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Legislation For 18+ Games Hits Australian Parliament

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the australian-for-fun dept.

Australia 45

angry tapir writes "Legislation to pave the way for an R18+ (adults only) classification of video games has just been introduced into the Australian parliament by the minister for home affairs. The state and territories will still have to pass complementary legislation, however. Currently the highest rating for a game in Australia is MA15+, with games that didn't meet the criteria being refused classification, leading to content being gutted prior to release or games just not being released. The legislation marks a victory for a long campaign by gamers (notably lobby group Grow Up Australia). The current legislation, which will take effect on January 1 next year providing it makes it through the lower and upper houses, merely introduces an R18+ classification, falling short of the complete classification overhaul proposed by the Australian Law Reform Commission."

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fulfillment of geek dreams (4, Funny)

crutchy (1949900) | more than 2 years ago | (#39042053)

the tabletop dancers in duke nukem can finally be naked

Free marketing (5, Insightful)

muttoj (572791) | more than 2 years ago | (#39042057)

I do not know how it works in Australia, but I always think that making something illegal is the best way to promote it as something fun. A R18+ rating only places a game in the cool sector.

Re:Free marketing (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39042101)

As a student in neighboring New Zealand we used to routinely seek out material in the coveted "banned in Australia" category.

Re:Free marketing (5, Insightful)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | more than 2 years ago | (#39042105)

Any game which has to be R18+ is presently completely illegal in Australia.

Ones which don't have to be are shoehorned inappropriately into the M15+ classification.

This is a whole section of obviously good legal reform which has been held up by special interest groups for over a decade because the general public just doesn't care (changing now since the average gamer age is approaching 30, to bad those in power tend to be 50-60).

Of course if I had my way, it would be illegal to "ban" anything that didn't take actual illegal activity to produce, and replaced with guidelines on distribution and public display.

Re:Free marketing (5, Insightful)

mjwx (966435) | more than 2 years ago | (#39042151)

This is a whole section of obviously good legal reform which has been held up by special interest groups for over a decade because the general public just doesn't care (changing now since the average gamer age is approaching 30, to bad those in power tend to be 50-60).

This,

The majority of Australians support R18+ for games, it's a tiny minority who oppose it (most notably Christian lobby groups). Unfortunately it's a tiny minority that was owed political favours. Since then the roadblock, Michael Atkinson was removed, punished first by voters, then by his own party as he resigned from the front bench. The Attorney Generals have approved it and it's going before parliament.

Re:Free marketing (1)

mattack2 (1165421) | more than 2 years ago | (#39054033)

Attorneys General

(Plus, don't you guys spell it "attourney"?)

Re:Free marketing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39097461)

no, we only put u's into words that have them

Re:Free marketing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39042223)

It's somewhat worse than that, in WA and NT its actually a criminal offence to POSSESS RC material, in other states it's only a crime to sell.

What that effectively means is that for importing something like the most recent MK you can be faced with fines up to $10,000, prison and have a criminal record.

Re:Free marketing (2)

Cimexus (1355033) | more than 2 years ago | (#39042263)

On paper, yes. In practice, I don't think that law has ever been used against individual gamers. There're plenty of people, including in the NT and WA that imported MK with no issues, and in some cases Customs even inspected the parcels and let them through anyway. The authorities are really only interested in large scale commercial breaches of these rules.

Not that that excuses the law being on the books in the first place. Fortunately it seems as if the days when you needed to worry about this will soon be behind us...

Re:Free marketing (1)

Talderas (1212466) | more than 2 years ago | (#39044799)

Of course if I had my way, it would be illegal to "ban" anything that didn't take actual illegal activity to produce, and replaced with guidelines on distribution and public display.

Isn't making something illegal, regardless of if it is an item or activity, in essence banning it?

Re:Free marketing (4, Informative)

Cimexus (1355033) | more than 2 years ago | (#39042241)

True, but it should be understood that it was not actually ~illegal~ to own or play a 'refused classification' game previously in Australia in most States (WA being the notable exception). It was merely illegal for a store to SELL the game. Or more accurately, the law says that all media sold to the public in Australia must have a classification, so obviously if something doesn't have one/is refused classification, they can't sell it. And due to some stupidness arising from the early 90s when the classification scheme for computer games was first developed, the ratings only topped out at MA15+ (whereas they go up to R or X for other media). After all, only kids play these new-fangled computer game things right?

I live in Australia, but own and play, perfectly legally, several games that are were refused classification in Australia. I bought these in person while travelling overseas in the past, or ordered them from an overseas website. And in my jurisdiction at least (the ACT) I'm not doing anything wrong. The only thing I couldn't do is set up a retail company and sell them.

Getting a proper R18+ rating for games is the culmination of a pretty long fight by gamers and retailers. Assuming it gets passed by Parliament (it should), this is great news. (Mind you, even if R18+ games start appearing on shelves here, I'll still buy them from overseas anyway since it is much cheaper!)

