Inconsistent age classifications make the whole system worthless
Written By Matt Sainsbury on Friday, June 1, 2012 | 21:16
Now, I’m not against a classification board existing. I believe there should be strict standards in place to prevent youngsters from witnessing objectionable material before society has had the chance to properly prepare them to face the issues that that objectionable material creates. But that philosophy, despite coming from the right place, is rendered null and void when you realise the censorship board is completely, utterly and irresponsibly arbitrary with its decisions.
Atelier Meruru is rated “M” (mature audiences 15+ recommended) on the basis of it containing “sexualised imagery.” I can understand that, because the game does indeed include that. The problem is that the previous two games, which were if anything “worse” were rated PG. PG being 13+ recommended.
Let’s take another set of examples, just so that people don’t think it’s exclusive to one obscure set of JRPGs. Last year in Australia (or was it two years ago now?) Mortal Kombat – that rather excellent fighting game – got refused classification in Australia. Effectively, it was banned in the country. The censor’s chief objection to the game was the X-ray effect – that graphical trick that would show bones breaking from especially brutal hits. Again, in principle I don’t necessarily disagree with this (it just means that we should have an R18+ rating so adults can play ultra violent games, which we still don’t have yet), but the recent release Sniper Elite V2 has exactly the same feature and got through a-ok. It’s not just sex that the censors are inconsistent over. Violence too.
And, somehow spectacularly, Lollypop Chainsaw has been approved for sale in Australia despite mixing high level sexual themes and high level violence.
Once again, I’m not against censorship – I believe that a properly managed classification system does a very valuable service. But a badly managed classification system doesn’t just fail to work – it causes a great deal of potential damage. If the point of classification is indeed to prevent minors from seeing objectionable material… well, nothing’s stopping them buying Atelier Rorona and Totori, is there… games that have sexual content enough that the third game was deemed to be enough to earn an “M” rating.