Last week all jurisdictions, except New South Wales (NSW), agreed in-principle to support the Commonwealth’s proposal to introduce an R18+ classification for computer games in Australia.
Law Ministers from all jurisdictions met in Adelaide for the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General meeting to decide on the issue, which has been on the agenda for almost a decade.
The Attorneys-Generals need to come to a unanimous decision to pass the new classification system. The NSW Attorney-General is the only one abstaining from a vote. Ministers have been blocking this by being opposed to the proposal in the past, this outcome is much better.
Brendan O’Connor, the Minister for Home Affairs gives me hope, it turns out the government isn’t full of scared old men and women.
“The introduction of an R18+ classification for computer games will provide better advice to parents and help prevent children and teenagers from accessing unsuitable material,” he said.
“Once introduced, the new classification will also afford adults the opportunity to view material designed for adults.”
“It is a credit to all jurisdictions that the meeting has now been able to achieve agreement over what is a complex matter in classification policy.”
“I thank all jurisdictions for their support for what is not just a practical public policy, but also very popular policy.”
A national telephone survey conducted by Galaxy last year showed that 80% of the 2,226 people contacted said they supported the introduction of an adult only category for games.
This comes just a month after the Supreme Court of the United States has ruled video games to be protected by the First Amendment. Here in Australia, we don’t actually have a freedom of speech law.
We have no Bill of Rights to protect our expression. Although that being said, our High Courts are pretty good at interpreting the Constitution in a way that protects our rights and freedoms.
Video games don’t have protection and have been a scapegoat for tragedy all over the world. As with any new media, political groups get their claws in and make assumptions. We hear stories about violent games creating violent children without evidence.
Recently, the mass media stirred up some good old panic when Anders Behring Breivik the suspect in the Oslo shooting referred to Modern Warfare 2 as a, “training-simulation”. Media outlets need to remember, these are the words of a crazy person. I’m not going to put much stock in someone who uses violent video games as an excuse for their behaviour, neither should respectable journalists.
The main problem, as I see it, there is still the general stereotype of gamers as young children or teenagers that live in their parent’s basement. I guess if I only listened to the chatter in online games , I’d assume that all gamers were some combination of whining children, slackers and pot smokers.
According to ‘The Interactive Australia 2009 report’, The average age of the Australian gamer is 30, in the U.S the average age is even higher at 37.
So hopefully, in the near future, us gamers will be treated as the adults we are and be allowed to make decisions on suitable content. Especially because I will have kids some day, some gamers I know already do. As much as I do enjoy some My Little Pony Adventures, I imagine that after the kids have gone to bed it’s time to unwind with some Call of Duty 23 or Battlefield 20XX.
Until then, I suppose I had better turn the blood and gore settings down on Left 4 Dead, you know, in case I break free from this basement and play death metal at old people or something.
Daniel is a pacifist unless there are goombas involved. Click here to follow him on Twitter