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Post by Steve Farrelly @ 05:46pm 08/03/11 | 56 Comments
Brendan O'Connor, Australian Minister for Justice, has stated that the next SCAG (Standing Committee of Attorneys-General) meeting, which is to take place, ironically, in Adelaide on July 21 and 22 needs to be the crunch meeting for a decision on the introduction of an R18+ rating for videogames here in Australia.

"Last year the Gillard Government declared its position and it’s time for all States and Territories to declare their hand on this issue," he said at the close of the most recent SCAG meeting, which took place last Saturday, March 5. "The introduction of an R18+ classification for computer games will provide better advice to parents and help prevent children and teenagers from accessing unsuitable material."

Last week's meeting offered up draft guidelines for the introduction of an R18+ classification, but no agreement could be met because the "New South Wales government is in pre-election caretaker mode". The draft guidelines that were presented include:
  • Provide appropriate safeguards to restrict the availability of material that’s unsuitable for children
  • Address the difference in nature between films and computer games, especially in terms of interactivity
  • Ensure that the Refused Classification category is retained
"I anticipate that my State and Territory counterparts will further consider the draft guidelines and seek their Governments’ position on an R 18+ classification before the next meeting in July," O'Connor said. "When making their decision, I urge State and Territory Governments to consider the value of an adults only rating in helping to protect children from unsuitable content as well as the strong public support for this move."

Not long now folks.



classificationr18+r18+ ratingrefused classificationscag





Latest Comments
bepatient
Posted 05:48pm 08/3/11
Horrah! Finally we will have some form of answer ey.
Hogfather
Posted 05:52pm 08/3/11
Lets hope its the right bloody answer ><

Is it just me or does baulk look weird? Dictionary says its ok but I swear its balking!
bepatient
Posted 05:56pm 08/3/11
Haha yea I agree 100%, I suppose even the wrong answer is better than hoping for a seemingly endless amount of time.
Pinky
Posted 05:56pm 08/3/11
Great. It sounds very positive from Brendan, but I think some of the other AG's are much more conservative than he is giving them credit for.
carson
Posted 05:58pm 08/3/11
About f*****g time.

Hopefully we get the R18+. There are so many MA15+ games that should be under R18+.

It'll be awesome seeing kids not being able to get these games. I will drink their tears.
Eorl
Posted 06:05pm 08/3/11
Excellent news, and I welcome the meeting with open arms. Even the Australian Government realises this is a serious issue that needs to be decided now, and hopefully that can put some pressure on there being an R18+ introduction.
Pinky
Posted 06:07pm 08/3/11
trillion, I agree with Hogfather, fade and taggs. That is all. Good day, sir.

So what will happen with current titles - will they be reclassified?

My July is looking busy now. Two friends having babies and an R18+ decision.
Khel
Posted 06:05pm 08/3/11
Oh crap, another R18+ related thread, I dunno if I have the resources necessary to run an argument in two R18+ threads at once!
Steve Farrelly
Posted 06:08pm 08/3/11
yeah sorry Khel, I've been following the arguments and actually thought of that for all of you while posting this one... but then I thought ah well ;)
Hogfather
Posted 06:09pm 08/3/11
This issue is big enough for 2 threads.
trillion
Posted 06:11pm 08/3/11
Pinky is this about being suckered? :<

facebook statement is here

social media to the rescue
Pinky
Posted 06:16pm 08/3/11
Pinky is this about being suckered? :<

Haha, nup. I do agree with you that I was suckered but c'est la vie.

It's about aligning myself with the people on this forum who I mostly agree with.

Thanks for FB statement - good one to share around.
Eorl
Posted 06:18pm 08/3/11
Pinky, in order for games to be re-classified, they need to be re-submitted for review. Doubt any of the RC'ed ones will bother.
Enska
Posted 06:20pm 08/3/11
Not to mention unless they use stickers all the covers will have to be rebranded, current ones will have to be pulled yada yada yada. Can't see it happening.
trillion
Posted 06:20pm 08/3/11
ah the cronyism, it's rife with stagnation

Mordecai
Posted 06:21pm 08/3/11
So which state AG isn't going to show up for the next SCAG in July?
trillion, I agree with Hogfather, fade and taggs. That is all. Good day, sir.

So what will happen with current titles - will they be reclassified?

My July is looking busy now. Two friends having babies and an R18+ decision.

