The trouble is that parents use the TV and other media as digital nannies because they do want the responsibility or to take the time to raising their own children. When their child does something wrong they never want the charge of admitting bad parenting, instead looking for excuses in faceless and ultimately defenseless media. The other problem is that currently the older generations and those in power still perceive games as being the realm of children. It will take a fundamental shift in the thinking of older generations to see games as adult media and some of this will not be suitable for children. Once they understand this they will understand the arguments for the classification, however late it is. Having said all that, I hope Aussies get the R18+ rating and that the government realises that not only civil rights but also the good that games can acheive should not be impeded upon.
We take an in-depth look at the recently released preliminary report into the results of the Australian R18+ public consultation.
Four months after the Australian government first sought public opinion on the R18+ for video games debate, the first results into the long-awaited public submission was unveiled late last week.
Last Friday, the Minister for Home Affairs Brendan O'Connor announced a preliminary report into the results of the R18+ public consultation, which ran from December 2009 to March 2010. The consultation asked Australians to have their say in the debate after being presented with arguments for and against R18+ for games.
Following the initial news that 98.2 percent of the 59,678 public submissions received by the Commonwealth Attorney-General's Department were in favour of introducing R18+, GameSpot AU has combed the report's contents to present a detailed summary of the key points.
It is important to note that the information presented in the report (and reproduced here) is based on preliminary figures--the Commonwealth Attorney-General's Department is still processing submissions made during the R18+ public consultation.
1: The majority of submissions received in the R18+ public consultation were from games retailer EB Games (34,938). This was followed by Grow Up Australia (16,056). The department also received 33 submissions from community, church and industry groups, such as Interactive Games and Entertainment Association, Telstra, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, and the Australian Interactive Media Industry Association (all in support of R18+), as well as the Australian Christian Lobby, the Australian Council on Children and the Media, the Commissioner for Children Tasmania, and the Sporting Shooters Association (all opposed to R18+).
2: The majority of respondents were aged between 18 and 24 years, followed by 25 to 34 years, under 18 years, and 35 to 44 years. Interestingly, the majority were male (21,832 male and 2,444 female). The number of males that made pro-R18+ submissions was 91 percent; the number of females that made anti-R18+ submissions was 38 percent.
3: A large number of respondents made similar comments in the "free text" option of the public consultation. More than 2,000 people stated that: "A lack on an R18+ classification for computer games restricts the civil liberties of adult gamers" and that "Content children access is a parent/guardian [sic] responsibility." Other points agreed upon include: The lack of an R18+ classification for games has a negative impact on the Australian video games industry; the lack of R18+ for games means games are incorrectly classified; an R18+ rating would prove useful to parents; refused classification games can be easily bought online and imported; and the requirement that all censorship ministers must be in unanimous agreement to introduce R18+ for games is too stringent.
4: The department received 34 submissions from community, church, and industry groups. Of these, 53 percent supported the introduction of R18+. The most interesting arguments from these groups are listed below:
a) The Communications, Entertainment & Technology Law Committee of NSW Young Lawyers (CET), Electronic Frontiers Australia and AusGamers (EFAA) argued that there is a continuing trend to classify games as MA15+ in Australia when they are restricted to adult-only sales and use in overseas markets. The groups argued that under classification creates a higher chance of minors accessing unsuitable material than they would under a system with an R18+ classification and that parents would be less likely to ignore the classification and allow their children to access an R18+ game if such a classification was introduced.
EFAA provided a list of 91 titles that the Australian Classification Board classified MA15+ or RC in 2009. Of these, EFAA found that where a game had been classified in the US, UK, and EU member countries, 24 titles were classified as being unsuitable for minors and restricted to 18 years or over.
b) Interactive Games & Entertainment Association Ltd (iGEA), Media Classifiers’ Association of Australia (MCAA), XLAN Inc (XLAN), and EFAA argued that there is a lack of conclusive scientific evidence that violent media causes or triggers violent behaviour, pointing to Australian and overseas government-funded reports and inquiries that suggest there was no direct causal link between exposure to violent media and violent behaviour. They also argued that there is no evidence to suggest that violence in video games is more damaging than violence in films and other media. Research supporting a link between simulated violence and aggressive behaviour has come from limited sources and questionable experimental practices. Telstra suggested that the lack of scientific consensus on the issue highlights the need for more research to be done; however, it was still in support of R18+.
c) The Presbyterian Church (PC) argued that the protection of children against harmful material should be a higher priority than the principle that adults should have free access to all media. The Commissioners for Children and Young People and Child Guardians (CCYPCG), the Commissioner for Children Tasmania (CCT), and Australian Family Association WA (AFAWA) all argued that this would be in line with Australia’s obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, but also with government and community efforts to protect children and Australia’s future.
d) Interestingly, the Australian Catholic Bishops (ACB) argued that their preferred position is that R18+ material would not be available in Australia. However, as material is currently available despite its illegality, it would be preferable to introduce an R18+ classification category for games so that access to such material, particularly by children, can be restricted.
e) Groups were divided on the topic of age restrictions by parents. CET argued that having greater differentiation between MA15+ games and R18+ games will aid in the use of parental control locks on consoles. Other groups argued that the lack of an R18+ classification has caused confusion for parents about what's contained in MA15+ games and that classification parity with films would assist parents to make better decisions as to what is suitable for children. The majority of submissions supportive of an R18+ classification also argued that there is a need for more government education about the content and restrictions attached to classification standards.
