Silent Majority

The Australia Federal Government says its heard enough from gamers about an adult rating for games in Australia. Now we need your help to get non-gamers--the so-called "silent majority"--to speak out!

Despite years of vocal outrage, despite thousands of letters to various government officials, despite countless angry forum threads, and despite strong response to a public consultation that showed overwhelming support, Australia's state and federal governments are still not convinced about the merits of an adult rating for video games in Australia. This year's public consultation canvassing community views on the introduction of an R18+ for video games in Australia found 98.2 percent were in favour of the new rating, but Federal Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor now says the views of the "silent majority" still needs to be canvassed. Translation: our government thinks the strong response is not representative of the broader community.

Well, it's time to prove our state and federal governments wrong. Our political leaders are convinced that they've already heard everything the gaming community has to say on the issue. But what we can do is help them realise that this issue is of relevance to far more than just Australian gamers. We need to help O'Connor's "silent majority" speak out—average, everyday Australians who don't identify themselves as gamers.

How can we do this? The next meeting of Australia's censorship ministers—the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General—is set to meet on December 10, 2010, and the R18+ for games issue is on the agenda. What we as gamers need to do now is to encourage our friends and family who don't consider themselves as gamers—O'Connor's "silent majority"—to speak up about R18+ before this meeting takes place. And it's as simple as writing an email.

Help Australia's silent majority speak out!.

STEP 1: FIND THE NON-GAMERS IN YOUR LIFE

This should be easy. Think about all of your friends and family. Then ask yourself: who out of these people don't know what a goomba is, don't know what KDR is short for, or would be unable to join a robust debate about Zerg vs. Protoss. They're probably non-gamers, so seek them out.

STEP 2: INFORM THEM ABOUT THE R18+ CAUSE

Everything you need to know about the R18+ issue in Australia can be found in our extensive feature here. But for your convenience, here's the argument boiled down to a few points.

* Introducing an R18+ for video games allows for greater freedom of choice in the Australian market that is free of heavy-handed censorship. Australia's classification regime for games was last revised in the 1990s, where the prevailing attitude was that games were only for children. Recent studies have shown gaming to be an adult pastime, with the average age of the Australian gamer being 30 years old.

* Introducing an R18+ for video games will bring games into line with the same sets of ratings found on other forms of media such as film and DVDs. Having the same ratings scale across media will make it easier for all consumers to discern the appropriate content for them.

* Introducing an adult rating for games means that some games that are currently being passed as MA15+ will be classified correctly. This actually ensures better outcomes for parents and other concerned citizens and it gives them a much clearer indication about the suitability of a particular game for their children.

* Introducing an R18+ rating DOES NOT mean more violent and depraved games will make it into Australia. Anything that is considered by the Classification Board to have inappropriate content will still be banned. All an R18+ ensures is that content is being properly rated.

* Introducing an R18+ for video games bring us into line with the vast majority of developed nations which have an adult rating for games.

STEP 3: GET THEM TO WRITE A LETTER

Urge your non-gamer friend to put finger to keyboard (or pen to paper if they're more traditional) and write a letter explaining their view about R18+. Or if they don't have the time for that, they can also use our handy pre-written letter below.

Dear Mr O'Connor

My name is [NAME]. I am writing in regards to an R18+ classification for games.

I'm not a gamer, but I know many people who are, and I share their concerns about the lack of an adult classification for video games in Australia. I believe the introduction of an adult rating will ensure games are being rated appropriately in this country, and will allow parents and other concerned citizens to better identify games that may be unsuitable for minors. The introduction of an R18+ rating will also bring Australia into line with most other nations who have long ago introduced an adult rating for games.

Most importantly, I believe the introduction of an R18+ for games will be belated recognition of the fact that games are no longer a pastime for children, and that adults make up the majority of Australia's gaming demographic. I think all Australian adults have the right to choose their entertainment options, and video games should be afforded the same classification as films or DVDs.

I understand the issue of R18+ for games is being discussed as part of your next meeting of the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General. I would like you to register my support for its introduction as an Australian and as a non-gamer.

Regards
[NAME]

STEP 4: SEND THE EMAIL!

The best email contact for Federal Minister for Home Affairs Brendan O'Connor is: mha@ag.gov.au.

