Government defends commitment to video game rules
The Australian video games industry has outlined a coalition campaign promise to introduce stricter screen content rules as an interim solution.
A re-elected Morrison government would implement tougher rules for on-screen content depicting violence against women, suicide or tending to sexualise children, Arts Minister Paul Fletcher announced on Wednesday.
But Ron Curry of the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association says the government’s proposed changes are piecemeal and the whole rating system needs an overhaul.
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“It should be a big step backwards to review the whole system to make sure it’s usable for parents, consumers and industry…I don’t think that’s happening by just picking a few things to focus on,” he told AAP.
Mr. Fletcher rejected the criticism of the classification proposal.
“We make absolutely no apologies for moving forward with these measures, which are necessary to keep children and even adult users safe,” he told AAP.
Under the proposed changes, games of chance that include in-game purchases and “loot boxes” would also be subject to minimum classification.
Loot boxes are a game feature involving a mystery box that contains randomly chosen surprise items such as weapons or costumes, which UK research has linked to problem gambling.
“The concern is that it educates or familiarizes children with game-like behavior, so what we want to do is make sure that parents are aware that a game they are considering buying for their children contains loot boxes,” Mr. Fletcher said.
Films and computer games must be classified before they can be released to the public, under a program run by Commonwealth, State and Territory governments.
Australia’s rating system, introduced in 1995, was not designed to deal with streaming services or online games.
A 2019 review of the system has yet to be released and Michelle Rowland of Labor said the federal government had been on the report for two years.
“Under Scott Morrison, the work to ensure the program reflects modern content and delivery platforms has fallen hopelessly behind schedule and has simply not been completed,” she said in a statement. at the AAP.
Mr Fletcher would not be taken in by the nature of the delay and said the government was still reviewing the findings of the review.
“We are moving forward with practical changes that will help protect children and data users, and we are moving as quickly as possible,” he said.
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