In March this year, a gathering of Australian attorneys-general resolved to seek public comment on a potential adult (R18+) rating for videogames.

In June, they were still working on a discussion paper. So last Thursday night, a videogame fan raised the issue with the panel on ABC TV’s Q&A program

If the 1 in 2 Australians who enjoy playing videogames, were hoping for a sensible, informed discussion, they should have switched across to The Footy Show instead.

“One of the videogames is called Fallout 3, set in a post-Apocalyptic Washington, where people come out after a long period of time, and start killing everybody,” explained presenter Tony Jones.

Actually, the second half of that plot sounds like Romeo & Juliet to me, Tony.

Wikipedia offers a less sensationalist description: “One day, the player wakes up finding that his father has ventured into the wasteland for unknown reasons. The character decides to go out in search of him.”

So yes, you do kill baddies in the game. But it’s not the POINT of the game. It’s the search for a lost father.

“We had that thing with avatars, where people can go out and r-pe people… if there’s someone playing a videogame where they’re r-ping someone, then I’m not feeling good about the place,” said Senator Barnaby Joyce.

Senator Joyce, I’m guessing that you’re referring to the virtual world Second Life which is not for sale in stores. So it’s not part of the Australian ratings system. And totally irrelevant to this discussion.

Second Life is available on the net. It’s like a giant “dolls house” in which 99% of users do “normal” things like meeting people, exploring, buying clothes & houses. A year ago, one (just one) of the millions of players found a temporary “bug” in the game, enabling them to act out their abhorrent fantasy. Senator, your example was as fair and up-to-date as equating all politicians to Hitler.

“I think there’s a strong argument to actually have a rating system… just the same as ratings for movies…”, said Senator Mark Arbib, ALP New South Wales.

Yes Senator, that rating system came into force in 1994, a year before you became president of Young Labor.

“We urgently need a ratings system. I think first and foremost it’s a guide for parents… at least you can pick up the thing [look at it] and think this isn’t something they should be watching or playing,” argued journalist Christine Jackman.

Indeed.

When you buy any videogame in this country, the rating is on the front of the box, just as you described.

Hopefully, Tony Jones will set things straight…

These things have been banned, because there isn’t a ratings system on videogames.

There’s a rating system on videos, but there’s no rating system on video games.

Oh dear.

It’s existed for 14 years Tony. It started the year you became ABC’s Washington correspondent.

If journalists can’t get their facts right… If politicians who are years away from an election still can’t resist sensationalising…

…then I might us well stop gaming, and pick up a footy instead.

(I hear it’s all about thugs who break necks on-field, and r-pe women off-field)

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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