Titles already out won't be retroactively reclassified. New titles coming in after the R18 thing comes through will have a better chance of getting through rather then RC *coughmortalkombatcough*

Really if this doesn't go through one of the states needs to stand up and introduce it at state level thus by passing the SCAG.
paveway
Posted 06:29pm 08/3/11
doesn't it only take 1 douche to say no and the whole thing gets shot down?

last edited by paveway at 18:29:59 08/Mar/11
Enska
Posted 06:35pm 08/3/11
^^ Yep, needs to be a unanimous vote I believe.
Deviouz
Posted 06:45pm 08/3/11
fingers crossed
paveway
Posted 06:53pm 08/3/11
and hasn't one south australian douche been against this the whole way?
ravn0s
Posted 06:54pm 08/3/11
atkinson stepped down. his replacement is a bit more open minded i believe.
Martz
Posted 07:11pm 08/3/11
even if we lose the R18+ this time round, won't the issue just come up again in a few years time? It's not as if it's going to be forever.

I also want to add that the whole point of all this is to protect the children, so doesn't it make sense to reject an R18+ classification so thousands of copies of R18+ games don't enter our shores and therefore limit "childrens" access to these games. The only argument with this that I can see is that games that should be rated R18+ are slipping through the cracks and being rated MA15+ and therefore kids younger than 18 have legal access to these games and ultimately a % in kids under 15. So in order to stop these games slipping through and getting rated MA15+, is a more tightly regulated classification board. I know it sounds like I'm an anti 18+ rating nazi, but common sense tells me that if you grant australia access to these games, ultimately a % of "children" will get their hands on it. So now a new argument arises with the responsibility of a parent and their role in protecting their children from such games, but we all know a lot of parents won't give a s***. As much as I hate to say it, it does make more sense to me to RC 18+ games and focus on regulating the classification board better and perhaps introduce a tougher criteria for games to be granted MA+ classification.

Thoughts?

last edited by Martz at 19:11:01 08/Mar/11
Khel
Posted 07:10pm 08/3/11
But its not like theres hordes of games that aren't coming out here that will suddenly flood stores if we have an R18+ rating. Theres like 1 or 2 games a year which get refused classification while everything else comes out already, just classified wrongly half the time.
Eorl
Posted 11:12pm 08/3/11
Most games now are still going to be classified MA15+, unless their counterparts in America classify them as R18+. Most recent high title games have been far from R18+. The only ones that I've seen so far this year, have been Duke and MK9. Even Dragon Age 2 was awarded MA15+. So no, it's not like we will see a flood of "omg boobies, d**** and gore gore gore".

R18+ to me, as a developer, is simply a newer way of expressing adult behavior and themes, without having to curve them to fit into a MA15+ rating, which clearly isn't suited. If I want to make a game about real life adult choices where your faced with a choice of an abortion or not (I know, weird and such), then I can within the R18+ rating. But MA15+? Goodness no. Not that you will see much difference from MA15+ to R18+. Maybe a tad bit more gore, and maybe some boobs.

Another thing, is that with an R18+, you won't see gore gore gore games. Most adult gamers will just go meh and not buy something that is just filled to the brim with over the top gore. We would rather a more serious storyline, then something that has senseless violence.
Hogfather
Posted 11:46pm 08/3/11
Martz, the goal of classification is to BOTH protect children and allow adults access to material that isn't appropriate for kids.

It's one of the core objectives of the classification code.
Pinky
Posted 12:27am 09/3/11
Another thing, is that with an R18+, you won't see gore gore gore games. Most adult gamers will just go meh and not buy something that is just filled to the brim with over the top gore. We would rather a more serious storyline, then something that has senseless violence.

I think that like with everything else in life we would see a large diversity in available media. I think (hope?) there will be more gore, more gratuitous sex and more coarse language for starters.

In other words, adult themes I look for in a good movie.

At the very least it should solve the borderline problems like with Left 4 Dead 2 and Fallout 3 (drug naming and other required modifactions).

I do believe an R18+ category for interactive media in Australia will have a significant impact on the market and the types of games that will become available.
Martz
Posted 12:44am 09/3/11
Martz, the goal of classification is to BOTH protect children


I don't see how it protects the children, it actually threatens to make the situation worse by making the games so readily available. Sucks for adults though who want to play these games (like mwa). I'm frustrated as much as anyone else here but I'm looking at the argument from both sides.
Hogfather
Posted 12:51am 09/3/11
That's the point though - by your logic alcohol and porn should be banned. Actually anything non-G by that standard!

It's not the OFLC's job to prevent children getting access to inappropriate material, that's what patents are for. Their job is to CLASSIFY what is suitable for adults and children, and what is unsuitable for anyone.
Khel
Posted 02:03am 09/3/11
I do believe an R18+ category for interactive media in Australia will have a significant impact on the market and the types of games that will become available.


