The Classification Review: Make Sure You Have Your Say

As we've spoken about extensively in our feature Classifying the Unclassifiable: R18+ And The Bigger Picture the government are currently taking submissions on the upcoming Classification Review - and the deadline is this Friday.

The R18+ issue has been out of the spotlight in recent weeks, but those that oppose an R18+ rating for games have been slowly trying to permeate the idea that the Attorneys-General have outright denied the games industry an adult rating when that is clearly not the case. With an upcoming review and the rapid influx of digital distribution, the issue has become infinitely more complicated and this is reflected by the fact that the ALRC is currently working on a complete overhaul of the classification system.

Yet anti-R18+ commentators still insist on making a multi-faceted issue an overly simple one. Dr Elizabeth Handsley, writing an opinion piece on the ABC's Tech and Gaming site, is the latest offender.

The way the process has been played out is better compared to computer gaming itself: you get killed once, you get up and start again, believing that if you just shoot a bit harder and a bit faster this time around, you'll break through. You get killed again; you get up again, and so on and so on. There are only two possible outcomes: reaching your goal and giving up. And giving up is not an option.

But it's not a game, it's a serious decision making process based on rational argument, where the ultimate responsibility for the community's welfare rests in the hands of elected representatives and their experienced advisors. If those representatives keep deciding against an R18+ rating, maybe it's simply because the arguments just don't stack up.

That has certainly been the case here, where the gaming lobby has persistently argued that legalising higher-level content would provide better protection to children from inappropriate content. Even after hearing this argument some dozens of times, I still don't know whether to laugh or cry.

What Dr Elizabeth Handsley fails to mention, however, is where those arguments don't stack up. She also fails to give a substantial reason as to why a handful of elected officials continue to delay the R18+ issue when the vast majority of Australian citizens agree with its implementation, as does the elected Federal Government.

With people like Dr Elizabeth Handsley continuing to spread misinformation, it's increasingly important to continue with the pressure. So if you have the time, please head to the Classification website and make your opinions clear on this Online Enquiry Form.


    Even after hearing this argument some dozens of times, I still don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

    Likewise. :\

      Same here, these people are dead against not admitting that they're wrong. It is simply amazing how stubborn they are.

    My 2 cents
    "I can no longer understand why we do not have a complete classification system for games in australia.
    Film has a G, PG, M,MA and R rating system while games, due to its origin in the youth arena, stays behind the times languishing in a maximum MA rating.

    Content is changed and some games are even banned from sale here due to this restriction.
    It can take approx 20 minutes to download almost any game that may be banned in australia through the internet and this is literally taking money out of the pockets of game developers and promoting piracy within Australia.

    I started gaming at the age of 15, now being 32 i no longer enjoy the same content and context that i did at the age of 15. Game developers are making similar inroads as the aging gamer population wants more from their games experience.

    As an adult and a parent i find it insulting that a classification board is taking out from my hands a right and responsibility as a parent to use or play these game and teach my child the reasoning behind what can be played at a particular age and what should not. Instead we get dealt the "Just refuse classification" mumbo jumbo we have put up with for year.

    We are not asking for any special treatment (that other media types already get). We are asking for the ability to decide for ourselves, as adults."

      simple fact is that changing laws is a bitch

      once there in place no one really want's to touch them

    They are only seeking comment at this stage on the terms of reference for the review, so the juicy stuff is yet to come.

    what i dont get is that they keep saying we want to "legalise" more games....dont they get the games we refer to are already legal here with the MA 15 rating?

    The link in the article just goes to a form that seems to be for making enquiries about a particular classification e.g. if you think a film has been rated too high/low etc, or for other general enquiries such as applying for classification or employment etc. Doesn't seem to be anything to do with the Classification Review?

    you put some money in a poker machine, you loose it, you think that if you put some more money in and spin some more you'll get win. There's two options putting more money in and giving up. giving up is not an option.

    How The Hell is that related in any way shape or form to R18+ video games

    one could say that our entire lives is based on the principle of not giving up.

    people keep doing stuff until they loose interest or can't keep doing it for whatever reason.

    the Guy Keeps Trying to get the girl.

    Keep trying to get the promotion

    try to get fitter.

    every thing we do is repetitive, yet in no way is it rated R

    And as for the community welfare. It doesn't lie in the hands of the elected officials. and when we say community we mean 5 year olds apparently because they all pay heaps of tax and earn us millions of dollars each year.

