R18+ And The Awkward Space On The Wall

In Ron Curry's office at the iGEA there's an awkward space on the wall. He's never been sure what to put there. A piece of art, a photograph of some kind? Maybe, he thought to himself, he could frame Australia's first R18+ game and put it there.

Nah, that'll never happen.

Yet today Australian distributor Mindscape presented Ron with a framed edition of Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2+, Australia's first R18+ game, alongside a copy of its Classification Certificate. Finally Ron has something to put on his wall.

But there was a time when Ron Curry believed that wall would remain bare.

That was back when Michael Atkinson refused to engage, stating that, as long as he was the Attorney-General of South Australia, he would use his powers to veto any move to bring adult video games into Australia. The debate was non-existent, progress was impossible. According to Ron, it was perhaps the most frustrating and difficult part of his tenure as CEO of the iGEA.

"Atkinson said he was more afraid of gamers than motorcycle gangs," said Ron. "He said he had more death threats from gamers.

"When Atkinson was really ensconced as Attorney General he said he would never vote for R18+. That was a veto and there was no going around it. He wouldn't even meet us. Absolutely no dialogue on the issue."

But Atkinson resigned his post, which opened up the dialogue. That was the beginning of a new set of problems. Other Attorneys-General were happy to let Atkinson bear the brunt of the R18+ issue — there was no need to engage. Now that he was gone, the others had to formulate a position on the issue.

"That's when the hard work began," said Ron.

———-

Late last week, Ron opened his emails. He looked at the kind of emails he was receiving five years ago, compared to two years ago, compared to today.

He was struck by the discord, how the conversation had changed.

"It's been a long painful process," he said. "But the interesting thing is how the dialogue changed over the past five years.

"That was the turning point of the whole debate, when gamers started to talk maturely and as a group. That's when it was easier for me, talking to government, to say here's a constructive dialogue."

Conversations with Brendan O'Connor's policy advisors and, eventually, O'Connor himself got the political ball rolling. The then Minister for Home Affairs became a powerful advocate for R18+ in Australia. Without his involvement we might still be arguing these issues.

"He was the first politician to say you know what, I'm going to grab this and make it happen. He deserves a lot of credit for what he did."

———

The framed copy of Ninja Gaiden is exchanged, hands are shook. It's a PR moment, photographs flash in the background, but it's impossible not to reflect on these last ten years and what it means to have finally made a difference in policy at the highest level. Collectively gamers made a difference, and that's important. This video game, which Ron will now hang on his office wall, represents that.

It represents a job well done but, for Ron, this is just the beginning.

"I'm really glad that we have R18+, so we can stop talking about it and focus on other classification issues," says Ron. "Like how do we classify content online, how do we classify online games and mobile games and indie games? Stuff that's really important.

"For us it always got in the way of any conversation about anything. It was always in the way. I'll be happy to not have it dominate.

"It'll be nice when it's normal to have an R18+ rating."


Comments

    It really should have been Mortal Kombat >:

      I wish it had have been also. The debate has been going on for ages, but I think the banning of Mortal Kombat was the boiling point for most gamers and was what brought the issue into more light.

        MK is the first true R rated game realistically. Ngs2 has been shoehorned. MK was Refused until it had a more appropriate classification. I know its being pedantic but still...

    This whole R18+ thing is one of the reasons I am now relentlessly pessimistic about any issue involving more than about a dozen people. It took 5 to 10 years of debate and persistence from a huge community and passionate leaders like Mr Curry, just to get something as simple and obvious as rating parity between videogames and other visual media.

    We humans will never, ever resolve serious problems like distribution of wealth and economic issues, or significant climate change and other scientific issues, or even simple things like ensuring that every human has their basic rights met. We'll never do it.

    Last edited 05/03/13 1:52 pm

      Yeah - on a broader point, I don't think people realise just how fucked we are on climate change. Thus far, we've done far worse than the most pessimistic mathematical models. Worse still, we're still increasing net carbon output. I just don't think we're going to make it through this one - and even if some magical technological break through occurs that saves us, how long till we find a new way to make ourselves extinct?

        Yeah the democratic process is a catch 22. It allows everyone to have a voice.... Unfortunately it allows everyone to have a voice. The wheel takes a looooong time to turn.

        Unfortunately climate change won't make humans extinct, not even close. Thousands of species of every kingdom in animalia will suffer massively. We however, will glide through. Basically the thinking is no longer about stopping it, but determining its length 100 years or 1000 years?

          Yeah, there's no way we're going extinct. Just too damn many of us for anything like that.

          However, assuming that some of the worse predictions hold true, we may well be looking at a regression in living standard and a significant decline in world human population (both through destruction of habitat and damage to food supply).

            Do a tiny bit of research and theres a high probability at this rate we wont last another 9000 years.

