Above is a snippet from the latest episode from a new show on ABC1 called Q & A, where the audience ask questions to politicians and journalists about issues that concern them for Australia and its interests.
Joab Gilroy, audience member and staffer at Gamearena, puts the subject of games classification to the panel, specifically mentioning the recent refusual of classifying Fallout 3 due to using morphine to heal oneself, despite similar functions used in the previous classified Fallouts and other successful games like Half Life, The Chronicles of Riddick and BioShock.
What comes next is nothing short of horrifying.
There was the typical "mother of three finds this stuff horrifying for my children, so NO ONE should have it" courtesy of Heather Ridout, Chief Executive of the Australian Industry Group. I love it how she thinks that the likes of Rockstar North must be deranged for making an interactive work of art with carjacking involved, yet neglects to mention the likes of the Godfather and the Goodfellas, which both influence GTA, but are considered highly respected works of art. Annoying, but expected from Heather.
We also had our "interactivity in art equals replication in the real world" viewpoint from incoming independent senator Nick Xenaphon, stating that "I think we have to listen to the psychologists who've looked at these sorts of things, and this is different in the sense that its interactive, people get immersed in these type of games, and I think that there is a real risk, I think as a society we can live without it." Ironic that in 1995, an Australian government-commissioned report found little evidence that in-game violence breeds real-life violence.
The most shocking thing from this is as follows: Most of the panel DIDN'T EVEN KNOW WE HAD A RATING SYSTEM FOR VIDEO GAMES!!
Yeah, I'm pissed that those with even remote power about freeing the juvenile shackles on our beloved art form are clearly clueless and have no respect
for a billion dollar industry. But, they aren't all to blame.
We have industry bodies such as the GDAA and IEAA to represent the industry and its interests, yet through the panel's ignorance, these bodies are clearly failing at getting their message across to those who can make the decision. What is need is education about the rating system, about why games such as Fallout 3 get banned for such trival things yet it is OK to sell something like Gears of War or GTA4 to people below the age of 18, and to strengthen the industry's standing on the Australian stage.
Someone needs to tell the likes of Ridout, Xenaphon and Barnaby Joyce that video games aren't just for children anymore; they're a universal medium not unlike music, film and literature.
At least we can take comfort from the words of incoming Labor Party Senator Mark Arbib: "an R-rating, over the age of 18 is fine,....if you are want to play the game, you are going to get it somehow."
Some links out of interest:
(Yes, it's Kotaku, but it has a letter from a viewer who was as disgusted as I was)
So, what do you think, fellow Dtoiders? Outrage? Sympathy? A revelation?