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.
“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)