I’ll admit right off the bat that I don’t have the answers to the possible questions I may ask in this article. Although, I think these are questions that should be asked. This week Mortal Kombat X received a R18+ rating from the Australian Classification Board. This is an honor that its previous iteration did not receive until the game became a slightly watered down version. So the question which came to my mind was, ‘is the Australian Classification Board progressing?’
Yes, we got Mortal Kombat X. But for every game which gets past the board we get others that don’t get through, or, a watered down version. Just last year South Park the Stick of Truth was initially rejected because of controversial subject involving an anal probing mini game, among other things. This is when the public’s own views come into question. In the United States they rely on their right to free speech which is written into their laws. Australians don’t abide by those laws, yet we also understand that it feels strange to be told a fully grown adult cannot play a game because it is too graphic for them.
This was brought up again recently with the petition to stop selling Grand Theft Auto 5 at Target (and later K-Mart). I for one, do not agree with the petition but I understand what the woman and its signatories were trying to achieve. In the end though it was the clear lack of knowledge about games is what set everything off.
“It’s a game that encourages players to murder women for entertainment. The incentive is to commit sexual violence against women, then abuse or kill them to proceed or get ‘health’ points…” – (Nicole Survivor, Petition against Target Australia)
I won’t go into detail about what is wrong with this opening paragraph to the petition but for those who know and have played the game realize how misconstrued this is. This I think highlights how a lot of Australians view games. Many still hold the value that video games are for children. Therefore companies who simply don’t pay attention are being unfair to their consumers.
By Target placing Grand Theft Auto 5 next to the likes of Peppa Pig and Barbie in their catalog. This associates that the game is for children. Whereas it’s clearly a classification of R18+. Most people know reading this article about the statistics. The fact that in 2012, statistics were release by Bond University that the average age of a gamer was 32, and growing. It is not just companies either. It even comes down to how our own Government views video games.
Funding for games could only be done through different Television and Film Funding bodies like Film Victoria or Screen Australia etc. Video games are not seen as their own. They are seen as a miscellaneous entity which is slotted in with its closest relative. When last Federal Budget was released this forced many of these funding bodies stop funding video games all together. So if the Australian Government are not able to respect the gaming industry how can the public or the classification board. A classification board who uses a film rating system as a template to rate video games. Films and video games are different experiences and should be treated as such.
I have gone off on a long tangent I admit, but all these things are connected. The last time Mortal Kombat got banned there was a huge uproar, and for some reason this time with better graphics, more characters, and more fatalities this managed to pass with the unaltered version. Here’s the thing, I’m not running a country. I’m sure there are much smarter people than me behind the scenes (hopefully). But I believe consistency is the main issue. And if the Australian Classification Board treats games as their own entity, rather than comparing to film. The public can get a better understanding of what the Australian Government is trying to achieve and why there is an R18+ in the first place.
Article by Daniel Clements
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