GamePlayer VS. The ACL
The ACL (Australian Christian Lobby) are the loudest vocal group against an R18+ rating in Australia, in fact they are the only group that is against the R18+ rating that I can think of.
I want an R18+ rating for games. So I added their Facebook page to keep up on all the latest, if only to stay ahead of their arguments against something so important to me.
Never did I dream that the Chief of Staff, Lyle Shelton, would respond to my comments on a radio transcript between Attorney General Brendan O’Connor and Professor Elizabeth Handsley discussing the R18+ rating, AND THEN get to debate it with Mr. Shelton himself. Anyway, here’s how the action went down. In case it’s confusing, I’m RM and he is LS.
RM: That article between O'Connor and Handsley was a lot like watching the unstoppable force hit the immovable object. O'Connor consistently brings up logical points, backed by credible research and Handsley consistently puts on her denial helmet and says "Somebody think of the children!".
Not to mention that this is about the 10th time I've seen this conversation take place over the last couple of months, with practically the same people involved each time.
LS: It's a shame Minister O'Conner resorts to slurs when discussing ACL, instead of engageing the argument. His proposal would allow games with extreme violence and sex into Australia for the first time, putting kids at greater risk. This is certainly not an extreme position, but one a large number of parents would be concerned about.
RM: I agree that he could have phrased his reference to the ACL a little more objectively but apart from that I think he concisely summarised the issue. The "extreme violence and sex" you refer to is either already here in Australia or non-existent.
The idea that what little (and there are very few) new games that would be allowed into Australia based off of this system feature content so heinous that you would be able to differentiate them from the games we currently have, without a copy of the guidelines in front of you, is ludicrous.
At some point we have to let parents take responsibility for what their kids play, the same way they take responsibility if their kids are watching R18+ movies or drinking alcohol. Shouting down an R18+ rating while agreeing that the current system is broken is treading fairly close to hypocrisy, since this provides the only logical solution to the problem short of banning all video games that are rated above M.
Yes, kids may end up with R18+ content, the same way that if those same kids got a hold of a computer they could type "porn" into Google image search and have access to a whole wealth of R18+ content. It isn't our responsibility to hold parents hands with games if we have already neglected to do so for all other forms of media.
LS: Games with high impact violence and sex are already out there in the on-line world and pressure will inevitably come for them to be put into console games. The ALRC review of the classification system is also grappling with how to classify on-line games. An R18 rating based on what the Minister is suggesting - ie mirroring the film guidelines - would be extremely dangerous. The classification board green-lighted Salo with simulated paedophilia for an R18 classification for example. That's not a standard anyone would want to see translate into interactive computer games.
RM: The games you refer to in the online world (and I notice you don’t name any) would surely already be on consoles if that’s the case. We don't make up a very large portion of the world's game buyers and the pressure you are speaking of would already have come to a head in countries like the UK or USA. Basically, if they were going to exist then they would already - we aren't the ones holding them back.
That aside, Salo is an old and incredibly unique example to bring up. Obviously simulated paedophilia isn't an intended, or very likely, result of the guidelines and I'm sure this would be picked up on when such a game was classified (If such a game would ever make it past production). And even if that is a potential problem, should we really be focusing on "what-if" scenarios when there is actual harm done every day by leaving the guidelines as they are?
Why worry about a fictional game when there are probably several thousand 12 year olds playing Call of Duty: Black Ops right now, who have no right to be accessing that kind of content?
Unfortunately Mr. Shelton stopped responding at this point, whether it’s because he had better things to do or because someone told him that it wasn’t really helping his position is uncertain.
But at least I got a chance to defend what I want first hand against its harshest critics, I can only hope a few followers of the ACL Facebook page were converted in the process.