Adults-only video games

Carl Thompson
Summary 
I am an adult. I have been playing video games for a long time. But I cannot play some video games made for adults. This is because they are banned in Australia. They get banned because there is no R18+ rating for games like there is for films. Adults should not have their choices limited by the ratings system. Children should also be better protected by the introduction of an R18+ rating. It would send a stronger message to parents that not all games should be played by children. The Federal Government also wants to introduce an R18+ rating.
Posted by: 
Carl Thompson on 07/04/2011
A close-up of two people's hands using gaming controllers
close up of two people's hands using gaming controllers

Unlike films, there is currently no R18+ rating for video games.

I have been playing video games since I was six years old. I am now 21 and still playing. Unfortunately, I am unable to play some video games designed for adults.

The current classification system prohibits games to be sold in Australia if their content is deemed unsuitable for an MA15+ rating. Unlike films, there is currently no R18+ rating for video games.

Not just for kids

The video game industry is still relatively young. This means that there are many misconceptions about the age of people who play video games. Many people assume that games are just for children and teenagers. But Bond University research found the average age of Australian video game players is 30. The average age has been steadily increasing in recent years.

Saying that games are just for children is like saying movies or television are just for children. Some games are designed for kids, some are for adults. It is just as some movies are designed for children, and others are for adults.

There should not be different standards for the classification of video games and other forms of entertainment. Video games are a legitimate form of entertainment.

Increased risk

The lack of an R18+ rating actually increases the risk of inappropriate material getting into the hands of children. Some parents allow their children to play games that are not suitable for them. I believe this is due to parents not taking the current ratings seriously. Research by Bond University has also shown that some people do not understand the MA15+ category.

An R18+ rating would send a forceful message to parents that not all games are suitable for children. Having more distinct classification brackets should also lead to parents being better informed when buying games for their children.

Right to choose

I do not believe that kids should view explicit material designed for adults. But adults should have a right to choose their entertainment. They should not have their choices limited through censorship.

Video games should also not be banned when they contain material that is deemed legitimate for other media like films, television and books. Parents should take responsibility for what their child enjoys as entertainment. It should not matter whether it is video games, movies or anything else. Adult freedoms should not be limited because some content might fall into the hands of children.

Economic benefits

There will also be economic benefits if Australia introduces an R18+ rating classification for video games. Some people choose to import or download copies of games refused classification in Australia. An R18+ rating should ensure more people buy games from Australian retailers.

Under review

Fortunately, there is hope for people like me that support the introduction of an R18+ rating. The Federal Government is attempting to introduce an R18+ rating for video games in Australia following a public consultation process.

The Minister for Home Affairs, Brendan O'Connor, says the Commonwealth's position is that we need an R18+ classification for video games in this country. If introduced, the classification system will move the Australian video game classification system in line with every other ratings system in the developed world.

Introducing an R18+ rating for games requires the unanimous support of all state and territory classification ministers. Mr O'Connor wants all ministers to agree to change at the Standing Committee of Attorneys General meeting in July. Mr O'Connor says if agreement cannot be reached, the Federal Government will consider other options for changing the outdated classification system that's actually, in my view, causing harm to young people.

 

Do you think Australia needs an R18+ rating for video games? Let us know in the comments section below.

Readers comments (2)

I'm with you, Carl. It is ridiculous that we have different classification rules for different media. It all stems from the days when people thought interactivity equalled more impact. But countless studies have found that not to be true. In fact, you are constantly reminded its "just a game" by the fact you have a controller in your hands.

It looks like the new Victorian government will try to stop national legislation for a R rating.

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