Australian senator calls for video game classification reform

Ben Parfitt
Australian senator calls for video game classification reform

Video games are demonised by a government filled by people who don't understand them, according to one Australian senator.

David Leyonhjelm, a senator for the Liberal Democratic Party in New South Wales, has appealed to the Senate this week to allow Australian adults to decide for themselves what video game content, if any, they wish to access.

The calls come following the recent ban of Outlast 2, which is just the latest in the long line of titles to be refused a release in the country.

According to a recent survey, at least 68 per cent of Australians regularly enjoy video games. Their average age is 33, and nearly as many women as men enjoy the hobby,” Leyonhjelm said in the video which can be seen below.

But, by an unfortunate quirk of demographics very few gamers are the kind of people who make or enforce the laws. For example, not many senators or senior public servants would know the difference between a ghoul and an alghoul, and so would find it hard to advance in a video game known as The Witcher.

In fact, politicians and public servants are blocked from accessing several gamer websites. If we want to access Polygon, IGN, PC Gamer or Game Planet, the computer says no. This is presumably because we might stumble across an image of something somebody disapproves of on a medium we don't understand. However, we have no such trouble accessing Neo Nazi forums. We can even watch videos of real people being killed. That's not something I recommend or choose to watch myself, but I defend the right of adults to access all kinds of internet sites because adults should be free to choose.

It tells us something about the illogical attitude bureaucrats have about video games. Take, for example, the ban on the sale of the latest instalment of the popular video game called Outlast 2. This video game takes place in a fantasy world involving all kinds of creatures, both human and non-human. The mere suggestion of an out of screen encounter between a creature and a human character was enough to get it banned altogether by the Australian classification board.

All of this operates on the false assumption that people who play video games are impressionable children who would play out anything they saw. Yet the internet is now awash with all manner of unpleasant images involving real people, not computer generated images, while violent crime around the world is in decline. It makes me wonder, how is it that adults are not trusted to make choices about video games and yet they are allowed to vote?

[Australian] Prime Minister Turnbull claims to have an innovation agenda but every signal we send the gaming community in this country is of censorship, disapproval and discouragement. Compare this attitude with that of the former Prime Minister of Poland, Donald Tusk, who famously handed a copy of The Witcher to President Barack Obama, who presumably now has time to learn the difference between a ghoul and an alghoul.

Video games do not hurt anybody and the government classification board should leave video gamers alone.”

You can see the speech in full below:

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