Ratings are not fair game
IMAGINE going down to your local video shop as an adult and not being able to hire an R18+ rated movie like Saw because R-rated movies were banned from being sold or hired out in the country.
Or, imagine being a parent hiring an MA-rated movie for your 15-year-old, but finding the movie had R18+ rated content.
Fortunately, these two scenarios don’t happen in Australia because an R rating or adult classification exits for film.
However, these scenarios are all too real for video gamers and their parents who are currently dealing with an Australian video game classification system without an adult rating.
Australia is now the only country in the Western world to not have an adult rating for video games and there are currently a number of campaigns under way to get this changed.
The Everyone Plays campaign, a joint venture between video game news website PALGN and video game retailer GAME, is one of these.
The Everyone Plays campaign recently submitted a petition of 89,210 signatures (the highest wet signature petition in Australian history) to Parliament calling for the rating to be introduced – something which requires the unanimous approval of the attorneys general from each state and territory in Australia.
The signatures were collected from GAME stores around the country over a period of eight weeks – 593 were collected from Grafton’s own GAME outlet at Shoppingworld.
Manager of GAME in Grafton Shoppingworld, Tony West, said the strong response from Grafton gamers and their parents indicated strong community support for the introduction of an R rating.
Mr West said there was a misconception the campaign to introduce an R rating was aimed at bringing more violent, high-impact games into the country.
“It’s not about getting R-rated games into people’s hands, it ’s about guiding parents, giving parents an understanding of the ratings and what is suitable for their children to play and what isn’t suitable,” Mr West said.
He said one of the main problems with the absence of an R rating was that often games which were rated R or adults-only in other countries ended-up on Australian shelves re-badged as MA15+ – a rating which misleadingly suggested to parents the games contained content appropriate for 15-year-olds.
“A prime example of how antiquated and non-functional our rating system is the game Aliens Versus Predator; it got refused classification (banned in Australia), they’ve then appealed it and it gets passed as an MA15+ game, so effectively it got refused on a Friday and on the Monday it’s passed as an MA15+ game, there’s just no consistency,” Mr West said.
Mr West said there was a misconception video games were exclusively for children and said the R rating was being resisted because people were afraid they would make high-impact video game content more easily accessible for children – even though an R18+ rating would prevent children under the age of 18 from hiring or buying R-rated games.
Another side of the issue was that some games which did not fit into the MA15+ category were simply banned from being sold in the country – something Mr West said had serious economic implications.
He said many gamers simply circumvented the ban by buying the games online from overseas and importing them into the country – sending dollars which would normally be spent at Australian retailers, overseas.
The next opportunity for the Australian attorneys general to vote for an R rating for video games will be at the Standing Committee of Attorneys General (SCAG) in July.
For more information about the issue , visit www.everyoneplays.org.au.