Politician Tells Australian Censors To “Leave Gamers Alone”
The Witcher 3
(Last Updated On: March 23, 2017)

Over the past few years various outspoken ideologues have been attempting to get video games banned, censored or removed from store shelves. Some of them were successful in getting GTA V banned from some retail outlets in Australia on the grounds of “Misogyny”.

Partisans in the media have been cheering on this politicized vitriol where games containing sexually feminine characters, mature themes or overt violence have been targeted for censorship, especially in Western regions. Well, one Australian politician who is part of the Liberal Democratic party has finally said enough is enough and to “leave gamers alone”.

GamesIndustry.biz picked up the news from a video featuring South Wales senator David Leyonhjelm that was posted up over on the Liberal Democrat’s YouTube channel. The video is short and snappy and right to the point, clocking in at only three and a half minutes. You can check it out below.

The significant part of what Leyonhjelm states centers in on the censorship aspect of allowing games in Australia, which was recently brought up in the news again when an Outlast 2 demo was rated by the Australian Classification board but the full version of Outlast 2 was banned in the region. The reason why? An implied sexual assault from a non-human.

Leyonhjelm stated…

“Not many Senators, or senior public servants would know the difference between a Ghoul and an Alghoul, and so, would find it hard to advance in the video game known as The Witcher. In fact politicians and public servants are blocked from accessing video game websites. If you want to access Polygon, IGN, PC Gamer, or GamePlanet, the computer says no. This is presumably because someone might stumble across an image someone disapproves of in a medium we don’t understand.

 

“However, we have no such trouble accessing neo-Nazi forums like Stormfront, and video showing sites like Liveleak, where you can watch videos of real people being killed. “

What Leyonhjelm says makes a lot of sense… only, I think the sites he suggested not to be blocked would only actually fuel the censorship hysteria that currently plagues gaming, especially in Australia.

For instance, Polygon admitted in their article that they actually were against the game Hatred and held no qualms about it originally being banned from Steam. It was only due to Valve president Gabe Newell personally stepping in and restoring Hatred was the game able to launch on Steam.

Few gaming websites these days actually speak out against censorship, so much of what Australia’s politicians would see from mainstream gaming sites would largely fit in line with their own views on games, since that’s mostly what’s been pushed from the larger sites, especially since around 2012.

Leyonhjelm, nevertheless, goes on to say…

“I defend the right of adults to watch all kinds of internet sites, because adults should be free to choose. But it tells us something about the illogical, censorious attitude bureaucrats have about video games. Take for example, the ban on the sale of the popular video game called Outlast 2.

 

“This video game takes place in a fantasy world involving all kinds of creatures, both human and non-human. The mere suggestion of an out-of-screen encounter between a creature and a human character was enough to get it banned altogether by the Australian Classification board.

 

“All of this uprights on the false assumption that people who play video games are impressionable children who would play out anything they saw.”

It’s true that a large portion of the game buying demographic for major mainstream releases are adults. According to Statista, the highest average age of gamers spending money on games are between 18 and 35 years of age.

Australia also recently instituted the R18+ rating specifically for games dealing with mature content for gamers over the age of 18. They also have an X18+, which is the equivalent to the ESRB’s AO (Adults Only) rating here in North America. Yet instead of giving Outlast 2 an X18+ if they thought the content was so gratuitous and bad, they instead decided to outright ban it.

Leyonhjelm, however, states…

“It makes me wonder… how is it that adults are not trusted to make choices about video games, and yet they are allowed to vote? Prime Minister Turnbull claims to have an innovation agenda, but every signal we send to the gaming community in this country is of censorship, disapproval, and discouragement.

 

“[…] Video games don’t hurt anybody, and the Classification Board should leave video gamers alone.”

Whether or not Leyonhjelm’s common sense will fall on deaf ears will depend on whether or not the board of the Department of Communications and the Arts decide to overturn their ban on Outlast 2. However, over the years, despite adding the R18+ rating they only seem to be getting more strict with the classifications.

(Main image courtesy of Denroth)


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About

Billy has been rustling Jimmies for years covering video games, technology and digital trends within the electronics entertainment space. The GJP cried and their tears became his milkshake. Need to get in touch? Try the Contact Page.

