Posts Tagged ‘ R18+ Classification ’

Actually, Conroy, they do…

A few weeks ago, during an interview, Stephen Conroy reaffirmed the Government’s stance to not disclose a list of websites that have been blacklisted; stating that “We don’t disclose when books, music or video games are banned, so why should we do the same with the internet,”

Unfortunately, Minister Conroy, that information is disclosed; when a game, book, movie or CD is banned, all the vendors are notified that they will not be able to sell these items to the public, they in turn tell the public that they cannot purchase these items. It is after all the reasoning behind the R18+ movement, because the community at large is aware that these games are being banned. Despite that once these items become banned, they are often highly sought after, and obtained from other countries, usually Indonesia or New Zealand with little or no legal recourse. Despite the legality of obtaining these banned, the method of notification and obtaining them still exists, and raises the lack of knowledge in the Communications Minister.

The main issue associated with not revealing the blacklist, or even just new additions to the blacklist, is the lack of information about what would happen once a website is on the blacklist. Considering that  a number of companies that exist almost exclusively online, the there is a chance that a harmless online distribution company may end up on the blacklist by way of accident or malicious activity; they  have no detailed legal forum to appeal the decision, or even legislation to inform them that they have even been put on the list.

Another issue that is highlighted by the reluctance to release the blacklist relates more to the effectiveness of the Filter, as opposed to the secrecy. The basic concept of this filter is to block ‘harmful’ content at the ISP level, meaning that you shouldn’t be able to access websites that are on the list. Ideally then, there shouldn’t be a problem with releasing a list of websites that you can’t access, right? Unless, of course the filter isn’t the perfect fix that the Government is promoting it as.

It might, however have something to do with, the Ministers announcement of 16 April, stating that it would not be an offense to bypass the Filter. Yes you read that right, the Mandatory Internet Filter, is mandatory, as long as you actually use it. Now I would have thought something called Mandatory would be, I don’t know, Mandatory, and it being an offense to try and bypass it. It it will be perfectly legal to bypass the filter, a feat that can be accomplished quite readily, by way of VPN or Proxy Servers, negating the actual effectiveness of the filter, to the point where it shouldn’t even be called the Mandatory Internet Filter, but the Optional Internet Filter.

A number of my fellow bloggers have begun to speculate that the Filter is becoming a political foil, something that will be dragged along until just before the next election, only to be dropped; I’m unfortunately a little more sceptical, the Government would not have used the Filter as an election promise in one election only to drop it in the next as an election ploy seems a little redundant in the world of politics

Zombies! Hundreds Of them

On the 27th of March, the Zombie horde returned to Sydney, as the Second Australian Gamers United Zombie Walk brought over 500 zombies, and about 40 or so Zombie Hunters, together to protest against Australia’s absence of an Adults Rating for Video Games.

Our Business is to Muster Zombies

Now considering the departure of South Australian Attorney General, Michael Atkinson, personally I would have thought that a protest march for an Adults rating was a rather moot topic, considering that both the Ratings biggest opponent was now gone, and the fact that his replacement was actually in favour of the Rating. Thankfully, Australia has another electronic issue that sits hard with a number of the advocates for an R-18+ Rating; that would be of course, be the Mandatory Internet Filter.

Considering my history of covering both the Internet Filter, and the Ratings debate, I was given the choice to participate in any of the discussions that would come up in the course of the day, or simply participate in the march; naturally I chose to help out, also considering, I’m naturally loud person, apparently loud enough to be heard, even further than a loudspeaker, which when mustering over 500 people is apparently actually a good thing when the group kept getting separated.

Despite a small detour caused by an unknown bylaw, which didn’t seem to be an issue during the last march an some rather candid pictures with the police who informed us that we were unable to travel through Darling Harbour, the organisers had to change the route on the fly, but thankfully, it didn’t seem to slow the march down.

Roughly three and a half hours following the start of the march, the marchers pulled themselves back to the fountain that served as the initial meeting point, where everyone took the chance to sit and recover from the over 20,000 steps that they had just stumbled through; At the end of the March, I hung around the fountain, to chat with the organisers; and yes, it did take a lot out wearing all that black tactical gear; I also noticed that there was more than one Zombie that had passed out or had decided to fall asleep in the gardens.

In all, it was an amazing turnout, with at least four times the number of zombies than last time; hopefully, this act, will cause some ripples in the rest of the community.

Chatting with some Zombies

Oh Happy Day.

It had to take something big to bring me out of my writers block, and I must say, this is as big as it gets. Following the South Australian State Elections over the weekend, and despite still retaining his seat of Croydon; on the 21st of March 2010; South Australian Attorney General and bane of gamers nationwide, Michael Atkinson, has stood down from his post as Attorney General, thus issuing in a collective cheer, and/or fist pump from the gaming community.

Following a long list of widely anticipated that have fallen by the wayside, thanks in no part to Atkinson’s reluctance to allow an Adult’s rating for video games, notably including titles since allowed sale such as Left4Dead 2 and Aliens Vs Predator, it is unlikely that Atkinson’s contribution to the history of Australian gaming will be soon forgotten. But to the same end, the question has to be asked, in the wake of Atkinson, where do we go from here and what happens now?

