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Australia Censorship Government Games Your Rights Online

AU R18+ Rating Plans Put On Hold Due To "Interest Groups" 139

Posted by Soulskill
from the grasping-at-straws dept.
Dexter Herbivore writes "Australian gamers are yet again left disappointed by their government's response to a lack of an R18+ rating for games. Gamespot reports that Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor has blamed 'interest groups' for swamping the public consultation with pro-R18+ submissions. From the article: 'A strong response from gamer groups in the Australian Federal Government's R18+ public consultation has led Censorship Ministers to claim that more views from the community are needed before a decision into the introduction of an R18+ classification for video games can be reached.'" Reader UgLyPuNk adds that support for the new rating is coming from unexpected places.
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AU R18+ Rating Plans Put On Hold Due To "Interest Groups"

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  • by kirbysuperstar (1198939) on Wednesday May 12, 2010 @03:18AM (#32179730) Homepage
    I feel like this is never going to go through. One hurdle after another, it seems.
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Maybe if all the Aussies would stop being such fucking pussies and actually stand up for themselves they might acc---crickey a stingray!

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        *Crikey... not crickey
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Okay, obvious troll is obvious, but damn it I'm biting anyway.

        58,589 people submitted their say to this thing... this ars*hole politician is proclaiming them as a "special interest group" because it doesn't fit with HIS ideas.

        We only have 22 million people in this country, 60,000 people is a SIGNIFICANT portion of the population, when 98% of them say they want something and it's ignored, there's not much further we can go. (As an Australian, I'm proud of the fact that we're the only country in the world to

        • by Capsaicin (412918) on Wednesday May 12, 2010 @04:28AM (#32180092)

          58,589 people submitted their say to this thing... this ars*hole politician is proclaiming them as a "special interest group" because it doesn't fit with HIS ideas.

          Not really he's proclaiming EB Games, and activist groups, including conservative Christian anti-gaming groups to be "special interest groups" and bemoaning the fact that so many individual submissions merely aped the arguments put forward by those groups.

          Remember this isn't a popularity contest or a referendum. It's a process by which the government aims to garner as wide a range of views as possible from disparate sources. If one submissions says nothing different from another it's just a waste of everyone's time, and taxpayer money.

          The reason to encourage people to submit prepared submissions en masse is two-fold. Firstly to drown out alternative views, which is in the interest both of the games industry and the anti-games lobby. And secondly, since theoretically each submission must be read in its entirety, to delay any decision by clogging up the system. On the face of it this would appear to be in the interests of the conservative Christian opponents only. That it is the pro-gamers who have done this seems, at least on the face of it, to be a monumental act of stupidity.

          As a practical matter, if it is obvious that the vast bulk of submissions are mere dupes, I would think the bureaucrats could treat them as read. As I wrote below, if 86% of them are dupes, then really 86% if the reading has already been done. We really shouldn't let the ... ahem ... gaming of the consultation system by either side lead to inaction.

          I suspect that the truth is as AC wrote below, that they want an excuse to shelve it until after the election. That the fully intend to introduce a R18+ classification, but they are worried about pissing off the Christian vote Rudd has been so careful to cultivate.

        • by Golddess (1361003)
          Um, math fail? 60,000 is not 98% of 22,000,000. It's not even 2%. It's 0.2%.

          Personally, I find it funny that they say they are "swamped" with submissions, but still require more before a decision can be reached.
          • But they are swamped with responses that are for having an R18+ category. Obviously, it can't move forward with the process until more people write in saying they are against having the category. Preferably about the same number as that t are for it, then the politician can announce that he will table the discussion for a couple more years as the 'people' are undecided about the issue.

        • (As an Australian, I'm proud of the fact that we're the only country in the world to have federated in -peace-, not by killing. I don't want to -have- to get violent to support my rights.)

          [Anon-post for obvious reasons.]

          Hi, and welcome to Canada. We also federated in peace.

