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.

Election

So Australia’s finally got a government, and I’d like to take some time to talk about what I’ve noticed from my first experiance at the polls.

This was a fairly disappointing election from the start, I didn’t think either major party was really worth my vote, and I consider voting for the minor groups and independents to be a waste of a vote (especially considering the strong seat I live in). The only issue that caused me to vote for the Liberal party was the question of the proposed internet filter that I’ve mentioned before, amoung other minor things. And I think that the people’s voice was a resounding garble of unintelligible sounds.

Also, during the whole event I’ve noticed that very few people were paying  attention to the issues at hand, or even who’s running for the seat. Between being asked ‘who should I vote for?’ by several people, watching the people around me in line studying the papers given out by the volunteers outside like they were cramming for an exam, and the various comments about not voting for such and such because they look strange. As one of the people that did pay attention to the issues (at least the ones that were important to me) I find that really offputting, and I think that a democracy doesn’t truly work unless people are educating themselves (or are being educated) about the issues. I’m sure that there are some people in the country that voted for one side because they always have voted for them, and so have their parents and grandparents right up until the formation of that party. Democracy doesn’t work like that either!

I don’t know how anyone could change the current system so that people interact with the issues, and vote according to their position on those issues, but I don’t think that the current set up works as a reflection of the voice of the people. (which can also be a reflection on people as a whole – not the system – as people can generally talk a lot of crap).

So while I don’t agree with the decision of the 4 independants who currently hold the swing vote in the lower house (3 of whom sided with Labour [nominally] with their vote), I’m looking forward to what will obviously be an interesting few years on the political level.

catch up

Sorry I haven’t been posting much in the last few months. Between general busyness and not having much to say, I’ve kinda let this blog slip. So here’s a sort of catch up summary.

I’ve been on break from college, so there haven’t been too many new ideas coming in that I’ve needed to talk about. I do want to say that ‘Predators’ was a great movie, and if you like that sort of thing (2 hours of a short plot followed by people getting slaughtered) and you haven’t seen it yet, do so.

Australia’s been hurtling toward the national vote for a few months now. While I still plan to vote depending on the issues that I find important, I have had Romans 13:1-7 on my mind for a few days. After hearing some people slamming both major parties, and telling everyone listening that they should vote for one group or another – since, if we get a government that does not hold to the ideals of the Christians, we are to blame – and personally struggling with these calls to attempt a return to some form of ‘Christendom’ – the total union between the church and the state (Which I, and many others I know of, thankfully consider as dead) – I found these verses while flicking through my Bible. In them, Paul is telling the Roman church that they should submit and respect the governing authorities, since God has placed them in their positions for a reason. For Paul to write this to the Roman church at this time (during the hight of the Neronian persecution) seems to be crazy. He is telling the Christians to submit to (never, however, at the expense of disobeying God) and respect the ruler who is slaughtering them in hundreds. It is with this state of mind that I’m approaching the election – whichever party takes power, I have a responsibility to respect and submit to them (unless submiting to them goes against the will and moral requirements of God). My time on this earth is an opportunity to help grow the kingdom of God, whatever the circumstances.

While I have more to say, I believe that this is a good stopping point for this post. Sorry about the length, and God bless.

Thought Dump

Sorry if this post seems random and confusing (and a little long), but I’ve really gotta just clear out my head.

I just finished an assignment on the theology behind the Arian controversy. To put the result simply, Arius was a heretic of the worst sort, and I spent most of the assignment wanting to throw anything expounding his theology as far away from me as possible. Arius had denied the divinity of Christ, instead saying that he was a ‘created creature’ who attained ‘sonship’ through a high moral standing, a stance that was met with great hostility by a large majority of the Church.

The assignment was hard to grapple with, as I had to maintain an objectivity that didn’t come easily concerning this issue. So in a way I suppose I reacted in the same way as the leaders of the church in Arius’ time did, so at least I’m on the well-worn Christological track that the Church has stuck to since the beginning – which is a good thing.

Also, for some reason I’m becoming more interested in the Australian political system, and the various policies that are being argued and proposed. Of everything, the policy that has been standing out to me the most is the policy to introduce a ‘filter’ on the internet.

While I can agree with the aims of the Labour Government, which are to prevent harmful exploitation of Children, and to prevent Children from seeing inappropriate websites, the method they are using to achieve this goal is flawed. In a nutshell, the national filter proposed will greatly slow down the Australian internet (which seems stupid considering the plans to upgrade Australia’s broadband network to provide both faster and more reliable internet access), be easily avoided by anyone with even a basic knowledge of proxy server sites (which route blocked sites through ID’s that the filter recognise as OK), would provide a structural framework for a potential government censorship program, and would not prevent the underground sharing of Child Pornography through unofficial servers or online file sharing systems. I won’t even go into the effects that it would have on the gaming culture of Australia (which is two large and complex to even enter into here).

The money Labour is fueling into this proposed plan would be better spent educating parents about the dangers of the internet (so that they can properly supervise and protect their own children), both in terms of online games and the darker side of the internet, and providing information on private filtering devices (that can be installed on home computers and give parents the options concerning what is blocked and what is not). Also, providing more money and training to the police forces who specialise in the infiltration and arrest of the underground groups that share images of the exploitation of Children would have a greater effect on the spread of those images.

Again, sorry if this post seems overly long, but I really needed to get both of these thoughts out there in order to clear out my head.