R18+ Discussion Paper Finally Released

December 14, 2009 -

Australia’s government has finally released the long-awaited Discussion Paper designed to foster public debate on whether or not an R18+ classification should be added for videogames.

Why release the Discussion Paper now? The government cited Interactive Games and Entertainment Association (IGEA) research as indicating that adults are ”increasingly” consumer of videogames, while noting that discussion about adding an R18+ rating category has been ongoing for “some time.” This is the first time the public can weigh in on the topic with their feelings.

If an R18+ rating category was to be enacted, the paper notes that a change to classification categories would require amendments to the Commonwealth Act, the Code and the Guidelines, as well as State and Territory enforcement legislation. Of course, amendments can only be undertaken with the agreement of all Censorship Ministers, which South Australian Attorney General Michael Atkinson, typically identified as the lone holdout in such matters previously, would certainly maintain his stance on.

The paper lists the pros of adding an R18+ classification:

  • The R 18+ classification category sends a clear, unambiguous message to parents that the game material is unsuitable for minors.
  • Consistent classification categories for films and computer games are easier to understand.
  • A new classification will supplement technological controls on minors’ access to age inappropriate computer games.
  • Adults should not be prevented from playing R 18+ level computer games simply because they are unsuitable for minors.
  • Comparable international classification systems have an adult rating for computer games - international parity is desirable.
  • Consumers access games which would be R 18+ illegally – it would be better if they were legally available with appropriate restrictions.

And the cons:

  • Computer games should be treated differently from films given the specific, negative effects of interactivity on players, particularly their participation in violent and aggressive content.
  • It would be difficult for parents to enforce age restrictions for computer games.
  • Minors would be more likely to be exposed to computer games that are unsuitable for them.
  • An R 18+ for computer games would exacerbate problems associated with access to  high level material in Indigenous communities and by other non-English speaking people.
  • There is no demonstrated need to change existing restrictions.

Even the Discussion Paper couldn’t be released without a mention of Rapelay, as it was noted that even if an R18+ rating was approved and introduced, “the RC category would still exist for games with, for example, gratuitous or exploitative depictions of sexual violence, such as the sexual assault simulation game Rapelay."

Submissions are due by February 28, 2010. A PDF that outlines how to make a submission and also contains a questionnaire is available here.
 

|Thanks Ryan|


Comments

Re: R18+ Discussion Paper Finally Released

"Interactive Games and Entertainment Association (IGEA) research as indicating that adults are ”increasingly” consumer of videogames"

'Increasingly' - yeah, erm... they have been the single largest group of players since the 1980s.

Jeez!

Re: R18+ Discussion Paper Finally Released

Just for noting, the formatting of these questions are in the typical Strongly disagree->Strongly agree scale.

It doesn't mean that the study automatically assumes that this is the case fait accompli, it means that whoever crafted the question list probably had that put to them as a major concern and ergo published it to let people weigh in on whether or not they agree.

I don't mind that there are some fantasy questions that really are out there, a healthy submission of people who strongly disagree with them should put them to bed as issues anyway.

For noting, the communities it's talking about generally wouldn't have that many computer literate users and certainly don't have local outlets like Electronics Boutique.  These are communities of thousands of people or less that have very low socio-economic standing (most people are either employed by the local council or welfare recipients unfortunately).

I think you'll see a much healthier response to this than the rallies last weekend.  This doesn't involve getting off your ass and getting anywhere so they average Australian is more likely to respond to this... ; )

I've already put in my submission, just hope that it all get's a fair trial at the end of the day rather than Atkinson railroading it.

Re: R18+ Discussion Paper Finally Released

the RC category would still exist for games with, for example, gratuitous or exploitative depictions of sexual violence, such as the sexual assault simulation game Rapelay.

sorry aussies, Rapelay wouldn't even have the chance to be refused classification, since that's not legally leaving Japan in the first place.

岩「…Where do masochists go when they die?」

岩「…I can see why Hasselbeck's worried about fake guns killing fake people. afterall, she's a fake journalist on a fake news channel」

Re: R18+ Discussion Paper Finally Released

Just for once that isn't being waved around as a 'think of the children' flag. What the document is saying is that adding an R18+ wouldn't increase the chances of shit like that being available because it'd have been RC'd anyway

Re: R18+ Discussion Paper Finally Released

Shh, it's one of their talking points. You can't make them part with it so easily.


Re: R18+ Discussion Paper Finally Released

Fairly certain Atkinson has his paper shredder warmed up for this.