      • by shooteur (1559845) on Wednesday May 12, 2010 @04:20AM (#32180052)
        Please we're the most subdued and docile population in the world. Other countries riot and go to the streets for less than what's been pulled on the Australian population in the past. Sure we'll be outraged for about 24 hours then back to business as usual.
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Sure we'll be outraged for about 24 hours then back to business as usual.

          However Aussies routinely break the law when they see fit. Our cultural heritage is disobedience and recalcitrance more than rebellion.

          • However Aussies routinely break the law when they see fit.

            Like what, importing unclassified games? A vicious cycle appears! Command?

        • by GF678 (1453005)

          Glad I'm not the only one who feels the same about our populace, although I won't deny being hypocritical about it myself, even if I'm aware of it.

        • by LBt1st (709520)

          "Other countries riot and go to the streets for less than what's been pulled on the Australian population in the past. Sure we'll be outraged for about 24 hours then back to business as usual."

          So your saying Australians just roll over when they're bullied?
          Maybe if you guys got a little more outraged from time to time you'd have such freedoms as the ability to sell a video game.

        • by mjwx (966435)

          Please we're the most subdued and docile population in the world. Other countries riot and go to the streets for less than what's been pulled on the Australian population in the past. Sure we'll be outraged for about 24 hours then back to business as usual.

          But the pubs open and the footys on. Bloody hell you bastards are demanding, I riot after three quarters time when the Dockers get their arse handed to them.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Capsaicin (412918)

      One hurdle after another, it seems.

      Yes it seems very difficult to understand what the hold up here is.

      If the claim is true that 86% of submissions "came from retailer EB Games and the pro-R18+ organisation Grow Up Australia" as TFA states, by which I assume that many people submitted the industry's 'standard' submissions, then that should really fast-track the process. Why not simply treat all those submissions as just the two they really are? That's 86% of the reading done right away.

      No matter how ofte

      • by sortius_nod (1080919) on Wednesday May 12, 2010 @04:19AM (#32180044) Homepage

        Unfortunately gamers aren't the right "interest groups". The christian lobby is by the seems of things...

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Capsaicin (412918)

          Unfortunately gamers aren't the right "interest groups". The christian lobby is by the seems of things...

          Indeed. In the Rudd vs Abbott battle for souls one suspects the Christian lobby will get a sympathetic hearing from both sides.

        • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

          by Ganthor (1693614)
          It just doesn't make any sense to me...

          Given religion's track record, I would have thought that violence was right up their alley?

          Why would they want to oppose violent games? It's nothing like the things humans have done to each other in the name of their preferred imaginary friend(s). ...and recently too!
    • by Dan541 (1032000)

      It's all the same hurdle, fucktards in government.

  • Surprise!! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    The Australian government is surprised that a public consultation regarding controversial laws specifically pertaining to gamers received a high degree of interest from said gamers? How can this be?!?!?!

  • "interest Groups" (Score:5, Informative)

    by mr_mischief (456295) on Wednesday May 12, 2010 @03:32AM (#32179806) Journal
    • hypocrites running a nanny state because "think of the children" usually works at the polls
    • puritan hypocrites who want to live in a "free" country but who don't want people with different tastes to really be free
    • regulators and bureaucrats who really like high-paying government jobs and the ability to push people around with the support of elected bodies
    • crooks who don't think their bribes from the game lobby are big enough yet
    • a few lazy parents who don't want to keep track of what their kids bring home for themselves

    Yeah, I can imagine there are a few "interest groups" involved.

    • The "interest groups" they are referring to are in _support_ of the 18+ category. Reading comprehension, mate!

