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Australia Censorship Games Politics

Australian R18 Games Rating Gets Gov't Support 87

dotarray writes "Even with the news last week that an Australian Government study found no conclusive link between video games and violence, it's still a little surprising that the federal Labor government has announced today that they support the move for an adult R18+ rating for video games in that country."
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Australian R18 Games Rating Gets Gov't Support

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  • New Zealand always gets the censored Australian version of games, yet has the R18 rating for some.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by davester666 ( 731373 )

      Well, that's what you get for living next door to a bunch of criminals.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    if they dont get the r18 rating in then they have to block anything over MA in the filter

    which includes all journalism about any games that dont get ratings approval

    • by srjh ( 1316705 ) on Sunday December 05, 2010 @01:20AM (#34448520)

      Bingo. The filter will (ostensibly) block content that has been refused classification, but Conroy and Labor have long been equivocating between "refused classification" and "illegal" and repeatedly imply that they're only really going after child pornography. The lack of an R18+ rating has long been a thorn in their side because "refused classification" for games has always meant "unsuitable for teenagers, but we don't have an adult rating so it's banned for everyone".

      It's hard to know what to feel about that - the filter remains a disaster and the primary free speech objections remain (mainly that the blacklist is a government secret), but it's ever so slightly less evil now. Hopefully the limited support for the filter stays that way and any legislation still fails to pass through either house of the hung parliament.

  • I'm confused. The study says there's no conclusive link, BUT they support the 18+ rating (which now allows these games instead of banning them). How is this a bad thing?

    • by LordLucless ( 582312 ) on Sunday December 05, 2010 @12:54AM (#34448408)

      The surprise comes from the government actually acting in line with the study, instead of sticking its fingers in its ears, and legislating its preconceived notions anyway.

    • by mjwx ( 966435 ) on Sunday December 05, 2010 @12:55AM (#34448412)

      I'm confused. The study says there's no conclusive link, BUT they support the 18+ rating (which now allows these games instead of banning them). How is this a bad thing?

      Summary was trying to be overly melodramatic and fails.

      R18+ was blocked by one man, former Attorney General Michael Atkinson. This was incredibly unpopular. Atkinson was removed from his post (resigned is a nice way of saying you're fired in politics, actual resigning is called retirement) when it was politically convenient for the South Australian Labor party (after a major swing against Labor in Atkinson's electorate).

      Now no-one is opposing R18+, not even the tool who want to filter the internet. Green's have sway the senate, they've been pushing for R18+ since this whole mess started.

      R18+ is going to be passed now the one stumbling block (Atkinson) has been removed. It didn't require guns, revolution or radical action, it was done via patience and rational action.

      • by shawb ( 16347 ) on Sunday December 05, 2010 @01:27AM (#34448552)
        Just like any issue... it's extremely frustrating how slow things move in the short term. It's absolutely amazing how much things can change in the long term.
    • Part of the trouble is that the summary is poorly attempting to espouse a position on the matter.

      Even with no causal link between video games and violence there are parents who may choose for moral or spiritual reasons to keep violent video games out of the home. (It's that parental involvement arguement that Slashdotters put forward every time an internet filter is discussed.) Violence aside, surely there are other "adult themes" that might contribute to the proposed R+18 rating. Thus, the link between a s

    • It's better than banning the games altogether, but it's just the fact that even though they found absolutely no evidence that video games lead to violence, they're still using the "protect the children" excuse. Protect them from what? Do you have any evidence that we need to protect them from video games? Oh, that's right, no. If someone was so seriously affected by violent media that they'd go out and kill/hurt someone because of it, chances are they're killers in the first place. Even children know the di

      • by aXis100 ( 690904 )

        How about parents just stop their kids from playing age-unsuitable games in the first place? I mean, that's what a rating is for.

        TRhe fact that an R18 rating might exist will make it even easier to make that choice.

        • How about parents just stop their kids from playing age-unsuitable games in the first place?

          Why? They just said that they couldn't find any link between violent video games and violence. What's the point of limiting the amount of games they can play for no reason? This is the idiocy I'm talking about. This "protect the children" mentality makes me absolutely sick because more than half the time there's nothing to protect them from.

          How about instead of that, they just let them view these works of fiction and treat them as they treat every other 'suitable' work of fiction? 99% of children know that

      • The government is using the 'protect the children' line to outflank the Right and minimise electoral damage. Basically having their cake and eating it too.

