EA President Says R18+ Rating "Is Needed" In Australia [Updated]

With the R18+ issue on the agenda at today's Attorneys-General meeting, it's timely to hear a senior executive from one of the industry's biggest players speak out in favour of classification overhaul.

Frank Gibeau is the president of EA Games worldwide. In an opinion piece on GamesIndustry.biz, reported via EDGE, he writes:

"Governments don't insist that all books be written for children, or that all television shows be cartoons. Adult gamers want their governments to treat them with the same respect they get as movie goers and book readers. Adult Australians should be allowed to choose the games they play, including those with mature themes.

"A change in the Australian age rating system is needed."

Gibeau joins the chorus of industry organisations, retailers and the Australian public in voicing the view that this country needs an R18+ rating for video games.

The Standing Committee of Attorneys-General meets today. They are expected to discuss the R18+ issue in response to the recent period of public consultation. It's too early for a decision to be made, however. The political process takes much longer than that.

Here is the full statement:

Australian legislation should introduce an R18+ rating for video games By Frank Gibeau, President, EA Games

As the Australian government evaluates the introduction of an 18+ category for video games within the OFLC age rating system, it's important to remind ourselves that in today's global video gaming audience, the average age of a gamer is 28.

At EA we are committed to the belief that adult consumers can have responsibility for their entertainment choices. Just as a grown ups can decide to see a film or read a book with mature themes, so should he or she be entitled to choose the same in interactive entertainment.

Government policies that don’t allow for the rating of mature content in video games effectively censor entertainment choices for adults. These policies show a poor understanding of today's video gaming audience. Existing legislation in Australia that limits age ratings of games to 16, demonstrates a distance between those policies and the reality of the video game industry and the people that play interactive games in Australia today.

The spectrum of gamers is as wide as the viewership of television, movies, theatre, and the readers of books. Governments don’t insist that all books be written for children, or that all television shows be cartoons. Adult gamers want their governments to treat them with the same respect they get as movie goers and book readers. Adult Australians should be allowed to choose the games they play, including those with mature themes.

Around the world, our industry takes very seriously the responsibility we have to protect children from inappropriate content in games. We are committed to robust, easy- to-understand age rating systems designed to help people make appropriate content choices for the right age groups; the OFLC in Australia, the ESRB in North America, PEGI in Europe, CERO in Japan. These systems have been proven as the most efficient way to protect children from inappropriate content and offer parents the right set of information about a game through a recommended age rating, and on-pack information and icons to illustrate themes present within the content of the game.

A government policy that keeps our mature games out of stores and forces developers to rewrite code is censorship. It also forces lesser quality games into that marketplace, often stripped of their intended content and features. What will be next? Will adults be forced to see edited versions of mature films? Read books with certain chapters removed? As policy measures increase restrictions on available content, so too will consumers increase the practice of parallel imports from neighboring or same-language markets, depriving their home country economy of the associated industry revenue.

As the Australian government moves to participate in the economy of the global gaming market, policy makers should consider the environment they create for game makers. Governments that design policies hostile to game developers and their creative medium will struggle to attract investment from the global industry. The global gaming industry is robust and growing faster than any other entertainment medium. It has already largely surpassed cinema and music. If Australia seeks to benefit from this tremendous creative and economic opportunity, its policies should reflect an understanding of the marketplace and a willingness to participate.

A change in the Australian age rating system is needed. We call on the Attorneys General in their next general session to vote unanimously in favor of the introduction of an 18+ rating for video games to allow adults to make their own choices about the entertainment they choose to enjoy. The implementation of a new 18+ age rating classification is the right step for consumers, and for the industry, in Australia.

EA Calls for 18+ Rating In Australia [EDGE]


Comments

    That is a damn solid argument he's bringing to the table, sir I salute you.

    “A change in the Australian age rating system is needed.”

    No way, who would have thought!

    Still good to see a bit of weight is getting put behind the issue

      Look I am a student and yes this ban or change of rating needs to be enforced I know a few kids who are obviously affected. The symptoms overuse of bad language, distraction in class and obvious physical affects. Some games are just too out their such as LFD 2 or MW2 but the their are the stubble games such a s halo or any of the

    So with SCAG (great acronym, btw) how much information will be given to the public? Will we see a edited minutes or just a short press conference?

