It’s been a long time coming, but the Australian public have finally been given their chance to speak out on the country’s lack of an adult R18+ rating for video games.
The Commonwealth Government has released a discussion paper, summarising what they see as the key arguments both for and against the introduction of a restricted adult rating for interactive entertainment. The public is encouraged to submit their thoughts on the matter, and have until February 28th.
While we’d expected this paper many (many) months ago, the timing does coincide with the high-profile banning of Aliens vs. Predator, an issue that has made headlines around the country.
So what does this all mean?
Basically, if you’re in Australia and would like to be able to choose to play games that are considered too extreme for a 15 year old, you should head over to the public consultation page and check out the PDF discussion paper and PDF submissions template they’re providing. (Of course, if you believe that the introduction of an adult rating for video games is not something you’d like to support, feel free to raise your voice for the nay-sayers.)
If you’re not in Australia, feel free to throw this link around anyway, get your Aussie mates in on it and generally raise awareness that – for two months – the government is actually listening.
A bit of background:
Australia is the only Western country without an R18+ rating for video and computer games, meaning that the highest rating available is Mature Assisted, or MA15+. Anything considered unsuitable for a 15 year old is Refused Classification, effectively banned from sale. While this may sound like a “protecting the children” argument, there are a growing number of games given an adult rating overseas that are still receiving a child-suitable rating in Australia. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 was given 18+ ratings by the British BBFC and New Zealand OFLC, as well as Mature (17+) from the US ESRB – making it restricted to adult gamers in those countries – but in Australia, anyone aged 15 can walk into a games shop and pick up a copy of exactly the same release.
While the timing of this release is a bit suspect – with Christmas and summer holidays taking out a chunk of the two-month reply period – this is not the last you will hear on the topic. The Electronic Frontiers Association is in the process of compiling their own discussion paper in response to the government’s release, and a number of other games websites, associations and groups will be chiming in. Stay tuned, we’ll let you know what you can do.
(Thanks to Chucky for the link!)