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Post by Dan @ 02:50pm 25/05/11 | 44 Comments
Ahead of July's Standing Committee or Attorneys General Meeting, Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor has released the draft guidelines document for the proposed changes to Australian's videogame classification system, an outline that would introduce an R18+ rating if supporting consensus from the Attorneys-General is reached.

At a glance, the part of the document that would be of most interest to adult gamers is on Page 5, where the Essential Principles are outline and page 11 and 12 where the MA15+ and R18+ ratings are defined in more specific detail.
The Guidelines use the following hierarchy of impact:
  • very mild - G
  • mild - PG
  • moderate - M
  • strong - MA 15+
  • high - R 18+
  • very high - RC
Assessing the impact of material requires considering not only the treatment of individual classifiable elements but also their cumulative effect. It also requires considering the purpose and tone of a sequence.
Impact may be higher where a scene:
  • contains greater detail, including the use of close-ups and slow motion
  • uses accentuation techniques, such as lighting, perspective and resolution
  • uses special effects, such as lighting and sound, resolution, colour, size of image, characterisation and tone
  • is prolonged
  • is repeated frequently
  • is realistic, rather than stylised
You can read all the details here in the complete PDF document.



r18+classification boardcensorshipma15+





Latest Comments
Eorl
Posted 03:03pm 25/5/11
Holy crap. Actual common sense being used in the government!?!? What is this?
carson
Posted 03:08pm 25/5/11
WOW.
FraktuRe
Posted 03:12pm 25/5/11
I bet it fails to pass.
Mosfxx
Posted 03:19pm 25/5/11
I bet it fails to pass.

Did the government say that if it doesn't pass they will just do it anyway?
Raven
Posted 03:20pm 25/5/11
Read carefully, it's not actually much of an improvement. All it does is bumps a few MA15+ titles into R18+, and Rs into RC. It still leaves everything to personal opinion and subjective censorship - "very high" will just be applied to everything someone doesn't like.
It looks like anything that involves drug use (including prescription/legal drugs) required for progression or unlocking will get an RC stamp on it. If anything, it's more restrictive on games like GTA which border sexual violence. It will also award an RC for anything that involves detailing criminal activity.

Don't herald this as a step forward just because it means things can now be given an R18+ classification. It's actually a step backwards, or a step forwards if you want certain titles banned.
thermite
Posted 03:52pm 25/5/11
Impact may be higher where a scene:
contains greater detail, including the use of close-ups and slow motion
uses accentuation techniques, such as lighting, perspective and resolution
uses special effects, such as lighting and sound, resolution, colour, size of image, characterisation and tone
is prolonged
is repeated frequently
is realistic, rather than stylised


Reading the last point there, realistic is bad.... but then all the points above it constitute stylistic choices, without being specific. It picks on 'lighting', 'sound', 'resolution' - but wouldn't a game or whatever have to have at least one of those to convey something? I suppose I haven't really read into it, might be explained somewhere else. But I have a bad feeling anything put down on paper will be highly bulls*** subjective.
Ozzy
Posted 05:05pm 25/5/11
I like it.

Finally we are heading to a system that goes to having unaltered or uncencored gaming.

If this come through I'll be looking for RC titles!

I had a laugh when they talked about things that are hard to talk about such as "Fetish: An object, an action or a non-sexual part of the body which gives sexual gratification." Sounds like a websters that one. Can't they make it sound more erotic?

Wooo
Zoidberg
Posted 05:13pm 25/5/11
Didn't somebody mention awhile a go that they planned on basically chopping MA15 in half and making the top half into the new R18. Thereby appeasing the vocal gamers while not actually doing anything to what gets RC'd currently.

I don't remember if I read this in a report of if it was someone's fear of what could happen
Mordecai
Posted 05:14pm 25/5/11
Want to give feedback on this? Do the Survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/KZ6WR79

Survey comes from the Attorney-General's Department so its all official and stuff
dazedandconfused
Posted 05:17pm 25/5/11
Why is there still RC? No common sense here, just nanny state being nanny state with one extra classification.
Fixah
Posted 05:17pm 25/5/11
So what happens to all the other 30 odd games that have been RC'd so far?
crazymorton
Posted 05:22pm 25/5/11
so should this come in is it the same board as per films, books, etc that will decide?

