What If We Just Started Selling RC’d Games In Australia?

What If We Just Started Selling RC’d Games In Australia?

The latest Official PlayStation Magazine is onsale today, and features an opinion piece from yours truly, but there’s a thought provoking piece in the issue that asks an interesting question about classification in this country – what if publishers and retailers agreed to ignore the rules and sold games that had been refused classification in Australia?

It’s unlikely to ever happen, particularly since we’re closer than ever to an R18+ rating in Australia but, considering the vast support R18+ has from the public, it’s an interesting thought.

In the magazine Fiona Patten, leader of the Sex Party, discusses the possibility.

“Civil disobedience only works when you have a number of factors in place,” writes Patten. “First you have to have the majority of public opinion behind you. Second, you need to be selling a product that a good percentage of police, judges and lawyers have seen or purchase themselves and who have a good number of family and friends who do the same. Third, you need a national network of retailers who will hold the line in the face of the first prosecution or two and who are prepared to fund the occasional ‘not guilty’ plea on as well.”

It’s nice to know that if, for some unforeseen reason we don’t receive an adult rating for video games, there may be alternatives…

Viva La Revolución!

The Official PlayStation Magazine is available in all awesome newsagents (and Borders if they haven’t closed down all their stores yet!)


  • Well there doesn’t seem to be any issues with the sex shops selling hardcore stuff in Queensland even though this state doesn’t have an X rating.

    • Exactly. The Australian Classification Board has the Classification Liaison Scheme which is supposed to be a small unit of public servants who go around to DVD and publications retailers telling them what their obligations under the Act are. In reality they just go around the country dobbing in retailers who sell X DVDs to the police. There are four of these ‘porn police’ (as Swan called them) so all adult shops in Australia will now get a visit and a slap on the wrist once every couple of years.
      I can’t imagine videogame shops would be any higher than that on our police force’s agenda.

    • Yeah, but it’s a pretty major leap from sex shops selling illegal stuff to major companies like KMart, EB etc doing it. They have to worry about their corporate image as well as explaining to shareholders why they’re throwing money away by deliberately breaking the law.

      • Hopefully in this case they could justify the money if it ever came down to it buy saying they are raising their corporate image in the eyes of the 80 something % (can’t be bothered to look up the story now)who said they’d support an R18 rating plus international supporters and getting their names in the papers.

      • Well thats easily solved.
        just get adult stores to start selling adult (RC) video games.
        that should stop kids form “buying” them

    • This galls me more than anything, we need the agreement of all AGs and yet individual states have the power to restrict classifications in their own jurisdiction anyway!

      If these people can’t agree on an R rating for video games, how on earth did we ever get an X rating for porn?

  • Yep, as mentioned in the piece iGEA CEO Ron Curry is not supportive of the idea at all: “It would do nothing to maintain their existing good corporate reputations,” he says.
    Patten’s ultimatum, via her abc.net piece, was an interesting one but what I found most interesting was the Sex Party’s Robbie Swan’s insistence that we’re no closer to classification reform.
    “The three Christian parties, Family First, the DLP and the Christian Democrats, on their own are fairly impotent at election times. But when you put their two or three per cent of the vote together and they use it as a bloc, then six or seven per cent has the potential to swing half the seats in the country. That’s why both Liberal and Labor give ground on censorship matters to them,” says Swan.
    “They need to change the rules to make it a majority vote. If this had been the case R rated games would have been legal five years ago.”
    This ties into another interesting point he made regarding Gamers 4 Croydon. Swan is of the opinion South Australia’s Gamers 4 Croydon ought to have expanded to the federal level.
    “Outside of the four major parties – Liberal, Labor, National and Greens – there is a need for the minor parties on the social ‘left’ of the political spectrum to balance those on the right,” he says. “The right has three Christian parties, One Nation, and three or four others who pop up at various elections, like the Citizens Electoral Council.
    “On the left, the freedom fighters are few and far between. The Democrats and the Sex Party and sometimes the LDP. But that’s it. The Gamers should have gone ahead and morphed their party into another minor party on the left to create more of a balance and develop a bloc of minor party votes that could rival the Christians.”

