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GDAA Head Criticizes 'Ridiculous' Aussie Ratings System

Tom Crago, president of the Game Developers Association of Australia trade body, harshly criticized the region's "antiquated" ratings system, calling it a "joke" and "ridiculous," and urging common sense.
The Australian video game classification system is a "joke", says Tom Crago, president of the region's Game Developers Association of Australia trade body. "We are once again caught in this awful, ridiculous web of the antiquated classification system that we all have to endure," says Crago. The country lacks a rating for games with content aimed at those 18 years of age or older -- even though an equivalent exists in film ratings. Titles with such content are routinely denied classification in the region, preventing them from ever launching there. "Here in Australia the sooner that changes, the better; it is obviously a battle to ensure common sense prevails," Crago, also CEO of Tantalus Media (Trickstar, Pony Friends), told website ITWire. "We will get there eventually, but in the meantime, as gamers in Australia, we suffer, and to be honest we are embarrassed at how backward our government is." In 2008, Australia's classification board refused to rate numerous titles including Shellshock 2: Blood Trails, Dark Sector, Fallout 3 and Silent Hill: Homecoming. All of these games received edits so that they could fall under the MA15+ rating. Just today, consumer website Kotaku Australia reported on the de facto banning of Piranha Games' new RPG, Risen because of its portrayal of sex, substances and use of profanity. The Australian federal government has warned retailers they face heavy fines for selling unrated MMOs, and it also recently revealed plans to block internet access to websites pertaining to video games not rated MA15+ or below. "It’s ridiculous, because it assumes that games are fundamentally different to film, and outrageous in that it assumes that adults shouldn’t be allowed to access adult content in video games," Crago said. And not only that, the Australian classification system still fails to ensure that games are content-appropriate for their audience, he added. Games that should receive R ratings end up in the MA 15+ category, which means that minors can still play games not intended for them. An effective classification system "needs to be relevant; it needs to move with the times," Crago said. "It needs to recognise that people’s leisure habits change, and people that are accessing content evolve, and we are looking at a video game industry that is very different from what it was twenty years ago."

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