The Road To R18+: Rationality Is Dead

This Thursday and Friday the Attorneys-General along with the Minister for Home Affairs Brendan O'Connor will meet to discuss, among other things, the introduction of an R18+ rating for Australia. We feel as though we've said everything that needs to be said, but in the lead up to the decision, we thought we'd take a look back at some of our R18+ features, just as a refresher as we move towards what could be the final decision on the issue. Given yesterday's news that the NSW AG may decline to vote on R18+ this Friday, today's topic is timely: Rationality is dead.

R18+: Rationality Is Dead

A discussion is only rational when both sides can accept the possibility of change. If a point or position has been shown to be false, with evidence, you must concede. You can't reuse the same argument, you can't continue to make statements that aren't backed up with evidence. You move on. You accept defeat with humility - and change your viewpoint accordingly.

Sadly, there is no such thing as a rational debate when it come to the R18+ issue in Australia. When it comes to R18+ rationality is dead.

When someone, in the face of overwhelming evidence, refuses to adjust his or her opinions, you have to ask yourself - is this really a discussion? Or is it something else entirely - something far more insidious. A discussion involves both sides listening to one another, and responding in kind. From what I've seen, those on the other side of this 'discussion' have done a whole lot of talking, but they clearly haven't been listening to a word we've been saying. How could they be?

We've been told more public consultation is needed on the issue. How so?

We had a public consultation, with 58,437 responses. More than any other public consultation in Australia's history - overwhelmingly in favour of an R18+ rating. Apparently that wasn't enough.

Game and PALGN tabled a record breaking petition, with 89,210 signatures - more signatures than any petition ever presented in parliament. Still, that wasn't enough.

Then the Federal Government commissioned an independent survey. In said survey, over 80% of Australians claimed they were in support of an R18+ rating for Australia. Nope - still not enough.

In the face of this concrete evidence - as concrete as it gets - what gives anyone the right to say that more "public debate" is required? How is this rational? How can we call this a 'discussion' or a 'debate', if you are not willing to accept the facts and figures placed in front of you?

Lyle Shelton of the Australian Christian Lobby claims that 'academic research' shows that games are more harmful to children. What academic research? Where is this research? A government literature review of all relevant research has shown that games are no more harmful than any other medium in that regard. All credible research has shown this. All literature reviews on the issue have confirmed this.

There are claims that "vested commercial interests" are attempting to force an R18+ rating through with "propaganda". There is next to no commercial gain here - Australia is a tiny market, and a miniscule amount of games are refused classification. In the grand scheme of things video game publishers couldn't really care less whether an R18+ rating is passed or not - in fact, before the matter was raised again last December, publishers had informally agreed to stop pushing for one. Why? Because it doesn't affect their business in any significant way.

Astonishingly, Robert Clark - the Attorney-General for Victoria - claimed that an R18+ rating would "legalise games with high levels of graphic, frequent and gratuitous violence, including violence against civilians and police". Is he referring to Grand Theft Auto IV? A video game that can already be purchased in stores under an MA15+ rating? Did he not hear Brendan O'Connor when he said, repeatedly, that games already Refused Classification would not be given a new rating? Does he not understand that 99.9% of these games are already available in this country and, regardless, those that have been refused classification are easily accessible via online piracy or through importation?

Have we not already discussed this? Is this not a 'discussion'?

These are the facts, backed by irrefutable evidence. If you make a point, which is subsequently made redundant through evidence, you must abandon that argument. That is simple logic. So why do we continually have to repel the same arguments? How can you call this a discussion? This is not rational. This is something else entirely.

This is not a discussion, it's a process. A process that, in part, justifies the existence of Lobby Groups such as the ACL, a process seized upon by politicians seeking to avoid the broader issues, a process whose primary function is to sustain the position of people who do absolutely nothing of consequence.

And the problem with processes are - they tend to repeat themselves. Endlessly.

Since I've joined Kotaku, over a period of roughly six months, I've written close to 100 stories about this issue in Australia. In that time it seems as though nothing has changed. Round and round we go - endlessly - from point to point. The same old arguments, the same old people, the same voices. Where did it begin - when will it ever end?

This is not a discussion, this is not a debate - if it was it would have ended years ago, rationally.

But this is a process, and rationality is dead.


Comments

    Gamespot just reported that Greg Smith, NSWAG will NOT be voting, some crap about not being across blah blah blah.

    Here is his Email address for anyone wishing to express their dissapointment to him directly.

    office@smith.minister.nsw.gov.au

    Keep it civil.

      Yeah Kotaku did a small article yesterday arvo about it :(

      Cheers for the email though, have a few people chasing that :)

    This article looks familiar... have we seen it (or a version of it) before?