How though? Where are these currently unavailable games going to suddenly spring from? Developers aren't going to suddenly start developing games full of tits and gore because we have an R18+ rating, every other country already has one, we're just the last ones to the party. So many people seem to have this idea that theres some vast untapped, inaccesible range of games out there full of sex and violence and such that will flood the country when we get an R18+ rating. The simple fact of the matter is, there isn't, and there wont be.

I don't think its going to have any impact at all on the market or the types of games that will be available, it just means games will be classified properly, and the odd game like Mortal Kombat will be able to be released here instead of being refused classification.
Khel
Posted 02:27am 09/3/11
Just out of curiosity, I went to the classification board's website and searched for RC games. From January 2005 until March 2011 (so a bit over 6 years) there have been only 23 games that have been given RC. Three of those games were re-submitted with minor changes, reclassified to MA15+ and released anyway (L4D2, Fallout 3, Silent Hill: Homecoming), and two of them were resubmitted without any changes and released as MA15+ (AVP2 and Fear 2). One of those games is also Mortal Kombat, who's fate is still currently undecided.

So that leaves a grand total of 17 games, over 6 years, so less than 3 games a year on average. Some of them weren't even refused classification for reasons of being too violent or sexual either, like that Marc Ecko game which was refused because promoting graffiti was bad. So where exactly is this flood of subversive games going to come from? Its not like our classification system is currently holding back a tide of smut that is going to wash over us if we open the gates and institute an R18+ rating.

At the most you'll end up with 1 or 2 games a year coming out that might have been previously refused classification, and more often than not those games are s*** anyway, and without the free publicity that being refused classification grants them they'll fly so low under the radar that nobody will even care about them or want to touch them. What you WILL end up with though is a more robust classification system, that doesn't have its hands tied and is able to more accurately classify a game's content, allowing parents and consumers in general to make much more informed choices when they're purchasing or when their kids want the latest and greatest game. Genuinely disgusting, abohrent games like those japanese rape games are still not going to make it out here even if we do have an R18+ rating, its not like R18+ is a catch all classification that allows anything and everything, there will still be sensible limits placed upon it, and material that goes beyond those limits will still be refused classification. You wont be seeing anything in an R18+ game that you couldn't otherwise see in an R18+ movie.
ctd
Posted 02:30am 09/3/11
L4D2 turned into a piece of s*** after reclassification. Luckily it was easy to get the good version.
Corona
Posted 04:29am 09/3/11
I thought this thread was titled "No more Bulking, July is Crunch time" and was wondering why a thread about bodybuilding was in a forum full of lazy bastards

Then I re-read the title and understood why..
Martz
Posted 07:49am 09/3/11
I understand what your saying hoggy, but I guess it is what it is. Adding another non child friendly medium to filter through our system.
Mordecai
Posted 08:23am 09/3/11
You already check the classification for games when you buy them right Martz? So if you see a r18+ don't pick it up and buy it. Simple. This way your kids can not get a hold of a r18 game at your home.
Hogfather
Posted 08:42am 09/3/11
I understand what your saying hoggy, but I guess it is what it is. Adding another non child friendly medium to filter through our system.

As Khel has said, the vast majority of games are being classified now, very few titles are RC when striclty speaking some of them probably aren't suitable by society's standards for 15 year olds. This is because of the conflicting demands of the code which asks the OFLC to protect the interests of children and adults simultaneously, without providing classification space of adults.

The real effect will be the end of dopey edits to games and the movement of titles that should be R18+ into their proper place.
Martz
Posted 10:10am 09/3/11
If we get granted R18+ classification, wouldn't there be an influx of weird and quirky titles we've never even heard of / knew existed?

You already check the classification for games when you buy them right Martz? So if you see a r18+ don't pick it up and buy it. Simple. This way your kids can not get a hold of a r18 game at your home.


I don't do that yet cause my oldest is not even 2 yet, but I definitely would check classification otherwise, so you are right there. But try and tell that to all the other millions of parents in this country, as I pointed out earlier, some just won't give a s***. And some kids will get their hands on these titles without their parents even knowing, just like kids can get access to cigarettes, alcohol and drugs.

As Khel has said, the vast majority of games are being classified now, very few titles are RC when striclty speaking some of them probably aren't suitable by society's standards for 15 year olds. This is because of the conflicting demands of the code which asks the OFLC to protect the interests of children and adults simultaneously, without providing classification space of adults.


