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Australia Censorship Government Games Politics

Australia Approves Final R18+ Gaming Guidelines 67

Posted by Soulskill
from the maybe-now-you-can-play-big-boy-games dept.
dotarray writes "Despite stories suggesting that a change to the Australian ratings system may be as far as two years away, the Federal Minister for Home Affairs has announced that each Australian state and territory has signed off on the final guidelines required for the introduction of an adult R18+ classification Down Under."
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Australia Approves Final R18+ Gaming Guidelines

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  • by Wolfling1 (1808594) on Friday November 04, 2011 @05:31PM (#37952610) Journal
    As one of the first people to start a statewide petition to support an R18+ rating for games, I can say that its taken a long time to reach this point, and its not over yet. This is a really encouraging step in the right direction.

    What is particularly interesting about it is that it highlights the disparaity between the speed that technology moves, and the speed that our lawmakers move.

    I believe we may be an entire generation away from a government of technology-savvy lawmakers.
    • by RCL (891376)
      Censorship is never a solution. Soviet Union made owning a photo of an erected penis a criminal offense [soviet-empire.com]. It is perhaps not a coincidence that Soviet society was plagued with sexual maniacs like Chikatilo [wikipedia.org].
      • Huh. Actual communists. Don't see many of those around now.
      • by mjwx (966435) on Saturday November 05, 2011 @05:26AM (#37956404)

        Censorship is never a solution. Soviet Union made owning a photo of an erected penis a criminal offense [soviet-empire.com]. It is perhaps not a coincidence that Soviet society was plagued with sexual maniacs like Chikatilo [wikipedia.org].

        Meanwhile, the US never had a sexual predators and maniacs like Berkowitz, Gacy, Bundy, Gein, amongst others.

        Your point that censorship never works is valid, but your example is horribly flawed. I read the wikipedia article on Chikatilo and one thing immediately stuck out at me, he had the same hallmarks in his childhood as western serial killers. Vicious parents (beatings et al.), early fascination with fire and death, above average intelligence, bullied and above all else, serious sexual problems in adolescence. It strikes me that Chikatilo would have been a serial killer in almost any society, communism had little to do with it, he almost fits the textbook conditions that created most killers in the west.

    • by Dr Max (1696200)
      HORAH for gamers, next step freedom of speech.
  • Shouldn't R18+ simply be a catch all for anything that's not covered by the existing guidelines? What happens to games that don't fall under the definition of R18+?

    The very thought that content would have to be approved before getting sold to adults is chilling. This doesn't seem to address that.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by black3d (1648913)

      In Australia, X-rated material is still banned, with the exception of in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) and the Northern Territories (NT).

      Thus, anything which doesn't fall under R18 classification falls instead under "Refused Classification". As there's no X rating available, it's simply not saleable. Of course, there's plenty of X-rated material imported to Australia every day (via the internet, largely). There's no law against possession of X-rated material, however it is illegal to possess certai

      • Re:What guidelines? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Zaphod The 42nd (1205578) on Friday November 04, 2011 @05:49PM (#37952784)

        If it wasn't illegal to buy snuff films, they'd be widely purchased and a market created for such

        Actually, I just read an article, I think it was by BBC, that said that after doing much research, their conclusion was there is no such thing as a snuff film, nobody has actually made a snuff film, and there is no market for snuff films. Its just too difficult / costly to murder people for entertainment as opposed to doing fiction.

        SOMETIMES the world isn't as bad as it seems. :P

        • That said, child pornography is a serious concern.
          • by lgw (121541)

            That said, child pornography is a serious concern.

            Child abuse is a serious concern. But AFAIK there's no place left on Earth (where's there any rule of law) that it's legal to make or buy child pornography. Given there's no legal market anywhere, it would seem to me that it's the abuse, not the evidence thereof, that should be the first priority for concern.

            • by drsmithy (35869)

              Child abuse is a serious concern. But AFAIK there's no place left on Earth (where's there any rule of law) that it's legal to make or buy child pornography. Given there's no legal market anywhere, it would seem to me that it's the abuse, not the evidence thereof, that should be the first priority for concern.

              Of course, the "child" part can vary substantially from country to country, also including ridiculous situations where there's a discrepancy between the ages where it's legal to have sex and be filmed having sex.

