In what many see as a positive move forwards regarding updating Australias archaic classification laws, proposed guidelines have been put forward for the introduction of an R18+ rating on games. The video game industry welcomed the proposal which was released today by The Minister for Home Affairs Brendan O’Connor. Currently Australian classification laws only permit a MA15+ rating on games, much to the anger of thousands of avid gamers country wide.
According to Ron Curry, CEO of Interactive Games and Entertainment Association (IGEA), there are many sensitive issues to deal with when making these kinds of decisions and a delicate balance must be found between those who are strongly for and against the new guidelines. “We are pleased to see this process moving forward and understand that great care has been taken to balance the concerns of those who have resisted an R18+ classification and adults who want to play video games designed specifically for mature audiences and readily available in other developed democracies.”
The guidelines have apparently also brought up the age old argument of whether video games have a greater propensity to incite violence due to their interactive nature. This is despite an Attorney Generals published findings that showed no such evidence. “There will be continued debate about whether the interactivity of video games has a greater impact than other forms of media, and we will continue to refer to the lack of the evidence to support these claims. With that being said, we welcome the commitment from all parties involved to seek a reasonable outcome to address this longstanding issue. We now look forward to the Commonwealth, States and Territories implementing these guidelines in an expedient manner,” said Curry.
With all this said and done, I wouldn’t start rejoicing yet Australian Gamers, thinking that you will be soon be slicing Sub Zero in half and sending him to hell and back. Games like Mortal Kombat are non classifiable and therefore banned under any current or proposed Australian system. The main issue with the current laws is that many games that were originally deemed objectionable worldwide for various reasons have had the decision overturned. The result is that they receive an R18+ rating in every country but Australia that slaps a MA15+ on it as that is the current highest rating reserved for video game media.
At least Brendan O’Connor has made responsible decisions to allow adults to enjoy games that were clearly developed for them, in the same manner as any other form of entertainment. Australian governing bodies are so hung up on sexual content, especially within gaming titles that they lose sight of the bigger picture. I’m more offended by war based games and the glorification that goes with it then I am by games like GTA and Saints Row which just have a different feel to them. I guess what I’m getting at, is this argument is too subjective. As a result I resent the fact that other adults are making the decision for me as an adult as to what they think I should or should not be subjected to. Stephen Conroy would do well to take note of Mr O’Connors responsible decisions that are not based purely on his own beliefs and intent to enforce them upon others.
“We need a classification system that protects young minds from any possible adverse effect, while also ensuring that adults are free to make their own decisions about what they play, within the bounds of the law,” Mr O’Connor said.