READY: Speak Directly To Your Representatives

Earlier today we reported that the Australian Christian Lobby has set up a website for the purpose of sending emails directly to the Attorneys-General and the Minister for Home Affairs Brendan O' Connor. Well, we thought to ourselves, why can't we do the exact same thing? So we did.

Below we've set up an automated email service, just fill out the details and write your reasons why you support an R18+ rating (or why you don't - we're not fascists here at Kotaku!) It will automatically be sent to the Minister fo Home Affairs Brendan O' Connor but, if you add your state, the email will be sent to your the relevant Attorney-General.

In order to have the maximum effect, we recommend have a quick look at our guide to writing to your representatives, but otherwise send your well reasoned arguments using our setup below!

Thanks!

[contact-form 2 "R18+ Multiple Submission"]


Comments

    Sent.

    "I'll try to keep this short and sweet.

    The reason many Australian gamers are in favour of an R18+ rating is not so we can have some kind of hardcore games with sex and violence all through them. There's already enough of that in games. There in lies the problem.

    Most violent/sexual games that come out aren't censored they're simply branded MA15+ and kids get them anyway.

    If you create an R18+ rating you are putting the responsibility into the parents hands.

    Not all games are for kids, as not all movies are. You cant just assume parents will buy it for them anyway. They don't buy they're kids porn and graphically violent movies, or at least you would hope they don't.

    Countless studies have shown the average gamer is a mid thirties male. The vast majority of games are not targeted towards children, and the ones that are aren't big sellers. The games industry continues to become bigger and bigger and is easily rivaling the movie industry in the sales department yet it isn't acknowledged as a form of adult entertainment in Australia.

    I don't know how all these under 18 gamers were so worried about can afford $1000 consoles and $100 games anyway ?

    Thank you for your time, I hope you can put serious consideration into this and not just listen to the hysterical and ill informed."

      yes thats what i'm trying to say here http://www.kotaku.com.au/2010/11/the-australian-catholic-lobby-r18-no-game/#comment-190211 jamie nice work

    Here's what I sent:
    To whom it concerns
    I would like to voice my support for ratings reform in Australia as applies to the interactive media / videogame industry.
    I do not believe our current system adequately serves the public as it does not provide an informative ratings system that reasonable citizens would understand. Why is some media considered appropriate only for adults but the wide-ranging and multi-billion dollar games industry is hamstrung by an outdated political belief that only children enjoy them?
    I do not believe there is any credible evidence or study showing that interactive media should be treated any differently from film or other media. The suggestion that the viewer, by being allowed to take part in a decision-making process as to a game's progress or outcome, somehow harms the development of a person's mind or morals is utterly without basis or merit. This argument is no different than the hysteria about mature-themed comic books and films experienced last century.
    I believe the current situation is confusing for parents, resulting in material which SHOULD be 18+ being played by people under 15, because I've experienced parents who seem to regard M15+ and MA15+ as sometimes acceptable for younger people because they remember "R" being the rating that must be taken seriously.
    I believe the various religious lobby groups campaigning against the reform misguidedly believe that an R rating will result in a flood of content we do not already have. I have kept aware of what material has been refused classification under our current system, and I believe that the material they fear is not relevant, because a)it would still be refused classification and b)truly abhorrent material would not be carried by retail, just as it is not in the United States (which incidentally does not require our system of forced censorship despite a comparable set of ratings.) People of certain beliefs who disagree with some entertainment media are free to not purchase or otherwise avoid that media, it will not go door-to-door to propagate itself.
    I believe our current system is an unnecessary burden for the games industry itself and related industries such as retail, as it is confusing, inconsistent and costly when mainstream games are occasionally banned (or "refused classification" if you insist) leading to delays, resubmissions, and global reportage which is frankly embarrassing.
    Having a system which is comparable to most similar societies with similar values (such as Europe and North America) makes sense for Australia. Too many arguments against it are fear-mongering deception (eg a non-existent "rape-simulator" game which would not fall under an R rating anyway and would not have a market big enough to be worth submitting for rating anyway!) and I think too much taxpayer money has already been spent on making no progress on this issue to leave it floundering much longer.
    I trust that the people responsible will react with reason and reform our ratings classification system.
    cheers
    David Fowles

    Done!

