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Post by Steve Farrelly @ 11:40am 07/07/11 | 56 Comments
Despite the high volume of press, retorts, arguments and healthy conversation, there has been a severe lack of participation in the online submission process for the Government's Classification Review scheme.

The Australian Law Reform Commission has an open submission form the public can access and submit as part of the Classification Review, which includes the topic of introducing an R18+ rating for videogames. While there seems to have been little press regarding this latest online submission opportunity, the ALRC is reminding anyone looking to have their voices heard in the reform topic, submissions close on July 15 (next Friday) at COB.

We've trawled through a bunch of the 70+ active submissions (all accessible to the public), and most of them are from the "won't somebody think of the children" camp, which could spell trouble for those of us working towards freedom of choice and better education for parents in relative content and media.

The form isn't too heavy and shouldn't take anyone very long to fill out and submit, and we urge you to take part in helping catch the country up to the rest of the world in relative classification.

Click here to access the online submission form.

UPDATED: Since posting this morning, the Australian Christian Lobby has also rallied their troops, though their language in persuasion against the introduction of an R18+ rating for videogames is less open than ours. They also miss the point, that this is about the entire classification system being overhauled to come into line with the rest of the world and ever-changing technologies and media.
The draft guidelines would allow almost precisely the same guidelines for R18+ films to apply to computer games, thereby opening the Australian hire and sale markets to a higher level of graphically violent and sexually explicit interactive games.

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.
The misleading point of explicit sex is one thing, but to add lines on suicide and racism is quite another. The ACL's propagandist assumptions at "mature gaming" are ill-informed and scare-mongering at best. Please do your part for common-sense and participate in the submission form and share this with people you think it relates to.



classificationr18+ ratingclassification reviewvideogamesalrc





Latest Comments
Raven
Posted 11:56am 07/7/11
Get this on twitter/FB and I'll RT it to a non-AG crowd in proper-form.
Steve Farrelly
Posted 11:58am 07/7/11
already up Raven :)
Nerfington
Posted 11:59am 07/7/11
So this is exclusively about video games?

Anybody know anything about an RC re-evaluation? I vaguely recall hearing about one which was going to occur at some stage. When I have time I'll look into both of these.

Very interesting article regarding the RC guidelines: http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2011/06/29/3256632.htm I think a lot of people would be surprised to find what would be filtered under the RC Internet filter.
Steve Farrelly
Posted 12:08pm 07/7/11
Nerf, nah, it's a complete overhaul of the current classification system for all media in Australia, this includes games, movies, music, exhibitions, magazines etc...
Nerfington
Posted 12:10pm 07/7/11
I'll try to put together a coherent argument and submit it when I can.
taggs
Posted 12:19pm 07/7/11
done.
pARODY
Posted 12:26pm 07/7/11
Done.
carson
Posted 01:04pm 07/7/11
DONE
Steve Farrelly
Posted 01:20pm 07/7/11
Done
Pinky
Posted 01:21pm 07/7/11
Is anyone getting 'Validation error' ?

Can't get the damn thing to submit.
DM
Posted 01:26pm 07/7/11
So I load up a random submission to see what's expected and I come across this guy, who not only makes me think of x-men due to his name but is rather funny to read.

John Gray
Hope this isn't someone from here.

Many laughs to be had with that guys submission but scary that they may listen to types like him.

Steve Farrelly
Posted 01:29pm 07/7/11
DM, that was the first one I opened this morning while writing the OP haha, I thought the same thing - he was why I used me "won't somebody think of the children" line
DM
Posted 01:34pm 07/7/11
Yeah his "any music that demeands women should be banned!" line made me think he may be onto something though with that meaning rap and hip hop would be outlawed. Terrible music.
Steve Farrelly
Posted 01:37pm 07/7/11
rap and hip hop are different - don't get me started on that!
Scooter
Posted 01:39pm 07/7/11
Wow, I just read some of them and they're pretty scary what some people think... 68 and 70 were pretty funny/sad.

