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Legal Trouble For MMOs In Australia

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the under-scrutiny-down-under dept.

The Courts 207

Zonk tips a story at Massively that has uncovered a potential legal controversy in Australia where some MMOs are concerned. Under Australian law, all games require a formal rating to be sold. Due to an oversight, many MMOs do not carry such a rating, yet they have been sold since release without anyone realizing the problem. "According to the Act, selling a single copy of an unclassified game attracts a penalty of AU$27,220.80 or two years. Selling unclassified games in commercial quantities (50 or more) can have a much steeper schedule of penalties, and additional penalties apply to advertising unclassified material, or simply omitting the correct ratings labels on the merchandise. ... publishers and distributors at some point misunderstood their obligations with respect to MMOG classifications in Australia, and operated under the belief that no such rating was required here." Reader Clomer points out that this has been brought to the attention of the Australian media, so hopefully the issue will be resolved soon.

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Pisses me (4, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#26723115)

Adults should be free to buy whatever the hell games they want. Requiring a rating on games, movies, music, etc, is just censorship by another name.

Re:Pisses me (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26723133)

Adults should be free to buy whatever weapons they want. Requiring licenses and waiting periods is just tyranny by another name.

Adults should be free to buy whatever drugs they want. Banishing marijuana and LSD is just oppression by another name.

Re:Pisses me (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26723155)

Adults should be free to buy whatever weapons they want. Requiring licenses and waiting periods is just tyranny by another name.

Adults should be free to buy whatever drugs they want. Banishing marijuana and LSD is just oppression by another name.

Wow, this is a ridiculous comparison. Maybe they should outlaw cars too? They kill and hurt a lot more people than games do.

How about we outlaw stairs? Single story buildings ONLY. Stairways kill and hurt more people than games do!

While we're at it, let's outlaw solid food. People choking on solid foods have a higher mortality rate than people playing a video game.

Re:Pisses me (5, Insightful)

Daimanta (1140543) | more than 5 years ago | (#26723183)

`Wow, this is a ridiculous comparison. Maybe they should outlaw cars too? They kill and hurt a lot more people than games do.`

I mean, its not as if you need to have a license to drive or anything like that.

Re:Pisses me (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26723373)

Yeah, the driving license is a perfect safety device, that's why more people die from smoking cannabis or taking LSD than what traffic accidents cause.

Re:Pisses me (0)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 5 years ago | (#26723567)

Or people using drivers licenses to cut lines of coke.

Re:Pisses me (2, Interesting)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 5 years ago | (#26723469)

I mean, its not as if you need to have a license to drive or anything like that.

So the suggestion is that there should be a licence to play games? What exactly would they test? Shows no increased sign of wanting to kill people after playing Doom for an hour? Unless that's your proposal then your counter to the OP makes no sense at all.

Re:Pisses me (2, Insightful)

hansamurai (907719) | more than 5 years ago | (#26723849)

Shouldn't being an adult be enough "license" to play or watch whatever you want?

Re:Pisses me (2, Funny)

MrNemesis (587188) | more than 5 years ago | (#26723985)

Video games, generally being an arbitrary collection of binary information (typically expressed by electron progression through [semi]conductive materials), have effectively zero mass and since the amount of kinetic energy inherent in any body is proportional to the square of the mass, you can only literally kill someone with a video game by using a localised black hole and/or particle accelerator to get the data to near the speed of light.

Secondary effects, such as that of the media carrying the "static" copy of the data (usually a small circular device made of hydrocarbon polymers) offer limited offensive possibilities in the terms of discus-like protectiles, or fragmented discs used as makeshift knives (although, technically, the data is no longer intact and therefore cannot be truly defined as a still being a video game). Long term exposure to phosphors emanating from cathode ray tubes sometimes used to display the visual interpretation of the data have also been linked to melenomas and/or rhomboid iris syndrome.

Hence, it seems reasonable to me that those of us who chose to travel ourselves around in disturbingly fast-moving piles of iron should have some mandatory skill at it. The worst casualty you're likely to get from computer games is someone who stoved their own head in after accidentally playing a copy of ET.

In summary:
Person with a six pack of beers in a 2-ton lump of steel travelling at 60mph == dangerous fucktard
Person with a six pack of beers on a couch playing Mario Kart with his mates == non-dangerous

Re:Pisses me (3, Insightful)

Wildclaw (15718) | more than 5 years ago | (#26723749)

"Wow, this is a ridiculous comparison. Maybe they should outlaw cars too? They kill and hurt a lot more people than games do."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vehicle_inspection [wikipedia.org]

"How about we outlaw stairs? Single story buildings ONLY. Stairways kill and hurt more people than games do!"

http://www.communities.gov.uk/planningandbuilding/buildingregulations/ [communities.gov.uk]

"While we're at it, let's outlaw solid food. People choking on solid foods have a higher mortality rate than people playing a video game."

http://www.fda.gov/ [fda.gov]

You were saying?

Re:Pisses me (0, Troll)

Kral_Blbec (1201285) | more than 5 years ago | (#26724063)

hmmm, a wikipedia article about emissions testing, a british site about building code (that doesnt mention stairs in the 3 minutes I looked), and an organization who spends most of its time dealing with poisonous/toxic substances. How compelling of an argument...

Re:Pisses me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26723161)

Damn right!

