“Does three of a kind beat a flush?”
“Oh, it’s my go! Sorry!”
And then there’s always that magic moment, when someone lays down a hand of hearts and diamonds, with an inflated sense of false glory.
“I win - all reds!”
Bizarrely, at this precise moment, the R18+ debate feels like a really slow, rubbish game of poker, a game in which half of the participants are barely aware of the rules, constantly stopping, asking if two pairs beats three of a kind - betting when they should be checking, checking when they should be betting.
And we can’t help but get the impression that some aren’t exactly playing with a full deck.
Take John Rau, for example. First he supports R18+, which is good. Then he claims he wants to abolish MA15+, which is strange - but we need context. Then he claims he is going to apply an R18+ rating even if other states don’t reach a consensus... Wow. Huge news.
Then, once he thought about it, he clarified his statement, claiming he would only go ahead with the R18+ rating if the Federal government went over the heads of State Government, and made it possible to have an R18+ rating without the full consensus of the Attorneys-General.
So, effectively, he is saying... nothing at all.
Yesterday I called the office of John Rau and I got a strange sense, the sense that even they themselves weren’t precisely sure of their own position. I had to clarify it with them, they had to clarify it with themselves. John Rau and his office meant well, obviously, but I got the distinct impression that they weren’t really sure whether they had a flush or a full house. It was almost as though, in the middle of a match, they had asked me to look over their shoulder, and take a look at their hand before asking if four cards was enough for a straight.
No guys. It isn’t.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m sure the office of John Rau, and all of the other Attorneys-General have advisors and have spoken to the ‘right’ people about their ‘options’. I’m sure those people are far more informed than me, and have a full grip over the legality of the situation, but the fact of the matter is I want the elected representatives who make the decisions on these things to understand the game they are playing - to understand it fully. And at the moment I’m just not getting that sense.
Say John Rau is right – say the SCAG meeting doesn’t reach a consensus and the Federal government legislates to allow each state to make up their own rules as they go along. Say South Australia abolishes MA15+, and create an R18+ rating instead. Say ACT wants to keep the MA15+. Say Melbourne wants nothing to do with an adult rating for games and sticks with the current system.
That system is not viable. That situation will not occur. It’s not possible, and even if it is possible it bloody well shouldn’t be. How will the video games industry adapt to a system where each state has different ratings? How will the Classification Board classify? Ron Curry used the words “logistical nightmare” and I’m inclined to agree – we need a consensus, and if a rogue Attorney-General feels like playing silly buggers the Federal Government simply has to change the system – on a national level.
There is nothing more frustrating than participating in a game where the players have no idea what the rules are. Where you have absolutely no idea whether your opponent is bluffing or simply doesn’t know what he is doing in the first place. The attorneys-general need to go into the SCAG meeting and play the hand they’ve been dealt. Point blank. At the very least they need to learn how to play.
Because, ultimately, this whole debate is nothing more than a game - a game that’s taking far too long to play.
And I want that game to be over.