Australians Asked to Weigh-In on Possible Addition of R 18+ Game Classification

By Jeff Mattas, Dec 14, 2009 7:20pm PST Gamasutra reports that the Australian government may be reconsidering its stringent videogame ratings system and is asking its citizens to weigh in on the subject.

According to the article, an internet portal providing arguments for and against a newly proposed R 18+ classification has been set up by the Australian government. On it Australian citizens may submit their feedback regarding the issue. Submissions will be accepted until February 28th.

Arguments against the proposed adult classification are unfortunately typical. In alarmism akin to criticizing a misunderstood medium, opponents of the initiative continue to cite correlations between violent video games and aggressive behavior. To back these assertions a discussion paper has been included in the form's notes that reads, "Concerns are frequently raised that playing violent computer games has a greater negative effect on people than viewing the same degree of violence in films."

The accompanying arguments in favor of the new classification rules are empirical in comparison, arguing that an adult classification would better help parents more clearly distinguish titles inappropriate for minors. From a business perspective, supporters argue that the new rating classification is necessary to help Australian game developers compete more effectively. The supporting argument states that the "lack of an adult classification for computer games in Australia may affect the competitiveness of this industry internationally and could be resolved through the introduction of an adult category."

Of course all of this talk may not result in any changes. Australian Attorney General Michael Atkinson remains staunchly against the new classification. His assertions that "only a small number of very zealous gamers" are interested in an R 18+ classification and that "You don't need to be playing a game in which you impale, decapitate and dismember people," indicates just how removed some elected decision-makers are from the industry they're trying to regulate.

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