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Wed Apr 13, 2011 3:59 am by Roy42


    Australian "Adults Only" Rating

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    Roy42
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    Australian "Adults Only" Rating

    Post by Roy42 on Mon Dec 14, 2009 1:51 pm

    This is pretty much the only place I can talk about it, since it's more or less the generic games forum here.

    Okay, now since most of you are Americans, here's how the ratings system works in Australia for film and literature:

    G (Everyone)

    PG (Parental Guidance Recommended, ages somewhere between 8 and 12 are good for here)

    M (Recommended for Mature Audiences only)

    MA15+ (Restricted to those above 15 years only)

    R18+ (The Adults Only rating)

    X18+ (Duh…)

    So, that's the film and literature classifications in Australia. HOWEVER! When it comes to videogames, there is no R18+ rating. This means that if a game contains content that the Australian Classifications Board decides should not be viewed by those under 18, it is refused classification and banned from sale. The other problem with this at the moment is that it means that the most restricted a game can be, still permits minors to play them at 15 years. Games like Fallout 3, which were given Mature and Adult ratings in America and Europe, have been classified as MA15+, and this game that is simply not suitable for minors to play, was available to millions of gamers across the nation.

    You may be asking now, "So why don't you have an Adults Only rating for games? You've got one for film, after all." and that's where the problem arises. Michael Atkinson is the Attorney General for South Australia. Now, every few years (not entirely sure when) all of the Attorney Generals, or some group of politicians, have to discuss certain topics on an agenda, on which the proposal to introduce an R18+ classification for videogames has repeatedly come up. But while every other Attorney General has agreed that videogames should have an Adults Only classification, Michael Atkinson has continually disagreed, and since it has to be a unanimous decision (ratings can't be enacted at a state level, as people can just drive over the borders), this basically gives one man a veto power.

    If you're now wondering why he would oppose to having an R18+ classification for games, prepare to go into the mind of a believer; someone who honestly believes that they are doing the right thing, and whose opinion cannot be changed by any amount of logic, reason or statistics.

    You might have guessed it, but Atkinson's entire argument for vetoing the proposal every time is basically "Think of the children!" and that is it. Unfortunately, here's where it gets hard for me to fully explain, because he has so many straw man arguments and there are so many reports about his head being stuck up his ass that I just don't know where to begin.

    I will now take the opportunity to say why so many Australians are pushing for him to either change his mind or to get him unseated so that someone who does want the law to be passed can take place. It is not, as he claims and believes, that we want more interactive material that contains depraved sex acts, incredibly detailed violence, or drug usage with positive game experience. We want the Adults Only rating for two reasons:

    1) We want to have the same freedom and liberty that we have with film

    2) We do want to protect the children as well, by keeping games like Left4Dead 2, Fallout 3, Dark Sector, and Aliens vs Predator, all of which were originally refused classification or slightly modified to still be unsuitable for children, but toned down enough that they can scrape through with an MA15+ rating, restricted to Adults.

    I cannot begin to express just how infuriating it is to me and likely to gamers all over Australia — probably even outside AUS, too — when we see Michael Atkinson call us zealots who want nothing more than to impose our will on society and demand for more violence, sex and drugs, or say that we are a small, vested interest, going against the public interest.

    Let me lay out the figures for you:

    Gamers worldwide: 1 billion

    Gamers in Australia(using the above statistic): 3 million

    Mature gamers in Australia who are affected by this issue: 1.5 million

    Attorneys General 7,8, something like that

    Attorneys General who believe that having an Adults Only rating for videogames will permit games like Rapelay or Narc to be on the shelves, then in the homes of innocent children, where they will definitely manage to play them, because none of the current generation consoles or PCs have parental controls: 1

    Please, tell me who looks like the zealot, who wants to — and is — imposing their will on society and is a small vested interest.

    I do not want to go on for too much longer, especially as the more I talk or even think about him and his abuse of his power to enact a personal vendetta against gaming, the more angry I get. I literally have not gotten this angry over anything, in YEARS!

    Even more worrying to me, is the principle of the whole thing, as a game designer myself, how am I supposed to make games that progress with the times when my home country can't even stock them? I do have my sights set on a couple of Australian development studios, and while working for a company like Valve, or, if I managed to maybe learn Japanese, Nintendo, would be amazing, I do want to start in the place I was born. Sure, I might not specifically want to make those games anyway, but as I said, the principle.

    Now, here are some links that I really do mean it when I say you HAVE TO check them out, if only to get a feeling for how full of himself Atkinson is after 20 years in office:

    A six page reply on the subject of R18+ classification from Michael Atkinson himself, with the final paragraph even going far enough with his superiority complex to show that he openly challenges gamers to run against him in March, 2010.

