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FEATURED VOXPOP oblivion437 Update: I was unfortunately not aware of Shamus Young's severe criticism of Fallout 3 available here to link in the original piece and I regret that.  It dovetails rather nicely with what I've written and it's much better executed than my piece.  I strongly recommend anyone...

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A Questionable Ratings system.
Posted on Monday, August 18 2008 @ 00:00:12 PST

As most Australians are aware the R18+ classification held by the OFLC (Office of Film and Literature Classification) does not carry over to classifying games submitted to the classification organization, the most notable crusader to keep OUT a R18+ rating being the one, the only Michael Atkinson (South Australian Attorney-General). Spouting classic gems like:

“I do not want children to be able to get their hands on R18+ games easily. I understand that the lack of an R18+ classification denies some adults the chance to play some games, however, the need to keep potentially harmful material away from children is far more important...”

 

The argument made and pressed by a lot of un-savvy people usually follows the above path, if a child is restricted from it, he’ll more than likely get his or hers hands on it anyways. Which, if I’m incorrect, applies to any R18+ material, not just games? So why are games targeted? Apparently it’s the level of interaction… which in my opinion is a bit laughable, considering the content that justifies an R18+ rating in a game; and what some games get away with a M15+ rating. Fallout 3 is without a doubt the best example of this ratings blunder.

 

Earlier this year it came to light with Fallout 3, just as it came to light with GTA4, that it would be denied sale and import unless it was modified to comply with the ratings system. GTA4’s deficiency being able to see sex with hookers in your vehicle of choice (the altered version, not removing the material, just slightly panning the camera away making it not visible… a laughable Band-Aid, which worked for its rating, apply a thick coat of “out of sight, out of mind” theory)… The same can be said with Fallout 3. See, every other slightly perverse thing in the game is fine (ripping apart limbs, killing etc… all good), but bring drugs into the mix and we have a Freaking problem man. So with a bit of toning down it seems (most likely taking away the addiction and withdrawal factor) the game has now been past go, $20 short of $200.

 

Now I know, I know… think of the children. But under this max limit of M15+ games, any kid 15 years old, regardless of how inappropriate the game, can access it freely. I’m looking at Gears of War, Call of Duty 4, GTA4, (soon to be) Fallout3 and any other slightly or overtly violent game… games in which in America I believe carry a 17+ Mature rating under ESRB, which seems appropriate for the titles. Lets face it ripping Locus apart with a chain saw rifle is hardly appropriate for a 15 year old.

 

So I guess what I’m getting at is the realization needs to be made with our ratings board that not having that higher rating, not only impedes on the high majority gaming market from enjoying adult games, but also slots games that which should be rated higher into a totally inappropriate rating level.

 

The question that needs to be asked is this: which is more crucial,

 

Restricting children under 17 from playing ALL the violent or inappropriate games out there, or.

 

Restricting children under 14 from playing ALL the violent or inappropriate games out there, minus a small handful of R18+ games that are going to get re-released (minus a bit of content) as M15+ games (which they can play).

 

I’ll let you decide on that one.



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