PDA

View Full Version : Australia reviewing its games censorship



Ruv Draba
01-22-2010, 11:51 AM
For those who don't know, Australia is currently undertaking a review (http://www.ag.gov.au/gamesclassification) of its classification scheme for electronic games. Currently, the only games you can buy legally in Australia are those playable by fifteen year-olds. We don't have a R18+ rating on adult computer games because one attorney-general in one state won't agree to it (http://au.gamespot.com/news/6246574.html?om_act=convert&om_clk=picks&tag=picks;title;1). In consequence, our federal government is reviewing the matter. Quoted below is my submission to that review.


The principal reason to institute a R18+ rating for electronic games is so that adults can play games with adult content. Responsible support for such legislation presupposes that:

adult gamers are responsible people;
adult games are consistent with the values and standards already accepted by Australian society;
adult games when played by their intended audience are unlikely to cause significant harm; and that
the risk to children arising from adults possessing adult games is not greater than the risk of other materials such as alcohol, tobacco, lawnmowers and bleach.
To answer 1), it is sufficient to recognise that the median gaming age is now over 30. Adult gamers come from all walks of life, and feature many highly-educated professionals. In the US some 31% of gamers are women over 18, and Australia is seeing similar trends.

In response to 2), adult games are sophisticated products that use the same sort of scripting, imagery, technology and voice-acting found in film.

To address 3), neither Australia nor any other comparable country has had a history of significant game-related social problems. However, Australia has had a history of social problems associated with competing entertainments such as gambling, alcoholism, and tobacco-consumption.

Finally, the contrary position at 4): that adults can manage bleach, cigarettes, alcohol and adult DVDs in the house but not electronic games is too ludicrous to warrant serious response.

On this matter, Australia is embarrassingly out of step with the developed world. It is time to correct that.

Zoombie
01-22-2010, 12:04 PM
Yessssssssssssssssssssssss, pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa aaasssssssssssssssssssseeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee eeee!

Albedo
01-22-2010, 01:45 PM
Excellent submission, Ruv. I'm considering writing my own but yours kept it simple and far more polite than I'm capable of.

Unfortunately, Australia's been moving steadily backwards on artistic freedom for at least two decades. I will be surprised if enough of our politicians have the courage to stand up to the moralistic bullies who push censorship, at least in this round. Delighted, but surprised. The bullies have the numbers.

DoomBunny
01-22-2010, 02:20 PM
Did my part a few weeks back, glad to see others are joining in. Spread the word! :D

Albedo, on this one it would seem the bullies don't have the numbers. As I understand it Atkinson has been getting away with this on a technicality, and to the best of my knowledge the only other AG to make their opinion known (ACT) has come out in favour of R18+. The rest are staying out of it so far. Of course there's still a morass of outspoken, ignorant, voting prigs but they don't count unless it goes to referendum. Which it shouldn't. I hope.

Pepper
01-22-2010, 04:58 PM
"Baa baa rainbow sheep, have you any wool?"*

I'm tired of the Australian government trying to wrap Aussies in cotton wool when it really isn't needed. Do they really think banning R18+ content will make Australians better people? Do they really think it will protect the kids? Reality is, irresponsible parents will have these games anyway (I'm sure they wouldn't be phased by downloading the American releases), and are almost certain to inflict much worse influences on their kids by other means. The government is worried about the kids learning about drug dealing/taking in games? What about the countless YA novels that deal with that very subject? Worried about too much blood and gore? How is blood spraying all over the place in the least bit realistic? It reminds me of that movie Dracula: Dead and Loving It.

The government is inconsistently sticking up for a rediculous stance. And this is coming from a person who likely wouldn't play those R18+ games anyway. Let people choose what they want to play- they're adults.



* yep, the kids are being taught this in school, because having a black sheep is racist......... uhhhh.......... ever heard of or seen a rainbow sheep before??? Black sheep exist. White sheep exist. Why the hell should we sing about a rainbow coloured sheep?

JimmyB27
01-22-2010, 05:30 PM
To address 3), neither Australia nor any other comparable country has had a history of significant game-related social problems. However, Australia has had a history of social problems associated with competing entertainments such as gambling, alcoholism, and tobacco-consumption.
Those aren't competing entertainments. You can smoke and drink while betting on the outcome of a computer game. ;)

"Baa baa rainbow sheep, have you any wool?"*

* yep, the kids are being taught this in school, because having a black sheep is racist......... uhhhh.......... ever heard of or seen a rainbow sheep before??? Black sheep exist. White sheep exist. Why the hell should we sing about a rainbow coloured sheep?
Plus, it doesn't fit the tune.