              • Laws relating to sex are full of strange standards. Here in the UK, for example, you can have sex legally at sixteen... but you can't look at pornography legally until eighteen. I assume people in between need to wear a blindfold.
      • Most people are drooling idiots.

        Then why in the world would I care to have them lording orver my life telling me what I can watch and what I can't? Your argument is rediculous. Your implying, no, strait out telling us your government knows better than you. Based on what? How in the world do you people believe that rot? What a thing, to sit and tell yourself you need some drooling idiots dictating what you, a drooling idiot, should read or watch. If 1000 monkeys sat at 1000 typewriters after 1000 years would they come up with Australia? Se

        • by black3d (1648913)

          If my arguement is ridiculous, you would actually counter the points I raised. You're unable to. Carry on, 99%.

          • I did. You're argument is that people are drooling idiots. Carry on.
            • by black3d (1648913)

              You're argument is that people are drooling idiots

              You're argument

              You're

              Thanks for proving my point. But no. While that was a statement I made, it was not the crux of my argument at all.

              • My finger to YOUR point (i bet the kids excluded you from play time in primary, didn't they?) and you, in effect, said nothing but. You entire post is but a recital in how your fellow man seems to have let you down in the "abilties" department. Whatever that may mean (I took it for the "brains" department, but I'll leave it to the reader. Underestimating the enemy is 99% of the reason a tyrant falls. If you get my meaning, Ghengis.
                • by black3d (1648913)

                  Again, you've focused on five words of my post as if you're personally insulted by the fact, and instead refer to those five words as my "entire post". My argument, since you seem to have missed it on multiple attempts at comprehension, was that individuals create markets for certain material through the consumption thereof. In periods where, for example, child pornography, have been unregulated have created a considerable market-driven increase thereof. Only censorship and making this material illegal have

        • If 1000 monkeys sat at 1000 typewriters after 1000 years would they come up with Australia? Seems so.

          wouldn't take that long

      • by Hatta (162192)

        Thus, anything which doesn't fall under R18 classification falls instead under "Refused Classification". As there's no X rating available, it's simply not saleable.

        That's because Australia is simply not a free country. Free speech is a fundamental human right. Requiring classification violates that right.

        You seem to overestimate the self-regulation abilities of your fellow man.

        You seem to overestimate the self-regulation abilities of your regulators. People in government are not any better than the rest

        • by black3d (1648913)

          Do you have any evidence to back this up?

          In relation to snuff? No. As snuff films are largely un-verifiable, we can only look at anecdotal evidence surrounding popularity of extremely bad film where people have THOUGHT an individual died in the filming thereof.

          I can easily back it up in relation to child porn though. Look at Ukraine, early 2000s, BD Company and LS Studios and various subsidiary and even unaffiliated companies. A market was created for CP through the temporarily unregulated sale of material from Ukraine. It started out with some sm

    • Re:What guidelines? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Zaphod The 42nd (1205578) on Friday November 04, 2011 @05:47PM (#37952762)
      Apparently you don't know about the problems with video games down under. Many are outright banned right now as they do not meet the requirements for the Australian teen rating (13?) and thus cannot be sold, and some of it makes no sense. Some violent games get through, some barely-violent games get banned. Many then end up resorting to piracy, so then the games industry says "oh, its just pirates there, we won't bother" and it just cycles around and around. (Like Russia, which has been blown off as full of pirates, so nobody localizes for Russia, so there are more pirates... Gabe Newell just did an interview where he addressed it and they found that if they did proper releases in Russia, their sales were 3-5x what people expected).

      The very thought that content would have to be approved before getting sold to adults is chilling.

      yeah, Orwell thought it was scary too. :) In all seriousness though, censorship is a problem.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Hatta (162192)

        Apparently you don't know about the problems with video games down under.

        That's not a problem with video games down under. It's a problem with free speech down under. Namely, the lack of it. The Australian government may be giving its subjects a little more chain, but they're still not free.