Re: R18+ Discussion Paper Finally Released

How do these two statements logically coexist?

* Adults should not be prevented from playing R 18+ level computer games simply because they are unsuitable for minors.

* There is no demonstrated need to change existing restrictions.

Re: R18+ Discussion Paper Finally Released

We don't take kindly to logic in these here parts, boy.

Re: R18+ Discussion Paper Finally Released

Oh, and to anyone thinking that if this paper comes back with overwhelming support from the public for an introduction of the R18 classification, Atkinson will then give up and allow the rating, you are sadly mistaken. Atkinson will hold fast to his position against the public opinion and will block the introduction. He has made that very clear.

E. Zachary Knight
Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
http://www.theeca.com/chapters_oklahoma

Re: R18+ Discussion Paper Finally Released

atkinson is going to lose what little credibility he may (or may not) have had if he keeps this up

he wont be the first to end up a laughing stock over this

Re: R18+ Discussion Paper Finally Released

Once he's out of the picture I hope the Aussie gets someone that'll treat them like adults.

http://www.magicinkgaming.com/

Re: R18+ Discussion Paper Finally Released

Wow not a single one of those cons is a credible excuse. Seriously I can just imagine Atkinson racking his brain to come of with weak excuses for the con side. They sound like the kind of lame excuses you'd come up with if you had to find cons against breathing or looking both ways before crossing the street.

Re: R18+ Discussion Paper Finally Released

Breathing:  cons-

1) it takes up energy from you body that is vitally needed in other areas, like your brain or heart.

Re: R18+ Discussion Paper Finally Released

2) Should a person be

 a) underwater

 b) somehow surrounded by harmful/lethal gas

 c) exposed to an airborne virus

 breathing will prove to be the direct cause of harm or death towards the person. Since these sorts of laws can't comprehend exceptions or rational thought, it would be safer not to breathe at all than to ever breathe.

Re: R18+ Discussion Paper Finally Released

To be honest, what with the Australian Firewall, and age ratings and the general technological ignorance and fear that tends to permeate the Australian government, it'll probably be a few years before they realise exactly what it is they are doing to their own people.

Re: R18+ Discussion Paper Finally Released

You're assuming they don't realise and that it's not intended

/cynic

 

Re: R18+ Discussion Paper Finally Released

It would be difficult for parents to enforce age restrictions for computer games.

Wait? Isn't it actually easier to enforce than movies or books? Video game consoles have to most advanded rating enforce than any other medium. You could even put time slots. I don't really see that in many DVD players.

Re: R18+ Discussion Paper Finally Released

The 360 allows you to set rating limits on both games and DVD movies - I imagine the PS3 would have something similar (I don't have one, so I can't be sure), but this means that video game consoles are better for controlling what movies can be played on them than a DVD player.

But there is no substitute for the almighty power button - Just make sure we're not in the middle of saving the game.

 

"That's not ironic. That's justice."

"That's not ironic. That's justice."

Re: R18+ Discussion Paper Finally Released

"Computer games should be treated differently from films given the specific, negative effects of interactivity on players, particularly their participation in violent and aggressive content."

Agreed with others, PROOF or GTFO!

Re: R18+ Discussion Paper Finally Released

>An R 18+ for computer games would exacerbate problems associated with access to high level material in Indigenous communities and by other non-English speaking people.

...I have no idea what that actually means. A quick google of "high level material" gives me pages about radioactive waste, and TBH, I'm really not seeing the link between people getting to play 18+ games and people getting access to radioactive waste.

>the RC category would still exist for games with, for example, gratuitous or exploitative depictions of sexual violence, such as the sexual assault simulation game Rapelay.

In which case, the book's closed: There should be an 18+ rating. (Of course, there shouldn't be an RC category anyway, but that's by the by)

/b
 

Re: R18+ Discussion Paper Finally Released

Okay, just read the 'high level material' bit in the PDF, and the problem is exclusively that the ratings stickers are only in English, and no other languages. Which, all told, is a pretty weak reason not to have a rating, expecially considering AU is a predominantly English-speaking country.

/b

Re: R18+ Discussion Paper Finally Released

I'm sure some gamers will dissect the quoted pros and cons at length, but I hope they actually read the paper in full if they do so. That said, my choice queries and comments for some of them mentioned above:

* It would be difficult for parents to enforce age restrictions for computer games.
= I sincerely hope this isn't ignorant of the parental controls that clearly exist in consoles, instead I imagine it's that parents can't easily police what their kids are seeing at a friends house (e.g. Johnny playing GTA4 at a friends house). However, isn't that a case for any objectionable media?