Pepper
01-22-2010, 05:40 PM
Those aren't competing entertainments. You can smoke and drink while betting on the outcome of a computer game.

I think I know what Ruv was getting at. How many preteen hardcore gamers do you know that smoke, drink and gamble? On the other hand, kids who think that gaming is geeky or otherwise don't go near it are more likely to be the ones who drink up at underaged booze-fests and smoke some of the sweet smelling stuff behind the school's toilet block.

Stereotypes I know, but all stereotypes come from somewhere. :D

SPMiller
01-22-2010, 05:57 PM
I've heard complaints from Australian gamers about this for as long as I can remember. If I lived in Australia, I'd just pirate the adultrated games I want to play, and I suspect many Australians have had to do the same. How many sales has the industry lost as a direct result of this censorship? Hard to estimate, but probably a lot.

Australia hasn't even been consistent with its ratings. I remember when they rated Bioshock 15+ just because it was partially developed in Australia.

SPMiller
01-22-2010, 07:51 PM
Elaboration on Bioshock:

Australia's OFLC initially refused Fallout 3 because of in-game drug use. Still with me?

Now, watch this video from just a few minutes into Bioshock: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=liw6Xef3gHM

Throughout the game, the player plunges that thing into his wrist whenever he needs a fix. It's not only a gameplay mechanic, it's integral to the goddamned plot. How is that not in-game drug use?

whistlelock
01-22-2010, 08:07 PM
because it glows?

tarcanus
01-23-2010, 12:06 AM
Elaboration on Bioshock:

Australia's OFLC initially refused Fallout 3 because of in-game drug use. Still with me?

Now, watch this video from just a few minutes into Bioshock: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=liw6Xef3gHM

Throughout the game, the player plunges that thing into his wrist whenever he needs a fix. It's not only a gameplay mechanic, it's integral to the goddamned plot. How is that not in-game drug use?


Because it's what the character needs to use Bioshock's take on 'magic'?

efkelley
01-23-2010, 01:26 AM
This should make a lot of people happy. A buddy of mine regularly sends games he purchases here to a buddy in Australia.

LOG
01-23-2010, 02:28 AM
The advisor for the gaming club at my university is a philosophy professor. He's probably among the top five-ten gamers in that club.

SPMiller
01-23-2010, 02:32 AM
because it glows?lol


Because it's what the character needs to use Bioshock's take on 'magic'?I'd almost let this go except that it is in all ways a drug: injected, addictive, and unhealthful. Everyone describes it as a drug in the game, and its druglike qualities contribute to the story. So, I can't help but see it as a drug. Maybe I'm nuts and there's some subtle distinction I'm not seeing...

DoomBunny
01-23-2010, 02:42 AM
Elaboration on Bioshock:

Australia's OFLC initially refused Fallout 3 because of in-game drug use. Still with me?

Now, watch this video from just a few minutes into Bioshock: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=liw6Xef3gHM

Throughout the game, the player plunges that thing into his wrist whenever he needs a fix. It's not only a gameplay mechanic, it's integral to the goddamned plot. How is that not in-game drug use?

The issue with Fallout 3 was not that it was depicting drug use, but that it was depicting realistic drug use - specifically, morphine - which nudged it out of the MA category. The more explicit the material is in regards to sex, violence, drugs use, etc, the higher the rating. When they changed it to a fictional drug it was deemed less explicit. Frankly I don't know why they felt they needed morphine in a Fallout game anyway, it's got enough of it's own drugs already. ^^

The problem here is not the OFLC, and never has been. They do good and important work, and follow very clear-cut guidelines. The problem is ignorant moralising fascists like Michael Atkinson who confuse opinion and hearsay with good judgement, and take advantage of an antiquated system to inflict their ignorance on the rest of us.

On the subject, the syringes in Bioshock are not depicted as drugs - not everything in a syringe is a drug, and not all drugs come in a syringe. It's implied, but in a very indirect way. As far as the OFLC is concerned it's a more mature portrayal of health and mana potions - could be sugar and caffiene for all we know. :)

Pepper
01-23-2010, 02:45 AM
I don't think Bioshock is suitable for kids even if it didn't have the 'pump yourself full of drugs' element. The people in the game aren't nameless soldiers with full body armour- there are lovers having domestic disputes, there's depressed and lonely women, there's just normal everyday people (as such) who just happened to have this stuff happen to them...... just to name a few characters I stumbled across. All of these people you have to kill, usually leaving them screaming and running around in a ball of flame, or you bludgeon them over the head with a wrench while they are being electrocuted. It's this detail I think that partially makes the game so pyschologically freaky and rich to play. I love the game. I don't think it's suited to kids. But because it somehow got through the Aussie system, and there's no adult specific rating, it's openly marketed to kids.