    Its very timely to, as Im getting the game soon
    and Valve has promised to patch the game for us if we get the rating
    Lets hope nothing goes bad this time around

      I think you'll find that they promised to patch the censored version if their appeal of the original RC was successful. I don't recall any commitment to do so if an R18+ rating is enacted. In fact they couldn't just patch it as it would first need to have the unedited version submitted as a new game for classification under the new system. In light of the costs involved it's no guarantee they would do so (actually it'd be EA as publisher that would need to do so). That said, I'd be lobbying Valve to go down that path assuming I'm still playing the game then.

    A big boss with common sense!? Who da thunk!

    I find it so funny that EA is slowly getting back to becoming the shining beacon of games industry corporation :D

      This way development costs in Australia will be lower, resulting in higher revenues for EA! It's a win-sort-of-win situation!

        You know what, if it means I get a more stable job then I'm all for it! Go EA you can do eeeeeet! XD

    Yes, more support! But we need MOAR! MOAR! But yes. There are more logical arguments for a R18+ than there are against.

    apparently the Northern territory AG could not make it. IF that's true then the R18 decision will have to wait for the next meeting.

    Here here!
    The amount of games that get shoehorned into the MA15+ rating I wouldn't consider giving or even showing to some of the 15 year olds I know.

    All those Christian lobby groups really have no valid argument against the R18+ rating. "protecting children", What by leaving our current rating alone and let more violent video games get into the hands of minors.

      While they lack a credible argument, they have infuence over major political figures. Honestly, I'm not holding my breath for this ratings change. I know that the christian lobbies will ultimately be making the decision for us.

    It's great to hear that a major game exec is getting behind the cause, but he's sort of preaching to the choir at this point. Now if it were someone unrelated to the game industry supporting the R18+, it would have so much more impact in the eyes of the unconvinced or apathetic.

    Judging by what's the kids are in to as of recent, we need either Justin Bieber, Bindi Irwin, Jessica Watson or a Masterchef contestant (seriously, how does an episode of reality TV 'above the fold' worthy, The Age website?)

      I hear you on the Masterchef front. The Age Online's journalism has been moving more and more tabloid over the last while. It needs a thorough shake up - hence why I get most of my world news from the Guardian. Why should Hey Hey ratings be ranked above natural disasters? Argh!

    Stores in australia must lose a fair bit of sales from lack of an r18+ rating and stupidly high prices.

    I wrote to my AG (John Hatzistergos - NSW) a few months ago and got a reply back just last week. Basically he said the same thing they all say: Changes require the consensus of all AGs, I'll be listening to all the arguments before making my decision, blah blah.

    Still, it was nice to get a reply!

    "Governments don’t insist that all books be written for children, or that all television shows be cartoons. Adult gamers want their governments to treat them with the same respect they get as movie goers and book readers. Adult Australians should be allowed to choose the games they play, including those with mature themes."

    This argument really annoys me, though not because I disagree with it. It implies that games with a lower age classification are made purely for children and furthermore that cartoons are made only for children. I know that this isn't the message Frank Gibeau is promoting, but the implication is there all the same.

    Another obvious flaw there is that books are not subject to a classification code like games, television and movies. It's simply not a valid comparison.

    To be honest, I find this a remarkably poor statement from the president of a major gaming company, though it is good to have his support.

    finally :)

    Any intelligent, well-written submission to this issue should be welcomed, even if we don't agree with it completely, because it is this sort of contribution, particularly from industry figures, that have the best chance of swaying the Attourneys General.

    Even though this is only the preliminary meeting, they will be discussing the matter and it sounds like SA and NSW are willing to consider outside opinions, which is more than could be said about Michael Atkinson.

    Hopefully we won't need to wait until next year for a vote. Even with the NT AG absent, it may be possible to request votes after the majority have discussed the matter in person and the rest can be done via correspondance.

    A step in the right direction. Let's finally end this debate and get the Black 'R' rating we all deserve.

    Good to see that the N.T AG has "prior commitments" and isn't attending the meeting.Doubtful that any decision will be made at this meeting.Maybe the next 1 in 6 months if no other AG's have "prior commitments.

    lexielab,

    Books are subject to to classification, just like magazines. American Psycho has a nice big R-rating on the cover and is sold with a bag covering it (i presume so one can't take a peak at the .... words??)

    I suppose the argument about the cartoons is making it less 'realistic' so kids can watch it, which would be the equivalent of cutting our content for games or something.