  • Luca Wight

    Yay! 👍😺

  • Bravo!

  • Bamf

    Buh..Buh..Bu, rape culture!

  • MONAD

    I could call him a faggot for calling us all “video gamers”, but I won’t, because he’s at least TRYING to understand. I like this guy. Though I don’t live in Australia, I applaud his effort.

  • Michael P

    So the crusty ol’ conservatards in the ACB have struck again…sigh. They should do the young a favour and die already, constantly finding ways to turn the country into a full blown nanny state.

    They can’t get past the idea of the vidya being made for adults. R18+ has somewhat lessened the bans but sex and drugs are still major triggers they need to get the fuck over. They still classify other media containing both, video games should fall under the exact same qualifications. End of.

    The only saving grace is that importation of unclassified games is still legal… because fuck logic!

  • Muten

    We have the same problem where i come from, video games are perceive as a children hobby, same ban applies.

    • What country is that?

    • What country is that?

  • This is unexpected. But I imagine David Leyonhjelm has seen a “market” for anti-censorship in gaming which he can get popular from. But nevertheless, it’s a refreshing change.

    Because it usually goes like this:

    Feminists: “We would like to bring to your attention this [insert “sexist” video game], the way it depicts women is demeaning towards girls and women and we do not want our daughters to grow up believing this should be their roles and role models.”

    Politician: “I understand your points, but this is fictional material and computer-generated graphics, therefore no human being is being discriminated against, the material is harmless. Also, there have been numerous professional studies conducted which suggests that video games do not cause sexism.”

    Feminists: “So you’re saying you agree with this sexist and misogynistic medium? Do you have a daughter yourself Mr. Politician? I’m sure your constitution won’t be too pleased to hear of this.”

    Politician: “Yes this medium is extremely disgusting, sexist and misogynistic, I’ll get round to drafting up proposals to prohibit it immediately.”

    • Perfect reenactment of Switzerland.

  • Disqusted

    So basically, politicians like to dictate rules on stuff they know nothing about. Sounds accurate.

  • Akai Kiri

    I never thought i would see the day that a politician would actually stand up for video games. It’s great to see that people are getting fed up with the censorship that hold office.

    We need to take a good look at the worlds rating boards. What is the point of having one when most people don’t even know what decides those rating. Why have a M rating if developers don’t even know how the rating board works. Often times developers will change game content to try for a lower age rating and frequently strip out anything that may be questionable and censor anything that’s left. Who wants to play what gets released after that?

    IMO rating boards need 2 key factors. One to determine the age rating based on the contents. for example violence in games like GTA or COD would get you an M rating like the current system but also a number that determines the INTENSITY of each factor.

    In other words you could have an M rated game because of its violence or sexual content but the intensity rating could be different to show WHATS IN THE GAME. This way potential buyers can look at it and get a good idea at what it contains and how intense each factor is at a glance.

    TL:DR don’t but M rated games with intense violence or sexual content for young people.

    Also: Friendly reminder that Hyperdevotion Noire was rated M for high impact sexual violence in Australia (if memory serves) It is a turn based strategy game for fuck sake.

  • Avaloner Kitty

    As an Australian, I can tell you that R18+ is our highest rating (other than X rating for porn which is X 18+.

    I am 99.9% certain that only porn can be given that X 18+ rating. So if a game exceeds the R 18+ rating it is banned.

    Which is funny, that it seems to have made no difference to the censorship compared to when we did not have the 18+ rating. It used to be MA15+ the highest so when they did the 18+ Aust gamers cheered thinking they’rd no longer be censorship and previously banned games would just go as 18+.

    But nope. They still ban games and the 18+ rating made no difference.

    Incidentally, the museum for Australian-made media in Canberra (our capital) keep records of all Aust media (books, movies, music etc) except video games. When I brought this up to the manager there, she looked at me as if I were an idiot. That, to me sums up the Aust establishment’s view of gaming.

  • This is the first time I’ve heard of this bloke.

    I now have a politician I am liking so far.

    • EroBotan

      yeah, he’s a good change 😀