Reactions To The R18+ Decision

Now that it looks as though Australia is set to (hopefully) receive its R18+ rating before the end of the year, we've collected a few reactions to the news from folks as wide ranging as the Green Party, EA, Ron Curry of the iGEA, and - believe it or not - the ACL.

Mark Bradley, Vice President, EA Asia Publishing

We are encouraged that AGs have reached an in principle agreement to bring Australia’s game ratings in alignment with modern policy.

Australia needs a rating system that recognises that millions of adults play videogames

The current policy of the Australian government forces an arcane censorship on adults who play games – cuts they would never impose on movies, books or other forms of artistic expression

This year, the American Supreme Court voted overwhelmingly to affirm that game developers deserve the same creative freedom as film makers and authors

Today's news is encouraging since continued delays in Australia will keep adult consumers waiting for the right to make their own content choices for entertainment, and increase risk of adult content being accessed by minors

Ron Curry, CEO of the Interactive Games & Entertainment Association (iGEA)

An in-principle agreement for an R18+ classification is a big step towards a robust ratings system that best equips parents to manage their children’s access to appropriate content, as well as enables adults the ability to play games of their choice within the confines of the law.

It is entirely reasonable that each Minister should have taken the necessary time to fully understand the underlying issues and to grasp why Australia so desperately needs an adult classification for video game, and we look forward to entering into a dialogue with NSW Attorney-General Greg Smith.

This is the first step in the legislative process and until we can review the final guidelines, we can’t fully assess the impact of an adult rating for games in Australia. We can be confident however that all content will be subjected to stringent classification guidelines and games which exceed an R18+ classification rating will still be refused classification and banned in Australia.

With an adult rating finally on the horizon, we can now better focus our energy on more relevant discussions around content classification as entertainment formats and content continue to blur.

ACL’s spokesman Rob Ward

ACL was surprised that the issue was not deferred until the Australian Law Reform Commission completes its review of the National Classification Scheme, which includes examining the classification of games."

ACL’s concern in this debate has always been to maintain the existing ceiling for games so that there is no possibility of a higher level of graphic violence and interactive sex legally available for sale and hire in Australia.

The draft R18+ guidelines as originally proposed would have matched the R18+ guidelines for films. This was clearly never in the interests of the community, with the boundaries of the R18+ film guidelines slowly eroded to allow extreme violence, actual sex and simulated paedophilia in films.

Although ACL awaits the final detail from the meeting, it appears that the existing ceiling for games has been maintained with a commitment to move the more extreme MA15+ games into a newly-created R18+ rating.

With some tightening of the MA15+ category, the retention of the existing RC category and no liberalisation of the existing games market, the outcome today is a significant improvement from what had been previously put to ministers for their approval.

Despite the R18+ ratings for games issue seemingly resolved, there was still a lot of work to do to ensure children really would be protected from harmful games through effective enforcement mechanisms and by consistent application of the guidelines by classifiers.

The assurance of ministers who backed the R18+ rating as a means to protect children needs to be matched by action to prevent children from accessing such games.

In this respect, ACL welcomes the agreement of ministers to ‘commence drafting amendments to their enforcement legislation to reflect the introduction of an R18 + category for computer games’.

Concerns remain that the classification system over time allows higher levels of content to be pushed down into lower ratings. There is still some work to be done in ensuring classifiers apply ratings in a consistent manner, with the interests of assisting parents in mind.

ACT Attorney General, Simon Corbell

The ACT has consistently campaigned for this important reform and we are pleased to see it implemented today.

This decision will allow adults to access adult content on computer games in the same way that they already can for film and printed material.

This decision also protects parents and their children by giving them better information and advice on the content of computer games and whether or not they are suitable for young people.

I congratulate all those Attorneys who have supported this decision, and look forward to seeing further details about amendments to the National Classification Code from the federal government.


Comments

    In summary:

    ACL’s spokesman Rob Ward

    "WON'T SOMEBODY PLEASE THINK OF THE CHILDREN!"

