bots, poor time in motion and less beneficial methods for logical processes.

        I’ll even volunteer my company to develop, host and maintain the submission website for free. The goal being to actually provide and demonstrate an up to date technology streamlining the submissions and collation of data as it should be used by government agencies Australia and issue wide.

        • before you go off on a little tirade and making assumptions i am completely aware that it is easy to do

          It’s the government who chooses not to realise this and that is their excuse.

  • Out of this, there will be an R18+ Rating implementation before the next election. It’s going to be interesting what groups such as Gamers4Croydon do when this happens – It’s no longer a question of will.

    • Given that the submissions close less than a month before the SA election, I doubt there will be time to implement an R rating prior to the election. What the discussion paper will do is raise public awareness, and put internal pressure on Mr Atkinson. With the external pressure of G4C on Mick and Labor, we will get somewhere, but I do not think it will be so soon.

      I cannot say definitively what would happen if we were to get an R rating before the election, but given that the party has a much wider policy base than just R18+, I doubt dissolution would be the result.

      The donation to Child’s Play will happen regardless of the outcome of this submission process or the election.

      Chris Prior
      Gamers4Croydon Councillor
      I game, I vote.

  • It’s interesting that the discussion paper didn’t include any of those “examples of content that would be rated R18+” like Atkinson wanted…

    • From what I understand, the federal Attorney-General’s department decided to unilaterally release the discussion paper. Given that the classification guidelines require context to be taken into account, there was always going to be very little support for providing images of R18 material out of context. It is also likely that the kind of content Mr Atkinson wanted to include is content that would not be allowed under an R18+, given his previous comments about Rapelay and other such games.

      Chris Prior
      Gamers4Croydon Councillor
      I game, I vote.

      • I also noticed, actually, that the paper explicitly mentioned that “Rapelay” would still be RC even with an R18+ classification. Looks like some calmer heads are prevailing over at the Attorney-General’s department 🙂

          • I just listened to that Radio National interview with Atkinson, and they were speaking about this discussion paper (obviously this was before it was released). The interviewer asked him why it had been delayed and he basically said that he had objected to the original SCAG’s discussion paper because “it struck [him] as plain advocacy” and “it didn’t contain any examples of these extremely violent and depraved games, so I insisted that such examples be included. They are included in the commonwealth discussion paper and I cleared it for publication in April.” So I just wonder what happened between then and now…

          • “Because there was no unanimous agreement amongst all states and territories about the release of the discussion paper, the commonwealth is circumventing our requirements for unanimous agreement and will release the discussion paper under their own name.”
            That’s from ACT A-G Simon Corbell after the April SCAG meeting.

            The reason it took so long is because there was a reshuffle of cabinet at the commonwealth level, and the guy who had been in charge (Bob Debus) no longer was.

  • Can you people stop commenting on Kotaku and rather, make a submission. Talking about the issue here isn’t doing anything for the cause.
    Just make your point, make sure you don’t sound like a a*sehat and let them see that lots of people do care.
    Again, complaining about it on a forum isn’t a submission. So don’t bother!
    Make this count 🙂

  • Guys, remember that the responses need to be short and succinct (they say 250 words), so if they see a wall of text they are immediately going to discount the submission.

    Here’s what I submitted:

    I will put forth here the most contentious arguments.
    Firstly, cited directly in this discussion paper, “[…] the Byron Review concluded that ‘it would not be accurate to say that there is no evidence of harm but equally it is not appropriate to conclude that there is evidence of harm.” Considering this is a key argument against R18+, if there is no agreeable evidence, then this cannot be used to support censorship of free speech. Also, Dr. Anderson’s work is across multiple forms of media which are not suffering the same level of censorship, such as film and books.

    Moreover, the point that Minors would be more likely to be exposed to computer games that are unsuitable for them is actually exacerbated due to not having the R18+ rating; as some games which have been classified for 17+ or AO by the US ESRB have been classified as MA15+ in Australia such as: Fallout 3, Grand Theft Auto series, Resident Evil and the Call of Duty series just to name a few. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Entertainment_Software_Rating_Board

    Parental controls on consoles and parental responsibilities should be handled by the parents themselves, exactly as DVDs and movies are. Console parental locks are extremely effective, and DVDs/books have no such controls. It is actually easier to prevent kids from accessing adult material.

    Lastly, There is no demonstrated need to change existing restrictions, is blatantly false as can be witnessed by Facebook groups numbering in the tens of thousands and the IEAA/Bond Interactive Entertainment study. This ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ mentality is not a valid argument, especially in light of a better system.

