Games ratings speech cut off in parliament
SOUTH Australian Attorney-General Michael Atkinson was cut off in State Parliament today while arguing against an R18+ classification for games.
The Attorney-General was presenting a speech to the South Australian Parliament that clarified his stance against the rating.
Mr Atkinson is the most vocal opponent to a R18+ classification for games, which cannot be introduced without the agreement of all state and Commonwealth attorneys-general.
During the speech, Mr Atkinson began to describe five games that had been banned in Australia. As he was describing drug use in the game Narc, he was cut off by raucous interjections and returned to his seat.Here is the transcript of Mr Atkinson's speech in full:
The Interactive Entertainment Association of Australia has repeatedly put to attorneys-general that there ought to be an R18+ classification for computer games.At this point Mr Atkinson was interrupted and returned to his seat.
Unlike films, for which there are R18+ and X18+ classifications, the highest classification for computer games that depict, express or otherwise deal with sex, violence or coarse language in such a manner as to be unsuitable for viewing or playing by persons under 15 are classified as MA15+.
Computer games that exceed the criteria needed for an MA15+ classification must be refused classification and cannot be sold, hired, demonstrated or advertised in Australia. Nevertheless, thousands of games are available to computer game buyers and only a few are completely banned under this system.
I have consistently opposed an R18+ classification for computer games. I am concerned about the harm of high-impact (particularly violent) computer games to children. Games may pose a far greater problem than other media Ė particularly films Ė because their interactive nature could exacerbate their impact. The risk of interactivity on players of computer games with highly violent content is increased aggressive behaviour.
I do not want children to be able to get their hands on R18+ games easily. I understand that the lack of an R18+ classification denies some adults the chance to play some games, however, the need to keep potentially harmful material away from children is far more important.
Proponents for the classification say the latest technology allows gaming platforms and computers to be programmed to allow parental locks. Todayís children are far more technologically savvy than their parents. Itís laughable to suggest that they couldnít find ways around parental locks if R18+ games were in the home.
I have mentioned that, despite there being thousands of computer games available to consumers, only a handful are banned. I want to give some examples of games refused classification in Australia because Iím certain that fair-minded people would not want the kind of content in them to be available to children.
Blitz: The League was banned in January 2007. Itís an American Football game in which players prepare teams and play through a season. It was banned because in the course of the game, the player may use illegal performance-enhancing drugs for the members of his or her team. The player can also use fake urine samples to avoid positive drug tests.
Reservoir Dogs was banned in June 2006. This game is based on the Reservoir Dogs movie and players are participants in a bank robbery. They can blow the heads off hostages and police as well as execute hostages at point blank range with a gunshot to the head. They can also torture hostages by pistol whipping the side of the head, burn the eyes of a hostage with a cigar until they scream and die, or cut the fingers off hostages. There are blood bursts as the victims scream in pain.
50 Cent: Bulletproof was banned in November 2005. The gameís central character is the rap star, 50 Cent, and he seeks revenge for the killing of his former cellmate. It was banned because the killing in the game was prolonged and took place in close up and slow motion. It included a lot of on-screen blood splatter when the killing was done with knives. Just to show that the current system does work, a censored version of the game was released later with an MA15+ classification.
Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure was banned in February 2006. In this game, players make names for themselves using graffiti. They join gangs and compete with rival gangs and the police force. This game was banned because it promotes breaking the law by vandalising public buildings with graffiti. Worse, the central character acquires his knowledge of graffiti tips, techniques and styles from real graffiti vandals who pass on those details. It actually instructs players on how to become graffiti vandals.
Narc was banned in April 2005. In this game, players try to defeat an underground drug trafficking and terrorist organisation. Nevertheless, the game contains frequent drug use. Players can choose to take illegal drugs including heroin, speed, LSD, marijuana and ecstasy and those drugs provide the player with benefits in progressing through the game. For example, when a player takes an ecstasy tablet...
The following is the rest of his speech as provided by his office.
... opponents will stop attacking and allow the player's character to escape. Similarly, taking speed allows the player's character to run faster and catch opponents.http://www.news.com.au/technology/story/0,25642,23329959-5014108,00.html
I contest any idea that it is necessary for games to include material of this kind and that a game is more interesting to an adult because it contains extreme violence, explicit sexual material, instruction in crime or characters using illicit drugs. I remain firmly opposed to changing the classifications of computer games to allow an R-rating for games with such content.
This is a carefully considered position I have held for six years and other attorneys-general around Australia may now be coming to the same view. There are not adequate safeguards that can properly protect our children from those disturbing scenes and I know how computer-literate they are. Like other parents in Australia, I want to try to protect children from being able to access computer-generated pornography and violence.
I have not been persuaded by arguments for an R18+ classification for computer games and I will continue to oppose it.