Classifications Board continues to treat adults like children

The Pirate Party is bewildered that Hotline Miami 2 is being refused classification and is therefore effectively banned from the Australian retail market[1]. While the Pirate Party does not endorse sexual violence, it is critical of the double standard by which video games are treated as inherently different to other mediums. It is unacceptable and unnecessarily paternalistic to deny adults access to content that would be permitted in other mediums.

With the introduction of an adult rating (R18+) for video games at the beginning of 2013 the community expected a sensible approach to the classification of games. Previously the highest classification level available for games was MA15+, and, due to the adult nature of some games, those that exceeded the MA15+ guidelines were banned from sale in Australia. Unfortunately games continue to be judged by a stricter standard and a number of games have been refused classification since then. Today we see yet another example with the banning of Hotline Miami 2.

“The Australian Classifications Board has a long history of banning films, video games and generally treating Australian adults as children,” commented Simon Frew, Deputy President of the Pirate Party. “There have been a number of films that have been banned over the last decade or so, but video games seem to attract undue attention from the censors. Games like Hotline Miami 2 are designed specifically for adults and adults should be allowed to choose the content they consume.”

The new classification scheme for video games was firmly seated in an acceptance of the fact that gaming now crosses all demographic borders and there are far more mature adults playing than there are impressionable children[2]. The new scheme fails to adequately accommodate the wide range of content available for the varying consumer tastes driving industry demand, and instead places a blanket ban on the legal sale within Australia of major international game titles.

“The Internet is a global platform and anyone with any technical competence at all can purchase this and other games from overseas retailers. In response to news of the game being banned, one of the developers appears to have encouraged anyone wanting the game to pirate it if it’s not released in Australia[3]. Attempts to control culture through the prohibition of content are futile at best, and an insidious attack on free speech at worst,” Mr Frew continued.

By refusing classification to a game that should be classified as R18+, the board has merely encouraged underground distribution of the game, making it more likely to get into the hands of children regardless. The Pirate Party supports a classification system that facilitates choice by providing information, but does not believe classification should be about censorship[4].

“Two years have passed since the introduction of the R18+ classification rating. Perhaps it is now time for a review to look at the effectiveness and justification for banning games that are designed for adult audiences.

“The lack of conclusive evidence as to the impact of violence in game entertainment[5] should be the impetus for the Government to allow adults to make informed decisions about entertainment and not automatically censor content due to the spurious claims of a minority that presumes games to still be the domain of children.


One thought on “Classifications Board continues to treat adults like children

  1. It is the Classification Board, not the ACMA, which has statutory responsibility for the classification of films and computer games in Australia.

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