Max Barry on virtual violence

Australia is, like Germany, one of the countries in the world were unrated media is actually forbidden – games refused a rating by the government’s media classification organ cannot legally be sold there. What makes Australia unique is that it is also one of the few democratic countries in the world where the highest age rating you could grant is 15.

Max Barry, Australian author and originator of the web game Nationstates, has spoken up on this in a recent blog post;

the game developer, like other developers before it, deleted some of the gorier parts and resubmitted it. The Australian Classifications Board noted that “large and frequent blood splatters are seen,” but now “dead bodies and blood splatter disappear as they touch the ground.” You can still rip zombies to pieces with a chainsaw, but “no wound detail is shown.” It was awarded an MA15+ classification (meaning 14 year olds and younger require a guardian present), tagged: “Strong bloody violence.”

Instead of Australia having a violent, bloody computer game restricted to adults, it will have a violent, not-quite-as-bloody game on sale to children. This is the effect of our law: to take content that was designed for adults and tweak it until it scrapes under the MA15+ bar. We’re making available to children material they would not otherwise see, clustered at the extreme end of what is acceptable.

… An interesting point, to be sure. I get into more detail in my virgin post at the Game Industry Insiders blog.

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Posted on Oct 12/09 by Saint and filed under Meta-blog, Moral panic | No Comments »