        If you read Brendan O'Conner's comments [abc.net.au] you'll see that the government is suggesting the purpose of the R18 rating for games is to 'protect teenagers' - and by pushing this line in the media they deny that ground to the conservatives. This way the government gets to implement a sensible policy which the majority of the electorate want, but at the same tim

        • This was really the best move

          The best move would be just to let people, regardless of age, buy games. Oh... you meant for them. Right. Probably.

          • Yeah, best move for them (Labor Party). Sorry should have been clearer.

            As for myself - I feel there are a lot of problems with the way censorship is handled in this country, and it's getting worse with the proposed internet filter etc.

  • its not a bad thing it is a really good thing (and about time).
  • by Dexter Herbivore ( 1322345 ) on Sunday December 05, 2010 @12:42AM (#34448346) Journal
    The R18+ rating requires unanimous support from the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General, and the Western Australian government is applying pressure against the move. Here's a story on Perthnow [perthnow.com.au] giving the names of some of the MPs to contact and tell them that they need to support this measure.
    • by QuantumG ( 50515 ) *

      More importantly, the secret cabal on the ratings board has to accept it.. the government can mandate as many ratings as they like but if the ratings board doesn't ever approve any games under that category then its all academic isn't it?

      • by NoMaster ( 142776 ) on Sunday December 05, 2010 @03:18AM (#34448938) Homepage Journal

        Do you mean the secret cabal [classification.gov.au] that oversees ratings in Australia? That the members of the ratings board [classification.gov.au] are secret? That the guidelines they use to determine classification [classification.gov.au] are secret? That their review decisions [classification.gov.au] are secret?

        Or are you just pissed that they make decisions without asking you?

        • Maybe he's just pissed that a bunch of people with no clue whatsoever they decide on have the right to make decisions. And those who do have a minuscle idea just WHAT they're rating just MIGHT have an agenda themselves, judging from their previous positions.

        • Or are you just pissed that they make decisions without asking you?

          Are you suggesting that being pissed that someone else is making decisions that concern you without asking you is somehow irrational?

          If so, you might wish to move to China, whose political ideology is a better match for yours than the Western democracies (where you presumably live in, since you can access this website).

          • No, my point was that the poster to whom I replied was implying that an unaccountable cabal of faceless bureaucrats was responsible for classifying movies, games, and other media in Australia. My reply was pointing out the irrationality of that position when a) we know who they work for, b) we know who the individuals are, c) we know what guidelines they use, and d) we know why they made each individual decision.

            Additionally, since it's obviously impractical to ask every media consumer in Australia their op

            • by mgiuca ( 1040724 )

              Exactly, so I am all for a bunch of people in suits making decisions about what labels to stick on boxes so that parents can realise that they perhaps shouldn't be buying it for their thirteen-year-old son.

              I don't want the government telling me what I can't watch though.

  • Who profits the most from banning these? Follow the money, then defenestrate them with a safety spork.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Politicians and their voters. This is why democracy without incredibly limited government is always a bad thing because the majority can fuck with the minority in any way they wish without the minority being able to do anything about it, despite there being no harm for the majority if the minority is allowed to do what they wish.

      This is why you specifically numerate the powers of your government to prevent things like this from happening and the government overstepping its bounds to protect against frau
      • Re:Who profits? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Arancaytar ( 966377 ) <arancaytar.ilyaran@gmail.com> on Sunday December 05, 2010 @05:48AM (#34449468) Homepage

        Actually, tyranny of the minority by the majority is prevented not by limiting government but by codifying personal rights and limiting the ways those rights can be altered by majority vote.

        See how useful a minimal, non-interventionist government is if people decide to organize an armed lynch mob to kill whatever minority they don't like. Or the proposition 8 thing - voting minorities' rights away sure was the fault of big government.

        • Or the proposition 8 thing - voting minorities' rights away sure was the fault of big government.

          Yes it was. Why the hell do we have the government in marriages? It shouldn't be a function of government to have the power to associate or not associate people together. If we limited the function of government to simply a government which would protect against force (as in the lynching you described) and against fraud (so the economic system can work properly). Limited government is not powerless government, limited government is the government having a set list of things it can do and it can't break th

          • by Surt ( 22457 )

            Prop 8 does not prevent the marriage of gays. Gays are getting married every day in CA, and no one is arresting them or the ministers or the attendees of the ceremony. It prevents the taxation of gays as a household.

