READY Submissions: Australian Catholic Bishops

Being READY means having the ability to dispel myths regarding the R18+ debate.

It's for that reason that we're calling attention to some of the submissions made during the public consultation period, submissions from groups that you wouldn't expect to support the R18+ rating, but do so for clearly specified and well thought out reasons - reasons that may differ from ours.

First up is a submission from the Australian Catholic Bishops.

The Australian Catholic Bishops submission focuses on the protection of the vulnerable and parents without sufficient information with which to choose the right games for their children.

"The most vulnerable members of our community are our children and adolescents. Their needs and the needs of their parents must be given the highest priority in deciding the content, application and defence of the computer games classification guidelines.

Such support rests solely on having a uniform approach to media classification which enables parents and adults to have more information in regard to the content of some games and to make appropriate decisions about them."

The submission continues along this line of thought later in the piece.

"The consumer has every right to expect the OFLC to give them as much information as possible so that he or she can make an informed decision about viewing a film, video, DVD or computer game."

The international dimension is also cited.

"A national R18+ classification for computer games will also bring us into line with similar countries around the world."

Special attention is also drawn to the fact that the Classification Board needs "to have more categories, be more descriptive of the material and have, as an essential part of its strategy, an on-going community education programme about its content and meaning."

An R18+ rating isn't the best way forward because it allows us to play violent games - it's important because we need the ability to provide parents with the information required to protect their children from violent games. Without an R18+ rating, there is nothing to dispel the myth that games are for children, and nothing to stop parents from buying games unsuitable for their kids.

The Australian Catholic Bishops submission puts it like this.

"The principle of Informed Consent makes explicit the contract between the producer, distributor, OFLC and the consumer/spectator. It holds that the consumer has every right to expect the OFLC to give them as much information as possible so that he or she can make an informed decision about viewing a film, video, DVD or computer game."

We need to help parents make an informed decision about the games they buy for their children and an R18+ rating would allow for that.

You can check out the full submission below.

Submission from the Australian Catholic Bishops


    Well thats a whole lot more good-hearted than my reason. I just wanted them to stop cutting parts out of my games or banning them entirely.

    Good to see there are some "grown-ups" out there.

      The simple fact is that games are not designed for the Australian rating system.

      Don't kid yourself - Australia *does* have R18 games, they have just been shoehorned into the MA15+ classification by making a few small changes.

      Gotta protect those children . . .

    "An R18+ rating isn’t the best way forward because it allows us to play violent games – it’s important because we need the ability to provide parents with the information required to protect their children from violent games."

    This has always been my point for the classification as well, but seems to always get overlooked by a large number of gamers.

    Solidifying this point will help the adult gaming community seperate themselves from a bystander's pov, that video games are meant for children.

      In my opinion this should be the main focus of the R18 push. Games are being classified in this country as MA15+ when other countries rate them as 17 or 18+ (Fallout 3 is a prime example).

      A simple example would be to hold up the Australian version to a parent, with the MA15+ clearly displayed, and say "would you allow your 13 year old to play this game?". If the answer is yes, then hold up the exact same game from overseas with an R18 rating (or equivalent) clearly displayed, and then say "would you allow them to play this game?". Chances are the answer will be no, because R18 carries such a large connotation with it that an MA15+ rating simply does not.

        iv'e always shyed away from that for one reason.

        that arguement could actually lead to something worse in the wrong person's hands

        IE we want harsher guidelines but no R rating

        because it tends to suggest the system is broken not the available ratings

        i hope they put the R rating in not just for videos games but because implementing it should push back against conroys plan to censor australia

    Great article, Mark. I thought I would let you and your readers know that we at (being fellow Aussies) are willing to help Kotaku AU out in any way possible. Keep up the great work!

    That's a very interesting (and unexpected?) submission from the Bishops. I think their request that the Classification Board needs "to have more categories, be more descriptive of the material and have, as an essential part of its strategy, an on-going community education programme about its content and meaning” is perfectly reasonable, and I think the vast majority of pro-R18 groups and individuals would find this a legitimate concern.

    The fact that a religious organisation like the Australian Catholic Bishops can find compelling reasons to support R18 - reasons that are almost completely different to those put forward by gamers themselves - indicates that support for the classification review is widespread and diverse.

    Quite ironic, the Catholic church supporting this endeavor in line with gamers views, since jaded-internet-warrior-gamers are usually the first to swipe out at the church/religion. (A blanket statement I know but one I feel to be fairly true)

      A fairly justifiable comment to make. I myself am catholic but feel no need to preach to others. But I do get sick and tired of internet warriors doing their usual rant. A ranting atheist is as bad as a ranting religioso.

      I digress. I think the points put forward here are excellent and well formed. Bravo to them. PLUS having the church ON our side can only help.

    Game Informer AU for this month (Resistance 3 on the cover) had the best piece I've ever read about the classification office in Australia. Really in depth stuff. I learned a lot of my assumptions about the OFLC were way off.

    Very eye opening information about bannings as well, seems it wasn't the content that got Left 4 Dead 2 banned, but the submission for classification being a mess. Like any legal document the submission for classification has to be carefully worded and outlined following a whole pile of provisos to ensure a game gets the classification the distributor wants, if a distributor is new to the industry or doesn't understand a particular countries submission guidelines they can end up with a banning very easily.

