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Australian R18+ Discussion Paper Released; input requested

bsjezzbsjezz Registered User regular
edited March 2010 in Games and Technology
The federal Attorney General's office released a long awaited discussion paper on the implementation of an R18+ category for Australian video and computer game releases today. The 16-page document, along with a submission template for feedback, details arguments for and against a restricted category and chronicles a slew of outside sources relevant to the issue.

The con and pro arguments that the paper raises:
    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.

    ***
  • 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 ageinappropriate
    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

It's a vital document for all Australians with any interest in interactive entertainment, and the opportunity to respond to it cannot be wasted. Remember, while the paper is flawed in a lot of ways, its purpose is to generate discussion and encourage critical arguments on both sides; the research has been done without bias and is fairly comprehensive, so taking a hostile attitude to it is not going to assist anyone in coming to a decision.

We need articulate, reasoned responses from concerned Australians in order to ensure that this provides final proof that there is both good reason and popular support for an R18+ rating.

My comments:
The notion that indigenous communities need special protection because they are somehow unable to comprehend a simple system comes off as patronizing; there may well be misunderstandings about classification in certain communities, but this should be solved by education campaigns, not resigned to as if it were an unalterable fact.

The discussion paper’s statement: “Given the very low numbers of games that are affected by the absence of the classification category, the introduction of an R 18+ category is only an argument of principle.” can do with clarification. While it’s true that in relative terms few games are refused classification in this country, many of those that are are highly regarded. Fallout 3, Grand Theft Auto IV and Left 4 Dead 2, for example, have all recently been refused classification and/or ultimately altered for Australian audiences. Each have reached an aggregate critical score of 90% or more, as compiled at www.metacritic.com. Grand Theft Auto IV is the fourth-best rated video game on the entire database, yet significant cuts were made to modify a version that was almost universally lauded by journalists as perfect, i.e, attaining the best possible score.

Finally, it must be emphasized in this debate that many highly publicized and popular games that are rated for adults in other countries are allowed to be sold without alteration to minors in this country. One prominent example is Gears of War 2, which was restricted to adults in countries like New Zealand and the United Kingdom, but can be played legally by minors in Australia due to the lack of a restricted category.

Please read over the paper and fill out the submission template if you're Australian - again, this needs a huge, unanimous response.

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    #pipe#pipe Cocky Stride, Musky odours Pope of Chili TownRegistered User regular
    edited December 2009
    This is a thing that I will do

    #pipe on
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    Giga GopherGiga Gopher Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    I'll send mine in tomorrow.

    Giga Gopher on
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    AJRAJR Some guy who wrestles NorwichRegistered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Yep, filling it in now.

    AJR on
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    ButlerButler 89 episodes or bust Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Will do this tomorrow when my eyes are not dried out balls of woe.

    Butler on
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    SmokeStacksSmokeStacks Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    I live in Freedomland, so obviously I shouldn't be doing anything, but I do want you Australians to know that I wish you luck.

    Would be nice for you guys if the issue got resolved before AvP was released.

    SmokeStacks on
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    BartholamueBartholamue Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    This is a great idea. I hate seeing you guys get censored version of games or getting a game banned in your region. I hope this gets passed.

    Bartholamue on
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    MongerMonger I got the ham stink. Dallas, TXRegistered User regular
    edited December 2009
    I live in Freedomland, so obviously I shouldn't be doing anything, but I do want you Australians to know that I wish you luck.
    Ditto.

    I support you all down under.
    Wait...
    No, I'm sticking with that.

    Monger on
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    durandal4532durandal4532 Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Wait. One of the arguments is honestly "The indigenous people might not understand it, poor things."?

    Damn, Australia patronizes like a motherfucker.

    durandal4532 on
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    bsjezzbsjezz Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    well the argument was "indigenous and non-english speaking communities don't understand it, as seen in these research papers, and as such in certain communities it would not be an effective prevention of exposing minors to adult content."

    which is really just saying 'leave the system faulty' rather than 'educate the community so it works'. but yeah, the notion that aboriginals and ethnic groups are beyond education is pretty derogatory and i had to bite my tongue on that one

    bsjezz on
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    LagnarLagnar Halifax, Nova scotiaRegistered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Good to hear about this, heres hoping it goes through unanimously and such. From my understanding something like this should have been done long ago, but I never looked into it much. Good luck Aussies!

