Australia is one of the only Western democracies without an adult (R18+) rating for video games. ︻デ═一
So how come gamers in other countries will be playing the original, unedited version of many video games and we don't?
It's all to do with Australia's gaming classification scheme. Unlike the US and Europe, Australia lacks an adult rating for games with high-impact violence, sexual content and drug use. Our highest rating is MA, and to fit into this classification, games must be deemed suitable for people aged 15 and up.
R-rated games should be allowed because it standardises films and games, and R-rated films are already legal.
One of Australia's most ardent campaigners against violent video games and the main reason this country lacks an R18+ rating, is South Australian Attorney-General Michael Atkinson. Michael Atkinson is a long-serving conservative Labor Christian who happens to be the federal member for Croydon, one of the safest Labor seats in Australia. He also has a reputation as a man who uses his power and position to force his own moral view on the public.
Nicholas Suzor, spokesman for the lobby group Electronic Frontiers Australia, says we have a need for an R18+ rating for video games.
But he did not believe a video game could breed terrorism. He said previous games such as Counter-Strike have allowed players to assume the role of terrorists.
"Films often show the villain's perspective and, by doing that, they get across the character's story and the heinous nature of people who carry out atrocities. Games, too, are becoming more expressive, and are telling more involved stories," Suzor said.
"We may make an argument that these sorts of topics are not suitable for children, but I don't at all accept that it is unsuitable for adults."
A spokesman for the Classification Board said the Board could not review its own decisions and anyone who wanted the decision reviewed would have to apply to the Classification Review Board. Australia has no Bill of Rights, and a very boring constitution, with no fancy amendments. We have no official freedom of speech, and Seperation of Church and State is a fiction many here wrongly assume we have because the US purportedly does. In any case, this is particularly interesting in terms of video games in that many of the challenges to the games industry have been resolved on First Amendment (Freedom of Speech) grounds. Australia lacks that basis to fight for our rights.
In fact, we lack any basis to fight at all.
If you want to contact the only two people who can change our rating system to tell them your views here are the details you will need:
( P.S. You are more likely to get a response from "snail mail" than email. )
Minister for Home Affairs
CANBERRA ACT 2600
Phone: (02) 6277 7290
Fax: (02) 6277 7098
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South Australian Attorney-General
Hon. Michael Atkinson MP
GPO Box 464
ADELAIDE SA 5001
Phone: (08) 8207 1723
Fax: (08) 8207 1736