      (I do think it amusing that the pollies have basically come out and said: "we're delaying the implementation of this policy, because the public response has been too positive" ;-)

      • It reads different when viewed through a Beowulf Cluster.
      • by Barny (103770)

        Basically they realise it may be important to a lot of different groups for different reasons, so they now have to take the time to at least do it half right :)

      • by russotto (537200)

        (I do think it amusing that the pollies have basically come out and said: "we're delaying the implementation of this policy, because the public response has been too positive" ;-)

        Of course. And if they'd received a high negative response, they'd shelve it for that reason. And if they received little response, they'd decide that the public didn't care that much and therefore shelve the policy for that reason. The public participation is a farce, because whatever the public does, they can come up with a ju

      • by Blakey Rat (99501)

        I think what they're trying to communicate is: "We've had to delay this, since the comments are so positive we don't believe we're getting an accurate cross-section of opinion."

        Which I guess I see as valid, if this legislation wasn't already overdue by at least 10 years.

      • Yes, the interest groups they are talking about are. The interest groups that keep the problem around are very influential considering they are the other 4% and the problem still isn't solved.

    • by ultranova (717540) on Wednesday May 12, 2010 @04:46AM (#32180160)

      puritan hypocrites who want to live in a "free" country but who don't want people with different tastes to really be free

      This group includes everyone. Go on, browse the Net; you'll eventually find something that offends you so much you want it banned. Child porn, animal porn, Dissected-chan, Pain series, snuff films, real rape films... If you can imagine something, it's there, and someone's getting off on it; that's the dark side of Rule 34. And you, no matter what you believe, will eventually find your personal limits to what kind of tastes you can tolerate.

      • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

        by ultranova (717540)

        Oh dear. Were people with mod points offended by my post? Did it hit a bit too close to home? Or did you consider it flamebait because you don't like the things mentioned so it's okay to censor them while people who want to censor GTA are just being silly puritans, and anyone who doesn't agree with this is clearly just trolling?

        In any case, thank you for demonstrating my point.

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          In any case, thank you for demonstrating my point.

          What, that moderation on slashdot is highly trolled?

      • by Chowderbags (847952) on Wednesday May 12, 2010 @01:00PM (#32183918)
        The difference is that for some people their level of tolerance ends at exactly the point where their personal tastes are offended. A puritanical person might see gay porn and say "eww... now ban it for corrupting morals!" A reasonable person sees gay porn and says "eww... I'd better not go to that website again."
        • by mjwx (966435)

          The difference is that for some people their level of tolerance ends at exactly the point where their personal tastes are offended. A puritanical person might see gay porn and say "eww... now ban it for corrupting morals!" A reasonable person sees gay porn and says "eww... I'd better not go to that website again."

          Which is why it needs to be well publicised that the internet is a pull system, not a push system. On the Internet you choose what you see, the service provider doesn't get a say in it.

          Conjob'

      • This group includes everyone. Go on, browse the Net; you'll eventually find something that offends you so much you want it banned. Child porn, animal porn, Dissected-chan, Pain series, snuff films, real rape films... If you can imagine something, it's there, and someone's getting off on it; that's the dark side of Rule 34. And you, no matter what you believe, will eventually find your personal limits to what kind of tastes you can tolerate.

        The difference is that, when I can't tolerate a particular kind of content, I just leave the place and avoid coming there ever again. But, no matter how disgusting it is, I won't ask the government to take it down. Freedom of speech is freedom of speech. So long as no-one is materially hurt by distributing those videos, I don't see why freedom of speech should be compromised for the sake of someone's (even my own) moral sensibility.

    • by Trogre (513942) on Wednesday May 12, 2010 @07:43AM (#32180754) Homepage

      Lazy parents huh?

      And how, exactly, is a parent supposed to know whether a given game is safe for little Jimmy to play? Play the first two levels themselves? Perhaps it's not until the fourth level that the dismemberment and graphic porn starts.

      One rather simplified example of violent BS in a kid-appealing wrapper: Happy Tree Friends.

      I fail to see how anyone could regard R18+ labels as anything other than a _good_ thing. If people want gore and smut, they can hunt those labels out. The rest of us can avoid them. Sounds like win-win.

