Brendan O'Connor On The R18+ Trail - Visits EB

Brendan O'Connor has hit the R18+ trail running in the lead up to the SCAG meeting in July, visiting EB in Adelaide to help raise awareness of the R18+ issue with parents, and discuss the vast number of video games currently rated at MA15+, that are classified for adults in other regions.

“There are dozens of games that are currently classified as MA15+ in Australia, but in other countries these gaming titles are restricted to adults only," claimed O'Connor.

“If the new category is introduced, it could result in computer games that are currently classified MA15+ being reclassified R18+, providing a new level of protection for children.”

Brendan O'Connor also made an important distinction to parents worried about any kind of influx of previously banned titles, a point which instantly rebukes claims that an R18+ will result in a floodgate of 'ultra-violent' video games being brought into the country.

“Games that are currently refused classification and do not meet the standard required for R18+ classification will remain in the refused classification category," he stated, once again.

While that means that games like Mortal Kombat will never be classified in this country, we think this is a sacrifice worth making for a fairer, more sensible system of classification.


Comments

    “Games that are currently refused classification and do not meet the standard required for R18+ classification will remain in the refused classification category,”

    Mortal Kombat is currently refused classification, but if it were to meet the standard required for R18+, could it be reevaluated? The wording of O'Connor's comment suggests it might be possible.

      Dammit I was too slow to point that out :P

      I think we can probably assume the Reviews Board will not go through the back catalog of RC games and reclassify stuff of their own volition though. I wouldn't expect them to waste their time doing that, tbh. But a recent release (even if its not until next year) like Mortal Kombat will make sales etc if its released here as R18.

        On the random chance that the SCAG decide to unanimously get this ball rolling, it will take roughly 2 years to write up the new legislation. Once it's re-written, I suspect that WBIE will need to pay to have the ACB review and re-classify it under the new ratings system. But I suspect that by the time the new system gets re-instated(god willing-see what I did there?), Mortal Kombat would've run its course as being profitable, and most likely forgotten about be WBIE themselves.

      “Games that are currently refused classification and do not meet the standard required for R18+ classification will remain in the refused classification category.”

      I take that to mean that games currently RC which exceed the new R18 rating will remain RC, the implied corollary being that games currently RC which do not exceed the new R18 rating will be rated R18.

      As I said, it's implied, but not explicitly stated, so because it's said by a politician, even Brendan, it means that he's trying but isn't sure enough of the outcome to say it explicitly.

    I'm not sure I agree with that last sentence Mark. His quote: "Games that are currently refused classification and do not meet the standard required for R18+ classification will remain in the refused classification category."

    The important part is "and do not meet the standard required for R18+" which is as-yet undefined. What's to say that a game which is currently RC and meets the forthcoming R18 standard won't be classified as such? I imagine there would have to be a formal resubmission and we may not see that for many games, but I'd say something like Mortal Kombat might do just that.

      Wish I'd known he was going to be there, I wouldn't have minded asking him a few questions myself.

      As for Mortal Kombat, even if this whole thing results in an ideal situation where there's a new R18+ category that does allow a game like MK to get through, by the time we get through the whole process and the R18 is actually introduced, MK will be too old for the publisher to probably bother resubmitting it. But I guess if it sells well then we'll probably have annual updates to look forward to.

    So... you're saying Mortal Kombat is unsuitable for adults? Nice.

      Well Mortal Kombat is just button mashing anyway, its more for little kids.

    Few things:

    A) Couldn't games which have been RC'd be resubmitted for classification? Ex: Left 4 Dead 2?

    B) EBGames (et al.) really need to start enforcing MA15+ better. The number of 14yo's I turn away at my counter who return with an EBGames bag is distressing.

    C) Gods, that picture is awesome! Praise to Lord Editor Serrels and/or Kotaku's artist! :D

      Left 4 Dead 2 most definitely not as it has been through all the appeals processes possible

      Other games which publishers chose not to go to review could potentially request a review via the review board as they have not exhausted all processes and there is no timelimit as to when a review can take place.

        That doesn't sound correct. If a game or movie is refused classification, or receives a higher rating than the distributor would like, they submit a modified version for classification.

        The original version of Left4Dead 2 failing the classification review board didn't preclude Valve from submitting the modified version that did pass, so there should be no reason why they couldn't submit yet another version under the new scheme if they thought it was worth it. The same should be true of any publisher.

      I always tell kids and parents not to buy MA games. Very rarely do they listen. "no, it's ok. He's played it before." is the most common excuse. Worst one I've heard is "But what doesn't have violence in it these days?" in reference to GTA IV which I told him also contained swearing drugs and sex.

      Parents need to be more aware of the content, and yes, retailers need to make them more so.