So what happens to all the other 30 odd games that have been RC'd so far?


i imagine they'll re submit if they consider with worthwhile.

If this come through I'll be looking for RC titles!

RC = refused classification which means you won't see it
Eorl
Posted 05:28pm 25/5/11
Gotta remember though, many of the few titles actually RC'ed, are pretty border on retarded. No one was really interested in them, besides Mortal Kombat, due to the stupidly high violence/nudity.
Yerolo
Posted 05:33pm 25/5/11
Only time will tell if these new ratings work. If we still see high profile games slapped with the RC, then we arent really seeing much difference

It just seems like they will move games that would normally be MA15+ into the R18+ category and RC anything worse (ie exactly how it is now)
crazymorton
Posted 06:11pm 25/5/11
It just seems like they will move games that would normally be MA15+ into the R18+ category and RC anything worse (ie exactly how it is now)

not exactly like it is now, we don't have R18+. unless you just meant the RC bit.

but like i asked is it the same board who do films, because if it is then surely they can't RC a game when they R18+ some movies. Will they use the same sort of assessment criteria?

my concern is they will have this subconscious thought process that a "game" is more accessible to a child than a movie so judge it differently based on that.
Khel
Posted 06:18pm 25/5/11
Of course they will keep RC, even when there's an R rating, and quite rightly so. Some things, like those f***ed up rape games, don't have any place even being R rated and shouldn't be released at all.
Jim
Posted 06:53pm 25/5/11
Why is there still RC?
*boggle*
Stalfax
Posted 07:01pm 25/5/11
True Khel, but the problem is that the opinions of the people on the classification board clearly don't reflect the gaming public or even the broader general public.
Nerfington
Posted 07:13pm 25/5/11
Gotta remember though, many of the few titles actually RC'ed, are pretty border on retarded. No one was really interested in them, besides Mortal Kombat, due to the stupidly high violence/nudity.

Wasn't l4d2 rc'd until they made a special australian version? Somebody gifted me that and I'm not even sure if I wouldn't describe it as comedy, that that was given an rc rating is a pretty abysmal reflection on the classification board's consistency.
deadlyf
Posted 09:00pm 25/5/11
Of course they will keep RC, even when there's an R rating, and quite rightly so. Some things, like those f***ed up rape games, don't have any place even being R rated and shouldn't be released at all.
That is one of the funny things about the ACL and friends making up reasons against an R rating. They brought up those f***ed up rape games every chance they could get but only games submitted for sale actually go through the approval process and those games have never been released in Australia, thus never given an RC >.>
BillyHardball
Posted 11:27am 26/5/11
Can someone please operationalise "impact"????????????????????????????????? (it's not defined in the document either)
DM
Posted 11:48am 26/5/11
That is one of the funny things about the ACL and friends making up reasons against an R rating. They brought up those f***ed up rape games every chance they could get but only games submitted for sale actually go through the approval process and those games have never been released in Australia, thus never given an RC >.>


Also the fact no one seems to mention, is that the game "rapelay" was released in 2006, 3 - 4 years before that whole arguement was used. Not only that but the game had been out of sale for about a year too if I remember right. The only way to buy it was 2nd hand (ew?) or download it illegaly. The only purpose this example served was to rally people against a better rating system for games as they claimed if this came into effect, all 18 year old would be playing rape games. My fat arse.
Pinky
Posted 12:14pm 26/5/11
I think it's good in that it looks like the classification system for other media, and hopefully the classification process will therefore resemble that as for other media - i.e., less confusing.

It solves the clear missing link in classification (R18+) which offers flexibility to the classifications board. In 1969 Midnight Cowboy was rated R18+ but it would barely be MA15+ now. This is the kind of flexibility that is required for the board with interactive media.

BillyH identifies a clear problem - classifying media as a harm minimisation approach without a clear path of evidence for the harm.

Whoever is calling for no RC category - I certainly don't support that. We still need RC to keep the really f***ed up s*** out. It's always going to be contentious what 'f***ed up s***' actually means - or in fact what any level of the system actually represents - but we still need the category, whether it's oft used or not.

