Classification stall puts gamers on edge

R18+ rating to save video games from Web censorship

Fallout 3: initially banned by government.

Fallout 3: initially banned by government.

The release date of a government discussion paper on content classification could create a watershed for Australian gamers who are set to suffer under the national Internet filtering scheme.

The Attorney General's department promised this year to release the paper to collate public opinion on the need for a R18+ classification for video games.

Lobby groups have failed for a decade to convince government to introduce the classification, which has resulted in dozens of games banned by the Australian Communication and Media Authority (ACMA) for including content not suitable for people under the age of 15.

The average age of video game players is 30, according to the Interactive Entertainment Association of Australia (IEAA), with 19 per cent over the age of 60. The organisation claims 91 per cent of Australians believe the government should introduce the R18+ rating.

The classification push was almost crushed at a Standing Committee of Attorneys-General earlier this year by South Australian AG Michael Atkinson, a staunch opponent of an R18+ game rating.

A spokesman for the AG office said the release of the paper will be delayed along with its slated July 31 closure date after a cabinet reshuffle saw Brendan O'Conner replaced former Minster of Home Affairs Bob Debus who introduced the paper early this year.

“The paper is under consideration by government... clearly it will most likely be extended past the [July 31] closure date,” he said.

Media advisers, who are also reshuffling, will next week provide Computerworld with further details on the progress of the paper and planned release date. Responsibility for the discussion paper will remain with O'Conner.

Computerworld reported in March the government Internet content filters will block all Refused Classification (RC) content which includes video games that exceed the MA15 rating.

IEAA CEO Ron Curry said he feared the ministerial reshuffle may have killed the consultation paper after the government had not responded to repeated requests to move forward the classification debate.

“We are not sure what [O'Conner's] position is on the issue... We have lobbied the government for five years, and quite extensively this year.. where do you go?,” Curry said.

“The AG won't speed up the paper because of the content filter moves by the communications department.”

“I'm sure the police have plenty more things to do than stop people importing RC video games”.

The IEAA has advised government on the demographics and purchasing habits of the gaming industry in order to break what it Curry calls a “moral panic” which he says has stalled development of the R18+ classification.

The global video game industry will draw some US$73.5 billion in revenue by 2013 according to PriceWaterhouseCoopers, dwarfing other entertainment sectors. Sales of Microsoft's Halo 3 topped US$170 million, according to the publisher, setting a record for the highest gross revenue within 24 hours across all entertainment products.

Dr Lawrence Kutner and Dr Cheryl K. Olson, co-founders and directors of the Harvard Medical School Center for Mental Health and Media, wrote in Grand Theft Childhood that video games are not linked to violence and claims to the contrary are simplistic and not supported by fact.

“...focusing on such easy but minor targets as violent video games causes parents, social activists and public policy makers to ignore the much more powerful and significant causes of youth violence that have already been well established, including a range of social, behavioral, economic, biological and mental health factors. In other words, the knee-jerk responses distract us from more complex but more important problems.”

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20 Comments

Anonymous

1

Democracy is acting on the wishes of the majority

Ok - it's doubtful that anyone but the usual surfers will read this - but the facts are accurate - most gamers I know are over the age of 30. This filter is some backwater legislator's way of punishing the nerds for not letting him play D&D in the mid 1980's with them.
Stephen Conroy if you read this - understand many gaming ALP voters are VERY unhappy with you.
The big laugh is that they could not even get one of the major ISP's to take part in this. Just the small snivelling ones jonesing for possible juicy gov contracts.
If I know serious PC gamers, they won't take this sitting down (heheh). Perhaps the Senator and his crony mates don't know what they are dealing with. Gen X is made up of hardware tweakers, software buffs and people who like to crack systems just for the damn sake of it.
Bulid a wall - they will find the hole - fill the hole, and they will exploit that. How about taking the sex ads off late night TV? How about banning sports like boxing or whatever? Of course not because those things bring in big tax dollars.

I hope this trial fails. It is completely missing the intended target. However the target they HAVE selected won't take it lying down.

Trevor

2

This debate is only being blocked by 1 minster that is only interested in this from a church stand point. Isn't there some sort of law against forcing the morals of the church onto the government?

Anonymous

3

Democracy is acting on the wishes of the minority

Anonymous

4

Unfortunately, said minority tends to have the loudest voice.

Anonymous

5

"I hope this trial fails. It is completely missing the intended target. However the target they HAVE selected won't take it lying down."

Thats impossible they havent made the target yet so how can they miss it?

