By the end of today Australians will have spent just under $800 million on an event which lasts for just over three minutes.
According to research by the financial modelling firm IBISWorld, $377.7 million will be spent on fashion and fascinators, booze and canapés, as well as travel and accommodation for those making it to down to Melbourne. Another $404 million will be spent directly on gambling, be it a couple of bucks in the office sweep or the big end of town plunging tens of thousands on their favourite nag.
The total amount: $781.7 million. An extraordinary amount of money by any measure.
Welcome to this week’s I Call Bullshit, a column that looks at all kinds of myths and mistruths, at falsehoods, fiction and fabrications. This week we look at whether gamers are breaching international conventions when they loot, pillage, or kill.
I’m no war criminal. Not even a virtual one. That’s because I’ve never played a violent video game – or indeed any video game since Donkey Kong. The original version.
But if the Red Cross has their way, it raises the question of whether I could be up on some kind of charge for (ahem) enjoying The Human Centipede.
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Mothers and girlfriends worldwide have long yelled at errant sons and partners for being overly fixated on a video game.
This week, however, a group of gamers and scientists demonstrated that proficiency in World of Warcraft may be worth more than the geek cred it achieves.
Nature Structural & Molecular Biology has published an advance online copy of a paper that explains how enjoyment of and technical skills in playing video games can be harnessed to achieve remarkable outcomes in scientific research.
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Many Norwegian stores have removed violent video games from their shelves after Christian Fundamentalist terrorist Anders Breivik claimed he prepared for his attack by playing them. Yet there’s been no word from bookstores on when they’ll remove the Bible from their shelves.
What a load of bollocks. After all, Breivik claimed he played video games to prepare, but the only reason he had anything to prepare for was due to a truly twisted ideology that certainly didn’t come from game play.
Every time we suffer an atrocity like this, people immediately look for somewhere to place blame, while ignoring the fundamental causes. More often than not it’s heavy metal music or violent video games that cop the accusations, which is nothing more than lazy scapegoating.
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Yesterday in The Punch, David Penberthy ridiculed the gambling industry’s claims that pokie-reform was un-Australian. But the $20m campaign by Australian Hotels Association and Clubs Australia campaign about the so-called “licence to punt” is more than just shallow and bankrupt politicking – it’s plainly misleading.
There is NO proposal to have a licence to punt and those concerned about the damage poker machines do are not calling for a licence to punt.
The pre-commitment scheme currently under consideration applies only to poker machines (not punting more generally) and at its simplest is a basic consumer protection tool which will allow gamblers to pre-set a limit to how much they will spend.
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To borrow from their confected dinki-di lexicon, the Australian gaming industry must be officially up shit creek without a paddle if the best it can do is declare that a carefully-considered package of reforms aimed at helping problem gamblers is “un-Australian.”
If being Australian means turning your back on desperate addicts in the name of multi-billion-dollar profits, maybe we should consider moving overseas.
The good thing about moving overseas would be that we wouldn’t have to endure people rabbitting on about how un-Belgian, un-Mexican or un-Ugandan things had become. It’s a construction which seems peculiar to this country. It’s peculiar alright. We spend a lot of time in this country debating what it is that makes us Australian, yet it seems that the people who run the gambling industry have come up with their handy definition of what it is to be un-Australian.
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There is a punchy two-word response to claims from the sporting community about the multi-million dollar losses they will sustain if the Federal Government presses ahead with measures to tackle gambling addiction. Sucked in.
For sheer intellectual laziness and candid self-interest, documents don’t get much worse than the formal submission by the South Australian National Football League to the parliamentary inquiry on gaming reform.
Summarised, the SANFL argues that the measures to reduce problem gambling will cost the State’s football clubs $7 million a year. The document is framed around inertia in that it argues for the status quo, rejecting all measures such as compelling gamblers to register with clubs before they spend money on poker machines, and to specify how much money they want to spend if they choose to do so.
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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.
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It’s become something of a social minefield to admit you’re a Christian.
We tiptoe around the issue at gatherings, lest our peers assume we’ve secretly been judging them, or are about to kickstart a lecture on contraception.
There’s awkwardness around that Catholic priest joke they just told, and people excuse themselves before they hear the question “So have you found Jesus?”
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Over the past 20 years there’s been a revolution in how people use technology in their spare time. I grew up in a time where most people had a TV and a stereo in their house and from the 1980s, VCRs. That was pretty much it.
Fast forward to 2010, and many households have flat screen TVs, iPods, PlayStations and a plethora of other computing devices. In fact, 88% of Australian households now have a gaming console. Kids and adults alike wile away the hours pretending to play for St Kilda, playing guitar like Ray Toro or fighting guerrilla wars.
