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New Ratings Lables - Protecting your kids

Posted by LiveWire on Tue, 21/02/06 - 9:02 PM


A spokesman from the OFLC said:

?We believe these new ratings labels help help to raise awareness of the Australian ratings system. Previous labeling small, unobtrusive and gave way to the artistic integrity of box covers, forcing the buyer to actually take the initiative to check the label if they wished to know the rating.

Our new system makes no such compromise, and we believe our new labeling will help parents make informed buying decisions by saving them from having to 'look' at the rating.

Our new 'in your face' labeling is designed to immediately jump off the package at a glance, helping to further educate the buying public, even though the actual content of the ratings has not changed and is no more clear than it ever was.?

Submitted by Makk on Tue, 21/02/06 - 11:10 PM Permalink

When are they going to ever "get it"

Submitted by lorien on Tue, 21/02/06 - 11:31 PM Permalink

Maybe we should have these warnings in the opening credits for all news bullitins while we're at it... [:(]

Submitted by Daemin on Wed, 22/02/06 - 12:10 AM Permalink

Initially I thought, okay, it's not that bad, and its about the same as for movies. But I was assuming that it was just a sticker. Now if it has to be part of the actual box art then that's another story.

Though realistically I don't really look at box art anymore, just how the game feels and plays and who of my friends recommends it.

Still I really wish that the OFLC would just make it a sticker to stick on the outside of the box.

Submitted by LiveWire on Wed, 22/02/06 - 12:19 AM Permalink

I think a sticker would be perfect, or rather a combination of the old lables and a sticker, since they would need to worry about second hand sales once people tak ethe sticker off.

So i would have the old black print lables on the back, unobtrusive and easily ignored, and on the front the big box lables but in the form of a sticker so once people get it home they can get rid of the ugly thing.
Now the OFLC is happy becuase they have their nice big parent frendly lable, and the consumer is happy becuase they dont have it shoved in their face every time they pick up the box.

Submitted by Brain on Wed, 22/02/06 - 1:05 AM Permalink

Ugh... Why can't we just have retailers enforce the ratings system instead of making the frickin' sticker bigger? I mean, hell... my girlfriend's a grade 2 teacher, and all of her kids saw the latest Harry Potter, rated M. And Star Wars ep 3. There's a wild eyed man screaming while he burns alive for cryin' out loud! That stuff ain't for kiddies. Sure this is movies, but it's happening to games aswell. 2nd or 3rd in K-Mag (I think. One of those kids magazines.) was GTA: San Andreas. It's parents and retailers responsibilities to be aware of and apply the ratings systems.

Bigger ratings labels will do precisely bugger all.

Submitted by Makk on Wed, 22/02/06 - 1:30 AM Permalink

Why cant parents actualy take some friggin responsibility and use their eyes to look at the the old rating at the bottom right hand of the that too freakin hard?!?!

Submitted by MoonUnit on Thu, 23/02/06 - 6:02 AM Permalink

quote:Originally posted by Souri
A bit more like this, amirite!

lol, i sense a photoshop challenge comming on :P


seriously though thats excessive, i think the only other form of packaging forced to exhibit such over sized warning labels is cigarette packets.... video games give you cancer! must tell a current affair...

Submitted by Maitrek on Fri, 24/02/06 - 10:11 AM Permalink

I think what is more p**s-poor than the latest modifications to the labelling is the absolute minimal amount of time and effort they actually put into classifying and rating a game. Problem is they don't feel they need to play for more than an hour, then if some lobbyists whinge about how their kid did this and that in some game, then they re-review it and refuse classification for it (which is just a sugar-coated way of saying they are censoring and banning the product from distribution in Australia).

What makes matters worse is that game developers/publishers put in little in the way of organised efforts to alleviate the problems with the ratings system, and arrange for better communication between the developers/publishers and the OFLC itself. Instead we just point a finger at the OFLC and say "you guys sux0r"

I'll go back to lurking now ;)

Submitted by mcdrewski on Fri, 24/02/06 - 7:57 PM Permalink

quote:Originally posted by Maitrek
Problem is they don't feel they need to play for more than an hour, then if some lobbyists whinge about how their kid did this and that in some game, then they re-review it and refuse classification for it

AFAIK the game review process is quite clear, and has lists of themes, topics and other content which is rated against, and developers submitting have to provide lists of all this content and "cheats" or means for the OFLC to immediately access and view it.

This means they don't *have* to play the game, and neatly shifts the blame back to the developer/publisher if the content is not disclosed (GTA:SA). In the other hand where political lobbying looks at the same "facts" and reclassifies it that's quite different.

Submitted by LiveWire on Fri, 24/02/06 - 8:32 PM Permalink

I dont remember the details exactly, so i may be wrong in saying this but:

I think the OFLC, although oly playing it for a short while, have several people play the game and submit ratings recomendations.

This, i believe is superior to the ESRB (US ratings system) who rate the games based on video of the harshest content and general gameplay supplied by the publishers. (although i still think this is a legitimate way to rate a game, although not indictive of what it's like to actually play the game)

So i would say that the OFLC rates games pretty well in general - and dont forget it wasn't strictly the OFLC that banned Getting Up either, that was the oversite boad, or something.

Submitted by TheBigJ on Fri, 24/02/06 - 10:48 PM Permalink

quote:Originally posted by LiveWire
This, i believe is superior to the ESRB (US ratings system) who rate the games based on video of the harshest content and general gameplay supplied by the publishers.
I don't entirely agree. Ultimately, the best system you could create for rating games would, at some point, involve the classification board actually playing the game. However, if it should be the case that several (if not all) members of the board are ignorant, intolerant, xenophobic or just simply don't "get" games, then the exercise will be counter-productive in terms of making a fair, unbiased decision.

