R18+: Let’s Just Get This Thing Done

R18+: Let’s Just Get This Thing Done

R18+: Let’s Just Get This Thing Done“And so it goes,” read the article in New Matilda, “conservatives flailing in moral panic as gamers parade their seemingly indefatigable and adolescent sense of entitlement.”

One of the most frustrating situations I had to deal with this week was an article, discussing the R18+ debate, in which I was quoted. To be perfectly fair, I found a lot of common ground with some of the arguments and sympathised on some level, but one thing bothered me in particular.

Surprisingly enough, it wasn’t the fact that I was quoted out of context – which I was – but they apologised and even added a note to the piece after I clarified my point. It wasn’t even the fact that they framed a strange Straw Man argument, and then conveniently avoided bringing anything valuable to the table in return.

It was this part:

“By focusing on the frankly trivial issue of R18+ games, we are missing out on much more relevant debates about the classification of entertainment.”

And then later – a suggestion that larger issues of classification were being derailed by a “mediocre, vapid bun fight over video games.”

I felt like screaming from the rooftops. Do people actually think gamers enjoy this charade? That this is our time to bask in the glorious rays of mainstream media attention – that we’re happy to see this issue being dragged out, beaten to death with the same old arguments, the same old pointless bickering.

Of course not.

Just to clarify – the article in question claimed that the endless squabble between gamers, politicians and lobby groups over the “trivial” R18+ issue was distracting politicians from what was really important – a long overdue discussion on broader classification and the attitudes of decision makers towards sexuality as a whole.

Let’s be clear here – I completely agree. In fact, I couldn’t agree more. The R18+ issue, in the grand scheme of things, is absolutely trivial. Completely.

That’s precisely why we just need to get this “trivial” thing over and done with.

Yesterday Brendan O’Connor released the draft guidelines, presented to the Attorneys-General in anticipation of the SCAG meeting in July. After the release there seemed to be more squabbling. Almost on cue the ACL claimed the guidelines “failed families”, but they haven’t brought anything new to the debate in a decade so we can completely ignore anything they have to say. Of more interest was the squabbling over specifics – is the wording too vague? Why does it say this instead that.

Questions to which I say – let’s just get this thing done.

Because, despite our differences, this is the one area where the New Matilda piece gets it absolutely right – R18+ is distracting politicians from doing their job (ironic since most politicians do a decent job of distracting the public from the fact that they can’t do their job).

This is precisely why Brendan O’Connor is attempting to push R18+ through this July, in order to free up the Australian Law Reform Commission to tackle the larger issue of classification in this country. This is precisely why the iGEA were completely happy to let the issue slide until R18+ was put back on the SCAG agenda.

And personally, do I want to spend the rest of my life writing the precise same article over and over again until oblivion? No thanks. I got into this gig to write about video games, not politics. The only people who enjoy this political equivalent of Groundhog Day are those who gain political mileage from the situation – and I’ll let you take a wild guess who that is.

Let’s just get this thing done.

In the grand scheme of things it doesn’t really matter anyway. The ALRC will no doubt present findings that will revolutionise the way we classify content in this country. Hopefully the decision makers will listen and change things accordingly. We may even have a system in place that allows the games industry to responsibly self-regulate. We may have more consistency; we may have less – who knows?

Regardless, the ALRC will no doubt do a better job once the R18+ issue is done and dusted and they no longer have to engage in this hoopla for the remaining six months of their investigations.

Again, I’ll be clear – R18+ is trivial. It’s trivial because the correct answer has been staring us in the face for the past decade and, quite frankly, I’m getting a little bit bored.

Let’s just get this thing done.


  • dose anyone really think we will get R18+ rating? Australia is a nanny state, if anything I expect games to be more restricted in the future not less

    • Err, how are we a nanny state? And did you miss the number of people pushing for the rating or the fact that we are in fact making progress on this front?

      • We’re a nanny state because the government does not allow adults to make decisions regarding what they want to do with their own life. Making something illegal that does not impinge upon the life, liberty or property of another person without their consent is ridiculous. If a man wants to read a book on suicide and end himself in the privacy of his own home, it’s not the government’s decision, it’s his. Likewise, if an adult wants to ride a bicycle (or motorcycle) without a helmet, again, it’s his body. If an adult wants to play a video game where he gets to tear out someone’s spine and floss his teeth with it… it’s his free time. People will come up with silly rationalizations about how suicide and riding without helmets and planking or whatever place too much cost on society, but in the end those assholes are saying the government’s money is more important than freedom, and I say fuck you because that money was stolen from the people in the first place.

