Media Release: Thursday, 27 March, 2008

The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) is urging the Standing Committee of AttorneysGeneral meeting in South Australia tomorrow to reject a proposal to change the classification system for computer and video games to include an R18+ rating.

ACL Managing Director Jim Wallace said today that the introduction of the R18+ classification would see excessively violent and sexual games made available for sale in Australia, inevitably leading to some children playing and being influenced by these games.

Currently under Australian law there is an R18+ classification for films and videotapes but not for computer and video games, with any game exceeding the MA15+ rating being refused classification.

According to the Office of Film and Literature Classification guidelines for computer games, the regulations for computer games are applied more strictly because “Ministers are concerned that games, because of their ‘interactive’ nature, may have greater impact, and therefore greater potential for harm or detriment, on young minds than film and videotape.”

“ACL contends that the potential for violent interactive games to cause harm has only increased in recent years as these games have become even more sophisticated and interactive,” Mr Wallace said. “It is also naive to think that R18+ games would be restricted to adult users. If these games are allowed to go on sale in Australia they will inevitably find their way into the hands of younger players through older siblings or friends, often without parental consent.

“If any changes are to be made to the classification system at tomorrow’s meeting it should only be to resolve to tighten up the MA15+ rating to ensure that games aren’t wrongly getting through in this category.”

Mr Wallace said there is a strong level of community concern about the impact of violent video games on children’s development.

“Earlier this week the media reported that a 16-year-old charged with the stabbing murder of his father and attempted murder of his mother played violent video games,” Mr Wallace said.

“While this investigation is in its initial stages, this is not the first time these sorts of associations have been made and it again highlights the need to protect young people from easily accessing extremely violent video games.”

Media Contact: Glynis Quinlan