R18+: A Legacy Of Lethargy And Cowardice

"Right now what I am envisaging is a system where South Australia still receives games that have been rated MA15+," said SA Attorney-General John Rau, speaking to Gamespot, "but we simply put an R18+ sticker on top of the MA15+ sticker before the games are sold."

I exhale. Breathe. And sigh.

There goes the last vestige of enthusiasm for a debate that has slowly devolved into what can only be described as farce. Just put a sticker on it. Problem solved.

What a difference seven months makes.

In the weeks approaching the SCAG meeting, in December 2010, it felt as though Australian gamers, as a collective, were riding on a tsunami of goodwill and optimism. Within a matter of months we had gone from no hope whatsoever to a record breaking petition and Federal government support on an issue that had been festering for over a decade.

Back then the momentum felt like an unstoppable force. Now? It's more like a turgid dirge of lethargy and cowardice.

Attorneys-General agreeing in 'principle', Attorneys-General agreeing with a caveat, trying to cover every angle, trying their level best to avoid making any concrete decision whatsoever. Trying to somehow manage and filter the stream of noise from the vocal minority. It all feels so... 'political' - the correct decision sacrificed at the altar of bureaucracy and endless arse covering.

Being perfectly honest? I feel drained. Drained of energy for this debate. Drained of enthusiasm for a process that starts and stutters, that move backwards, that shuffles sideways, moving in any direction other than straight ahead, the direction it should be heading in - off the agenda, done and dusted, over and done with.

At this point there is no more to discuss. And it's getting to the stage where I absolutely do not care whether this happens or not. It makes little difference to me as a gamer. A handful of games refused classification per decade that I can easily, easily import at the cost of local industry. A handful of irritating lobby groups I can easily ignore.

Brendan O'Connor - I have all the respect in the world for you, a politician who had the courage to seize this issue by the balls and really make a go of it - a politician who recognised that this was an issue that actually mattered to Australians.

As for the rest of you, those that would hum and haw, and drag out what should have been done years ago - put up or shut up. Shake off the shackles - as I said in a previous article, let's just get this thing over and done with.

Before we all lose interest. Before the decision loses any meaning it could have had to begin with, before it becomes a historical laughing stock - a legacy of political lethargy and cowardice.


    And the ironic part about this, the R18+ rating will only be in SA... the state that has all R18 content seperated at JB Hifi (sorry folks, that makes it EASIER for the children to find, not harder), and the state once upon a time that had the AG who was mortally opposed against an R18 rating.

      I don't think it really counts when they're literally just putting a sticker over the MA15+ rating.

      Yeah that was atkinsons legacy from memory

    Love the article. This whole process has just become a poison that is draining the goodwill and life out of what was a reasonable request from the video gaming public.

    Still, I've set myself a goal. If I don't see an R18+ classification by the end of 2012, I'm going to make it my lifes work to destroy the good name and reputation of any and all past, current, and future AG's.
    That will be how I will mete out my mounting frustration towards this rediculous organisation called State Government.

    I know exactly how you feel Mark.

    As long as he doesn't stop the rest of Australia having distinct MA15+ and R18+, I don't really see the problem with this (except for South Australians between 15 and 17). The states all need to make their own classification enforcement laws anyway, their can just be different.

      I have a major issue with this.
      My issue is that one of the main reasons this was never passed previously is we were all held to ransom by the then AG of that state. So now we have all gone through the ringer to get to the point it "MAY" actually happen the little bastards that used their 'Veto power' preventing the rest of the pro R18 camp... Yeah that state that made everyone wait for them….
      NOW they want to go their Own way!!!!

      They held the rest of the country to ransom with the last tosser AG from SA and for that reason alone the little prick should be FORCED to adopt the national scheme!

    I don't recall Galaxy Poll asking Australia would you like a new sticker on your video game boxes introducing but not introducing a new rating?

    Yeah I gave up a fair while ago. I import all the games I want and really don't care whether other people are panicking about 'the children' or not.

    I live in WA - my copy of Mortal Kombat is illegal - the world still turns.

      ME too. Love my copy of MK.

    This shouldn't be so hard.

    everyone email john rau and tell him what a complete moron he is, spam up his account until he gets the picture.

      Or you could try doing something mature.

        Yeah he could, but we've tried to do something mature for over 10 years now and it hasn't resulted in any changed at all.

    I still want to know why the Industry isn't doing more here? Why the 2 sides being the most vocal about it are the organised Christian/Family groups and the fairly unorganised gamers. Where's the gaming publishers and local distributors? Namco/Bandai recently had to get a game changed for local release, why aren't they releasing press statements about this, why aren't they putting ad's in newspapers of TV or even just the Internet? Does the Industry really not care at all about this? Yet still we try and support them?

      I can't remember exactly who it was, possibly Bobby Kotick, but a couple of heads of big name developers made statements about the rating system in Australia last year, I believe.

        That kinda highlights my point, Someone maybe made a statement about it last year? In the mean time how much effort have we been putting into it? I didn't see any submissions into the ALRC classification review from any of the major publishers or distributors here in Aus. It's like they couldn't care less.

    I feel my enthusiasm dipping too, as it seems we're doomed to be represented in these matters by people who are unwilling to do their jobs.

    At this point it simply feels like a matter of moving the goalposts. It seems that each time the A-Gs put forward (for want of a better phrase) a 'victory condition', they snatch an earned-victory away and drop another roadblock in the way.

    Mybe that's not how it is, but it's how it feels - maybe it's my conditioning as a gamer that makes me feel this way.

