Australia’s video game industry faces tougher screen content rules in coalition election pledge
The Australian video game industry has outlined a coalition election pledge to introduce stricter screen content rules as a stopgap.
A re-elected Morrison government would introduce stricter rules on-screen content depicting violence against women, committing suicide, or sexualizing children, Arts Secretary Paul Fletcher announced Wednesday.
But Ron Curry of the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association says the changes proposed by the government are piece by piece, and the entire rating system needs to be overhauled.
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“It should be a big step backward to overhaul the whole system to ensure it’s workable for parents, consumers, and the industry… I don’t think that will happen by choosing just a few things to focus on; he told AAP.
Fletcher rejected criticism of the classification proposal.
Morrison’s government has pledged to introduce stricter screen content rules. File image. Credit: Sabrina Bracher/Getty Images/iStockphoto
“We make no apologies for continuing with these measures, which are necessary to protect children and even adult users,” he told AAP.
As part of the proposed changes, gamble-like games with in-game purchases and “loot boxes” would also be subject to a minimum rating.
Loot boxes are a mystery box game feature that contains randomly chosen surprise items, such as weapons or costumes, that British research has linked to problem gambling.
“The concern is that this is educating or familiarizing children with gambling, so we want to make sure parents are aware that a game they are considering buying for their kids contains loot boxes,” Fletcher said.
Movies and computer games must be classified before being released to the public under a scheme administered by the Commonwealth, state, and territory governments.
If the government wins the election, Paul Fletcher has promised stricter rules on on-screen content. Credit: AAP
The Australian rating scheme, introduced in 1995, was not designed to deal with streaming services or online gaming.
A 2019 assessment of the system has yet to be released, and Labor’s Michelle Rowland says the federal government has been sitting on the report for two years.
“Under Scott Morrison, the work to ensure the schedule reflects modern content and delivery platforms have fallen woefully behind and is simply not completed,” she said in a statement to AAP.
Like the delay, Mr. Fletcher would not be interested d said the government is still considering the review’s findings.
“We are continuing to make practical changes that will help protect children and data users, and we are moving forward as quickly as possible,” he said.
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