Attorney-General overwhelmed by support for R18+ games classification

EB Games' campaign secures 34,938 submissions on R18+ discussion paper

Some 98.2 per cent of individual submissions responding to the Federal Government’s R18+ computer games classification discussion paper support the introduction of an adult rating for games, according to the Attorney-General’s Department.

Just 1089 of the total 59,678 individual submissions did not support the introduction of an R18+ classification for games.

The Attorney-General’s Department had noted that the bulk of submissions — some 34,938 — had come via games retailer EB Games’ in-store campaign supporting the rating.

Some 16,056 had come via lobby group Grow Up Australia.

Detailing submissions received from organisations, the department noted that it had received just 34 submissions from community, church and industry groups. Of these, 18, or 53 per cent, supported the introduction of an R18+ classification for computer games while 16, or 47 per cent, opposed its introduction.

Organisations supporting an R18+ classification include the Australian Computer Society (ACS), Electronic Frontiers Australia and AusGamers (EFAA), Telstra, Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACB) and Fox Interactive Media Australia.

Those opposed included the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL), Media Standards Australia (MSA), numerous WA Parliamentarians, the Sporting Shooters’ Association of Australia, Inc (SSAA) and the Commissioner for Children Tasmania (CCT).

The discussion paper, titled 'Should the Australian National Classification Scheme include an R18+ classification category for computer games?', was released for public comment on 14 December 2009 by the Minister for Home Affairs, Brendan O'Connor. Submissions on the paper formally closed 28 February 2010.

In a statement O'Connor said a literature review on the impact of playing violent video games on aggressiona had found that evidence about the effect of violent computer games on the aggression displayed by those who play them was "inconclusive.”

“From time to time people claim that there is a strong link between violent crime or aggressive behaviour and the popularity of violent computer games," O’Connor said.

“This review shows that there’s little evidence to support any claim of a strong link, though there is some evidence of short term effects on gamers.”

In August, opposition leader, Tony Abbott, said he would be happy to examine the issue of an R18+ classification rating for video games if the coalition won the then upcoming Federal Election, but admitted he did not know there had been a debate on the issue.

In April, Australia's Attorneys-General remained coy on whether classification reform for video games would be considered before the end of the year. A change to the classification rating requires the unanimous vote of all Australian Attorneys-General. The vote has previously been held back by outspoken former Attorney-General for South Australia, Michael Atkinson.

Follow Tim Lohman on Twitter: @tlohman

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: [[xref:http://twitter.com/ComputerworldAU|@ComputerworldAu]

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