    I can't believe we have to defend this...

    Should probably have some sort of Captcha or JS checking on that form.

      According to our web dev there is something to sort out the spam.

    Here's mine:

    Dear member,

    The need for an R18+ rating should be so obvious by now, too many games rated for adults In other developed countries are available for children to purchase. The current system is confuaing for parents and makes near no sense. Wouldn't a big black sticker with 18+ on it ensure parents know the content is unsuitable? Wouldn't this make it easier for retailers to restrict sales to adults much like they do with movies?

    The video games industry is enormous and only growing. A recent video game has grossed more money in it's first five days than any media ever! why leave Australia behind in the developed world on this seemingly easy issue to fix where the argument against the R18+ simply has no merit especially when already games that are rated for adults elsewhere are available for children here.

    Thank you for reading this and I hope this issue is pushed so that common sense prevails.

    Thank you.

    I dont see why this is still going killzone 3 beta got an R18 already... Check it on psn your self.

      well that would be because it is an online title, and online games don't have to be classified, but obviously sony classified it as R18+ themselves, because they can since it is their online store

      *sigh* why couldn't have valve done this with left 4 dead....

      Maybe try reading some of these articles? In Australia, the R18+ classification does not exist for video games - it goes straight from MA15+ to RC (refused classification). As a result, there are two major issues that justify the need for an R18+ rating.

      Primarily, there are many games that are 'shoehorned' down into the MA15+ category, where they would otherwise be only available to adults. As such, children under 18 are able to access this content, and the classification is uninformative to parents who monitor their children's gaming.

      Another (albeit minor) issue is that some content in given the RC rating where it otherwise would be given an R18+ rating, which suggests that adult-oriented content is being assessed by standards that take children into consideration. Such content must then be modified before the game can be given a rating and be sold in Australia, or it is otherwise 'banned'. Whilst in some cases this practice is appropriate, it seems that much of the RC content would be appropriate under an R18+ category. Example - Left 4 Dead 2. Almost all of the gore and flame effects were removed (i.e. we had the German censored version) in order that the game could receive an MA15+ rating and be sold in Australia. Ironically, this leaves the game considerably less violent than the first L4D, which also received an MA15+ rating. An R18+ rating system would have allowed the game to pass through uncensored (and thus retaining its core appeal) whilst still preventing minors from accessing inappropriate content.

    I sent one in as well.

    Thanks Mark and the Web Dev team!

    Hello, My name is Ben. I write to you to point out why we need an R18 rating for video games. As you know the highest rating currently available for video games is MA15+, I find this rating wholly inadequate for a modern society. Firstly, the argument that having no R18 rating stops a flood of violent video games from being sold in Australia, is a lie. Many games in Australia currently being sold as MA15, are in fact rated the equivalent rating of R18 in North America, Europe and New Zealand. There will be no flood of violent games, simply because they are already available for sale to minors. Introducing an R18 rating will prevent many violent games being sold and played by minors.

    Secondly the introduction of an R18 rating will put parents in control of what games minors can play. There is a psychological effect of having a big black Restricted sticker on the cover of a DVD or video game. This stems from what an R rating connotes to a parent who is asked to buy a game for their child. Many modern game consoles and Windows operating systems contain parental control options to limit the maximum classification rating that be played on the PC or console.

    In conclusion the opponents of an R18 rating have not looked at the wider picture and anyway they do not represent what the majority opinion of either the general population or even who they say they represent. Introducing an R18 rating will bring our classification system inline with many other countries and into the 21st century.

    Thank for your time.

    This is what I just sent.

    I would like to take this opportunity to put forth an under represented view on the need for an R18+ video game rating.

    As Australia becomes a more modern and relevant country, we need to be able to compete in all industries. The electronic industry, in particular video games, is a rapidly expanding and relevant industry.

    If we as a country have a hamstrung and difficult to navigate rating system, how can the international community take our contributions seriously?

    The need to evolve and become a more relevant country grips many aspects of our society, but due to the old world traditional views that dominate our political landscape, how can our fledgling gaming industry become viable?