    Seriously, that first one is the most important, as it describes his straw-man better than I could hope to. It's long, but it's the only way you can be completely aware of how much of an asshole he is.

    An (Australian) ABC report about the refused classification of Aliens vs Predator

    A radio report about Modern Warfare 2 and how it was given a Mature or Adult rating everywhere else in the world, but only MA15+ here.

    The newly formed party that is running against him to specifically take him down in March(they've got some nifty artwork in response to violent videogames not being safe for children; check the "Art" section. Well, just check all the sections)

    I urge for your support, even as non-Australians, in this issue. Like I said, the principle of the thing is easily spread, and so much could be done to harm not only games, but even film and other forms of art by waving the "Think of the children!" banner high and mighty. If anyone still watches The Simpsons, remember what happened in the episode where Marge got Itchy and Scratchy banned. That nightmare is becoming more and more realised in the gaming world as the years go by.

    This is my hobby, it my passion, it is my career, it is my life, and I don't want it to be destroyed before I can even see it begin.


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    ≈Roy42
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    tiggertine

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    Re: Australian "Adults Only" Rating

    Post by tiggertine on Mon Dec 14, 2009 10:19 pm

    For goodness's sake. Let's teach parents how to do their job properly and monitor what their kids are doing themselves, instead of having the government decide for them.
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    Roy42
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    Re: Australian "Adults Only" Rating

    Post by Roy42 on Mon Dec 14, 2009 10:36 pm

    I should point out that conveniently the government has finally released the discussion paper for all Australians (and, since it's on the internet, all peoples) to look at concerning the R18+ classification. They ask for submissions from Australian citizens to give their input on the matter, and while that's great news for all Aussie gamers, the problem is that no matter how much the submissions in favour of introducing the new classification stack up, it's still got to be decided by the political officials, which still has to be unanimous, which still gives Michael Atkinson the veto power.

    You can read the discussion paper hereThe links to read it are on the right, and the summary of the key arguments start at page 7.


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    Crowfeather

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    Re: Australian "Adults Only" Rating

    Post by Crowfeather on Mon Dec 14, 2009 11:34 pm

    I love video games, and a large portion of my friends do, too. But only 2 of us play them more frequently than others. Shouldn't parents just do their job: be parents? Seriously! The only game rated M that I've ever played was "Far Cry: Vengence", I think. Why should this even be an issue? Why do they care? Why make those types of video games if there's gonna be a problem?
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    DjangoKatie

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    Re: Australian "Adults Only" Rating

    Post by DjangoKatie on Mon Dec 14, 2009 11:52 pm

    Why don't they use the PEGI system rating, that's what we Brits use for games classification. Or use something similar.
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    Crowfeather

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    Re: Australian "Adults Only" Rating

    Post by Crowfeather on Tue Dec 15, 2009 12:00 am

    Here in America, if you're 12 and you're renting a video game rated M or even T sometimes, you either need an adult with you, or just have an adult do it for you. Then they have no other control. They don't care.
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    Achidanza

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    Re: Australian "Adults Only" Rating

    Post by Achidanza on Fri Dec 18, 2009 1:00 am

    I wasn't aware Australia was so strict when it came to video games until left4dead2 was banned recently. You have my sympathies, man. I'll be sure to give each of those links a good click.
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    Roy42
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    Re: Australian "Adults Only" Rating

    Post by Roy42 on Fri Dec 18, 2009 1:48 am

    It's not the OFLC's fault, and they're not being super strict; Left4Dead2 is a game that should not have been classified as MA15+, because it just wouldn't have been suitable for minors. It all trails back to Atkinson not wanting an R18+ category, because it not only makes rating games much harder for the Classifications Board, but they have to refuse classification to games like L4D2.

    Here's the scenario that completely deconstructs Atkinson's entire argument against R18+ videogames being permitted in Australia, which is only aided by the discussion paper:

    As it stands, if a non-gamer parent had, say, a 14 year old child who was a gamer, and they wanted to play Fallout 3, which was rated MA15+, they might give leeway about it, reasoning that "They're mature for their age, I'm sure they can handle content a year above their level" despite it being many years to mature for them, the parent buys the game. Now, that parent has been told about the current ratings system, and that if it's above MA15+ level, it's refused classification. They then reason "So all games that are refused classification are unsuitable for minors. But this game I've bought for my son is rated MA, so it's a little old for them, but it's still OK for them to play." With an R18+ rating, two things happen. Now, the parent can see that Fallout is rated R18+ (if it were resubmitted for classification) and they are aware that there is an R18+ rating, they now know that the game is definitely not suitable for their child to play, and that while games unsuitable for minors are rated R18+, if a game is refused classification, then it's just not suitable for the general public, outside of Japan anyway. The parent does not buy the game for their child; child is protected from this mature content, but adults are still able to enjoy the incredible experience.