        • Fair enough. But where do you live? I live in the United States, and it ain't a whole lot better over here these days.
        • by Cimexus (1355033)

          Very few places hold 'free speech' as an absolute right like the Americans idealise it as. Most places have a balance between freedom of expression, and other considerations which may conflict with that ideal. The key international human rights instruments (Australia is a signatory to these, of course) also note that freedom of expression is not an absolute and has to be weighed against other competing rights. It is very important and should never be unduly interfered with - but it's not an absolute. I don'

          • Even America doesn't have an absolute right. You can say what you please so long as it isn't libelous, or copyrighted, or an immediate risk to public safety, or infringes upon an established trademark, or obscene. Not that anyone enforces that last one.
        • by mjwx (966435)

          Apparently you don't know about the problems with video games down under.

          That's not a problem with video games down under. It's a problem with free speech down under. Namely, the lack of it. The Australian government may be giving its subjects a little more chain, but they're still not free.

          We're maintaining a lot more freedom then the US at the moment. How are those free speech zones going. I still have the ability to protest in the open and on the steps of parliament.

          Meanwhile, the US copyright and trademark laws have subtly stripped what remains of your much vaunted "free speech".

          And yes, no one will stop me from calling Tony Abbott a cunt, a wanker, or a nance. It does stop me from saying "Tony Abbott has sex with the corpses of little boys" without evidence.

      • by mjwx (966435)

        Apparently you don't know about the problems with video games down under. Many are outright banned right now as they do not meet the requirements for the Australian teen rating (13?)

        Actually it's MA (15+) and the M rating allows for:
        - Violence.
        - Frequent course language.
        - Sexual references.
        - Simulated Sex.
        - Some Nudity.

        It's in no way compatible to Teen. That would be our PG rating. It's important, when berating someone else does not understand the classification system, to have an understanding of

  • by subanark (937286) on Friday November 04, 2011 @05:58PM (#37952876)

    In the article for R 18+ classifications:
    Drug use related to incentives and rewards is not permitted.

    Depending on how 'drug' is defined, a game could be banned if using apsrin was part of the plot to recover some ailment.
    If this was only related to controlled substances, then a fictional drug could be used instead without problem, making the rule near useless.

    • Left 4 Dead 2, pictured right below that drug use notification and a major point of contention in this classification debate, would still have trouble because it features downing a bottle of pills or injecting yourself with a syringe of adrenaline in order to continue killing zombies, and has an achievement related to that as well.

      • Would that mean that Starcraft should also be banned because of the Stim Pack ability that Marines have?
    • I do not know for sure but I would imagine medicine usage would not be banned but games like Max Payne where you take drugs to improve abilities would.
      • by R4nneko (1194727)
        Max Payne was released in Australia unedited. It was rated MA15+ [classification.gov.au]

        So no, it is not that simple or stupid.
    • by pluther (647209)
      So is Fallout banned under these guidelines? There are a variety of drugs, including alcohol types, you can take in the game to give you various boosts.

      Would "Whiskey" be banned, but "Buffout" OK, because one has the same name as a real drug?

      And does that extend to "potions"? They're a staple of any fantasy game, and are exactly the same thing as drugs but with a different name.

      • by R4nneko (1194727)
        Funny you should mention that. The reason why you have "stimpacks" and "jet", etc in Fallout 3 was because the original plan to use genuine drug names such as Morphine had it refused classification. Fictional drugs tend to be classed as okay. Also only a fairly small number of games have been RCed. Most games have ended up released here under M15+
      • by Cimexus (1355033)

        Fallout's 'drugs' have names like Med-X, Rad-away, Jet etc. for that very reason.

        And Whiskey is fine - alcohol isn't an illicit drug in Australia, so that classification guideline is irrelevant to it.

      • by mjwx (966435)

        So is Fallout banned under these guidelines? There are a variety of drugs, including alcohol types, you can take in the game to give you various boosts.

        Would "Whiskey" be banned, but "Buffout" OK, because one has the same name as a real drug?

        Fallout is available here.

        Context is everything in the Australian rating system. When the say "drug based incentives" they mean something clearly identified as a narcotic that has only a positive effect. This is generally restricted to real world restricted drugs, for example a trucking simulator where "Speed" is used as a power up (makes time go faster, reduces fatigue level) would be restricted where as using "Coffee" or "Magic time bending potion" for the same effect would not. To rephrase it, the gam

  • Under the R18+ guidelines:

    Drug use related to incentives and rewards is not permitted.

    I guess that means Pac Man will be banned in Australia :(

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