Australian gamers are going to have to wait awhile longer for an R18+ videogame rating as the country's Standing Committee of Attorneys-General has decided that the best way to address the issue is to keep on stalling.
I'm sure that no introductions are necessary at this point so I'll just get right to it: despite the high hopes of gamers down under, an R18+ rating for videogames is now just a slightly-less-distant dream than it was last week. The Standing Committee of Attorneys-General, an irregular conclave of Aussie AGs that meets to discuss various matters of policy and state, gathered on December 10 but ultimately decided to handle the videogame issue by not handling it at all.
Despite overwhelming public support for an R18+ rating and a recent government review that found no links between violent gaming and increased aggression, the Attorneys-General refused to commit to the process and instead voted to draft a set of preliminary guidelines for adding an R18+ videogame rating. "What this means is that they have agreed to write the law that will allow for R18+," explained GameSpot.au. "Once they write it up, they will vote on introducing the guidelines and, following from that, an R18+ classification."
In other words, they've agreed to begin work on establishing the guidelines that will someday be used to set the framework for an R18+ game rating, a fairly standard sort of political stick-and-move that effectively accomplishes nothing but allows optimists on both sides of the argument to claim some degree of victory. R18+ supporters can say that progress is being made, which is technically true, while opponents can celebrate yet another denial of the dark forces that threaten to shred the fabric of Australian society. Which, of course, it did.
"It was very clear to me that the great majority of AGs were in a state of bemusement that anyone could want to make or play many of these games and particularly those proposed for an R18+ rating," Australian Christian Lobby Managing Director Jim Wallace told the Australian Conservative. "It is clear that the meeting failed to get support for the R18 classification as a result."
But in a follow-up press conference, Australia's Federal Minister for Home Affairs Brendan O'Connor suggested that while the wheels are turning incredibly slowly, they are in fact turning. "Whilst there is not an agreement upon introducing R18 classification for video games today, there is a view that we should draft guidelines," he said in a follow-up press conference. "Gamers have grown up, games have grown up, we need to make sure we have a classification scheme that's grown up as well. We have to deal with convergence of technology, we have to deal with convergence of forms of entertainment like film and games. We have to deal with the constant downloading of information by people in this country."
The next meeting of the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General is scheduled to take place sometime in March 2011.