Aussie Game Rating System is a Joke, Says Head of Developers Group

Yesterday, GamePolitics reported on Risen, the latest game to fall victim to Australia’s outdated content rating system. The RPG, currently in development by Piranha Bytes, was refused classification for the Australian market, largely because Down Under lacks the equivalent of the ESRB’s M (17+) rating.

The situation frustrates Tom Crago, who heads the Game Developers Association of Australia. Crago spoke to itwire about his concerns:

Well it’s a joke isn’t it?  We are once again caught in this awful, ridiculous web of the antiquated classification system…  Here in Australia the sooner that changes, the better; it is obviously a battle to ensure common sense prevails.  We will get there eventually, but in the meantime as gamers in Australia we suffer, and to be honest we are embarrassed at how backward our government is…

The biggest problem we have here in Australia is that we don’t have an R classification for video games…  It’s ridiculous because it assumes that games are fundamentally different to film and outrageous in that it assumes that adults shouldn’t be allowed to access adult content in video games… 

We are the butt of a lot of jokes; I travel, obviously a lot, talking to other developers and publishers and people cannot believe it that we still have this ridiculous system here in Australia, designed twenty or thirty years ago, and hasn’t changed since…

[South Australian Attorney General Michael Atkinson] is of course the problem… clearly this is a guy that doesn’t get it, and to be honest, I don’t think, ever will get it…

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  1. TBoneTony says:

    Also there IS a REAL Jack Thompson in Australia, but he is more famous for Australian TV like shows on channel 7 called ‘Find my family’ and he was also known for being in a few Australian Drama shows back years ago.

    So for note for any Australian Gamers, when you are talking about Jack Thompson to people of an older generation, DON’T make the mistake I made and get people confused with the Jack Thompson in Australia (the aussie actor) compared to the Jack Thompson in America (the ‘former’ anti-game lawyer.


  2. Ashkihyena says:

    [South Australian Attorney General Michael Atkinson] is of course the problem… clearly this is a guy that doesn’t get it, and to be honest, I don’t think, ever will get it…

    That sums it up right there, its to bad that jerk won’t get out of office.  He’s basically the Jack Thompson of Australia, though unlike Thompson, he has power.

  3. nighstalker160 says:

    Except that the Australian system maxes out at 15. In the United States we have the 17 rating.

    This explains why games which in the United States are granted an “M” rating are banned in Australia.

    In practice the Australian system has blocked U.S. “M” rated games (17+). You don’t just look at the system you look at what has happened in practice.

    If you read the article I added a tag explaining that the Australian system has resulted in a de facto block of “M” rated games not merely Adults Only games.

    Plus, in the United States the age of majority is 18+. 21 is ONLY the age for alcohol consumption.

  4. mr_mlk says:

    On the UK comment. Link please, can’t find the game on the BBFC site.

    A house is not a home unless it contains food and fire for the mind as well as the body. Benjamin Franklin

  5. Tammej says:

    By the way, Risen is produced in Germany and is a fan-favourite RPG to follow in Gothic’s footsteps, the RPG series made by the same studio before they worked on Risen. It’s already lightly censored, the same version will be sold worldwide, but NPCs will no longer take pee breaks any longer. The british objected. No taking a whizz. Not with the UK.

    But the rest of the game is still typically German RPG fanfare. Chances are good it’ll be another underrated game in the US, which is a real shame.



  6. Malarac says:

    you have not understood my issue.

    ERSB ‘adult only’ rating is 18+ you say? I never said it wasn’t.

    Mr atkinson is against an R18+ rating which in australia is adults only. Yet I quote

    ‘"Atkinson is the main opposition behind Australia’s lack of an "Adult’s Only" rating." So I went ahead and changed it to say "Mature" rating and added a little sentence (linking back to gamepolitics) about Australia’s lack of a "Mature" rating equivalent. The original article made it sound like he was only opposed to "Adults Only" equivalent games.’

    sounds like he was only opposed to "Adult Only"… that is actually correct, we are not debating the want for a M17+ or a mature rating. And as I said we already have a ‘mature’ rating in australia which he is not opposed to. I was not talking of the ‘equivalent’ US ratings merely the australian ones that he is ACTUALLY opposed to.

    My point of the age of 21 in the US was that you do have different age requirements etc and this does influence your legality for various things such as gambling (18+ here, 21+ there). Whereas, in australia basically everything is legal once we turn 18 (hiring cars being an exception but that is not a legal thing).