    An R18+ rating being available wouldn't have impacted the L4D2 decision.

    Wow, entirely not what I was expecting from a religious group. Very well reasoned.

    Yet another organization defending R18+ on the grounds of "for the children"...

    It is unfortunate that in this country, "For The Children" is the only politically feasible argument to get an R18+ rating. The essential issue is not one of "For The Children" but rather whether or not the government has the power to censor (as opposed to classify).

    But, unfortunately, Australia's political culture is one that is highly submissive towards the State and as such rarely accepts arguments based on the principles of Individual Rights.

      Get off your high horse and come down from the mountain. The more relevant argument is being addressed and you're getting support from an unlikely source and yet you still whine.

      The fact they acknowledge that it places responsibility back in the parents hands, that it gives freedom of choice, that it helps take these games away from the young and puts them into a category where they ought to be?

      And you whine that it should be worded moreso to suit your own 'freedom of expression' etc?

      It's people like you doing harm to this cause rather than helping.

    I think this is great for two main reasons:
    1. The Australian Catholic Bishops are someone we would normally stereotype as being the opposition here
    2. It eliminates the "moral highground" approach to not allowing an R18+ rating.

    Goes to show how the Australian Christian Lobby really doesn't represent all Christians in their opposition to an R18+ rating here, and how there are people of faith here who do want an R18+ rating.

    So this is encouraging to hear. Hooray for common sense.

      It's unfair on Aussie xians imho to even take the ACL seriously (speaking personally as a non-xian). They're a hateful bunch of wowser happyclapper nutjobs that don't represent any major church in Oz...

      A recent article the ACL tweeted on censorship suggested that publishers who disobey orders from "good christians" should be then stoned to death by a "team of good christians".

      They also routinely address Bob Brown as "Senator of Heathens".... which regardless of how idealistic/non-realistic his politics might be, is pretty damn way up there in the judgemental/hateful-ometer.

      I'd even venture to say that the ACL are un-Australian - Bob McGuire is far more representative of Australian religious culture.

      And yet our poll-happy pollies are all to happy to pander to these enemies of free democracy.

        How do you "like" on this website?

    Wait wait wait... This makes sense. This is rational... this is forward thinking...

    There's no WAY this was written by catholic bishops!

      Read the article. They're fairly begrudging in their support of it and make it clear their preferred stance is "ALL MATERIAL THAT IS NOT G RATED AND BIBLE-FRIENDLY IS FOR THE DEVIL"

      There's no law that says our bishops can't be reasonable people... it's just the pope and the cardinals who have to be mad.

    This isn't exactly new information, is it? The linked document appears to be six months old.

      It's not supposed to be new information.

        Indeed it's the fact that that this *was* all raised months ago but the issue was tossed aside to be "discussed at a later date" is what pisses so many of us off.
        This is just re-informing people of the situation before (hopefully) something actually happens in the discussions on Dec 10.

    "...reasons that may differ from ours."
    In actuality, the reasons you've published from their submission align pretty closely to the reasons put forward by a number of gaming groups and individual gamers from speaking to same.

    Sure, I don't like having my games censored, however the R18+ issue _requires_ looking at the larger picture than just "I'm over 18 and have a right to choose", and right now, the clichéd "Protecting the children" is the most significant aspect that is likely to drive a change.

    Nail on the head - enough said really.

    Whilst it's nice that there seems to be an unexpected level of sanity in their submission, "The most vulnerable members of our community are our children and adolescents" is downright creepy coming from those who have systematically covered up widespread child abuse within their organisation.

    While I'm normally one to get embroiled in a religious debate (as an outspoken athiest), I truly admire the progressive and level-headed reasoning behind their argument, and make similar points myself when the R18+ topic comes up (which is quote frequent in my social circles). Having an R18+ rating sends a clear message to parents that the content is not suitable for children; much better than the alternative of developers only cutting the bare minimum to get their games past censors, when in actual fact the game was designed for adults. I am very excited to have the Catholic Church (or, at the very least a sect thereof) making intelligent arguments for a pro-R18+ classification.

    I'm all good for the catholics helping this cause but why do catholics have a say in what the country does? Why?

      Because Catholics make up a significant proportion of Australia's population.

      And it's not as if the Church is writing the laws of the land. The bishops are entitled to make a sumbmission, just like any other interested group or individual, whether or not they agree with the proposal.

      I may not like some of the of the views put forward (ACL, I'm looking at you), but that doesn't mean I'm going to say they are not entitled to have them. That would make our country less free and democratic, and turn it into a much more scary place.

    It's worth noting that the submission from a collective of Australian *nuns* was opposed to the R18. So it's not a blanket "Catholic thing."

      So you're saying nun of them agreed??? SEE what I did there? SEE? *ahem* I should stop, this could become habit forming... OHHHH! I did it again... *ahem*'i'm done now. Ahhhhhh thank you, thank you...

    It is heartening to see that the clergymen have put some serious thought into this issue. It is almost enough to get me back to church.

    NAH nothn short of the rapture could do that. All praise the God of Atheism the FSM.

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