You’ve got to harden up, gamers of Australia
Well, it was years in the making.
It has taken countless meetings, public submissions, reports, and years of debate, but on the incredibly long-overdue introduction of an R18+ category into the national classification system for video games, the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General (SCAG, to you and me) has finally decided to take action…
… and they’ve decided to wait a little longer to make a decision.
2010, the year Australians couldn’t properly make their minds up on anything, has given us another wet firecracker.
It’s a shame, because all the signs were looking good.
Michael “Bowser” Atkinson had resigned his position as South Australia’s Attorney-General back in March, effectively removing what appeared to be the final political impediment to genuine reform.
98 per cent of submissions to a public consultation on the possible introduction of an R18+ games category supported a change in the law.
We’ve had refreshing signs of direct leadership from government on the issue, as we saw in Brendan O’Connor’s excellent piece (Why the government backs an R18+ games rating) in The Punch last Tuesday.
We even managed to bypass the predictable kneejerk reactions, and have instead had a reasonably mature, well-informed, and thoughtful debate this time around, largely informed by rigorous, independent research.
All the very clear, rational arguments were laid out on the table: that the idea of games being played mostly by kids (or just grown up versions of them) is completely out of step with reality; the current system is self-defeating because some games that ought to be R18+ end up getting an MA15+ rating; that, crucially, there isn’t any proven link between video game violence and real-world violence.
So, when SCAG met on Friday, all the ducks had been hand-picked, sedated, and lined up in a row.
This was surely going to be a clear-cut, home run, bullseye, hole-in-one, gold-dipped slam dunk.
There was no halfway decent reason remaining to stop our Government giving us gamers the present we’ve been waiting far too many years for.
But, no. They’ve decided to drop a lump of coal in our Christmas stockings instead.
On Friday afternoon, after the decision was announced, some gamers on Twitter were hailing this as some sort of victory – as if “at least they didn’t say no!” should somehow be cause for celebration.
Well, I’m sorry, but we’ve really gotta knock our voices up a notch. We’ve tried being civil, but it didn’t work.
It’s time to start getting all Niko Bellic on those who stand in our way.
We need to take a leaf out of Soap MacTavish’s book and take no prisoners.
We’ve got to channel our inner Solid Snake and harden the f**k up.
As an academic, I am ordinarily championing the cause of rationality, and have much faith in the idea that the best arguments will always win out in the end. But even that faith is now being stretched to its limits.
Maybe it’s time we let the world know that we don’t just want R18+ games introduced because it’s a wise decision on a matter of public policy. We want them because we’re mature adults, and we demand to be treated as such.
We want to be properly respected now, not just at some indefinite point in the near future. As mature adults, we should be able to entertain ourselves in violent, graphic ways should we choose to.
Because, let’s face it, sometimes it’s fun to shoot a Zombie in the face with a sawn-off shotgun. (I mean, what are we to do? Let it kill us?)
Getting a sweet long-range headshot with a sniper rifle is just plain exciting. (It’s OK, they’ll respawn soon enough.)
Smashing an opponent through a wall just feels good. (They won’t actually feel a thing.)
It is our right, as adults, to play games like these, and we should not feel an ounce of shame for wanting to do so.
We live in an age where the most sick, disgusting and profane stuff is just a few clicks of a mouse away from the average internet user, so we should not accept for a moment longer the ludicrous notion that computer games need to be more judiciously restricted in case they “fall into the hands of kids”.
Most of us probably won’t even play R18+ games if/when they’re finally introduced – I imagine the number of games in this category, and the market for them, will be really quite small – but we should at least be given the right to make that choice ourselves.
Playing a good game is an immensely pleasurable thing to do, and I don’t want any possible experience therein restricted to what the SCAG or the Australian Christian Lobby deems acceptable.
Seriously gamers, enough’s enough. This is a matter of principle.
We’ve got to stop asking politely, and start demanding change right now.
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