An Open Letter: The Attorneys-General

An Open Letter is a new feature where we communicate directly, straight to the heart of someone/something/anything in gaming. This month, in the lead up to the SCAG meeting on Friday, we write directly to the Attorneys-General.

Dear Attorneys-General,

Before it was an issue that could be brushed aside - and on some level we can understand that - but now a decision must be made. This Friday, during the SCAG meeting, the R18+ issue must be resolved once and for all, and the responsibility lies with each of you to make the correct choice for your constituents.

We believe that an R18+ rating for Australia is the correct choice.

The barriers to an adult rating are being broken one by one, and now is the time to act. You asked for our submissions, and we responded overwhelmingly in favour of an R18+ rating; you reviewed the extensive research on the topic of video game violence, and found no difference between video games and other media. When the consultation wasn't enough you conducted a survey and, once again - as always - the support for an adult rating for video games was overwhelmingly positive.

The arguments against the rating are crumbling, while the collective voice in support grows stronger by the day. Parents want to be informed - they want the means with which to make the correct decision about what their children can play, and an R18+ rating will help provide that.

The floodgates will not open, there are not a horde of inappropriate games awaiting an R18+ rating - just adult orientated titles that require an adult rating - nothing more, nothing less.

There are no legitimate reasons for an R18+ rating to not be approved - only the misinformed ramblings of a well meaning, vocal minority, clutching desperately at the remains of what is a fundamentally broken argument. The evidence is there, the research is there, and most importantly the public support is there. Don't let the people down. Australia is a democracy - time and time again your constituents have informed you that an R18+ rating for video games is what they want. You must be true to that necessity.

Australia is watching - this is no longer a niche concern that can be delayed, brushed aside or patronised. It's a nationwide issue and both parents and gamers are watching closely. They want the correct decision to be made.

This is your chance to do the right thing - don't let us down.


Comments

    Here Here!

    The one thing I'm worried about still, though, is the availability of these games. If they start displaying them on shelves, then there's something that should be addressed immediately. Unless they have discreet laws about R18+ game covers and their appropriate content level, they should be cordoned off in a separate area.

    Tad

      Does your local video store have a different section for R18+ movies? And I don't mean porn. I mean movies like Repomen or Pulp Fiction or Smokin' Aces. Because mine doesn't, it's just on the shelf with the rest of them and the R18+ rating speaks for itself. Why should video games be different? If you can't read an R18+ sticker then you are a pretty bad parent to begin with. If the problem is the gaming staff not checking ID then that's both illegal and a different issue. Let's not make video games an exception to the way we treat every other medium, that was the whole problem with this in the first place.

        yup especially since if you look at the covers for all the games there all tame anyways. Due to the fact mainly that the states has a thing against displaying nudity like that.

        and B most of the games that have been banned are for violence,drugs, or sex as a reward. none of them have been banned because there a sex game because those games are never submitted.

        though i believe in SA atkinson was trying to/or did bring in a seperate section for the R19+ material and was even asking them to only provide covers with the name of the movie on the front in black with a white background and a blurb on the back

          Yes, they did introduct that law in SA and it's an absolute joke. The worst part is that they won't even take responsbility for it.

          I wrote to my local MP back in January about my objections to this law. Not just the law itself, but the back-door, underhanded, non-consultative manner in which it was introduced. After a long delay, I got told film classification was the Attorney General's domain and they'd forwarded my letter to the A-G's office for a response. I then waited and followed up, and waited and followed up and waited. I finally got a response from the A-G via my local MP in OCTOBER (9 months after my original email) basically fobbing me off with the fact that the legislation was introduced by a Family First MP and I should follow it up with him.

          I responded to that with another email stating that I don't really care who introduced it, since it requires the governments numbers to get the law through in the first place, or change it now, it is the government's responsibility. I asked my MP to resubmit my concerns to the A-G and get a real response this time. Still haven't heard anything back - it'll be interesting to see if they'll keep hiding from it for a full year (only a month to go now!).

            Frankly I still think there's something fundamentally wrong with a society that has no problems with children watching (or playing) guys mowing down people in cold blood with machine-guns, yet a deliberately-bared breast is "sinful" and gets ridiculously outraged reactions.

            I expect it's the strong British-American influence; plenty of (non-Anglo) European countries are far less hung up.

        "If you can’t read an R18+ sticker then you are a pretty bad parent to begin with."

        Careful there, it is a parent's responsibility, yes, but, one little thing like this does not constitute bad parenting. In fact, if they are completely absent from their children's lives - then that is far worse. It would be prudent not to judge a parent's capability by small details such as reading a classification, but rather as a whole - how responsible, providing and protective they are with their children.

        "If the problem is the gaming staff not checking ID then that’s both illegal and a different issue."
        This should be about as strong a fine as selling other goods or services to under-the-age-of-restriction limits, as Alcohol, Cigarettes, Film, etc, has.

      but see, the beauty of introducing the new rating, it won't be a simple case of "here you go, here's a slightly different sticker to put on". There'll be a whole new marketing campaign, you'll find advertising the changes on all types of media, and in stores. There'll probably also be new laws introduced/amended so that retails stores are heavily punished for selling to minors, much like bottle-shops are.

    Right on... The points made are so very true but i think we underestimate the influence of the ACL and their power to influence the vote.

    Really sorry to be pessimistic but considering how much need to go right that getting my hopes up will inevatably lead to disspointment.

    I hope i am wrong and i have my fingers very tightly crossed.

      this right here...

      thats something that has boggled my mind as of late how can a group with litle to no public support who espouse what could be politely called neo conservatisim and realistically called insanity how could they command the power they do.

      every person i know who has read anything released from the ACL has shrugged them off as a pack of fundimentalist crazies who are to be ignored and occasionally mocked as a result of thier "fingerquotes" Policies.

      Every person i know is smart enough to dismiss these psyco's but it seems all they have to do is snap thier fingers and half the senate bends over backwards.

      so i pose the question why are politicians so hesitant to dismiss the ACL as crackpots as any other normal person would?

    @Tadmod
    Do we do that with R18 videos? I know we do it specifically for porn in video stores, but I've not seen R18 movies like Kill Bill separated out. Why should games be any different?
    I don't understand this obsession with hiding things as if we're a bunch of perverts going to a peep show. I'm a parent, my son is 4 and he understands that some of my games are for grown ups and he's not allowed. End of story. It's called parenting; I do it myself, no need for the government to help.

    Not to rain on anyone's parade or anything... but you've spelt democracy wrong. You've written that Australia is a democacy.

    For the sake of strengthening this very valid argument (which I wholeheartedly agree with, gj kotaku!), please try to avoid typos.

    Christian Porter is the worry. He's ultra-conservative and has taken several ridiculous ideological stands on minor issues, like appealing the gender reclassification of two (2!) people for no reason but personal ideological disagreement. I have no doubt he will vote against it.

      That is troubling.

      I've tracked down his inaugural speech in state Parliament, it has some interesting information about Porter's values:

      It's difficult to read how he'd react, some parts of the speech are very populist (especially cracking down on crime, siding with traditional values) while others side very strongly with individual liberties:

      "I am a social individualist. Simply put, collectively we all gain if each of us permits the other to live as seems best to ourselves, rather than compelling individuals and their families to live in a manner that seems best to one or another powerful group or the government of the day."

    Well written Mark. I hope you've actually sent a copy off to them, as I'm doubting they'll come across it here themselves.

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