Re:Pisses me (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26723431)

Huh?

Guns are a different matter because they require skill to handle properly, and because they're dangerous if NOT handled properly. It's not a matter of restricting what you can do but rather a matter of protecting everyone else; whether you agree or not, similar things cannot be said about computer games.

As for drugs, many people are of the opinion that there is indeed no justification for banning them. If somebody wants to ruin their own body, let them; personally, I couldn't care less about whether someone's drug of choice is alcohol, tobacco, Mary Jane or whatever. (And LSD is not even a drug in the usual sense of the word: it's psychoactive, and quite possibly dangerous, but not actually addictive.)

Re:Pisses me (1)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 5 years ago | (#26723623)

it's the "it's for your own good" mentality.
You see what happens is that your mother(well someones mother) votes for someone who promises to force you to stay on the straight and narrow and make sure you eat your broccoli.

Re:Pisses me (4, Funny)

Bastard of Subhumani (827601) | more than 5 years ago | (#26723853)

Guns [snip] because they're dangerous if NOT handled properly

They're also quite dangerous if they are handled properly. That's the point of them, isn't it?

Re:Pisses me (1)

Kokuyo (549451) | more than 5 years ago | (#26724025)

If handled properly, they are pointed at pieces of paper or deer to be hunted whenever they are fired.

What this really depends on is your definition of 'dangerous'.

Re:Pisses me (1)

Reapy (688651) | more than 5 years ago | (#26725617)

Could say the same thing about books.

Re:Pisses me (1)

el3mentary (1349033) | more than 5 years ago | (#26724013)

However drugs have proven negative externalizes on third parties. As of yet there is no conclusive proof that games have any major negative affect on third parties, considering how poorly executed the studies into violence/video games links were.

Every illegal or restricted drug has at least 1 major side effect from its taking e.g.
Cannabis, Tobacco: Highly Carcinogenic 2nd hand smoke.
Alcohol: Massive increases in the danger of driving
LSD: Psychologically damaged people require medical attention which impacts the tax payer.
Heroin: Dependent on the method of taking this ranges from spreading blood borne diseases think HIV/AIDS to second hand smoke again, to the burden on the family of the drug taker monetarily and psychologically.
Crack/Cocaine: Unlike video games there is a strong link between crack and violence usually due to the addict being unable to afford to maintain the habit without turning to crime.

I could go on.

Anyway the point is that whereas drugs can have severe externalities and this is proven the link for video games is much lower.

Re:Pisses me (1)

DisKurzion (662299) | more than 5 years ago | (#26724843)

Ok, counterpoint:

In these examples, explain how a 3rd party is affected:
Tobacco: Smoked at home, or outdoors away from crowds (regular air pollution is far worse)
Cannabis: When vaporized or eaten
Alcohol: Drank at home, and didn't go out to drive

The long and short of it is that almost anything we do can have an affect on 3rd parties. But this stems from irresponsible usage of anything: drugs, video games, food, automobiles.

The root cause is responsibility, not the substance. That's why we punish drunk drivers, not ban alcohol. The killer, not the gun.

Banning drugs just leads to the creation of worse drugs, similar to how if we ban a weapon, a new weapon will be used to fill the void. If cocaine was available cheaply and legally...would crystal meth even exist? And I think we can agree that crystal meth is far more dangerous than cocaine.

Re:Pisses me (1)

Bearhouse (1034238) | more than 5 years ago | (#26723767)

Adults should be free to buy whatever weapons they want. Requiring licenses and waiting periods is just tyranny by another name.

Adults should be free to buy whatever drugs they want. Banishing marijuana and LSD is just oppression by another name.

Yup, people as high as a kite, or drunk as a skunk, should be able to buy firearms - preferably automatic weapons - at any time of the day or night. In fact, we should create a place for all these 'freedom-loving' people, oh wait, it already exists!
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/5066860.stm [bbc.co.uk]

Re:Pisses me (1)

Jurily (900488) | more than 5 years ago | (#26725241)

Adults should be free to buy whatever drugs they want. Banishing marijuana and LSD is just oppression by another name.

I know you're trolling, but... Exactly.

I, as an adult, should have the right to do whatever I want to my body chemistry. Besides, cigarettes and alcohol are legal too.

Re:Pisses me (4, Insightful)

IBBoard (1128019) | more than 5 years ago | (#26723181)

Would those adults that should be free to buy whatever they want be the ones who are over 18 and hence generally (unless some countries have odd certificates/classifications) both old enough to be considered adults and old enough to buy any game because the classifications stop at 18?

"It's terrible censorship that games and movies have ratings that stop at 18, thereby not stopping anyone 18 years old or older (who at that age is considered to be an adult) from watching or buying them"!

Re:Pisses me (5, Informative)

Nuskrad (740518) | more than 5 years ago | (#26723401)

The problem in Australia is that their classifications consider some things unsuitable even for an 18/Adults Only rating, and so refuse classification, which means the product can't legally be sold, even to adults.

Re:Pisses me (4, Informative)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#26723415)

And in the case of games, anything deemed not suitable for a 15 year old is banned.

There is no R18+ rating for games.

Re:Pisses me (2, Interesting)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 5 years ago | (#26723597)

Why not just say that anything NOT rated has a de-facto rating of "adults only" or something like that? That way, unrated MMO's really would be rated. Everyone's happy. Except Aussies who lose liberty every year.

