Monday, 10 November 2014

Informed choices?

New Zealand's chief censor has a bizarre view of "informed choices". 

He complains that video game manufacturers have been reluctant to pay his office $1400 per game to let his expert video game players play all the way through the games and assess their content:
“As chief censor I have previously expressed the view that games, in the legislation, should be treated the same as films.
“This would see all games distributed in New Zealand carry New Zealand classification labels, and allow New Zealanders to make informed choices about what they and their children watch and play.”
Informed choices. That sounds wonderful and nice. I wish that I could, when my children turn 12, make an informed choice to play games rated R13 with them, if they're ready.

But the Chief Censor, by choosing R13 instead of RP13, makes it illegal for me to make that informed choice.
Can anyone give a person under 13 years old permission to watch a R13?
No. Parents, caregivers or teachers cannot give permission for under 13s to watch or play R13 films or games. If a teacher or community group wants to show an R13 film to people under 13, they will need to apply to the Chief Censor for an exemption from the R13 classification under section 44 of the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993.
This isn't about informed choice. It's about the Chief Censor taking away parents' choices.

Currently, game manufacturers need only submit games restricted in Australia or the UK; the Censor worries that too many of these are sold online by Steam, and others, without NZ classification. I worry rather that the Censor takes away far too many of our freedoms already by banning us from playing games with our kids instead of just warning us that we might want to pay particular attention to some of these games before launching into a gaming session.


  1. I wonder where the chief censor recruits people who are playing these games but also have the censorious mind-set.

  2. Some games take a very long time to play "all the way through" and require significant skill. I expect the NZ censor's team to blow away the opposition at the next international gaming competition. They are being far too trusting of the games developers if they use cheats :-;