  • “Computer games should be treated differently from films given the specific, negative effects of interactivity on players, particularly their participation in violent and aggressive content.”

    I’ve always found this argument entirely flawed. Ninja Turtles and Transformers cartoons used to cop the flak for making kids violent and aggressive. You can make the same argument for genuinely scary movies (Paranormal Activity, Day of the Dead, et al) making you jumpy in a dark house three days later.

    Whether or not you’re directly controlling an avatar or not has no relevance to your level of participation. If you’re engaged in any form of entertainment on an emotional level, you’re a participant.

  • I’ve submitted mine:

    I strongly support any moves to create an R 18+ classification category for computer games in Australia.

    As an avid gamer for essentially the large proportion of my life (I am now 36 and have been gaming since I was given my first Vic 20 personal computer at the age of about 9 or 10) and as a responsible and reasonably intelligent individual, I feel that, I am able to make informed decisions as to what is acceptable for my consumption within the bounds of Australian law.

    As a father to a young boy (only 8 months old at the time of writing), I know that I will face these issues in the coming years and am not immune to the concerns that many parents would have on this subject. However I would much rather have MORE information from the Australian government in the form of a more complete and functional classification system and one that includes and R18+ rating than LESS.

    Parenting decisions aside, as a proud Australian I find it ludicrous and embarrassing that we, as nation that is considered to be a progressive member of the global community, are so blatantly out of step with our international counterparts all of whom have some sort of system that includes an R18+ classification or its equivalent.

    This issue is as much a matter of principle as a matter of economics and the perceived need for the government to protect our children and potentially more vulnerable members of our society from the “evils of gaming”.

    Do we as a country find it acceptable to allow a small yet vocal and politically powerful minority dictate to the entire adult population of Australia what games are to be played on PCs and consoles in our own homes?

    I personally do not find this acceptable and thus am submitting this in the hope that I can help make some positive change for parents and gamers around the country.

  • “* An R 18+ for computer games would exacerbate problems associated with access to high level material in Indigenous communities and by other non-English speaking people”

    This point means that because of the banning of alcohol in certain areas of Australia and because of the effects of drunkenness in public, it would be best to ban alcohol.

    See what happens when the same argument is applied to a different object?

  • how does requesting anonymity work do they still make your submission public.
    i ask because i dont care about my submission or anwers being public however i do not want my name and or home adress dloating around freely availible to the public or international people via the internet

  • The more media coverage of this failing in our system the better. I urge every Australian gamer to submit a commentary. It takes no more than a few minutes.

  • Read those questions carefully Fella’s, if you find yourself answering “3) Do Not Know” do some research on the topic and then choose. Do not Know is the answer the right-wingers who added these questions want

  • Oh and can we argue to have all of their research that stands against the introduction of an R18+ rating for games completely and utterly stricken from the discussion. On the grounds that the cited research and counter points deal only with the impact of violent media on minors.

    The dicussion is of an R18+ rating for games. If they want to argue against that with research cases those research cases need to have used ADULTS; people 18 years or older; as the study sample. Not minors. The research that deals with only minors is entirely irrelevant from the discussion as we can go on the assumption that R18+ material IS RESTRICTED from minors. What the naysayers should be looking at is what kind of effects R18+ material of an interactive form has on well adjusted adults. As far as I can tell: very little, except perhaps a touch of irretability – irretability caused from stay up faaaar too late unlocking a few more perks in MW2.

  • It would be fantastic to see the R18+ rating hit our shores but this is only another debate BUT because it is being raised again shows that it is something that needs to be resolved. I will be reading this tonight after my bike ride 🙂

  • Dont they say that curiousity killed the cat, When a game given the RC then the interest in that game goes up, then kids or adults will illegally download or import that game to see why it was given the RC.

    So you can say that Michael Atkinson is an advocate of software piracy and supporting other countries economies.

  • I’m really hoping everyone is actually following that link to make a submission at the bottom of the article. If you just comment on here, the government won’t do anything.

  • Just a quick post to note that Ninemsn.com.au is currently running a poll on R18+ games on it’s front page.
    So far, the majority supports it, but it’s pretty close.

  • Has anyone seen the bullshit poll on Ninemsn?

    “Should Australia allow adults-only video games” …and the results are almost split 55/45! WTF?