        Restriction of liberty and censorship on any level is disgusting, and I find it pathetic that the BEST case scenario we get is that we have “less” censorship.

        • If you choose not to wear a helmet, and swerve in front of me and die from head injuries that could have been avoided if you were wearing one, I still have to deal with your death. You don’t I guess.
          If you don’t wear a helmet and end up with head injuries, but live, the whole of society has to pay for your upkeep from that point on.

          • Peter,

            That’s the price of living in a free country. We have to put up with things we don’t like, and we have to pay the price for people’s mistakes, bad luck and stupidity.

            I’d rather live in a state where I have to put up with that, than be dictated to what I can and cannot do; IMO it is lesser of two evils.

            I feel very sorry for you if you feel differently.

      • There is no progress
        Haven’t you guys learned that by now?
        Politicians follow their only personal biases, if only one can stop the whole thing the past has told us that someone will

        Either they’re forced to do it democratically or we won’t get it, simple as that

      • How are we not a nanny state, the government controls almost every aspect of our lives. They have to get out of the way. Yes we do need a goverment to control and regulate a country, but why do we need to act like sheep, doing what the governemnt wants us to do. Very few of us are willing to stand out and say no.
        I came to Australia from America a few years ago, and at first I couldn’t believe some of the laws I had to follow. My kid got a $300 fine for not wearing a helmet while riding his push bike. If he fell off and hurt himself, well too bad, learn from it.
        They want to filter our internet, control how much we can spend at the pokies and price us for how much carbon we produce.
        Not having a rating for/not allowing R18+ games is just another of the stupid things the government does to be able to control us just that little bit more.

        • Well if you don’t like it.. you can GERRRT OUUTTTT

          Here’s hoping we all watch southpark..

          However I agree with all your points…
          I’ve ridden bmx for about 7 years, and aside from getting from point a to point b before I got my licence… I never wore a helmet, why? Because if I go splat.. it’s my own damn fault..

          However, living as a vegetable, relying on others, is costly.. So i can see a point to it.. But still.

        • Yer, if your son gets hit by a car and dies of massive head trauma to fucking bad for him aye.

          Having people set a limit of what they will allow themselves to loose on the pokies is terrible aye. Too fucking bad for there kids at home that are going without because there parents get sucked into spending hundreds of dollars on a few short hours of entertainment.

          Too fucking bad if island nations become uninhabitable and when they wont to immigrate I guess we will say too fucking bad then too?

          There are fines and conditions on these things to make people realise the consequences of there actions, there not huge, they wont break the bank but they will make you think about what you are doing.

          • ‘They’re’ and ‘Their’. Use them.

            If people weren’t required to wear helmets and the government put more effort into making proper bike lanes, maybe a lot more people would ride. A lot of European countries do it.

  • It’s like watching Socrates debating with a duck.
    No matter how much irrefutable fact is presented, no matter how many arguments are countered perfectly with clear logic, Socrates can never win.

    Because the duck isn’t debating, the duck isn’t even listening, no matter what, the duck will ALWAYS rear it’s head and say the exact same thing it has been saying since it was born; Quack.

  • There are no reasonable arguments against an R18+ classification that applies to only one form of media, we all know this.

    The fact that this debate has dragged on so long just goes to show how broken the system is and the sooner we get over this hurdle, the better.

  • I really hope the AG’s read your articles, as essentially, in the end, they are the only ones that matter.

  • Totally correct Mark. Nice one.

    Also, what the hell is New Matilda?


    Hmm, New Matilda owned and operated by Cordell Media Pty Ltd who state bluntly on their wiki entry – ‘Cordell Media Pty Ltd, a company which is not aligned with any political party.’

    I find it interesting that put that out there. I don’t see anyone asking that question. HMMMMM.

    • They’re usually left-leaning.

      Hardly allies of the ACL in any way, shape or form.

      That being said, the columnists are mostly independent. I agree broadly with the article (this is a trivial issue and we should just get it finished), although their characterisation of gamers is immature.