    Still Gibeau's biggest mistake is saying the age limit is 16 yrs old. Last time i checked MA15+ meant 15 years, not 16...

      hmm... maybe I forgot what the L of the OFLC stands for. At any rate you are only required to submit your publication for classification if it is likely to contain objectionable content. While laws and restrictions vary from state to state, the classification categories that exist are unrestricted, category 1 and 2 restricted (both an "R" rating) and refused classification. This is unlike the system for games, though more similar than I originally stated.

      I'm still not sure that comparing games to books is the best thing.

    With all this talk you can't help but to start feeling a little impatient. lol
    So many supporters yet the dang thing still hasn't passed yet, nor do we know where we stand with our political leaders.

    It's getting to the point where this is getting to be much akin to a new release/game announcement.

    First or all i'm frustrated it doesn't exist... then there will be talk about it, heads turn and bushes stir... then suddely the internet is aflod with rumors, debates... something solid finally emerges, but with no date... uncertainty sits in an uneasy stomach already full to the brim with anticipation... Then come the delays... the nerd rage...

    hehe.. so i don't know about you guys, but i already Pre-ordered My R18+ from EB, Game and Online.... Lets just prey there's no more delays...

    ...now only if it came in a special edition...

      that's quite some cash to put in, i hope it isn't going to be another Duke Nukem Forever...

    Also:

    it'll be great and all when we do get this rating, but a few more things have to change for it to be meaningful. For example, there's no point having an r-rating if games will still be banned if they show graffiti (Mark Echo's Getting up) or performance enhancing drugs (Blitz: The League) or any sort of drugs for that matter (Fallout 3) in a positive light. The r-rating needs to establish that these things are suitable for adults and therefore not refused classification. If not, then the rating will have lost half its meaning.

    An r-rating will be good if we don't have to suffer cuts to violence, but it won't mean much anyway if the game is refused classification because a character in the game uses morphine to heal himself or something. The guidelines need to change and be updated to better reflect what a modern mature society deems acceptable in our entertainment.

      Consistency would also be nice, for example Fallout 3 was initially RC'ed for the use of morphine, despite the fact that there was no animation involved, and the drug acted as a painkiller, meanwhile in Velvet Assassin you are able to use morphine to basically gain super powers (If I remember correctly the use of morphine was deemed acceptable because the game was set during WW2, and was considered historically accurate), and morphine was also usable in Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth (I'm pretty sure it was accompanied by an animation as well).

      In a less related sense, the HEV Suit in Half-Life 2 and episodes can be clearly heard to state "Administering Morphine" when at low health (I can accept this as being different, since the player does not control the use of morphine)

      Sometimes I wonder if the Board of Classification has a Magic 8 Ball to help with decision making...

    "What will be next? Will adults be forced to see edited versions of mature films?"

    ^ The funny thing is, it's sort of already happening on TV. Excessive swearing is edited out of films shown on tv, and "adult themes" are edited out of TV shows shown early in the night. Friends is a major example; when it was at a 6pm timeslot on Ten the huge edits were actually jarring to watch. Punchlines would be cut out but the laughter would remain, or characters would be reacting to a line cut out.

    This however is more a case of self-censorship, a worrying sign that media broadcasters are getting worried about the Government's censorship laws.

      @ Brendan
      More like they are getting worried a group of 50 people who will cause an excess of drama over it by raising their voices as loud as possible

      People on the street don't care if someone should do something or see something
      It's only the retards who people get to listen to though, they're the only ones who yell loud enough to be heard

      Hell whenever this issue of R18 gets brought up on tv, only one side ever gets brought into it and thats the screaming politicians and christian groups who think that if you think for yourself its going to result in rampant crime
      You would think im exaggerating but no
      heres an example

      http://www.thepunch.com.au/articles/feeding-kids-on-a-diet-of-video-game-junk

      Its just boggling that this level of stupidty exists

    Well, I like him. Sensible explanation, and not just stupid ravings about it from either side. I like.

    This is just extra money for the Australian government to spend.

    The longer we waited for an R18 classification means the more money we dish out to possibly reclassify games already on the market to be the proper standard sold in Australia.

    As said many times, already we have a large variety of games which are over the classification; GOW, COD, Gears, Fallout, GTA etc.
    The longer we've waited, the bigger the cost, and its not our fault.

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