    My problem was only ever in the changing ‘Adults Only’ to ‘Mature’, which was incorrect.

  7. MrKlorox says:

    Pot, meet Kettle.

    In United States, the "age of majority" is 18, with the exceptions of American Samoa (14) Alabama, and Nebraska (both 19). However sometimes there are certain age requirements for certain things such as gambling, drinking, and political offices. The ESRB AO rating is 18 and up.

    I thought you would have known so much by visiting this site. I was wrong.

  8. Father Time says:

    Mature is 17+ here in the US not 15+. We don’t have a 15+. The Ao 18+ is usually reserved for porn games and only rarely does a game get there for violence alone. This would be the equivalent of the 18 vs. R18 ratings for the BBFC


    Debates are like merry go rounds. Two people take their positions then they go through the same points over and over and over again. Then when it’s over they have the same positions they started in.

  9. Malarac says:

    agreed, but having tracks for fast driving would mean it wasn’t ‘reckless’  🙂

    Unfortunately, politicians often do things that aren’t part of their job, we just have to pay for it.

  10. Black Patriot says:

    I would agree with your stance on reckless driving if there was an open track in South Australia so that people could go there with their cars and drive fast. Until that happens then nothing the politicians can do will stop people driving fast, much like all their laws hasn’t stopped people smoking weed and doing heroin. In actual fact the government doesn’t even need to set up a track themselves, the car clubs are willing to pay for it, they just need the government to approve the construction. So far they have suggested about 5 different sites, places which would otherwise go to waste, and all of them have been rejected. The politicians have been saying that they don’t see why people should be able to drive fast at all, which isn’t their job, their job is to do what the people want, and a lot of people want an open track.

    I didn’t realize that the alcopop tax was still in place, although it doesn’t bother me, I only buy bottles of stuff. Not suprised that the government would keep the tax though…

  11. Father Time says:

    Yeah and when Atkinson was told that it just makes 15 games more violent his reponse was basically ‘well then that would lead to even worse 18 rated games and we can’t have that’.

    I could’ve sworn he also referenced the taxi driver being killed in Thailand as an act of game induced murder and if that’s the case he’s either willing to exploit that murder for political gain or he doesn’t bother researching into it to find the link is quesitonable at best. Neither quality is something you want in your elected officials.


    Debates are like merry go rounds. Two people take their positions then they go through the same points over and over and over again. Then when it’s over they have the same positions they started in.

  12. Malarac says:

    Frankly, I think punishing stupid reckless driving is a fair call. Don’t want your car taken then don’t drive 50km/h over the limit -> hardly rocket science. Senior citizens should be tested more regularly for driving competenec I agree. Most the time though they cause accidents because they are driving too damn slow.

    btw, the alcopop tax is still in place and is most likely going to remain…. they can’t bare to give up the $$ in tax it brings in.

  13. Bennett Beeny says:

    Erm, when I was living in Austria a friend of mine received a cake from his family in the USA.  It was addressed correctly but it took 6 months to arrive.  Why?  The Post Office had sent it to Australia.  So people (well, American postal workers – they still count as people) DO confuse Australia and Austria.

  14. Black Patriot says:

    He is elected to his seat in parliament, but you are correct that he is appointed to the office of the Attourney General by the Premier. My point was that either situation is unlikely, he won’t lose his seat because its a safe labor position, and he’s not likely to be removed by the premier because I’m sure Mike Rann doesn’t think that Atkinson could really harm his chances in the election, most people only know Atkinson because of the anti-biker stuff, which is more likely to gain support for labor, not lose them support.

  15. Kalerender says:

    Not 100% true.

    Atkinson isn’t elected, he’s selected by the South Australian Premier (head of state for our international brethren), and the Premier can select a new Attorney General at any stage he wants.

    If people could convince the Premier that Atkinson is both a) hindering his chance of re-election and b) making the state government look like a collection of retards, he might lay the smack down on Atkinson.

  16. Neo_DrKefka says:

     Australians need to demand reform because right now I can see why people confuse Australia with Austria

  17. Malarac says:

    Perhaps you should do your research before providing an example of why people can’t reference wikipedia for reliable information.

    In Australia R18+ is adults only (It used to be AO on tv though). Adulthood = 18yrs here – for drinking/porn/gambling/whatever, not 21 like in the states. Furthermore, we already have ‘mature’ ratings and they’re called M15+ or MA15+.