Spontaneous

6

Shall we play a game?
Ask you

Shall we play a game?

Ask you older Vietnam era colleagues about protests.
In every community centre, shopping mall and suburban meeting hall you will be surrounded by gamers. The local rent a cops, state police and AFP will have to
ignore them and protest you as the "Australian Taliban" or gas/baton change the protesters. It will all be filmed and put on "youtube" ect. Your faith based supporters will have a good laugh.
Sure 9 out of 10 cameras will be smashed by ALP supporters and police. 9 out of 10 cameras can be wiped and 'charges' dropped. Names taken. Number plates noted. Again and and again and again.
No amount of infiltration by AFP or state police or mobile phone taps via the signals directorate will stop random protests by 1000's of gamers. Will Narus unit's at every telco really get you ip's and names? One day one of your rent a goons will make a "mistake", break a bone or step too hard for too long. Forgetting a camera is always running.
But the image of blood on the road will make it out to the world. You will join Gen. Dyer, Botha, Vorster, Johnson and Nixon.
The community will have its first martyr at the hands of an ALP minister. Again and and again and again protesters will be back. Where ever you are campaigning your protective security teams will have to lash out. To clear the road, to clear the mall, to clear a space for you to practice deception in. Only this time it will be parents and grand parents too.
Soon you will be like a US politician, escorted from a military base to military base, only reading from a teleprompter on state or federal property to tame journalists.
Then we win.

Bewildered Aussie

7

Freedom of Choice?

I'd like to know why my freedom to chose what I can play is being taken away.

I'm a mature adult and I believe I can make sensible decisions about what I play.

Next the government will be Id Tagging all gamers and so they can be monitored for future possible Criminal actions.

It may sound like I'm exaggerating but a few years ago, I'm sure no one would have thought we'd be taking a step backwards and Filtering the internet.

The government should be more productive and Filter Michael Atkinson! I've yet to hear a good reason why we still don't have a Game Classification like other forms of entertainment.

Anonymous

8

???

How does one person have the say for all gamers if he himself does not play the video games? Stupid if you ask me.

Jahm Mitt

9

Censor the Censors.

Oh my - this is SOOOOOO pathetic.

SEX... OK I started to play mummies and daddies or doctors and nurses when I was in grade one....

Great. Had a number of prepubescent gropings and explorations behind the shelter sheds and "down the bushes" behind the footy oval. Hit puberty or sexually matured enough to begin breeding at 14 and went for it hammer and tong, and have never looked back.

Now the cultists in the second hand jewish religion called christianity - of which none practice any of the "original" (?) religions customs (cheese and bacon burger anyone?) are pushing for the family friendly "ratings system", when their own alleged founder said he was going to come back and take to use all with a sword and burn the rest in flaming pits.

Since I am supposed to be ashamed of my body and my sinful nightly emissions and my joy of masturbation (which I am really good at by the way) and I am an inherantly hard wired sexual being, just like the other monkeys, dogs, cats, blow flies, fish, ants, fungus and bacteria etc, now these cultists - are going to start dictating the definitions of "explicit"?

Like is a provocative pose of the "cartoon characters" pouting open mouth provocative only really arousing IF the vagina, penis or anus, which may or may not be viewed, either by it's self or in use; is viewed as well.

Hmmmmmmm Now we see ourselves naked, we see our friends and family naked, we see our sexual intimates naked, and now we are not supposed to be seeing games where the cartoon characters are naked?

Ohhhh OK. I get it - the religious cultists are expecting us to abide by their really insane standards, that they set for us, in order to control us... through shame, guilt, fear, intimidation and humiliation; so that we too can be well adjusted like them.

Let me see wasn't it a pack of religious people with names like Bush, Wolfowitz, Cheney, John Howard and the people in the Australian Liberal Party, and Tony Blair and Co., who lied to use about the non existant Weapons of Mass Destruction? - and started to escalate the long standing sanctions against the people of Iraq - which killed millions of people there; into a war - for the oil in that country?

Oh I understand the big lie now - the people up to all this bad stuff are only bad if it's "them" doing it and not us. Cause if it's US doing it, it's fine and can be covered up with all sorts of whackjob excuses, such as, "We are doing it for the protection of our national interests" etc. - or "It's for your own good".

I tend to play only fairly retarded games like "Warzone 2100" (something like Red Alert), or user written games of Doom 2 - for the really interesting scenery; but I really think censors ought to be made to feel as if they are not in the least bit welcome to stick their views down other peoples throats.