    Why not phrase the question “Should Australia allow an R18+ classification for video games” and watch the results skew towards the positive side…

    I cant help but think, many poll posters, and most not in the know… thought “should we have an adult content rating like XXX material”

    We dont need this shit!

  • Face it, simple arguement, it is the death of democracy in Australia when our vote, voices and opinions no longer matter to the fat cats we elect. I used to be proud of being on the electoral role thinking my vote makes a difference even in the smallest way. But if tyranical chritians like Mr Atkinson think they can take away my right to choose which is effectively what he is doing then what is the point? I promise you Mr Atkinson, keep going the way you are and you seriously underestimate how much of the gaming community can actually vote and will vote to kick your sorry arse out of office next election. It’s not an IF its a WILL happen. Also does anyone else think it’s questionable that Mr Atkinson has served on parliamentary committees that have investigated issues like Gambling and if you go to Mr Atkinson’s site you see he lists an interest as “going to the races”. Bit biased there and yet he still remains in office with such conflicts. Just a thought. ..

  • •Computer games should be treated differently from films given the specific, negative effects of interactivity on players, particularly their participation in violent and aggressive content.

    This is nothing but a theory. It has NEVER been proven that videogames have a direct correlation to increased violence in children or adults, and it wont be proven until the proper studies are done. Basing a key point against the rating on nothing but unsubstantiated claims is ignorant and unfair. Equal claims could be made to say that videogames decrease violence, and the validity of the studies provided would be just as relevent.

    •It would be difficult for parents to enforce age restrictions for computer games.

    This is just outright misinformation. Consoles and PCs have password protected age restriction capabilities! This is something that even the most expensive DVD players do not have; video game consoles are actually easier to enforce age restrictions with than any other piece of hardware. The problem is, as is abundantly clear by even our own governments ignorance, is that nobody seems to know that they are there.

    Their argument is that some parents may not “be in a position to enforce restrictions on a console”. Which is pretty much “people are dumb so we are now their surrogate parents”. If parents do not follow the instructions that come with the console, this is not a fault of the system, but a fault in the parents. It is NOT the governments job to ban media because parents fail to adhere to responsible parenting techniques, like knowing what your child is doing and how you can be a part of that.

    •Minors would be more likely to be exposed to computer games that are unsuitable for them.

    Once again, this is the responsibility of the parent. There are more than adequate means of disabling adult content from displaying on video game consoles. No minor will be sold R18+ games, nor will they be able to play them if parents are properly informed on how to use their consoles.

    It is not only a gross injustice to the freedoms of all citizens to ban content based on nothing but speculation and hearsay, but to assume that publishers would start making deplorable and increasingly disgusting games simply because Australia, the last nation in the world to get an R18+ rating, allowed the change is just outright ludicrous.

    They seem to be forgetting the world has been functioning just fine with an R18+ rating for videogames without us for a long time now, and society hasn’t collapsed yet.

    •An R 18+ for computer games would exacerbate problems associated with access to high level material in Indigenous communities and by other non English speaking people

    Their arguments here are that people who don’t speak English as a first language, or at all, might not know how the rating system works, and for some reason bring up events from over the last few years pertaining to the indigenousness community in rural areas involving pornography, incest and child prostitution.

    This is an obvious ploy to use the history of these events to scare people in to relating the two issues. The very idea that they would use this as an argument is not only despicable, but completely unrelated to the case of having an R18+ rating for videogames. The “people don’t understand so we shouldn’t do it” argument has been repeated over and over in this document, and it’s just lazy. Simply censoring something because people don’t understand it is the worst reason to ban something.

    •There is no demonstrated need to change existing restrictions.

    I think the very fact that there is a discussion paper debating this issue and that there is a political group formed over the matter, with thousands of supporters, means there is a very good reason this needs to change. The average gamer in Australia is 30 years old, and we want to be able to play games directed at us. As adults. It is not an unreasonable request, and all of the arguments against the rating consist of straw man hearsay and misinformation.

  • submitted. faxed mine

    everyone should do it or forever be damned, you forfeit your right to complain. yaye, i can complain all i want now.

  • As Seen in Readers Digest
    A teenager brought home her new boyfriend to meet her parents, and they were appalled by his appearance: leather jacket, motorcycle boots, tatoos and a pierced nose. Later, the parents pulled their daughter aside and
    said “He doesn’t seem very nice.” “Mom,” replied the daughter, “if he wasn’t so nice, why would he be doing 5000 hours of community service?”

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