NSW Attorney-General wants GTA banned


news NSW Attorney-General Greg Smith has unexpectedly called for the popular Grand Theft Auto video game series and other violent games to be banned — not just classified R18+ as suitable for adult use.

“I think they should be banned,” the Liberal MP said in a Seven News broadcast aired last night and available online (see above). Smith pointed out one of the GTA games “invoves a prostitute giving sexual favours for money to a man in a car, and then when she gets out, he comes out with a semi-automatic rifle, and shoots her dead. Now what good does that do anybody?” Smith asked.

The comments represent something of an unexpected departure for the NSW Government from the common stance on adult-oriented video games that attorneys-general around the nation appear to have taken to support the establishment of an R18+ classification for video games.

In July this year, Smith brought the NSW Government to the arrangement noting at the time that he was “delighted” that a new R18+ classification could be introduced. Broadly, the politician said he saw the agreement as a positive step, as some video games which were currently under the MA15+ classification rating which he saw as undesirable would be shifted upwards into the new R18+ rating. “I think it’s positive that they should be in the adult category,” he said.

The establishment of an R18+ rating is expected to shortly see a number of games reclassified from the MA15+ class into the new R18+ system. However, Seven News reported yesterday that Smith wanted a “complete ban” on games like GTA.

Smith is known to have a conservative background. The politician attended a Catholic Boys school in the Sydney suburb of Randwick for his high school education, and is a former president of the Right to Life Association, a group which lobbies against allowing activities such as abortion, euthanasia and stem cell research.

Smith has also expressed his dissatisfaction with the establishment of a relationships register by the NSW Parliament in 2010, which recognises gay couples. At the time, the politician stated that the register would undermine traditional families and traditional heterosexual marriages.

Smith’s comments, and the Seven News report in general, have already drawn fire from video gamers. “Aside from the fact that the report on Seven was a strangely one-sided piece of reporting, the fact that Greg Smith, an Attorney General has clearly had some impact on the updated guidelines, is appealing for games that are currently classified under MA15+ to be banned, despite agreeing to some form of R18+ rating is a little worrying,” wrote gaming publication Kotaku today.

“The problem is, the people in charge of this sort of thing (such as the Attorney General in the story) still see video games as children’s toys, and believe’ they should all be in the vein of ‘Pong’, ‘Pac Man’ and ‘Frogger’,” wrote gamer and media industry worker Mick Attard in a blog post criticising Smith’s comments.

“What they fail to understand (and what the above story completely fails to mention) is that the average age of a gamer is over 30, and that over 88% of Australian household have a gaming console, yet the medium is still treated as though it is a niche market with no artistic integrity (thanks in no small part to media attention like the story above).”

It’s clear from Smith’s background that he’s a conservative type; the sort of politician that Fox News (and, apparently, Seven News) loves to do interviews with to source quotes about the evils of video games. It is a little worrying that he has only just come out with these views, despite having publicly supported the R18+ agreement previously, but I don’t expect his latest statements to have any real impact on the R18+ classification as a whole. The process is too advanced by this point, and the weight of the other attorneys-general should help moderate Smith’s views.

The Federal Government has today released the final guidelines for the R18+ classification of video games. They’re pretty much as expected — you can find them here.


  1. If it’s not one state’s AG it’s another.

    And why the uproar now over GTA? The last GTA came out about 3 or 4 years or so ago, just about anyone who is going to buy it have already bought it, finished it, and have put it on the shelf to gather some dust.

    This is such a none issue and a “save the children” draw for self attention.

  2. Don’t we live in a secular society? Oh no that’s right that’s a myth.

    I do not want god botherers, athiests, humanists, islamic militants, buddhists or any other religion having a say in the laws and policies of this country.

    My particular regigulous views are of no consequence, and this nutjob should not be forcing his conservative views on all members of society. I would like to take one of those weird Jeebus fish stickers and repeatedly poke him in the eye with it.

    But alas, it’ll never happen. Lobby Groups are the scourge of modern democracy. It makes me furious.

    • I do not want god botherers, athiests, humanists, islamic militants, buddhists or any other religion having a say in the laws and policies of this country.

      You obviously missed Jim Wallace’s speal on QandA where he explained the seperation between church and state.

      It means, by his definition, that the state will have no influence on the church and the church’s activities, and that the church can have a say in all state political issues.

      ie. The church likes the separation between church and state, providing it’s only one way.

    • 1. Humanism is not a religion.
      2. How can you say we live in a secular state when the country’s head (the queen) is also its declared Defender of Faith and the head of a church?

      • It’s funny when people call Atheism/Humanism a religion. It’s like saying “Not playing Soccer” is a sport :)

  3. I’ve been gaming since I was four – which means I have now played video games for 32 years. I cannot wait for the day when the majority of politicians are gamers and realise that they are simply another medium of entertainment. The average video gamer is 36 years old right now. More women play games than men according to latest statistics.

    The fact is that millions upon millions play video games and there is no connection between playing the games and violence. Denying adults from playing these games is silly and idiotic.