Edit: A lot of these folks say "societies standards/morals" or something similar... I too wish this was the case. However I think that if there was an anon vote on the matter, they wouldn't be happy with the result.
ViscoS
Posted 01:44pm 07/7/11
Do 88 and 90 seem suspiciously familiar to anyone else?
thermite
Posted 01:46pm 07/7/11
The survey itself made assumptions that the person filling in the form is interested in giving advice about better ways of restricting access, and that s/he thinks about content in terms of 'inappropriate'.
taggs
Posted 02:00pm 07/7/11
woah, one of the ones scooter mentioned:

Question 2. What should be the primary objectives of a national classification scheme?

The primary objective should be strengthening of the family unit by encouraging strong a moral fibre in persons of every age; by seeking the highest standard of character; by seeking unity in the family overflowing into the nation, through acknowledgment of The Almighty.

The aim to make the family unit strong should be fostered in every media outlet through condemnation of all pornography and deception.

Deception, whether by word or by action, should be thoroughly deplored and legal action taken against every media outlet that allows deception. All flat statements on any subject of even minor importance, must be accompanied by proof. Any personal opinion must be clearly shown to be exactly that - personal opinion.


http://www.alrc.gov.au/sites/default/files/pdfs/CI%2070%20Allan%20Choveaux.pdf

i hope EFA and the other civil liberties liberties groups are on this because it seems likes the religious nutters are.
Steve Farrelly
Posted 02:13pm 07/7/11
nice, we've expanded the 80-odd public submissions since posting this morning an extra 50+ already. Keep spreading the word if you can though - this has been open since May apparently, so we might be able to out-impact the zealots before the end of the week, next week.
Raven
Posted 02:51pm 07/7/11
Nice, so it lets me fill out the form, I click submit, and it says I have to create an account. Okay, fine, so I do that, though most average users would lose everything they've entered and then not bother.
Then, after filling everything out, it gives me 'Validation error' for both saving drafts and submitting. There's nothing that indicates what field fails validation. Nice.

Is anyone getting 'Validation error' ?

Can't get the damn thing to submit.

See above :(
I have to go in to a meeting at 3, but I'll get straight on the phone after I'm out of it. Not gonna be deterred by poor programming :(

Also, I think some people here will be surprised by my responses. Or not. I'm not sure :P
(the basic gist of it, though, is "the government should advise, not enforce")

last edited by Raven at 14:51:41 07/Jul/11
DM
Posted 03:01pm 07/7/11
Sent mine in.
HurricaneJim
Posted 03:02pm 07/7/11
Religious group submissions should be ignored, religious content should be classified M15+.
Scooter
Posted 03:21pm 07/7/11
I wish someone like the EFA could submit the Bible for Classification without it being taken as a huge joke or offence...
It has Sexual Violence and would be RC.
Raider
Posted 03:47pm 07/7/11
done

I wish someone like the EFA could submit the Bible for Classification without it being taken as a huge joke or offence...
It has Sexual Violence and would be RC.


Actually scooter i said to make an independent panel with varying ages with no religious ideals to go through what x, y and z should be classified as. F*** religion.
Rawprawn
Posted 04:30pm 07/7/11
All done!
Steve Farrelly
Posted 04:46pm 07/7/11
Also guys, not to turn it into a competition, but these guys obviously jumped on our nudge for this today: http://australianchristianlobby.org.au/2011/07/have-your-say-on-consultation-for-violent-video-games/ with their own nudge
Crash
Posted 05:36pm 07/7/11
i can't wait to play all the racism games that have been refused here.
DM
Posted 05:47pm 07/7/11
Yeah Japanese bully simulator, where you hurl racism at them until they kill themselves, and some guy has explicit sex with the body. THIS WAS OUR PLAN ALL ALONG ACL MUAHAHAHAHA.
Pinky
Posted 05:49pm 07/7/11
John Gray, haha, awesome. I'd love to know more about that guy and how he lives. He must be a complete and utter bore.
DM
Posted 05:54pm 07/7/11
I reopened that John Grey thing for a laugh and noticed this at the bottom I hadn't before

Serious consideration should be considered about how the aid the police in preventing paedophiles from obtaining any classified media to use against children

Besides making the english language cry, exactly what type of "classified media" could be used "against children"? Not only that, but serious consideration should be considered how the aid the police. Remember that folks, because that's what this is really all about.
Pinky
Posted 06:02pm 07/7/11
If you're going to the effort, recommend emailing your local Attorney General with a brief summary of your thoughts.