I'm already aware of this, I touched on it in my initial post hence a stricter criteria should be implemented to filter out a lot of games that are classified as MA15+ when they should be R18+. We can argue the point as much as we want but it's clear as day to me that as long as there are R18+ titles on our shelves, a lot of kids will have access to it.
Eorl
Posted 11:56am 09/3/11
Look, Martz, I understand where your coming from as a parent, you have to cautious and weary of what you buy in-case your child goes "oo that looks cool, pop it into the PS3". But see, that is what R18+ classifications do. They tell you, that this game/movie is adult themed, and should not be viewed by anyone under the age of 18. They are telling you what is right and wrong, but it is your job to ensure you actually understand that. With R18+, as I and many others have stated before, it won't just suddenly bring in titles like "My Little Sex Pony" or "F*** Me While I'm Down".

Games won't sell unless they are fun, interesting and actually have a following. Trust me in that the only over the top gore we would ever see, would be the Mortal Kombat universe, and that is because it is made like that. People need to realise that this rating will actually benefit everyone. It will help curb any games that are being deemed RC'ed when in-fact they should be R18+. Most of the time, these games are being RC'ed because they have some drug tie in (ala Fallout), or in L4D2's case, the zombies were to human like.

R18+ won't bring in anything new that will be bizarre and off this world. Developers don't think like that. Let me say that again, R18+ won't bring in anything pornographic and SnM. I would never make a game like that, because it makes no sense to make one when there is absolutely no sensible demographic. No one would buy it. So in fact, most games that are being classified R18+ overseas, are actually games that are being classified MA15+ here. Doesn't that seem a bit wack? And the only big big titles I've seen go R18+, are ones that depict real life war (medal of honour, COD) or horror games (Dead Space, Silent Hill, Resident Evil). These games are targeted at 18+ people. Well, except COD.

Can't you see Martz, that the R18+ would benefit Australia more then anything. All the severe stuff would be RC'ed anyway. Anything ala Postal would be deemed stupid and RC'ed. Anything where your running around butt naked f*****g chicks would be deemed RC'ed, as there never will be a X rating (that is our pornographic rating). R18+ will help in the decision for parents when they go to buy a game. And an R18+ rating on a game sure stands out more then a MA15+.
Hogfather
Posted 12:07pm 09/3/11
We can argue the point as much as we want but it's clear as day to me that as long as there are R18+ titles on our shelves, a lot of kids will have access to it.
As Eorl notes there is no X rating and the proposed guidelines will probably mean that some content will remain RC anyway. One of the items they are discussing is the interactive nature of games. We can expect that any R18+ rating for video games will be tighter than the equivalent one for film, and that the video game code may be separated from the film one to account for this.

I imagine that MK would be about the limit for the OFLC, and it might even remain RC in a new system.

In any case, s***** parenting doesn't mean that adult-appropriate media should be banned. We need less parenting by legislation, not more.
KostaAndreadis
Posted 12:06pm 09/3/11
I agree that there should be an R18 rating, however, on a side note Mortal Kombat is a far cry from being an adult centric title, and in all honesty should be marketed as a MA15+ game.
Eorl
Posted 12:26pm 09/3/11
Well, with the Fatality system I can see why it would be the most sever of an R18+ rating.

Anyways, I think I'm done for long paragraphs. Everything I've said so far is pretty much where I am at with R18+.
Khel
Posted 12:40pm 09/3/11
If we get granted R18+ classification, wouldn't there be an influx of weird and quirky titles we've never even heard of / knew existed?


This is the digital age though, information has gone global, its not like we are oblivious of a game's existence if its not sold in shops here. I keep myself very current with gaming news, from a lot of different sources (I'm sure a lot of us do), if games were coming out overseas that were not coming out here we would know about it. There just isn't any games waiting in the wings to spring out and suprise us.

The only games Michael Atkinson kept bringing up in his "We're going to be flooded with perverse games if we allow R18+" argument were those japanese sex games and rape games. But those aren't sold or published outside Japan anyway because theres no market for them, has nothing to do with a ratings system, we wouldn't get those games whether we had R18+ or not (and tbh they'd still come in RC I'm sure anyway, even if we had R18+).
Rawprawn
Posted 03:01pm 09/3/11
I'm a little confused about the whole idea of children getting their hands on R18+ materials as if someone is actively attempting to go around the parents back and corrupt their children.
As a little nipper, one of the first games i played on the 486 was Doom 2. I maybe got about 5 minutes of game play in before mum came in and gave me what for. I tried again when mum was out of the house but she had put a password on the computer. Fairly basic methods, but it worked on me as a 7~ year old.

