READY Mythbusters: The Flood Gates Will Open

READY Mythbusters: The Flood Gates Will Open

Michael Atkinson is gone, but his legacy remains. Etched into said legacy is a clever use of language intended to manipulate, and play on, the fears of those uninformed on the issue of an R18+ rating for games. Mythbusters is a regular section intended to help dispel such fears. Kotaku readers are amongst the most highly informed gamers when it comes to such issues, but we hope that READY Mythbusters will help provide info for when it comes time to inform others of the misinformation surrounding the debate.

An R18+ rating will open the floodgates for sexually depraved, excessively violent games.

The wording is deliberately misleading
The word ‘floodgate’ is frequently used in arguments against the R18+ rating. The word has been chosen to deliberately conjure up images of a chaotic, lawless flow of violent, hyper sexualised games – to create the impression that there will be nothing in place to stop these games entering the country and being sold to children.

Games will still have to be rated
The argument for the R18+ rating does not advocate a lawless free-for-all – games will still have to be rated – there will simply be more scope with which to accurately rate them, and therefore more accurate information for parents to make an informed decision about the kind of media their children consume.

Any games that contain portrayals of excessive violence or sex exceeding the guidelines provided will still be refused classification under a new set of guidelines that are just and fair.

There is no ‘flood’
The amount of games that were actually refused classification are limited. The video games industry is not a festering cesspool waiting for the R18+ rating before unleashing a production line of unsuitable video games for a baying public. Developers will continue to create the same games as before, and the vast majority of them will fit into the guidelines with little trouble. An R18+ rating simply makes it easier to accurately rate the content.

An R18+ rating will not result in an increased amount of games featuring excessive violence or sex
Films containing excessive amounts of gratuitous violence are currently refused classification – an R18+ rating for video games would ensure that similar standards be applied to games. There is no floodgate, we’re not asking for games to become an ungoverned, lawless wasteland where anything and everything goes. We’re simply asking for some sort of parity and fairness.
An R18+ rating for games would provide that parity and fairness.


  • Awesome.

    You should also do a quick look at some games which have were originally refused classification. Left 4 Dead 2, and even Alien VS Predator 2, which was RC before being let through without any changes. Shellshock 2, Enzai, Soldier of Fortune, etc.

    • Great minds, we plan to run a regular piece each day, and a look back at previous decisions is one of the regulars we’re planning.

      • Keep in mind the debacle surrounding Rockstar’s Manhunt on the PS2. It received an MA15+ rating and sat on Australian shelves for about 10 months and everything was fine. Then a teen in the UK killed another teen and the mother blamed Manhunt.

        As a result, it was banned in Australia. On the basis of a media story. Which was wrong. Even though it was already rated ten months before.

      • If I can recall. It was first submitted uncensored but after getting knocked back, Valve submitted a censored version instead and was consequently approved. Probably to stop any release delays.

        • My apologies, I was trying to cut the story as short as possible.

          Yes, you are right. First, the game was submitted and then RCed. Valve then went overboard with the content cuts and submitted again in response.

          The cut down version was latter approved for MA 15+ and released.

          I have heard that the uncut version had the decision appealed but I have not heard anything since. My guess is the appeal failed (and I am open to the possibility that I am wrong).

      • I heard some idiot started a political party because of Left 4 Dead 2 being banned.

        Fortunately, the first four words of this article make it all worthwhile.

  • A very good article but i am afriad all this might be in vain but this time the SCAG has no reason to put this on the shelf again the election was the reason it was put off the first time.

    Keep up the good work and we might just see a change on the horizon.

    • I have a slight correction … The election was the reason to push it back the 5th or 6th time not the first.

      I had a look through the archives of SCAG meeting notes a while back and its the same thing in almost all the meetings. “The AG’s agreed to discuss <> at the next meeting”.

      It seems the only think AG’s ever do is agree to discuss it at the next meeting.

      If I procrastinated at work as much as they have procrastinated on this I would have been fired about 10 times.

      What really pisses me off and one thing i will actually give Atkinson props for is that at least atkinson had enough BALLS to say his position. Something the rest are unwilling to do.

      • He was right when he stated the rest were happy for him to be the “lightening rod”. Although he did spell lightning wrong.

