Stropp's World

Games And Gamery

New Hope For R-Rating For Games In Australia

Posted by Stropp on March 22, 2010

Australian gamers have been wanting an R-Rating category for games for quite some time now. Unfortunately this takes a unanimous approval from each of the state Attorney-Generals, and while nearly every state was for such a rating category, the South Australian Attorney-General, Michael Atkinson has been the lone hold-out preventing the implementation of an R rating for games.

This has risen to a head over the last year or so. Atkinsons refusal prompted the formation of a new political party called Gamers4Croydon which put forward a candidate in Atkinson’s seat of Croydon. Croydon however is a fairly safe Labor seat requiring a massive swing against Labor for it to fall to the Liberal party. A petition was also collected and presented to a Federal hearing on the R issue with over 50,000 signatures. A number I’m lead to believe is fairly hard to achieve.

Just a note for international readers: While it’s not entirely accurate, you can think of the Labor party as the Australian equivalent to The US Democrats and the Liberal party as the conservatives or Republicans.

Now the South Australian state election was held over the weekend (Aussies always vote on Saturday) and there was a massive swing against the government, something like seven percent. Unfortunately, noone yet knows who has won. It appears that the winner will be decided by postal votes, and that will take a few more days to find out. Still, the predictions are that Labor will retain government by the slimmest of margins.

It also looks like Gamers4Croydon did pretty well in Croydon. They picked up 587 votes at the polling booths. Out of over 16000 ballots cast, that’s 3.7% of the vote, and isn’t too bad for an independant party, especially one formed only a few months ago and running on a single issue.

So why the title of the post, New Hope For R-Rating For Games In Australia, if Labor will be returned?

Well, the reason for the big swing against the government was predominantly a sex scandal involving the state Premier, but there has also been widespread disatisfaction with the government especially Atkinson. So while Michael Atkinson was returned to parliament with 64%, he has decided to stand down as state Attorney-General.

This means that the single greatest obstacle to the implementation of an R-Rating for games is no longer an obstacle.

This doesn’t mean of course that the new rating will be automatic. There’s going to be all sorts of political processes that will have to happen first. And we also don’t know which way Atkinson’s successor will lean on the issue. It’s possible that it will remain blocked.

Still, things are looking a bit brighter for Australian gamer choice.

Idiots!

Posted by Stropp on January 22, 2010

Regular readers will know that I periodically rant against stupid censorship laws, being a strong believer that people not only have a right to make up their own minds about what they read, watch, or play, but that they are generally capable of making those decisions being adults.

Still, sometimes one must wonder.

One of the big gaming issues in Oz at the moment is the undemocratic blocking of an R rating for games by the South Australian Attorney-General Michael Atkinson. I’ve made a few comments about that on this blog, but that’s not what I want to rail at now.

Apparently, some in the gaming community have been sending death-threats to the AG, not only threatening him, but his family.

Are these idiots really so dense as to believe that a death-threat will make someone in a high-level government position cower in fear and change their position?

If anything this kind of stupidity only entrenches the opinion and position of your opponent. Worse still, it turns the reasonable members of society who may have been leaning towards supporting our position against us. It can only harm the cause of getting an R rating for games, and supports the position of the censorship advocates. Idiots!

The point of being anti-censorship is to support a system where everyone has the right to express themselves freely, and where everyone can choose what expressions they partake in. One of the constant features of repressive societies is the censorship of expression, often through the use of violence or the removal of individual rights.

Someone who chooses to threaten someone with violence or death in order to get his or her own way isn’t choosing the path of freedom. They’re choosing the road that dictators and censors so often like to take.

Maybe there really are some in the gaming community who should be denied access to games.

Idiots!

CrimeCraft Mugged By Aussie Censor

Posted by Stropp on December 1, 2009

Once again, yet another game has fallen victim to the South Australian Attorney General, Michael Atkinson — the man unelected by the majority of the people that he has control over — and the OFLC.

CrimeCraft, an upcoming MMOFPS game, has been refused classification by the Office of Film and Literature Classification not because of violence or sexual content, but because the names of the in-game drugs come close to those of the real world. You might remember that was the reason that Fallout 3 was originally refused classification too, the healing drug was called morphine. The developers later changed the name and the game was approved.

It’s a ridiculous situation in Australia at the moment. We have a R classification for movies, but not for games. The argument by Atkinson is that children can get a hold of and play a R rated game despite the best efforts of parents. The problem is that children can get a hold of and watch R rated movies despite the best efforts of parents. I even snuck into an R rated movie when I was 17 — Friday the 13th Part 3 — it wasn’t that hard. If kids want to do something badly enough they’ll do it.

The worst part of all this is that the rating system, more than anything else, is a guide for parents, and by not having an R classification some games that deserve an R are getting classified as MA15.

Then when 16 year old little Stroppy comes to mum or dad with a copy of  Death to Hookers: San Francisco rated MA (with the Iced Coffee mod in place), the parental unit looks at the rating and thinks it’s okay, despite the rather obvious signs of adult content. If the parent had the correct information, they might not be so quick to buy it.

Of course, the Australian rating system only applies in Australia, and games are only refused classification if they are submitted to the OFLC in the first place. My suggestion to game developers: Unless you really want a box on the shelves of Australian stores and your game has the potential to be RC, don’t submit to the OFLC. Just get the classification done in your own country, and put the game up for digital download.

Torn

Posted by Stropp on October 8, 2009

Sigh.

Dragon Age is being released in less than a month. I’ve been looking forward to this game, moreso after seeing some of the good stuff popping up on Dragonchasers. The game has a 100 hours of gameplay (you can probably double that based on my normal rate of progress in games!) and there is so much else to play and to do. Hmmm.

Still, at least Dragon Age is actually going to be released here in the land of Oz. I haven’t heard any reports that it hasn’t passed muster at the OFLC board.

Which is definitely better than Left 4 Dead 2. Valve cut content out and resubmitted after the game was originally refused classification. The news today is that L4D2 has now been accepted. Good news in a way I guess.

What irks me is that one semi-elected official can dictate what the entire country can play. The attorney general for South Australia belongs to a state government elected by approximately 1.5 million people. The other five attorneys general belong to state governments elected by the rest of Australia’s 22 million populace.

So one essentially unelected individual can hold up something important like an R rating for games. Something that even a lot of people in his own state want.

There’s a state election approaching too. Unfortunately, there’s no credible opposition in SA, so it’s likely Atkinson will be returned, and will continue blocking progress.

Tell me. How that is democracy?

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