The Australian version of the Left 4 Dead 2 demo has been released, and the highly cut version is a bitter disappointment for many Australian gamers.
First impressions from Australian gamers indicates that the highly-censored version results in a vastly inferior atmosphere to the original, uncut version.
The lack of an R18+ rating is likely to significantly harm Australian sales of the game, and we expect that many Australians will either not buy the game or will illicitly obtain an uncensored international version. Both adult Australian gamers and the software industry itself are made worse off by the lack of an R18+ rating.
Any benefits to minors of banning adult video games is questionable. Research into effects of violent games does not provide a clear and satisfying case for banning such games. At any rate, withholding titles from Australian adults is counter-productive - it is likely to result in more illicit copies, less respect for classification, and a diminished capacity for parents to monitor the games that their children are playing. Classification serves as a clear notice to allow Australian adults to make choices for themselves and for the children they are responsible for. A system that refuses to classify games that are widely available through illicit channels is unlikely to significantly reduce, and may in fact increase, exposure of children to age-inappropriate content.
An R18+ classification would require the unanimous support of all Attorneys-General, and in the past moves to change the current classification have been blocked on the vote of a single state Attorney-General. Progress has been made, and it appears that a discussion paper considering the introduction of an R18+ category is ready to be released. No sign of the discussion paper has been seen since the Hon Brendan O'Connor MP took over as the Commonwealth Minister for Home Affairs.
We encourage everyone interested in this issue to contact the Minister for Home Affairs and show your support for the release of the discussion paper. Australians deserve to have a say in this debate, and the release of this discussion paper is long overdue.
See our wiki page for the R18+ campaign for more details.