The public consultation on the introduction of an R18+ for computer games closes at the end of the month. Jessi Citizen, on behalf of EFA and in conjunction with Ausgamers, has prepared a draft response to the consultation that sets out our understanding of the issues and our arguments.

In the spirit of community involvement, and to ensure that we have the strongest argument we can possibly put forward, we are opening this draft paper for public comment. You can see (and edit) the paper on Google docs. Please provide us with your comments and suggestions on this paper. In addition to the draft document, we also have some research that we conducted (thanks to Julian Merlo and Matt Postle) that details comparative ratings for games in 2009 worldwide (showing that over half of the games that were rated as MA15+ here were given adult ratings by all five comparative jurisdictions overseas!)

To join in our discussion on the draft paper process, please join our discussion list. Putting these documents together takes money, and EFA is entirely volunteer funded. If you would like to contribute to our R18+ submission, please consider making a small donation to help us recoup our costs:




 

In addition to comments, we would like to see as many people as possible put together their own submission to the public consultation. You can do this either by using Grow Up Australia's submission form or following the submission template and the instructions on the AGD's website.

Here's some tips for writing a submission:

  • Be reasonable; don't attack the classification board or any particular Attorneys-General. We have the facts and the theory on our side, and we don't gain anything by sounding childish or petulant.
  • Follow the submission guidelines - make sure your voice is heard.
  • Make your points clearly and succinctly. Feel free to take any of the information we present in the discussion paper; you're usually better served by being brief and to the point.
  • Express the issue in your own words, and tell your own story; Explain to the AGD why you personally want an R18+ rating, and how it affects you.

The main points that we are trying to stress in this discussion paper are really quite simple:

  • Gamers are adults; games, like films, tell expressive stories, not all of which are suitable for children. Banning everything that is not suitable for children amounts to unacceptable censorship of legitimate expression.
  • Gamers are parents; as responsible parents, we take care to monitor what media our children consume, and can take responsibility for those decisions.
  • An R18+ rating is about empowerment; the goal of Australia's classification is to empower adults, protect children, protect people from accidental exposure to offensive material, and to take into account community concerns about particularly offensive content. An R18+ allows adults to choose what is suitable for themselves and for their children.
  • An R18+ rating will be more likely to decrease rather than increase the exposure of children to inappropriate content, because it sends a clear message to parents that certain material is not appropriate for children; the lack of an R18+ for games, particularly when one exists for films, only causes confusion and lessens the ability of parents to take responsibility.
  • Australia's system is out of step with the rest of the world; games that are clearly not designed for children are being released with an MA15+ rating, and games that are suitable for adults are being banned. Our research shows that of the 47 games that were rated by the Australian Classification Board, the US ESRB, the UK BBFC, the EU PEGI, and the NZ OFLC, more than 50 per cent of titles that were rated MA15+ in Australia were given an adult rating overseas. The Australian system is demonstrably less effective in warning parents and gamers about the content of video games than our international counterparts. Introducing an R18+ rating will address some of this disparity and enable Australians to make more informed choices about what games they play or allow their children to play.

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