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Australian government begins the process of games reform with a Discussion Paper


The Australian Law Reform Commission has been listening, and after hours of bureaucratic thought, research, filing papers, losing papers, rewriting those papers, finding the originals and sobbing quietly at their cubicles, the Australian government has proposed a Discussion Paper to revamp media classification ratings, including those for video games. The paper addresses issues of hypocrisy in its games-rating system, citing how long it took for the R18+ rating to be implemented, and how its absence was restrictive to adults in the country:

"Major inconsistencies exist in the application of classification guidelines across media platforms. The major anomaly has been in the treatment of computer games as compared to films and publications, with the absence of an R 18+ classification for computer games," the paper reads.

"This decision, which has only recently been reversed, can be seen as overly restricting the rights of adults to access content on a particular media platform, and as marking a reversion to earlier censorship-based understandings of the role of government."

The catalyst for reform appears to stem largely from consumer input and the power of the complaint. The Discussion Paper cites a growing number of complaints received by the Australian Communications and Media Authority since 2010 -- 4,155 between July 2010 and May 2011 -- and suggests that all media, including film, television and video games, should be classified under one system.

"Given the exponential growth in the number of complaints about online content, and the slower growth of the number of films, publications and computer games requiring classification, online investigations will soon exceed the activities of the Classification Board."

New regulations would only rate commercial games likely to be classified MA15+ or higher to save time and still protect the mental stability of Australia's youth. Currently, MA stands for "Mature Accompanied," which the committee would like to change to "Mature Audience" and remove its black "restricted" tag. This would also remove the "legally enforceable access restrictions" from buying such a title.

The ALRC invites individuals and organizations to submit responses to this proposed legislation, which you can do right here -- after you've thoroughly read and understand the Discussion Paper. Australia's government listened to us once; let's not make them regret that decision.

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