Ok, this is a serious issue. Please be awear that I am going to post some YouTube videos and discuss some topics that may not be suitable for people under 15 years. (Given the subject matter, maybe not for 17 year olds, but I'll get to that.)
Anyway, the long and short of it is, that Australia does not have an R18+ rating for games. What this means that games that really should be classified as 'Adults only' are getting put into an MA15+ category, exposing children to things that can be unsuitable, such as sex, violence and torture. On the other hand, there have been some games that have been banned because they are unsuitable for children, but not for adults. A current example is that the Australian release of the game 'The Witcher 2- Assasin of Kings' has been modified. Instead of the character, after completing a certian task, being rewarded with sex, the character is now forced to decline the offer. Apparently, "sex as a reward" is not considered suitable for childern.
Um, hello, what about all of the mature adults who want to play the full game, unedited and whole?
"In the original version your character Geralt was given the choice of accepting sex ‘as a reward’ for successfully completing this particular side quest. The Australian Classification Board originally refused classification as they deemed the inclusion of ‘sex as a reward’ as not suitable for an MA15+ classification.
The change is only minor, in that the character choice is now made automatically for him. The character and the side quest are still in the game but presented in a slightly different context. No other changes have been made and this change has no impact on gameplay, storyline or character development." Namco Bandai told Kotaku why this modification was necessary.
"WILL THERE BE DIFFERENT VERSIONS OF THE WITCHER 2?
The Witcher 2 will have the same content worldwide. There will be no regional differences aside from
the languages. And no censored versions – so no wondering about importing the game, nudity
patches, etc." CD Projekt wrote in their April 2011
Now this also brings up this issue of Australia's ridiculiously over priced games. One walk into a game store and you will see PC games for over a hundred dollars, which is ridiculous. For a newly released game I wouldn't, and coudn't, afford to pay more than $80 at more. (I'm not the best example though, as I generally buy games that are pre-2006 )
It is far more cheaper for someone to import the game from overseas than buy it in Australia and are then able to get a whole game without censors or edits, which damages the economy.
In case you haven't realised, I, and most of the gaming population in Australia, are in full support of Australia getting an R18+ classification. In the same vein as other forms of entertainment, such as films, games can, and most definatly do, contain content that may be extreme. The biggest difference is that more often than not the player is actively contributing to the violence surrounding the game, impacting on the brain at a greater degree. There has been research surrounding children's exposure to violence at a young age, for example, here.
Ok, so I am going to leave you with some YouTube videos. =)
The first is the trailer for one of my favourite games and the second is the first trailer of three for the sequal to be released in June (So excited).
Now, see those numbers at the start?
Yes, take note, and of course enjoy.
What do you think? Should there be an R18+ rating for games in Australia?
Edit: I probably should point out that the examples I've mentioned aren't exactly the criteria for an R18+ rating. The criteria is most defiantly the important part. Like, whether drug use is included, or brutal murder. The decision to rate a game is based on it's impact on the viewer, so some games that are more violent may have a lower rating for reasons such as killing dead humans reanimated as zombies as opposed to killing living humans who are diseased. You get the picture.