    So can the ACL please list all of these 'interactive sex' games that the current classification system has supposedly been protecting us from?

      Not to mention the simulated paedophilia, I think the Police might be interested in more info on that...

        That's what I would like to know as well.

        I have never heard of such a game and would sure like to know where they pulled that wild idea from.

        Does even such a game exist? I certainly hope not.

          They're not talking about games in that comment, they're referring to the way the R18+ classification for movies has gradually changed to include more content as perspectives changed.
          I think the film they're talking about is one (starring nicole kidman, can't remember the name) where a woman's husband dies and is reincarnated in a young boy with his memories etc.
          I never saw it, but I understand at one stage they share a bath, which created a lot of controversy and press at the time. It was rated R18+ here.

        My immediate reaction is Kubrick's adaptation of Lolita from 1962.

          Just to be clear, they mention actual sex and simulated pedophilia in films and say they fear it will appear in games. And claim that it is a more recent phenomena.

          Clearly, that isn't true.

            Hold on - simulated sex? In a movie? A one-way medium?

            Am I missing something here?

              Simulated as in they're just pretending. Like how there is simulated violence in films or simulated arguments in the ACL.

        maybe they should start retracting their penises out from 10 year old boys before pointing the finger at videogames.

          shhhhhheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiitttttttttt.

      Ugh, don't tempt them. It gives them another excuse to talk about Rapelay, even though that game wouldn't even make it into X18+ and was never intend for sale outside Japan.

        The national classification scheme - which most media has to be passed through first before even being rated - also forbids such games any way.

        Not that it needs to - is such a game came here there would be a massive outcry.

        Last I heard, Rapelay was even banned in some parts of Japan! So this whole arguement from them (and Atkinson, Jack Thompson, whoever comes next), just falls apart at the seams.

      Ugh, don't tempt them. It gives them another excuse to talk about Rapelay, even though that game wouldn't even make it into X18+ and was never intended for sale outside Japan.

    I wonder what Valve have to say. and whether or not we can expect an uncensored patch for L4D2.

      Not only that - will GAME just import the UK copy for consoles if it nets an R rating?

        No can do, they'd have to resell it with the new rating advertised.

    "In this respect, ACL welcomes the agreement of ministers to ‘commence drafting amendments to their enforcement legislation to reflect the introduction of an R18 + category for computer games’."

    Back peddle muchly? Oh yes, much too muchly.

    "ACL’s concern in this debate has always been to maintain the existing ceiling for games so that there is no possibility of a higher level of graphic violence and interactive sex legally available for sale and hire in Australia."

    I must be off the planet so anyone is free to put me back in my place.

    From what I know, the rating system and the national classification scheme are two separate entities. In general, the classification scheme exists to decide what is suitable for viewing in Australia and what is to be banned/refused outright. From this a rating is affixed to inform consumers what the content is.

    Now, the ACL is constantly saying that adding an R 18+ rating will raise the ceiling and allow content that would have otherwise be banned.

    First, there is no banning here, it is refused classification. Second, the current rating system is effectively a subset of the classification scheme - it lacks the coverage the scheme has - so will someone please tell me how adding the R18+ will raise anything other than my blood pressure?

    Finally, ACL is always saying that this will allow for higher levels of violence, interactions with sex. My guess is they are thinking that the likes of Rapelay will get in here.

    Besides the fact that most (if not all) average Australians would be outraged by such a game (and yes, I know what it is and it makes me physically sick each time I think about it), the classification scheme clearly forbids games such as Rapelay.

    Am I missing something here? The R18+ rating here will actually put the rating system in the same scope as the classification scheme and even put us back on track with the rest of the world so I do not see how these illusive games they describe but never name will get here.

    "With some tightening of the MA15+ category, the retention of the existing RC category and no liberalisation of the existing games market, the outcome today is a significant improvement from what had been previously put to ministers for their approval.
    Woah woah woah, is this what has actually been agreed upon then? That's hardly a victory if true as it would make zero difference to the amount of content available to adults. Mark?

