For what its worth I usually avoid writing about the R18+ rating these days as I’ve run this issue into the ground over the past 3 years. However I won’t stop complaining about the fact that the only reason why it’s taken so long for this to happen is that vocal minorities have caused this piece of legislation to go through the wringer, even when there’s a crazy amount of public support for it. There’s a massive light at the end of the tunnel though and it’s looking like by early next year we’ll have a R18+ rating for games in Australia and I’ll stop harping on about it.
Recently the R18+ legislation was referred to a parliamentary committee for review by an unknown party in the Liberal government. I’ll admit that at the time I was a bit peeved about that happening; it looked like an abuse of a process used for controversial legislation more than the government doing their due diligence. However the results of the committee have come back and their recommendation is a straight up “pass the legislation”:
The Committee recommends that the House of Representatives pass the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Amendment (R 18+ Computer Games) Bill 2012.
So I read the report in its entirety (it’s only 16 pages, most of them with only a couple lines) and the committee’s sentiments echo those of my own. Of particular interest is the public consultation section which I’ve reproduced below:
On 14 December 2009, the Attorney-General’s Department (AGD) issued a Discussion Paper for public consultation on the question ‘Should the Australian National Classification Scheme include an R 18+ classification category for computer games?’2
The AGD received 58 437 valid submissions from both individuals and groups in response to the Discussion Paper. Of those, 98 per cent supported the introduction of an R18+ category for computer games while 2 per cent opposed.3
In November 2010, the AGD commissioned an independent research company to conduct a telephone survey of 2 226 individuals across Australia on attitudes toward an R18+ classification category for computer games.4 The poll found that 80 per cent of respondents supported the introduction of the restricted category.
The committee really did do its homework on this one and the wide reaching support heavily influenced their recommendation. Their comments are also well informed, recommending that no further public consultation be undertaken (since there’s already overwhelming support for it) and submitting that there’s more than sufficient evidence to support the introduction of the R18+ rating. It’s sad that bouts of rational thinking like this are few and far between, but I’m glad that the committee didn’t fall prey to the minorities like the rest of the legislative process have.
With committee’s recommendation in hand the R18+ rating should have a relatively easy time passing through the lower and upper houses. It’ll still be some time before we will have R18+ games on our shelves here as their sale will be treated much like R18+ movies and literature are today. However a timeline of late this year to early next year isn’t unthinkable and it won’t be too long after that that we might see some previously banned titles making their way onto our shelves. It’s been a long time coming but we’re almost there, almost in an Australia that doesn’t view gamers as children only.