Rating Digital Games To Determine Local Age Ratings
It goes without saying that video games have been facing a lot of scrutiny as of late, due to this type of entertainment being linked to violent acts, and in some cases, killing innocent people. However, numerous studies have shown over the years that playing video games is not the root cause for people spiraling out of control, as there is always an underlying issue.
With that frame of mind, governments all around the world are working hard to make sure video games carry a proper age rating. Technically speaking, a game rated “18” should never be sold to anyone under that age, even though most shopkeepers will not enforce that rule. And in this day and age of digital video game purchases and downloads, parents have no more control over what their children are playing.
But Australian government officials have taken things one step further, by officially banning certain apps and games from being downloaded nation-wide. This new “pilot program” will keep track of mobile titles listed as “refused classification”, and ensure they are not available for purchase or download anywhere in Australia.
According to the information we have received, a total of 260 mobile games and apps carry the “refused classification” tag. However, it is important to keep in mind this pilot program is only supported by Google’s Play Store and Firefox Marketplace so far, whereas Apple is using their internal content rating program and is therefore not affected by this pilot program.
This new rating system – in partnership with the International Age Rating Coalition – does not just look at the mobile game or app’s name in order to ban it. However, that creates some odd choices, as games such as Pinpoint, Pop Pet, and Japan Puzzle are on the banned list, despite receiving positive ratings in the US.
However, you have to keep in mind that these age ratings are dependant on quite a lot of different factors. Crude humor, scary elements, discrimination, violence, sexuality and crime are just a handful of the criteria to check. As soon as one of these criteria is applicable, the game will automatically be labeled as “Adult Content”, which results in a spot on Australia’s banned list.
It is not the first time Australia makes mainstream media headlines in terms of video game control. Popular gaming titles such as Fallout 3 and Alien Vs. Predator have been banned in Australia in more recent years. In fact, this “battle” goes back all the way to 1995 when video games really started becoming more and more popular.
Things were starting to look up back in 2013, when Australia [finally] introduced the 18+ rating for video games to allow the sale of these games to adults only. But even that new standard was circumvented earlier this year when Hotline Miami 2 was banned in the entire country over an implied rape scene in the game.
Crackdown on Bitcoin Apps & Games to Follow Next?
Even though there will always be a battle of wills between government officials and video game developers, there have to be some restrictions to keep things under control. However, now that more and more people are buying their video games online from popular platforms such as Steam and Origin, there is no way to enforce this new guideline.
Such a strict ruling begs the question of whether or not governments are trying to play a centralized role in controlling the mobile space. Apple, one of the most popular mobile platforms, had effectively outlawed any Bitcoin-related game or app until the end of 2014, simply because they felt the need to protect their users.
But in the end, shouldn’t that decision be made by the end user, or their parents, rather than by a central authority such as an Apple or a government? And what would happen if a country decide to ban Bitcoin-related mobile games and apps, simply because their government officials feel the need to enforce a crackdown on digital currency?
Similar to how video game distribution works, there is no active way to restrict consumers from buying or using certain games and apps. Applications and games can be sideloaded on any major mobile OS – even though it takes a bit of tinkering – and preventing consumers from accessing certain things will only further stimulate their desire to bend the rules and obtain it anyway.
And as we have seen in the world of Bitcoin and digital currency, regulation can be a good thing, yet also drive away potential business if that regulation is enforced too strictly. The parallels between video games and Bitcoin just keep on adding themselves, and it will be interesting to see how this story plays out in the next 12 months.