    Now, exactly who do you think could find the first instance to be favourable?

    Anyway, the results from the discussion paper should help move things forward. Atkinson is gonna be in one hell of a tight spot if the survey results go against him.


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    Achidanza

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    Re: Australian "Adults Only" Rating

    Post by Achidanza on Fri Dec 18, 2009 2:23 am

    It seems like a lot of problems could be solved by simply broadening the rating system. If video games were rated more accurately, parents would have an overall better understanding of what their child should be playing. Isn't that better than letting them play a game that just barely slipped into a MA15 rating?
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    Re: Australian "Adults Only" Rating

    Post by Roy42 on Sun Dec 27, 2009 5:23 pm

    The AustralianGamer Christmas podcast took note of the issue this week, in light of Aliens vs Predator being reclassified as MA15+, instead of being refused classification like it initially was (no, that's not a win in the grand scheme). The quote that stuck with me very nicely was about how in an SBS report on the matter, a family man said that if R18+ games were allowed in the country, their kids would be able to get them:

    …you could say the same about anything…if things are legal, or if things exists, then people can get them; this is a given, but it's still not an argument…I can't get over the fact that 'family values' and 'family groups' is a euphemism for religious groups. I cannot let that point go and I will not allow it to pass. I'm a father, but this is not a parenting issue; this is a civil liberties issue, this is a personal issue, not a family one. If you can't manage your own fucking family, get out of mine.

    With every single passing day and every interview on the matter that Atkinson is a part of, I think more and more people are becoming aware of just how little merit every single one of his arguments has, and that he is clearly trying to enact a personal vendetta on videogames, gamers, and the games industry, because he is a failure as a parent.

    Anyway, I've got the perfect plan to take him down anyway, if the Gamers4Croydon party loses at the election (wouldn't be incredibly surprising) AND if the discussion paper yields no results and gets us nowhere, which, seeing as it's only a survey, could be the case. All I need to do is bring up the issue within his party and convince 51% of the constituents that we should adopt an R18+ category, and Atkinson will either have to change his view to remain the representative that he claims to be, or he would hopefully be ousted. I just wish it was as simple as writing that sentence. I'm assuming that the discussion paper will have that sort of effect, though; so long as it goes in our favour with the results, Atkinson would have no choice but to change his mind.

    I'm sure a relic like him remembers in his 20s, when Benjamin Franklin said that those who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

    Still, if this issue still hasn't been resolved by the time I'm working on my first actual big console release that would be rated for adults only, I'll make a specific request to my publisher that I don't want the game to be submitted to Australia, because there is no adults rating, and I don't want minors being able to freely play the game. Matter of fact, just get one of the hyped up releases coming in the next year that would be rated as such to not be submitted and have the developer point out exactly why they aren't going to submit it for classification, and see what the public reaction would be.

    You want to know whether the interactive nature of videogames can cause any more of a negative impact than film or literature? I started playing games when I was 6 or so. Now, keep in mind that back then, games could barely pass for realistic in any sense, and on top of that, I mostly played Nintendo IPs; Mario, Metroid, Zelda, Kirby, DK… The first game that I played that could possibly be considered a negative impact on me was Lylat Wars (Starfox64, for you Yanks) followed shortly by 007 Goldeneye and Perfect Dark, which depicted characters dying, put me in the position of someone who kills people for money, had much darker themes than anything I had played before (I caught up with Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter, Contra and games like them when emulators came into play). Let's ignore the fact that when I actually did start playing these games, I was far beyond an impressionable age and was pretty intelligent when it came to most things, especially what I was passionate about.

    Want to know when my violent behavioural patterns started? When I was 4-5.

    Yes; before I even started playing videogames, I was violent, and I don't just mean the typical tantrum throwing kiddie violence, either. You know, I had always considered the possibility that maybe, as omnivores, and looking at our history (whether you're going on the Creation or Evolution road makes no difference) we are just naturally violent as a species, but after Michael Atkinson stated his beliefs, I now know that my violence was obviously impacted by videogames about an Italian plumber, jumping on turtles that could fly, and flying using a racoon suit or cape, riding around using a dinosaur, against a colourful and friendly backdrop, all of which I was yet to play for at least another year or two.

    In all my life, the people I have always gotten the most infuriated at, even more than people who would call me a freak or touch my hat or damage something of value to me, were the people who just didn't get it. I got so infuriated at them because they just wouldn't shut up and accept the fact that I was right; and I am not being hyperbolic when I say that I've been right in every argument I've gotten in with another human being. Atkinson is someone who just doesn't get it, and just like every other time, I am right; he is WRONG. Unlike those people that call me a freak or whatever, I didn't want to kill the people that didn't get it, I just wanted them to get it. They make me angry enough that I literally want to punch something, and instead have to find something to calm me down.

