We can spit the dummy, we can throw our toys directly out of the pram – we can run the cliche gamut, but ultimately Mortal Kombat being refused classification in Australia changes absolutely nothing. It serves as reminder of what we knew already: our classification system is broken and in immediate need of repair. That’s it. Nothing more, nothing less.
You say we can’t play the game. Well, you probably can. Importing this game will be a likely option for many. Head on to any number of sites and if customs are lenient you’ll probably have a copy of the game roughly a week after it goes on sale, with an adult rating, in Europe and the US.
You say this is an injustice. Maybe. We don’t have an adult rating for games in this country – so when a game that receives an adult rating in every other country gets refused classification, it merely serves as a reminder of what we are already painfully aware: our classification system is out of date and requires reform. It doesn’t change anything, it merely reinforces what we already know.
And, despite what some may say, this decision won’t affect the Games Industry in Australia – not really. This is a blip and Australia is a small market. If anything, it will add an extra layer of notoriety to Mortal Kombat and help drive sales. Sure, some may resort to piracy, but many will import – regardless, it won’t make that much of a difference.
This decision doesn’t make our position stronger and, conversely, it doesn’t weaken it either. Rest assured, those with a vested interest in opposing an R18+ rating would have found a way to spin this decision regardless of the outcome. The Australian Christian Lobby and friends are just as happy showing footage of the ‘ultra-violent’ games already available in Australia as they are screaming ill-informed rhetoric about the banned games lurking behind the dreaded ‘floodgates’. Either approach works for them. Again, this decision changes nothing.
The only thing that matters is our reaction. How do we react to this news in a positive manner? Go ahead and import Mortal Kombat – that is completely fair given the circumstances – but don’t pirate. Go ahead and get angry – but direct that anger in a meaningful way. The Classification Board are not to blame, they are doing the best job possible with the broken system at their disposal. It’s the system that needs to change here – technically Mortal Kombat shouldn’t be in the hands of 15 year olds.
Go ahead and write to your local representatives, but make sure you write in a way that is rational and impossible to ignore. Don’t give anyone a reason to ignore or dismiss your arguments.
This decision changes nothing – in the end it’s meaningless. It’s how we move forward from this point that will really make the difference in the long term. Brendan O’Connor has promised that the R18+ issue will be resolved by July, and we need to do everything in our power to make sure that the correct decision is made. By now the Attorneys-General should be well aware this is an issue that matters, but we need to continue that pressure in the lead up to July. Don’t let them forget.
The vast majority of Australians are in favour of an R18+ rating for games and, if we continue to push, hopefully the Attorneys-General will finally vote with their contituents in mind, as opposed to an obnoxious vocal minority. If we do this properly, and direct our disappointment in the correct way, we can become the vocal majority – and then we’ll be impossible to ignore.