            • Yes but the full text of the bill says:

              Section I. Title This measure shall be known and may be cited as the "California Marriage Protection Act." Section 2. Article I. Section 7.5 is added to the California Constitution. to read: Sec. 7.5. Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.

              Which the entire bill is irrelevant when you would consider that the idea of a marriage shouldn't be something that the government should deal with, let alone define. Any 2 people should be able to claim a "marriage" who are living together just like any two people can claim to be partners in a business.

              • by Surt ( 22457 )

                First to clarify: I completely agree that the government shouldn't be involved in marriage. That's a religious matter that should have nothing to do with the state in my mind.

                And my point was precisely that prop 8 is all about what the state recognizes. They won't recognize your gay marriage, but to be absolutely clear, neither will they arrest you for it (which is not outside the realm of possibility: Texas for example until quite recently was prepared to arrest people for having homosexual sex, let alon

                • by drsmithy ( 35869 )

                  That's a religious matter that should have nothing to do with the state in my mind.

                  Marriage is *far* from just a religious matter in every country I'm aware of. Being married has significant legal ramifications for everything from taxation to estate planning.

                  • by Surt ( 22457 )

                    Precisely what I'm claiming SHOULD NOT be the case.

                    • by drsmithy ( 35869 )

                      Precisely what I'm claiming SHOULD NOT be the case.

                      Marriage has existed for "legal" reasons far longer than it has for religious ones. That is precisely why Government is "involved" in marriage - the legal ramifications are arguably too ingrained in society to ever be removed.

              • by drsmithy ( 35869 )

                Which the entire bill is irrelevant when you would consider that the idea of a marriage shouldn't be something that the government should deal with [...]

                Marriage is first and foremost a legal contract. Hard to argue Government shouldn't be involved somewhere.

          • If we limited the function of government to simply a government which would protect against force (as in the lynching you described) and against fraud (so the economic system can work properly).

            Who's "we"? You and a like-minded minority? Because the whole basis you gave for a limited government was that the majority wants it addressing their pet issues, they clearly cannot be trusted. And how are you going to do this without wielding dictatorial power?

            Limited government is not powerless government, limited

            • Who's going to stop it?

              Who's going to stop it now? The point is to at least try to minimize corruption. If anything, the people should, in theory, stop it.

              And if it's not powerful enough to keep order

              It never has been. They couldn't do anything at all if the majority wanted them gone now. They'd be completely and utterly outnumbered, even with their little pawns.

        • You probably end up getting lynched no matter what, but lynchings against minorities are usually organized by the government. Similarly, discrimination against gay marriage is enabled in the first place by giving the government control of who is allowed to marry. "Rights" are no protection against a government with popular support (and are uncertain protection against an unpopular government)
      • This is why democracy without incredibly limited government is always a bad thing because the majority can fuck with the minority in any way they wish without the minority being able to do anything about it, despite there being no harm for the majority if the minority is allowed to do what they wish.

        So what if a minority (or even a majority) wishes to dictate how everyone (including themselves) should live, in certain areas? Then surely this incredibly limited government is simply a mechanism for ensuring y

        • So what if a minority (or even a majority) wishes to dictate how everyone (including themselves) should live, in certain areas? Then surely this incredibly limited government is simply a mechanism for ensuring your wishes trump their wishes, partially depriving them of their ability to affect the politics that are supposed to represent them, even if your wishes happened to be in minority?

          Except for the fact that you don't have that right. No one has the right to tell anyone else how to live unless the thing that they are doing interferes with the right of someone else (as in murder, rape, theft, fraud, etc.). If people are not harming others in the way that they live, why should they be stopped? Allowing someone to do something is different than agreeing with them. Otherwise we give up all of our freedoms. Should a Jew's right to worship be infringed just because he lives in a Muslim neig

          • Except for the fact that you don't have that right.

            Says who? I assume it's some group of people, or if not, some set of rules invented by some group of people. What makes a liberty a right, if not the people who grant the power to enforce such rights?

            The idea of suppressing other people simply because you don't like it is born out of the same irrationality as preventing people from other religions from worshiping.

            So why should we suppress people who wish to suppress others? Especially if those people are in

  • by Wizarth ( 785742 ) on Sunday December 05, 2010 @12:44AM (#34448362) Homepage

    One of the criticisms made against the publicized "tell us if you want this" survey was that the results were swayed by an interested party (gamers). Gee, really, you ask people if people want something, and the people who want it are the ones who answer? And they got a LOT of answers, meaning there are a LOT of interested gamers. But the results were effectively thrown out, on claims of bias. Bias towards the answer the people running the survey didn't want, I say.

