R18+ Games – I told you so [updated]
As I predicted in December 2009, we now have an R18+ category for the classification of computer games. The reason an R18+ category was a foregone conclusion was that it is a necessary precondition to establishing an internet censorship regime in Australia which, apparently, is still part of the Labor Government’s policy, but is opposed by the opposition and minor parties.
As an aside, the current classification system is broken. It is, for example, not legal for a shop to sell an x rated video in NSW (I think outside ACT or NT), but a NSW resident can readily download one from the internet. When they do that they don’t have the benefit of any classification system. This is partly because getting a classification costs money, so why would anyone be bothered?
For my purposes, the classification system is of some help in deciding what programmes are appropriate to show to my children, but a classification is never sufficient. I always look at somewhere like commonsense media to get an idea about what is appropriate and inappropriate in the film. For example, Groundhog Day is rated PG, but it contains a sex scene which parents might reasonably consider inappropriate for their children to watch. Star Trek, the Wrath of Khan is also PG, but contains two scenes of concern – first the not very graphic, but pretty scary, scene in which ceti eels are inserted into two crew members, and a later, quite gruesome scene where they discover the crew of the space station has been murdered. While I am at it, the law should recognise the inherent right of viewers to copy and modify media for the purpose of viewing them to remove or mollify these errors in direction.
Common sense media and similar sites are much more useful. The classification scheme in Australia really should be overhauled away from a formal classification system towards one in which producers of material or viewers can classify their own material, perhaps in accordance with guidelines. The current scheme is too blunt an instrument.