Re:Pisses me (1)

dov_0 (1438253) | more than 5 years ago | (#26723795)

As an Aussie, I can say that I haven't lost any liberty, but I have been informed as to what content games, movies and the like have before any purchase so I can decide for myself what I want to watch or play. Simple.

Re:Pisses me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26724327)

Except in this instance?

Re:Pisses me (3, Informative)

flitty (981864) | more than 5 years ago | (#26724511)

This Link [refused-cl...cation.com] Seems to list all of the "liberties" you haven't been able to choose for yourself. From my side of the pond, this looks like a censorship black list, but that could just be me.

Re:Pisses me (2, Informative)

Daengbo (523424) | more than 5 years ago | (#26725251)

I guess that your "liberty" doesn't include buying Fallout 3, F.E.A.R. 2, or Dead Space.

Re:Pisses me (4, Insightful)

powerspike (729889) | more than 5 years ago | (#26723195)

welcome to Australia, we have 7 people all required to say new to change the ratings system, one of them currently in a religious nut, so won't even allow a r rating, so that's not going to be changed any time soon. How does this affect you, well publishers are dumbing down games to get past the 16+ rating in Australia, i believe the last one was fallout3, but alot of major titles are doing it...

Re:Pisses me (2, Interesting)

wisty (1335733) | more than 5 years ago | (#26723387)

Yep, Australia is turning into a nanny state. I wonder how they will deal with MMORPGs though? Can't the publishers dynamically update quests and monsters? I can think of all sorts of ways this could be used to work around the ratings systems.

Re:Pisses me (1)

Sobrique (543255) | more than 5 years ago | (#26724291)

The biggest one being the players - they provide some of the content, and ... well, lets face it, someone using rather strong/graphic language isn't exactly uncommon in a multiplayer game.

Re:Pisses me (1)

halcyon1234 (834388) | more than 5 years ago | (#26725705)

They should just do what the ESRB does. "Online content may change game experience. Online content not rated." Admit there's not much they can do about it, and be done with it.

Re:Pisses me (5, Insightful)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 5 years ago | (#26723261)

Adults should be free to buy whatever the hell games they want. Requiring a rating on games, movies, music, etc, is just censorship by another name.

No, it's not, and conflating the two is extremely counter-productive.

Not all media purchasers are adults. Not all adult media purchasers are purchasing the media for their own use. A ratings system is they so they are able to make *educated decisions* about what it is they are purchasing. A ratings systems - in and of itself - does not prevent an adult from buying anything they want.

Now, a ratings system might have a "Not Rated" or "Illegal" rating that means no-one is allowed to sell anything that is rated as such, however, that is simply a problem with the individual ratings system, not with the entire concept. Australia has such a problem, in that there is no "R" equivalent for games. This doesn't mean all the other ratings given out to games are meaningless or pointless.

Ratings systems are _good_ and should be encouraged. They allow consumers to make educated decisions about their purchases and substantially deflate genuine pro-censorship arguments.

Re:Pisses me (4, Insightful)

mog007 (677810) | more than 5 years ago | (#26723457)

Now, a ratings system might have a "Not Rated" or "Illegal" rating that means no-one is allowed to sell anything that is rated as such, however, that is simply a problem with the individual ratings system, not with the entire concept.

The distinction between something being at the highest or "worst" rating and being unclassified is akin to censorship. Watch the movie "This film is not yet rated." It shows how the MPAA is censoring films that it doesn't agree with, and that's in the United States with a non-public controlled rating system. At least when a film gets hit with NC-17 here, they can sell the film on the internet, or change it a little bit, call it unrated, and have no problems getting it to be sold at a store.

Stores are afraid to stock NC-17 titles, because they're usually associated with porn. The problem with Australia's method is that the board that makes the rating decision could, someday soon, decide that a game is sending the message that the Aussie government is evil, and refuse it classification.

Now, you won't get arrested for having the game yet, but you can't even buy the unrated version like you can here in the US. It IS censorship by another name, and if you believe otherwise, the spin doctoring that the Australian government is doing seems to be working its magic.

Re:Pisses me (4, Insightful)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 5 years ago | (#26723543)

The distinction between something being at the highest or "worst" rating and being unclassified is akin to censorship. Watch the movie "This film is not yet rated." It shows how the MPAA is censoring films that it doesn't agree with, and that's in the United States with a non-public controlled rating system.

Er, you sound surprised, but this is exactly the kind of result that would be expected from a privately (or "industry") -run ratings system. They have movies to sell, after all, so it pays well to come up with ways of excluding movies that they don't derive an income from.

Stores are afraid to stock NC-17 titles, because they're usually associated with porn. The problem with Australia's method is that the board that makes the rating decision could, someday soon, decide that a game is sending the message that the Aussie government is evil, and refuse it classification.

Which will be very quickly reported on and general public outrage will fix the problem.

I would trust our Government-funded, but independent, ratings board (and its publicly disclosed membership and standards) for objective and reasonable ratings long, long, long before I would trust any group of media companies attempting to do the same.

Now, you won't get arrested for having the game yet, but you can't even buy the unrated version like you can here in the US. It IS censorship by another name, and if you believe otherwise, the spin doctoring that the Australian government is doing seems to be working its magic.

