Australian Law Reform Commission Recommends Voluntary Ratings System

September 30, 2011 -

The Australian Law Reform Commission's (ALRC) review into the country's classification system has determined that that only games likely to be rated MA15+ or hired should be classified by the government. The review was commissioned late last year by Federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland. The point of the review was to find ways to reform Australia's classification laws in light of changing business models, globalization of retail, and new distribution methods. The ALRC released an Issues Paper in May of this year offering an overview of the current classification system and inviting the public and the industry to respond.

The official discussion paper puts 43 proposals for reform to Australia's current classification system on the table. The most notable recommendation is that the government should only rate games that are MA15+ or higher, and games rated less then that would be voluntarily rated.

"The classification of most other media content--for example, books, magazines, websites, music, and computer games now likely to be G, PG and M--should become or remain voluntary. However, the ALRC proposes that industry bodies should develop codes of practice that encourage the voluntary classification of some of this other content, such as lower-level computer games, using the categories, criteria, and markings of the National Classification Scheme."

The ALRC also says that publishers can choose to classify lower-level games voluntarily using "authorized industry classifiers."

"There are arguably too many games developed and released each year, and developed by too diverse a range of persons, to formally classify before they are sold or distributed in Australia. Hundreds of thousands of small games, often played online or on mobile devices and developed by small developers or individuals, are now available for sale."

The ARLC says that this new system allows for an industry classification that reduces costs of regulatory burdens, takes independent developers into consideration, and givers publishers of niche products a break.

The discussion paper also notes that the R18+ debate is a prime example of why the required unanimous agreement among the Commonwealth, states, and territories to makes changes to the current ratings system is a "poorly designed" and "time consuming" process.

"The ALRC has heard loud and clear that the current system is broken and no longer fits with how people are consuming media content," ALRC President Professor Rosalind Croucher said in a press statement. "It is poorly equipped to deal with the challenges of media convergence, and the case for reform is strong. The ALRC is proposing reform that can be phased in to allow time for industry and the community to adapt to the new scheme. Responses to the paper will help inform the development of final recommendations for reform."

"The government is committed to modernizing Australia's classification system to address the challenges created by rapidly changing media technology," Federal Attorney-General, Robert McClelland and Federal Minister for Home Affairs, Brendan O'Connor, said in a joint press statement today. "The ALRC last reviewed classification standards 20 years ago. Australians need to be confident that our classification system will help them make informed choices about what they choose to read, see, hear and play. This is especially important for parents who rely on the National Classification Scheme to make sensible choices for their children."

The final ALRC report on Australia's classification scheme is due early next year.

Source: GameSpot

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Goth_SkunkAnd at long last, I think I'm finally done.06/30/2015 - 3:08am
Goth_SkunkAnd if those progressive games fail to make any headway in the market, don't blame gamer culture for not being cultured enough to appreciate the product. Own up to the fact that the game either sucks, is not interesting, or both.06/30/2015 - 3:06am
Goth_Skunknor suggest that the games industry and culture is rife with toxicity because of it and needs to change for the good of the medium. There is room in the market for progressive games to co-exist with games like Hatred, not replace them outright.06/30/2015 - 3:04am
Goth_SkunkAnd if the overly violent content of most AAA games or the perceived mistreatment of women in such games bothers one, by all means criticize it, but do not under any circumstances suggest that it such content shouldn't exist or be promoted,06/30/2015 - 3:02am
Goth_SkunkGames, for the most part, let you do this! You can be the man or woman you're not. You can escape reality and immerse yourself in the experience. And that's wonderful! I play as female characters all the time in games I play, when the option is available.06/30/2015 - 2:59am
Goth_SkunkA choice that nature denied transgender people at birth! People don't undergo gender reassignment because they want to be transgender; they undergo gender reassignment because they want to be the gender they identify with!06/30/2015 - 2:52am
Goth_SkunkBut I think it gets silly when people start asking for the ability to play as a transgender protagonist. I mean, why would one do that? One usually has the option to create a character that's either a man or a woman, gay or straight. You have the choice!06/30/2015 - 2:50am
Goth_Skunkfirst two games, a move which was ultimately corrected in the 3rd game. By extension, Dragon Age has always had the option, and good on it!06/30/2015 - 2:45am
Goth_SkunkBut it certainly is good to see developers entertain the allowance of allowing the player to develop their protagonist to be homosexual if they want. The Mass Effect series was criticized rightly for not allowing a male homosexual romance plot in the06/30/2015 - 2:44am
Goth_Skunkand only just by the slimmest of margins. Homosexuality is sadly still a hot button controversy in the USA, which makes developing a noteworthy game with a hardcoded homosexual lead or theme a dangerous risk to take.06/30/2015 - 2:37am
Goth_SkunkThe United States is the largest single customer base for video games in the world, and it only just mandated by rule of its Supreme Court that marriage ought to be just as much an inalienable right for homosexuals as it is for heterosexuals,06/30/2015 - 2:35am
Goth_SkunkFor example, it would be difficult for a developer to produce a AAA quality game where the protagonist is hardcoded to be MtF transgender, and convince enough people to buy it in order to make it worth its production costs.06/30/2015 - 2:31am
Goth_SkunkNo Mecha, not woe unto those who ask for representation. By all means, ask and be represented. I don't have an issue with it, nor would I say anyone in GamerGate does either. But be reasonable about asking too.06/30/2015 - 2:27am
Goth_Skunkthat would've made Benedict Arnold raise a glass in toast.06/30/2015 - 2:25am
MechaCrashGamers are more than straight white men, but woe unto those who actually ask for representation!06/30/2015 - 2:24am
Goth_SkunkBut Games Journalism, who in the past has stood up for gamers and developers, when their hobby was under attack by idealogues and governments for being overly violent, suddenly switched sides in a move06/30/2015 - 2:24am
Goth_SkunkYet the media continues to push that narrative, and they will continue to do so until their medium dies out from obscelesence or when the old guard retires and is replaced by people who were raised by gamers, people who know the score.06/30/2015 - 2:20am
Goth_SkunkGamerGate, by my view, is far more diverse and inclusive that the purveying culture surrounding games journalism right now. The stereotypical gamer is a straight white male, but GamerGate has shown, time and time again, that this is not really the case.06/30/2015 - 2:18am
Goth_SkunkAfter all, you did just call it a "problem."06/30/2015 - 2:15am
Goth_SkunkAs opposed to setting the bar high, creating a culture clique that promotes exclusivity rather than inclusivity. Cronyism rather than diversity. Do you feel that inclusivity and diversity are just buzzwords to be used whenever convenient?06/30/2015 - 2:12am
 

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