      • by GundamFan (848341)
        Right but without the R18+ label they can defacto ban all games that would fall into this category.

        Here in the U.S. (and perhaps elsewhere) we had something kinda similar happen recently the movie Kick Ass was released with a very well earned R rating and not really marketed to children but it still received negative press because it was "targeted towards children". Even with an industry self censorship system with a very conservative track record in this country the "conservative moment" (really just fund
      • by Mr. DOS (1276020)

        And how, exactly, is a parent supposed to know whether a given game is safe for little Jimmy to play? Play the first two levels themselves?

        Maybe altogether ban him from getting games less than two weeks old, giving plenty of time for full-disclosure reviews to hit the Internet? It takes less than fifteen minutes to get a good idea of the level of questionable content in a video game from piecing reviews together.

        • The average parent standing in (the Australian equivalent of) Walmart with little Sally begging for a copy of game X has the ability, resources and knowledge to research its suitability right then and there, standing in the store aisle?
           
          What about a simple rating sticker that could be attached to the box with basic information about the content instead?

          • by Mr. DOS (1276020)

            If they can't do it in the aisle, then they should know to say “no”, go home, and look up the game. And here's the crucial part: don't just say they'll look up the game, but actually do it, and should the game be deemed inappropriate, explain to the child why. The only thing worse than just saying “no” is explaining it with, “because it's bad, that's why”.

            Just for the record, I do feel an R18+ rating is nothing but a good thing. Additionally, I would call the average pare

      • by TubeSteak (669689)

        And how, exactly, is a parent supposed to know whether a given game is safe for little Jimmy to play? Play the first two levels themselves? Perhaps it's not until the fourth level that the dismemberment and graphic porn starts.

        Isn't that what review websites and magazines are for?

        Parent: I won't buy you any games unless you show me two reviews.
        Kid: Drat! I'll never be able to sneak ultra-mega-violence-porn by them!!1

        That said, high-speed internet allows kids to download any game they want without having to ask permission.

      • by mjwx (966435)

        I fail to see how anyone could regard R18+ labels as anything other than a _good_ thing. If people want gore and smut, they can hunt those labels out. The rest of us can avoid them. Sounds like win-win.

        Unfortunately rating systems are like using shotguns as mosquito repellent. PEGI and all others are the same, they work off checklists and completely ignore context. One mention of fellatio and it's R18 for you. However some movies with graphic simulated sex and minor nudity are M15 because there is no swea

      • How about allow adults to play 18+ and the parents can tell little Jimmy he can't play it. That's the current problem in a nutshell -- there is no 18+ category for video games in Australia. The rating should be enough for the parents to just glance at it and have some idea. Yet adults can't buy 18+ games, because anything that doesn't fit into some lower classification is just outright banned from sale.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by PopeRatzo (965947) *

      hypocrites running a nanny state

      I have a question:

      Here in the US, we used to have these things called "R" ratings on movies, which meant they wouldn't let anyone under 18 see the movie without a parent or guardian. These were the days before the internet, divx, or even VHS.

      Yet, I doubt a single 15 year old didn't see a movie they wanted to see because it was rated R.

      Do they honestly think that having a special rating which prevents 13 year-olds from buying GTA V is going to keep them from playing GTA V?

      Wh

  • by John Saffran (1763678) on Wednesday May 12, 2010 @03:35AM (#32179826)
    From the article this says it best:

    "I’m not sure how the [Home Affairs] minister pigeonholes them as an 'interest group' because gamers cover all facets of society. If consultations, by their nature, attract submissions from people who are passionate about an issue--and I assume passionate in both opposition and support--then why bother? Surely the government asked for submissions to gauge the feeling of the wider community, of which gamers make up 68 percent,"

    It sounds like the submissions didn't agree with the minister's pre-determined outcome .. just keep trying until you get what you want to hear.

