Classification Ministers from across Australia will converge on Canberra next Friday, 10 December to discuss, and perhaps make a final decision on, whether to allow an R18+ classification rating for video games.

Reading today’s press, it would seem the chickens have already hatched, with gaming interests now claiming that “a decision [is] expected to allow the sale of R18+ games”.

This follows the release yesterday of a report from the Attorney-General’s Department which claims that research examining the link between violent video games and aggressive behaviour is inconclusive.

In launching the report, Minister for Home Affairs Brendan O’Connor said, “This review shows that there’s little evidence to support any claim of a strong link, though there is some evidence of short term effects on gamers”.

The conclusions of the Department’s report appear to hinge entirely on the weighting of evidence presented by various academics, with the research of games supporter Dr Christopher Ferguson given particular prominence in contrast to Professor Craig Anderson and associates, who the report labels ‘causationists’.

This is despite prominent researcher L. Rowell Huesmann recently declaring closed the debate that exposure to video game violence increases the risk of aggression on the basis of an extensive 2010 study by Prof Anderson, which Dr Ferguson subsequently rejected.

Responding to Dr Ferguson’s critique of Prof Anderson’s research, Huesmann suggests the public’s perception that the issue is undecided continues because “people are concerned that the implications of the research threaten freedom of expression, and because many people have their identities or self-interests closely tied to violent video games”. Prof Anderson also responded.

ACL’s Chief of Staff Lyle Shelton has told reporters that yesterday’s report “does show there's definitely, certainly, short-term evidence and they’re not dismissing the long-term effects". He also said that saying the research was inconclusive was at odds with community concerns about violence.

Certainly, the academic debate on the effects of video game violence will continue to rage, meaning the decision of Classification Ministers on whether to allow an R18+ rating for games is more likely to reflect personal philosophies than the available ‘conflicting’ research evidence.

This is why it is important to continue registering your concerns with Classification Ministers about the increased availability of interactive gaming violence should an R18+ rating for games be allowed. This can be done through our ‘R18+ no game’ campaign at www.makeastand.org.au.