Creation of a R18+ Category in the Classification of Video Games in Australia
Australian Office of Film & Literature Classification
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I am an adult who enjoys playing video games, and I represent a group of likeminded individuals who feel that Australian adults should have the right to play whatever videogame they wish. I ask that a R18+ category of classification be created for video games to allow adults access to media they wish to view, whilst at the same time protecting minors.
I refer you to the recent decisions of the Office of Film & Literature Classification to Refuse Classification to the video games Grand Theft Auto 3 and BMX XXX. In the case of Grand Theft Auto 3, the Classification Review Board held that the game was unsuitable for a minor to see or play. I understand and respect that, as held in the Office of Film & Literature Classifications Guidelines for the Classification of Computer Games, minors should be protected from material likely to harm or disturb them, yet by not having a R18+ classification for video games, thus resulting in video games that would warrant an R18+ rating being Refused Classification, the Office of Film and Literature Classification is essentially upholding one of its duties; protecting minors from material likely to harm or disturb them, at the cost of another; allowing adults to read, hear and see what they want. This self-contradictory behaviour in regard to video game classification seems ludicrous. Why not create a R18+ classification for video games and allow minors AND the rights of adults to be protected?
The fact that a R18+ classification does not exist for video games when it does for film appears an unfathomable double standard. Indeed, in November 2001 the R18+ classification for films celebrated its thirtieth anniversary in Australia. Yet today, no R18+ rating exists at all in the category of video games. In this regard, Australia is certainly lagging behind the rest of the world, as many other nations such as Japan and New Zealand have a video game rating system that includes a R18+ classification. The apparent double standard is even more evident in the examination of the decision to Refuse Classification to the video game BMX XXX not only do the two media have different classification systems (film has an R18+ classification whereas video games do not), the criteria for the classification of films and video games in ratings categories appears inequitable. According to the Guidelines for the Classification of Computer Games, video games featuring nudity, including genitalia, are to be Refused Classification unless there is a bona fide educational, medical or community health purpose, in which case the game will receive an MA15+ rating. Why is it then that a film such as The Crying Game, or any number of other films, which features nudity including genitalia, and do not have a bona fide educational, medical or community health purpose, rated in the M category? The Mature category is merely advisory and not legally restricted, thus allowing any person of any age to legally purchase, hire or view such a film. Yet in the context of a video game, not only is such content considered to be inappropriate for minors and worthy of an R18+ rating, but even adults are denied access to the video game because no R18+ rating exists in the classification of video games.
I do not ask you to lower your standards when classifying video and computer games. If a video games content warrants a classification of R18+, then by all means it should be classified as such. I only ask such a category of classification be created so that adults are able to access such video games, as opposed to them being banned in Australia through being Refused Classification. Australia has already gained a reputation among the international electronic community as being particularly oppressive when it comes to the classification and censorship of electronic interactive media. I ask that you rectify this situation; that you respect the wishes of the Australian people; that you respect the rights of adults to read, hear and see what they want: that you create a R18+ category for the classification of video and computer games.