If you had never really played a game before, and you were handed a controller and were asked to play a game like Hitman or GTA, it's going to be difficult to remain open minded. This is not unlike the way that 1920's films occasionally had people fleeing from cinemas in horror because they didn't "get" it and took it all too seriously.

I'm going to take a wild guess here and assume that gaming literacy is not a must-have when applying for a position with the OFLC. The average age of the board members is apparently around the early-forties.

The ESRB system, on the other hand, leaves it up to the developers and publishers to explain the game to the classification board, and explicitly nominate whatever contraversial material it may contain. Apart from the occasional lapse on the publisher's part (a la Hot Coffee), the system seems to work pretty well.

And yes, the OFLC should not be blamed for the banning of Getting Up. The OFLC originally submitted it as MA15+. Even the review board was split over the decision - it required the casting vote of the Conveyor to overrule the OFLC's original decision.

On a side note about these warning labels - they're inconsistent. M is supposed to be blue, as indicated in the above photos yet, I've seen the promotional boxes for Black, the FPS hitting stores soon, and the M warning is black. Apparently they were able to negotiate a colour change to fit the game's black colour scheme. But doesn't this invalidate the whole purpose of using giant obtrusive bright colour panels? Maybe they'll change them to blue when the game is released?

Submitted by Maitrek on Fri, 24/02/06 - 11:09 PM Permalink

The reason that the game should be *played* is because you can't just categorise violence based on the amount of blood there is, it has to be put into context to be assessed correctly.

Also as TheBigJ said, if you don't understand or 'get' computer games, there is no way you could always make the correct, unbiased decision as to which category the game falls under.

One other thing i think needs pointing out is that, in general, there isn't a great deal of concrete 'genrelisation' going on in computer games. They are more ore less categorised by *how* they are played i.e. first person shooter, survival horror (usually 3rd person etc), role playing, online role-playing etc.

They are rarely categorised or marketed based on their narrative content - which i think is probably more pertinent to who should play the game. Not all first person shooters are strictly for bloodlusty adults, not all strategy games are suitable for younger kids etc because the nature of what is being 'done' and often the narrative and the context can be completely different between separate games.

Submitted by LiveWire on Sat, 25/02/06 - 12:04 AM Permalink

I think what you are pointing out is TV abd film are categorized acording to their stories or settings, such as 'sci-fi' or 'romantic comedy' or combinations of these. Game genres however are categorized into gameplay types - FPS, RTS, Platformer, with little distinction made between a sci-fi or contempory variations, etc. (although you could argue WWII shooters are becomming a fairly large sub-genre of their own).

I would put this down to the lack of story in game evolution over the past twenty or so years since genres started to emerge. I'm not sure that categorizing games by gameplay is nessessarily a bad thing though - games are afterall primarily about gameplay, and story and setting is secondary. That said i see no reason why we coldnt have a game classified as a "Romantic Comedy God-sim", in the same way a movie might has a "Sci-fi murder mystery"

/end off topic musings

Submitted by TheBigJ on Sat, 25/02/06 - 12:17 AM Permalink

Yes, these musings are off-topic, but I'll throw in another one anyway.

I find it perfectly appropriate to refer to games according to their gameplay genre, but I think that any game with a well defined theme or story deserves equal recognition in terms of it's narrative/theme genre.

I often describe games to others by stating both the gameplay and narrative genre, for example, "Max Payne 2 is a Film Noir/3rd Person Shooter" or "Stronghold is a Medieval/RTS game". Either one of these descriptors alone does not properly explain what the game is.

In this sense, games are fundamentally different to most other artforms - interactivity brings a whole seperate dimension of genres. Sure, you can have a film that is "Sci-fi/Film Noir" (a la Blade Runner), but this is really just a mix of two different narrative genres.

Submitted by Caroo on Sat, 25/02/06 - 1:54 AM Permalink

The big issue being is that from a design point of view a games genre is different to context of the game.

In a first person shooter the idea is to shoot enemies to get to the end of the level. Picking up power ups and new weapons. However you can change the context of the design so easily.

Light Context: Playing the good guy in a war game in order to save the town you defend against.
Dark Context: Playing as the bad guy in a war game in order to slaughter and rape the civilians because your told you can.

Same war game. Same game play...different rating altogether.

Context is the thing rating systems need to centralise around when analysing an appropriate rating for it. It?s usually not the ?game? that marks the rating. It?s the atmosphere around it.

Submitted by mcdrewski on Sat, 25/02/06 - 3:14 AM Permalink

True words. I guess that's like the classic description of the movie "The Wizard of Oz" as:

Transported to a surreal landscape, a young girl kills the first person she meets and then teams up with three strangers to kill again."

Submitted by Maitrek on Wed, 01/03/06 - 10:42 AM Permalink

I guess one example of what i'm trying to point out is that, in a slasher flick - you are basically watching some dude brutally murder a bunch of scantily clad teenagers. If it were a game, it'd never make it into Australia (firstly due to lack of appropriate rating) but also because the OFLC would *likely* view it in a different light to an actual slasher movie (which by the way, are supposed to be *funny* and *absurd*) usually citing that it's an 'interactive medium' and hence somehow a more morally corrupt experience.

However because slasher flicks are an established genre with a wide audience and it is well understood what they are, they get made, they get released in Australia and everyone can enjoy the perversion.

Submitted by souri on Wed, 01/03/06 - 11:10 AM Permalink

Anyone seen those new tv ads about the new cigarette packages? They're planning to put pictures of mouth cancer on them. [:0]