Last week the minister for justice Brendan O’Connor released a draft of guidelines that would accompany the introduction of an R18+ rating for video games in Australia.
With a classification system in Australia that does not have an R18+ rating for video games is ridiculous and stupid. We’ve had an R18+ rating for film and television in this country ever since the Office for Film & Literature Classification (OFLC) created the system but video games have been left behind all this time. Granted there is an argument that video games have not made such an impact on society as they have over the last 10-15 years and the need for an R18+ rating has not been raised before and I understand that, but at least between the last 5-10 years we’ve seen video games grow and the level of adult content grow with it. The question I’d like to ask is “Why should we treat video games differently?”.
As an adult living in Australia, currently I have the right to view R18 films whenever I like. I have the freedoms and rights to see what I want and consume that type of media with its adult content as I want, why can’t I do the same with video games? People say it’s because video games offer a level of interactivity that film simply does not. I understand where you’re coming from but its not as if I’d go around killing people or anything in real life after playing Grand Theft Auto.
Because Australia has not had an R18+ rating for video games, we have missed out on some really amazing games, more recently Mortal Kombat was released and banned in Australia, we’ve received watered down versions of Grand Theft Auto 4 and Left 4 Dead 2 just to name a few others.
So far as I’m writing this, I’ve started to think that perhaps I’m a little biased and my rants here are a little one sided. Fair enough, but I don’t hear too many arguments from people disputing the need for an R18+ rating for video games, do you? It’s kind of like saying would you object to legislation that would cure cancer or end world hunger? We need an R18 rating for video games not just to please fellow adults like myself, but we need this rating to better manage the types of content our children can get their hands on and to classify media in Australia in a more detail. There can be no blanket “one rating to rule them all” strategy because as it has been with video games this is all we’ve effectively had.
As an adult, I should have the same freedoms offered to me to consume adult material in video games just as I have the right to do so with film and television. I’m glad the Australian government are taking steps to catch up with the rest of the world on this issue. It will allow adults just as myself to better make decisions to restrict the type of content children consume, while at the same time not prohibiting the rest of us from watching (and playing) whatever we choose.
I’m really looking forward to an introduction of an R18+ rating for video games in Australia, it has been neglected and absent for far too long.