    I’ve played GTA since the first game and I’ve never committed any violent act in my life.

    Tell me which you think is worse:
    Playing a video game at home and shooting up pixels on screen?
    Newspapers putting images of Gaddafi with his head blown off on the front page where anyone can see?

    Shouldn’t images of dead people have an R18 rating? Isn’t that a lot worse?

    • 36 years? Makes you average, Scott… ;)

      But you’re absolutely right. The application of “standards” across of the media types is ridiculous in this country. Gaddafi is an excellent example.

      Shot in the head. Lying on a slab in a supermarket freezer – (remind me to avoid that supermarket next time I’m in Libya).

      Splashed all over the evening news with (mostly) no warning. Some outlets did warn, most did not.

      Unfortunately, the pollies are trying to generate noise – (white or otherwise) – to make the average schmo on the street think they are caring souls, who care about kids – when really, all they care about is getting their heads on the news.

      Hopefully the classification review will dictate that the same classification regime is applied to all media types. Radio, television, cinema, print, and games, and even the internet.

      (though, the internet is another kettle of fish all together!)

      And whatever is decided, I hope it is applied consistently, and not in the “mad woman’s breakfast” manner that the existing rules are currently being applied.

    • I have spent most of my life playing video games where I either get to shoot aliens, or have lengthy fights with magic or traditional weapons like swords. It is my fervent wish that I get to do these things in real life one day … as long as there wasn’t any actual danger to anyone involved, as I’m a pacifist :D

  4. I am a little confused as to why shooting a whore is worthy of banning a game, but shooting other people in the game is not worthy of banning it. Is Smith secretly championing prostitute rights?

    • I think it’s the rationale that sex and violence separately are bad enough in the Attorney-General’s eyes, so any situation where the two get mixed up in any portrayal is intrinsically and exponentially worse — no matter that video games, like all art, just reflect things occuring in the real world.

    • look at it from a different perspective… how many games involve shooting a *woman* (as opposed to a whore)?

      it’s bad enough that the game, whose target audience is presumably young males, simulates violence against females… the context of the violence makes it doubly worse, i.e. it takes place after the act of sexual consummation.. .an intimate, interpersonal setting where the female sex is particularly exposed or vulnerable to male aggression.

    • I remember when Modern Warfare came out, there were all those animal rights people screaming about how you can shoot the enemy attack dogs (and even snap their necks when they’re attacking you) [1]. Meanwhile, they didn’t care about the fact that you can also, you know, shoot people.

      In any case, I can’t really understand why you’d be upset over this. He’s obviously never actually seen the game actually being played, because the thing is, it’s not actually a “scene” from the game. GTA is a sandbox game — you can do whatever you like. So yes, you can pick up hookers. Yes, you can shoot people in the head. Whether you do these things one-after-the-other is entirely up to the person playing the game.

      The description the A-G gives looks like something straight out of the play book of Jim Wallace.

      [1] http://www.destructoid.com/peta-jumps-on-call-of-duty-dog-killer-bandwagon-125960.phtml

  5. One person takes the advice of an imaginary friend it’s mental illness. Thousands and it’s called religion.

  6. >>”NSW Attorney-General wants GTA banned”

    I for one want any public official or politician who believes in any type of supernatural entity that influences their ethics and thought processes to have to state it every time they open their mouths to spout some sort of fallacious rhetoric, oh and for idiots not to be allowed to be politicians..

    Sadly my wish, like the AG’s wish probably wont come true either..

    • The difficulty is that we did elect these people, so they can say what they wish, comfortable in the knowledge that — on paper — they represent the people’s will. I think much of the problem in our current electoral system is that it doesn’t give us much true choice about the people who become our elected officials.

  7. The AG’s tend to take the very simplistic view that all violent games are evil, and all violent gamers are children. So obviously violent games (which might need to carry an R18 rating? hello?) are only played by children

    It’s a very back-and-white, uneducated view that ignores less-recent trends, let alone current. Which is also why change has been very very slow. When you throw an “i’m religious, so you all need to follow my moral code, regardless of who/ what you believe” then it becomes an almost academic outcome.

    Open minded AG’s are a very rare breed.

  8. I was quite heartened when I read this piece on Terry Flew, chair of the Classification Review: http://www.kotaku.com.au/2011/10/meet-the-man-who-could-revolutionise-game-classification-in-australia/

    Of course, while what I’ve seen of the stuff that’s come out of the Classification Review is great, I suspect what’ll happen is what usually happens with these things: the government will say “thanks, good job” and then proceed to ignore everything that was written in their report anyway…

  9. There is a very simple fix for violent games.

    An R18 rating. This ensures adults (particularly in the legal sense) are able to play titles aimed at adults.

    This will not prevent titles from being refused a classification, so RC will remain, it simply ensures some kind of uniformity and helps inform parents.

    We all know this, even the Attorney’s General do; and as for the ACL getting involved, they’re the self-appointed moral police on pretty much any topic.

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