    It is a shame that you have added this error and then linked to GP. Most people involved in this site would be well aware of the different age/adulthood definitions in Aus compared to the US.

  18. nighstalker160 says:

    I went ahead and checked Atkinson’s Wikipedia page and saw that it said

    “Atkinson is the main opposition behind Australia’s lack of an “Adult’s Only” rating.”

    So I went ahead and changed it to say “Mature” rating and added a little sentence (linking back to gamepolitics) about Australia’s lack of a “Mature” rating equivalent.

    The original article made it sound like he was only opposed to “Adults Only” equivalent games.

  19. Black Patriot says:

    Actually quite a few states are getting very serious about prosecuting "hoon" drivers, in some cases they take your car on the first offence and crush it. To me that is just going too far, hoon drivers don’t cause as many accidents as the politicians would like us to believe, the age group that is the most dangerous on the road isn’t the under 25s, its the over 65s, who are usually so medicated that they can’t see straight.

    On alcohol, they tried putting in an alcopop tax, which was a tax against pre-mixed drinks, because they thought it would decrease the levels of underage binge drinking. They didn’t realize that its a lot cheaper normally, and even more so with the tax, to simply buy a bottle of vodka and some cordial, or some scotch and coke. In the end they had to remove the tax because everyone knew that it was accomplishing nothing except pissing off voters.

    And yeah, that’s pretty much what Atkinson thinks. His argument is that if we let an R 18+ rating into Australia, then children will be able to get their hands on those games released with that rating. He’s so out of touch that he doesn’t realize that they can get them already, I’m sure there are plenty of kids out there who know how to use torrents.

  20. Father Time says:

    I wonder if Australia bans alcohol cars and other things that would be dangerous to 15 year olds.

    Their rating system is such a joke and Atkinson has basically said ‘I want to be able to limit the objectionable content found in games’.


    Debates are like merry go rounds. Two people take their positions then they go through the same points over and over and over again. Then when it’s over they have the same positions they started in.

  21. Black Patriot says:

    unfortunately no, as long as he keeps getting re-elected then he will stay the Attourney General. He holds one of the safest Labor seats in South Australia, usually getting over 60% of the votes. The closest other party only gets aroun 30% of the votes, so he’s not going anywhere for the moment. If, however, the Liberals gain control of the government, then they will select another Attourney General, and the Liberals have said in the past that they have no objection to an R 18+ rating.

  22. Cerabret100 says:

    so does this atkinson dude’s position work in terms? when is his up, because i’m sure gamers can help rally behind someone who will allow an M equivelent rating.

  23. SeanB says:

    Well your first and third paragraphs were correct. Austrailians do need to stand up for themselves, but from what i understand, it’s a pretty laid back culture. I’ve got a couple friends there, both are gamers, and neither cares enough to do anything.

    Your middle paragraph of course is the kind of crap we’ve come to expect from you. Sarah Palin already retracted her lies, somehow I doubt we can expect the same from you.

  24. Neo_DrKefka says:
    Australians need to demand more accountability from their politicians no matter what they call you. 
    Here in America they call old ladies, old men and those in wheel chairs members of the mob because they dare to speak up against their Government.

    Remember Government works for you, not the other way around. If you do not demand accountability you get what you deserve! 

  25. gamegod25 says:

    It really does make no sense why there isn’t an adult rating for games. It’s sad that something that should be a no brainer is such a problem. It’s no wonder we (humanity) can’t solve any of our big problems when we can’t get something as simple as this fixed without a big deal out of it.

  26. Father Time says:

    I doubt banning lobbying would work. First of all the big companies would probably still find a way to legaly use their money/power to influnce the politicians.

    Second it would mean you would be very limited in your ability to persuade your elected representatives and once you do well you’ll probably make government worse.


    Debates are like merry go rounds. Two people take their positions then they go through the same points over and over and over again. Then when it’s over they have the same positions they started in.

  27. ZippyDSMlee says:

    Auz land and the UK need to revolt aginst thier baby sitting goverments 😛

    All the US needs to do is make lobbying illeagle…


    Until lobbying is a hanging offense I choose anarchy! Stop supporting big media and furthering the criminalization of consumers!!

  28. JustChris says:

    The problem with Atkinson getting in the way is that Autralia’s attorney generals all have to agree on a bill, otherwise it doesn’t pass. It’s worse than Disgaea’s dark congress- you have to either get 100% yays from all ministers or risk prosecution using physical force to persuade them.


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