    This is my view on the rating debate and I thank you for the time and effort you invest into this letter.

    Sent and sent.

    Hello to whoever reads this message i don't believe that games enforce unusual behavior on children it annoys me that people like yourselves use that as an excuse to keep the ban on R Rated games, violence has been around since the dawn of time and children have been exposed to it, these days only parents can prevent the content the child views or plays etc,the point i'm trying to get at is that we live secure and stable society, For that reason the R Rating would be beneficial to everyone in the public

    Dear representative of the Australian people,
    I would like to bring to your attention that the R18+ rating for games is an important issue for me. There is clear faults with the current system not allowing R18+ classifications. I will try to briefly list some of the important ones.

    1. Freedom to express yourself.
    This applies to the developing companies and the consumers. Why restrict the people's expression? This goes along with such extreme restrictions as Nazi Germany had and present day China, etc. Sure this may not be as bad now, however leaving such a president is not a good thing, especially with such issues as the internet filter being pressed in this country.

    2. R18+ would make the system robust.
    At the moment if a game is meant for adults it merely is put in the MA15+ classification leaving holes in clarity of the difference between a teenager appropriate game and an adult game.

    3. Encourages Capitalism.
    We have a free market (essentially) in Australia so why restrict sales of products that earn people money and obtain taxes for the government. This is a very big market with blockbusters like the latest Call of Duty game, Black Ops, grossing bigger than most films in opening.

    4. The real issue is the educate the public.
    Educating parents can only be obtained by clear and complete guidelines of the ratings of products available. Parents may naively believe that games currently are just for kids, however if they played some of the games they would be quite shocked what is involved in many games filled with adult themes. I propose that if parents were asked to buy a new R18+ game and they were aged 10-15 the parent would not buy it for them as it clearly is inappropriate. Currently countless 10-14 year olds are playing the latest Call of Duty game rated MA15+. Hence the parents are not educated and buy anyway.

    5. The system is broken.
    Current refused classification guidelines are very broken with such instances as Left 4 Dead 2 being banned for being to graphic violence of human to human-like beings. However the latest war games such as Medal of Honour and Call of Duty the players do exactly what was proposed by Valve for Left 4 Dead 2 with limb damage, etc, to ACTUAL humans, not zombies.

    Furthermore such games that are known to be likely to be popular and have a large following always gain MA15+ entry despite actually breaking the guidelines for that classification. I even dare say that the system is in fact corrupt with officials purposely rating some games MA15+ just because they realise there will be a massive backlash if that game is not released in our first world country.

    There are many examples but the clear winners are war crimes. Many MA15+ games allow players to commit war crimes such as Metal Gear Solid 4, the Call of Duty Games, and I am sure more through the act of killing incapacitated or surrendered soldiers of war. Furthermore in Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 and Black Ops the player is implored to commit war crimes by killing surrendering soldiers or civilians. There is also torture evident in many of these games that contradict Article 2 of the Geneva Convention. This is clearly in contradiction to the guidelines set up by the OFLC.

    I could go on and on about the hypocrisy of the OFLC, however that is not for me to decide, but for you sir/madam to investigate and decide. I implore you to consider adding a R18+ classification for games to ratify the classification system for all media.

    Thank you for your consideration. Sincerely,
    David Francis

    Hello,

    Writing as someone who is the strict average Australian gamer I am in fact 35 years old. I detest being treated as a child and demand a modern entertainment industry that caters to both the needs of children and adults.

    There is absolutely no reason why this should not be the case, and applying an appropriate R18 classification system will improve the information available to parents and games retailers and limit the violent content entering the market at a lower age bracket.

    Additionally the lack of an appropriate age classification has serious implications for interactive entertainment as Australia remains one of the only western-style democracies that have no adult classification for games. Our cultural isolation is only further enhanced by the preposterous lack of reasonable classification.

    Finally, I am a staunch proponent of the separation of church and state. I am not governed by the Australian Christian Lobby. I am governed by the party I voted for in the last Federal Election. I will not be ruled by religious dogma, nor do I recognise the authority of any religion or religious organisation.