Censorship is the active banning of material, it also means it is illegal to own the material.

Refusing classification because the rating system lacks a suitable rating even though one exists for identical content in other media is a minor lacking in the ratings system.

If you think the two are identical then you're just trying to use paranoia to sensationalise the real problem which, as I said previously, is extremely counter-productive.

Re:Pisses me (2, Insightful)

Simon Brooke (45012) | more than 5 years ago | (#26723855)

Censorship is the active banning of material, it also means it is illegal to own the material.

Refusing classification because the rating system lacks a suitable rating even though one exists for identical content in other media is a minor lacking in the ratings system.

If you think the two are identical then you're just trying to use paranoia to sensationalise the real problem which, as I said previously, is extremely counter-productive.

But by your own account, it is illegal to own unrated games, so that is state-sponsored censorship.

I'm just finishing work on a mod for an RPG. The publishers of the RPG want to publish the mod, but want us to tone down some of the content in order to do so. This is because if they publish it it would push the classification of their game into 'Adults Only', which for commercial reasons they don't want. We probably aren't going to agree...

I don't have any problem with our work being rated 'Adults only'. It is intended for adults. But I do have a problem with it being banned outright - that seems to me a dangerous intrusion into free speech.

Re:Pisses me (1)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 5 years ago | (#26724413)

But by your own account, it is illegal to own unrated games, so that is state-sponsored censorship.

It's not illegal to own unrated media.

And, again, "not rated" and "banned" are different in both execution and intent. One is a passive action, the other is an active one. It's like the difference between manslaughter and premeditated murder.

Re:Pisses me (4, Insightful)

flitty (981864) | more than 5 years ago | (#26724605)

It may not be illegal to OWN such media, but the summary above does seem to ban the selling of any unrated material

Under Australian law, all games require a formal rating to be sold.

Re:Pisses me (1)

Bastard of Subhumani (827601) | more than 5 years ago | (#26723915)

Which will be very quickly reported on and general public outrage will fix the problem.

How will people know about it if it can't be released?

And assuming they're anything like people in the US and UK, they wouldn't care anyway. I would say sheeple, but some might take offence.

Refusing classification because the rating system lacks a suitable rating even though one exists for identical content in other media is a minor lacking in the ratings system.

If it's really minor it'd be trivial to fix. Seems to me like there's deliberate intent to keep that bug (or is it a feature) in place. That would indeed be censorship.

Censorship = Banning Content (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26724471)

How will people know about it if it can't be released?

The Internet, unless Australia goes Chinese on us.

If it's really minor it'd be trivial to fix. Seems to me like there's deliberate intent to keep that bug (or is it a feature) in place. That would indeed be censorship.

Even if it's not deliberate, it is censorship. Not "censorship by another name", but actual bona fide 100% pure unmitigated unadulterated pasteurized homogenized censorship.

The GP (drsmithy) is absolutely correct that a ratings system is not itself an instance of censorship. But once you stand up and say "all games whose content is in (nonempty) category X are illegal to sell" then you've instituted censorship. That might not be a bad thing (depending on what category X is) but it should be as clear as vodka that the act of banning is censorship but the ratings system is not.

Re:Censorship = Banning Content (1)

Daengbo (523424) | more than 5 years ago | (#26725385)

"The Internet, unless Australia goes Chinese on us."

  Ahem [thestandard.com] . Not that Korea is any better. I've gotten "Internet Police" notices when trying to visit adult sites.

Re:Pisses me (1)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 5 years ago | (#26724669)

How will people know about it if it can't be released?

Possibly because various news rags would be all over it like a bad smell ?

If it's really minor it'd be trivial to fix. Seems to me like there's deliberate intent to keep that bug (or is it a feature) in place. That would indeed be censorship.

From a procedural perspective, it is trivial to fix. All they need to do is expand the current R and X ratings to encompass computer games as well as other media. There are lots of minor problems in the world that would be trivial to fix. That they are not is rarely indicative of government oppression.

The problem in this particular example is not an active attempt to ban "adult" content, it's the pandering to a handful of conservative twats who can't get their heads around the idea that people other than 12 year old boys play computer games.

Re:Pisses me (3, Insightful)

mog007 (677810) | more than 5 years ago | (#26724405)

If history shows us anything, it's that once something is made illegal to sell, it doesn't take much effort to make it illegal to own.

I'm sensationalizing it for a reason, and that reason is simply because censorship in ANY form is fucking wrong. And it's VERY wrong when it's being done by the government. This is censorship, plain and simple. The government is saying "no, the citizens aren't adult enough to make the decision to watch that, we're going to make the decision for them."

Re:Pisses me (1)

Lostlander (1219708) | more than 5 years ago | (#26724777)

Refusing classification because the rating system lacks a suitable rating even though one exists for identical content in other media is a minor lacking in the ratings system.
If you think the two are identical then you're just trying to use paranoia to sensationalise the real problem which, as I said previously, is extremely counter-productive.

If you think that censorship can't happen simply by refusing to rate something you live if your own special world. How do you think drugs became illegal in the U.S. it all started with stamps [wikipedia.org] and while we're on the subject lets go back a bit further we can see how require a special stamp [wikipedia.org] aka a rating sticker can have damaging effects on all kinds of things.