Re:Free marketing (1)

vodevil (856500) | more than 2 years ago | (#39043509)

I'm wondering if there's a loophole to get around it by not selling the actual game, but maybe bundling it with a guide book or audio cd from the game and get the game for free.

Re:Free marketing (1)

mab (17941) | more than 2 years ago | (#39043709)

Material which are refused classification are put on the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service list of prohibited items. Any copies of these games found at the border will be seized, and its recipient, depending on the number of copies being imported may receive up to A$110,000 in fines

Re:Free marketing (1)

mab (17941) | more than 2 years ago | (#39043697)

But it's illegal to import refused classification games in to Australia

Also a win for those wanting stricter limits (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39042089)

This move is interesting in that it satisfies both those wanting stricter limits and those wanting less strict limits.
Under the current system the games that other countries have been rating higher than MA15+ have not been entirely banned, instead the milder half has been pushed down into the MA15 category and the stronger half banned.
So on the less strict side we get access to all those formerly unrated games.
And on the more strict side a bunch of stuff that would otherwise have been squeezed into MA15+ can now be placed in the more appropriate R18+

Re:Also a win for those wanting stricter limits (4, Insightful)

Bill Currie (487) | more than 2 years ago | (#39042127)

As far as I'm concerned, there is but one appropriate rathing: PG, with a very strong emphasis on the P.

Re:Also a win for those wanting stricter limits (0)

crutchy (1949900) | more than 2 years ago | (#39042139)

easy to say if you aren't a P

Re:Also a win for those wanting stricter limits (5, Insightful)

locopuyo (1433631) | more than 2 years ago | (#39042197)

If you can't be the P you shouldn't be a P. The government should not be the P.

Re:Also a win for those wanting stricter limits (3, Insightful)

mjwx (966435) | more than 2 years ago | (#39042235)

If you can't be the P you shouldn't be a P. The government should not be the P.

But who gets to determine who is and isn't fit to be a P?

People unfit to be a P will often make the decision to become a P completely oblivious to their inability to be a P. Shows like 15 and pregnant are proof of this.

Sorry, but you cant blame bad P's on government bungling, as much as I agree with you about the government not being a P.

Re:Also a win for those wanting stricter limits (3)

locopuyo (1433631) | more than 2 years ago | (#39042251)

Those begging for the government to parent their children are not fit to be a P.

Re:Also a win for those wanting stricter limits (1)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 2 years ago | (#39042253)

Easy to say, but are you going to be the one to take away their kids?

Re:Also a win for those wanting stricter limits (1)

locopuyo (1433631) | more than 2 years ago | (#39042311)

The same government that has the millions of laws meant to parent children is more than happy to take them away from their actual parents.

Re:Also a win for those wanting stricter limits (4, Funny)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 2 years ago | (#39042861)

People unfit to be a P will often make the decision to become a P completely oblivious to their inability to be a P. Shows like 15 and pregnant are proof of this.

But this is not unique to P. Human stupidity affects everyone, including people who are not parents, or "NP".

In fact, I'd say P and NP are pretty much the same.

Re:Also a win for those wanting stricter limits (5, Funny)

ixnaay (662250) | more than 2 years ago | (#39043107)

There is a ton of effort going on to prove that P != NP ... I think you may be coming at this problem from just an odd enough perspective to finally solve it.

Re:Also a win for those wanting stricter limits (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 2 years ago | (#39043335)

Yes, if you're the parent and is asking for the government to do the parenting for you then I agree. But I absolutely think the government should set bounds for what is acceptable parenting. They may be your children, but they're also human beings with rights any civilized society should protect. That goes both for helping or teaching parents to raise their own children or in cases of gross neglect, physical or sexual abuse taking over the role as parents completely. In particular, I'm far more concerned about the religious indoctrination children get in sects than any government indoctrination they get in public school.

Re:Also a win for those wanting stricter limits (1)

exploder (196936) | more than 2 years ago | (#39044009)

I'm all for simple answers, but I think this P vs NP problem is trickier than you suspect.

Re:Also a win for those wanting stricter limits (2)

crutchy (1949900) | more than 2 years ago | (#39050687)

you are an idiot, and obviously not a P. the challenge of P has nothing to do with the government, and many perfectly good P's raise horrible C's, and vice versa. there is no magic formula for being a good P. i do everything i can to make sure my C's aren't exposed to unsuitable content, by I can't watch them every moment of every day (especially when they are at school or staying with friends). especially when C's get to teenage years (when the content ratings in TFA become more important) it is much more difficult to control what your C's watch (and if you try to you become the bad guy and likely they will find some other means behind your back). its ignorant morons like you who make being a good P almost impossible.

Re:Also a win for those wanting stricter limits (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39071299)

It's not about watching them, or making sure they're not exposed to unsuitable content, it's about educating them so that when you can't watch them, they know what to do.

The fact that you blame others for making "being a good parent almost impossible" speaks volumes about your inability to parent. There is no magic formula. Being a parent is difficult. Apparently too difficult for you.