    Once upon a time Michael Atkinson was our only obstacle. He was our target. We tried to wear him down with reasoned debate, we constantly produced evidence that dismissed his claims, but and failed to respond to any of this, instead calling gamers a bigger threat to his personal safety than biker gangs. When he finally left office, we thought this was done!

    The A-Gs wanted a discussion paper - we responded, and there was overwhelming support for an R18+ rating. // The A-Gs dismissed the paper as biased because only people who have a vested interest in the ratings would submit. Would they have dismissed it so readily if it had been an overwhelming response from groups like the ACL and Family Voice demanded no rating ever be introduced? We'll never know. They tried, but the gamers outnumbered and outdrew them.

    A petition was circulated, with an astonishing amount of respondents in favour of a rating. We attempted to remind the A-Gs that there really is a lot of support, and not just from gamers. Non-gamers too. It was ignored.

    The A-Gs office put out a survey. Another overwhelming positive result. What happened to that? Nothing. New people came into office. The new A-G for SA said he needed time to consider the issue, because apparently he didn't read the agenda.

    Now we have a new A-G for NSW who is afraid of rushing through a decision that's already been waiting a decade.

    My complaint isn't that they haven't voted in our favour, it's that they refuse to vote at all. The complaint is that, in spite of our efforts, they treat this issue as below their notice.

    Maybe this comes across as a bit whiny, but if a game treated it's victory conditions like this, I'd pitch it out the damn window in a heartbeat. All we want is fair and reasonable consideration. All we get is endless timewasting while interest groups opposed to the rating continue to rehash the same tired and discredited propoganda.

    Family Voice Australia has created a response to the current classification reform paper that closed to submissions last week, which was copied verbatim over and over by at dozen respondents.

    Yes, my enthusiasm is waning but the I have to remind myself that at the moment we're trying to overturn an incumbent system. The second we stop caring the other side wins by default. That's reason enough not to give up.

    You can't just "replace the sticker". Seriously, we need consist classification guidelines across all media. Trying to run with different rules for different things just complicates matters unnecessarily!

      I agree. And imagine you get home and peel of the R18+ sticker to see MA15+ underneath.

      That would diminishes the impact an R18 sticker has and make me wonder what else is R18 thats really OK for 15 year olds.

        Well while we're slapping new ratings on games in store, just slap an MA15+ sticker on this here copy of MK and sell it to me. Duhhhhhh...


    stupid as t is the going it alone approach is still better than what we have currently and that really isnt saying much

    This is great guys!
    With my girlfriend pregnant, I'm not going to have to do ANY parenting at all!
    I'll have so much free time because I can sit back and let the government do it all for me.
    What a relief! I was starting to think I might, you know, have to be a PARENT.

      More time for you to play games!!!

    The duke nukem forever of politics and in the same way by the time an R18+ category comes out, the policies and guidelines thai make it up will already be outdated and behind the times

    Has anyone ever had an RC game inspected by customs? I bought De Blob 2 (rated PG) a few months back and it arrived with a sticker on the box saying it had been inspected. Which was kind of obvious, because they didn't even bother to close the box after they'd checked the contents, let alone re-seal it. Lucky Australia Post took enough care during delivery that it didn't fall out.

    Thing is, I was originally going to import Mortal Kombat but changed my mind when I saw De Blob for next to nothing.

    A lesson for all the kids out there;
    Politics ruins everything.

    Mark, another great article and good read on a sad and sorry diminishing state of affairs.

    Ho Ho Ho...see what I did there??
    State of Affairs !?!?!?

    I feel depressed...

    Any thing political in Australia will always be a joke. It will never change because this country is backwards.

      I see what you mean, but at least we aren't as backwards as some of our neighbours in the world.
      And I agree, politics is a freaking joke here. All I see out of politics at the moment is spin, lies, broken promises, wasted money, money that isn't getting spent, focusing on the wrong issues, spending too long on issues, backwards thinking and juvenile banter. It's depressing when there is hardly any politician out there worth voting for.

    This is exactly what they want. They want us to get exhausted with this and go away, thus saving them from having to finally make a decision.

    We need to keep hammering the point until it finally gets done. Whether they decide for it or against it is less important at this point than actually forcing them to MAKE a decision. If they make a decision they'll have to be held accountable for it. If we just get sick of it and go away then they can sidle away into the shadows again without ever having had to make a decision.

    So keep pushing it. Make them come out and explicitly vote AGAINST if if that's what it takes - at least then they'll have to publicly explain to their constituents why they blocked something that the vast, vast majority of them clearly want and support.

    lol had to check the calendar to see if it was April 1st or something

    Seriously, I can't even believe he'd outright say that. You'd at least think he would have spun it with some politician polish

    And all these reiterates is that the elected official don't listen unless it benefits them. I think if other countries came to our defense then maybe something would happen. I thought the shame of being behind the UK and US in this issue would make the pollies quick to make change to save face.

    Oh well, importing it is then. Guess we'll have to wait till our generation is in power for logic to take presedence.

    Sorry ACL. My god is not your god because my God isnt a **nt.

    Yours truly,

    A real modern christian guy.

      How remarkable, weresmurf, I think we have the same God. And here I was wondering some days if I was the only one...

        No there's plenty of us. I don't go to church or preach but I believe. I don't push it on others, it's just for me and for me to pass onto my son. If he chooses to follow in my steps then awesome, if not, awesome.

        But our god is not one that we twist the words of to serve our needs, we don't preach the bible, we endorse gay marriage, divorce and kittens with guns!

        Basically we're modern Christians. Not conservative douchebags :)

        Amen brother.

    "Herro did we keep you r18ing for wong time?"

    "......F**k you Attorney-General"

      Why do I picture trollface.jpg when I read that LOL

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