EFA supports the recently announced move for creation of an R18+ rating category for computer and video games. Currently, only video games which the government deems suitable for a 15-year-old can be sold in Australia, resulting in a censorship regime that is out of line with community standards and expectations.
The issue is to be discussed at the upcoming meeting of the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General on March 28. We encourage the attorneys-general to bring Australia into line with the rest of the developed world, and recognise the fact that adults play games too. Since most gamers are now over 18, there are no compelling reasons why games should be treated any differently to the rest of our entertainment media. Recent research has found the average age of the Australian gamer to be 28.
Although there is widespread support for the move, it is expected that South Australian Attorney-General Michael Atkinson will torpedo the proposal. Changes to the rating system currently require agreement from all state and Commonwealth attorneys-general. That one lone hold-out could prevent such a sensible reform is disappointing. EFA hopes that the South Australian public and the rest of the Committee can persuade Mr Atkinson to see reason.
With games revenues already exceeding movie box-office returns, now is the right time to bring consistency to the nation's classification system. Given the size of the adult gaming audience, it makes sense to bring the rating system in line with movies and television. The public clearly agrees, so this should be a very easy policy win for government and consumers. A 2005 poll found that 88% of Australians surveyed supported an R18+ classification for games.
Parents as always need to monitor their children's entertainment, be it games, movies or the Internet, regardless of any rating system in place. Adults should be as free as possible to decide what is appropriate for themselves as well as their children. Entertainment is a matter of personal taste, and a blanket ban is no longer an appropriate way to deal with this issue.