    So is it ironic that the thing that calms me down and keeps my cool when I get angry, about anything or anyone, is and has always been videogames? See, you won't understand this unless you are a true gamer. It's what defines the difference between casual gamers and true gamers. Not 'you can't understand', but you won't understand, because without being a true gamer, you can never grasp how they provide the escapism we need. If maybe 0.2% of all gamers actually do try to transfer their pastime of beating up a bad guy over and over in a training mode, pretending it's Jake Heartman or whatever, over to the real world, then yes, it's a problem; not with the game, but with the parents, and possibly even the child too.

    See, despite what people might think, what with the label of 'toy' colouring the outlook on games as nothing more than a distraction for children, gamers do grow up, like every other human being. We mature/will mature/have matured into adult and functioning members of society, and even the less than 0.5% of gamers that might have been worse than others at keeping their emotions in check that one time during puberty are usually shocked back to Earth, especially if they do manage to attack the person. I remember a story about one of my cousins who had gotten in a fight when he was in school; he beat the other kid up seriously (he had martial arts training) and after that one fight, he was freaked out by the event, where they just don't stop bleeding after a few seconds, or that things start to stink after awhile of the fighting, enough that he knew not to do it again.

    If a child is in their school years and the line between fantasy and reality blurs for them, then the experience sets their mind straight, just like the other 99.99% of kids that had no problems. If the gamer is in their adult years, then they are mature and can differentiate between the two and it's no problem. The reason I got into fights more than once was because I wasn't attacking people based on wanting to do that finishing move in Beat-em-up X but just wanting to make them either get it, most of the time. Sure, I did have fantasies about using videogame powers to completely obliterate them, but I knew the difference and was fine. The reason I got into multiple fights each year was because I just had violent tendencies.

    When I got in serious trouble, my games were taken off of me, along with all but one hour at best, of watching TV each day. If you wouldn't have guessed, that didn't help at all, because the games weren't the problem; they were the solution to my anger; my escapism. At one point, I would take a Gameboy with me to school, and when I got angry, I'd play it. I might be holding a deep-rooted grudge against the person that would last through the infinite depths of time, but the anger that would make me want to dig my nails into their face (nothing ever seemed that effective once I caused scars all over one kid's face and arm back in Year 8 with that method) was gone.

    So where am I going with all this? The hell if I know; I'm not sure if I'm even on the subject matter anymore.

    Look; videogames are good for you in every way. If you're not a true gamer, you cannot and will never fully understand it, no matter who explains it to you. Setting aside the way every videogame educates the player in some way, videogames provide escapism for true gamers. This escapism helps control whatever negative feelings we might have in reality, by giving a fantasy setting to release those negative emotions with no repercussions. Yes, there is the one in a thousand young gamer that lets the line between fantasy and reality blur for a moment, even in a game that is classified for their age group, let alone outside of their age limit, and yes, the results are not good for anyone involved in the conflict that might ensue. But the event is almost certain to help them understand and define the line between fantasy and reality even more clearly, and will help them to grow up enough that they deal with future conflicts in much more appropriate ways.

    There are some games that aren't suitable for minors, and some games that just aren't suitable for people to play to begin with. Now that it's already been established that the near non-existant chance of a youth trying to harm someone because of a videogame and nothing else is almost instantly rectified anyway, putting videogames and film on the exact same level, let's just accept that like parents who smoke (like mine did) or drink in front of their kids, or are violent and aggressive (*hand up*) and bring adult movies into the home, mature videogames are a risk. There is a chance that the child might get a hold of adult films, games, cigarettes, alcohol, or what-have-you, but parents should at least be given the chance to protect their child from these things, or to explain the context to them if they see one scene from the media.

    I won't ask what kind of democracy puts a decision like this in the hands of just one man who has proven time and time again that it's a personal issue he has, rather than a civil liberties issue, but here's what I will ask all of you, who are mostly minors, and even those of you who are adults would probably not be married or have kids: When you have a family of your own, and you've done a good job of raising your child(ren) to uphold common sense values, and as far as you, they, and everyone you know is concerned, you are a good parent, how would you feel when you're told that because one person doesn't trust that you'll protect your kid(s) from one unproven hazard, regardless of everything you've done and what your child(ren) stand for as proof of your efforts, they were forced to wear glasses with pieces of paper taped over the lenses, forever showing them the world as a sugar gumdrop sherbet kingdom, while you stand in front, pulling them away from every sign put up by someone else that mark where things that could rip the lenses might be, until they turn 18 and step into the world, frightened by this new image and forced to do the same with their children?


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    Re: Australian "Adults Only" Rating

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