    Yours Kindly,
    Mr Kosmos. (though I did use my real name in the real message)

    Here is what i said:
    Hello,
    I'm in my early thirties and I have been playing computer games since I was 4 years of age. I'm just a normal guy, I exercise, I socialize, I pay my bills, have built a successful business and have grown up with violence in games all my life and I'm just a normal guy living life.

    The issue should not be banning of games, anyone with an IQ four point above a napkin will realize that if you ban these games a bigger problem will happen "Illegal downloads". And if a game is just designed to be just blood and guts, or horror, or just about sex or drugs without descent game play is rubbish. Why would you spend $100 of your money or worse your parents money and buy it? In the same way you wouldn't spend your money on a movie or TV show! So why support it!

    Don't miss this point***** Games with descent game play that need to be R+ like some war movies, or horror films for example does something you don't expect. Take Call of Duty (War/army game) for example: I have never heard anyone say it's a bad game because of the violence "unless a 5 year old wants to play it". Mostly gen y & x play it anyway. But ironically you don't even notice the violence because you are so intrigued by the story line and game play you don't care about the violence just in the same way we read a good novel or watch a good movie. That point is not intuitive, it has to be experienced!

    Another problem of banning games is that it will create an environment of people downloading and copying illegal content that could of been prevented. So essentially you will create a bigger problem if games are banned. Jobs will be lost, backyard software hackers will duplicate! We see adds to stop illegal downloads for movies and music, imagine the size of the illegal downloads if games were banned! And that is just the tip of the ice berg, what a nightmare!

    Games such as Call of Duty that have been raised in the past is just digital way of playing Cowboys & Indians as a child. Or when as a young boy/girl always had to be the war hero in your friends back yard.

    This is just the beginning of the censorship for games, not the end! Picture the end in mind. Banning the games is not an answer because the games will always be there. The industry is too large in just ban it. Let's work with the industry and set an example for R+ games that parents, adults, teenagers, gen Y, gen X, anyone can safely play games.

    Thank you for your time!

    Done. i've also done one via the ACL site - wonder if that will get through lol...?

    My submission ended up being massive. Surprise Surprise.

    To my governmental representatives:

    I am I writing to express my support for the introduction of an R18+ rating for videogames to be introduced to the Australian classification system. There are several key reasons that this action should be taken which I will summarize here.

    1. Australia enjoys an in-principle right to freedom of expression. The lack of an R18+ rating manifests as acts of governmental censorship above and beyond what the community deems necessary. The fact that 'interests groups' (such as Kotaku.com.au who provided this email form) are the mouthpiece for these feelings is an obvious phenomenon and should not be disregarded as somehow biased or disingenuous. The fact that these interest groups are so widespread and well-supported should demonstrate the general mainstream acceptance of videogame playing in Australia today.

    2. The treatment of videogames as a unique medium which requires different classification guidelines is based on speculation that children are more powerfully affected by the interactivity of the medium. This speculation is fueled by a number of sources, among them fear of new technology, religious dogma and moral panic generated by the media, and the work of a single researcher, Dr Craig Anderson, whose work has been widely criticised and is largely unsupported by other, independent academics. (Papers supporting his theory are often co-authored by Anderson himself, or written by co-authors of his earlier papers.)

    Relevant ministers have previously agreed that a 'cautionary' approach was to be taken with interactive media, but the out-right banning is not cautious, it is heavy-handed, even draconian. Secondly, the issue is being obfuscated by the dogmatic, unjustifiable claims of the moral right that an R18+ rating will inevitably cause harm to children. This argument is fallacious, being predicated on the assumption that our current classification system for media, as well as other age-based restrictions on alcohol, driving, sex etc. are also ineffective--ie. children will obtain this restricted material anyway, despite the fact that in these other areas from film to tobacco, we believe our legislated restrictions to be effective.

    I do agree that high-impact videogames are not suitable for children, and not only because of visual depictions of violence or sex. We have methods for protecting children from similar high-impact examples of other media; it is a simple matter to use the same system to control the sale of videogames. This would protect children from scenes, themes and images for which they are not prepared, but allow adults to explore new creative expressions of adult-themed games.

