Violent Video Games and the Aussie Classification System

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Violence in video games has been around forever, and so has the controversy surrounding it. Studies from around the globe show that violent video games can be linked to kids aggression to results that state that there is no link between violent media and violent behavior. Even studies such as Bandura’s Bobo Doll experiment in 1961, where children were tested for aggressive responses after watching an aggressive model can be linked to the effect of violence in media on children.

Personally, I don’t believe that the anxieties associated with violent video games are justified at all.

There have been well documented studies from Professor Michael Ward and other researchers that state there is no link between video game violence and actual violence, due to theories such as catharsis, “venting violent impulses through a video game rather than on an actual person”.

So how does Australia deal with violent video games and its potential impact on children? Two years ago the “Classification of Computer Games and Images And Other Legislation Bill 2012” was passed, which allowed the Australian Classification Board to pass video games with an R18+ classification instead of banning them. It meant that Australia was able to finally move past the media’s stance on video game violence and entrust parents with ensuring their children are not affected by restricted content.

Video game news platforms such as Kotaku were ecstatic at the time, this new classification would be able to inform consumers, parents and retailers which games were not suitable for minors, and allow the video game industry to expand further into Australia. 2000px-OFLC_large_R18+.svg However here we are two years later and has the R18+ classification really done anything at all? Almost all current R18+ video games were initially refused classification, and there are still a large amount that still haven’t been considered for having the rating revoked. So why is this? Wasn’t the R18+ rating initially passed to ensure that violent video games didn’t influence minors and instead were held in the responsibility of adults who knew what was right and what was wrong? It could be that the current classification board consists of middle-aged men and women who in all likelihood do not have any interest in video games or haven’t played a video game in their life.

Maybe we should understand why video games were initially refused classification in the first place. The main reason being either that they contain high impact gory violence or that they maintain connotations associated with high impact themes such as sexual violence and activity.

But how is it any different from other media, particularly movies and television shows such as Saw, Fifty Shades of Grey, Game of Thrones and the Walking Dead? All these television shows and movies contain adult themes which should be restricted from minors, yet these still hold MA15+ ratings and are easier for minors to get their hands on.

Is this fair?

Is this really Australia’s response to violence in video games and media?

References;
http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2014/03/25/3971009.htm http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jcom.12129/full http://www.simplypsychology.org/bobo-doll.html
http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1804959
https://cabinet.qld.gov.au/documents/2012/oct/computer%20games/Attachments/Classification%20Computer%20Games%20Bill.PDF
http://www.kotaku.com.au/2013/02/phew-now-r18-has-finally-passed-in-queensland/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_banned_video_games_in_Australia http://www.classification.gov.au/About/BoardMembers/Pages/Classification-Board-Members.aspx
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-06-19/r18-video-game-rating-passes-senate/4078460
Images courtesy of;
http://vignette2.wikia.nocookie.net/hotline-miami/images/5/5c/Hotline-miami-2-gameplay.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20150205003730
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_Classification_Board#/media/File:OFLC_large_R18%2B.svg
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5 thoughts on “Violent Video Games and the Aussie Classification System

  1. To be honest, the new R18+ classification, newly regulated by ACB, has done something. For instance, Mortal Kombat (goo.gl/CBdrpj), which was previously given a refused classification due to its extreme violence (goo.gl/wE6Sn7), is given an R18+ rating. Furthermore, Grand Theft Auto 5 (goo.gl/GPcsuI) is also given an R18+ rating, this is good news at least 🙂

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  2. I agree that there has never been any satisfactory scientific evidence for the association between video games and violent behaviour. However, a recent study has revealed that baseless claims from the media that video games cause violence actually do cause violence.The results showed statistically significant increases in overall aggression and violent tendencies that occurred very soon after tenuous mainstream media stories claiming video games cause violence. Personally I get a kick out of the irony. Great blog post!

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    1. Oh! I think I saw that same study. I don’t recall it entirely, but I do recall that the violent tendencies was due to the fact that games were too hard or unfair.

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  3. An interesting post Alan. The argument of the relationship between video games and child violence is extremely complex and is an issue that I believe will discussed and debated for many years to come. You have done well in stating your opinion that video games are not linked to the aggression or violent behavior of children, and have provided supporting evidence from Professor Michael Ward that creates the validation of your point. However, this is an extremely controversial argument and there has also been extensive research performed that suggests that video games and child aggression are in fact linked. This is not to say that these theories are correct. Overall you have provided your readers with a fantastic argument with lots of room for discussion. The only suggestion I have is to perhaps explore the other side of this argument, which could build a stronger case. This was a fantastic and interesting post and I enjoyed reading it. Thanks!

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