His physical postal address is:
Brendan O'Connor
M1.19 Ministerial Wing
PO Box 6022 Parliament House Canberra ACT 2601

Congratulations! You've just helped the cause of R18+ by getting a non-gamer to voice their support. Why not see if you can get others to write in as well? Even if only a few hundred letters are sent, it's still a few hundred voices that have piped up to tell our political leaders that R18+ is something that's of interest to those outside of the gaming community. And the more non-gamers speak out, the more it seems our government will listen. Keep up the good fight, and for more information on R18+, check out GameSpot AU's extensive coverage here.

Tell us how your efforts in helping the silent majority speak out by hitting the comments section below!

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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RandolphRam

Randolph Ramsay

Randolph is the managing editor of GameSpot, and needs more time to play games.
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34 comments
Fluroworm
Fluroworm

@grasshopper6 No, it's almost the opposite, it's more akin to some sort of totalitarian system of rule but at the very least, it sure as hell aint democracy

blakeney
blakeney

The Aussy kids are no better or worse then in Uk/Usa ect, so playing any type of game clearly is not the problem, so they may aswell let um hack ppl up in manhunt ect tbh ;) :P

grasshopper6
grasshopper6

isn't that communism where gov. considers you dumb and makes decisions on what you can watch and do

damaster101
damaster101

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

wenisman
wenisman

this argument has raged on for years, and like everyone im tired of this conversation as it will rage on for years to come. even if they get a million non gamers to support an R18+ rating they will find any excuse or not even provide an excuse to stop it. they will hide behind the "do it for the kids" argument, which is the very argument as to why we need to bring in the new rating. @lorddaggeroff, im with you. import everything, its cheaper, get the games sooner and they are rated properly.

mouthofplague
mouthofplague

@alex8692, correction, Australian goverment is stupid

alex8692
alex8692

sent the email to. Australians are stupid

SosdanRhuzine
SosdanRhuzine

Sent the email. May God help the government.

Tetris_block69
Tetris_block69

if parents allow their children to play R18+ or even MA then thats their problem

gawthy
gawthy

@mr_blobby213 i think your missing the point. This is a step in the right direction and brings classification in line with other media. Parents are mostly to blame for what there kids play and even if they dont care doesnt meen its alright for any person under 18 to play these games.

LeAcK
LeAcK

Australia is bad, but so is the United States. Not in regards to gaming but television. In the US they censor the human body, like it's a horrible thing to look at. Censor words such as sh**, fu**, hole after ass, etc... They say it's for the "children", when in reality I learned most, if not all these "bad words" in preschool. So how is it for the children, when the children them selves teach it to other children? I also love how the news here uses "F-word" or "N-word". Which that in it self already invokes the word into your mind, so why not just say the words? Ugh... censorship in any regard is horrible and bad parenting in my opinion. Censor the children while their young and they will want to do the things they are censored from even more and end up being messed up for the rest of their life... Can't even post what I want because I get the message "One or more words within your message were automatically censored." Point proven...

Errin34
Errin34

Its a GAME ffs, the government need to grow up and stop living in the past...

Shawn45
Shawn45

Got to love how the Australian Government thinks its citizens aren't mature enough to handle 'scary' and 'violent' video games. For what it's worth, I support your cause.

mr_blobby213
mr_blobby213

just give us the R18 we can watch whatever we want but cant play whatever we want even if where 18+? they seem to be forgeting its up to the PARENTS to control what there kids watch and play, what there saying by banning this is that we as a countrie arnt mature enough to handle this content, the rating exists to aware parents that the game is not for there child, but if the parents arnt bothered about it then that should be there choice, not the goverments

crossaxe
crossaxe

This whole thing is stupid. just bring in the rating so people will be quiet. seriously im under 18 and i know how to import games. although by the time this thing gets past ill prob be 18 or be able to pass as one in a gamestore.

Clarkinator
Clarkinator

Cortana101, they have already done that and their getting in under the current MA15+ category, like the God of War series. Sony even rated it as R18+ but had to down-rate it because Australia doesn't have an R18+ category and that game is as violent and messed up as possible.

