iGEA cautiously backs R18 games classification guidelines

Says there is no evidence that violent computer games affect players

While the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association (iGEA) has welcomed the proposed Guidelines for the Classification of Computer Games, it is concerned about references in the document to the high impact of games on players.

The Guidelines are designed to introduce an R18 category for video games in Australia and were released by the minister for home affairs, Brendan O’Connor, on 4 November 2011. The document contains a segment on interactivity and computer games.

“Due to the interactive nature of computer games and the active repetitive involvement of the participant, as a general rule, computer games may have a higher impact than similarly themed depictions of the classifiable elements in film, and therefore greater potential for harm or detriment, particularly to minors,” the Guidelines state.

It goes on to say that interactivity may increase the impact of some content. “For example, impact may be higher where interactivity enables action such as inflicting realistically depicted injuries, death or post-mortem damage, attacking civilians or engaging in sexual activity.”

iGEA chief executive, Ron Curry, said in a statement that he had concerns about the acknowledgment in the guidelines that interactivity had a greater impact on players.

“The Federal Attorney-General’s office published a literature review in December 2010 that found no evidence to support these claims,” he said.

“There will be continued debate about whether the interactivity of video games has a greater impact than other forms of media, and we will continue to refer to the lack of the evidence.”

However, Curry added that the new guidelines appeared to exercise a high level of caution and balanced the range of views towards classifying video games.

The Guidelines define R18 games as legally restricted to adults with classifiable elements including violence, implied sexual violence, realistically simulated sexual activity, bad language, permitted drug use, as long as the use of drugs does not lead to rewards in the game and nudity.

“We are pleased to see this process moving forward and understand that great care has been taken to balance the concerns of those who have resisted an R18 classification and adults who want to play video games designed specifically for mature audiences and readily available in other developed democracies,” he said.

He added that the iGEA looked forward to the Australian commonwealth, states and territories implementing the guidelines in a timely fashion.

At present, the most restrictive classification for video and computer games is MA15+, which encourages gaming companies to tweak violent games so they make the grade.

The higher classification means under-15s will be better protected while opening up the market for the potential R18+ audience.

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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Tags gaming newsInteractive Games and Entertainment Association (iGEA)Minister for Home Affairs Brendan O'ConnorR18 video games classification system

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