29 June 2011
Don’t tamper with classification system, says iGEA
Tampering with the ‘perfectly adequate’ existing system of classifying video games could become problematic for the NZ market place. It could lead to a black market of illicitly-imported games over which there is no censorship, and games that fail to work with the parental control systems for consoles sold in NZ, says the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association (iGEA).
A recently released report by the Office of Film and Literature Classification1 states that 71 per cent of New Zealanders want all games to have specific-to-New Zealand classification labels. Under current law, specific-to-New Zealand labels are only affixed to restricted games (e.g. R13, 16, 18). Games that are not deemed offensive can be sold in New Zealand with Australian classification labels.
iGEA chief executive, Ron Curry, said the current system, whereby New Zealand shares a perfectly adequate Australian labelling system, is working satisfactorily.The research by the Office of Film and Literature Classification confirms this, with 69 per cent of respondents agreeing the current system is ‘about right’ (up from 64 per cent in 2006).
Mr Curry says that shows there is no real problem with the existing system and there is no need for change, especially change that may be counter-productive. He is concerned that moves to introduce specific-to-New Zealand classification labelling for all games will make many games too costly to import into New Zealand. One result is likely to be that global manufacturers, for whom New Zealand is a tiny market, will opt not to bother sending games to this country because of the greatly increased cost associated with classifying titles and providing New Zealand classification labels.
“That opens the door to black market suppliers who will move quickly to fill the gap.”They will bring in games regardless of content, and sell them to any and everyone, regardless of age. Without appropriate labelling the ability for parents to make informed decisions about their children’s entertainment choices is compromised.
“We are already seeing that in Australia where they have a similar issue with an absence of R18 classifications.” Mr Curry said other than the concern over the probable consequences of introducing domestic classifications, the iGEA is generally happy with the report. “We support the notion of a robust and informative classification system that ensures all appropriate protections and public safeguards are in place.
“Having said that, there does need to be a careful balance between ensuring the public is properly informed about game content and not inhibiting the public’s legitimate access to a wide range of media which is available to the rest of the world.” Mr Curry said while it might be nice for Kiwis to see specific-to-New Zealand labels on games they might not think so if it restricts their access to those same games.
1 Understanding the Classification System: New Zealanders’ views.
For further information please contact Mr Ron Curry on 09 889 2177.