Kraken422
Kraken422

As coincidence has it i was talking to my Mum tonight about this issue before i read the article. I told her about Alien v Predator, how it was originally banned before the ban was overturned and the game was released with an MA15+ rating without any additional censoring even though other countries had rated it R18+. She was immediately sold on the idea of an R18+, if more non-gamers were shown this side of the story I reckon they would feel strongly for an R18+ rating.

betterthenu6
betterthenu6

why do we need to, it shouldn't be no censoring or banning, if someone wants to buy a R18 game then there choice, stupid government, its not like u have to buy it

Cortana101
Cortana101

I disagree R18+ will just encourage developers to make worse games that will eventually get to little kids anyway just like R18+ movies. Anyway I don't want those disturbing games with animal torture coming into Australia and other messed-up torture games!!!

AceBalls
AceBalls

Ok. I started off with the neighbors. It's a good start, coz they're all in for an R18. If the government really needs this, then I'll put my effort in for them. One things for sure, this is an unbelievable annoying task... but if it's enough to drum the message into these ill educated bureaucratic monkeys heads - then so be it.

herodotus2006
herodotus2006

@midway_nights I just put "RE: R18+ Discussion Paper"

zaprct
zaprct

@CastleCrasherz it's kill/death ratio

CastleCrasherz
CastleCrasherz

Um... I don't want to be seen as a noob, but what DOES KDR stand for? It's probably something i know but am just not thinking of.

s_bertinshaw
s_bertinshaw

I am wondering, they had an absolutely huge response to this (as well as net filtering), the vast majority from individuals (most with the vote as technically if you were underage you would be against this proposal...) How can interest groups who claim to represent a large number of followers views actually out weigh the views of actual people with a direct view. Under our constitution I have the same vote as a Cardinal or Arch bishop or the president of the family association, how come our individual views directly put are being opposed (one sign of good governance is to be able to put your personal views to the side and accept the collective will). Note they will probably start accusing gamers of stealing email addresses and impersonating people.

midway_nights
midway_nights

what should be the subject line? because i know they must be getting alot of email daily.

ferus_prime
ferus_prime

With the Wii, DS, Pop Cap games and such... This 'Silent Majority' theory is 1980s thinking. Gamers are everywhere and IN the majority. Besides... What do the others have to say about something they don't understand? I agree with fairness and equity, but this is a very flawed, stupid argument. A person that has never played a video game usually reacts poorly when shown what's in it... Even if movies, books and other media get away with said content. I don't expect very much positive to come out of this... At all. But I can put a little faith in my government for once and TRY to find someone that doesn't play video games. Perhaps my ultra-conservative lutheran school I used to go to that said everything was evil.

TurambarGS
TurambarGS

Nice work GS. I still think the 'silent majority' concept is flawed (the majority of people are playing games and that majority is growing) but those ignorant of games and this debate are the ones that are going to convince our conservative (read: scared) politicians to do the right thing. I just can't believe that this issue has taken this long or gotten to this stage. It really is a no-brainer that has been utterly hijacked by ignorant, conservative sensationalists.

tonyhawksP8
tonyhawksP8

By the time they add this I will be able to play in the new genre so good luck. :)

herodotus2006
herodotus2006

Okay I sent the email, and while I am a gamer, at my age (47yo) who'd believe me. We middle-aged gamers tend to hide out in Strategy and Simulator Forums, though you'll find plenty of us playing other games like FPS's at night (we're just a bit slower in reflexes):) Said I had an 18yo son who is, which is true and altered your format a little to reflect the concerns of a parent. See what happens. EDIT: Response so far (automated): "Thank you for your message to the Minister for Home Affairs, the Hon Brendan O'Connor MP. If you have supplied a postal address, a reply will be sent via Australia Post. Your message may also be forwarded to other Federal Ministers for their consideration."

IceBlazerX
IceBlazerX

This is stupid. The R18 rating is there with movies and not with games. See, I work in a game store, and some adult came in, looking for a game for his 10 year old. He picked GTA IV, Gears of War II, and Fallout NV for his kid. Guess what? In a few days they returned it due to the sex, violence, etc. Now if it were an R ating the parents would be aware of it, and know what's going on, since they are obviously too lousy to know what sort of stuff GTA IV contains, and it would be available for those 18 and up only. Not for anyone under 18. Of course, it parents decide that they can play them, so be it, but least they should know that it's not recommended!

Paul2004
Paul2004

They wanna drag this out ?, i think that 98.2% says it all IMO. While this isnt my fight (Im a Scot ;) ) i still look forward to what happens next, they appear to be distancing themselves from that poll and branding it the gamers view which it clearly isnt....if it was just gamers then it would be 100% !!!. Good luck lads, make sure the Gov works for its pay ;)