Re:Pisses me (1)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 5 years ago | (#26725673)

I would trust our Government-funded, but independent, ratings board (and its publicly disclosed membership and standards) for objective and reasonable ratings long, long, long before I would trust any group of media companies attempting to do the same.

But the beauty of a media company group's ratings, is that you don't have to trust them. You can use anyone's ratings to select your movies. You would have to hate the whole human race to say there's no one out there you can trust. It's pretty damn easy to find film reviews, especially in the last 15 years.

Re:Pisses me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26723465)

Ratings systems are _good_ and should be encouraged. They allow consumers to make educated decisions about their purchases and substantially deflate genuine pro-censorship arguments.

Nonsense.

You can't trust any single organisation to condense a complex game / movie / whatever into a single number, telling you the minimum age for which it is appropriate. Opinions on what is appropriate will vary wildly from person to person.

If consumers want to make educated decisions, they'll actually have to educate themselves. Read the back of the box, read a review or two online. But don't expect a single number on the box to tell you what's okay for your child.

My problem with ratings is, ANY ratings system is arbitrary, but simply by existing, it stifles creativity.

Re:Pisses me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26723653)

You can't trust any single organisation to condense a complex game / movie / whatever into a single number, telling you the minimum age for which it is appropriate.

Not to mention, it is good for minors to see inappropriate things at times. I would classify most news broadcasts about wars and terror as inappopriate, but I think it is very very appropriate for minors to hear about 9/11 and Iraq and the torture sessions at Gitmo. Children should not be shielded from reality, they should only be taught to deal with it.

Re:Pisses me (2, Funny)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 5 years ago | (#26723663)

condense a complex game / movie / whatever into a single number

Yes you can. [wikipedia.org]

Re:Pisses me (2, Insightful)

The Snowman (116231) | more than 5 years ago | (#26724151)

You can't trust any single organisation to condense a complex game / movie / whatever into a single number, telling you the minimum age for which it is appropriate. Opinions on what is appropriate will vary wildly from person to person.

If consumers want to make educated decisions, they'll actually have to educate themselves. Read the back of the box, read a review or two online. But don't expect a single number on the box to tell you what's okay for your child.

I like the idea of rating various elements that would normally go into a rating, but separately. For example, separate ratings for sex, nudity, violence, and drug use. Provide facts for each category: do not rate it for an age group, but state what it has. For example, the nudity category might have "brief glimpses of a boob or two," "no nudity," or "this is porn." Violence could be "what your big brother did to you growing up," "gratuitous mowing down of Charleys with a machine gun," or "this is a movie about the pope."

The problem with rating systems in general (so far) is people are relying on other people to dictate morals. When I see a movie is rated R, I am forced to rely on someone else's view of what people under the age of 17 should or should not see in a movie. It does not tell me, directly, what kind of cool stuff is in the movie. I learn so much more by listening to reviews, including word of mouth. Ratings alone, as they are in the U.S., are fairly worthless.

Re:Pisses me (1)

Atreide (16473) | more than 5 years ago | (#26723629)

Not all media purchasers are adults. Not all adult media purchasers are purchasing the media for their own use.

Besides, some adults
do not want to watch/play with some material.

For instance
I am not interested in horror films or games.

To take original post words
I would be "pissed of"
if a game ellusively introduced such material.

Some would argue
I have to read games reviews before I buy,

why should I do that ?
Instead of simply pick up a game
and being confident
the game won't bring subjects
I don't want to see
or I don't want my kids to see ?

If I am ok to play "Need for Speed"
I might not be to play GTA

Re:Pisses me (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 5 years ago | (#26723775)

First off... that's your problem. Just because YOU might not want to play it doesn't mean it needs to be banned so that others who do cannot. If you are, ostensibly, an adult, then cope.

Secondly, the enter key is not punctuation.

Re:Pisses me (1)

slackbheep (1420367) | more than 5 years ago | (#26724435)

Looking into purchases is pretty much common sense, and taking an active interest in controling the videogames your children are exposed to is in my opinion good parenting. I'm not trying to trash you but wouldn't a rating system which allowed for more verbose explanations of content be more reasonable than expecting the world to hide all the big scary things from you?

Re:Pisses me (2, Insightful)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 5 years ago | (#26723739)

Ratings systems are _good_ and should be encouraged. They allow consumers to make educated decisions about their purchases and substantially deflate genuine pro-censorship arguments.

When they are used only informatively, this is correct.

When there are laws connected to the ratings, preventing unrated games from being sold, and the same group can refuse to rate, it is censorship. The government is deciding what can and cannot be expressed. There's no other word for it, and no equivocation is going to make it not the case.

Re:Pisses me (1)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 5 years ago | (#26723887)

When there are laws connected to the ratings, preventing unrated games from being sold, and the same group can refuse to rate, it is censorship. The government is deciding what can and cannot be expressed. There's no other word for it, and no equivocation is going to make it not the case.

There is a difference between not rating because no suitable rating exists, and not rating because the objective is to ban it.

Conflating the two is neither valid, nor productive.

Re:Pisses me (2, Interesting)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 5 years ago | (#26724059)

There is a difference between not rating because no suitable rating exists, and not rating because the objective is to ban it.

Conflating the two is neither valid, nor productive.

