Friday, 10 December 2010 17:07

AG's sidestep R18+ Classification for video games decision

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No concrete decision made today at the standing committee of Attorneys-General on a change to Australia's classification laws around interactive entertainment.  Instead the AG's agreed to introduce guidelines for judging the effect of an R18+ Classification introduction   iTWire spoke to Ron Curry from the interactive games & Entertainment Association (iGEA) about what this means for the local market.


Despite last minute objections from the Australian Christian Lobby and fears that West Australian Attorney-General, Christian Porter would be forced to vote against the idea, supporters where hopeful of an introduction of a classification of interactive entertainment to bring it in line with that of cinema, as well as similar systems the world over.

In the final analysis from public feedback on the matter of introducing an R18 + Classification for Video Games, the federal Minister for Home Affairs and Justice Brendan O'Conner showed just how much support the reform has in Australia.

'More than 58,400 people responded to the call for submissions on the proposed new adult only category. That's an enormous response and I thank everyone who gave their views.'

'Of those who responded, 98.4% voiced support for an R18+ computer game classification.'

'These results reflect the feedback that I and other members of Parliament have received from the community,' Mr O'Connor said.

'Bringing the classification categories for computer games into line with those for films will help Australian parents make informed decisions about the games their children play.

'We want to provide better advice to parents to help remove material from children and teenagers that may contain gratuitous sex, violence or drug use,' Mr O'Connor said.

CONTINUED on PAGE 2



Mr O'Conner said 'There are dozens of games that are available to 15 year olds in Australia that are restricted to adults in other comparable countries.

'If the new category is introduced, it could result in computer games that are currently classified MA15+ being reclassified R18+, providing a new level of protection for children.'


Instead, the Standing Committee of Attorney's-General (SCAG) meeting produced only an agreement to introduce guidelines to see how the introduction of an R18+ Classification will affect the current top level  MA15+.  The plan is to discuss further at the next SCAG meeting in March next year.

Ron Curry, CEO of the iGEA, says, "It's disappointing that an adult rating for video games will be delayed once again despite mass support from the Australian community, whether it is from adult gamers who want the right to play games that appeal to them or parents who want clear guidelines for their children."  

We are however pleased that the industry has been given the opportunity to put forward its arguments for an adult rating and encouraged by the tremendous support the issue has received from the Federal Government, and the active engagement by each Attorney General at today's meeting on the issue.

We're hopeful that the weight of evidence and the comprehensive research into the matter will ensure an adult rating is introduced when the Attorney-Generals reconvene," said Curry.  

CONTINUED on PAGE 3 where the CEO of iGEA talks to iTWire about today's decision.



Speaking to iTWire, Curry was  philosophical about today's outcome: 'The upshot was that some or all of the Attorneys wanted to take back the information gathered from today and previous weeks to discuss with their own cabinets, to get some resolution on R18+'

'Certainly it has delayed the decision yet again.' said curry 'Given the Attorney's had asked for more information over the past two SCAG's, we had assumed it had all been presented to them on or before today's meeting, we would have hoped that would have come knowing what their cabinet's position was, and bring the issue to closure.  Obviously that's not what has happened,'

'Our concern is that by the time the next SCAG meeting comes around, there may be another new Attorney perhaps for New South Wales, and we are not sure what impact that might have.'

'On the positive side, what we have seen which we haven't seen in the past, is that every Attorney-General is actively engaged in the process, and we need to be thankful for that at least.' Curry told iTWire.

Research and polls conducted in the last 12 months which show mass support in favour of an R18+ rating for games:

*    The public consultation conducted earlier this year found 98.4 per cent of submissions were in favour of an R18+ classification for video games
*    News Limited's poll shows 95.5 per cent of respondents vote for an R18+ classification and 4 per cent vote against it.
*    A poll conducted by Fairfax indicates 97 per cent of respondents believe Australia should introduce an R18+ rating for video games and 3 per cent are against it.
*    A Channel 7 Sunrise's poll reveals 97 per cent of respondents would like R18+ games permitted in Australia and 3 per cent would not.
*    Furthermore, the Interactive Australia 09 report by Bond University found that 91 per cent of gamers and non-gamers believe the classification should be introduced and that 91 per cent of adults would clearly know that game classified R18+ would be unsuitable for children.


CONCLUDED on PAGE 4



Despite the majority votes by the community, Australia remains the only developed nation without an R18+ classification for video games and a classification system which is inconsistent across various media.

"While there are some opponents who argue an R18+ rating will only give children access to high level content, this is simply not true.  Content that exceeds the guidelines required for an R18+ classification will still be refused classification and banned in Australia."  

"An R18+ rating for video games will go a long way in helping parents make informed decisions about the games their children play and also provide more consistent guidelines aligned with other forms of media," said Curry.

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Mike Bantick

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Having failed to grow up Bantick continues to pursue his childish passions for creative writing, interactive entertainment and showing-off through adulthood. In 1994 Bantick began doing radio at Melbourne’s 102.7 3RRRFM, in 1997 transferring to become a core member of the technology show Byte Into It. In 2003 he wrote briefly for the The Age newspaper’s Green Guide, providing video game reviews. In 2004 Bantick wrote the news section of PC GameZone magazine. Since 2006 Bantick has provided gaming and tech lifestyle stories for iTWire.com, including interviews and opinion in the RadioactivIT section.

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