Federal – Brendan O’Connor Brendan.O’Connor.MP@aph.gov.au
New South Wales – Greg Smith office@smith.minister.nsw.gov.au
Victoria – Robert Clark robert.clark@parliament.vic.gov.au
Queensland – Paul Lucas deputypremier@ministerial.qld.gov.au
Western Australia – Christian Porter Minister.Porter@dpc.wa.gov.au
South Australia – John Rau attorney-general@agd.sa.gov.au
Tasmania – Brian Wightman brian.wightman@parliament.tas.gov.au
Australian Capital Territory – Simon Corbell corbell@act.gov.au
Northern Territory – Delia Lawrie electorate.karama@nt.gov.au

Here's my email:

Honorable Robert Clark,

The classifications review is a very important issue - I know you agree.

I write to urge you to act on behalf of the majority of your constuents.

It seems an obvious thing to do living in a democracy as we do - but again and again on issues that seems remotely controversial (when they needn't be) we are faced with conservative solutions.

The messages from the surveys are clear, as I am sure the messages from the current review survey will also be clear - the overwhelming response will continue to be that the Government's role in classification is to classify only and prohibit when absolutely necessary.

Let adults be adults with maximum freedom, let parents be parents managing their children, and let us all enjoy our own choices of media when it comes to escapism.

Sincerely,

Pinky
Eorl
Posted 06:23pm 07/7/11
I'm out of steam now since it all first began and especially a couple months ago when I sent a 3 page email to an attorney general. But everyone else do fight the power!
skythra
Posted 06:29pm 07/7/11
Took over an hour. I tended to have this recurring idea of a benchmark.

The idea being an open benchmark for classifications which is based around statistics and reflection of societal ethics. Once that benchmark exists then everything can be classified.

Another thing I banged on about was the classification should be a tool. It's educational and if it's respectable (should be indicated by relying on the benchmark) then even if individuals disagree, then it can be still used as a tool for decision making. The classification said X and X+whatever is where I generally stand. Therefore I will/will not choose this title for my children.

Finally I went on a bit for a while in another question. They asked something about if classification is currently understandable. Well No it's not. How can a board who's primary concern is providing ratings and education of those ratings to help with decision making, have the power to make things literally illegal? That doesn't make sense.
Reverend Evil
Posted 06:30pm 07/7/11
Religious groups who don't pay tax shouldn't be included in this.
John
Posted 01:44am 08/7/11
Just saw this article posted on N4G. Would not have known about the survey otherwise. Thanks for the heads up and hopefully the bishops and deacons don't influence the final say, which they hopefully shouldn't because religious influence has become redundant ever since the discovery of electricity.
Nerfington
Posted 03:34am 08/7/11
I wanted to make a clear argument regarding consent versus non-consent, and where refused classification (and thus, censorship) fits into that. I'm not even sure if this is necessarily even relevant to "classification" - though it seems to go hand in hand in this country. Nor am I practiced in debate or formal logic used to put forth an argument, so I could use some help if anybody can offer it.

Mostly though, I'm not sure if this argument is too pie-in-the-sky for most people. I want to run it by you guys, to see if you think that it might be counter-productive, due to setting off your "abnormal" alarms, and whether you think that the people responsible for making the decisions will be closed off and repulsed by unfamiliar ideas (as unfortunately seems to be a recurring flaw in the human psyche. I can easily imagine somebody dismissing it as "not relevant to the real world", somehow, without being able to justify beyond that without only meaning "not familiar"). From my perspective, while it appears to be an uncommon style of thought, it is a much more refined argument than what we have generally been able to give so far.

It is one of the simplest ideas in the world I think, but I'm going to go through it over and over until I'm confident that it makes sense.

The argument essentially boils down to, that, human society can be split into two groups. Those who do things which affect others without their consent, and those who only carry out consensual acts.