Overall, happy with it. The truth will be in the early implementation but then also in the implementation after the dust has settled and the topic has become boring and dull for the over-active conservative lobby groups like ACL.
ravn0s
Posted 12:50pm 26/5/11
Also the fact no one seems to mention, is that the game "rapelay" was released in 2006, 3 - 4 years before that whole arguement was used. Not only that but the game had been out of sale for about a year too if I remember right. The only way to buy it was 2nd hand (ew?) or download it illegaly. The only purpose this example served was to rally people against a better rating system for games as they claimed if this came into effect, all 18 year old would be playing rape games. My fat arse.


afaik rapeplay was only ever released in japan. its now banned there too i believe.
DM
Posted 01:14pm 26/5/11
afaik rapeplay was only ever released in japan. its now banned there too i believe.

And yet in japan you are still allowed to own CP. You just can't make it or sell it but you can own it. Strange loophole they never closed.
Raven
Posted 01:44pm 26/5/11
Isn't it better that people are fulfilling these fantasies in games rather than going out and actually doing it?
Pinky
Posted 05:49pm 26/5/11
From the proposed R18+ Restricted category on Page 12:

R 18+ - RESTRICTED
Impact test
The impact of material classified R 18+ should not exceed high.
Note: Material classified R 18+ is legally restricted to adults. Some material classified R 18+ may be offensive to sections of the adult community.
Classifiable elements
THEMES
There are virtually no restrictions on the treatment of themes.
VIOLENCE
Violence is permitted except where it offends against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults to the extent that it should not be classified.
Sexual violence may be implied, if justified by context.
SEX
Sexual activity may be realistically simulated. The general rule is
“simulation, yes – the real thing, no”.
LANGUAGE
There are virtually no restrictions on language.
DRUG USE
Drug use is permitted.
NUDITY
Nudity is permitted.
Note: Some of the terms used in this category are defined in the List of Terms at the end of these Guidelines.

Seems reasonable to me. Certainly L4D2 and Mortal Kombat would be categorised now I would imagine.

Fallout 3 would probably still have problems with drug use based on the RC details:

RC  REFUSED CLASSIFICATION
Note: Computer games that exceed the R 18+ classification category will be Refused Classification.
Computer games will be refused classification if they include or contain any of the following:
CRIME OR VIOLENCE
Detailed instruction or promotion in matters of crime or violence.
The promotion or provision of instruction in paedophile activity.
Descriptions or depictions of child sexual abuse or any other exploitative or offensive descriptions or depictions involving a person who is, or appears to be, a child under 18 years.
Gratuitous, exploitative or offensive depictions of:
(i) violence with a very high degree of impact or which are excessively frequent, prolonged or detailed;
(ii) cruelty or real violence which are very detailed or which have a high impact;
(iii) sexual violence.
Sexual violence related to incentives and rewards.
SEX
Depictions of practices such as bestiality.
Gratuitous, exploitative or offensive depictions of:
(i) activity accompanied by fetishes or practices which are offensive or abhorrent;
(ii) incest fantasies or other fantasies which are offensive or abhorrent.
DRUG USE
Detailed instruction in the use of proscribed drugs.
Material promoting or encouraging proscribed drug use.
As a general rule, computer games will also be Refused Classification if they contain:
(i) drug use related to incentives or rewards;
(ii) interactive drug use which is detailed and realistic.
Note: Some of the terms used in this category are defined in the List of Terms at the end of these Guidelines.
Sc00bs
Posted 07:23pm 26/5/11
so games with a very high degree of detailed violence are going to be RC?

that sounds pretty s*** seeing as games are only getting more and more detailed as the years progress
Ryan
Posted 09:55pm 26/5/11
Freaking pathetic. What's the damned point of an R18+ rating if they're still going to RC games?
They're getting more and more detailed day by day because of, oh i don't know. Technology being progressive as it exists?
Absolute dimwits these politicans. Like, do they not realize they're doing next to nothing by keeping the RC active?
How hard is it to put a guy with a brain in there.
implode
Posted 10:38pm 26/5/11
I don't mind a classification system, but I can't stand censorship. I'm 30 years old for f*** sake. I want to play f*****g Mortal Kombat 9 dammit!
Sc00bs
Posted 08:30am 27/5/11
yeah but the f***wit jesus loving politicians that are in charge think you shouldnt or you will go on a sub-zero esk rampage freezing people and ripping bodies in half....
Obes
Posted 08:39am 27/5/11
Why is there still RC?