              We as a species have been through MUCH worse than what we are looking at. Life will be harder, but we won't be wiped out.

                "We as a species" went through life when the world was far less populated than itis now, our resources were far more vast and land was able to be migrated to. We as a species are going through far worse situations and will only see far worse situations escalate because of 'we' 'as a species'. We used to take from the land and manage the land, now we rape the planet. fact.
                http://www.universetoday.com/11430/the-end-of-everything/
                I'll be long dead before this but I will be very surprised if this idiot race even lasts this long...

                  No denying that we aren't a good thing for the planet right now, and climate change is happening and we are contributing majorly to it. I'm just saying the Human race will continue on as it has during various climate events and volcano eruptions. There are people in every corner of earth because of two reasons, our adaptability and our ability to adapt our environment. Don't think that climate change means warm and dry, it's actually the opposite, it becomes very wet and rich in CO2. perfect for crops, in the right regions. Of course it's bad news for those of us in the wrong places and the species that are over adapted to those specific environments that will disappear.

                  Of course, but the major problem here is the overuse of resources and the non renewance of them vs the the overuse of them. We're using them at an unsustainable rate at this point. There may be heaps of CO2 at the moment, but that's pretty much using troll logic. CO2 is good for plants therefor more CO2 means more airfood for plants! It doesn't entirely work that way. There's been a great balance over the years in terms of the ratio of plant life vs C02 in the air, however its shifting, we have excess carbon dioxide. As that happens, more and more soil becomes unusable partially due to this, meaning plants cannot grow in certain regions, as plants cannot grow, plants cannot reproduce O2. It's a little simple but it's fact. It's not just climate change, it's the human race that is doing this to itself. We are breeding ourselves out of existance, we will over consume our planets resources and eventually leave ourselves with a big giant rock to live on. Unfortunately, if we keep going as we have been, and we're likely to as we don't seem to be wanting to change, this is the inevitability.

          I think going extinct is a real possibility. In the worst case models, we break homeostasis and end up like Mars. Unfortunately, we don't have anywhere else to go. At best we might be able to save a small ark of people (make no mistake, the planned manned Mars missions are for NASA to prepare for this possibility), but that's a pretty slim hope.

          It may not matter for us anyway. The conservative models are catastrophic for water and food supplies anyway - we'll probably starve to death before the worst of it happens.

            9000 years? I would have hoped we'd have a legit answer to the problem by then, surely we'd have an efficient and large scale way of converting greenhouse gasses. think of the advances in the last 100 years, heck 10! However for the next few decades at least things are only going to get worse.

            If the government was dead serious about energy sources that have a low greenhouse effect you really can't go past a mix of nuclear and renewables. One reactor backed up with renewables per city would sort us for millennia, or at least until there are better sources (fusion etc). But the easiest, quickest answer available now, which would shutter all coal plants is banned for no good, logical reason at all. A french, Japanese, Indian or American company could come here and do it fast and cheap. But no, we are scared of a boggy man because of what;

            Chernobyl, a decrepit Soviet reactor that was being experimented on.
            Fukushima, a reactor that was hit with two devastating natural disasters which was old and meant to be shut down. Which failed by the way, because the back up cooling generators failed.

            Mention gen III+ reactors to a greenie and they wouldn't even understand what you were talking about. Yet they are determining the lack of measured debate due to a hysteric, fear mongering campaign.

          Unfortunately climate change won't make humans extinct, not even close.

          What the fuck do you mean "unfortunately"?

          Last edited 05/03/13 4:54 pm

            You see, I'm a Bilderberg group shape shifting reptile from the dog star!

            Nah I'm not... must have been a type-o man, I do a lot of altering to my comments. I certainly don't want the human race extinct.... *licks eye ball*

              Ahh, a fellow Bilderbergian, I see. Apologies for the confusion, good sir. You may pass.

                *licks back* Damn Bilderbergians... us Rigellians are the superior lot!!!!! You can't even lick your own back!!!! *licks back again*

      i dont think the issue is humanity, its that Australia is backwards on so many counts. The UK has a far more enlightened, and actually useful, classification scheme than Australia. Parents can go get real information on a game or film, with options to skip critical spoilers, unlike the less than 10 word descriptions we get in Australia.

      Australian classification is about censorship and doing our thinking for us, not about providing citizens information for making informed decisions.

        I dunno, I think Australia is actually a lot better than many other states for effective government. There are plenty of countries which just have broken economies (see: half of Europe) and plenty of countries which just have broken governments completely (see: USA). I don't really see Australia as being the issue here, sadly.

        Admittedly, in this specific case, there was one hell of a barrier (Ex-A.G. Atkinson) but even then, it took five years to pass a relatively simple piece of legislation. Having had a look through the classification act, it's simple, to the point, and honestly fairly tightly written. To fix something important, like taxation, or the corporations act, will be outside of the reach of humans until long after we're all dust.