Re:Also a win for those wanting stricter limits (1)

Bill Currie (487) | more than 2 years ago | (#39042409)

Ah, but I am one.

Re:Also a win for those wanting stricter limits (1)

crutchy (1949900) | more than 2 years ago | (#39050719)

then you should know better that the "PG" rating can't always apply. if not, maybe it's you who isn't fit to be a P.

Re:Also a win for those wanting stricter limits (3, Insightful)

bloodhawk (813939) | more than 2 years ago | (#39042453)

That would require every parent to understand every game. That is completely unrealistic even for many good parents, a well run rating system is meant to assist parents in determining what their kids can and cannot play/watch.

Re:Also a win for those wanting stricter limits (2)

PlatyPaul (690601) | more than 2 years ago | (#39043539)

No, it requires parents to understand every game they are buying. They don't need to know every game out there - just the ones that they're willing to buy and hand to their children....

Re:Also a win for those wanting stricter limits (1)

exploder (196936) | more than 2 years ago | (#39044089)

Have you been a parent? You're old enough, judging by your id. I am, and I do appreciate ratings. I honestly don't have time to watch or play every show or game that my son wants to. You know, ratings aren't just a substitute for good parenting--they can be a useful tool. My son has earned the privilege of finding his own appropriate shows on Netflix. He knows which ratings he's allowed to watch. If he wants to see something else, he has to ask.

I'm honestly curious: are you a parent, and if so, then how would/do you solve the problem of inappropriate content without ratings?

Won't believe it until it gets passed (4, Interesting)

Rik Rohl (1399705) | more than 2 years ago | (#39042281)

Now watch the freak conservative 'family' organisations mount a media blitz that results in this getting killed.

Re:Won't believe it until it gets passed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39043403)

Yeah Aussies are such softies:
http://aussie-slang.com/html/aussie_sayings.html [aussie-slang.com]

--
Teun

Finally some sanity (5, Insightful)

gweihir (88907) | more than 2 years ago | (#39042449)

Lets face it, in a modern society there are things that are dangerous for kids but should be allowed for adults. Some video games qualify. The old regulation was basically an invitation for censorship. With the 18+ rating, censorship becomes quite difficult.

Re:Finally some sanity (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39042699)

Please give an example of something that is dangerous until one has orbited the sun eighteen times, after which it immediately ceases being dangerous.

Re:Finally some sanity (1)

gweihir (88907) | more than 2 years ago | (#39042819)

Your question misses the point. No more specific answer for an AC.

Re:Finally some sanity (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39042931)

Don't get me wrong; I don't like the current system, but I don't think banning someone from buying games based on the number of times they've orbited the sun is the right solution either.

Re:Finally some sanity (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#39046803)

Development of certain emotional functions in the brain is strongly correlated with having orbited the sun.

Re:Finally some sanity (1)

mattack2 (1165421) | more than 2 years ago | (#39054131)

Jamie: What's the myth today?

Adam: Development of certain emotional functions in the brain is strongly correlated with having orbited the sun.

Jamie: How are we going to get the funding to put someone in a space station Sol-stationary for 18 years?

Adam: I dunno, kickstarter?

Jamie: Naah, that's too hard.. Lets go blow stuff up instead.

Time to change the dictionary definition? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39042497)

I'm more used to hearing negative stories.

Australia |ôstrly, strl-|
adjective
1 to use censorship in defence of Victorian moral values and to forestall the perceived moral implosion and destruction of an entire generation of children. someone somewhere is doing something that makes me twitch - I'd better Australia this.
2 to govern in a paternalistic style that protects its fragile citizens from female sexuality, animated violence, and freedom of expression.

Don't get your hopes up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39042535)

Dear Australians, please don't get your hopes up too much. Speaking from a German experience where we've always had a 18+ rating, as long as the rating is enforced in any form publishers will hate it and "optimize" their games for a 15+ rating anyway, because more potential buyers means more buyers means more money.

So I'm glad for you that you will now actually get some 18+ games, but please don't assume that this means all games will now be uncut and get a release.

So an interesting question would be: How legal were US/UK imports before this new rating and how legal will they be after this change? Legal enough for individuals to do it? Legal enough for a niche market of imported games in online/offline stores?

Change anything? (3, Insightful)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 2 years ago | (#39043551)

Will this law change anything though?
Right now, they have to have 18+ games shipped to them or order online. In countries where 18+ is completely legal, we do the same.

In Canada and the US, for example, 18+ games are completely legal (no special restrictions as far as I know). But that does not mean that a single brick and mortar store has anything to do with them. While we were able to convince the government that games are the same as movies, parents continue to think otherwise.

online game (1)

bridgeshop (2551494) | more than 2 years ago | (#39122327)

I do not have a Idea about that but make it easy then other game... online game are fully automated no restriction on that.............. View my site: http://bridgeshop.com.au/ [bridgeshop.com.au]
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