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GDAA chief blasts Australia's lack of R18+ classification

Tom Crago adds his voice to the ratings debate following Fallout 3 ban

GDAA president and Tantalus CEO Tom Crago has written an opinion piece heavily criticising the ratings system in Australia for its lack of an 18-rating - something which he believes results in inappropriate content rated at '15' level, while other titles are simply banned unreasonably.

"On one hand Australia is an oasis of game development, with a thriving, highly skilled industry generating hundreds of millions of dollars of valuable export revenue," he said in an editorial posted on the ABC News site. "On the other hand Australia's lack of an R18+ classification means that some of the world's most important video games are effectively banned from appearing down under at all."

According to Crago, writing not long after Fallout 3 was refused classification in the country, the system currently discriminates against adults, with a prevailing view that protection of minors is more important - despite his argument that games ratings can be enforced effectively.

"In other words, adding an R18+ certification will put more games unsuitable for minors on the shelves and that's simply more important than your rights as an adult," he said. "That's quite a leap in logic, and a frankly outrageous position to take in my view. Can you imagine the same the same justification being used for any medium other than video games?

"What's more, [South Australian attorney-general Michael Atkinson] seems not to believe that there exists the facility to stop children from playing adult games. All this despite the fact that we already have a statutory age restriction for retail (MA15+), and that games consoles have easy to use and effective parental lockout systems.

"Australia's absence of an R18+ category, and the financial imperative of getting a game onto store shelves in a timely manner, means that many games intended for adult audiences (and rated 18+ in other countries) are inappropriately shoehorned into the existing MA15+ category in Australia.

"Far from protecting minors from adult content, our uniquely incomplete classification system has allowed them, in many cases, to legally purchase and access such content. A consistent classification system would better serve to protect the rights of children, as well as ensuring those of adults are not infringed."

Australia's games industry currently employs around 2000 people and generates "hundreds of millions of dollars of valuable export revenue," according to Crago.

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