    Lagnar on
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    BlurblBlurbl -_- Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    bsjezz wrote: »
    [*]It would be difficult for parents to enforce age restrictions for computer games.

    [*]There is no demonstrated need to change existing restrictions.

    Christ. Difficult for parents? The hell?

    Really, I can't take that paper seriously, with this and the "indigenous peoples" comment.

    Blurbl on
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    durandal4532durandal4532 Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    bsjezz wrote: »
    well the argument was "indigenous and non-english speaking communities don't understand it, as seen in these research papers, and as such in certain communities it would not be an effective prevention of exposing minors to adult content."

    which is really just saying 'leave the system faulty' rather than 'educate the community so it works'. but yeah, the notion that aboriginals and ethnic groups are beyond education is pretty derogatory and i had to bite my tongue on that one
    I suppose I understand that a bit better now. The idea that people can't understand an age-based rating system is weird, though.

    I mean, it's the easiest categorical system ever. And it's easy to add to. You could add a new rating for every year, and it still would be easy to understand.

    durandal4532 on
    Take a moment to donate what you can to Critical Resistance and Black Lives Matter.
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    -Loki--Loki- Don't pee in my mouth and tell me it's raining. Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    I'll be filling it out tomorrow night and sending it in. Hopefully with decent public support this can get through to them that the public does want this.

    -Loki- on
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    KalkinoKalkino Buttons Londres Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Very interesting. I will read further later.
    We in NZ often have to live with decisions/policies that Australia makes over censoring as we are often in the same distribution market and/or policy/administrator types take their lead from their Australian colleagues

    Kalkino on
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    theSquidtheSquid Sydney, AustraliaRegistered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Monger wrote: »
    I live in Freedomland, so obviously I shouldn't be doing anything, but I do want you Australians to know that I wish you luck.
    Ditto.

    I support you all down under.
    Wait...
    No, I'm sticking with that.

    It's funny because our flag colours are also blue, white and red.

    I will certainly give my input on this once I get home.

    theSquid on
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    NocrenNocren Lt Futz, Back in Action North CarolinaRegistered User regular
    edited December 2009
    I know that this has been a long time coming but I wonder if the way that the AvP director worded his response had some way of giving this subject the last kick in the arse it needed to finally get some attention.

    Nocren on
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    -Loki--Loki- Don't pee in my mouth and tell me it's raining. Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Nocren wrote: »
    I know that this has been a long time coming but I wonder if the way that the AvP director worded his response had some way of giving this subject the last kick in the arse it needed to finally get some attention.

    I don't think it's a coincidence that it got released shortly after that.

    What annoys me is even after this, it still comes down to whether Michael Atkinson will listen. Even if he doesn't, and still opposes it, it's not likely he'll lose his position.

    -Loki- on
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    FlayFlay Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    I've filled out a response, I really hope this actually has some sort of result.

    Damnit.

    Flay on
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    bsjezzbsjezz Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    oh shit dude, i did not see that. sorry!

    bsjezz on
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    -SPI--SPI- Osaka, JapanRegistered User regular
    edited December 2009
    The current system doesn't even get beyond the most basic parts of the classification code as stated in the discussion paper before showing it's faults.

    The Classification Code
    The Classification Code sets out the principles that the Classification Board must give
    effect to, as far as possible, in making classification decisions. The principles are:
    a) adults should be able to read, hear and see what they want;
    b) minors should be protected from material likely to harm or disturb them;
    c) everyone should be protected from exposure to unsolicited material that they find
    offensive;
    d) the need to take account of community concerns about:
    i) depictions that condone or incite violence, particularly sexual violence; and
    ii) the portrayal of persons in a demeaning manner.

    -SPI- on
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    SurikoSuriko AustraliaRegistered User regular
    edited December 2009
    It should be noted that the asshole himself delayed this very paper's release.

    While I'll do my part, I have severe doubts this will do anything. Atkinson has made this his personal crusade, and until the fucker dies or retires, nothing will change.

    Suriko on
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    -SPI--SPI- Osaka, JapanRegistered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Worth it just to shut him up when he argues that it's only a "small minority" that want the system changed.

    -SPI- on
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    Darth NathanDarth Nathan Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Already done this, looking forward to the results. I foresee a few things happening; one thing that's for certain is that the overwhelming response to this discussion will be for the R18 rating. Gamers will fill this thing out by the droves due to coverage on places like Kotaku and Joystiq, and I doubt there are very many people who will care enough to actually take the time to respond in the negative.