      In reply to B)
      I always tell kids and parents not to buy MA games. Very rarely do they listen. "no, it's ok. He's played it before." is the most common excuse. Worst one I've heard is "But what doesn't have violence in it these days?" in reference to GTA IV which I told him also contained swearing drugs and sex.

      Parents need to be more aware of the content, and yes, retailers need to make them more so.

    My understanding is - if a game was RC, it would need to be resubmitted, so technically MK could be passed if it is R material. If it fails that, then obviously it would remain RC.

    It's just that previously RC games wouldn't be automatically given an R rating without review.

      If I recall right, games that *should* be R18 are getting put into M15. The new system doesn't expand the limits of what we allow/disallow, it just segments that bracket.

      So MK, which was refused any classification wouldn't get in, but a game like GTA, which is allowed(Yeah, I don't get it either) would now be restricted to R18.

      Think of it as a scale - 0-20 is C, 20-40 G, 40-60 is PG. Currently 60-100 is M15. With the R18 bracket, 60-80 would be M15, 80-100 becomes R18. MK scores 112, so doesn't fit. GTA gets 93, so does.

      Unless I've completely misinterpreted the system, of course.

      Games won't get an auto-reclass, not with the prices the review board charges($1k for a indie pc title last I checked, and it rises quickly when you go professional levels).

        Your scale is close, but your forgetting about the plain M rating, recommended for mature audiences, it is a blue sticker. There are games that are rated just M, Batman Arkham Asylum was one of them.
        But other than that, your scale demonstrates things quite well

          Not to mention that certain values of content may as well change due to the 18+ nature of things. So whilst excessive violence may get Value A at the moment, it may alter it to value B later on to fit more in line with the new ratings system. We assume they're just going to slap a new R rating onto the end of the current system, but the actual process at the moment is an ENTIRE OVERHAUL of the current system, a new method. Hopefully they will take this into account.

        You are close, but it is more close to the below

        Our system is approx this

        0-20 is C, 20-40 G, 40-60 is PG, 60-70 is M, 70 to 80 is MA15+ and RC (Refused Classification) is 80-100

        New System would be approx this

        0-20 is C, 20-40 G, 40-60 is PG, 60-65 is M, 65 to 70 is MA15+, R18+ is 70 to 90 and RC (Refused Classification) is 90-100

        There would be some things that would be let in now that couldnt fit into an MA15+ rating, but there is still a line as to what would be RC and R18+

          I agree, that's how it should work, but whether it ends up that way is another question.

          It'll depend on whether SCAG will want to raise the bar in terms of when something becomes refused classification. The ACL will scream bloody murder if any leeway is given.

          It should be about meetings things in the middle. Allowing things to be classified R18+, instead of MA15+ when appropriate (to protect the kiddies), whilst allowing adults more freedom to play the games they wish

    "Games that are currently refused classification and do not meet the standard required for R18+ classification will remain in the refused classification category"

    Not good enough. Enough with this censorship. It's time these companies just ignored these Orwellian rules and sold products. Stop submitting games for "classification", just sell them. If they're violent/contain sex/strong language/themes, put a sticker on the front warning parents this is not for children, but for god's sake stop legitimising this horrible state of censorship, show some guts!

      The problem with this suggestion is that the risk of doing this falls entirely on the retailer, while only a small portion of their revenue would be coming from such games.

      It is a bit different to the case of an adult store where the sale of banned material makes up a substantial source of income. Further more, the penalties for selling X18+ material is a fair bit lower than those for selling RC material in most states.

    Rating quote aside, this man deserves some nice colds ones shouted to him. He's really putting in the yards to try and get people educated about the issue.

    I would love to see a guest blog from him on here, Mark, or an interview like Objection. That would be epic.

    any system that is shown to be useless by a simple process of ordering online from an OS supplier is a complete waste of money and time.
    It's as stupid as saying that the government is banning the sale of bananas from supermarkets but you can still buy them service stations..... completely futile.
    While this government continues to make laws that are so behind the times/technology we might as well continue to completely ignore them, like we have been doing for some time.

    They just need to release Mortal Kombat: Special Edition where Liu Kang has a hat but the game is otherwise unchanged, then this "new" game can be classified properly.

      Haha! I await the imminent release of Mortal Kombat:Special Hat Edition.

        Chuck it on steam and Valve can have another hat based cross-promotion :)

    Wait, I don't get it. Why would parents be worried about a 'floodgate of ultra-violent' video games? In case they accidently buy one for their kids? If it's got an adult rating, then why do we need to consider the children? Sounds to me like some parents need to do more parenting and a little less palming the responsibility off to others.

      This has always been one of the fundamental issues. So-called "Parent's Groups" and religious organisations want the government to do the parenting, because actual parents are incapable of preventing access to videogames.