When the same group (government in this case) gets to create the ratings AND rate the games AND make the laws, that's clearly false. If no suitable rating exists, it is entirely in their power to create one. If they do not do not create a rating appropriate for "games where you impale babies on spikes," Occam's Razor says it's because they don't want to rate it == they want it illegal.

I'm hoping they do create a rating for MMOs though... the Aussie guild in my alliance is a good bunch of guys.

Re:Pisses me (1)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 5 years ago | (#26724821)

If they do not do not create a rating appropriate for "games where you impale babies on spikes," Occam's Razor says it's because they don't want to rate it == they want it illegal.

You have choices like apathy, incompetence and pandering to special interests, but the simplest explanation you can come up with for boobies and gore in computer games (when the same thing shown on IMAX screens is fine) not getting a rating is because the government is trying to ban them ?

Clearly Occam's Razor needs some sharpening.

Re:Pisses me (2, Interesting)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 5 years ago | (#26725397)

Can't be apathy. If that were the case, unrated games wouldn't be illegal for sale because they wouldn't care.

Incompetence I'll grant as a possibility, but, George W Bush notwithstanding, mouth-breathers with room-temperature IQs tend to have trouble getting into high office. The level of incompetence would have to be staggering even by US Government standards[0], so that's not a particularly simple explanation.

Pandering to special interests == they want it banned because they were bribed by those who want it banned. Doesn't mean they care about the game content at all, but they were paid to have their desires coincide with the interests in question. So that example coincides with what I said.

Thus, my statement holds.

Re:Pisses me (1)

Frigga's Ring (1044024) | more than 5 years ago | (#26725195)

Ratings systems are _good_ and should be encouraged. They allow consumers to make educated decisions about their purchases and substantially deflate genuine pro-censorship arguments.

Rating systems are NOT good. They're bias opinions created by the person doing the rating. I don't need someone else to tell me for whom they think the media is appropriate. Tell us what's in it (violence, gore, nudity, drug use, etc) and let the buyer decide if it's appropriate.

Re:Pisses me (1)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 5 years ago | (#26725567)

Not all media purchasers are adults. Not all adult media purchasers are purchasing the media for their own use. A ratings system is they so they are able to make *educated decisions* about what it is they are purchasing. A ratings systems - in and of itself - does not prevent an adult from buying anything they want.

And if the British government requires a rating system for pamphlets like "Common Sense," that doesn't prevent any colonists from getting the pamphlet. Just require labeling of subversion, so that if colonists don't want their children reading subversive pamphlets, then they'll be informed about what is subversive and what isn't.

Ratings systems are _good_ and should be encouraged. They allow consumers to make educated decisions about their purchases and substantially deflate genuine pro-censorship arguments.

(A little less sarcasm this time.) Actually, I really do agree with that, but that's because you phrased it so ridiculously generally. Ratings systems are good. Government-mandated ratings systems are bad. If some Australian wants to publish a list of their opinions about various games, I have no problem with that. I would even encourage anyone considering buying a game (or any other software) to search the net for reviews before making a decision. Where this all goes wrong, is that the Australian government is requiring a particular entity's opinion about the game, to be bundled with the game. What we're talking about at this stage, is far more than a mere "rating system."

Re:Pisses me (1)

El Torico (732160) | more than 5 years ago | (#26723389)

Adults should be free to buy whatever the hell games they want...

Yeah! Bring back Lawn Darts [cpsc.gov] !

Re:Pisses me (1)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 5 years ago | (#26723493)

Adults should be free to buy whatever the hell games they want...

Yeah! Bring back Lawn Darts [cpsc.gov] !

god forbid kids toys reflect real-world dangers.

If your kid is incapable of hurting himself with the toys he owns, he will not learn proper self-restraint.

Re:Pisses me (1)

Kharny (239931) | more than 5 years ago | (#26723525)

So true, i must have cut myself a few times with my swiss army knife before my dad's knifesafety rules made sense ;D

Re:Pisses me (1)

El Torico (732160) | more than 5 years ago | (#26723559)

If your kid is incapable of hurting himself with the toys he owns, he will not learn proper self-restraint.

Yes, but if he is capable of hurting himself with the toys he owns, he may not make it to adulthood. OK, my original post wasn't a fair comparison, but I just wanted to point out that usually laws exist for good reasons.

Re:Pisses me (2, Interesting)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 5 years ago | (#26723575)

The lawn darts were a bit extreme but I have to agree.
There seems to be more and more of an obsession with stopping kids from hurting themselves in any way at all.
I hate to imagine how dull my childhood would be if I had it over now, when did letting kids climb trees go out of fashion?
When did playing with candels and matches(where it wouldn't burn down the house) become a sin?
I went through scouts and now help out the local group occasionally and it's as if most of the kids these days reach the age of 12 without ever touching a box of matches or climbing a tree.

Re:Pisses me (1)

digitalchinky (650880) | more than 5 years ago | (#26723897)

Well that sucks then. My childhood foray in to matches involved burning an entire swamp, a big one, filled with bone dry reeds about 8 feet tall. That thing went up like a huge Roman candle in seconds, I'm thinking seriously cool at that time, though the two schools located just meters on either side did not share my outlook. I learned a very valuable lesson that day - the point at which ones own stream of urine can successfully extinguish a fire on a blustering hot and windy day is just a few seconds.

