Introducing R18+ games
The last thing our community needs is more explicit violence and sex. The Australian Government has always refused R18+ rated computer games on the basis that interactive games have a higher impact than similarly-rated films, but pressure from the gaming industry has caused a re-think.
Earlier this year the Federal Attorney-General’s Department conducted a public consultation which asked for submissions on whether the Australian National Classification Scheme (NCS) should include an R18+ Classification category for computer games.
The consultation was swamped with submissions and petitions instigated by gaming interests. This caused the Standing Committee of Attorneys General (SCAG), which will determine the outcome of the consultation, to subsequently delay making a final decision to seek "further analysis of community and expert views".
Now that classification ministers have spent several months obtaining further evidence on the issue of R18+ games, their December 10 meeting in Canberra could perhaps result in a final decision on whether an R18+ classification category for computer games will be included in the National Classification Scheme.
R18+ games - the issues
Currently under Australian law there is an R18+ classification for movies and DVDs but not for computer and video games, with any game exceeding the MA15+ rating being refused classification. According to previous OFLC guidelines for computer games, the regulations for computer games have been applied more strictly because “Ministers are concerned that games, because of their ‘interactive’ nature, may have greater impact, and therefore greater potential for harm or detriment, on young minds than film and videotape".
The potential for violent and sexually explicit interactive games to cause harm has only increased in recent years as these games have become even more sophisticated, graphic and interactive. It is also naive to think that R18+ games could be restricted to adult users. If these games are allowed to go on sale in Australia they will inevitably find their way into the hands of younger players through older siblings or friends.
If any changes are to be made to the classification system it should only be to resolve to tighten up the MA15+ rating to ensure that games aren’t wrongly getting through in this category.
There is strong community concern about the impact of violent video games on children’s development. Many games force the child to identify with the aggressor and children are rewarded for immoral conduct and violent behavior. Research shows that increased playing of violent first person shooter games can significantly increase aggression. (1)
And remember, even if R18+ games were only sold to adults, they would inevitably find their way into children’s hands (2).
Please take action to stop the introduction of an R18+ rating for computer games by writing a short email to your state Attorney-General asking him or her not to support this proposal.
We reluctantly provide a link to the following offensive clips to help people understand what is at stake and motivate people to action. WARNING: this link contains violent and sexual imagery. If this is what is legal now under the MA15+ rating, the mind boggles at the material that would be allowed into Australia legally if the ban on R18+ computer games was lifted.
(1) Bartlett, CP et al (2007) “Longer you play, the more hostile you feel: examination of first person shooter video games and aggression during video game play”, Aggressive Behavior, 33(6), 486-497.
(2) See for example: Dawson, C., Arnold, C., Taylor, C. & Toombs, B., (2007), Video Games: Research to improve understanding of what players enjoy about video games, and to explain their preference for particular games. London: British Board of Film Classification, p. 100.