Jeff Brand PART 1: ‘Ditch the classification scheme’ in Australia

Dr Jeff Brand has been an advocate of gamers being treated like adults since the 1990s. He spoke at Freeplay 2011 about the politics of achieving it in Australia.

JB: The adjective ‘political’ really means to form a party around some issue and barrack for it. In fact, by meeting here today we’re furthering a political cause.

The classification scheme is where I come in. And to quote Bob Dylan, it’s wasting my precious time. It’s wasted about 10 years of it actually.

My numbers tell politicians that all of you play games, and there are a lot of kids in kindys who don’t, and that the average age of gamers is in fact over 30 and that women play games too. And politicians simply don’t know this.

They’re completely in a bubble. In fact, one very senior politician in the Commonwealth in the previous government said that he thought the internet was a fad; I mean we’re talking about people who are really cluey.

Over the past decade I’ve concluded that the tradition of free speech in Australia is very much at risk. We really need a bill of rights and we really need to ditch the classification scheme altogether and press the delete key on it.

There are discussions right now about revising the classification scheme, the R18+ rating is finally being pushed through after a decade.

It was a decade ago that I reviewed submissions to the Office of Film and Literature Classification and those submissions said ‘look, we need an R’.

So I created these series’ of studies called Interactive Australia and GamePlay Australia, which started in 2005. Prominent journalist Jason Hill has been blogging about these issues for some time.

In November 2005 it was revealed that an astonishing 88% of Australians supported an R18+ classification, and most said classification was important in choosing a new game.

The whole reason I did that exercise was that everything is political. About it, Jason wrote that ‘the research by Bond University would be central to the campaign for an R18+ rating and the wider push for recognition by our leaders of the legitimacy of video games as an entertainment and artistic medium’ and I think that is absolutely spot-on – that’s what the whole movement has been about.

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