Great Firewall of Australia to block video games unsuitable for people under 15

Mike sez, "According to the Australian government, video games are worse than porn; they're planning to block web-based games deemed unsuitable for anyone over the age of fifteen. This would be funny if it wasn't so pathetic. Just call us South China from now on."
So far, this has only applied to local bricks-and-mortar stores selling physical copies of games, but a spokesman for Senator Conroy confirmed that under the filtering plan, it will be extended to downloadable games, flash-based web games and sites which sell physical copies of games that do not meet the MA15+ standard.

This means that even Australians who are aged above 15 and want to obtain the adult-level games online will be unable to do so. . It will undoubtedly raise the ire of gamers, the average age of which is 30 in Australia, according to research commissioned by the Interactive Entertainment Association of Australia.

Colin Jacobs, spokesman for the online users' lobby group Electronic Frontiers Australia, said the Government clearly went far beyond any mandate it had from the public to help parents deal with cyber-safety.

He said Australians would soon learn this the hard way when they find web pages mysteriously blocked.

"This is confirmation that the scope of the mandatory censorship scheme will keep on creeping," said Mr Jacobs.

"Far from being the ultimate weapon against child abuse, it now will officially censor content deemed too controversial for a 15-year-old. In a free country like ours, do we really need the government to step in and save us from racy web games?"

Web filters to censor video games


  1. I guess they have to block,,, and pretty much any online retailer

  2. You may want to rephrase that, as it stands, it can be read (and I did initially) that games intended for pre-school children (“unsuitable for people over 15”) will be blocked. I am sure that is not what they mean.

  3. I think you mean ‘planning to block web-based games deemed unsuitable for anyone *under* the age of fifteen’.

    Though some stuff thats unsuitable for over-15s, like High School Musical, really could do with being blocked.

  4. What the hell? What is going through these people’s heads? Are the people who are deciding these things elected members of government, and if so, are Australians planning on re-electing them?

    I think, by the way, they should block ALL content “not suitable for people under the age of 15.” This includes information on how to pay your taxes, study guides for college work, sexual health information, where to vote, etc. etc. I mean really, 15-year-olds don’t need to know this stuff, so why should anyone else? Australians of all ages would be perfectly happy if the only media they ever saw was Teletubbies.

  5. …and here I was thinking that Aussies are only allowed to play, cute, fun and possibly educational games. You know, for kids!

  6. It’s awkwardly worded, but yes, the headline SHOULD say “over 15”. Any games which do not qualify for the “15+” or lower rating are banned, meaning that any game not found to be at least suitable for all people 15 and older is banned. If it’s suitable for people under 15 that’s okay, but if it isn’t suitable for everyone over, it’s a no go.

    That said, this is completely asinine.

  7. Isn’t it worrying that it seems that no matter what country you live in, politicians have a real problem with accepting that simple fact about the average age of gamers not being impressionable young children? I guess it’s not just politicians but also every knee-jerk reactionary. Isn’t it about time something was done to change this strange out-dated attitude? I mean do none of them consider the fact that these are games which they describe as “unsuitable for people under 15” because they are games designed by and for people over that age? If only common sense was actually common.

  8. #3 – Yes, they were elected. They just decided to ignore the will of the people entirely. You also assume that there are any viable alternatives – all our politicians are worthless self serving garbage (apologies to Bob Brown, but one out of hundreds is the exception that proves the rule), they’ve even given up on the pretense of giving a damn what the people want.

    They’ve seen the fast results in the USA for being a whore for religious conservatives and they’ve run with it – it’s a far easier strategy than actually having to have to do anything legitimate to win support. It’s disgusting.

  9. Zan: “If it’s suitable for people under 15 that’s okay, but if it isn’t suitable for everyone over, it’s a no go.

    No, that’s not what it’s saying at all.

    There aren’t any ratings which suggest that a title might not be suitable for people over a certain age, that wouldn’t make sense.

    To qualify for 15+, it cannot have gruesome blood, sex etc.

    This law is equivalent to saying that titles that are 16+ will be banned, except that Australia doesn’t have the rating “16+” — it ends at 15+. Anything that would be considered “16+” is simply banned outright.

    What this law is saying is that every game available on the web has to be at least non-violent enough that 15-year-olds could see it. If 15-year-olds are too young for a game, no one can see it.

