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Australian politician wants to reclassify at least 50 games that are currently rated MA15+

50 games might have to undergo reclassification in Australia

An Australian Member of Parliament in the state of New South Wales is pushing to have more than 50 video games that are currently rated MA15+ to be reclassified when the R18+ classification is introduced on Jan. 1, 2013.

Speaking in NSW parliament on Sept. 19 of this year, MP Greg Donnelly said:

Following the introduction of the new framework on 1 January 2013 steps will be taken to look at what are colloquially referred to as the 50 video and computer games-at least 50-that it is believed in one way or another have been shoe-horned into the MA 15+ category and should now be rated at the higher classification. I conclude by acknowledging and thanking the NSW Commissioner of Police, Andrew Scipione, who recently made public comment regarding his concern about the impact of violent video games. The Commissioner of Police has shown public leadership in a number of important areas. For example, he has spoken vocally and strongly on the issue of the abuse of alcohol, in particular by young people. Two months ago he spoke of his concerns about the potential impact on the behaviour of children and young people of some of the material in computer and video games.

There are those who find that such comments are not politically correct and would like to dismiss them as being soft or-using Wayne Warburton's phrase-encouraging a nanny State. The evidence I have cited this evening leaves no doubt about the causal link between this material and its effect on the growing brains of children and young people. As legislators we have a duty to appreciate and understand that scientific evidence and bring it to bear in the deliberation and development of legal frameworks that Parliament seeks to put in place for the protection of the community. I thank the NSW Commissioner of Police for his contribution to this important debate.

Earlier in his speech to parliament, Donnelly argued that there is academic evidence "about the deleterious effects of violence and sexual imagery on children and young people", referring specifically to the impact of violent video games. He cited a number of journal articles like The Psychological Bulletin's "Violent Video Game Effects on Aggression, Empathy, and Prosocial Behavior in Eastern and Western Countries: A Meta-Analytical Review", saying that such articles "explain in significant detail the impact of the viewing of this material by children and young people."

If a game that is currently rated MA15+ has its ratings bumped up to R18+, it means stores will no longer be able to sell those games to anyone under the age of 18.

Under current Australian classification law, video games can only be resubmitted for classification two years after the original classification date. The classification board can reclassify a game at its own initiative, and it must reclassify a game if a Federal Minister makes a request in writing (a State of Territory Minister can ask a Federal Minister to make a request), however the two year waiting period still applies.

The two year waiting period does not apply if a publisher or Federal Minister appeals a game's classification. The Classification Review Board then hears the appeal and makes a decision based on the information they have.

Australia is due to receive an R18+ classification on Jan. 1, 2013.

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