I've never played with matches since.

Re:Pisses me (2, Insightful)

senorpoco (1396603) | more than 5 years ago | (#26723531)

"Adults should be free to buy whatever the hell games they want" That is why ratings are there, to protect non adults from inappropriate content.

Re:Pisses me (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 5 years ago | (#26723791)

Not in Australia. Gov's refusal to rate == ban, from adults and non-adults alike.

Re:Pisses me (1)

germ!nation (764234) | more than 5 years ago | (#26723607)

This is possibly the stupidest thing I've read on /.

Are there ratings that stop adults buying things? Do things that don't exist get rated?

Re:Pisses me (2, Informative)

flitty (981864) | more than 5 years ago | (#26724725)

Maybe because you don't understand what's going on here.

Are there ratings that stop adults buying things?

Yes. You cannot sell unrated items in Austrailia, or you could be fined for doing so.

Do things that don't exist get rated?

How existential of you, but I don't get what this has to do with the story.

Re:Pisses me (1)

DrWho520 (655973) | more than 5 years ago | (#26723621)

Beside the point. "Under Australian law, all games require a formal rating to be sold. Due to an oversight, many MMOs do not carry such a rating, yet they have been sold since release without anyone realizing the problem." This is not about protesting censorship, this is about a dumbass move. Oversight? An MMO is a video game, video games require a ratings label, a label was not applied (that is the law right now, whether anyone agrees with it or not)...stupid.

Re:Pisses me (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 5 years ago | (#26723701)

Adults should be free to buy whatever the hell games they want. Requiring a rating on games, movies, music, etc, is just censorship by another name.

What other name is that? Seems to me like it's just "censorship." Period.

Re:Pisses me (1)

dov_0 (1438253) | more than 5 years ago | (#26723753)

The question is not whether adults are allowed to buy the games or not. The ratings are there not to restrict games, but to inform adults (including parents) as to what content a game has before they purchase it. Nothing wrong with that.

Re:Pisses me (1)

not already in use (972294) | more than 5 years ago | (#26724379)

How this got modded insightful is beyond me. A little misplaced righteous indignation perhaps?

Requiring a rating on games, movies, music, etc, is just censorship by another name.

No, it's really not. Not even close.

Adults should be free to buy whatever the hell games they want.

They are.

Re:Pisses me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26725359)

Requiring a rating on games, movies, music, etc, is just censorship by another name.

Not really. It's called censorship and there doesn't seem to be much pussy-footing around it.

And it's what the people of Australia want. They want censorship. The best thing to do, is expand that censorship far beyond games until they are so miserable that they change their mind about it.

no surprise (4, Insightful)

thermian (1267986) | more than 5 years ago | (#26723147)

As long as there are politicians in need of a platform to rant on in order to get elected, nonsense like this will happen.

Since the overwhelming majority of people neither play, or possibly even understand, computer games, its a soft touch for some 'fear inducement' followed by 'and I can save the children from it'.

Thus far it hasn't stopped the games industry raking in billions over the years, nor will it in the future.

Re:no surprise (2, Informative)

NightRain (144349) | more than 5 years ago | (#26723215)

Since the overwhelming majority of people neither play, or possibly even understand, computer games, its a soft touch for some 'fear inducement' followed by 'and I can save the children from it'.

Yes, it's not like 97% of American teens play computer games [foxnews.com] or over 50% of American adults [foxnews.com]

Re:no surprise (5, Insightful)

thermian (1267986) | more than 5 years ago | (#26723237)

Yes, it's not like 97% of American teens play computer games [foxnews.com] or over 50% of American adults [foxnews.com]

Strangely enough, most of the world aren't Americans, and this story isn't about America either.

Re:no surprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26723859)

What do you mean? Everything is about America!

Re:no surprise (1)

NightRain (144349) | more than 5 years ago | (#26724061)

And surprisingly enough, I'm not American either. However, if I had have posted that without specifying that it was based on Americans, I'd have got singled out for that as well

Re:no surprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26723369)

And it's not like FOX news isn't very biased.

Re:no surprise (1)

ghmh (73679) | more than 5 years ago | (#26723593)

Since the overwhelming majority of politicians neither play, or possibly even understand, computer games*, they'll agree to whatever the minority holders of the balance of power in parliament ask for in exchange for support for other policies they're pushing.

* Insert any minority concern here

There, fixed that for you.

Confusing Developments (2, Funny)

Carfiend (1274550) | more than 5 years ago | (#26723259)

I was led to believe that the Aussies were criminal types that we kicked out and the first American Colonists were people who were too uptight even for us English types.

So why then do we have the Aussies being uptight about foolish things and the Americans being pretty chilled out about most things?

My belief in stereotypes has been shattered!

Re:Confusing Developments (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26723289)

I want to live in the america you live in.

Re:Confusing Developments (3, Interesting)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 5 years ago | (#26723625)

This is America. Kids can't look at boobs, but you can legally own and operate [cracked.com] flamethrowers, build and use garage guns, and fire an M134 minigun.

We make a lot of sense here, don't we?