It’s our job as a society, and my job as the Minister responsible for classification in the Australian Government, to work out which games should be allowed to be played by anyone; which games should be restricted to adults; and which are so extreme and offensive, that we wouldn’t want them here at all.
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I was reading Stuart McDowell’s fun-loving article about murder and I found myself feeling a strange a sense of deja-vu.
About two years ago, when I first started at studying at Art School, there were two causes that I believed in with particularly more fervour than others. One was that heavy metal was roughly equivalent in value to pure Ambrosia, and that anyone who couldn’t be converted was a dullard, a dunce and a malevolent slime. The other was that fighting against the censorship of video games, and in particular the bloodiest, most violent ones, was a cause that any sane person should feel the most passionate zeal for, and if they didn’t, then they should feel the deepest, burning shame.
I suppose that’s fairly indicative of what I was like as an 18 year old. My hair was a silky black mane of heavy metal pride, to perfectly match the sleeveless flannel shirts, camouflage shorts and combat boots in which I was permanently outfitted. And I absolutely loved video games. And looking back, I was a pretty tasteless, and for want of a better word, boring kid.
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In 2007/2008, the creative industries contributed $31.1 billion in industry gross product to the Australian economy, which is equivalent to 2.8% of GDP, and employed 316,600 workers.
The creative industries achieved an average annual growth rate of 5.8% over the last 11 years to 2007/2008, well above the annual growth rate for the broader economy of 3.6% over the same period. The Software Development and Interactive Content segment is responsible for much of this growth, accounting for 43.8% of earnings and 38.3% of jobs in 2007/2008.
The games industry in particular is a fast-growth industry in which Australian opportunities are shaped by large international enterprises. This growth is dependent on sustaining a pool of highly skilled workers. Technical creative and business skills have been in high demand over the last decade. However, a serious shortage of skilled employees is a major factor contributing to the almost $2 billion trade deficit in Australia’s digital content industry.
Last week the Australia Christian Lobby issued a media release suggesting that the video games industry was akin to the tobacco industry questioning the link between smoking and lung cancer, because we have questioned the validity of research conducted by Professor Craig Anderson.
Today, Anderson will present at a conference in Sydney that has been organised by lobby group Young Media Australia and the timing of the event in light of the public consultation for an R18+ classification for games and the internet filtering discussion is not lost. This seemed to be as good a time as any to question the core thesis of those opposing an R18+ classification for computer and video games.
The Australian Christian Lobby has clearly got the knack of creating good spin. It doesn’t get more controversial than accusing our industry of being akin to the tobacco industry; it also doesn’t get more counterproductive. It’s worth recapping the basic arguments of the ACL and the other organisations such as Young Media Australia.
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James Packer has clearly decided that attack is the best form of defence in aiming a strident up-yours at critics of casinos - which he of the diminishing billions billed today as the unsung heroes of job creation, urban renewal, skills training and government assistance.
“Next time you read an unbalanced story about your casinos and their impact on the community, stop and think about the other side of the story,’’ the Crown chairman said at today’s AGM in Melbourne.
“The one that rarely gets reported. That is, of the contribution Crown makes to tourism, to employment, to training, to urban development, to community partnerships and to government revenues. Contributions that make us fundamentally different to many pubs and clubs.”
These things I remember.
I’m in a car, bumping along a stony track in the mountains, when suddenly, to the right, a big, sand-coloured helicopter rises up out of a valley. It’s close - close enough to see the eyes of the heavy-machine-gun operator flick contemptuously my way, before dismissing me as a potential target as the aircraft banks and flies off.
I’m in a sub-tropical rainforest in the rain. Suddenly, from my left, I see a flash of movement: a wolf, its fangs bared, charging towards me. I pull out a sword and defend myself.
The online virtual world of Northrend - complete with Gnomes, Dwarves, Warlocks and Dragons – was the last place I expected to find people swearing about Kevin Rudd.
I can’t remember the torrent of abuse exactly ‘cept that the oedipal noun was used a few times.
The beef? Their world, in the massively popular online role-playing game World of Warcraft (WoW) played by 11.5 million people worldwide, could be headed for the Rudd Government’s dreaded internet blacklist.
Broadband and Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has confirmed the Government is looking at blocking all online content that is refused classification – ie exceeds the maximum MA15+ rating in Australia.
This, according to Conroy’s spokesman is just enforcing laws agreed by the States and Territories that say it’s illegal to buy, sell or play games deemed too explicit for those 15 years or younger.
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