      Yeah, if you read the intro we're reposting some of our old articles as a sort of reminder about the whole thing happening this Friday.

      We've covered every angle of it to the point where I thought it might just be worth looking at some of the old stuff to remind ourselves.

        What was the screenshot from?

        :P its the process, man. Its making the articles go round and round as well, recirculating as necessary.

    I'm just about over it to be honest, all these submissions and surveys just get us no where! Is that there plan though? To keep delaying it until we just give up?

    Rationality was dead with Michael Atkinson, which was why gamers responded with irrationality.
    We are now being given a chance to have our chosen past-time recognised officially as a mature hobby.
    Despite the aggravating statement from the NSW AG, we need this discussion to be done and dusted BEFORE the ALRC does their work.
    As has been proved in the past, all seven AG must agree to allow Australia to have R18+. It's the only way our constitution will allow it.
    So leave the definitions to the ALRC, but without the decision, they can't make the call.

      I thought that gamers responded with commendable rationality by actively taking up Mr. Atkinson's "run against me in an election" challenge and applying political pressure in 2010.

      He's not the Attorney General in SA anymore, so at least there's one feather in all of our caps.

      Dealing with these new Liberal AsG will be decidedly more difficult as they'll try and play against the Federal ALP government wherever they can, just because it is politically expedient to do so, and because the Liberals have an MO of using fear and ignorance to their advantage.

      "Rationality was dead with Michael Atkinson, which was why gamers responded with irrationality."

      I do not mean to be rude but I think you will find that it was not gamers it was idiots that responded with irrationality - and idiots come from all walks of life.

    As I've said many times, this just makes me consider that we're not even living in a democratic society.

    I thought we all got a say and the government is there to act out the public's wishes? Alas no, we're ignored and they decide what they want to do.

    This is just ridiculous, in one corner we have politicians who really dont care because we are a minority. The other corner we have the ACL throwing their weight around spreading their false information to the ignorant and openly taunting the open minded members of the public constantly whenever one of their viewpoints is agreed with. I agree rationality is dead and we live in an age of fear.

      But we're *not* a minority. That's what makes it so frustrating.
      Earlier submissions regarding R18+ attained the highest number of submissions on a government matter, eclipsing even the anti- Work Choices movement. And more than 90% of the R18+ submissions were in favour of the rating.
      More consultation is not needed. The public has spoken. Attorneys General, do your jobs.

    So we'll march day and night by our consoles and towers. They have the plans, but we have the... power.

    It's much easier for these pollies to simply ignore the issue then it is to face the backlash for making a decision. The fact of the matter is a good majority of the population doesn't care at all about this, by doing nothing you're not doing anything to upset them one way or another, if a decision is ever made on this (that's a mighty big if) there is sure to be press about it, and it's sure to look bad (because that's the only thing the press can report), this will piss people off like normal (you'll see interviews with concerned parents on ACA if R18+ gets the go ahead, mark my word), causing negative publicity for all those involved (ie every government).

      I think there's more than a grain of truth here. Rationality as we define it may be dead, but there's definitely a logical thought process going on if this is the case.

    My advice is to look at the experts dealing with this kind of irrational arguments all the time. For example how are evolutionists dealing with creationists? Can their tactics be applied in this situation?

      There is no tactic that works, otherwise the world would be a happier place. Their tactic is the logical equivalent of someone poking their fingers in their ears and saying "LALALALALA". Logic and rationality means nothing to them, because they don't value it. All we can do is keep calm, and hope that somewhere, somehow, intelligence prevails.

        It saddens me to admit you are so right. I guess it almost has to go right back to the education system and ensuring we teach logic from a young age

          ... exactly, which is why we're so vehement about the "intelligent design" and "teach the controversy" nonsense, and the horrifyingly-bile-inducing Schools Chaplaincy program.

    Angry Mark is angry. D:

    It really is this simple...
    Nige: have you seen Fatal Attraction?
    Attorney General: yes
    Nige: would you let your kids watch it?
    AG: no way! It's a movie aimed at adults!
    Nige: thank you, no further questions.

    Why are we still arguing about this?!!! Video games are no more "all aimed at kids" than films are! I'm a 36 year-old professional and it's my hobby!!! Why is this concept so difficult to understand?!!!

      If they haven't seen Fatal Attraction, just cycle through relevant R18+ movies. The Godfather, Apocalypse Now, A Clockwork Orange, Orgasmo, Fight Club...

      There are plenty of films that are considered classics or "must watch" that are R18+. Unfortunately, Saving Private Ryan got reclassified, originally it was R18+ but was bumped down to MA15+. Otherwise I would include that in there too.

        Just because I can...

