OZ A Video Games ‘Laughing Stock’ Claims Federal Minister

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The Federal Government is giving the states and territories until July to agree to a new R18+ classification for video games. Home Affairs Minister Brendan O’Connor claimed that Australia – now the only developed country without such a video game rating – had become a laughing stock.

The Federal Government is giving the states and territories until July to agree to a new R18+ classification for video games. Home Affairs Minister Brendan O’Connor claimed that Australia – now the only developed country without such a video game rating – had become a laughing stock.

“We’re the only country that allows tens and tens of games to be used by minors that are only used by adults overseas,” he told ABC Television. “We’re becoming the laughing stock of the developed world.”

O’Connor said the issue has been debated by the attorneys-general for the past 10 years and it is time for the A-Gs to make a decision. He last put the matter to a meeting of the Standing Committee of State Attorneys-General (SCAG) in mid December, only to have them reject his plan and call for more time for consideration (CDN, Dec, 13). The next SCAG meeting is scheduled for Adelaide on July 21.

O’Connor argues that the higher classification means under-15s will be better protected while opening up the market for the potential R18+ audience. He stresses that violent or sexual games that are currently refused classification, and hence can’t be sold in Australia – like the latest version of Mortal Kombat  – won’t be moved to the new R18+ classification. In effect they’ll still be banned from sale, thwarting the main aim of the video game industry which had drummed up a major push for the change.

Games that do win R18+ classification will only be available for sale to people aged 18 and over and may not be permitted to be displayed.

Tasmanian Attorney-General David Bartlett has backed the move for an R18+ classification. “Introduction of an R18+ classification would help give parents a clear idea of which computer games are suitable for their children,” he said in a recent statement

“An R18+ category currently applies to other forms of entertainment, like films and some magazines. It’s appropriate to use the same clear and consistent restrictions for computer games.”

Meanwhile Research in Motion’s local chief Adele Beachley has welcomed new interim classification rules for mobile games as a “step in the right direction”.

SCAG last week adopted a complaints-based system for the classification of mobile and online games, replacing a regime that required every app developer to seek classification for their products.

Beachley argued in a recent Senate submission that only five of more than 500,000 mobile apps available to Australians had been formally classified – and all five came factory-installed on the BlackBerry.

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