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Reader Comments (7)

Posted: Feb 6th 2009 11:25AM TheJackman said

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So noting really happened... Laws can not stop gamers from playing they favorite mmos it will just go black market :D

Posted: Feb 6th 2009 11:32PM Wilhelm2451 said

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I hear Mythic hedged their bets by shipping nothing but defective install CDs to Australia.

Posted: Feb 7th 2009 11:42PM (Unverified) said

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Can I ask why you're doing this? It doesn't affect you, and if the publicity does end up causing MMOs to be taken off shelves for an indefinite amount of time (government regulatory bodies don't act fast), isn't that only going to hurt the Australian playerbase of the game you promote/cover?

I'm all for investigative journalism, but you have the potential to harm the people you seek to provide content for.

I'm not saying anything will happen, but I don't see why we need to wake the sleepy government walrus that has let this stuff go by up 'til now.

Posted: Feb 7th 2009 10:08AM (Unverified) said

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Leaving the situation go as it is, as I said above, is harmful in the long-term to everyone involved.

If a set of laws or regulations say they apply to everyone, but enforcement irregular, and essentially on the whim of whoever happens to be in the chair, then nobody knows when or if they're going to get stung.

It is generally a matter of trust that our government authorities, regulators and enforcers don't just happen to ignore written regulations when they find them inconvenient.

If there's a *problem* with the regulations, then those regulations obviously need to be reviewed and perhaps revised.

I was actually chasing a slightly different story when this came to light. It appeared initially that content could completely bypass classification and regulation, simply by having a quick nod in the direction of MMOGness. Content that would otherwise be unacceptable in any other format appeared to be immune if presented in the guise of an MMOG.

The actual story turned out to be somewhat stranger - and I wasn't the only writer on the trail. I met three others chasing the same paths and leads during the three months I was working on this (one of whom had been researching this for publication for more than a year. Part of a book, I believe). I just happened to be the one who managed get enough data and be published first. If not me, then in a few days or weeks, one of the others would have published essentially the same story.

It's just one of those issues that's too big to keep quiet. Sooner or later it would have been in all our faces.
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Posted: Feb 7th 2009 11:41PM (Unverified) said

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Fair enough. I just hope this doesn't create problems for gamers like myself and many others in the future. We already have enough trouble with game ratings in this country, I just didn't think we needed another one.
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Posted: Feb 8th 2009 7:30AM (Unverified) said

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My hope is that things get straightened out, and become clearer and more predictable. The system certainly has its share of defects right now.
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Posted: Feb 8th 2009 4:42PM (Unverified) said

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Every system does. In our particular shared case, that's the nature of democracy and the common law.

After reviewing the legislation, I can see that it would be unlikely for an individual in possession of "prohibited material" to be charged, especially given the provisions in ss101 - 102 of the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 (Cth). This is particular true given the narrow definition of "prescribed area" as per s3 of the Act, which references another piece of legislation - the Northern Territory National Emergency Response Act 2007 (Cth). This was no doubt established within the framework of the former government's push to remove pornography in certain Aboriginal areas in the Northern Territory.

The only danger would apparently be seizure of prohibited material, as per Part 10 Division 3 of the Classification Act 1995 (Cth). But even this becomes particularly unlikely given the provisions contained in the National Classification Code, which establishes the RC and Category 1 & 2 definitions, none of which would cover 80% of MMOs.

If it was truly harming people, or had the potential to, it would have most likely occured already and the law would've been changed. There are many laws or regulations on the books that are dated, rarely used or are simply irrelevant. In some Australian states it is still a requirement to have a person standing 20ft in front of your car with a flag to warn oncoming carriage and pedestrian traffic. In others witchcraft is illegal. There are similar examples in the US, UK and presumably Canada. Granted, these are extreme examples, but I really doubt the gravity that you are giving this particular instance. The fact remains that there aren't any MMOs with extensive drug use, gratuitous sex scenes, or violence exceeding a typical M15+ game already on the market. Agreed, it would be good if things were more transparent -- but bureacracy is a slow-moving beast, and sometimes it is better left well enough alone.
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