Zombie outbreak hits sydney, bites classification laws

Undead scrub-up for photoshoot

A poster for the march

A poster for the march

A group dressing as zombies to protest the lack of an R18+ video game classification in Australia will return to Sydney later this month.

The horde, which last protested over the satte of games classification late last year, has the support of online video game activists and the Sydney Flash Mob which is rallying support through Facebook.

Zombies are set to gather in Sydney for a photoshoot tomorrow, ahead of the planned protest march beginning at Hyde Park Fountain on March 27.

Around 200 people took part in the first zombie protest march in Sydney last November.

The history of lobbying for an R18+ games classification is long with lobby groups failing for a decade to convince the Federal Government to introduce the measure.

The lack of an 18+ classification has resulted dozens of games being banned by the Australian Communication and Media Authority (ACMA) for including content not suitable for people under the age of 18.

Previous considerations of introducing the rating — which would bring Australia in line with classification law in most countries — have been rejected by South Australian attorney-general Michael Atkinson.

In Australia, agreement by all state attorny generals is required to change the classification system.

Atkinson has argued that violence in video games has a more profound impression on consumers because they are active participants, as opposed to film which demands passive consumption.

Atkinson's position stands in stark contrast to data from the Interactive Entertainment Association of Australia, which indicates that the average age of video game players is a rather mature 30.

A recent government discussion paper on the introduction of an R18+ rating for games saw games retailer Electronics Boutique hand in 46,000 submissions, or 158kg of paper, according to Kotaku on the issue.

Electronic Boutique claimed almost all of the submissions supported the introduction of an R18+ rating.

The lack of an R18+ rating has also been claimed to be costing games development studios millions to redesign titles to be passed under the local M15+ rating, according to local Sega game developer, Dan Toose.

Macquarie University psychologist Dr Wayne Warburton said regular exposure to violent media such as television, film and video games can cause participants to overreact to normal situations.

But former classification board deputy director, Paul J Hunt, said in his submission to the discussion paper that “community standards” are not represented by the current regime.

The world’s largest zombie march was held in Brisbane to support brain cancer research, with unofficial reports of 1500 attendees. Pennsylvania holds the Guinness World Record with 1028 marchers.

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