Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Because the current classification system is old and obsolete... Just like the NES! Geddit? Geddit? F#@k you.


A lot (okay... 2) people have asked me to write something about the game classification/censorship throwdown currently (or not so currently as it may be) happening in my home country of Australia. I've kind of avoided it because it's obvious. Really, everyone should know by now that censorship is bad, and if you don't, my blog's hardly going to be the place to convince you. There's no real arguement here, denying someone the ability to play something someone else has made is ridiculous. Anyway... The other day I remembered that I always wanted to do one of those hoity-toity retarded political cartoons and now with my magical newfound grasp of heavy-handed symbolism, I think I'm in the right place for it. It just means I'll have to think up something more interesting to type...


Plus... I've found the break button! Yay!



So censorship is bad, and with the recently finished call for submissions, we could be looking at (close) to the end of it in Australia, in relation to games at least (more on that later). But, the question here is: Is it actually going to change anything?

Anyone who anything about the games industry knows that it desperately wants to be the movie industry (i.e. desperately, in a "dress up in its clothes when its out of the house" kind of way). You don't need to look hard to see this... and while it's not true all the time, certainly the big movers and shakers want the "Big cinematic experience" with all their triple-A titles. The movie industry is also a good indicator of whats to come as well, since they already have a comprehensive classification scheme in place. So just how is the movie industry handling its "mature content" these days anyway?

A lot of movies that would be considered R18+ rated get ordered to lower their rating prior to release. This is done to ensure a larger audience can actually view the movie, and hence make the maximum ammount of profit. The best example I know of this happening to is Die hard 4, which was originally rated R18+ on first pass, but then cut back to PG at the insistance of the studio. Now you can still get a fair ammount of exploding helicopter/car combos for that rating, and I don't think it really affected the enjoyablity of the movie, but the point remains that we still didn't get to see the movie as it was originally intended to be seen.

But who gets to decide what actually is "originally intended"? The Director/Producer/etc, or the Studio? Both are effectively equal partners. I'm going to stop with this train of though right now though, because I feel silly talking about Die Hard 4 with any kind of seriousness.

Now I'm not saying that this will happen with all games... There are still some game studios out there doing it for the art, and to those of you making games: I salute you. But think about some of the bigger releases so far this year (at least). Most of them are backed by the major groups (EA, Activision, etc). We're getting to the point where games are costing many, many millions of dollars to create. The big studios are going to want to get as much of that back (and more, hopefully) as possible, and at the end of the day, if that means lowering the rating somehow, they're going to do it. It's either that, or realize that the amount of adults wanting to play games that engage them is actually higher than they expect. But that will never happen, because we all know only kids play games.

Now onto my other related point... I'm glad that people have actually gotten up and realized that game censorship is bad... but just as Australias taking a step forward with their right foot, they're taking a step back with their left foot (which is actually harder than you might expect).

Australia's moving to filter their internet. Now don't get me wrong, I'm all for stopping the some of the people responsible for some of the horrible stuff on the net, but this isn't going to stop anything. I could go into a big explanation of what it all entails, but in short: See China's internet. It's especially crazy when Politicians are saying the equivalent of  "You can do it for China, so you can do it for us, yeah?"

The most baffling thing in all this though is that apparently the majority of Australians are totally OK with it. A poll done recently on a show called Hungry Beast kind of confirmed this. Personally, I see it more as proof that the majority of people shouldn't be allowed to use the internet anyway... Maybe we should start handing out internet licenses or something?

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