      Not at all. Mad spin. Mad spin.

        I really hope so but I have to rely on past experiences which tells me its probably at least half true.

      Mark is correct to a point. Yes that statement is spin, but the fact remains that the guidelines we all saw several months ago have been restricted. The AGs said that was something they achieved today because WA, Victoria and NSW did not agree with the former guidelines since they would actually do what an R rating is supposed to do and give us the content we want. Why should adults have freedom after all?

      We won't know the full extent of the changes until the guidelines are released, but at this point my guess is that it'll simply be the MA rating rebranded as R, just as the ACL believes it is. Yes I'm a pessimist but really, would you put it past them?

        If this is the case (MA games just get upgraded to R) then the resulting system will be 'the worst of both worlds.'

        I know I'm not "meant" to say this, but a big draw for R18+ for me was to raise the cieling. I don't see why I should be ashamed for wanting more 'extreme' content in my video games. Don't get me wrong; blood and guts doesn't make a game good. But the point is that I, as an adult, have an inalienable natural right to enjoy FICTICIOUS blood/guts/sex/drugs/etc. etc. etc.

        Hellraiser 1 begins with someone getting ripped apart with hook-tipped chains. Then Pinhead comes along and re-assembles the pieces of the face in front of the camera. This is an extraordinarily gruesome scene. Why can I have this in movie version but not in video game version?

        If we end up with all MA15+ games upgraded to R, with the current RC threshold still in place, then things have gotten worse, not better. It would be a victory for censorship, an entrenchment of unequal treatment of different forms of media, and another case where "THINK OF THE CHILDREN!!!" killed freedom.

        Now, I haven't seen the new guidelines yet, so I have no clue as to whether or not the above pessimistic scenario is true. I'm simply outlining how I'd feel if it were to be true.

    "Concerns remain that the classification system over time allows higher levels of content to be pushed down into lower ratings. "

    You mean, shock horror, that classification changes over time to be relative to what society deems acceptable?!

    Every time I read something the ACL wrote, I die a little inside.

    "The draft R18+ guidelines as originally proposed would have matched the R18+ guidelines for films. This was clearly never in the interests of the community, with the boundaries of the R18+ film guidelines slowly eroded to allow extreme violence, actual sex and simulated paedophilia in films."

    Which community is that Rob? It sure as hell isn't any community that I consider myself a part of.

    Also worrying:
    "Although ACL awaits the final detail from the meeting, it appears that the existing ceiling for games has been maintained with a commitment to move the more extreme MA15+ games into a newly-created R18+ rating."

    If true, then this whole thing is pointless. Luckily, I don't trust the ACL to bother with truth.

    So Basically, all our new R18+ rating will mean is that some games will be reclassified from MA15+ to R18+ and that games that were modified to fit the MA15+ can be resubmitted unmodified for reclassification?
    Games that were RC will remain RC. So, for example, the whole thing with Fallout 3 a few years ago could happen again?
    Until the Classification Scheme has been reviewed/rewritten not much has really changed for an adult gamer?

      Spot on mate, spot on.

      It's R18+ in name only. Nothing more.

    I really hate how the ACL make comments like the proposal not being in the interests of the community when they're clearly relating to their own small corner of 'the community', which is in the minority.

    I can see why they might fear that content rated R18+ today might be rated MA15+ tomorrow as the boundaries blur over time, and feel that anything not MA15+ today should be banned from the outset to prevent this happening but that system is as effective as sticking your head in the sand.
    While the ACL has been busy doing that, R18+ content is creeping into MA15+ games.

    That's WHY we need a reform and CLEAR ratings that represent CLEAR boundaries.

    The upshot for us of course is that while games that shouldn't be down in MA15+ get dragged up, games that shouldn't be RCed get pulled into R18+ where they belong. It's win-win... except for 15-17 year olds who might not be able to play this year's instalment of Call of Duty or whatever.

    In the grand scheme of things, I consider this a minor sacrifice. Maybe if I were 12 years younger I wouldn't, but I'm not.

