We've just received word that the John Rau, the Attorney General for South Australia, has raised concerns regarding 12 video games previously rated by the Australian Classification Board and has asked the board to review these decisions.
This is consistent with earlier statements made by John Rau. In September this year he complained that up to 13 games were classified MA15+ in Australia despite receiving adult classifications in other countries. At that time he challenged the Attorney General to "have a look at the way the Australian Classification Board is assessing these games and assure the community that the rules are being applied appropriately."
John Rau was keen to state that he wasn't suggesting the government "remove R18+ games from circulation", merely asking for the ratings to be applied more stringently. He did mention, however, in a press release sent out in September of this year that the lobby group Australian Council on Children and the Media had alerted him to the issue of these games.
"It is quite obvious to me that some games should only be played by adults," he said back then.
"Unlike movies, children can be active participants in the content of video games and the effects, whilst largely disputed, can not be positive."
The games up for review are as follows:
- Alien Rage - Borderlands 2 Expansion Packs - Company of Heroes 2 - Deadly Premonition: Director’s Cut - Deadpool - Fuse - Gears of War: Judgement - God Mode - Killer is Dead - Splinter Cell Blacklist - The Walking Dead - The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct
All 12 of these games were rated 18 by PEGI in Europe and 17+ by the ESRB in the US.
Ron Curry, CEO of the iGEA, expressed his shock at the review. None of the games listed had received any consumer complaints for incorrect classification. The cost of reviewing the classification of 12 video games, the iGEA informed us, was upwards of $330,000.
"Most people don’t realise that before a video game lands on a store shelf, it has already been rigorously examined against a set of guidelines set out by our Government," explained Curry. "In fact, Australia is one of the few developed nations to have classification guidelines determined by Government.
"Not only have these games already been examined against stringent guidelines, we also haven’t heard of any formal complaints made by parents or adults who think the video games are wrongly classified. The review is a hundred thousand dollar exercise to satisfy a vocal yet unrepresentative minority."
Each of the 12 games listed above were given higher classification in different countries but, according to Ron Curry, that isn't an issue: each country's system is designed to appeal to specific cultural differences within that country. These games were classified based on an existing set of guidelines which John Rau himself agreed upon.
"[We] need to realise each classification scheme is structured differently and takes into account cultural differences," he said.
Ron Curry and the iGEA believe this review is reflective of a broken classification system. The ALRC has already recommended that a vast majority of classification be industry led, but that review also called for a complete restructuring of the system of classification in this country.
"This is an example highlighted by the Australian Law Reform Commission of the dysfunctional nature of Australia’s classification system," said Ron. "Like the ALRC, IGEA calls for the urgent modernising and nationalising of content classification in Australia."