Rapists, murderers, paedophiles, assaulters, perpetrators of hate crimes - they act without consent, for varying reasons.

Chess players, anime watchers, kickboxers, fetishists - they act with consent.

People can essentially only justly cohabitate in one configuration - don't do anything non-consensual to somebody else, unless they themselves have, revoking their own immunity.

Defenders (police) act without consent, (theoretically) only to defend against those who have already broken the non-consent rule.

If an individual, due to their own mental state (racist feelings, overly aggressive nature, personal beliefs on irrational issues such as "morality"), invades another person's life (attacks) without that person having done anything non-consensual to somebody else, then the attacker has broken the one necessary rule for just human co-existence, which is not to interfere with another individual's life unless they themselves are breaking that rule, and it becomes necessary. No matter how strongly the attacking individual feels about the issue, if it's consensual, it has not invited justified attack. It does not matter how widespread the feelings are, they are no different from those who are upset by the appearance of others and attack because of that (such as the recent attacks on Indian nationals within Australia, where the assaulters believed that they were doing something right - clearly belief in what is right is irrational, nobody has claim to it, and people who try to use it as a justification for attacking somebody else are revealing no proven truth, only personal arrogance). Attack needs to be invited as a matter of defense, or else the assaulter is a non-consensual invader themselves, in the same category as rapists, paedophiles, etcetera.

This means, that, if any amount of people wish to engage in an activity which is consensual, then nobody else has a case for stopping them *no matter how they feel about it.* To give into their (irrational) emotions on the matter, as I've analogised, is no different to those who give into their personal fears and attack others who they don't like the look of, without the others having done anything to warrant an attack. It is not a path which sentient individuals looking to cohabitate can subscribe to, as there will always be differences of opinion and taste. Thus, any activity that people involve themselves in, so long as it is consensual, is valid, and cannot be justifiably attacked, since nobody knows or has claim to what is right.

Censorship is an attack on another individual. It is one person choosing to invade the life and personal activities of another. It is an invasion of somebody's personal space and wishes, and, if their interests are purely consensual, than it is an irrational and unjust attack due to not liking what they like, just as an assault for not liking the way that somebody looks is. If a person disliked, say, chess, and invaded another's life because of it, it would be no more justified than invading another's life out of not liking their opinions, religion, or sexual preferences (if they are only ever carried out by consenting individuals). To do so would make the censor the unjust and irrational attacker, they would prove their own unworthiness to cohabitate with other equal beings, and society would be justified in defending itself, perhaps by institutionalising (locking away) the censor where they can no longer attack their co-inhabitants without just cause.

It does not matter how confident the feeling is due to familiarity or commonness of such act, the actions would still be as unjust as any other form of uninvited attack.

This means that - all opinions, sexual fetishes, hobbies, interests, activities, must be tolerated, so long as they do not affect a non-consenting individual. If society is to be just, it is the only path. If you must, imagine that somebody decides that they don't like something that you do, and wish to ban you from it, they declare that it is right only because they are in the majority, and nothing else (argumentum ad populum). They would still not be justified in invading your life, when your actions have never included a non-consensual attack upon others. People must agree to not do this to each other, for a happy and just human society, otherwise there is only tyranny of common prejudices.

As described in this article, all current sexual fetishes which involve consensual violence are prohibited, are banned, and would be filtered if the current attackers of other people's personal lives (this is exactly what they are) had their way. Some have chosen to invade other's lives without justified invitation. We allow people to hurt themselves in the gym in pursuit of strengthening their muscles, we allow people to eat, smoke, and drink themselves into all kinds of diseases, yet don't consider it unacceptable self-harm, we allow people to hurt themselves in professional sports, particularly in say rugby or boxing, if they wish to do so, yet don't consider it assault, we allow people to hurt themselves in the form of surgery cutting open a body, if they wish to do so - yet, for some reason, we pick on just another consensual activity, which is sexuality, due to society's own personal hangups. This is no more justified than a majority-racist country inflicting repeated hate crimes, no matter how much we're used to it, it has never been justified, and can only be described as a tyranny by those in the comfortable yet still unjustified majority. It is an act of genuine cruelty, people's entire lives become one of unearned oppression, and the irrational righteous never recognise what they wrought on others, insanely and cruelly believing themselves to be "right", when the only true difference is that that they happen to pick on a minority. They need to be made aware how they are no different than rapists, paedophiles, murderers, whenever they invade other people's lives without it being a matter of justified defence - which is only when a non-consensual individual has been involved.

