This story by Game Politics is pretty close to home for me. The Attorney-General of my home state of South Australia, Robert McClelland, is being the proverbial fly in the ointment in the push to get Australia a R classification for computer games.
The central body for ratings in Australia is the Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC.) Unlike the US where all ratings systems are strictly voluntary, Australian rating systems are enforced by law. I don’t mind that too much normally, even though there are occasional controversies regarding movies that get refused classification. It does sidestep some of the problems enforcing a voluntary system.
The problem for games is that, while literature and film goes up to an R rating, games only go up to a M (or MA) rating. I guess when the politicians were voting on the legislation back in the day, they thought games were only for kids.
It seems Robert McClelland thinks games are still only for kids, despite the median age of the average gamer being around 29. It’s either that or he thinks that adults can’t or shouldn’t be able to make up their own minds about the games that they play. The second option may not be that far off considering the number of nanny state decisions being made by our government lately.
For some weird legislative reason, to add or change the ratings system that the OFLC applies requires unanimous approval from the Attorneys-General of each Australian state. The only holdout is, you guessed it, our friend McClelland. It’s a pity the system was designed to be thwarted by one single monkey in the wrench.
Anywhoo, it appears that the resistance to a R rating in the South Australian Labor Party — the governing party — is fading. According to the Game Politics article, there has been some serious lobbying from Nintendo and Microsoft in favor of the R rating.
Hopefully, we will see common sense prevail, if not business sense, and get a reasonable system in place that respects the rights of adults to choose their own standards.
If we’re lucky it will happen before the release of Age of Conan.