Immaturity Down Under

Across the waters, citizens of Australia are being unfairly treated by out-dated and ill-informed legislation. The classification laws which exist at the moment state that films, which can be rated as high as R18+, should be treated differently to video games, which are restricted to an MA15+ rating. This problem has existed and been protested for a while, but the governing bodies fail to take notice and make a drastic change. Easily listed disadvantages exist for the current system yet no alterations have been made nor proposed.

Like in most countries, Australian adults have the ability to access any media, whether it be film, DVD or book, safe in the knowledge that governing bodies accepts their personal judgement on the choices they make. In contrast however, when it comes to video games, this respect is abolished and they are effectively treated like immature children. This impeaching on basic freedom of choice means that adults are prevented from viewing the same themes and concepts that they would easily see in any film or television show.

It's not like it protects the under 18s either. The classification guidelines for having video games processed with an acceptable rating are vague and unspecific, meaning that, after much upheaval, games are released with a MA15+ rating having only simple cosmetic or content based changes made. Themes such as extreme violence, sexualisation and drug use are still present, albeit with minor alterations. In 2009, Valve Corporation smash zombie hit, Left 4 Dead 2, was refused an MA15+ rating in Australia, as was Bethesda's apocalyptic title Fallout 3, due to strong violent content and drug use, respectively. In order to appeal the ban, Left 4 Dead 2 was repackaged with "decapitation, dismemberment, wound detail or piles of dead bodies" removed, but the ability to smash humanoid beings in the head using household objects like baseball bats and pipes remained. With Fallout 3, only the in-game drugs were removed, not only removing a reasonably significant gameplay element, but again leaving in the ability to nuke an entire city or murder in-game characters in their sleep.

Australians cannot import banned games for fear of fines up to $110,000, and so many are pushed towards piracy. The costs of producing an alternative version of the game in a single region are often fruitless; so many developers will just not bother with an Australian release. This legislation provides no discernable protection and only serves as a negative for both customers and developers alike.