Many many people have desires to roleplay forced acts, for personal reasons, just as boxing is simulated combat, but is not actual assault, or a surgeon is violently affecting another's body, but is not assault. When all members are consenting, it is not assault, and if society wishes to invade other's lives when their acts are only consensual, then society must admit that it is wishes to be unjust for the sake of its own hangups and irrational emotions.

If somebody wishes to not believe in supernatural elements, without forcing it onto others, they must be allowed to do so. If somebody wishes to believe in supernatural elements, to be religious, without forcing anything onto others, then they must be allowed to do so. Failure to seek this cohabitation will only mean that we're always fighting, for unjustifiable reasons in a universe of unknowns, and will always be tyrannising minority pursuits.
Enska
Posted 05:38am 08/7/11
F*** that Nerf, I usually give you the benefit of the doubt and read most of your walls but that ones going way too far.
Nerfington
Posted 08:56am 08/7/11
Even I think it's crazy in retrospect. :P
Raven
Posted 09:09am 08/7/11
I was more or less advised by their techies to use IE. Not happy about it, but I cut/pasted all my responses from Chrome to IE and it submitted okay.

Edit:

Also, Jesus Christ Nerf, Berliners and Palestinians have more chances of getting past their walls than we have of getting past that wall of text.

last edited by Raven at 09:09:18 08/Jul/11
Nerfington
Posted 09:34am 08/7/11
Sorry, in retrospect the whole thing could have just been stated as: Treat thy neighbour.

edit: Apparently it's not an uncommon line of though, like I thought it was, woo. Very different from how we build our societies still though. Ok, I just need to write a clear submission that appeals to the golden rule, regarding the incorrectness of having a classification level which bans some people's interests, when the content does not break the golden rule, which makes the classification system itself the breaker of the golden rule.
taggs
Posted 10:02am 08/7/11
oh cool, mine has been published on the site now
Raven
Posted 10:50am 08/7/11
I noticed a f***ton of submissions went up this morning. Seems my random sampling was picking out a lot from the religious crazies though :(
Nick Ross
Posted 12:05pm 08/7/11
FYI - here's a follow up article - it's a response from the ALRC to those who think they will be ignored in favour of conservative lobbyists: http://www.abc.net.au/technology/articles/2011/07/08/3264583.htm
Nerfington
Posted 12:31pm 08/7/11
Thanks for the story Nick, it's quite encouraging. :)
DM
Posted 12:39pm 08/7/11
Yeah I don't have high hopes for games getting an R18 rating anytime soon. It's just too logical and sensible. They'll listen to the ACL I bet. I really hope that I can eat those words later though.
jackflash
Posted 12:49pm 08/7/11
Bump if you posted your disagreement with the idiocy on the Christian Video Game forum.
jackflash
Posted 12:53pm 08/7/11
Also go Steve for commenting on ABC article, there's more wisdom in you than all the Conservative Religious Zealots who are opposing the change.
Steve Farrelly
Posted 12:59pm 08/7/11
Heh, thanks dude - just trying to do our part for a cause that's been weighed down by said zealots for far too long :)
DM
Posted 01:27pm 08/7/11
Wonder if my post will be accepted moderation or not.

But how does that differ from any other type of R18 rated movie with a sex scene in it? During these scenes the game is always unplayable and is just like a movie being watched. People are allowed to view pornography and sex scenes in movies and TV shows, so why are games different? Because games are automatically for children? The average gamer is around 30 years old so that isn’t the case anymore. Really your argument should be to remove the R18 rating entirely from movies as well as it allows excessive, over the top violence as well as “realistically simulated” sex scenes.

