“Brendan O’Connor’s new draft guidelines for computer games would not protect children,” Ros Phillips, national research officer for FamilyVoice Australia, said today.
The federal home affairs minister claims in his press release (25/5/11): The draft guidelines provide safeguards to restrict the availability of material that is unsuitable for children.
“There is no substance to these claims,” Ros Phillips said. “What is clear is that Australian adults would get more sexually explicit and violent interactive games via a new R18+ category for the first time.
“This is not what many parents say they want. They are upset that young teens are playing games which are extremely violent, but are rated MA15+. Parents say the name of the “MA15+” category is confusing. They want these very violent games to be available to adults only, but in Brendan O’Connor’s guidelines they will stay in MA, with even worse games in R.
“As many parents know, once an 18 year old in the home has accessed an R-rated game, it is very hard to stop younger siblings from playing it,” Ros Phillips said.
“Violent games are more dangerous than violent films because games are interactive. The player becomes the aggressor – actively shooting, stabbing, undressing or hitting, over and over again. A very large international study published last year showed that violent games are associated with increased aggression in all cultures at all age levels,” Ros Phillips said.
“Many of the draft guideline changes are really window dressing. The phrase ‘must not be related to incentives or rewards’ has been inserted in many sections but is already in the current guidelines as part of the opening section. Statements about interactivity are not new either – they are in the current section on assessing impact.”
Mrs Phillips said nothing in the new draft guidelines would increase protection for children or reduce the levels of violence in games. The new R18+ games category has almost the same guidelines as R18+ films. “Given that interactive violent games have a more powerful impact than films, this is a big worry,” she said. “I urge state attorneys-general to reject these draft guidelines when they meet in July.
“Minister O’Connor should go back to the drawing board.”
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