Why are Australian authorities so untrustworthy of their competent adult populous to make purchasing decisions for themselves? The country made a huge step forward recently, introducing an R18+ rating equivalent to a Mature grade mandated by the ESRB, to huge applause from the Australian gaming community. But now, government officials are redacting their pledge. The Attorney General of New South Wales, Greg Smith, was interviewed in a poorly-researched segment claiming he wants Grand Theft Auto 5 banned outright. The most baffling aspect is Mr. Smith originally voted in favour of implementing the new rating.
I've never met this person, never even heard of him (and surely I'll avoid NSW whenever I find the time to visit Australia) but does he not understand what he's proposing? His remarks contradict and discredit the new rating even before it's implemented. I could enter the overly cliched debate of other violent forms of media sharing the identical "harmful" traits as any Grand Theft Auto release, but what the Governor General is saying implies his government doesn't trust competent adults and parents to make conscious decisions for their own well-being.
IGN did a better account of breaking down the blatantly fraudulent piece that aired on Seven News, so I won't get into that. But the most problematic part is the last quote from the Governor's spokesperson: "His main concern is that if something is grotesquely violent and it merits Refused Classification that it should be refused classification... but we're still on board with R18+; we want that to go ahead." If the government is adamant on allowing this rating, they shouldn't be undermining confidence for the rating by singling out an upcoming game perfectly suited for the rating.
An unfortunate setback of purportedly banning Grand Theft Auto 5 is not just limiting free speech, but also drastically reducing the chance of development studios setting up in the country. Australia's game development industry is slowly imploding after several high-profile closures, even warranting this doomsday report. And last time I checked, jobs are a hot topic globally and the video game industry is surprisingly resilient during bad economic times. If the industry collapses, Australia would be missing out on potential growth.
He won't read this obviously, but I hope the backlash is enough for him to redact his comments. There's more important things in the world to stress over.