Ban On R18+ Games Under Consideration In Western Australia

We can all agree that classification is a complex issue and despite an R18+ rating for video games getting the go-ahead early last year, its existence and application will continue to be discussed (and potentially legislated) for years to come. Western Australia is the latest state to reconsider the ramifications of the rating, with a recent report suggesting games classified as R18+ should be banned outright from sale in the state.

Before you get too worked up, it's important to note that the context in which the recommendation is made is not solely focused on exiling R18+ video games for their violent (or otherwise questionable) content. It covers the broader topic of the sexualisation of children in all forms of media, of which games are just one aspect.

The recommendation appears in a report, published this month, from the Joint Standing Committee on the Commissioner for Children and Young People. The report itself has been through a few revisions, the first incarnation delivered back in early 2013. Due to the WA state election in March last year, consideration of its findings was delayed until recently.

As of today, it's in the hands of WA's Attorney General Michael Mischin, who the report explains is "best placed to conduct further research and progress any necessary legislative changes". This includes banning R18+ classified games from sale.

The specific suggestion is outlined in the report's fifth proposal:

Proposal 5: Amendments to the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Enforcement Act 1996 (WA) Further consideration be given to possible amendments to the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Enforcement Act 1996 (WA) • To prohibit the sale, supply, demonstration, possession or advertisement of a R18+ computer game in Western Australia; or • To provide that it is an offence for any person to supply a R18+ computer game to a minor; and/or • To provide that it is an offence for any person to supply a R18+ film to a minor; and/or • To provide that it is an offence for any person to supply a Category 1 Restricted publication to a minor.

This point is expanded upon on page 63, however, it doesn't steadfastly stand by the opinion that R18+ should be done away with in the state, in fact, it provides another option where it would be flat-out illegal to sell an R18+ game to a minor, even if a guardian or parent is present (which seems like an ideal compromise):

It is possible to amend the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Enforcement Act 1996 (WA) and either ban outright the possession, distribution, sale or supply of R18+ computer games in Western Australia. Alternatively, the Act could be amended to make it an offence to sell or supply a R18+ computer game to a minor even if the person selling or supplying the computer game is a parent or guardian of the minor. This would result in R18+ computer games being treated in the same manner as RC films and RC computer games.

It goes on to mention that such a decision should be accompanied by an "education campaign to ensue that parents and guardians understood their obligations and took steps to ensure that R18+ computer games were not accessible by children and young people". I'd argue this should be done regardless.

Interestingly, the report also advocates doing away with separate classification schemes — instead, a "Classification of Media Content Act" would replace the multi-headed approach currently employed:

Platform-neutral regulation: The ALRC recommended that there should be a new 'Classification of Media Content Act dealing with all classification obligations including publications, films and computer games currently dealt with under the Classification Act; state and territory classification enforcement legislation ... In this regard, it was recommended that the classification categories G, PG, M, MA15+, R18+, X18+ and Prohibited be applied uniformly for all media content and, therefore, the different classification categories that currently apply to publications and some television broadcasters would be abolished.

You can read the entire report on the Parliament of Western Australia website. Forewarning — it's a healthy 103-pages long.

The Commissioner for Children and Young People's 2013 report on the Sexualisation of Children [Parliament of Western Australia, via Polygon]

Image: Classification Board

Originally published on Kotaku Australia


Comments

    I came on over because of the semi-baited title, but upon reading I can't say I disagree. Part of the argument for introducing an R18+ rating for games was that it was supposed to restrict games to just that category — 18+.

    If there were a penalty for the adults supplying the games to anyone under 18 — whether that be a retailer or a parent — then maybe they would be a bit more hesitant in supplying it to kids. For retailers, it wouldn't be so bad. They could just say 'Do you intend to let anyone under 18 play or view this content?' and if the purchaser say no, then the onus is completely on them.

    So long as it doesn't stop consenting adults playing the games that they want to play, then I'm all for keeping it out of the hands of children.

      Yeah slightly 'clickbaity'.
      Yep 'telling a man he can't have a steak just because a baby can't chew it'

        That last line of yours perfectly sums up our R18 dilemma.

    Doesn't even matter since our R18+ classification is a joke. Despite the classification we still get censored content. Any minor who picks up an R18+ game isn't going to see a whole lot of difference to an MA15+ game. I still don't understand why this classification exists or how an R18+ game is any worst than an R18+ movie.

    It should have been done in the first place, you should need to provide ID to view 18+ games with fines to follow if you don't. You need to provide ID to watch MA Movies at the Cinemas and Game Stores, this shit is not for kids. Maybe thats what the rating should say.

    Totally agree with @TrackieDaks - address the problem not the symptom. The problem in this case is kids getting access to R18+ games because their parents are buying it for them. Introduce the same sorts of penalties that they have for supplying alcohol or cigarettes to minors. This is correct way that this issue should be handled. Education.

    Not this:
    • To prohibit the sale, supply, demonstration, possession or advertisement of a
    R18+ computer game in Western Australia; or

    This:
    • To provide that it is an offence for any person to supply a R18+ computer game
    to a minor; and/or
    • To provide that it is an offence for any person to supply a R18+ film to a minor;
    and/or
    • To provide that it is an offence for any person to supply a Category 1 Restricted
    publication to a minor.

    Last edited 30/06/14 10:46 am

    My Wife works with the DCP and says that when GTA V came out they had cases upon cases of kids (not teenages, children) that had access to that game and were repeating some of the dialogue from Trevers story at school. I think banning 18+ games outright is stupid, but the fact that there is currently no offence for supplying R18+ games to kids is even more stupid. Educate the parents is also a very good idea!

    Get with the times. They're concerned about R18+ games when in reality kids are exposed to much much much worse on every day social media, such as Facebook & Twitter plus the various Youtube type video sites (oh, and just the whole internet in general).

    These days by the time kids are 14, they've seen and heard it all, far beyond what any R18+ game is going to show them.

      the times are shit. let's go back to when kids were kids.

    What's the difference between R18+ games and 18+ for the serving of alcohol?

    Like alcohol you should provide ID when buying an R18 game.

    If you provide alcohol to someone under 18 you get fecked up. They should apply the same laws.

    It would also get people to treat the matter seriously. If they advertised gaming and alcohol 18+ laws together people would catch on pretty quickly.

    Despite this country being ass backwards, despite the R rating being a joke in the first place due to games still being banned.....We all know this won't get anywhere. Yes, banning this and that is just down right wrong. It is depriving adults of freedom, based PURELY upon an ancient assumption that entertainment has ANY negative affect on kids. The science just isn't there.

    However, this will not go anywhere. It is laughable and typical of the WA government. (Thankfully I don't live there)

    When all is said and done, the Australian Classification system, the ACB and the government have absolutely no affect on my entertainment choices what so ever. I import, I download. This archaic system means less than squat to me. I CHOOSE! NOT THE GOVERNMENT! They can create all the laws they like and turn Australia into even more of a police state, but in the end laws are just writing on pieces of paper created by faceless desk jockies.

    I have been importing and downloading for nigh on 12 years. I do not intend to stop now - these laws are pathetic and I will ALWAYS have nothing but contempt for the morons that create them. This nation is an embarrassment and should be shamed right to the core.

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