    • And this, is why democracy isn't the 'end all' solution the West seems to think it is. If governments realized that in most to all cases legalizing things would have little benefit except supporting the people who want it legalized.

      Give me one good reason on why R-18 games should be banned. There isn't any, you might personally disagree with them, but here is the thing, you don't have to buy them. No one is making you sit down in front of a 360 and shoot zombie after zombie. On the other hand, banning t
      • Finally someone here that hasn't drank the democracy kool-aid. The fact is, democracy is only the grease on the wheels in certain areas, it certainly isn't something to be held to for its own sake. Only care about democracy if it makes you more free, but don't cling to it if it doesn't. My pragmatic approach.

        • What's that got to do with democracy at all?

          That's about one group wanting to dictate what another group cannot do. Period. That's got nothing to do with any form of government. That form of entitlement can be seen in all forms of government. I give you that in democracies, wanting to dictate what you may or may not do isn't limited to the government, a lot of loonies think they have the right to tell me what I can do, say or see.

          I wonder what makes people cling to anything. A certain state form, a certain

          • A certain state form, a certain religion, a certain principle... if it keeps you from being free, if it keeps you from prospering, if it keeps you from advancing...

            For some values of it, it doesn't, for some values of you.

      • by Wizarth ( 785742 )

        Thats another thing I find "amusing" about all this - many of the games that would have gone under a R18+ classification (based on doing so everywhere else) instead were released UNCHANGED as M15+ [google.com].

  • by mjwx ( 966435 ) on Sunday December 05, 2010 @01:04AM (#34448452)

    it's still a little surprising that the federal Labor government has announced today that they support the move for an adult R18+ rating for video games in that country."

    Why is this surprising?

    The only thing stopping R18 was Michael Atkinson, Atkinson has since lost his position as Attorney General. The other six voted yes last time and the new AG for South Australia has voiced his support for the R18+ argument since his appointment. We are just waiting for the next time the AG's bring this up for debate. Most of Labor's backbenchers supported the introduction of R18+ for games.

    The Labor government, in fact both parties lost a lot of votes to minor parties and independents in the last federal election, a fairly clear message that people wanted the major parties to be punished. In Atkinson's electorate of Croydon, there was a 15.6% swing against Atkinson in what was considered one of Labor's safest seats in South Australia, this was almost twice the average swing against Labor in SA (7.8%). Labor leader Mike Rand had the perfect opportunity to "resign" Atkinson from the position of Attorney General at that point.

  • by AllWorkAndNoPlay ( 1952586 ) on Sunday December 05, 2010 @01:11AM (#34448486)
    Some of these adult games are getting distributed as 15+ and some are banned altogether. By adding the 18+ rating, the demographic being "protected" by these adult games are 15-17.

    From TFA: “Children and teenagers shouldn’t be exposed to the gratuitous sex, violence and adult themes that are contained in some computer games."

    So the concern is high-school age kids, soon to go off to college and live on their own, are being exposed to sex, violence, adult themes, and basically anything reported on in the news on any given day? Is anyone still of the mindset that these kids haven't already been exposed to this content through other channels?
    • Well, either that or they're in for a really nasty surprise when they're finally left out of their protective shelter.

      I don't get parents these days. Keeping your kids under the cheese cover and keeping reality away from them until they're 18, then toss them out into the real world, completely unprepared and completely unshielded, without any defenses, is NOT doing them any service.

      But it kinda explains why scams and internet fraud are so popular and effective...

      • by Surt ( 22457 )

        Indeed. I was a horrifically oversheltered kid. It took me close to a decade to understand how to fit into the real world after I got away from my parents.

    • In Australia most kids do not live away from home when they go to University unless the travel time is rather large.
      The issue is the degree of content.
      An R18 rating is a much stronger message to parents than an M15+ title, a parent willing to jump one category because they decide their child is can cope, may not decide to go with an R18 rating.
      As things stand however, every single game in Australia has to be acceptable for a 15 year old to view. Games that based on ratings for other places are not are ma
  • As an Australian, a long time fan of violent video games and as an indie game-developer, I would just like to say that IT'S ABOUT BLOODY TIME!!! Too long has the Australian video game industry suffered under the tyranny of the uninformed do-gooders & 'think-of-the-childrens!' political types. (This all comes a couple of months after outspoken anti porn/violence/video game/whatever crusader the honourable rev. Fred Nile being caught surfing porn from his office 'net account. Totally a coincidence, but
  • If i remember correctly, Sony(SCEA) had issues in the past with games that had content that was deemed too much for even a M rating. I understand that Australia isnt America, but i thought maybe these ideas were corporation-wide. A few titles from the top of my head that had people pursuing a AO rating included:Grand Theft Auto, The Guy Game, and Manhunt 2.