    After the results from the electorate are in, and somewhere in the realm of 90 percent of them (probably) are for the R18 rating, I suspect that we will begin to see some pressure on Atkinson from various sectors of the government. Whether or not he caves is another matter entirely, but this paper will certainly attack one of his main arguments against the amendment, which is his opinion that people just don't care about an R18 rating. Politicians work on numbers; everyone but Atkinson won't be able to deny that this is something that people want.

    Darth Nathan on
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    Squirrel RancherSquirrel Rancher Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Wow, the con arguments are horrendously stupid. This gem is particularly funny:
    There is no demonstrated need to change existing restrictions.
    Hahahaha.

    Squirrel Rancher on
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    StericaSterica Yes Registered User, Moderator mod
    edited December 2009
    What the fuck is this Atkinson guy's problem?

    Sterica on
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    -Loki--Loki- Don't pee in my mouth and tell me it's raining. Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Rorus Raz wrote: »
    What the fuck is this Atkinson guy's problem?

    He thinks he is Australias dad, and thus it's up to him to decide if we are ready for an R18+ rating on games.

    -Loki- on
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    electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    -Loki- wrote: »
    Rorus Raz wrote: »
    What the fuck is this Atkinson guy's problem?

    He thinks he is Australias dad, and thus it's up to him to decide if we are ready for an R18+ rating on games.

    He's the product of any system which puts veto power in everybody's hands - it means one dickhead always realizes it gives him absolute power and runs with it.

    EDIT: How in god's name have you guys been filling this thing out? I'm just deleting that which does not apply.

    electricitylikesme on
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    theSquidtheSquid Sydney, AustraliaRegistered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Already done this, looking forward to the results. I foresee a few things happening; one thing that's for certain is that the overwhelming response to this discussion will be for the R18 rating. Gamers will fill this thing out by the droves due to coverage on places like Kotaku and Joystiq, and I doubt there are very many people who will care enough to actually take the time to respond in the negative.

    After the results from the electorate are in, and somewhere in the realm of 90 percent of them (probably) are for the R18 rating, I suspect that we will begin to see some pressure on Atkinson from various sectors of the government. Whether or not he caves is another matter entirely, but this paper will certainly attack one of his main arguments against the amendment, which is his opinion that people just don't care about an R18 rating. Politicians work on numbers; everyone but Atkinson won't be able to deny that this is something that people want.

    Baby boomers and christian soccer mums are real fuckwits. They'll yelp about this.

    theSquid on
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    -Loki--Loki- Don't pee in my mouth and tell me it's raining. Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    theSquid wrote: »
    Already done this, looking forward to the results. I foresee a few things happening; one thing that's for certain is that the overwhelming response to this discussion will be for the R18 rating. Gamers will fill this thing out by the droves due to coverage on places like Kotaku and Joystiq, and I doubt there are very many people who will care enough to actually take the time to respond in the negative.

    After the results from the electorate are in, and somewhere in the realm of 90 percent of them (probably) are for the R18 rating, I suspect that we will begin to see some pressure on Atkinson from various sectors of the government. Whether or not he caves is another matter entirely, but this paper will certainly attack one of his main arguments against the amendment, which is his opinion that people just don't care about an R18 rating. Politicians work on numbers; everyone but Atkinson won't be able to deny that this is something that people want.

    Baby boomers and christian soccer mums are real fuckwits. They'll yelp about this.

    Only if they realize they can go there and download it to have their say.

    -Loki- on
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    bsjezzbsjezz Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    guys as much as i appreciate some of the disbelief towards the current policies remember atkinson is not a jack thompson nutball, he's an elected and in many other ways respected state attorney general, and besides, this paper was not written by atkinson. personal hatred and contempt is not going to support the cause, because while atkinson is particularly vocal in his disagreement with an r18+ rating, there are almost certainly other forces at work behind the public eye.

    and don't be so negative! you guys seemed resigned that this guy has ultimate power, but he doesn't - this is a democracy and many principles of that democracy do still function. a discussion paper like this shows that we do have power to enact change - the important thing is that we engage with it like reasoned adults

    bsjezz on
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    undeinPiratundeinPirat Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    bsjezz wrote: »
    guys as much as i appreciate some of the disbelief towards the current policies remember atkinson is not a jack thompson nutball, he's an elected and in many other ways respected state attorney general, and besides, this paper was not written by atkinson. personal hatred and contempt is not going to support the cause, because while atkinson is particularly vocal in his disagreement with an r18+ rating, there are almost certainly other forces at work behind the public eye.