        • Simon Corbell, AG ACT, has already stated his endorsement of the implementation of the R18+ rating classification.

          John Rau, new AG for SA, has said privately that he agreed the R18+ rating was a good idea… Until his private comments were made public.

          Rob Hulls, VIC AG, is up for re-election in a reasonably safe seat in just under four week, so there will be no getting an answer out of him until after November 27.

          Lara Giddings (TAS) and John Hatzistergos (NSW) will be the ones to watch. Cameron Dick (QLD), Delia Lawrie (NT) and Christian Porter (WA) haven’t yet made any public comment, although the Liberals (Christian Porter) were flirting with the idea of supporting it earlier this year before the federal election.

          And Brendan O’Connor (FED) seems like a genuinely likable person who talks facts instead of rhetoric.


          We’ll get a much better indication after the next SCAG meeting in December. There’s not much we can do until then but wait… and send emails and faxes and letters indicating our support for the implementation of the R18+ rating.

          If we had eight Greens’ Attorneys-General, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation. Keep that in mind when you vote.

          • While the Greens have made supportive comments in the past about R rated games, they also field candidates who oppose them. Their candidate in the Higgins by election last year, Clive Hamilton, opposed R rated games on the basis that young boys would get them and be adversely affected by them. The Greens candidate for the seat of Richmond in the upcoming Vic state election, Kathleen Maltzan is a very left wing feminist who wants to ban brothels and so called ‘pornography’. She is the founder of Project Respect. So the Greens, unlike the Sex Party, have split philosophies on banning adult media. The Sex Party wants to introduce an R and an X rating for computer games. We believe that computer games should mirror the classifications for films and that logically there should be an X rated non violent erotica category for games which is explicit as well as an R category for high levels of violence and simulated sexual acts. No other party in Australia has a policy to enact computer games categories for all the film categories that are legal in Australia. The Refused Classification Guidelines will be reviewed soon as part of an overall review of the Classification Act. This will start at the SCAG meeting in December. Proponents of R and X rated games should write to the Home Affairs Minister, Brendan O’Connor, at Parliament House and ask him to prioritise the games issue in the review.

      • The only reason i said first time is because the last SCAG meeting was in the best position for a review because of the 100,000 or so responses the public made about the issue from the numerous petitions held and the public paper released the the AG department.

      • Pardon the joke, Mark, but there are more Myths to dispel than there are chapters of One Piece, :-).

        By the way, in case this has not been brought to your attention, the OFLC no longer exists. It is now called the Australian Classification Board.

        Needless to say, everyone else is starting to find an alternative meaning for the C in ACB.

  • You’re completely correct. The very games that Mr Atkinson threatened would flood the market are games that would be refused classification under any R18+ classfication model anyway. He is obviously an intelligent, educated bloke, no one can doubt that. But he really was trying to polarise the issue into deviant, perverted predators on one side and religious, god fearing conservatives on the other. I never thought they were mutually exclusive.

    • Michael Atkinson was only a puppet to the lobby groups and clearly the issue wasnt only his opinions and views. If he was a smart and educated on this issue then he would probably see that the R rating is essential to keeping kids safe from “harmful” content.

      Didnt the guy from Gamers 4 Croydon say that the new SA A-G was a supporter for the rating?

      • His name is John Rau, and there were rumours he supported R18+, when asked by Kotaku in April to clarify he responded:

        “I have no preconceptions about this issue and intend to listen to the arguments. I can neither support nor wisely argue against a position if I am not aware of the relevant factors.

        “It is worth noting that ultimately, the decision does not rest with me alone. Any change would require the support of each jurisdiction’s attorney-general.”

        Sounds open-minded at least.

  • Don’t forget them refusing classification of Fallout 3 due to morphine use but being totally fine with Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars drug-dealing mini-game.

    Speaking of which, I’m not sure everyone is aware of this but remember when the classification board took issue with aspects Grand Theft Auto IV like blood and hookers and such? And anyone who wanted the uncut version had to import the game? Yeah, well when the game was released on PC a few months later, the board had no problem with it. Even though it contained all the questionable material of the console version.

    I doubt you’ll find a more glaring example of the review board’s inconsistencies.

    • Correct me if I’m wrong but I think Rockstar Games edited the game preemptively due to previous run-ins with the board. Later versions of gay tony included the previous edited content.

