A Tale Of Two Cities: Queensland Gamers Told To Cross The Border For R18+ Titles

Gamers around the country celebrated on December 31, 2012 when the clock struck midnight. It meant that it was not only the new year, but a new era for gaming in Australia: R18+ games were finally a reality. The victory was bittersweet, however, with Queensland unable to enjoy the spoils because of a slow parliament. Now gamers are being told to take matters into their own hands. This is the story of the Queensland gamers who are now being told to cross state lines to import contraband games, and the stores that told them it was a good idea.

The reason Queensland gamers can't buy R18+ games in their home state is because of the Newman-led state government, which failed to pass the relevant legislation to allow R18+ games to be sold in Queensland before a January 1 deadline which the rest of the nation managed to comply with.

Queensland Parliament seemed just a bit too busy in the back end of 2012 to actually get the legislation through, and instead resolved to reconvene last week to discuss and eventually vote on the bill for adult video games in their fine state. That vote still hasn't happened, but all signs point to it passing as early as this afternoon or even before the end of the week.

In the meantime, the sale, advertisement or display of any R18+ game is illegal under state law, and punishable by criminal penalty. One of Australia's largest states has became an island unto itself, where R18+ games still don't exist.

***

On the border of Queensland and New South Wales lies the twin towns of Coolangatta (on the Queensland side) and Tweed Heads (on the New South Wales side). These two towns have straddled the border between the two states since Federation in 1901, and have burgeoned out since then to accommodate a joint population of around 55,000. Residents of the Twin Towns garner benefits from their proximity, including time zone shifts which let you have New Year's Eve celebrations twice within one hour just by wandering down the road. It really is a unique place in Australia, and thanks to a slow political system, the twins have become a flashpoint for R18+ games in Australia.

This border town is a place where Queensland gamers can wander across state lines to purchase a game legally in New South Wales that retailers would be prosecuted for displaying just kilometres away in their home state, and it's not just the gamers that are catching to this.

The first AAA title to go on sale bearing the R18+ rating in Australia will be in March when God Of War: Ascension hits the shelves. it's a highly anticipated title where Kratos returns to whip up a storm with his chain and his now famous face-paint, but Queensland gamers will miss out until the relevant laws are passed.

Between the Twin Towns, there are actually four stores where gamers can buy new titles. Two EB Games stores in Queensland (The Pines and Burleigh Heads) and two stores in New South Wales (Tweed City and Tweed Mall). The four stores are within cooee of each other, but half of them are unable to sell the first AAA R18+ game the country has to offer. Queensland gamers shouldn't give up hope, however.

***

When a gamer looks to pre-order an R18+ title like God Of War: Ascension right now, they are given the stock standard response from a store staffer: "Because of the R18+ regulations in Queensland, we are currently unable to sell you a copy of that game".

Even if you go to buy an R18+ game online from EB Games with a Queensland-based shipping address, there's a good chance that your order will be blocked. Why? Because EB Games is based in Brisbane, Queensland, and selling you that game would equal them breaking the law.

"But," store staffers tell a hopeful gamers, "there is one way you can get it".

As the two lean in for what shouldn't have to be a clandestine conversation, gamers are told that all of Queensland's R18+ stock is being shipped across the border to the Tweed City stores. Stores and stores worth of stock is now landing in just two outlets, ready for the gamers of the North to descend, pre-order and smuggle back to their homes.

Taking R18+ games from New South Wales stores into Queensland isn't able to be policed. There aren't any border checks, nobody is going to confiscate it from you if you buy it, but broadcasting the game to a group is a legal grey area, while on-selling the game is still completely outlawed until the law is passed.

***

The limbo that the Queensland Parliament has forced onto gamers is an awkward one, but the bar isn't so low that they can't shimmy right under it and bring the adult-gaming goodness back to the North. Hushed conversations in stores, the shifting of stock back and forth between jurisdictions and the general legal grey area that gamers have been dropped into might just make them feel worse than they did when R18+ games were imported from overseas.

Hold tight, Queensland. Your games are coming.

Front page image: Justin Cozart/CC 2.0

This article originally appeared in Gizmodo Australia. Republished with permission from Luke Hopewell.


Comments

    This is fucking ridiculous. Queensland yet again showing itself to be archaic and behind the times...

      I was living in QLD the time they started fluoridating water. QLD was the last state to implement it, when every other industrialised country has been doing so for decades. I remember listening to the radio with callers complaining about how their water now tasted like metal. Turned out a planning error meant the launch was secretly missed and people were complaining about the same water they've been drinking for years.

      The state government of QLD is screwed. Sydney and Melbourne residents complain about their public transport and infrastructure all the time but they don't know bad, not really. QLD's politics is dominated by retirees, and Campbell Newman (a carpet-bagger who'd put Mayor Quimby to shame) is happy to exploit it for his platform of social conservatism.

