The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that restricting the sale or rental of mature-themed video games to minors violates the United States’ First Amendment right to free speech. While it is important to note that the American constitution is very different from the Australian constitution, as the U.S. offers protection for free speech, it was interesting to see Dr. Craig Anderson’s research mentioned in the opinion which can be read on the Supreme Court’s website.
Dr. Craig Anderson’s research has been regularly pointed to by Australian alarmists lobbying against an R18+ classification for games as proving a link between violent video games and aggression. But the U.S. Supreme Court determined that his research is not compelling and pointed out that his studies, “have been rejected by every court to consider them.”
The opinion goes on to say that, in a similar lawsuit, Dr. Anderson himself admitted that, “the ‘effect sizes’ of children’s exposure to violent video games are ‘about the same’ as that produced by their exposure to violence on television” – that the same effects found in his research can be found when children watch violent cartoons.
Dr. Craig Anderson’s research was also considered last year by Australia’s Attorney-General’s Department in a literature review on the impact of playing violent video games on aggression. The department’s conclusion at the time was that research into the effects of violet video games on aggression is contested and inconclusive.
An excerpt from Justice Scalia’s opinion can be found below. Justice Alito concurred with the judgement, as did the Chief Justice. Justices Thomas and Breyer hold a dissenting view.
“The State’s evidence is not compelling. California relies primarily on the research of Dr. Craig Anderson and a few other research psychologists whose studies purport to show a connection between exposure to violent video games and harmful effects on children. These studies have been rejected by every court to consider them, and with good reason: They do not prove that violent video games cause minors to act aggressively (which would at least be a beginning). Instead, “[n]early all of the research is based on correlation, not evidence of causation, and most of the studies suffer from significant, admitted flaws in methodology.” Video Software Dealers Assn. 556 F. 3d, at 964. They show at best some correlation between exposure to violent entertainment and minuscule real-world effects, such as children’s feeling more aggressive or making louder noises in the few minutes after playing a violent game than after playing a nonviolent game”
“Even taking for granted Dr. Anderson’s conclusions that violent video games produce some effect on children’s feelings of aggression, those effects are both small and indistinguishable from effects produced by other media. In his testimony in a similar lawsuit, Dr. Anderson admitted that the “effect sizes” of children’s exposure to violent video games are “about the same” as that produced by their exposure to violence on television. App. 1263. And he admits that the same effects have been found when children watch cartoons starring Bugs Bunny or the Road Runner, id., at 1304, or when they play video games like Sonic the Hedgehog that are rated “E” (appropriate for all ages), id., at 1270, or even when they “vie[w] a picture of a gun,” id., at 1315–1316.”
Today Kotaku published a guest post from Grow up Australia Entitled “2010 a Ratings Odyssey.
Adult gamers have been calling for an R18 rating for a long time and since the public consultation earlier this year it is clearer than ever that Australia wants an R18+ rating for video games. The figures are enthusiastic to say the least. 98% of the near 60,000 submissions supported the introduction of an R18 rating. This reinforces what we already knew from research conducted by the iGEA. Their findings reported that 68% of Australians are gamers and that 91% of Australians agreed that the rating should be introduced….
To read the full post click here.
As expected the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General has not yet made a decision on the introduction of an R18+ classification for computer games. They have instead released a report containing preliminary figures and information about the public consultation that closed at the end of February. The report is available on the Attorney-General’s Department website.
The report shows that 98.2% of the submissions were in favour of the R18+ rating for games but Minister for Home Affairs Brendan O’Connor said that ministers had to also consider “the strength of the arguments on each side.”
Yes or No
‘Grow up Australia’ is mentioned often in the report and a pie chart indicates the number of submissions that were received via our website compared to other means. You can also see the clear success of EB Games in store petition.
The government has also released some of the submissions made by organisations including those made by the iGEA, ACL, EFA and ACCM.
Update: The group has now been restored to its previous state — thanks Facebook!
This morning, administrators of Grow up Australia’s Facebook group received a warning when they logged on to the website.
Group Removal Warning Message - Facebook
We have regularly encouraged our members to report posts they deem to be inappropriate to Facebook, in the hope that Facebook would help us in removing offending posts that we are unable to deal with in a timely manner. The report function on Facebook’s site has been very useful in this regard.
In the interim we have created a fan page for our members to join.
You may also follow us for updates on Twitter.
The Attorney-General’s Department is set to receive an influx of submissions from people who support the introduction of an R18+ category for computer games into the Australian classification system. The submissions were made via an online form provided by Grow up Australia, an independent group advocating the introduction of an adults only rating for games.
Grow up Australia will contribute 16,056 submissions from people who used their online form. The bulk of the submissions were collected during a partnership with EB Games during which Grow up Australia posters were displayed in all of EB Games’ 250+ Australian stores. A link to the online submission form was also provided via a banner on the EB Games website during the campaign.
Australia is the only developed nation without an adult rating for video games despite the average Australian gamer being 30 years old. In December 2009, the Attorney-General’s Department released a discussion paper calling for community feedback on the issue.
Aaron John Percival, Gamer activist and one of the founders of Grow up Australia, said “support for the introduction of the R18+ rating has been overwhelming with ninety-nine percent of the submissions made through the website in favor of the change”.
