It’s summertime in Australia right now, a friend of mine just got back from a semester over there. It was approaching 40 degrees there, we just got a couple inches of snow here.
Maybe all that warm weather has melted the cold hearts of Australia’s government, or maybe it just thawed them out of the Ice Age when it comes to video games. Right now, any game rated over MA15+ is banned from sale in the country. So basically every game over here that rated Mature (17+) either needs some editing or “localizing” for Australia before it can be sold. The government is just now opening up to the idea of adding an 18+ rating to their game classification board.
The current rating system has lead to some interesting controversy. Left 4 Dead 2 was refused classification until a heavily edited version was released that really made the game quite boring. Keep in mind L4D2 is a game about killing zombies, widely known as one of the most fun things ever. The AU version removed all the blood, wounding and fire damage to the zombies, so they just run and you, fall when you shoot them, then their bodies instantly disappear. Boooooooooring.
Yet studies conducted in Australia showed no conclusive link between violent video games and long term aggression.
Worse still, the ratings board can be inconsistent, it neutered L4D2, but allowed Aliens vs. Predator to be MA15+ on the basis that you weren’t killing humans exclusively, and the violence was in short bursts. Despite the fact that you can, as the Predator, rip a person’s spine and skull out of their body through their goddamn stomach!
Just some teen friendly sci-fi fantasy fun!
Australia is just about the last developed nation to not have an adult rating for video games, so the news that they have decided to give game classification another look is promising. Maybe they’ll finally get on board with the idea that adults enjoy video games too and that they can make their own decisions about that they and their families enjoy.
Besides! the country was founded by murderers and thieves! and they have a thing against fake violence? (Aren’t stereotypes fun?)