An R18+ Rating for Video Games in Australia?

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything about politics (which is a shame, cause I actually enjoy following what’s happening in Australian Politics), but this is an issue that has been knocking around for a long time, and finally it seems to be getting somewhere.

Between this video, and the tweets of my local minister (who is surprisingly interested in informing people about how this debate is going – still waiting on a reply to some of my responses though….), I’m really looking forward to the possibility of playing games that have – for a variety of reasons – either been cut down or completely banned from selling in Australia. I want to share a few more thoughts about the debate in general, and the video specifically tonight. Again, this post won’t replace the second part of my Who Am I? Series – I should have that written up and published sometime in the next few days – but it’s something that I have at times been incredibly passionate about, and while I can no longer get as riled up about it as I once could, it’s great to see a conclusion on the horizon.

On a broad level, this issue doesn’t affect Australian Gamers at all – if people are that desperate to get their hands on a (proper) copy of the game, they can easily import it – customs only stops banned games/movies/entertainment at the gates if they can prove intent to distribute (i.e. more than a couple of copies) – so getting their hands on stuff that cannot be sold here isn’t a big issue. In fact, it’s often easier and cheaper to just import or use digital distribution for all of your games, as the pricing system for games in Australia is incredibly bad (Big budget games start out at $60 US in America – compared to $80-$120 in Australia when the currency is going incredibly strong), so it’s not that big an issue for Australian Gamers. What this is a major issue for is the Australian Games industry, and for the retail businesses that sell Video Games.

From the industry perspective, it allows developers here to branch out into games that can more fully explore aspects of life or the human condition (something that I’m eager for all games developers to do), and allow for those games to be released here. From a retail side, it means that more games will be bought in Australia, with Australian Dollars, and the economy will continue to do whatever it is that economies do when people buy things locally. The number of people who, upon hearing that a game is getting released with an MA rating only after the developers/publishers agreed to cut certain content from their game, cancel their pre-orders with (or their plans to buy the game from) companies like EB games, and find themselves an uncensored import version is significant, which means that the amount of potential profit lost for the Australian retail companies on those games is significant (I think – I’m not sure about the inner financial workings of the games retail industry).

As for the video itself, I found some of those figures to be incredible – I’m not sure about where they got some of them, but that’s not the point. 9 out of 10 homes having at least one gaming device, Women making up nearly half of the total number of people that play games, and the average age being in the early 30’s (5-10 years older than I was expecting), over 58 thousand submissions to an inquiry looking at what people thought about an R18+ rating for video games. These are not insignificant figures – this is a hobby that many people are engaged with, and one that a large portion of people are passionate about to the point where they will get involved with the putting of a reform to Parliament in whatever way they can. For the portion of society that doesn’t play video games: you cannot ignore the social phenomenon that gaming has become in the last few decades. For the various Christians that I know condemn video games as violent and dangerous to society: Don’t just write us or our hobby off, there are a lot of us, many of whom you’re potentially pushing away from ever hearing and accepting the words you know to be true. And for those of you who are Australian Gamers: Here’s to a swift resolution to this reform, and to a bright future.

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