Office of Film, Literature and Video Games anyone?

With the Australian Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC) refusing classification for Piranha Bytes' RPG Risen, it's about time the Federal Government came to the party and introduced an R18 rating.

For too long gaming as been left floundering in the classification wilderness due in part to the government refusing to add another rating for adults.

South Australian Attorney General Michael Atkinson decided he was the Gaming Policeman for Australia after he shelved the idea of making a discussion paper of R18 ratings available for public discussion. Great to see democracy in action Mr Atkinson. This comes on the back of the Federal government admitting that the new internet filtering proposal, if it goes into effect, will be able to ban unclassified content.

Back in the 80s, when the classification system was being drawn up for video games there was no need for an R18 classification. Games were for kids, they had blocky graphics and basic sound, and there was no need to develop a rule set that seperated adult only content. Time moves fast and processing power moves even faster, and today violence in video games is as normal as a movie. Now that has changed, it seems the Powers-That-Be are having a hard time adapting.

There are several issues here that need addressing:

  • Why can't games be open to the same type of classification as books and film (after all, look at the title of the OFLC – the body that rates such media)

  • Why is the government not allowing discussion papers on things that affect the gaming community to be open to scrutiny?

  • Atkinson says he is concerned about the 'potential harmful material' in games for young children. He isn't worried about such material in books and movies?

  • Does the Attorney General realise he works FOR the people of Australia, and that transparency is part of any decent democracy. In other words, he has no right to 'filter' a discussion paper on a subject that is important to a lot of Australian gamers.

What the government needs to realise is that no gamers worth their salt would want a game with ribald language, violence and sex available to children. But that shouldn't mean gamers should miss out on their chosen form of entertainment because Ministers are either too lazy, or have put the subject in the 'too hard' basket.

Come on Government, sort it out once and for all. Gamers are voters, too.