    and don't be so negative! you guys seemed resigned that this guy has ultimate power, but he doesn't - this is a democracy and many principles of that democracy do still function. a discussion paper like this shows that we do have power to enact change - the important thing is that we engage with it like reasoned adults

    I think the main problem people have is (from what I understand) the only representative that opposes this, putting him in the minority, yet his one vote governs it entirely (through what I understand is a veto of some sort?). This goes against rule of the majority, main idea behind a successful democracy.

    Again, this is what my small learnings of this issue from other Australians has told me, so I may be wrong.

    undeinPirat on
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    bsjezzbsjezz Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    as far as i'm aware he's not the only one who opposes it - simply the only one who opposes it vocally. i'm quite sure there's no index to the opinions of every state a/g on this issue

    the fact that this paper was released is evidence that somebody wants convincing. whether that's atkinson or not i don't know, but it should be taken as a good sign

    bsjezz on
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    IriahIriah Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    jezz have you read atkinson's responses to emails about this? Because he is condescending and rude, and definitely warrants at least some of the vitriol flung about.

    Iriah on
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    bsjezzbsjezz Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    i have, but
    Atkinson's spokesman said today the fact that angry gamers had sent him "death threats" and abusive letters had not helped their cause. But he said Atkinson would be open to changing his mind depending on the input from the public consultation.

    he may be rude and patronizing but he doesn't deserve death threats, and that's what's happening with current attitudes towards the situation, ie, really juvenile ones

    edit: if anything, all i'm saying is that even if there's a time and place for vitriol this rare opportunity for national discussion is not it

    bsjezz on
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    AJRAJR Some guy who wrestles NorwichRegistered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Ugh, that's awful. I wish I could say I was surprised.

    AJR on
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    KlatuKlatu Aussie Aussie Aussie Oi Oi OiRegistered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Voice added..

    Klatu on
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    The CatThe Cat Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited December 2009
    bsjezz wrote: »
    guys as much as i appreciate some of the disbelief towards the current policies remember atkinson is not a jack thompson nutball, he's an elected and in many other ways respected state attorney general, and besides, this paper was not written by atkinson. personal hatred and contempt is not going to support the cause, because while atkinson is particularly vocal in his disagreement with an r18+ rating, there are almost certainly other forces at work behind the public eye.

    and don't be so negative! you guys seemed resigned that this guy has ultimate power, but he doesn't - this is a democracy and many principles of that democracy do still function. a discussion paper like this shows that we do have power to enact change - the important thing is that we engage with it like reasoned adults

    :^: He and Conroy are both plenty rude and condescending, but there's nothing to be gained by sinking to their level. If you're going to fill the feedback form out, be a grownup about it. And run the spellcheck.

    ____________

    That thing with the non-english speakers is pretty uhhhh... wow, though. Leaving aside the foolish attempt to regulate the edge cases that are people who don't speak the local majority language, I don't even know where to start with the reference to Indigenous communities. Most of them do in fact speak English, and those that don't generally don't just lack access to a local EBGames, they lack access to things like housing, medical care, and fresh food D: middle class toys are the least of their concerns.

    The Cat on
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    Waka LakaWaka Laka Riding the stuffed Unicorn If ya know what I mean.Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Remember guys, so long as there is no interaction with violence and sex and drugs and stuff, it's ok to do it in Australia. Now if you excuse me, I'm going to go to the brothel around the corner from me and have my way with a few ladies, get drunk and then call my friend so we can go splatter kangaroos brains all over the place with a 12 guage shotgun.

    You know, stuff you can't do in vide... oh wait.

    Waka Laka on
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    Waka LakaWaka Laka Riding the stuffed Unicorn If ya know what I mean.Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    AVP Un-Banned in Australia

    http://kotaku.com/5429337/aliens-vs-predator-unbanned-in-australia

    One small step for man...

    Waka Laka on
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    bsjezzbsjezz Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    the best thing about that is that it's more glaring evidence games that shouldn't be played by minors are getting through the 'protections' anyway, on the back of appeals and marginal changes

    bsjezz on
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