Gamers unite for R18+ classification

16,055 signatures collected in public campaign by Grow Up Australia and EB Games

The Attorney-General’s Department has received a flood of submissions from supporters of the introduction of R18+ classification for computer and video games in Australia .

Grow Up Australia , an online advocacy group campaigning for R18+ classification, teamed up with Australia’s largest games retailer, EB Games handing in 16,055 submissions to the government yesterday.

One of the founders of Grow Up Australia, Aaron John Percival, believed that the response was a resounding message to the government.

“Support for the introduction of the R18+ rating has been overwhelming with 99 per cent of the submissions made through the website in favour of the change,” he said.

Most of these submissions were collected using Grow Up Australia’s online form after posters of the campaign were displayed in all of the 350 EB Games stores around Australia. A link to the online submission form was also provided via a banner on the EB Games Web site during the campaign.

The submissions were put forward as a response to the Government’s discussion paper released in December 2009, titled 'Should the Australian National Classification Scheme include an R 18+ classification category for computer games?'

The paper asked the Australian people to comment on whether the Australian National Classification Scheme should include an R18+ classification category for computer and video games.

Managing Director Steve Wilson said that the overwhelming response from an online poll on the EB Games Web site, where 84 per cent (42,854) of respondents voted in favour of the introduction of a R18+ classification, prompted the company to spring into action. “Our customers have sent us a message loud and clear that this is an issue that needs to be addressed and we only get one shot at this. Once this Government paper is closed, it could be many years before we get another chance to voice our opinion on this issue. The time to be heard is now,” said Wilson.

“This is not a call for violent video games, but rather a call for a better classification system that brings Australia in line with the rest of the world and other Australian entertainment industries, such as films.”

Australia remains one of the only countries in the developed world that lacks an R18+ classification for computer and video games, despite widespread industry and public support.

Current laws mean that games that are inappropriate for those under 15 years of age are either rejected or censored to fit into an MA15+ rating. The latter option results in gaming companies having to spend additional resources to remodel releases.

The Interactive Games and Entertainment Association also handed in a submission to the Attorney-General’s office, with CEO Ron Curry saying that classification must remain consistent between entertainment platforms. “Australia needs an adult rating so adults can play games that are age appropriate for them and parents can make educated choices for their families based on clear, consistent guidelines,” said Curry. Co-founder of Grow Up Australia, Jake Edwards, added that there was still time to lodge a submission with the Attorney-General’s Department before the deadline on 28 February.

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