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Australian ratings system branded a "joke" as RPG Risen is banned

By Kath Brice

Wed 12 Aug 2009 7:50am GMT / 3:50am EDT / 12:50am PDT

Game banned for sexual content and drug references; GDAA says classification is "ridiculous" and "antiquated"

The president of the Game Developers Association of Australia has called his country's classification system for videogames "awful", "ridiculous" and "antiquated".

His comments come as another game - Piranha Bytes' RPG Risen - is effectively banned by Australia's rating board for containing sex and drug references not suitable for 15 year olds. Since Australia doesn't have an 18 or adult rating for videogames, all games released there must meet the standards for the 15 rating.

It's a situation that GDAA's president Tom Crago calls "a joke".

"We are once again caught in this awful, ridiculous web of the antiquated classification system that we all have to endure," Crago said during a radio interview.

"Here in Australia the sooner that changes, the better; it is obviously a battle to ensure common sense prevails. We will get there eventually, but in the meantime as gamers in Australia we suffer, and to be honest we are embarrassed at how backward our government is...

"We are the butt of a lot of jokes," continued Crago. "I travel; obviously a lot, talking to other developers and publishers and people cannot believe it that we still have this ridiculous system here in Australia, designed twenty or thirty years ago, and hasn't changed since."

The classification system needs to be relevant, said the president, and it needs to recognise that people's leisure habits change. "We are looking at a videogame industry that is very different from what it was twenty years ago."

An R rating would completely solve the problem, said Crago. Although he admits the "moving feast" that is user generated content is a more complex area. "The law needs to evolve and move with the times," he said.

Still, that law, Crago believes, is close to coming.

"The way I look at it, ultimately the war is won, we will get there in the end, and it's just a case of counting the days until common sense prevails."

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