  • I would like to see the rating finally come in. Im tire of games being taken away and edited for Australia because the government dosent like it. Especially when they are games of which the same type has been released before, and worst games before it. ie Left 4 dead 2 was taken away and edited to remove gore, yet you look at games like Gears of War 2 which was released a few years earlier and notice an instant difference with the gore.

  • Yes it’s all rather tired now, it could’ve all been solved years ago with a little common sense but that’s been lacking from those in power where this issue is concerned.

    • Also that article is so shockingly opinionated and one sided it makes me more mad than any violent game ever could.

  • Worst line in the New Matilda article is this one, claiming all people campaigning for an R18+ rating sound like this:

    “If I can’t see more boobs in games, my civil liberties — nay, human rights — are violated!”

    How offensive.

      • Yeah – we just ask Klutar’s girlfriend!!

        Sorry. I guess taht doesn’t really advance the argument that gamer’s are mature…

    • article is pretty Piss Poor IMO.

      granted it does try to draw attention to triviality.

      But for the most part it’s just as bad as any thing ACA or TT might try to put to air.

    • If anyone genuinely believe that more boobs would make a game more mature, they are severely mislead.

  • I’m so over this debate. Everyone is. Pretty sure Serrels is saying exactly what every gamer is thinking, I’m glad there’s someone respected within the industry who has a voice and isn’t as misguided and bias as *most* journalists out there who write on the subject.

    Nothing annoys me more than a journalist who puts forward the point that every gamer is a 16 year old male — not just as opinion, but as FACT. Sigh.

  • My God..

    Reading that article makes me fume with rage..

    They are so incredibly ignorant and know absolutely nothing about the subject on which they are commenting on..

    Sometimes I feel like just giving up – The whole country has gone mad

  • Did anyone in Adelaide read the small article on the R18 issue?

    It was the most sorry, biased, bullshit piece of journalism I’ve seen for some time – here’s the first paragraph:

    R18+ plan on the cards

    SURLY teenagers will find it harder to lock themselves in their bedrooms for hours on end playing anti-social computer games if a planned new adult classification goes ahead.

    Unfortunately this piece of shit didn’t have the writer’s name attached.

  • I feel your pain Mark. Once this gets passed I’m sure the rest of the gaming industry around the worlf will finally welcome us to the 21st century, if not ask us why it took so long.

    There really is no excuse except the fact that the people attempting to prevent these changes are playing on people’s desire to be L-A-Z-Y. Parents wont be allowed to switch off anymore and just allow their kids to get whatever game they picked off the shelf while jumping up and down chucking a tantrum. They may actually have to do some old-fashioned-smackdown parenting!

    But hey, as you implied, it’s more about the politics now, and if there’s a vote to be swung a certain way then it’s a foregone conculsion that there’ll be a politician or two to milk it for all it’s worth. The rights of the untargeted demographic be damned.

    Bring on the change and play on!

  • so i won’t have to wear pants whilst gaming any more?

    sorry, i’d make a serious comment but as has been said… lets just get this thing done.

  • I’ll be turning 30 in July. AS I write this, I have F.E.A.R on in the background. It really should not be played by anyone younger than 18, or by anyone with a tendancy to get the shit scared out of them. And I really am looking forward to the 3rd installment.

  • “A families corpses lay burnt from a house fire at a crime scene, serial killer victims bodies lay naked, covered in blood. Blood splattered throughout cars.” – This is the latest game LA Noire. A great detective game but needs an adult rating. Parents need to be aware if a game is made for teenagers 15+ or for adults 18+. Some parents might be lenient and let there younger children play 15+ games because they may think they are mature enough. The system is unrealistic and needs to be changed IMMEDIATELY if parents are to make informed decision. The current system is a joke.

  • I wish they’d stop wasting time on this issue. Everyone knows there will be an R18+ rating. Stop wasting time and money. It doesn’t need any more debate because the arguments are always the same from both sides.

    They can waste 15 years on this junk, but some idiot of a failed foreign minister can make a drastic split-second decision that reduces the effectiveness of our defence force just to appease the feminists reeling from a defence sex scandal.

    The stuff’s already here and it’s no more harmful than the rest of the media we’re exposed to. What’s of more concern is the way the mass media promotes douchebags as celebrities. Shows like Jersey Shore and Big Brother get far too much attention and reward idiots for being idiots. Every celebrity these days has a sex tape it seems, and they can’t stop sending naked camera photos of themselves. That is what I don’t want our kids seeing. They know videogames are fake. Douchebags are real.