* An R 18+ for computer games would exacerbate problems associated with access to  high level material in Indigenous communities and by other non-English speaking people.
I don't understand this one. If I understand it, this sounds like a problem for all modern media, not just games. An R 18+ rating could add to that problem, but holding back wouldn't help solve it either.

* There is no demonstrated need to change existing restrictions.
I presume "demonstrated need" is extremely subjective, i.e. the complaints by adult gamers for this rating to exist is not enough, as it's more for their enjoyment than a real "need". Arguably. I'm not sure about that, I'm just trying to interpret this.

Hopefully, this paper will inform Atkinson about the issue and help to persuade him.

Hopefully.

Re: R18+ Discussion Paper Finally Released

Computer games should be treated differently from films given the specific, negative effects of interactivity on players, particularly their participation in violent and aggressive content.

Where is the proof of these negative effects? In the biased research that is released by people with agendas? Are they taking correlation as cause and effect now?

It would be difficult for parents to enforce age restrictions for computer games.

All current consoles have parental locks in them and it would take a simple firmware update to add a new rating to such locks. Parents also have the almighty power called discipline and something I like to call "the power button". What else do they need to control their child's access to games?

Minors would be more likely to be exposed to computer games that are unsuitable for them.

Is this also a concern for movies and books? Are they looking at removing the R18 ratings from movies so that kids can't be exposed to the content of those movies? Again I point you to my last comment on parental controls.

An R 18+ for computer games would exacerbate problems associated with access to  high level material in Indigenous communities and by other non-English speaking people.

Are they really saying that problems in low income/Ethic regions would get worse because people can play games rated R18? You're kidding right?

There is no demonstrated need to change existing restrictions.

Except for the fact that plenty of games that would be rated R18 are being reclassified as MA15 so that they can be marketed and sold in Australia. That alone should be reason enough to bring an R18 rating in play.

There. I answered all the concerns.

E. Zachary Knight
Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
http://www.theeca.com/chapters_oklahoma

Re: R18+ Discussion Paper Finally Released

An R 18+ for computer games would exacerbate problems associated with access to  high level material in Indigenous communities and by other non-English speaking people.

Violence knows no cultural boundaries.

There are very poor nations where kids are forced to use real guns and trained to use them, to defend towns in skirmishes. In places filled with civil war and genocide, video games would be dead last on the things these kids would have the luxury to buy.
 

Re: R18+ Discussion Paper Finally Released

>> Are they really saying that problems in low income/Ethic regions would get worse because people can play games rated R18? You're kidding right?

You seem to be in the know, EZK - what are the problems that Australia has with its indigenous peoples and why would they make this statement?

Re: R18+ Discussion Paper Finally Released

Upon reading the whole paper, that statement basically means that people who do not currently understand the ratings system, whether through ignorance or language barriers, would become further confuesed by the introduction of a new rating classification. A Pretty weak argument in and of itself.

The ignorant will continue to be ignorant. We must not introduce a new rating.

That is pretty much it.

E. Zachary Knight
Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
http://www.theeca.com/chapters_oklahoma

Re: R18+ Discussion Paper Finally Released

When I read through the paper, I read something quite different - that there is a correlation of inability to understand the movie ratings system, proliferation of pornography, and sexual abuse (page 8).

Correlation is not causation, however, it could be in the government's best interest to remedy this situation before introducing a new subset of media which could be correlated to the abuse of its citizens. I think that could be a very valid argument for delaying the introduction of an 18+ ratings category.

It's certainly something worthy of discussion, and not a hasty, factually ignorant dismissal of 'Are you kidding?' - don't you think?

Re: R18+ Discussion Paper Finally Released

The fact that the exact same rating system is already in play within that nation for movies makes the argument even weaker.  I find it hard to believe that their indigenous people would know what an R18+ means on movies already, but then would suddenly have no clue what it means when put on a videogame.

Re: R18+ Discussion Paper Finally Released

I don't know anything. That is just the impression I got when reading the statement.

E. Zachary Knight
Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
http://www.theeca.com/chapters_oklahoma

Re: R18+ Discussion Paper Finally Released

>>Computer games should be treated differently from films given the specific, negative effects of interactivity on players, particularly their participation in violent and aggressive content.

>Where is the proof of these negative effects? In the biased research that is released by people with agendas? Are they taking correlation as cause and effect now?

It's actually worth pointing out that even the BBFC views the interactivity of games to be less influential than passive films.

/b

 
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