No doubt a lot of you caught wind
over the weekend of the Gillard Government backing the R18+ rating for games position, with Minister for Home Affairs, Brendan O'Connor, stating that "if the new category is introduced it could result in computer games that are currently classified as MA 15+ being reclassified R 18 +, providing a new level of protection". The support is a massive win for gamers and supporters of the position Australia-wide, but the real test comes this Friday where the proposition will be discussed by the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General (SCAG), who will either pass it, or shoot it down. O'Conner was careful, however, to remind anti R18+ lobbyists the Federal Government also carried their concerns, echoing in his statement that "children and teenagers shouldn't be exposed to the gratuitous sex, violence and adult themes that are contained in some computer games".
But it's not all hunky dory. Within the SCAG, which needs a unanimous vote for the introduction to pass, not all of the AGs appear to be in line, though John Rau, who replaced the rating's most staunch protester, Michael Atkinson, in South Australia definitely appears to be much more progressive on the subject, telling the ABC
that "there’s no doubt that these things are available either by mail order or through downloads off the internet, so it’s not as if there’s a complete impossibility of getting hold of these things anyway". While that might sound like good news, he's still of the mind that games can be bad for you, it seems his stance then, is more one of common-sense.
"The issue is about what's offered for retail sale and who gets access to what," he said.
Michael Atkinson, however, remains as against the rating change as ever.
"I think some perfectly normal adults could be affected by these games because they are so violent," he said. "I don't think [people] who don't play video games know how gory and horrific some of these games are."
Western Australia's Attorney-General, Christian Porter, however, is yet to decide his stance and is coming under pressure from within his own party room to block the introduction of an R18+ rating.
"I'm in favour for more protection of children and kids but I think the borders of our morality have been extended to such an extent where we almost don't have any borders at all," said Frank Alban, MP for Swan Hills, to the AAP in protest of the introduction, while Upper House MP Nick Goiran joined in, saying in response to a submission to Porter by the joint children's commissioners that "If all of the children's commissioners are collectively saying this is bad news, this is a bad idea, then I take that very seriously". He also said that he was "concerned" at the Government support of the position, adding "it makes [you] wonder what is the point of having a children's commissioner".
So we're clearly moving forward, but the more major support we get, the more opposition seems to crop up. One thing's for sure, Friday's meeting is going to be keenly watched by the gaming community at-large, here's hoping everything comes up Milhouse when it adjourns.