        Hostel, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Hellraiser, Human Centipede... in fact, why don't we all take a quick read over Salo:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sal%C3%B2,_or_the_120_Days_of_Sodom

        I'll just leave this here:
        http://www.classification.gov.au/www/cob/find.nsf/d853f429dd038ae1ca25759b0003557c/5471f6847152d5c1ca257704005d78c2?OpenDocument

        Rationality is dead is an understatement.

          I forgot about Salo getting through. The part that amuses me most about that particular example is that the film by itself is refused classification. Only if the film is packaged with three hours of additional content (documentaries etc), does it pass muster because they provide context that drops the impact.

          There's something resembling logic behind all that, but damned if I can find it.

            You should seriously be telling the NSW AG this. office@smith.minister.nsw.gov.au
            Also tell your own AG's if you happen to live in a state where your AG hasnt commented either

              The point I'm trying to make is... If we accept that adults watch movies, why can we not accept that they also play games? If the argument against 18+ games is "there's a CHANCE that kids will get their hands on them", then we should also ban every film that's not suitable for kids, just in case a child manages to get hold of a copy. There is simply nothing rational about that rationale... While we're at it, we should probably ban all alcohol, pornography and the right to vote too, in fact, anything not deemed "appropriate" for kids should be immediately outlawed... That seems to be the argument. As a human being with the capacity for abstract thought, it drives me NUTS that our leaders have so much trouble understanding that adults play games. Why?!!! Why is that so hard to understand?!!!

    To office@smith.minister.nsw.gov.au
    From: Matthew Kermeen ([email protected])
    Sent: Tuesday, 19 July 2011 11:46:03 AM
    To: office@smith.minister.nsw.gov.au

    Good morning,

    I recently read an article reporting that Mr. Smith will not be voting on the matter on an R18+ classification for games at this week's Standing Committee of Attorneys-General meeting, allegedly stating that "more work needed to be done.

    In the last 12 months, there has been:

    - A public consultation which received over 58,000 responses.
    - A petition which garnered over 89,000 signatures
    - A federal government survey with 80% of respondents stating they were in favour of an R18+ rating for games

    The entire system of classification in Australia is being reformed, and the first step on this road is to fairly classify video games as a valid form of media alongside literature and film.
    Recognise that the average age of persons playing video games is 30 years of age, and that adults who play games should have the right to play adult-rated games they watch adult-rated movies.

    The darkest cloud over the issue is that the compelling evidence in favour of an R18+ rating is constantly ignored or misinterpreted (which is baffling). Groups with an interest in "preserving community values" will use discredit or even non-existant studies to show that adult rated video games would be harmful, while in the US there are reports violent video games are linked to a gradual decrease in violent crime, and other independent studies that show video games are no more harmful that movies in spite of their interactivity.

    The draft guidelines for the new rating structure submitted by Brendan O'Connor were met favourably.

    Something that is constantly misrepresented is the blief that an R18+ rating for games would allow games to become exceedingly more violent, or graphically sexual in nature - what they fail to consider is that any game released at R18+ would still need to adhere to R18+.

    The reality is, there are games currently being released under MA15+ that don't adhere to the MA15+ guidelines - what we need is an R18+ rating to ensure these games are rated correctly. I acknowledge as an avid gamer that I would also appreciate being able to play games that have content that absolutely cannot be rated MA15+ (but would still fall within R18+) to be released locally without being edited or simply not sold in the country.

    However, I must stress that these two points are not exclusive. They are complementary.

    We allow fans of games to access all the available content of a game as designed, and it can be appropriately rated for their age demographic.

    A great deal of time, energy and thought has been put into this process. There have been studies, discussion papers, petitions and appeals. There has been lengthy debate, and every last card is on the table.

    The matter is suspended because a handful of representatives whose job it is to make decisions are incapable of making a decision.

    If work remains to be done, sir, I suggest you do some.

    Sincerely,

    Matthew Kermeen
    Avid gamer and productive member of society, age 28.

      I stopped reading when I saw your email address.

      As will they.

      Ahaha nice email address

        Lol, I've had it since watching Zoids back in the 90s. My previous hotmail address was fractal_explorer, but it got so overrun with spam that I had to let it go.

      If you want to use a more professional sounding email address, hotmail allows you to create a second that links back to your initial one. My hotmail is sideburns_corps (made when I was 16, but now I'm 25) and I added a second using my actual name. You should be able to find it somewhere in the hotmail settings. It'll make your point be taken more seriously.

        Again, an interesting assumption that they will disregard the body of the email based purely on the email address. I have seen no evidence to support this theory based on previous correspondence with government offices.

          Given that I work in a government office that has to deal with public consultation responses, I seriously recommend you change it. I'm young and understand the personal email thing, but those higher up don't.