    Correct me if im wrong, but SCEA seems to be against the AO(equiv. to R18+) rating
    • Game and movie producers aren't against the concept of R18+ they just want their particular game/movie to have an M rating rather than R18+ becuase an M rating gives you a much larger potential market. GTA is currently rated M, don't know about the other two.
    • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Sunday December 05, 2010 @09:27AM (#34450104)

      Is that Wal-mart is against AO. Some other retailers are too, but Wal-mart is the biggest. Basically, some retailers refuse to sell AO rated games, or NC-17 rated movies. I'm not talking just porn, I'm talking anything with it. Remember that in both cases the ratings are just the highest ones. They can be granted for all kinds of reasons.

      Well retail sales are still the biggest way you sell games. Online is growing fast, but it is still like 4-5:1 retail to online (don't believe the surveys, they suffer from selection bias, ask a publisher). So publishers have to make sure the games can go on the shelves and THAT means M rating or less. That's why the care. If the stores would start stocking AO, then sure you'd see more AO games.

      The movie industry sneaks around that to an extent with "unrated" movies. Remember that currently movie and game ratings are voluntary. They are non-profit orgs that you submit your works to and they rate and then give you a license to print the rating on your product. In the case of movies, they don't have to worry about the government mandating it. They aren't a popular target anymore and they've bought off plenty of congress. However games still have to worry. Government regulation has been proposed numerous times.

      So what they can do with movies is just have a cut that they do not submit for ratings. They sell this unrated version then, and retailers will stock it. Any time you see an "unrated" movie, what it means is that version was the version they wanted, but would have gotten a higher rating so they made cuts. Thus in the case of an R rated movie, the unrated version would be NC-17. However they simply don't have it rated and sell it that way.

      Now as for Australia. The problem is their ratings are more restrictive. Games that get an M in the US are refused classification in Australia because they don't meet the standard for MA15+. The reasons are of course just different cultures, but also different ratings levels. The ESRB works a lot like the MPAA in that it goes from Teen rating, which is roughly for 13+ like PG-13 to an M rating, which is 17+ and is like an R rating. Australia has MA15+ which is higher than Teen, but nothing above that.

      So you find some M titles form the US are ok, they get MA15+, those are often the ones that get 16 from PEGI (the EU group). However others get banned, generally the ones that get 18 from PEGI, and have to be cut down to be sold in Australia. This is a problem as it delays release dates and increases costs.

      What it comes down to is currently the US market is what matters the most. It is extremely large and profitable, and also a large number of development houses are US based. So when a game is being rated, US ratings are the ones that matter. If they have to scale it back to get an M rating (or perhaps further, some games are targeted at a wider market) it will be. If the Aussie ratings board doesn't like it, tough shit. May be some time later, if ever, that they get around to making a cut down version for that market. They won't design with it in mind.

      So I would imagine this rating will not be a problem, much like the PEGI 18 rating. There are numerous 18 games out there (Bioshock is one that comes to mind).

      • Posting to UNDO the moderation.

        Sorry, accidently moderated this as redundant, instead of informative ... Please mod parent up as informative. Thanks.

  • Probably a redundant post by now but I'd just like to say.. ABOUT FUCKING TIME. The arguments against this classification of games has simply been draconian BULLSHIT since the start. If Atkinson continued having his way, by now we wouldn't be able to buy steak knives without a license, and all electrical powerpoints in a house would have to be a mandatory 8ft from the floor.
  • If you don't find evidence for something, just assume that it's true/false (depending on your beliefs) and ban/censor it for just about everyone even though you found no evidence that it's bad!

  • I am sceptical of the real effect of this change if it comes to pass. What I think is happening is that the establishment of an R18+ category will allow games that currently squeeze into the M15 category to be reclassified into R18+ after adjusting the triggers for various classification levels. Anything that is currently refused classification because it will not fit the current M15 category will continue to be refused classification under revised rules. The politicians get to claim "we listened to the peo

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