    3. Parity with other regions is a desirable outcome, due to the reality of the globalised world we now live in. Firstly: gamers will be familiar with videogames before they are released in Australia, to suppose that the they (we) will only see games on the shelves in retails stores in Australia is naive. Because of the global information economy, we gamers will know the basic content, themes, and possibly rating (or target audience, adult, children, family etc) prior to the game's release in Australia. Should the Australian government attempt to censor such videogames, Australian gamers will know about it, and should they wish, will either download an illegal copy or simply order one legally through any number of online retailers. This has two effects, firstly it brings the content into the country, despite the attempts of the Reviews Board. Secondly it denies Australian retailers the ability to profit from the sale of these games, an obvious, if small, drain on our economy that will only increase over time.

    Secondly, many games currently available in Australia as MA15+ titles are rated higher overseas. Several countries have 16, 17 or 18+ ratings categories (mostly 17+ or 18+ which amount to roughly the same thing--'adults only'). These countries also agree that some videogames are not suitable for children. The industry itself agrees with this in the United States, where the ESRB is a voluntary, industry-sponsored classification process. When viewed in contrast to these systems, the informed Australian gamer will (does) feel treated like a child, unable to make his or her own decisions. Alternatively, games that are released here, unmodified, with an MA15+ rating may in fact be intended for an adult audience by the developer. This is a fact of the industry which Australia has yet to acknowledge: videogames are not made only for children.

    To conclude, there are many more points to be made in this argument, but most of what remains is rebuttal to the arguments from the conservative and right-wing anti-R18+ proponents. I do not feel inclined here to go through their dogma point by point to deconstruct it--anyone who has taken the time to read and study beyond the sources those in opposition provide will be able to reduce their moralizing to exactly what it is. I implore you to study this issue in detail, familiarize yourself with the games in question, not via screenshots or video capture, but in actual play. It is completely unfair to judge a videogame based on a few moments of video in the same way it is unfair to judge the Godfather by the stage directions for a scene of violence. Sit with a gamer during a play session if you feel uncomfortable with the technology yourself and discuss how these games affect us, or how they do not. Do not rely on those who are unfamiliar with the medium to inform you decisions; no one would ask me my advice on the solution to the Murray-Darling river problem and I wouldn't purport to know what to do about it.

    I am a 27 year-old PhD candidate, working in the field of media and communications, specifically researching videogames. I have been published an spoken internationally on this subject, as well as my current lecturing post here at Macquarie University. I believe that, despite my inherent bias towards a personal hobby, my arguments are sound, and not diminished by the fact that I am a 'gamer.' As I said above, if I wanted to gain access to high-impact, unclassified or censored material, it would be trivial for me to do so. My goal is actually to improve the status of videogames within the Australian community, to demonstrate that we gamers are not in fact maladjusted, depraved criminals with no sense of right and wrong, and to give parents the ability to understand more of this new, perhaps unfamiliar media form.

    I hope these points have clarified the position of myself and many people in the community.

    Kind Regards,
    Adam Ruch

    I got something to say and in the words of my late grandfather

    "Either shit or get off the pot".

    Its been on the agenda for five years. Make a decision or accept that you are unable to fulfil the responsibilities assigned to you and quit your position as an AG responsible for Classification.

    Would you like to play a game?

    Don't worry... it's a perfectly safe game, that anyone can play.

    Firstly, think of a number between 10 and 20.

    Now imagine that number represents a person's age.

    Picture this person as someone who is interested in playing games.

    Now imagine that you are going to allow this person to play games, but you don't know what games are appropriate for their age.

    Think of another number between 10 and 20.

    Now imagine that this second number represents a recommendation of the age at which games are appropriate to play.

    If both the numbers you thought of were under 15... congratulations, you've won, and you can recommend to your young friend a large number of games they can play, which are designed for a younger audience.

    If either of the numbers you thought of were above 15... I'm sorry to say, you have lost. There are no games you can recommend to your friend to play, because they are:

    a) designed for a younger audience, and your friend isn't interested.
    b) designed for a slightly older audience and inappropriate for the age of your young friend.
    c) the games have been banned despite the fact that they may have been age appropriate.

    Now if you want a real challenge, let's play this game again, only this time, think of numbers between say 5 and 65.

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