            And this is common is it? Your higher-ups will see an email of several hundred words and say "I'm not reading that, this guy's email has a 69 in it"?

            Again, not consistent with my previous correspondence with government departments.

            I appreciate your concern but my communique do not seem to actually get treated differently whether I'm weasel_unit etc or [email protected]

            In fact I've distributed my thoughts fairly evenly across both email accounts over the last few years and my hotmail account seems to get more responses.

              Of course they will read your response, but with an email address like that you won't be taken seriously. You yourself say that you've got an alternate email address, so why not use it? You've made some good arguments in your proposed message!

              Another point we should all remember is that the people who will ultimately read this are not gamers. They genuinely think that gamers are all kids. No offense, but getting public responses from email addresses like "weasel_unit_total_assault" will only reinforce their view. It's like that planned R18+ protest where people were told to turn up in cosplay. It may get the public's attention, but in all the wrong ways.

                You know, I deal with email correspondence all day, every day. Brokers, solicitors, claimants, investigators... now I know the liability claims aren't the same thing as government consultations, but 95% of my day to day communication is via email.

                Frankly I don't really even see email addresses anymore. I don't think about them. I don't care about them. I have a message in my inbox, it's in relation to this.

                My email was titled "An appeal regarding the R18+ classification for games".

                I would like to imagine that the content of the email and the fact that I state I am 28 years of age would have a greater bearing on the matter, especially since the email was sent to an inbox that someone is responsible for reading, sorting and distributing.

                Just as I am unable to ignore an email from a man who chooses to identify himself as 'voodoodaddy69', I find the argument that my email will not be read beyond the "from" line highly unconvincing.

                  I never said that they wouldn't read your email. What I keep saying is that they won't take you seriously. You can be more casual in general emailing, but in this case you're trying to make a good first impression.

                  If anything making your submission is like writing the cover letter in a job application. The very first thing someone sees is the presentation and professionalism of the formatting, and that includes the email address. You could have the best letter in the world, but if you stuff up on the formatting then you've already lost the reader's respect before they've read a word.

                  You personally may not pay attention to email addresses, that's fine. But again you have to realise that others do notice these things. You're selling yourself and your ideas to people who may be antagonistic to your point of view, so portray yourself as well as you possibly can. Every little bit helps!

    This is all just well beyond a joke. This is a minor thing that should of been solved a long time ago. As stated, all the evidence is there that Australians want a R18+ rating. I personally think, with the way that all this is going, we will never get the rating. If the system never changes, the result will never change.

    Nothing will change until the Federal Government legislates the states power out of the classification act of 1996.

    This is not a constitutional right and power so does not require a national referendum. The states only have this power due to the legislation.

    Gillard et al could change this in five seconds flat if they really wanted to, and remove the states power.

    And the states could do nothing about it.

    The fact the states are controlling a federal government issue is ridiculous.

    but the children, won't somebody think of the children... Oh wait, we gamers have an average age of 30.

    Okay, I tried. I'll settle for imports and downloads though, Didn't stop be getting Mortal Kombat, the non shit version of Left 4 Dead 2 or any other game I bloody hell want. When the system is broken, go around.

    Hey Mark, to quote someone else from a previous R18+ story, shouldn't that be a Picard facepalm pic? :)

    I really want this rating to come through, but i'm always at a loss at what to do with people like this. What can we do? It blows my mind when people can't understand logic. Maybe we should try the Chewbacca defense? Fight lunacy with lunacy.

    I can't believe the tax I pay goes to these wankers, who do nothing but drag their feet and act like preschoolers in parliament.

    Why don't they do their fucking job, and work to represent australians, instead of sitting around ignoring stuff which says "80% of aussies think this is a good idea, make it so!"

    He'll probably spend all day in his office signing maybe 3 documents then browsing RSVP or Ebay.

    just emailed him as well, basically just the last bit of Mathews, saying its his job to represent his people and state and the vast majority are pro- r-18 for games

    So why can't we get in touch with Buckingham Palace, and inform Mrs Queeny that her tendrils in Australia are not doing what the public wishes and need a severe royal spanking?

      +1

      This made me laugh for more than i thought it would

    This country won't evolve until we check all the acts were using to create legislation. 90% of our acts are from the 1960's through 1990; majorly out of date with the current world climate.

    ..and technically the GG's don't SERVE Australians, they have the final say in what goes, there's a reason they're called GOVERNORS.

    ok this is just disapointing i have lost just about all my faith in the australian government obviously they dont care to protect the innocent this country is going to pot

    I wrote too, stating that I was appalled by the total disrespect for both the democratic will and the expert evidence. Arguments won't reach them though, only numbers and bad publicity would. It's a pity that Get Up! has no campaign on that topic, these guys are pretty efficient at embarrassing enough important people to make them react.

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