    So what if some people don’t see videogames as art. I do. Apparently some think naked pictures of children is art. I don’t, but some of that crowd talk about us videogamers as adolescents. Maybe I am, so what does that make them?

    We’re a neutered nanny state where political correctness reigns to the detriment of the populace.

  • Make note of the polticians who lack the ability to reform policies and represent the people. THESE ARE THE MAJOR PARTIES. DO NOT VOTE FOR THEM. THEY ARE FRAUDS. Vote for minor parties that interest you or Independents. Because from what I’ve seen in this country, when real action needs to be taken – it’s always the little guy fighting for us. The big guys are always scheme a way to work their ‘buddies’ into the policies.

  • I hate how groups like the Australian Christian Lobby try to restrict MY freedoms according to THEIR moralities. I don’t try and stop them going to church to worship an imaginary being. It’s harmful to mentally cripple your children by
    indoctrinating them with an absurd belief system.
    It ought to be BANNED!

  • It’s reassuring to note that the people in the comments of that article aren’t just gobbling it up, and are actually countering some of the points made.

  • I’ve been watching and reading a lot of stuff about censorship in the past week – not games, but music and film, particularly the MPAA and the PRMC.

    Though the PRMC is two decades old now and the MPAA’s membership has (possibly?) changed, its interesting to note that this conservatism, fear-mongering and a reliance on advocacy groups and the government to compensate for parents’ inability to raise their children isn’t exactly a new phenomenon.


  • and it’s true it’s why i wish the SCAG would stop dragging the thing out.

    At this point i don’t much care what the rating is anymore. Since with the internets everything comes from foreign soil and ignores any petty arguements our country might have agaisnt it.

    I’m starting to think that AG’s are like me when it comes to uni assignments. The night before the SCAG meeting the try cramming as much knowledge about the topic in their head, get to the meeting the next day and decide they aren’t ready to present their finding’s.

    Must have loved it when Atkinson was there “eh we can ignore that it’s got no hope”.

    the thing is while the whole SCAG thing is meant to be unanimous my belief is that it’s meant to be unanimous so that Vic,Qld,NSW,SA can’t form an alliance so they can screw WA out of something.

    The fact is that the R18+ rating doesn’t have any of those connotation’s. It’s majority rule isn’t going ahead because it can steal some of the mining money or what not. The policy puts no state at an advantage or disadvantage to any other. It’s probably one of the few decisions that shouldn’t need a unanimous ruling(since there are reasons it exists)

  • Indeed. The paperwork and documents in the national archives on this issue should be gathering 7 years of dust by now.
    Here is hoping we don’t have to facepalm too many more times before this is over and done with. Then we can stop facepalming at games being inappropriately under-classified into MA15+ as well.

  • I think the draft isn’t very good for 18+ gamers. RC content will still be there and they will just push the MA15+ games to R18 and the games that should have been R18 will just get RC again.
    No benefit for adult gamers, just benefits for retarded parents who don’t pay attention to what their children are playing.

  • “ironic since most politicians do a decent job of distracting the public from the fact that they can’t do their job”


  • Once again it’s the self proclaimed Christian groups that act in the most anti-christian way, throwing tantrums about things they don’t approve of like video games or same sex marriaged. Both have more benefits than not if legalized in Australia,

  • Proudly importing all my video games since 2010, currently playing Mortal Kombat!!

    In all seriousness I gave up on the Australian Govt a long time ago, and seeing how nearly everything tech based i own i import, i’m past caring about this issue.

  • Why pass a law on the entire population when “Gamers” are such a small minority.
    Bikers dont bother me either

    • Nope, didn’t like it. 😛

      Didn’t attack them personally so it must have had too many good points or something.

  • Could not agree more. On everything from how this should’ve been resolved a decade ago, to the fact that media debacles make great distractions on them not doing their jobs. 😉

    It seems trivial because it has taken an inordinate amount of time to resolve and bring us up to date with every other western country’s standards in the world. I don’t enjoy being the but-end of gaming jokes about it eiher.

  • All these ignorant people thinking we are not a nanny state.
    Come on, we are the worlds joke. We are at least 20 years behind the rest of the world with everything. We are ripped off left and right. I don’t even care about this R18 rating, Im still purchasing everything overseas and avoiding these ridiculous 200% markups for everything.

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