Let it never be said that I’m not one for bandwagons.
For the longest time I’ve been a fan of this country, and the various freedoms and liberties Australians enjoy compared to other countries. Our parliament may be a bit fucked up, our prime minister may be taking a slightly schizophrenic approach to her legislating practices, and the import prices for anything outside of New Zealand is so exorbitant that you’re better off BitTorrenting whatever it is to make sure you’re not wasting the postage costs on a dud item.
What I cannot stand, especially since becoming an Xbox gamer, is the gigantic R18+ certificate issue that seems to have swamped the Australian gaming industry for the longest time. The debate on whether or not to introduce our virginal country to something that the rest of the world has been enjoying long before us, much like the geeky kid who hasn’t had sex yet and gets pressured by the cooler kids to acquiesce to the advances of the village bicycle, reared its ugly head yet again last month with the announcement that the latest Mortal Kombat game, given an R rating by our American cousins, would not only be banned in Australia but would also incur a significant fine – upwards of $100,000 – if it were to be imported or brought into the country in any method whatsoever.
Australian State Governments, I have to following to say to you – WHAT. THE. FUCK.
I get that intelligent things like abortion will always be a topic for debate with no clear end in sight because of the moral implications of both sides of the argument (with no relation to the religious aspect whatsoever, since Australia has obviously never been given over to a religious method of legislation), and thus cannot be solved overnight. The R Gaming debate, however, is absolutely and utterly ridiculous.
One of the primary arguments seems to be that gamers under the appropriate age will find it easier to play R18 games of devilish violence and adulterous pleasure once they become legal. What the proponents behind this argument fail to realise is that these games are available on the internet right now. It can take all of ten minutes for someone to BitTorrent a pirated Xbox or PS3 game on the web, burn it to a DVD or Blu-Ray and chuck it into a chipped gaming console and start playing. In fact, making them illegal is probably going to prompt more people to pirate the games not just to play them but to intentionally piss off the fuckballs who banned them in the first place. Making something illegal will, in cases like this, only intensify the problems the thing creates.
And while we’re on the subject of young kids playing the games, whose fault do you think that is? I blame two parties – the game distributors, and the parents.
The former party bear blame if they’re going to sell these obviously adult games to younger kids without carding them first. I used to work in the gaming section of a department store, and when selling anything above the rating of M to someone who looked young I would always ask to see identification. While I was technically not allowed to deny them the sale if they were in fact underage, it was enough of a deterrant that many kids who tried to look older than 15 ended up giving up trying to slip past us unnoticed by age once I asked to see their driver’s licence. If the distributors aren’t going to check IDs when they sell games, even if the buyer looks to be old enough to handle BloodGore Extravaganza 5, then some blame should be laden on them once the 12-year-old Columbine re-enactments behind.
The latter party receive blame – however lesser than most other culprits in this issue – for not monitoring their children’s gaming habits. I realise this sounds a little restricting for kids who want to be gamers, but if your child is off enjoying the latest Dead Rising game without you knowing or, indeed, with you knowing and being complicit, then you’ve got nobody to get pissy at when they start getting tattoos and writing Kane and Lynch fanfiction. If you want to complain about the lack of standards and practices in Australian game distribution, clean up your own house first before you blame the woman in Canberra.
A shining glimmer of hope for the rest of us emerged today with a statement from Home Affairs Minister Brendan O’Connor that if the State Governments couldn’t agree on a R18+ rating by July then the Federal Government would proceed without them. It should be noted that the majority of the Australian public has voted in favour of having an R18 rating, and the only ones still sitting in the way are those who follow a little sect I like to call Atkinsonianity, and now that their lord and saviour has passed from the government they feel its their mission to continue being akin to the boulders you need to move in the first gen Pokemon games to get to the Elite Four.
Let’s hope that Mr O’Connor’s statement ends up being the HM04 we need.
In summary, Australia rocks, but hurry the fuck up and modernise our gaming classifications. If they become legal it doesn’t mean you’ll have to watch Jax crack open Sub-Zero’s skull in melee combat, so how about letting the rest of us enjoy it instead?