    • by Merls the Sneaky (1031058) on Wednesday May 12, 2010 @03:44AM (#32179870)

      It's called policy based evidence.

    • It sounds like the submissions didn't agree with the minister's pre-determined outcome .. just keep trying until you get what you want to hear.

      Doesn't surprise me in the slightest. It's the way a lot of people are, it's certainly a behaviour I see a lot in my cutsomer-facing role. People told "no" try rephrasing the quaestion or restating their side of the reasoning several times then then ask my boss, get their boss to ask me and ultimately get their boss to ask my boss. (And they then look genuinely su

  • Whaaaaaat? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Australian Catholic Bishops support R18+ rating

    Well my goodness, now I have to actually read the damned article.

    Hmm Hmm Hmm...

    The Australian Catholic Bishops (ACB) state that their preferred position is that R 18+ material would not be available in Australia. However, as material is currently available despite its illegality, it would be preferable to introduce an R18+ classification category for computer games so that access to such material, particularly by children, can be restricted.

    Yessss. If it's out there, instead of making it illegal, regulate it.

    Next up, Australia legalizes pot! Come on Aussies!

    • by deniable (76198)
      From this: [cia.gov]

      Illicit drugs: Tasmania is one of the world's major suppliers of licit opiate products; government maintains strict controls over areas of opium poppy cultivation and output of poppy straw concentrate; major consumer of cocaine and amphetamines

      We don't need the pot.

  • Since discussing this story with a few politically aware friends, we've come to the conclusion that any decision will be held off until after the next election (which must be held on or before 16th April 2011). Nothing loses votes quicker than the inevitable headlines of "Labour Party approves selling porn and violence to our children!"

    Anyone who truly understands the issues realises that this is not a greenlight to sell porn and violent material to childrenm, but "Adult gamers allowed free choice" as a h

  • by Freaky Spook (811861) on Wednesday May 12, 2010 @03:54AM (#32179918)

    The ACL(Australian Christian Lobby) jumps up and down and pretty much every politician is falling over themselves to appease them

    The lobby groups for Gaming launch an incredibly successful campaign for R18+ gaming to the point they manage to get 85 000 people to fill a survey out for the government, and the government calls it rigged.

    The ACL claims to be a representative of Australian Christians, but every Christian I know thinks they are a bunch of ultra-conservative bastards who want to force the entire country to adhere to their very narrow view on what is and is not ok.

    • Absolute rubbish.

      For a start this was not a survey. Numbers never mattered.

      Secondly, if it was a survey, then yes it would have been rigged by this process. If churches had been handing out submission forms during mass, then there would be outrage.

      It was a chance for gamers to present themselves to a government as intelligent, informed individuals with a reasoned basis for the introduction of an R18+ rating. Instead, they've ruined the process they fought to create. The governments are not at fault here.


      • If churches had been handing out submission forms during mass, then there would be outrage.

        Don't churches in Australia do that? Because here in the U. S. I remember my church handing out postcards to get NYPD Blue taken off the air. We were to mail them in to ABC after signing them.

        And that's when I finally decided I had had enough and quit the Church. Best thing that ever happened to me in retrospect...

      • by drsmithy (35869)

        The governments are not at fault here.

        The Government is at fault for even going through the process in the first place. A perfectly serviceable process for classifying R18+ movies already exists. There is no reason why it could not be used to rate games as well.

  • It appears that EB Games (a popular game retailer) and the pro-R18+ organisation Grow Up Australia were responsible for the 86% of the 59,678 submissions.

    I don't know what that means, does that mean that EB and "Grow up Austrlia" employees managed to pull out 51323 submissions? Or does it mean that EB was able to motivate it's customers to actually do something and the government freaked out that anybody other than the church priest and the "elderly gentlemen who thinks a remote control is a sign of the
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Zironic (1112127)

      They apparently had forms in their store the customers could fill out and EB would mail it in for them.