      This isn't exaggeration, they have said this many times over "It is impossible to stop kids playing these games."

        My parents never really restricted my playtime of violent games, I've always played a good mix of violent and non-violent games since I was around 6 and I have never ever once thought that I should try doing my own fatality on someone in real life. Games and every other single type of media out there do not influence bad behavior, real life experiences do.

    I finally watched some of the fatalaties on another site. There is no way that MK was ever going to pass as MA15. As much as it pains me to say it, i'm glad that it did not pass classification. Under the guidelines of the current system, the right decision was made. I just hope it has been polarizing enough to effect actual change.

    not sure if this is relivant but it appears in the lead up to this SCAG meeting the Herald Sun amongst other papers is stepping up on their fear mongering

    http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/technology/bloody-violence-on-the-wii-console/story-e6frep1o-1226041912901

    (yes it is the Courier Mail website but the article itself was published in the Herald Sun as well)

      "Jim Wallace said he had no problem with a game console shaped like a sniper rifle." Lol, they don't even know what they're trying to condemn. Articles like these always make me chuckle; its like the blind leading the blind out there.

      Posted in reply to the article you linked :

      "Which US research?
      Christopher J. Ferguson, psychologist from Texas A&M university is one of many respected psycologists who have recently published papers stating the link between video games and anti-social behavior is a myth. One of his papers can be found here : http://bcis.pacificu.edu/journal/article.php?id=761

      Anti-social behavior, according to real pshychologists and not to conservative interest groups, is primarily a result of pre-existing mental conditions, and is not influenced by external factors.

      Please stop propegating misinformation. You are journalists after all, and your job is to report the truth."

      I still don't get why the impact of adults-only games on children is even considered relevant to the debate. The whole point is that they're ADULTS ONLY.

      Alcohol consumption leads to antisocial behaviour in children (and in more than a few adults, I might add), but they don't ban alcohol. They just restrict its sale to adults.

      This debate is getting very, very old.

        Couldn't agree more...
        By the way - Isn't all this stuff due to be Industry regulated soon? (After the Classification overhaul I mean...) In which case all the christian lobby groups (yes you ACL...) can go jump of a cliff(I so wanted to say something else there but that will do), and we can have - well classifications that wont be dictated by ignorant idiots... It might not be a perfect system, but at least our rights won't be infringed upon...

    Beware the flood of banned games! All 24 of them! We'll drown in the tidal wave of mostly mediocre titles that no one really cares about!

      Really, only 24.

      With the amount of bullcrap the media says,
      I could have thought there were at least 150

      ;P

        And that 24 includes stuff like fallout 3 and silent hill: homecoming which were edited and released so I think it's only 19 outright bans.
        http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_banned_video_games

    what if Mortal Kombat: Ultimate edition or some such was released post a July R18+ approval. That would surely be be classifiable.

    I am sure that if they re-released the new MK in a special edition or if a 1.5 version came out then it would have to go through the new classification system. I interpret:

    “Games that are currently refused classification and do not meet the standard required for R18+ classification will remain in the refused classification category,”

    ...as meaning that Games that are currently refused classification will stay that way.

    In the future, games that do not meet the newer R18 guidelines will also be refused classification.

    Simple really.

    What if....

    we finally get R18+ but it ends up being MA15+ under another name?

      Even if that happens, I suspect the classification board will gradually relax what slips into the R category since they will be able to take into account the fact that it's for 18 year olds, not 15 year olds. It would hopefully increase their wriggle room a little bit to allow a few more of the borderline cases to slip through with an R.

    This is still a fail.

    Sounds like they are trying to just change MA games to R.

    Its a crock of shit if Australia gets a R18+ rating no games should be banned and all banned games should be aloud into the country, otherwise they might as well not even bother with it cos all they're gonna do is rename MA15+ as R18

      Yeah, that doesn't exactly work in reality. Nice fantasy though. I have no desire to see Rapelay and it's ilk on store shelves do you?

    Truth is no one knows how the R18 classification will turn out. But there is a distinct possibility that, when the time comes, the against camp will try to enforce a "no reclassification" rule, which AG's may concede to.

    Then the'll go into feverish spin mode to prove how it is a victory for all decent people (i.e them only)

    Remember it's all about politics.

    "While that means that games like Mortal Kombat will never be classified in this country, we think this is a sacrifice worth making for a fairer, more sensible system of classification."

    Uh, considering all other countries are doing just fine with it under R18, it SHOULD be let in.

    If the introduction of R18+ results in the MA15+ ratings becoming R18+ ratings with no change in what material will get a game RC'd, then there's no point in getting R18+

    R18+ should accept more 'unsavory' content than MA15+. Adults have a right to enjoy gruesome and violent fiction.

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