          True enough on those counts, but culturally, you only have to look at the pass/fail rate in the UK of films and games banned in Australia. We're consistently more conservative than them - and they're supposed to be our cultural cousins.

          Then put the classification descriptions (available on both the UK and Oz govt sites) side by side for these same films and games - gives a very clear demonstration of the difference in intent of both classification schemes.

        You are way off buddy. You have direct representation in 3 forms of government. If you REALLY want your voice heard you just have to approach the appropriate branch with your problem.... The more people in your position the better.

        Australia leads on many fronts. Using game classification as a barometer of government is insane. We actually do have it quote good here, as frustrating as it is sometimes. At least or government legitimately represents the MAJORITY of its people.

      And the simple reason why we won't resolve any of those issues can be summed up in one word... GREED. The rich and powerful people of this world do not want to spend money on anything unless it benefits them. I mean look at George Lucas, he got $4 billion dollars from the sale of Lucasarts and gave the whole lot to charity, sure it's a great thing to do, but how do we know for sure that 100% of that money is going where it's supposed to. On top of that he could just claim all of it back on his next tax return anyway because donations are tax deductible. He should be in next years Guiness Book Of Records for the record of the highest tax return.

        On top of that he could just claim all of it back on his next tax return anyway because donations are tax deductible. He should be in next years Guiness Book Of Records for the record of the highest tax return.

        Within one sentence, you just turned a hypothetical scenario into fact. Stop talking crap.

      Except that we've made massive progress towards all that stuff over the past century. It'd be more worrying if we did try to solve this stuff quickly. Imagine the response to global warming a few decades ago if we rushed to action. We'd dump fossil fuels and whatnot and then just twiddle our thumbs trying to research alternatives in a society that's been pushed back 150 years. Instead we've waited and we're rapidly actually reaching a point where we'll be able to solve the problem properly.
      There's a good reason that sort of stuff isn't solved over night. They're hugely complicated issues that impact everyone on the planet (the idea that everyone has basic human rights isn't complicated, but figuring out how to enforce it is).

        We really haven't though. We've made small gains in solar thermal, but increased our population and carbon output significantly in the same window. The technological process has been much slower than the degradation.

        The opinion of the mass is that they always want 'instant oatmeal' solutions, thinking decisions can be made on the spot because that's the contemporary way of thinking, but the problem is parliamentary decisions isn't all about what's contemporary, otherwise we wouldn't have democracy.

        Which is why I'm glad it actually took this long to come to a decision, it just goes to show they've really tried to look at all reasons for changing a law and allowed everyone to get a say. If decisions could be decided on the spot, Australia would still be a 'white nation', because that was the popular consensus back in the day, but it was the minority in parliament that pushed to dismantle such legislation for over 20 years.

      That's because you, like all of us, are unwilling to let things operate on a geological timescale.

      Stuff takes time as humans. Maybe a lot of time. But in the context of the universe it's less than a nanosecond. I can honestly say with my hand on my heart that in 200 years people will look back on the issue of - for example - support for gay marriage and say "that was quick".

      The problem is all of us alive today are unwilling to be dead when the things we want to happen eventually happen. We want it NOW, dammit!

        Subtext to the above: I'm actually surprised how FAST we make stuff happen. Five years is nothing. Why, five years ago I only had one child and now I have three. The five year old just started school this year.

        And all I can think was "man, that was fast!"

          I think his point was - it was a change supported by a vast majority of the electorate and in practical terms required making a batch of new stickers and a checklist of what constituted an R rating. My experience working in Government was that there was probably about a week of actual work done, and 5 years of pointless arguments and meetings about the legislation.

      As Cpl Hudson once said. "Let's Nuke site the site from orbit, it's the only way to be sure."

    That is really awesome, I would hang that on my wall!

    It was ridiculous that the issue could be blocked by a single vote in the first place. The ignorant opinion of one person just stopped all discussion dead in its tracks for years.

      That's the stupidity of systems with asymmetric Veto power for you. They're stupid because it allows lobby groups to just focus-fire on a single target and get their way. Very undemocratic.

        K13-Ed you hit the nail on the head. Lobby groups are dangerous and in part are the cause of many problems, R18+ was just one of them.

    After all the headaches, it's hard to believe it's finally over.

    This is a nice piece of closure.

    Can the general public get a copy of that certificate? I want do make a frame similar to this.

    So - wonder what this will mean for GTA 5? Will we get an R18+ version?

    Holyshit, how the hell did R18 get on the topic of climate change, greedy evil rich and the supposed end of the world? Glad gamers don't represent the majority of the population view - otherwise we'd have the left wing greenies in power.

    A frame like this should be on the wall of every gamer's household in Australia.

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