READY Submissions: Media Classifiers’ Association Of Australia

READY Submissions: Media Classifiers’ Association Of Australia

In the lead up to the SCAG meeting we’re taking a retrospective look at some of the more interesting submissions made during the public consultation on the R18+ issue, mainly to highlight some unique points of view but also to draw attention to fresh arguments in support of an R18+ rating for video games.

This week we’re taking a look at the submission from the Media Classifiers’ Association Of Australia, who focus on what I think is the strongest argument for an R18+ rating: adults should be able to read, hear and see what they want.

The Media Classifiers’ Association is a group whose membership contains all classifiers working in free-to-air television, alongside representatives from subscription television. In other words, the MCAA is a group that represents those with decades of experience in rating all different types of media for Australian consumption.

The MCAA leads their submission by drawing attention to the four main pillars that classifiers must abide to when rating content.

“The principles underlying each classification decision are set out in the Code are:
(a) adults should be able to read, hear and see what they want;
(b) minors should be protected from material likely to harm or disturb them;
(c) everyone should be protected from exposure to unsolicited material that they find offensive;
(d) the need to take account of community concerns about: depictions that condone or incite violence, particularly sexual violence; and the portrayal of persons in a demeaning manner.”

Clearly, not enough attention is being paid to point (a) on that list.

The argument that video games should be treated differently to other forms of media on account of their ‘interactivity’ is one that the MCAA are quick to dispel, but they do so in a way that might surprise you.

“The interactivity of films, mobile telephone content, and websites are synonymous with the interactivity in computer games,” claims the submission. “In the National Classification Scheme computer games are being treated differently from non-interactive films, but also, computer games are being treated differently from interactive films. This inconsistency weakens the National Classification Scheme.”

Basically, modern media is constantly evolving – converging and borrowing from one another. Some movies are becoming more interactive, certain mobile content in particular and in this constantly changing landscape, it’s pointless to discretely separate and hold one form of media hostage over another.

“The discrete nature of media platforms such as films, publications, and computer games is changing rapidly. As the distinctions between these platforms become less clear, it is also inconsistent to accept that parents can enforce age restrictions for some R18+ content that may be accessed on one platform, but not other R18+ content that may be accessed from the same platform.”

Another strong argument made by the MCAA, which hadn’t occurred to us until now, is that the introduction of an R18+ rating, instead of reducing the impact of a game being refused classification, will actually strengthen it.

“It is known widely that games that exceed the MA15+ level are classified RC,” begins the submission. “This dilutes the strength of the RC classification category. Under the current scheme minors may expose themselves unwittingly to material that would be offensive to any reasonable adult. The inclusion of an R18+ classification category would clarify for all Australian gamers that RC games are extreme and not suitable for game play. This would protect minors more effectively from the most offensive material.”

The MCAA submission ends by reinforcing the point of parity.

“It is a genuine strength in the Code that equal weighting is given to the principle that “adults should be able to read, hear and see what they want.

“It is unclear then why this form of entertainment should be treated so differently in the Scheme. Including an R18+ classification category will address this inconsistency and strengthen the integrity of the National Classification Scheme.”

You can read the entire MCAA submission here. It’s probably one of the most significant and well written submissions available – the fact that those that do the classifying in this country are in support of an R18+ rating for video games is as strong an argument as any.


      • Sorry for being so negative but you can tell the whole population of australia about this but it still wont to the world of good, its good to get the word out there but it all comes down to the 7 A-Gs and what decision they make.

        No one focuses on the positives, its sad but thats how it is, but people will always spend more time thinking about the negatives because they most probably dont fully understand the issue.

  • Extremely wel thought out submission that has been worded to leave no doubt as to the message they are conveying. Also hits at the heart of the matter. Now to see if the pollies listen…………..

  • This READY series is great. Kepp it up, Mark.

    People who don’t care for video games are deciding for everyone that video games aren’t allowed to do what films, TV and books have been doing for decades. Which is ridiculous.

  • Loving the series of posts on R18.

    I think it’s awesome that there are so many perspectives to argue for an R18+ rating; the Media Classifiers Association’s ‘individual human liberties’ argument contrasts sharply yet agrees with with others we’ve heard before (for example, the Bishops’ support for a standardised ratings system in order for parents to make informed choices).

    It’s refreshing to hear logical and reasoned arguments in favour of such a move. The shallow and paternalistic wailing of the ACL (“we can’t let adults see sex or violence!”) needs to be strongly countered.

    • Sadly, what the ACL actually say “We can’t let adults see sex or violence! Plus we have a whole bunch of ignorant, fundamentalist imbeciles on our side who will vote as a bloc whichever way we tall them to and also tithe a whole bunch of money to us in order to run campaigns against you at the next election if you don’t do as we say.”

      That gets a lot more attention from politicians than any amount of reason or logic.

      • True. I can’t find any statistics on the ACL’s membership base, but they’re hugely vocal in the media on a wide range of topics and they have some degree of influence with certain political leaders.

        Without getting off-topic, the fact that they need to be so shrill indicates that this influence isn’t quite as strong as they’d like. ACL campaigns haven’t always translated into the policy outcomes they wanted, and there are lobby groups (including this R18+ campaign) that are presenting lucid and reasonable counter-proposals on a huge range of issues. Call me an optimist, but I’d like to hope sensible policy will eventually be adopted, not just with R18 but in other areas also.

  • The idea that having an R18+ strengthens the RC is something that G4C was trying to get attention, so I’m glad a non-partisan body saw fit to include that in their submission.

    I would like to point out, though, that there’s one major aspect of the classification system that seems to be forgotten when talking about interactivity. I don’t think I’ve seen a single media source – games or mainstream – point out that interactivity is already explicitly addressed in the classification guidelines. Even *if* there is a difference in impact thanks to interactivity, that is to be taken into account by the professionals of the classification board, so that an R18 game and an R18 film would be the same impact.

  • There is actually a theory put forward stating that violent video games are an appropriate outlet for testosterone in men which includes sport at present also. The alternatives are increased aggression when left to fester which is controllable and not an excuse for violent behaviour in real-life but if you can release some aggression through this media then why not be a little bit more comfortable. Unfortunately most modern day men don’t run down buffalo herds any more but years of in-built dna hasn’t changed with this lack of testosterone stimulation found in this day and age.

  • Random question and this is going to make me looks pretty stupid.

    But what is the opinion of the actual classifiers?
    Do they want one, I assume they would, makes their job easier?

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