    • The Democrats and LDP (and, at least in the lower house, the Sex Party) are ridiculously small minnows, though. They don’t amount to anywhere near as much of the vote as the CDP/Family First/DLP.

      Besides, the ACL has far more influence as a lobby group (in terms of media attention) than Christian parties will *ever* get in political power. Fred Nile’s two seats in NSW, the DLP upper house member in Victoria and Steve Fielding are (literally) irrelevant in terms of creating policy.

      Gamers’ efforts would be much better served with a strong lobby group for classification freedom (anti-filter ones have proved popular) rather than a political party that won’t get anywhere. The LDP has been around for decades and the vast majority of people have no idea it exists.

  • I don’t see it working.

    The ACCC would come down on them for collaboration.
    The Publisher wouldn’t want to piss off the government over something so trivial…
    The platform holders (who all sell other products in Australia) don’t want the backlash associated with it.
    The ACL, Today Tonight, A Current Affair, Baby Boomer / Grey rinse set would arc up about this being the kind of anti-social, law flouting atitude games generate.
    Independent retails couldn’t afford to thumb their noses at the law… so they’d cave or go bankrupt.
    Major retailers (BigW, Kmart) wouldn’t want their brand associated with breaking the law.
    Chain retails would knife each other over it (and because they’re international, and their continental and US offices don’t have the same issue, they wouldn’t stay with it either).

  • …I don’t think civil disobedience is very viable, particularly for something as niche (arguably – but considering RC games are a very small sample overall) video games. I’m not sure video games are significant enough to (potentially) sacrifice so much.

    Sadly however, the more I think about it the more I feel like not much will happen until we see a bigger generational change across politics over the next couple of years.

    Fingers crossed we get a favourable result soon, though!

  • My understanding is that RC is RC. Once something is RC it becomes illegal to sell here. It’s not a convenience thing, it’s law. The publishers then can’t decide to sell the game anyway.

    • Publishers can’t, but stores can import the games and sell them.
      Sure it is the law, but so were many things that civil disobendience eventually got changed.

      If something is illegal, you can still do it, it just means you have to be willing to take the consequences because you believe the law is unjust, and are willing to take some pain to get it changed.

  • I think James Mac sums it up pretty nicely. Civil disobedience doesn’t occur in Australia (in broad daylight, it certainly occurs in the safety of peoples’ homes). There’s too much lobbyism, and too many people trying to be superior to one another that you’d end up with this giant lobby of morality preachers and the police/govt side by side.

    Not that that’s a good thing, but it’s sadly the reality I feel. The average Australian does not feel empowered enough, and thus either is too afraid to join in on the civil disobedience, or is too afraid of what happens if they don’t oppose it and thus become semi-radical do-gooders.

    This compounds the problem since such civil disobedience needs to be out in broad daylight so that all involved can check up on their “allies” and so the movement can act as one if say one retailer gets turned into the scapegoat by the morality police, otherwise the movement will fall apart.

    • Civil disobedience does occur here,and has resulted in real change – just ask Dr Alex Wodak.

      It isn’t as prevalent as it should be in a healthy democracy though, we have learned to be fearful and status oriented like the US/

  • There was a store in Melbourne, a very visible one on a major street, that sold RC titles for years. They don’t any more, but given that they still exist and appear to be run by the same people, they can’t have gotten much of a penalty for doing so.

  • Fer starters we are further away from 18+ than closer and to obtain RC’d material is essentially illegal. I can buy porn for sure if I was interested – just not Mortal Kombat. And at 42.5 that is kinda ridiculous.

    • What??? Its only illegal for retailers to sell RC material but it is still perfectly legal to import games, Porn is different because most porn is rated X18+ which is illegal in most states but not strictly enforced as a prohibited item.

        • RC material is illegal to sell but it is not illegal to own it. If you import it for your own use you are not breaking the law. If you import it to sell it you are breaking the law.

          • It is illegal to be in possession of RC material in some states, such as Western Australia (can’t recall the other/s). Surprisingly Qld isn’t one of those states.

    • If you can give *ONE* sane reason why your post has anything to do with the R18+ classification issue, I will eat my own face.

      This is why our democracy doesn’t work. People expecting instant miracles on issues that take years or even decades to fix, from people without the power to perform them.

