Gamers set loose R18+ petition deluge

The Attorney General’s department is about to be inundated with submissions calling for the introduction of an R18+ classification for electronic games.

Electronics Boutique retail outlets across Australia and the Group Up Australia website collected submissions this month in response to a Federal Government discussion paper on the introduction of an R18+ classification for computer games in Australia.

Lobby groups have failed for a decade to convince government to introduce the classification, which has resulted dozens of games banned by the Australian Communication and Media Authority (ACMA) for including content not suitable for people under the age of 15.

Grow Up Australia will hand in 16,055 submissions to the government, ahead of the deadline this Sunday. It claims almost all submissions support the introduction of the R18+ rating.

The paper, Should The Australian National Classification Scheme Include An R18+ Classification Category For Computer Games?, asks the community to contribute its ideas on whether the categories of the national classification scheme should apply to computer games in the same manner as films.

Grow Up Australia co-founder, Jake Edwards, urged interested people to respond to the discussion paper ahead of the deadline.

“With less than a week until the deadline for submissions, there is still opportunity for people who want to get involved to make a submission,” Edwards said in a written statement.

The lack of an R18+ classification for electronic games has been linked to an increase in piracy and poor sales of titles that were toned-down to meet Australia’s top rating of M15+.

Local Sega game developer, Dan Toose, said the classification laws did not have a big impact on Australian game development, but said it could cost developer studios millions to redesign titles to be passed under the M15+ rating.

Previous considerations of the rating — which would bring Australia in line with classification law in most countries — were rejected by South Australian attorney-general Michael Atkinson.

He has said violence in video games has a more profound impression on consumers because they are active participants, as opposed to film which demands passive consumption.

All state attorney-generals must support the changes for the rating to come into effect.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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