The co-founder of the group, Jake Edwards, added that “with less than a week until the deadline for submissions, there is still opportunity for people who want to get involved to make a submission directly to the Attorney-General’s Department”.
To make a submission to the Attorney-General’s Department, log on to: http://www.ag.gov.au/gamesclassification
The submissions will be sent tomorrow so that they will be received before the deadline of the 28th of February 2010.
 Interactive Australia 2009, National Research prepared by Professor J. Brand, Bond University for the Interactive Entertainment Association of Australia, 2008, <www.igea.net/category/industry-research
Grow up Australia!
EB Games Australia has joined forces with Grow up Australia and thrown their support behind the introduction of an R18+ rating for video games.
Grow up Australia posters are prominently displayed in every EB store across Australia and a petition is available to sign. In addition to their in-store campaign EB are providing a link from their website to Grow up Australia’s online Submission form so that their customers can participate in the Governments Public Consultation: An R18+ Classification for Computer Games.
The online submission form will be available until the 14th of February.
[EDIT]: South Australian Attorney-General Michael Atkinson has committed to repeal these unpopular amendments.
Amendments to the South Australia Electoral Act 1985 that came into effect on the January 6 will mean that anyone wishing to post a comment about the SA state election will be legally required to include their real name and postcode. The restriction will only apply during the election which extends from after the writs have been issued until 6pm on polling day.
Many supporters for the introduction of the R18+ for games debate are hoping for SA Attorney-General Michael Atkinson to lose his seat in the upcoming election as he is strongly opposed to an R18+ for games and has the power to veto the change.
The change to the act was included in a number of amendments that were made last year and was supported by the Opposition. The part of the act that has been changed is quoted below with the changes emphasized.
116—Published material to identify person responsible for political content
(1) A person must not, during an election period, publish material consisting of, or containing a commentary on, any candidate or political party, or the issues being submitted to electors, in written form, in a journal published in electronic form on the Internet or by radio or television or broadcast on the Internet, unless the material or the programme in which the material is presented contains a statement of the name and address (not being a post office box) of a person who takes responsibility for the publication of the material.
(a) if the offender is a natural person—$1 250;
(b) if the offender is a body corporate—$5 000.
(2) This section does not apply to—
(a) the publication in a journal (including a journal published in electronic form on the Internet) of a leading article;
(b) the publication of a report of a meeting that does not contain any comment (other than comment made by a speaker at the meeting) on any candidate, or political party, or the issues being submitted to electors;
(c) the publication in a journal (including a journal published in electronic form on the Internet) of an article, letter, report or other matter if—
(i) the name and address (not being a post office box) of a person who takes responsibility for the publication of the material is provided to the publisher of the journal and retained by the publisher for a period of 6 months after the end of the election period; and
(ii) the journal contains a statement of the name and postcode of the person who takes responsibility for the publication of the material;
(ca) the publication of a letter (otherwise than as described in paragraph (c)) that contains the name and address (not being a post office box) of the author of the letter;
(d) a news service or a current affairs programme on radio or television or broadcast on the Internet;
(e) any other prescribed material or class of material.
(3) In this section—
journal means a newspaper, magazine or other periodical.
Gamers 4 Croydon have announced some candidates for the South Australian election this year. The G4C website also tells us to expect further candidates to be announced at a later date. The two candidates announced so far are Kat Nicholson and Chris Prior.
Kat Nicholson will be running directly against Michael Atkinson in the electoral district of Croydon
Some information about the candidates from the G4C website:
Candidate for Croydon: Kat Nicholson
Kat has sustained a lifelong love of both gaming and politics and is a highly intelligent, motivated and educated young woman. She completed a BA at Flinders University and is currently studying a Masters in journalism at the University of South Australia. She spent a year as an intern at one of Adelaide’s leading animation studios, and has a long history of participation in community and amateur theater.
Candidate for the Legislative Council: Chris Prior
Chris is the President of Gamers4Croydon and will be leading the G4C ticket in the upper house. He is a self-taught software engineer, and has volunteered extensively in the community, providing help for youth groups and church organisations.
More information available on the G4C website.
Gamers 4 Croydon
Grow up Australia has just been informed of an event in Sydney that has been organised for tomorrow. The event is being organised by a new Pro R18+ website R18+ Games Australia and aims to raise awareness about the discussion paper and encourage people to get involved in the public consultation.
You can get involved in the public consultation by using our online form or by visiting http://www.ag.gov.au/gamesclassification
R18GamesAustralia.com was created by Luke Lawrie who writes for Australian Gamer. There is also a Facebook Event you can join if you plan on attending tomorrow.
Below is the content of the email that we received today detailing the event. Hope to see you there.
8 January 2009
Sydney consultation for video game classification
Gamers and non-gamers alike will be taking to the footpaths outside of the Queen Victoria Building in Sydney on Saturday the 9th of January to raise awareness about the Australian Government’s recent discussion paper regarding the classification system for video games in Australia.
The discussion paper calls for public response to the current system which, unlike that of many other nations, does not include an R18+ rating for the video game medium. This event aims to encourage participation and public response, with copies of submission forms available.
Information sheets about video games, including details about the current and proposed classification system will be made accessible on the day.
MEDIA ARE INVITED TO ATTEND
Where Queen Victoria Building, Corner of George and Druitt Streets, Sydney
Date Saturday 9 January 2010
When 9:00am – 4:00pm