      • Looks like you were right, sort of. Rockstar being pre-empted by the rating and editing it is one of the many reasons why its a broken system. Weirdly enough, New Zealand got the same version, even though they have an R rating.

        “The Australian version of Grand Theft Auto IV was rated by the OFLC in December 2007 as MA15+. Unlike the US and Europe, Australia still lacks an R18+ rating for video games and as a result many games are edited for release in Australia, including most previous Grand Theft Auto releases.

        While there are some minor differences between the Australian and US/EU versions, they are not significant and we do not believe they take away from the level of scope and detail that make GTA IV such an incredible experience. We would not release the game in Australia if we believed these differences compromised the quality of the game in any way.

        We strongly support the OLFC and will continue to work within their guidelines; however we believe the government needs to bring games in line with other media by introducing an R18+ rating, or edits to games will continue to be necessary. We encourage consumers to let their politicians know that they support an R18+ rating for games.”

      • Ps3 and 360 were edited originally. 360 was patched when the downloadable content was released, because that didn’t reach the ps3 till a year later the only way on the ps3 you can play with the edited content is with the two expansions.

    • Note that the classification guidelines explicitly say that games that link incentives to drug use are Refused Classification. It doesn’t say that they can only be sold to adults. And the guidelines do specify a few cases that would require a game to take an adult rating, even though no such rating exists.

      So an R18+ rating would not have made a difference to Fallout 3.

      In GTA: Chinatown Wars however, you are just trading drugs rather than using them. So this doesn’t automatically give it an RC rating.

  • I like this, but like always, I can’t see how this will stick out at all from ‘bad’ hype that mainstream media and joe public tend to listen to; have the higher powers at Allure got any plans/ways that you can get extra exposure on this issue?

  • The biggest problem is that the way media conveys itself is changing. No longer is TV or the papers are the main mediums but the internet and as well as social networks around the world. The gaming industry has gone from a singular person format that appealed to one generic strand to a multi-facet collaborative medium. How? Well, you’ve got the stores e.g. EB, GAME, JB, etc; you also have the internet with the ability to gather any type of information and as well as the social networks we have such as Facebook, Twitter etc. These are the main medium in which views and opinions are conveyed.

    In relation to the R18+ debate, there are those that point to the media and say ‘What about that? Isn’t that part of it?’ We can say “Yes, but does it really a factor in this?” Therein lies the problem as uneducated people that don’t give a damn suddenly point the finger at this and say “This is bad” even though they have no idea.

    The biggest problem is that people are no longer thinking for themselves. The government believes it is up to them to police us when in fact, the ones that need policing is ourselves and yet, they don’t teach that basic need. It is when good men fail to do something does evil spread. And we need to tell the government that yes, some policing is good but ultimately, it is up to the people that buy/play/trade these games to decide whether or not R18+ should be introduced.

  • Now this is interesting:

    Fallout 3 and Chinatown wars were handled differently because Morphine was shown to have a positive effect on the player in Fallout 3, and that’s why people had a hissy fit about it. Something about showing drugs to have a positive effect.

    And as for GTA IV’s censoring, The story goes (Correct me if I’m wrong), is that the console versions of GTA IV were originally censored, but got through with an Ma15+ rating. When GTA IV was released on PC, they didn’t have to submit it again to the OFLC to get it released, hence the uncensored PC version. I don’t know the full story off the top of my head, but it’s some loophole where you can release a game months later on a different platform and not need to re submit it for approval.

    As for Left 4 Dead 2, it got submitted, Refused Classification, had it quickly edited to remove dismemberments, blood and *gasp!*

    RIOT POLICE ZOMBIES! Because we can’t have people killing law enforcement!

    *looks over at his copy of GTAIV*


    OHMYGOD THE RATING SYSTEM HAS FAILED US!! Run for the hills, people!

  • you guys need to immediately make your next myth busting episode on the crap spilled by the WA party room which looks set to take up the mantle of Atkinson. ( your mythbuster pieces should then be forwarded to every one of those people.

    all that effort in chiseling Atkinson away from the issue is of no use if this mob stand ready to step in and take his place. i am furious personally that once again small minded conservative sheep are raising blatantly BS arguments and threaten to undo all the work to get to this point.

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