After plenty of online commentary, bickering, arguments and maybe the odd fistfight, the battle for an R18+ rating for games may have taken a step towards existence today after the AGs from around the country failed to reach a unanimous decision regarding the R18+ discussion paper. According to Gamespot AU, instead of being caught up in a tangle of disagreement, the Commonwealth Minister for Home Affairs, Bob Debus, has taken it upon his department to release the discussion paper to the public.So what does this mean? It means that shortly you and I, the general public, will be able to put forward our opinions on the requirement of an R18+ rating for games. From there, the discussion paper will head back to the Attorneys General, who will need to agree unanimously on whether or not to introduce the rating. Which means that the battle is far from over.
South Australian Attourney General Michael Atkinson has publicly stated to David over at Kotaku that one of the biggest reasons he's against an R18+ rating is because he doesn't feel that the OFLC is capable of appropriately managing explicit adult content in the gaming medium. It's an argument he reiterated to Gamespot AU: "I am critical of the OFLC [the Classification Board of Australia] . I believe it bends over backwards for the industry rather than the public interest."
Therefore, it's not unrealistic to assume that for an adult rating for gamers to be introduced, there would need to be some changes to the OFLC in order to get Atkinson's tick of approval, which will be needed for the ratings system to be changed. And that is probably something you'll want to consider when you're commenting publicly on the discussion paper when it's released.
There's a lot of passion in this debate - particularly on the side of the gamers - but it's important to remember that passion won't get you very far in politics. You need to be intelligent and logical... In other words, don't bother commenting on the paper if you're just going to go on a rant about shooting hookers in virtual life compared to not shooting them in your real life. It won't help the cause, and considering the freedoms that are at stake hear for both the people who create the games and the adults who wish to play them, staying focused on the cause is paramount.
Head on over to Gamespot to read their coverage of the announcement - it offers a lot of good insight into the current situation.