    We need to stop living in a bloody nanny country. Where apparently everything is done for the good of the children.

    I mean if the assume sexual content we are going to get is the issue why aren't these people lobbying to get all strip clubs banned, kids could get in there just as easily as they could get there hands on a MA rated game atm. And im speaking from experience.

    we should also ban any location with alcohol in it because kids can get in there to.

    when i was 14 i was able to walk into the local club/pub/nightclub because i was tall and had didn't look like a shifty kid. and im only 21 now.

    The reason and the only reason that we are stuck with this stupid law is because while we say that we are a secular country of democracy, we somehow have to have a unanimous decision by a panel comprised soley of religous people. that for the most part are out of touch with large portions of the country or even the people they directly represent

    There is only one similar view that frustrates me when it comes to this issue. It seems that all of the anti-R18+ community has this blind opinion: “..bla bla...Isn’t this going to mean we have more violent video games?...bla...this will mean our country will be flooded with more violent games...bla...this will make it easier for minors to gain access to violent content...bla”. The R18+ content in games is NOT the issue here and most of the pro-R18+ community understand this. Why is the R18+ content not the issue? Because the fact is, we already have R18+ content in games in Australia. That’s right Mr/Mrs Anti-R18+, your children are already playing games that are rated R18+. Why? Because our rating system is not good enough to properly rate games so we decrease the classification to MA15+.
    Have a look at my shelf of video games. I have imported some them from the UK and you will notice that some of them are R18+. For example: Wolfenstein, Fallout 3, Borderlands and Dragon Age. And so they should be R18+. They are violent and they are not appropriate for people under the age of 18. What you might find weird is that you can find all of those games available in Australian shops, simply because they have been downgraded to MA15+ classification. This is content that is inappropriate for minors, being sold to minors simply because our rating system is damage. These games have been allowed into Australia because they are appropriate for adults, but because of our rating system, they are rated incorrectly. I have only mentioned a few games but there are about 30 games in Australia right now that are rated R18+ in other countries.
    An R18+ rating system would put these MA15+ games into the correct category. No longer would I have my 15 year old decapitating human beings with a machete in Fallout 3 or blowing people into 100 pieces with a bazooka in Borderlands. This would be up to the adults and the adults only. The adults who enjoy a little bit of adult content in their gaming, the ones who don’t want this content to be continually sold to minors.
    So stop with your excuses. Understand that this content is already here, being sold to minors. Understand that an R18+ classification will not cause a flow of violent games to appear. Parents will be better informed about the content within each video game and as a result will decrease the exposure minors have to adult content within video games. Never again do I want to hear that excuse!

    These anti-R18+ people realised long ago that they were wrong. But now it's far too late to admit it.

    So now they have changed their argument into straight out lies.

    If any of these people were challenged in a live public debate, their 'facts' would be instantly destroyed. Hence the reason for safely posting on websites and only selectively replying to the comments made by immature nutjobs saying DIE BITCH HALOZZZZ instead of people successfully disputing their articles.

    It's a brilliant way of spreading misinformation and propaganda that they know for a fact is utter nonsense. They've figured out a way never to be called out on their consistent fabrication and they will run with it for years.

    Handsley has simply stepped up to fill the void left by Atkinson. Make no mistake, these people aren't stupid. They know exactly what they are doing and any anger-based-but-completely-rational BUT THE RATING IS TO PROTECT CHILDREN-type responses is a complete waste of time and energy.

    Also, the government taking yet again another submission on this topic before any decision can be made is completely fucking ridiculous.

    This is my submission:

    Our classification system for Computer Games is past its prime. In an industry and is always changing and becoming wider every year I am amazed nothing has been done about it.

    There has been talk coming from Christian lobby groups saying that introducing a R18+ rating will let in the bad games. This is completely false, it does not let him the "bad" games in but gives parents more power over their child/children.

    There are games that are coming out on mobile devices such as the iphone, ipad, HTC phones etc. The current classification system is not even suitable for Console/PC games let alone one for mobile devices. Our classification system needs a complete overhaul NOW.

    In December of 2010 fifty-four thousand submission where sent into the Attorney-Generals Department 98.4% of those submissions where in favour of an R18+ rating. There is no way you can ignore those statistics.

    When it comes down to the facts, our classification system is way past its prime and can no longer do what it was originally written for. Threw doing a complete over haul of the classification system and adding an R18+ rating to it will ready Australia for the future and make an industry that is already expanding at a fast pace expand even more.