Re:Confusing Developments (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 5 years ago | (#26724287)

The "North America founded by a bunch of religious zealots" argument is a common misconception that always irks me. In fact, that's only true of the New England colonies. In Jamestown and the southern colonies, and and in New Amsterdam/New York and the middle colonies, settlers were interested mostly in economic gain and opportunity, not in bible-thumping (with a few notable exceptions, like the Huguenots in South Carolina). The puritans were just one group of settlers in one region, they are not the sole "founders" of what would become the U.S.

Penalty - Send all the convicts to Australia (5, Funny)

Patito (1088621) | more than 5 years ago | (#26723281)

AU$27,220.80 or two years? I for one vote for doing things like in the old days: Just send all the convicts to Australia...

Re:Penalty - Send all the convicts to Australia (1)

hansamurai (907719) | more than 5 years ago | (#26723877)

If they outlaw sending convicts to Australia, only convicts will live in Australia.

and nothing was lost (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26723429)

Since Australians verge into two categories, the normal Australians with sense (a rarity) and the racist blundering idiots, I simply couldn't care.

Lock them out and watch them cry when they can't get anything a normal western county has. It's not economically worth it to be there.

Re:and nothing was lost (0, Flamebait)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 5 years ago | (#26723453)

Since Australians verge into two categories, the normal Australians with sense (a rarity) and the racist blundering idiots

you do realize america has that second category too. Who do you think votes republican every election?

Blame the Republicans... (2, Insightful)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 5 years ago | (#26723513)

you do realize america has that second category too. Who do you think votes republican every election?

The white racists who vote democrat are simply more circumspect about their racism. Instead of burning crosses, they've spent the last 40 years getting most blacks to believe that they could not EVER succeed without the government slamming the door open for them, not to mention undermining the black family at every step of the way through welfare policies that have made the presence of fathers economically unnecessary.

I'd also like to point out that David Duke was a Democrat until 1988 and Robert Byrd, the most senior Democrat in Congress, was a grand-something-or-other in the KKK. You don't get to where Byrd was in the KKK if there is even a hint that you're sitting the fence on what you think black people are. Yet, somehow, even though he has used a certain n word "by accident" on national television, he is simply regarded by most Democrats in power as "senior constitutional scholar."

Incompetence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26723497)

I don't get how this happens.

Most MMO publishers (at least the ones who sell games on store shelves) also publish other games. If they know their other games need a rating, how did they not do this for MMO's?

Game retailers in AUS know to only stock rated games. How did they not know MMO's needed to be rated?

The ratings board knows to rates games. Did they just not notice a large group of games?

TFA is somewhat silent on this, other than "it happened." Baffling.

hard to believe (1)

v1 (525388) | more than 5 years ago | (#26723565)

publishers and distributors at some point misunderstood their obligations ... or did their lawyers simply say "hey I think we can get away with this, some others already in this arena are doing it!" I find it hard to believe a whole squadron of expensive suits "overlooked" this.

What about free!! (1)

jlebrech (810586) | more than 5 years ago | (#26723651)

Does giving a freeware or opensource game fall under that law?

Start selling "games" (1)

a whoabot (706122) | more than 5 years ago | (#26723941)

Start selling games as academic, sociological research tools. I don't think you need a rating on those.

Sold or rented? (1)

sunderland56 (621843) | more than 5 years ago | (#26724443)

Does the law cover rented or leased games? You don't actually "buy" a MMO, you pay a monthly fee to play.

Re:Sold or rented? (1)

flitty (981864) | more than 5 years ago | (#26724875)

On top of that, Don't most EULA's state that you paid for a license to play the game, not the game itself? It's not illegal to sell licenses to unrated games, is it? Guess there is one upside to the whole "you don't own your software" for aussies.

Games sold via iTunes? (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 5 years ago | (#26724571)

Is there even a rating system available when someone sells a game via the iTunes Store? Are all iPhone/iPod touch game developpers world-wide targeted for lawsuits from the Australian government?!

Hmm.. (1)

kabocox (199019) | more than 5 years ago | (#26724765)

I think that Australia should just fine each involved company to the max. They shouldn't give any of them a "free pass." As long as they make the entire industry that tired to dance around the law by ignoring it the same or similar punishment, then it'd be mostly favor.

If the Australian government wants to make video games unprofitable for them, then more power to them. The effect could be an entire industry boycotting a country though. Or worse, use Australia as the "bad guys" in the next series of games instead of Nazis, USSR, evil Arabians, or space aliens.

We've got silly, but effective lobbies here in the US. I can't really complain about the ones that they are stuck with. If they, upset the Australian citizens enough, the Australian Citizens will make new lobbies to get easier or broader ratings.

Heck, I'm constantly stunned when I watch G & PG stuff now. It seems like stuff that's getting G would have gotten a PG, and the PG stuff would have been PG-13 back when I was a kid. PG-13 seems close to what the NC-17 used to be. NC-17 used to be the anime rating. Now they show that on cartoon network.

It's not that I care for me when I watch a stupid Disney G movie. I just liked knowing that standard was fairly kid safe. Heck, it seems like I can't even trust Veggie Tales to be kid safe. Well, atleast I can let them play my old school games. Nope, there's Smash TV and Metal Slug in there! O.k. we are sticking with FF. Nope, there is some language in there. O.k. less than 5 words through 5 series, but still.

And this is why.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26725557)

Blizzard didn't put any Oceanic servers actually in the region! That's why all of the lag!

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