Is it because children can get a hold of these games? Well then that is the fault of the child, parent and the retail outlets for selling and letting children obtain this material. There are clear ratings already on boxes such as MA15+ which no one seems to pay attention to. Turn your fight on the people too lazy to check for IDs when a child is buying a violent game, or parents who don’t care enough about what their child watches and plays with. You make it necessary for age verification just like if a 13 year old was trying to see an R18 rated movie at the cinemas, you don’t force an entire demographic to suffer because some parents are too busy or lazy to watch their children.


EDIT - I was going to mention something about there already being japanese sex games but thought "no, shut up. if they hear that they will call for an entire ban for anything japanese online"

last edited by DM at 13:27:07 08/Jul/11
Enska
Posted 01:33pm 08/7/11
Why don't they all see it the way this bloke does, it's really not that hard to wrap your bible cladded brain around.
As a Christian, it saddens me to see this lobby group taking such an irrational stand that continues to make it more difficult for parents to choose appropriate entertainment for their children. The simple facts are that there are extremely few games that do not make it into Australia with the lack of an R18+ rating due to the game industry’s consistent policy of “minor change until it passes” to skirt the MA15+ rating boundaries.

The vast majority of games given the R18+ label in the rest of the world are simply reclassified as MA15+ here either unchanged or significantly intact and parents are left unable to determine the difference. The most significant impact of the R18+ rating would be to lift the bulk of “just MA15+” games to the more descriptive rating that presents a much stronger disincentive for parents to allow their children to play such games.

Protect our children and get behind the R18+ classification being introduced.
Raven
Posted 03:12pm 08/7/11
Sadly, reading through some of the recent additions from gamers, they're making our demographic look as stupid as some of the ones from the lobby group side. Like this one: T Murray :(
DM
Posted 03:15pm 08/7/11
rediculouse

Not sure if spelling mistake or harry potter spell
Raven
Posted 03:34pm 08/7/11
I must admit, I too once couldn't spell ridiculous. So much so, that Simon Wright actually responded to a post of mine, "The only thing ridiculous about what you've said is your spelling of ridiculous". This was about 12 years ago, of course ... I've never made that mistake again. I mean, sheesh, getting shown up by Simon Wright... :P
Raven
Posted 07:48pm 08/7/11
A comment that I fully expect to be rejected from the ACL website:

Troll mode: on.
Are the ACL so naive to believe that refusing the sale of material in a country of a population of 20 million will stop it’s production being profitable outside our borders?

Rather than being backwards and outright against an R18+ rating, why don’t you actually use what this survey is for as it’s intended, and give the feedback of what you believe should fit in to those categories?
No, we couldn’t have that. That would mean having to think for yourselves and not do what you’re told by leaders of an organised menace to modern society.

/troll mode
jackflash
Posted 10:52pm 08/7/11
Took Pinky's advice, here's my letter to NSW Attorney General Greg Smith, tried to keep it original but
borrowed a few of Pinky's ideas...

To the Honorable Greg Smith,

The Classifications Review that is fast approaching represents a very important issue within current Australian society.

I am writing to urge you to support the proposal of a new Classifications system.

For too long now the current Classifications system has not reflected the needs of the Australian public, and the problems that arise as the result of no R18+ classification for video games and other forms of visual media.

As an adult resident Australian tax payer i believe it is my right to decide what forms of media i can and cannot access, and not the right of the conservative lobbyists who do not understand the issue properly.

I have faith that you too understand that an R18+ classification for all media would mean less chance of minors accessing this content, the common argument from the Conservative camp seems to be the belief that an R18+ classification would mean more violent and explicit content arriving in Australia. However, what does not seem to be understood by the majority of these conservative lobbyists is that File-sharing and Torrent websites already cater for this, and an R18+ classification would only be a step in the right direction. In addition many games which should rightfully be classified R18+ slip under the radar as an MA15+ classification which means younger and younger people are accessing this content.

I appreciate and thank you for acknowledging the need for a classifications review and hope that your decision will be a step in the right direction.

Sincerely,
Jackflash
Raven
Posted 07:27pm 12/7/11
My response, in case anyone was interested:
http://www.alrc.gov.au/sites/default/files/pdfs/ci_427_t_rowe.pdf
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