    What I want to hear is a legitimate argument from someone like Dr Handsley or the ACL on how the current system is protecting our children so successfully.
    The fact that any 15 year old (read: minor) can go and purchase GTA4 or COD MW2 should be evidence enough to warrant the introduction of an R18+ rating.
    The so-called "extreme content" is ALREADY available in Australia, gamers, primarily, are arguing for an R18+ rating so that such games can be limited to adults. R18+ = Child/Minor protection

    It's amazing how incredibly stupid and ignorant someone with the title of "Dr" can be!

    "Even after hearing this argument some dozens of times, I still don’t know whether to laugh or cry"

    Yep, I don't know whether to laugh or cry that ignorance and mindless outrage take precedence over logic and reason in our society! It's quite frankly disgusting that blatant lies like this are allowed to be published, integrity of the media (or even government)? What's that?

    Re: Dr Elizabeth Handsley...on the basis of this excerpt, has she taken out the emotion, personal bias and, on the other hand, presented some facts, anything?

    Screw an R18+ rating for games. Let's just censor Dr Elizabeth Handsley the good old fashion commie way and refuse her classification.

    (attn Mark)

    The Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) are only calling for submissions about the enquiry's terms of reference (the specific things the ALRC will research and discuss) using that form - not the substance of the review itself.

    This means that they may not read submissions that don't deal with the terms of reference. The proposed terms of reference (i.e. "the things they'll look into") for the ALRC Review in the original mandate are:

    "1. relevant existing Commonwealth, State and Territory laws and practices
    2. classification schemes in other jurisdictions
    3. the classification categories contained in the Classification Act, National Classification
    Code and Classification Guidelines
    4. any relevant constitutional issues, and
    5. any other related matter."

    ^ Which is extremely broad.

    Of more relevance to READY and the argument for R18+ is this comment on the page: "If you wish to make comments about the substantive issues under review, we expect that the ALRC will seek submissions in 2011."

    Just thought it'd be useful to give a heads-up. Best to keep the comments about the review's substance (R18+ etc) for later submissions, when they have more of a chance of being read. It also makes things easier for the people working on the Review.

      Just realised that was a bit unclear.

      Tl;dr: The submissions are meant to be about the framework of the enquiry, not the actual substance of the enquiry. They're asking for suggestions as to what sorts of classification-related things the ALRC should look into, not opinions about classification.

    Yea, but if people keep sending posts in like these they will notice it's not just a flash comment, but an on going issue for those who know what they are talking about, in like a so called Dr. and the Christian Lobby.

    This is what I sent in.
    The lack of an R18+ rating shows how behind the times the current rating system is, sure games where once the relm of kids, playing simple games with simple stories/plots with little or no moral or immoral actions at the players finger tips, this fact had long been out-dated. Now video games are an Entertainment Industry larger then movies with more depth in story telling then most hollywood blockbusters, makes in-action on the subject of an R18+ rating on video games a fool hearty waste of time, and each day of in-action allows violent video games into the hands of children for they have been given a rating in which they don't deserve for they are games made and designed for adults by adults, yet can not be given a rating for adults.

    Adult gamers don't want to see a 12 year old play a game designed for an 18 year old; as much as those who oppose an R18+, just because a parent doesn't realise the content of a game, if a game had an R18+ sticker on the front of it I'm sure they would most defiantly think twice about purchasing such a game for their child.

    The people and groups who oppose a ratings change often say that the video game market will be flooded by ultra violent and ultra vulgar games, are sorely mistaken and act as if the introduction of an R18+ rating would remove the process of the rating board completely, and to say such things is a foul act of spreading misinformation to those who do not fully understand why we desire a change.

    The Family First party and the Christian Lobby say "Think of the children". Gamers reply "Think of the children, and our right to not to be subjugated just because we enjoy something you don't".

    A voting Austalian gamer

    I have nothing against censorship. Child pornography and diplomatic cables should be censored.

    What I don't follow is the idea that an R18+ will allow a flood of new more horrible games through Australian borders. All I want is to be able to see games appropriately classified, with a clearly defined set of rules that allows industry to know when they're crossing the line.

    Forget the industry studies and the ultra violent video games, there's a way to satisfy both parties. It involves the introduction of a new classification, but maintaining the priveledge to censor overly damaging content.

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