The Auxiliary Bishop of Sydney has expressed his opposition to the addition of an R18+ videogame rating in Australia, saying that videogames have been proven to desensitize people to violence and increase aggressive behavior.

The Australian Government has announced plans to discuss the extension of the country’s videogame rating system to include an R18+ rating for mature videogames. While movies and magazines currently include the rating, the highest existing videogame rating is MA15+, and any game exceeding that standard is simply banned.

But speaking to the Catholic Weekly, Bishop Julian Porteous said, “We know from psychological research that exposure to violent videogames can desensitize people to real-life violence.” Citing a study entitled The Effects of Videogame Violence on Physiological Desensitization to Real-Life Violence, Porteous added, “Exposure to violent videogames increases aggressive thoughts, angry feelings, physiological arousal and aggressive behaviors, and decreases helpful behaviors.” Another study, Effects of Media Violence on Health-Related Outcomes Among Young Men, “shows a direct cause and effect between exposure to violence and attitudes toward risky behavior. Video game violence can change a person’s attitudes in the real world.”

“The causes of violence and crime in society is a very complex problem,” he said. “We need not add to this problem with games that numb our natural repulsion to violence and, with regard to sexually explicit games, reduce women in particular to mere objects of instant self gratification.”

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