      Spend a few hours learning the basics of our system of government. Vote her back in. Vote her out. I don’t care how you exercise your right to vote, provided you actually understand why you are doing what you do.

    • I’m American. I’ve lived here for 13 years. I’m an Australian citizen. I am offended by your racism.

      (Or Nationality-ism as the case may be.)

  • I’ve been suggesting such ideas for quite a while now, usually to just get laughed at. But in all honesty I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. Sure they’ll be a pretty big legal hissy fit over it. but every action will be highly reported on in the mainstream media, you just need to make sure the people speaking to the media are savvy enough to not seem like the bad guys here.

    Unfortunately this also requires an industry with the balls to actually get off their asses and do something. I’m sure we’ll see a press release soon about the R18+ debate, probably after it postponed again following the next SAGC meeting, heaven forbid they actually do something more then send out a press release every 6 months. Bunch of useless twats.

  • Censorship is supposed to apply the country’s moral standards to the content of films, games etc. The majority opinion. Right now, the majority opinion is being ignored in favour of the ideals of a few over-conservative zealots.

    The board was put in to serve a purpose. It no longer serves that purpose. And if they will not change to meet the shifting standards of the Australian public, then sooner or later, they will be ignored, much as they already are given the RC games that get imported and downloaded.

    A good example would be Risen. RC in Australia due to realistic drug references and promoting the use of prostitutes to obtain a positive effect in the game. Everyone I know at uni has played the damn game

    When the law stops working, it gets broken

    • The Classification Board follows their guidelines. They can not introduce a higher level of classification just because people want it. Only the Unanimous yes votes of the states and territories Attorney Generals can introduce the legal right of the board to give games a R18+ classification.

      The board is only doing the job they are paid to do. If a game doesn’t meant MA15+ levels then it must be RC.

  • Hell, I’d go a step further and say start selling the games with Refused Classifcation in bold letters on the box. It’d be like the old “banned in Queensland” label during the VHS era: the second you saw that you had to check it out.

  • Had a thought this morning on the train. RC ratings mean they can not be sold in Australia, but does that cover distribution? I mean everyone can still import games.

    The idea relates to Mortal Kombat. If MK remains RC’d, why doesn’t Warner Bros simply hand out 1000 copies of the game free in each Australian capital city? Great way to protest and get the media’s attention. Technically they’re not breaking the law, just advertising a product by handing out samples. Surely the publishers are sick of this cloud hanging over their head each time they send something off to be classified.

    • As I just said earlier, RC means it is illegal to import as the item becomes an prohibited good.

      That means, selling, imported and most likely distribution.

      • WiseHacker, you seem fairly knowlegable in regard to this. What is to stop Sega(MK in this case) making a PAL ISO freely available for download to Australia?

        They can’t sell the game anyway – Not going to get money for it(in Australia). Are they actually exporting it to, or distributing, in Australia?

        Nobody selling it. It’s not being Pirated because Sega is allowing it, but the game is still available to those who want it.
        Only problem is that now the game is available to anyone who wants it, thus totally screwing the classification and legal system.

        Granted not very responsible, but it would highlight the inadequacies of the system.

  • Yep, that’s democracy for you. The minority votes hold all the swing power and force their opinions onto everyone else.

  • I said this last year in a forum that the only way we would get R18+ games was if they put them in an adult shop along with the porn and those special plastic covers.
    But the down side of that is that they would probably lump another $40.00+ on top of the price for the priviledge of being allowed to purchase R18+ games … so its a no win either way.
    The joy of australia being a small population country allows publishers etc to dictate what we will pay for games which are far cheaper to the rest of the world … so do you seriously think even if we do get R18+ games that we are not going to pay for the priviledge …ofcourse we will.
    Not only that apparently the goverment is now investigating why the sale of games has dropped in australia and why so many buy from oversea’s … like duh …. do you really need to waste tax payers money on something thats so damn simple to figure out.
    We might be lucky in the end and get R18+ games… but we will pay for that honour …and if you think “so what …I’ll import” … just wait to see the goverment start an import fee on ALL games …. Damned if you do …Damned if you Dont.

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