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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

No Fiddy Cent for Australia

Apparently 50 Cent's new game is too violent for us lily-white Australians. Boo wah.

One of these days the OFLC is going to ban a good game, and then I'll be really ticked off. I've already got some small amount of sand in my vagina about the absence of an R rating for videogames, especially since they've gone and made a whole song and dance about using "the same system" for both films and videogames, even though the ratings system for videogames tops out at 15+.

All the arguments in favour of this system seem to fall into "games are worse because they're interactive" and/or "games are worse because they're for kids", neither of which actually hold terribly much water. There's this huge outcry because kids somehow manage to get their hands on games meant for adults - yet I don't understand how this is any different from kids getting their hands on pornographic movies, or booze, or a whole bunch of other stuff meant for adults, as they always have and probably always will. But we still let adults watch all sorts of offensive garbage, and drink booze and smoke cigarettes - we give them the choice. Which is nice. Why videogames need to be treated so differently is beyond me - I honestly think that the only reason this is the case is because the people creating and voting on this legislation simply can't imagine a videogame that's not for kids.

That all said, companies like Rockstar are not helping. Making a game that's rightly rated for adults, but marketing it squarely at kids (and arguably intending it for them all along) isn't right, and they've generated a lot of bad press as a result of their tactics. But to assume that the whole industry is like Rockstar is just plain wrong. There really ought to be a market for games with all sorts of content, labelled clearly, and sold the same way R-rated movies, booze and cigarettes are - in a way that ensures that they only reach the audience for which they are intended. Of course some kids will get hold of things they shouldn't - but does that mean that we should restrict the availability of those things to those for whom they're intended?

Most people would say "obviously not", when asked about things like champagne and artsy movies where you get to see the occasional pair of boobs. But not in regard to videogames. Here are the things that need to happen, to change that:

1. The clowns at Rockstar need to pull their heads in.

2. The rest of us need to make at least some games that are more serious, possess more artistic merit and are more clearly defensible as pieces of creative expression, rather than just lightweight entertainment. Games where things like violence and sex are contextualised, and contribute to the whole, rather than crudely cobbling them on simply for shock value and adolescent giggles or wish-fulfilment.


3. We can wait until the people making these laws are the people who grew up playing videogames.

The change will come at some point. I reckon we can accelerate that by making games that can be seen as a geniune part of our culture by a larger audience than the enthusiast fanbase most games are currently reaching. Or, we can just wait until the legislators are people for whom Super Mario Bros. actually is a part of their culture. It'll happen. Either way, I think the current pack of knuckleheads at the OFLC will be taken about as seriously as the wowsers who tried to ban Elvis waggling his hips on the TV, when we look back at this.


At 10:52 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shit Dave, when did you turn 80?


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