In an earlier blog post (An Attack on Online Anonymity), I mentioned that the highest tolerated classification for video game publication in Australia is MA15+. This is as a direct result of South Australian Attorney-General, Michael Atkinson being the sole opposing censorship minister at state and territory level.
In a development covered today by News, EB Games has started a petition in its stores and an link on its website to the Online Discussion Paper Submission & EB Games Petition to garner support for a new R18+ rating for video games. This comes ahead of the deadline for discussion paper submission on 28 February 2009.
One could argue that there has been growing demand for an R18+ rating in Australia given that gamers that grew up with first, second and third generation consoles of the 1970s and 1980s have come of age and expect the gaming experience to mature accordingly. One might expect that as a person grows and develops, their taste and sophistication for print and film media would also mature to varying degrees. I don’t believe it is out of the question for the same principle to be applied to video games.
Of course, with privilege comes responsibility and I would believe it to be incumbent upon video game sellers to make the necessary checks when R18+ games are sold. Parents also have a part to play but I also believe that there should be some discretion when it comes to allowing more mature minors to have access to such content.
Personally, I believe the time has come for sweeping changes to censorship within Australia. It seems ludicrous in our democracy that the fate of legislation in this country is determined by a majority vote whilst a single politician can veto what is quite clearly a high demand for change outside of parliament. This is quite ironic since South Australia maintains its own classification body that can override the national classification given to particular material and so could independently suppress any R18+ classified video games.
The lack of an R18+ video game rating also provides incentive for those wanting an unedited version of a game to acquire it via other potentially illegal channels. Lost sales means less revenue collected by the Government through taxes.
In some respects, it echoes the ignorance of the Australian Government with its attempt to implement a mandatory Internet filter. Whilst the up and coming tech savvy generations slowly march through the ranks of society, the bureaucracy of this country remains stuck in the dark ages and resistant to change. I do believe it will be a matter time before things will change but certainly hope it will be sooner rather than later.
If you feel like throwing your support behind an R18+ classification, I would strongly encourage you to consider filling in your details on the Online Discussion Paper Submission & EB Games Petition at Grow Up Australia.