    The most important question is: Will Left 4 Dead 2 be retroactively fixed?

      It would have to be resubmitted for classification.

        Do it, Valve. Do it!

    "ACL’s concern in this debate has always been to maintain the existing ceiling for games so that there is no possibility of a higher level of graphic violence and interactive sex legally available for sale and hire in Australia."

    Funny how this is the first time this has actually been stated. This has of course always been the agenda. To maintain a ceiling that corresponds with their ideal. It has NEVER been presented like this. "Wont somebody think of the children?" - this fleece has been whipped off and we see the beast below.

      As long as the beast isn't naked - that would be refused classification. :P

    All the ACL statement is tantamount to is:

    "We see this as a victory for the ACL..."

    whereas in reality its...

    "Fuck... guys... they're onto us... we're irrelevant..."

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qh2sWSVRrmo

    That's Rob Ward, right? Or am I getting him confused with somebody else?

    "...simulated paedophilia in films"

    Really? In Australia? Really? And Mr Ward has see this/these movies? What has the alleged content done to his psyche? Should we be worried for him and other ACL members who may have watched with him - if indeed he did view the alleged movie. If indeed it exists legally in this country. Which I doubt. Consider the rabid furor over Bill Hensons photography in 2008. Even our PM got involved in something he should have stayed the hell out of.

    "...simulated paedophilia in films" is a very strong claim. If indeed such movies are available in Australia then I would hope that the appropriate measures would be taken. By the appropriate authorities. Swiftly. And that anybody discovered to have been watching the said "...simulated paedophilia in films" would be questioned about their motives.

    Being originally from Ireland, where a rather large "christian" organisation has for decades been responsible for acts that lead to "children and young adults [being] reduced to human wreckage" and been found to systematically and deliberately hinder investigations, and indeed ignore the problem, including in the parish where I grew up - I have very little trust in christian protection.

    You could make an R18+++++ game based on the actions of many priests and nuns. In Ireland at least, they have done more damage than all the movies, books and video games possibly could.

    To the Christian Lobby,

    You can't have actual sex in video games or actual violence. It's not real.

    You lose, We win.

    Those ACL comments are so hilariously dishonest for a group that claims to represent the pious. I'm used to that sort of thing, though, originally hailing from overseas.

    Glad to hear all of the positive comments from the games world.

    Somebody needs to come up with a Godwin-esque law for paedophilia. We can call it Thompson's Law.

    "With some tightening of the MA15+ category, the retention of the existing RC category and no liberalisation of the existing games market, the outcome today is a significant improvement from what had been previously put to ministers for their approval." - ACL

    This is what I keep saying. The guidelines put forward to the AGs basically retains the Not Rated group EXACTLY as it already is.

    You've been duped. It's a political stunt, implementing an R18+ rating without actually changing anything. Mortal Kombat would still be banned under this proposed change.

    Australia is not a Christian nation. Census in a few weeks will prove this.
    I actually laughed when they said the extreme MA15+ content would be rebranded as R18+. Those 3 arbitrary years from 15 to 18 sure gave me time to steal my resolve for handling graphic violence and simulated sex.

    Australian Christian Lobby are scared r18 games will turn children from god. Its education that will do that. Christians are worse than violent games they are the reason violence exists.

      +1 People turn to religion in a world made violent because of religion

    The comments here make me wonder how this ever got through. Everyone seems to be playing the man here (ACL), not the ball and acting like immature adolescents (and I'm a dyed in the wool atheist) when they are only one of the comments sought and they effectively welcomed the submission. Of course they are going to push Christian values which are stricter than most Gen Y Ritalin kids are used to. Comments like those from "Brenny" are just stupid and make me embarrassed to stand next to most of you on the issue, despite us agreeing on it (if you don't know what difference between actual and simulated sex is on TC or a movie then you need to have "the talk" with your Dad again champ).

    lol at the christian lobby, how does it feel to be a part of an ignorant organisation that impedes progress and freedom of choice?

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