  • No suprise here (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mr. Freeman (933986) on Wednesday May 12, 2010 @04:08AM (#32179972)
    Let's see, the government is blaming people that are IN FAVOR of the 18+ rating for the government's lack of action regarding implementing the said rating.

    The government is telling people that by voicing their opinions they are actually harming their own cause. I can't imagine a greater way of suppressing political dissent. I'd be surprised if this had anything to do with video games at all. More likely it's the government using this as an issue that many people are passionate about to try and start discouraging people from expressing their opinions.
    • The government is telling people that by voicing their opinions they are actually harming their own cause. I can't imagine a greater way of suppressing political dissent.

      Batons, pepper spray, guns, tear gas... Not to suggest that violence is required for a government to trample democracy, just let's not get into hyperbole here.

  • so what they're saying is....

    we don't want to let you have an 18+ rating at all and we're waiting for the results we want

    why do governments seem surprised when they get results they don't want when trying force unpopular actions?

    • Democracy is the dictatorship of the majority and the majority is not who you think it is.

      You only got to read the letters page of your local newsrag to get an idea of what would happen if the people REALLY got a vote. How can you do anything in a NIMBY world? Someone is always going to be against something and demand everyone listen.

      Look at the US, the voters split almost exactly in republican en democrats and that is already causing enough problems when the two parties are exactly the same. In the UK yo

      • ...with guaranteed sunny weather and a gf for every nerd to date, you would still be torn apart...

        By women's rights groups, I would think. Maybe not everybody. Just 50% of everybody.

  • "Government refuses to sell pornographic violence to our children!"
  • Interest groups? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DrXym (126579) on Wednesday May 12, 2010 @04:29AM (#32180094)
    I think this is just another case of a government reaching a conclusion and then ignoring results that don't concur with it. Maybe gamers are an "interest group" but only in the sense they are people most affected by a draconian and silly rating systems. They still represent the opinion of a large percentage and cross section of the general public across all lines of race, gender, sexuality, age and religion.

    I believe the government is fudging and it's hard to see why exactly. Grown ups should be allowed to play grown up games if they so wish.

  • by mwvdlee (775178) on Wednesday May 12, 2010 @05:10AM (#32180276) Homepage

    Is that minister claiming that there will not be an R18+ rating because people want the R18+ rating?

  • The govt. has got to keep tossing the coin till it gives them the answer they are looking for.

  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Wednesday May 12, 2010 @06:24AM (#32180496) Homepage
    So, hey, Moonbat Mothers Against Everything, ball's in your court. When's the last time your lobbyists took me out to lunch, in a nice dark private restaurant? I could really go for a bucket of caviare-and-non-sequential-bills right now.
  • ...this just delays it a bit.

    But the Government has a clear mandate here, and now that SA has a new Attorney-General (one who is on record as being a proponent of harmonising game rating with film/tv/book ratings), I think this will actually happen. Might be another year or two (the legislative process is pretty slow) but it will happen.

    The govt. does have a point though. If you have a consultation where one 'side' spams you up with 50,000 individual submissions, but the other 'side' consolidates their argu

  • Interest Groups (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Arancaytar (966377) <arancaytar.ilyaran@gmail.com> on Wednesday May 12, 2010 @08:03AM (#32180834) Homepage

    A strong response from gamer groups in the Australian Federal Government's R18+ public consultation has led Censorship Ministers to claim that more views from the community are needed before a decision into the introduction of an R18+ classification for video games can be reached.

    Who the fuck did the government THINK was going to respond? And what the fuck did they expect them to say?

    OF COURSE gamers are an "interest group" when it comes to legislation that relates to gaming. It is in their interest. By definition.

    This is like putting legislation allowing gay marriage on hold because you suspect that it is being promoted too strongly by the "special interest group" of gay people who want to get married.

  • This is a government that doesn't want to be reelected, fine by me. I've had it with them.

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