The head of the Australian Christian Lobby has explained his group's opposition to an R18+ videogame rating for Australia, comparing videogames to the military training methods employed by the Special Air Service regiment.
Comparing videogames to SAS training is a bit extreme, but give credit to Australian Christian Lobby Managing Director Jim Wallace for being familiar with at least one side of the equation: His 32-year military career included a stint as commanding officer of Australia's Special Air Service Regiment. He believes videogames are very similar to SAS training methods in many ways, which is one of the reasons why he, and the Australian Christian Lobby, are opposed to the creation of an R18+ rating for games.
"With any military training, you have to break a very natural reluctance - and from a Christian point of view I think it's a good natural reluctance - by anybody to kill someone else. In order to break that reluctance the military generally - but particularly the SAS because of the time critical nature of the actions they're involved with - means you have to break that by two things: The first is simulation and you make that as real as possible. The second is repetition," he explained to GameSpot Australia.
"I think you'd agree that for SAS personnel involved in counter-terrorism to do that is a necessary evil so to speak," he continued. "But for us to be condoning games that did that for the general person out in the community, particularly when we're going to get some of those people who have a predisposition to violence simply doesn't make sense, and it's not in the individual's interest, and it's not in the community's interest."
The ACL supports R18+ ratings for movies because they don't offer the interactivity that videogames do, he said. "It's simulation and interactivity and repetition, all of which are ascribed to games, that make them a particularly dangerous form of medium to be flooding the community with," he explained. "We're not talking about movies that are a one-off viewing or you might see a piece of violence in a 90 minute session. We're talking about something that is repetitive, highly simulated and highly interactive."
Wallace dismissed the ongoing public consultation on the matter as "nonsense," echoing the view of South Australia Attorney General Michael Atkinson that the process won't represent the opinion of most Australians because the only people who will get involved in it will be gamers and members of the game industry. He also supported Atkinson's suggestion that "imagery" be included as part of the consultation process, because people are largely unaware of the extreme content present in potential R18+ games. "Most people won't realize the sort of danger until it's on top of them," he said.
The public consultation on "An R18+ Classification for Computer Games" runs until February 28.