      EDIT: Red is good, right?

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_fluoridation_in_Australia

      Last edited 13/02/13 5:41 pm

        its not just the newman government though, the labor government was just as bad. theres a reason why queensland is refered to as our bible state

          Don't forget we still have the stupid trading hours too. Coming from Canberra to Brissie, it's complete stupidity. QLD is so behind.

          the best irony of all of this is Qld once was the most radical state, giving birth to the Labor movement, and electing the only Communist MP in the country.

          And to think it was once called the 'Red North'.

          Sadlols.... :(

          QLD is our Florida. A lot of people retire there because of the climate. As such, political discourse will never change because their social policies will always be dictated by a voting base that's at least a generation behind the rest of the country.

        oh I'm sorry - have you actually met my friend CityRail?

          I grew up in Sydney and I live there now. CityRail is 10x better than QLD's public transport system. People bitch because the trains are 5-10 minutes late and unavoidable overcrowding during peak hour but those are problems QLD would love to have.

          The rail network is f*cked, even in the densely-populated south-east. If you don't live within a handful of stations on the same line then you bus it, which are even more unreliable and crowded than Sydney's. In Sydney/Melbourne, I can get by without a car (and always have) by walk or biking and train/bus for anything beyond that. The QLD rail's penetration of residential areas is terrible, which explains why it's the state that tops the chart in car ownership.

    Queenland, the place would be heaven if it werent full of dumb-arse Queenslanders.

      lol As someone from NSW now living in QLD I couldn't agree more with you.

        yep, I'm just here for the money and the weather too!

          I'm just here til the missus finishes Uni and I get my long service leave, then I'm GTFO

            Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

              No, let it.

                I don't want ass prints on my new door!

    Queensland - The Slow State.

      Funniest thing is we should be the fastest being the only other state that has no upper house.

    and yet, this whole border jump thing is stupidly pointless because it'll probably pass in a week or so - long before God Of War: Ascension even hits shelves... Just yet ANOTHER article with the words R18 in the title. Can't wait for the day when games rated R, and all associated UNIMPORTANT related updates are no longer newsworthy.

    seriously luke there other stores besides EB...

      Well in Tweed Heads we have one other store that deals in games where you would bother and that is JB HiFi at Tweed City, Kmart, Big W & Target have a pathetic selection but better than both Dick Smith stores who are trying their hardest not to sell games, and well forget about Harvey Norman the staff aren't exactly helpful and their range is subpar. So yeah pretty much it's just EB Games :)

    Enough QLD bashing already, for gods sake, we just had the first change of govt in 12 years so blame them for the delay.

    It will be done this afternoon most likelty.

      That's not the point. It should have been passed in time with every other state. I blame the people who voted in the Newman government. Sure as hell wasn't me.

        Just pointing this out, but when the Newman government changed power, there were a lot more pressing issues to be handled first, than video games. Unlike most other states which seem to be quiet steady atm.

          Newman was super busy, firing everyone :P

      You can't blame the previous governement for Campbell's mistakes mate!
      Just because he's too busy thinking of new ways to take away gay rights doesn't mean us gamers should suffer!!!

        and how to stockpile more money for him and the good ol' boys!

      They'll stop complain when Captain No is crowned Pope in Canberra. Backward wowser social engineering for everyone!!

      To an even more incompetent government. Good on ya, Queensland.

    Wooo! Tweed Heads!
    Must admit, all the staff at the Tweed City and Tweed Mall stores are good. But don't forget JB is cheaper at Tweed City...

    Or save some dollars by grey importing like we've been doing for years.

    People still buy games from physical stores?

    http://jarrodbleijie.com.au/contact

    Contact Jarrod Bleijie, the Attorney-General for Queensland and voice your concerns about the R18+ legislation for video games. Spread this link, people.

    IMO, the Queensland Government would have to be very stupid not to pass the legislation. We're gonna see every game that would otherwise have been MA15+ now be R18+ from now on. To think gamers in Queensland won't be getting titles like The Last of Us, God of War: Ascension, Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge because of this is actually very disheartening. You won't be able to get them online from EB's website either- they won't send them to QLD customers.

    What's even worse is people that don't follow this are going to see these games come out but see the stores not stocking them, ask why that's the case and then find out it's because they didn't voice their concerns.

      Believe me I intend to lodge my concerns. I have been an active campaigner from R18+ right from the early days. I'll still import though.

    How is this an article? So basically, if we live in QLD, go somewhere else to get the games they don't sell there. And this is an article? Everything said here has been said in other articles except this has a dumb little story about a town tacked on. Then he tells us what border control for video games is like. Seriously.

      You should probably cry about it on the internet

    AAHHHH FUCK YOU QLD!!!! I'm sick of your shit!!! fuck sake, why an't we have anything nice, time to move to another state I think

    Last edited 14/02/13 1:43 pm

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