Because then you could make a game with simulated child rape or selling kids into slavery to fund your drug wars... and we couldn't stop it from being sold here ?
Dan
Posted 09:07am 27/5/11
So having had a little time to digest it now, I think I'm generally supportive of this being implemented now, but mostly for the reason that it's important to get an R18+ category in there to start with, then we can work at getting it softened up later.

There's so much ambiguous wording in there between what would be rated R18+ and what would be RC that it leaves an incredible amount of the decision up to the discretion of the person doing to the classifying. Looking at the amount of games that have slipped through as MA15+ in today's process though, I think that's an indication that most of the ratings people lean towards the more reasonable side of that.

For example, under this new system, I would expect Mortal Kombat would have received R18+ instead of RC, because although it has "violence with a very high degree of impact or which are excessively frequent, prolonged or detailed;" it's "impact" is far lower than a game like Manhunt due to context -- the whole absurd over-the-top nature of it and of course the supernatural component. There's demons and lizzard-men and cyborgs etc etc, it's not realistic. So I think that consideration would have won it over.

Whereas games like Blitz The League and Fallout 3 with their drugs as a reward issue, would have been RC'd until they could be modified to give the drugs a name that isn't something that's illegal IRL (Fallout 3 was initially RC'd because it was called Morphine).

The most important thing, I think, is getting that R18+ label appropriately on to games, so that dumbass parents will see it and realise that they shouldn't be letting their 12 year old kids play these things. Games like GTA 4 and Modern Warfare 2 should be R-Rated titles for this reason -- parents just don't take MA15+ seriously enough.

Once that label is there and people are used to it and a proper system is in place to enforce it (hefty fines and ID checks, just like alcohol or cigarette purchases) then we can work on loosening the liberties permitted at the extreme end.
Mordecai
Posted 09:46am 27/5/11
Fallout 3 was initially RC'd because it was called Morphine.

Which is funny as Bethesda had no need what soever to add Morphine to the game when Fallout 1 and 2 established the drug set up years ago and hadn't needed to add real world drugs to the game. Plus didn't Morphine have no negative impact in game unlike the drugs already created by the people behind the original games?
DM
Posted 10:23am 27/5/11
For example, under this new system, I would expect Mortal Kombat would have received R18+ instead of RC, because although it has "violence with a very high degree of impact or which are excessively frequent, prolonged or detailed;" it's "impact" is far lower than a game like Manhunt due to context

Manhunt is a very odd example to use. Mostly because of the fact it was given an MA15+ rating at first. I actually hired this game out from the video store. So it seems they were fine with the extreme depictions of all those terrible kills like bags over the head and shards of glass in the eyes. Then something happened, maybe rockstar missed a payment, and they classed it RC and took in all the copies.
`ViPER`
Posted 10:53am 27/5/11
ACL are opposed to the guidelines, as expected.

http://australianchristianlobby.org.au/2011/05/mr-draft-r18-computer-game-guidelines-fail-families/

Here's my response, that wont get added to the comments, cause they are pussy's.

I find it disgusting that you have gone as far as saying/suggesting that under the new guidelines, we could see games that come out that would have interactive pedophilia in them.

Using the pedophilia line when it is so far from the argument for an R18+ category for games is such a low and despicable act, and I hope normal thinking people would see through it.

You should know that a game that had “Simulated pedophilia” in it would be without a doubt Refused Classification, and to suggest otherwise is either being completely ignorant of the facts, or just plain lying.

There’s a line were using child abuse to get you point across when it is so unrelated to the topic that it becomes disrespectful to people who have actually suffered child abuse, and I think you have stepped over that line.