There is currently a focus paper on the books, in relation to the R18+ rating, and many proponents where cringing at the notion that regardless of popular opinion, that Atkinson would object to it again, hopefully following his departure, some bloggers are issuing in a new age of gaming, where parents will be more properly informed about gaming content, and that adults will have access to the games that they have wanted for the last eight years; those games designed for them.
Unfortunately, I am a little more cynical, call it over zealous caution, or a simply distrust of politics, but I would be more wary of Atkinson’s replacement, as it is still early days before his stance can really be determined; ideally, his replacement, whoever it is, is more open to this notion of ratings, and open this ‘golden age’ of gaming, or he could be as some of my sources have been touting following rumour in previous months of Atkinson’s retirement, that his replacement is just another rendition of the former Attorney General.

However, it must be said, that while Atkinson has been a thorn in my side in relation to his stance on game ratings, credit has to be given where it is due on his stances on many of the other issues in South Australia, so to that, I tip my hat to a worthy adversary, even though the likelihood of our paths ever crossing is somewhat none-existent considering my personal reluctance to ever return to South Australia, though that is a story for a different time.

Whatever the outcome, it is still a long road that needs to be travelled before an R18+ rating for games becomes a reality, however, at the same end, the departure of Atkinson has simply paved that road. So I say this in passing, Gamers, celebrate this victory while you can. as the work has only just begun.

Discussion Paper for an R-18+ Category for Games

Sorry for the extended delay but I have been busy working on various topics and assignments, as governed by the fact that I have decided to return to school for a Nursing Degree. In the meantime I have created a list of articles that will be released in the coming months, spanning back to the Zombie Walk.

However instead of releasing one of the many reviews I have, or a commentary about either the New South Wales Bushfire Season or the fact that the OFLC has banned yet another game, (and one I was actually looking forward to this time); I have come back from semi-sabbatical to bring to light a topic that has me chomping at the bit to respond. 

It has been brought to my attention by Trapper, one of my many reliable sources from north of the Border, that the Australian Federal Government has just, and I mean in the last 3 days, released for public consultation, a Discussion Paper for the addition of an R-18+ rating for Games. Meaning that it has finally happened, that the Attorney Generals have finally started to take this issue seriously.

The DocNetwork as an Organization for a Free and Uncensored Internet, as well as a proud supporter for an R-18+ rating will be joining the ranks of other Australian Bloggers in sending a submission for Public Consultation, as well as possibly submitting the personal opinions of my writers and staff and I humbly request that all my readers to likewise.

For more information, I encourage you to go to the home of this consultation http://www.ag.gov.au/gamesclassification. At this site you will be asked the following question

Should the Australian National Classification Scheme include an R 18+ classification category for computer games?

As a rule they have asked that submissions be succinct and to the point, so this is not an opportunity to take shots at certain South Australian Attorney Generals, nor is it to go on lengthy tirades about other Government policies that you may not be happy with. As this is not the first time I have submitted reports to the Federal Government, as a rule, don’t submit anything under 500 words, any less than that and it is doubtful you will be read, if readers are concerned that their submission would not pass muster, you are more than welcome to send it to me at doc_winters@live.com and I will look over it for you.

All I can say is that we have done it, by releasing the hefty jargon filled 16 page Discussion paper for Public review, means that they have finally realised that it should not be up to some crotchety old men to decide who mature adults spend their spare time.

Good luck, and I hope this means a better future for us, as Alien vs. Predator the game was Refused Classification, with the developers refusing to sanitize it, stating this is a game for adults, which is probably the reason why this whole turn of events has taken place.

Calling all Gamers and Brain Eaters

16549_202859276256_592721256_4376377_623800_nIn conjunction with Gamers for a Proper Rating System in Australia, the DocNetwork is proud to bring to Sydney, a Zombie Walk of Epic proportions.

Now this isn’t just any ordinary Zombie Walk, the overarching reason for this, is to raise attention for the abysmal state that the Australian ratings system is in. This has been in response to the fact that Left4Dead 2 had been banned and subsequently censored to allow for its release. Symbolically this Zombie Walk brings a call to action about the fact that Australia still does not have an R-18+ rating for games. So if your a Gamer, or just like Zombies, please come along, have a laugh.

The path that will be taken will start at Hyde Park.

The route is as follows: Hyde Park war memorial at around 11, and making our way towards Town Hall at 11:30.
After screwing around for as long as we think is necessary, we’ll be heading down George street, and up Ultimo Rd to Darling Harbour, where screwing around will re-commence.
From there, it’s down Pyrmont Bridge, and down Market St back to the Hyde Park fountain.

For more information and to let us know if your attending, please visit the below link and mark that you are attending.

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=325982290391

We’ll be there and we’ll be covering this event on the fly. So we hope to see you there

Enough is enough Atkinson!

