The refusal of classification in Australia for Fallout 3 has yet again brought the country, thanks to its ratings system, in for scorn and rebuke among the gaming community. Tom Crago, president of the Game Developers Association of Australia rightly pegs the state of affairs as "unjustified and draconian censorship to the amusement and pity of the rest of the world," and demands an R18+ games rating. Now. The op-ed, written for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Web site, isn't shilling for Fallout 3 per se, but does a good job of pointing up how ineffective Australia's code is when it stops at MA15+.
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.
Crago also argues that piracy is a side effect of effectively banning games such as Fallout 3, as the Australian market is not big enough to warrant the kind of content changes necessary to get classification. For us, Crago might be preaching to the choir. But it's an eloquent defense of the legitimacy and artistic merit of mature-rated titles, and shows how government's continued assumption that video games remain kids stuff serves neither adults nor children. Banned: The Absurdity of Australia's Game Ratings Regime [abc.net.au]