DoomBunny
01-23-2010, 02:52 AM
lol

I'd almost let this go except that it is in all ways a drug: injected, addictive, and unhealthful. Everyone describes it as a drug in the game, and its druglike qualities contribute to the story. So, I can't help but see it as a drug. Maybe I'm nuts and there's some subtle distinction I'm not seeing...

Sorry, I'm going to have to disagree here. I don't recall the word 'drug' being used at all. It's suggested, implied, but never explicitly stated. This is an important distinction, especially in the eyes of the OFLC. It's also depicted as having consequences, which is also a significant factor. It's not just that the game has a bloody great syringe, the context is very important in assigning a rating. In Fallout 3 addiction was an occasional gameplay mechanic but not otherwise significant, and as such it had a higher impact.

Ruv Draba
01-23-2010, 11:53 AM
Those aren't competing entertainments. You can smoke and drink while betting on the outcome of a computer game. ;)My theory: while Mommy may not know what games you're buying with her Visa, she does notice when the gin evaporates and you've pinched her smokes.


Plus, it doesn't fit the tune.Works fine with a break-beat.

Buh buh BA BA, yo, rainbow-sheep... break me down some wool...
Evrybody in the farm wanna score some wool say YO!

Zoombie
01-23-2010, 12:04 PM
Any kid that plays bioshock is totally going to miss the rich symbolism and the totally awesome deconstruction of the Randian philosophy. Its kind of a giant middle finger to Atlas Shrugged.

To whit, I snuggle it.

LOG
01-23-2010, 09:41 PM
Any kid that plays bioshock is totally going to miss the rich symbolism and the totally awesome deconstruction of the Randian philosophy. Its kind of a giant middle finger to Atlas Shrugged.

It does?

Zoombie
01-23-2010, 09:44 PM
...yes.

Yes it does.

LOG
01-23-2010, 11:37 PM
I have never really noticed...
I'm not good at picking up on that stuff.

Pepper
01-24-2010, 02:45 AM
Agreed Zoombie. As a slight derail, I'm hoping that the movie version of Bioshock doesn't turn out to be a stinker. Bioshock is more than just action and pretty surroundings. They ruined all the juiciness of Max Payne when they created the movie. I'm gonna kill Hollywood if they do the same to Bioshock!

SPMiller
01-24-2010, 03:28 AM
An adaptation of Bioshock to a traditional linear narrative would be tough as hell. The whole point was that you picked up firsthand accounts that played in the background while you ran around shooting people in the face. I guess they could depict the events described in those audio recordings on the screen, but that would give stuff away!

Zoombie
01-24-2010, 03:38 AM
I actually kind of know how exactly to re-jigger Bioshock's story to make it work.

You just need to add ONE character and, unfortunately, cut two of my favorite levels down to almost nothing and change the ending, but it'd work great!

SPMiller
01-24-2010, 06:19 AM
The way I'd do it would end up not much like the game at all. But I guess this is rather far afield of Australia finally getting rid of its outdated censorship rules.

Mac H.
01-24-2010, 08:50 AM
From a practical point of view, how does a rating system of a game get calculated?

For a film, you can simply watch the film and see if it has anything objectionable.

But in a game, you could play all day and not encounter certain elements which would only occur in certain circumstances.

So you could have a hot sex scene that is triggered on certain actions and get passed. The alternative would be having a rating be based on what the games manufacturer claims is the 'worse' thing that could happen in the game.

But that wouldn't work either. In any game where I control the character I can slander, assault, sexually harass other characters - even if they don't respond. Should the game be banned because it is physically possible for a gamer to control the action to do something objectionable? Clearly the answer is no.

So the answer must lie on what the game encourages or requires the person to do. To use an example, since the game 'Ratatouille' requires the player to violate health regulations about rats in kitchen it should probably not be allowed for children. These kind of boring food safety rules are probably much more important than most other regulations - I'd guess that more lives are saved each year by enforcing laws about clean drinking water and not having rats in restaurant kitchens than most other laws today.

I'm curious how the mechanism works.

Mac

BigWords
01-24-2010, 09:20 PM
I don't know about Australia specifically, but the BBFC has - or, at least, had at one point - to receive ALL the possible interactions (dialogue and visual elements which crop up during play) so that they could make sure that nothing was going to appear out of the blue. I vaguely remember a game coming out which was 99% blah, but featured a very graphic sex scene midway through the game. There was nothing to suggest, in the rest of the game, that the scene would appear (I think it was mostly to and fro-ing like in most early levels of RPGs), and the scene was hastily removed. With the length of games these days I'm sure they let things through precisely because they don't have the time to sit through endless variations of cut-scenes.