So I've been seeing this petition doing the rounds
requesting that South Australian Attorney-General Michael Atkinson rethink his stance on refusing to allow an R-rating for computer games and, by extension, refusing classification for Fallout 3.
Now, I want to play Fallout 3 as much as the rest of you, but if you take a look at that petition, and then do a little reading around on the topic (with, I hasten to add, an open mind), then you may well see the flaw in their argument that I've noticed.
The problem with the petition is that they haven't done their research. They want A-G Mr Atkinson to be "educated in the realities of the game industry", since parental controls are available etc. etc. The problem is that he knows said controls are available and, more importantly, he knows that they don't work.
Point me to an even mildly computer-savvy kid who can't crack through a parental lockout. That's the point that he's been trying to get across to everyone; that, much like R-rated movies, kids will find a way around parental diktats refusing them access.
That said I find his decision to stand in the way of an R-rating questionable since the same semi-computer-savvy kid will just torrent the game and play it that way and then his parents probably won't even know that the game got refused classification, but the problem is that my very rational counter-argument gets drowned by the waves of frothing fanboys.
Essentially we (that is, gamers) want to play Fallout 3. We'd like to be able to buy it, unadulterated, in our stores. I'm fairly certain that we also agree that, having seen the trailers for the game and the - while immensely enjoyable - slightly over-the-top level of violence contained therein, to say nothing of the drug use, this game is not suitable for someone under the age of, oh, let's say eighteen.
The gamer's argument tends to be "make it legal and make the parents responsible for what their kids are playing."
Mr. Atkinson's argument is "if I make it available in Australia then, let's face it, parents aren't going to watch their kids, eagle-eyed, 24 hours a day; and any kid worth his salt will find a way around the parental locks. To say nothing of the parents who, and we've all heard the stories, think that all games are for kids and flagrantly ignore the existing M-15+ ratings for games for their 12-year-old."
Both arguments have flaws; both arguments have merits. Like I said before, personally I think it would be better to allow the R-rating, but I can also understand Mr. Atkinson's argument. There are a number of counter-arguments to each side, but in the interests of brevity I will leave them as an exercise to the reader.