On the other side of the debate, Media Standards Australia (MSA) and the CCYPCG argued that research and surveys have shown that parents find it difficult to prevent children from accessing forbidden material. The groups also stated that children are not passive recipients of media; they are independent agents who aspire to adulthood and adult activities and that no amount of safeguards can prevent the increase in access and exposure of unsuitable materials to minors.
Stay tuned to GameSpot AU for more on the R18+ debate. For more on video game classification in Australia, check out GameSpot AU's Aussie Games Classification FAQ feature.
I like how the church and community groups can see some benefit in an R18+ rating as it makes the decision easier for parents because an 18+ rated game to a parent may seem far worse then a 15+ game, just by looking at it.
I really hope that this entire discussion will end this year with the introduction of an R18+ next year so they censored & banned games will get a fair release. The retail industry just need to enforce that if you look under 18 they require ID for purchase of R18+ games.
@barkera0 um yeah they did get over 70'000 they where pushing for 100,000 and at last check they where close to 80'000 im sure there are probly some double ups here and there but they got way more than ebs but this isnt about who got more its about getting as much support as we can too get in our R18+ rating good job bye both companies!.
All interesting points. We've heard them all before. And again, the common sense is obvious. Implement R18+. It is the right thing to do. If the above cosultation figures don't enforce this, then the 'Attorney Generals' system would require a BIG inquiry as to how it operates..
It is not be the responsibility of the government to ban something that is unsuitable for children, but legislate appropriately so that children are not exposed to it. If it is as impossible as the Anti R18+ people suggest to keep these games out of the reach of children, then they must also believe the same problems exist for R18+ movies, Alcohol, poisons, power-tools etc. We all have enough common sense to keep these things out of the reach of children, why should R18+ video games be any different?
damn! this much detailed scrutinization? Rated R18+ games should arrive in australia, when you can cast shows like underbelly at 8:30pm on channel 9 on sunday which is a family channel and family dinner time, then why can't you release 18+ games? comon dont try to be so sophisticated, we know whats going on in australia, go and keep an eye on junk in inner and west melbourne.
If people are so worried about kids accessing the R18 content, then LEGISLATE PROOF OF ID for all R18 material. If little Timmy wants to disobey his parents and buy Postal 4: The Orgasmic Rapefest then he better prove he is old enough. Sure enough there is the issue of Digital Distribution, but again it's the parents responsibility to watch what Timmy buys with their platinum credit card.
@DamnClown I think you misunderstood my post. Barkera0 was outraged that his/her freedom was being restricted due to our 'think of the children' mentality. That quote, by one of history's most ruthless dictators, relates to what's happening here with our very own government (in regards to the internet censorship and ban on R18+ games). I just find it interesting.
@hypoty Hitler then went and committed mass genocide, I highly doubt that introducing an R18+ rating to the gaming industry is gonna cause over six million deaths.
"However, as material is currently available despite its illegality, it would be preferable to introduce an R18+ classification category for games so that access to such material, particularly by children, can be restricted." The penny finally drops for one of these "think of the children" groups. Most of the content they deem "harmful" are already on our shores, wrongly labelled as MA15+. Edit: that's what I get for not refreshing the page
" Interestingly, the Australian Catholic Bishops (ACB) argued that their preferred position is that R18+ material would not be available in Australia. However, as material is currently available despite its illegality, it would be preferable to introduce an R18+ classification category for games so that access to such material, particularly by children, can be restricted." I'm fully in support of an R18+ Rating and I think that even the parents that scream "think of the children" should take this statement to heart. Seriously, the games are there whether you like it or not and at least this way you're making a serious distinction between "teen" content and the heavy stuff.
@barkera0 "As long as the government is perceived as working for the benefit of the children, the people will happily endure almost any curtailment of liberty and almost any deprivation." -Adolf Hitler
"98.2 percent of the 59,678 public submissions...were in favour of introducing R18+" That's a good start.
@ 0rbytel - I dunno what planet you're from but game didn't get 70,000 submissions. I think they were running their own campaign, which I don't believe did all that well.
"The Presbyterian Church (PC) argued that the protection of children against harmful material should be a higher priority than the principle that adults should have free access to all media." That is just beyond words. These people want to restrict our freedoms as adults because parents are irresponsible? Disgusting.
It will be interesting to see what happens when they finally get to the end of their debating and researching over this... will they bring in the R18+ or will every gamer in australia have to continue doing what we are already and import.
Hmm.. no mention of GAME's 70,000 submissions? perhaps they were too late for the public consultation deadline.