The Interactive Games and Entertainment Association (IGEA), the trade group representing the interactive entertainment industry in Australia, thinks that the rating system there is a mess and that the board that oversees it is more a hindrance than a help.
IGEA CEO Ron Curry says that the whole system needs to be overhauled because the classification system is dysfunctional and administered by a handful of government bureaucrats. He thinks that the system needs a serious revamp and that it needs to be administered by members of the industry instead.
"Get rid of the [Australian Classification] Board!" Curry told GamesFIX when asked how the system could be made better.
Curry thinks that the government should serve as a watchdog over the system still, but would move aside so a panel comprised of industry members could step in and rate games instead.
The Australian Classification Board is currently comprised of an eight person committee responsible for classifying games, movies, and TV shows in Australia. Some digital content is exempt.
"Government needs to form a framework that says 'these are the acceptable guidelines' and those guidelines should be informed by research, which hasn't been done in a long time, by speaking to parents and the general public to find what is important."
"The government should put that together and then tell the [entertainment] industry to self-classify based on these criteria."
Curry says the states and territories needing to be unanimous in classification decisions is also holding back progress. He also points out that the system isn't very helpful to parents because it is based on how products relate to 15-year-olds.
"Our system works on [the viewer] being 15," says Curry. "Even a PG rating is based on a 15-year-old, it's not an 8-year-old as some people think. G, PG, M and MA15+ are all related to a 15-year-old. There's nothing in the middle. The system, to me, is dysfunctional."
"If I see an M game or movie, is that suitable for my 9-year-old? I'm not sure," adds Curry. "I'd rather something like 'General, 8+, 13+, 15+ and 18+'. That's simple and easily gives me a feel for who that content is appropriate for."