Like tens of thousands of Australian’s, I have pre-ordered Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, and I even went as far as shelled out $200 for the special edition version that came with the night vision goggles, why? Because this franchise is freaking awesome, and it comes out in exactly 9 days, well that’s if our favourite SA Attorney General doesn’t have anything to do with it.

‘Leaked’ game play footage which can be accessible from YouTube displaying what is listed as a skippable mission where the player has to infiltrate a terrorist cell; as a result the player has to run through a airport shooting up unarmed civilians. Once again THIS IS A SKIPPABLE MISSON… well it was a skippable mission in Australia, if the Australian Council on Children gets their way, one of two things will occur, this mission will cease to exist, or the game in its entirety will be banned from sale.

Now its somewhat hilarious that the Australian Council on Children would even think that they would have an opinion on a game that at the moment has an MA-15+ rating, a rating by all definitions means that children aren’t even allowed to purchase or play it. But this once again raises an issue I have raised a number of times before, and I will continue to raise it. If Parents actively paid attention to the content they are buying their children, this wouldn’t even be a problem, granted yes an R-18+ rating would help as well, but the bigger issue is yes Children should not be playing these games… though that has more to do with the fact that they are not targeted at children.

InfinityWard, the Developer of the Call of Duty franchise came out earlier this week stating that the whole reason for the level is to bring home the atrocity of terrorism, and also stated that the mission while not only being an optional one, but also stated that the mission was graphic and depicted scenes that would be traumatic to some people.

As a result of this, and the fact that shooting civilians incurs a penalty in the rest of the game, the Office of Film and Literature Classification approved the game for sale and game it a MA-15+ rating, the highest that can be given, despite the fact that the game itself warrants an R-18+, but since one does not exist, MA-15+ is the highest available.

As a part of gaming reality occurs, games are becoming more and more realistic, becoming more interactive movie than game, unfortunately until game ratings fall in step with the rest of media, this will continue to cause friction between the OFLC and the growing number of technologically gifted individuals who wish to play games that the purest definition of the OFLC Code of Conduct allows them being that Adults should be allowed to do watch what they want.

The OFLC can only make a ruling on a game they have already cleared for sale up until the day of release, before having to resort to other methods to have content removed from sale.

So how far is too far?

I just received a message from one of my media sources, an employee of gaming retailer EB Games. It was blunt, but it stated that yet another highly anticipated video game has been banned from sale in Australia. It can be confirmed that, Left4Dead 2, survival horror sequel to the highly praised Left4Dead will not be available for sale in Australia, and there is only one man that can be blamed for this. For once, it is not Stephen Conroy.

While it may not be the deluded Conroy, it is a man as bad, if not worse, in fact, many have gone as far to compare the two men, he is of course, South Australian Attorney General Michael Atkinson. Anyone who is a serious gamer, would be well aware of this name already and his stance. For everyone else, Mr Atkinson, is the sole reason why Australia does not have an R18+ (or adults only) rating for video games, the reason? because he still believes that only children play video games ergo, Australia doesn’t need an adult classification, this is despite repeated studies over the last four years that shows information that is not the case.

Unfortunately such a decision as allowing an adult rating for games required an unanimous agreement by all the Attorney Generals in Australia, so far, Atkinson, is the only one who is against it, meaning that content that would otherwise receive an R18+ rating, or content that received a similar rating overseas, is predestined to be Refused Classification, and thereby legally unavailable for sale in this country.

In the past a number of highly successful games internationally have been refused sale in Australia for one reason or another, most notably, most of the most recent Grand Theft Auto games, for instance, have all at one point, being RC in Australia, but have been edited and being allowed sale under the MA15+ rating, however, most of the time, a lot of these games are still too violent/gory/horrifying/adult for the rating, but the game was released, an R18+ rating would just prevent these games from falling ideally into the hands of those that would be affected by it.

According to Atkinson, the ‘younger generation’ (I am not sure if he is referring to me, or those in Gen Y who are younger than Tikara) are extremely tech savvy, and that they can get around most measures in place that would prevent them from accessing R-rated content…despite the fact that they already are, illegally. I’ve said it once I’ve said it a thousand times, if a kid is determined enough to see stuff he isn’t allowed to, he will find a way and there isn’t a thing anyone can do about it.

While there will never be a system that will work on PC’s Consoles have always had Parental block on them, where parents set which ratings they want their kids to be allowed to play, the problem is that most parent’s don’t understand the technology they are giving their kids, and most especially, most Politicians have no idea that gaming technology has evolved passed the twin directional knob.

In the end, this falls to the Parent’s taking accountability for their actions, parent’s should be looking at the game seriously that little Timmy wants to play, and if the 14 year old wants to play Left4Dead2, then the Parent should inquire if this game is appropriate for their child, then afterwards if they still believe that the game is okay, then its their responsibility.

Now we at the DocNetwork believe in no forms of censorship should be enacted, but there are some things that children should not see, but proper education is the way to solve that problem, not preventing the masses their right to kill Zombies.
Protests and petitions seem to not want to convince Atkinson, or even Conroy, that their stances are wrong, hopefully someone in power has the sense to do something.