And this continued attitude of "parents can't protect their kids from inappropriate games" is just silly in my opinion. Your average Joe is far more tech savvy than he used to be, which is going to make it more difficult for kids to hide these things from their folks. Plus the fact that this whole issue has gotten so much coverage lately that parents would have to be living under a rock to not take advantage of it.

The only significant danger in my mind is with the system we have in place today. Games like Dead Space and the Fallouts getting by with a MA15+? From just looking at the violence in those games, I'd say they're inappropriate for a 15 year old. This is of course, just my opinion, but I'm sure I'd get one or two people agreeing with me.
Most parents aren't going to play these games and thus have no way of knowing what they contain. The only thing that gives many a clue is the little rating on the box. The dude from Kotaku hit the nail on the head when he said that 13 and 14 year olds were probably playing material that should really be 18+ because the box says MA15+ and the parents think that their child is mature enough for that.

My computer illiterate mother could keep me away from the stuff, and having had an R18+ rating wouldn't have changed that fact.
ravn0s
Posted 03:16pm 09/3/11
And this continued attitude of "parents can't protect their kids from inappropriate games" is just silly in my opinion. Your average Joe is far more tech savvy than he used to be, which is going to make it more difficult for kids to hide these things from their folks.


sure the parents have the tools to protect they're kids, but a large number of them just dont care about protecting their kids. its not how it used to be when parents actually did some parenting.
Hogfather
Posted 03:22pm 09/3/11
sure the parents have the tools to protect they're kids, but a large number of them just dont care about protecting their kids. its not how it used to be when parents actually did some parenting.

We don't fix this problem by enabling it with legislation.
Scooter
Posted 03:49pm 09/3/11
Yep, the best way to make parents take more responsibility for their kids is to actually let them have that responsibility. Not to take all the decisions out of their hands.
Eorl
Posted 05:42pm 09/3/11
I agree that the parents should have the biggest responsibility, but ratings are just a stepping stone to help them. It's not dumbing down their decision, but helping them go "ok, this clearly isn't for my child". You have to admit, ratings do help, they aren't just there because legislation states they have to. If we didn't have ratings, people would have tO play each and every game to get an impression.

I just don't understand where people are getting the idea that as soon as a R18+ rating comes out, we will all of a sudden have a influx of pornographic, drug sniffing, Charlie sheen games. Every other modernized country has R18+ ratings. They're doing quite fine so far. No difference would be made here.
joel
Posted 02:21pm 24/3/11
Now they've said that the new R18 rating would pretty much become the new MA15+.
So Mortal Kombat will still be banned, because it's too violent for the R rating which is in fact our current MA rating.
Not only wont we get MK but 15 year olds will miss out on titles they can currently enjoy because now they will be classified as R.
F*ck you Australian government.
Sc00bs
Posted 02:25pm 24/3/11
boohoo. im over 18 so i dont give a f*** about youngings getting their hands on R games.

how do they get alcohol, drugs, fake id's/licenes.... im sure they can figure out how to get a f***** game :/
Scooter
Posted 02:25pm 24/3/11
Got a link to that decision Joel?
Khel
Posted 02:28pm 24/3/11
Where are you getting that from? Haven't seen anyone saying that.
Khel
Posted 02:30pm 24/3/11
how do they get alcohol, drugs, fake id's/licenes.... im sure they can figure out how to get a f***** game :/


Haha, I'm imagining it now, 15 year old kids standing outside EB stores looking guilty and then asking the older people who walk past "Hey, do you think you could buy me some Mortal Kombat?"
Dan
Posted 02:40pm 24/3/11
Yeah, nothing I've read indicates any kind of step backwards. The review process just started and here's Kotaku's article on that from yesterday: http://www.kotaku.com.au/2011/03/classification-review-begins-how-does-this-affect-r18/
tspec
Posted 03:55pm 24/3/11
Yeah, too early to sat what going to happen but in relation to Joel's post, he might be referring to the interview with Elizabeth Handsley the other day where she seemed to be suggesting something along those lines.

http://www.kotaku.com.au/2011/03/elizabeth-handsley-we-have-not-changed-our-stance-on-r18/
Khel
Posted 04:07pm 24/3/11
Oh, so another "Wont somebody think of the children" nut. I love this bit at the end

My ideal world is one where there is an honest debate about this issue, and not one where people get misled into thinking that adding an R18+ classification to the system will provide better protection to children


So shes open to an honest debate on the issue, as long as nobody offers up a point of view that is contrary to hers.
eski
Posted 04:13pm 24/3/11
Yeah, if she is convinced that restricting content via ratings doesnt work then why have any restrictions at all.
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