DM
Posted 11:20am 27/5/11
We all knew the ACL wasn't going to like the proposed changes. But saying that this will allow simulated pedophilia to me equates to the hilter rule. Which is if you are in an arguement with someone, the first person who resorts to using a nazi reference is deemed to of lost of arguement. This is so far from the actual purpose of this revision that it's insulting to use it.

“For the very first time, computer games with sexual activity that may be ‘realistically simulated’, and games with ‘virtually’ no restrictions on language and the treatment of themes such as racism and suicide, would be legal in Australia according to the draft guidelines.

I'm not sure wether or not it's dawned on the ACL but there is this thing called the internet? It lets people talk and share things yeah? It's not hard to find and download an english translated sex game that they are talking about. Also just because these games would technicaly become legal doesn't mean anyone is going to stock them. Can you imagine going to EBgames (lol i can't) and seeing the Xbox section, playstation section then a sex games section? Only places that even may stock it is going to porno shops which kids don't get into anyway.

last edited by DM at 11:20:26 27/May/11
Dan
Posted 11:37am 27/5/11
The ACL's agenda is clearly to undermine any progress on this issue at all. They don't want to give up any ground for the exact same reason that I outlined in my last post. Because they know that as soon as gamers obtain this first goal of getting an R18+ rating installed, our next step will be to attempt to liberalise what is permitted in the over 18 category.

Their behaviour indicates that they acknowledge that there's no room for negotiation between parties here, so they're throwing everything at trying to hold on to the status-quo, even though it's making their arguments sound utterly trite and ridiculous.

It's all about them trying to fight against any change. If there was no R18+ rating for movies, they'd have the same stance against those too. But there already is and they know they can't redact those. In politics, it's much a much easier battle to maintain a law than it is to change one.
ravn0s
Posted 11:48am 27/5/11
at least the australian catholic bishops have some sense and support these guidelines.
Dazhel
Posted 11:52am 27/5/11
Because then you could make a game with ... selling kids into slavery


If I can play the game on my iPad that was constructed by kids sold into slavery why can't the game contain depictions of it?
deadlyf
Posted 01:17pm 27/5/11
Yeah to be honest, other than pedo material I have no problem with anything being available to adults in a game. Probably because I don't think that simulated murder in a game means you are a murder in reality, simulated rape in a game doesn't mean you're a rapist and simulated skateboarding in a game doesn't make you cool. For some reason I think that simulated child pornography makes you a pedo though, bit of a contradiction but one I'm comfortable with.

Lets be honest, the reason why these things are thought to be abhorrent in movies is because they are usually real, you can have all the pretend sex you want in a film and at most it will get be called softcore but as soon as it becomes real it becomes porn and there is a huge difference. Knowing something isn't real and knowing it is real are two completely different mindsets as is wondering if it might be real but not being sure. I could never consider a graphics oriented game to be real, and I don't think that the OFLC should be able to tell me I can't play a game that is made up of pixels and polygons because it has too much pretend violence, drug use and sex in it. Especially the f*****g drug use part, at least with sex and murder you can throw in the moral decency line but drugs are about harm prevention and you can't hurt a virtual avatar that isn't real.
Fixah
Posted 03:43pm 28/5/11
I think paedophilia, beastiality and rape is just pushing it if you ask me, especially if you are given control to initiate such acts. Could you imagine being in control of an old seedy pedo running around raping male baby animals at the zoo and then abducting them as well as kids and forcing them to commit sexual acts in his basement, then amputating them and sewing their parts back in a mix and match style and finally killing them all with a pair of chop sticks and a ping pong bat only to finish off his sick ritual where he drinks their blood mixed with that of swine vomit? This is all being recorded to be sold as snuff film for mega $$ of course.

I know that kind of s*** is over the top but a line needs to be drawn somewhere.
Sc00bs
Posted 02:29pm 28/5/11
the amount of ppl that would buy a game like that wouldnt make it viable to develop...

but yes, they have worded it very sneakily so it can be interpreted as they wish.
Fixah
Posted 02:39pm 28/5/11
Irrespective of sales there's no stopping it without having some guidelines. You never know in 10 years such elements in video games could become more mainstream. So i agree with the R18 having some restrictions for such extreme cases but games such as MK and even Man K*** are an easy 18+ no fuss.
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