"Oh nooooo the car shase game has an animated sex scene in it!!!! Shriek...... well so what. Again the ministrations of the cult called christianity, and the equally infantile press jump on board that one.

That for me just gives me more reasons never to participate in the rituals of that cult or buy the magazines or news papers that run that kind of sensationalised drivel, if only to make more sales.

Ugghhh spare me, If the people who choose to censor anything, try to stick it down my or anyone else's throat - whether it be a US lead sanction of technology against other countries, or online gaming - I'd support the principle of circumventing that corporate or religious or government oppression.

Why? Because it's not their place to be standing over peoples right to exercise reasonable choices in their participation in our global community.

Anonymous

10

Absolutely absurd idea .

I am 72 yo gamer who has been having his brain activated by the video games of my choice. I have been playing online games for over ten years and no poly is going to tell me what I can do or cannot do. My aging friends are creeping into senility because they have become couch potatoes and will not involve themselves into brain and muscle reflex that these games can do for you. May I suggest that the polys [ who are a little younger than me ] let people enjoy their life and try and improve their own . So polys stick that in your pipe and smoke it and realise you work for us to make constructive and intelligent decisions.

Anonymous

11

i guess not having the R18 rating will just entice me to download these games illegally... bad luck mr software developer - blame my government!

Anonymous

12

Just wow

PROTECT THE KIDDIES!...... Don't think so. Several things stink about this

1) Alcohol and cigarretes cause far more harm then the internet, alcohol evern been used to lure kids into lewt acts for kiddieporn. Yet we advertise it and make money from it. Infact the labor party have pushed kids off of alcopops and got them on mixing the own spirits. Good work Ms Roxon

2)Most of Australia infamous child sex crimes happened well before the internet (Beaumonts, Richard Kelvin)Attack the kiddieporn rings not their distribution method. They will just start mailing CD and flash drives to each other.

3)We dont ban everyone from the roads cause drink drivers kill people. Yet were filtering our already slow and decrepit internet network because a child 'might' see something they shouldnt. How about removing ZOO FHM and PLayboy from your local sevice station. Ohh thats right....Tax dollars....

Kevin Rudd labor and hypocracy 101

Anonymous

13

This is an unfair trial if the Attorney General Michael Atkinson is personally against it.

Anonymous

14

**personal agenda alarm bells are ringing**

1) Michael Atkinson can go shove it because it is literally impossible to filter a VPN. Therefore all he is doing is causing demand for a pirate bay. And we are already seeing this happening with invitation only networks.

2) How is it possible to for the majority (91 per cent of Australians believe the government should introduce the R18+ rating) to be ignored on this issue? I guess what we need now is some action. The time for talk is over. We need to put the pressure on the government and more so Michael Atkinson. When a man in his position takes a standpoint the only way for change is to over throw him thus letting him know we know what is best for us.

Hear hear to Fri, 26/06/2009 - 19:03 — Anonymous "This debate is only being blocked by 1 minster that is only interested in this from a church stand point. Isn't there some sort of law against forcing the morals of the church onto the government?"

Anonymous

15

It's a joke. Those kids can just download the games from torrents. It doesn't stop them anyway.

Anonymous

16

It is ridiculous that everything these days is done "For the children". This neo-conservatism is sending our society backwards into a time where our freedoms are small, and external control of our lives is great.

As one poster said "The kids will just download them through torrents". No comment is more true. This will (perhaps) increase piracy rates in Australia. Not just of those games barred from sale in Australia, but perhaps even those that are published legitimately due to the increased awareness of sites like Piratebay or Torrentreactor.

Why should adults sacrifice their liberties for those that are of such an age to make a judgment on what kind of games they want?

Such is the cycle of democracy.

Anonymous

17

You missed one

4) We don't censor the literature in our libraries so why should the Internet be any different?

gfrend

18

A big disappointment

The Rudd government has been a huge letdown for all of us who thought that the departure of Howard & Co would see a new enlightened era in Australian politics.

It seems that the religious fundamentalists of the ACL have just as much hold over O'Conner and the state AGs as they have over the benighted Conroy and his stupid filter.

We have a great game development industry here which could provide a lot of jobs and export income if the government knew what it was doing. Now we'll see Torrents of games downloaded from overseas with no local benefit whatever.

Anonymous

19

i agree with the comment below mine, I'm not going to read a book about a serial killer and then start killing people....

Anonymous

20

Well mr government, looks like I will have to download my games from now on. No tax moneys for you :P

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