  10. I’m a surfer from Southern California. I can no longer afford to live anywhere near the beach because of the absurd Southern California housing prices (and I make pretty good money). My lifestyle has suffered tremendously.

    As an option I’ve often considered moving to NSW or Western Oz. Many of my friends have said those locations are like California 40 years ago. Lovely country, lovely people, sick waves. But every time I hear a report about the Australian government “protecting” its people from the ills of moral decay, I realize that I could potentially be giving up far more than I’m gaining by relocating.

    I already have two parents and they wouldn’t dare try to micromanage my morality.

  11. Australia has a long history of this kind of thing, and it never lasts long. People in liberal democracies don’t have to stand for censorship.

  12. This is a good thing. I mean after all those teenagers ran amok shooting hookers and old ladies back when GTAIII came out… and remember how car theft rates skyrocketed?

    yeah me neither.

  13. I’m curious what mature web game there are other than some dumb porn strip card game or stupid like that.
    What, there a left4dead java edition?

  14. “they’re planning to block web-based games deemed unsuitable for anyone over the age of fifteen. ”

    Er, you might want to fix that use of the word “over”. As it is, you’re saying they’ll block games that are too childish for adults.

  15. Will they want to block Amazon? WoW? Second Life? What about eBay? – you can buy the MA15+ games there too. Where will this madness end? Who will decide what to ban. Of course you won’t find out exactly what they are banning because the banned list is secret. You’ll just get a page not found error, or some such response.

  16. These announcements from the current Government tend to be aimed at pleasing the stereotypical disgruntled elderly gent, who’s upset he can buy soft porn at his local news agent, and wishes these crazy kids would stay off his lawn. He’ll sleep easy tonight knowing that his law makers are looking after his interests and keeping his lawn safe.

    In the background, the broader community will argue, and rightly so, that this is insanse censorship and the motion won’t get past parliament.

    My issue is that it wastes the time & resources of the people and their employees (Government) while they handle the spin and backlash. Why can’t we accept that this is dumb and grow up?

  17. For the non-Australians who are asking us to turf this government out over such measures (and I would dearly love to), the problem is that the Australian political system is rigged to be almost rigidly two-party. Unlike the UK or USA (and a few notable exceptions aside), party members are pretty much obligated to vote with the party. This means the voters are pretty much left with a binary choice – party A as government or party B?

    Now in this case, the governing party A has an asinine, unworkable, kneejerk policy, but the alternative party B would just result in different asinine, unworkable kneejerk policies.

    Having said that, I’m sure that as soon as Conroy realises he can’t subvert his own laws and import region-unlocked DVDs from, this measure will quietly go by the wayside.

    Note also that it’s already nearly two years since the government was elected and they haven’t instituted any of their filtering policy (other than a hamstrung trial) yet. Hopefully by the time of the next election (which may be sooner rather than later the way things are going) the whole policy will be binned. Maybe…

  18. The problem here is that for an “adults only” rating to exist all Attorneys-General have to vote it in.

    Reportedly, there is only one who opposes the rating. Because the vote is not unanimous, it’s never voted in.

    This guy — Michael Atkinson ( — is the one solely responsible.

    Because of him, we have to waste taxpayer dollars implementing this sort of thing. Especially when numerous reports show that the average gamer is aged 30 or more in Australia.

  19. As another Aussie, I thought I should add: during the election campaign, the winning party promised to install national filters to keep out child porn. That’s all. While this defensible (but impractical) idea was probably popular to those who noticed it, it has given the organized killjoys and bigoted freaks an irresistable temptation to attack the freedom that the net allows.

    It turns out that these groups have added to the list of banned sites: gay dating websites, information on stds, gambling sites, sites that discuss euthanasia etc. The key thing here, I think, is that the evangelicals in Australia are a growing political force that have not yet reached the peak of their influence (I suspect their US counterparts peaked a few years ago), and have not committed themselves to any party. So the government has a high incentive to play to them. Since noone in politics or the churches knows jack about the internet (except that it contains a lot of gross shit), its a trend likely to continue.

    At any rate: these measures are NOT popular, and were NOT voted for by the masses. They MIGHT secure swing voters, but they will not cost large numbers of voters, because sane people choose governments based on bigger issues.

    And yes, I do find this stuff embarassing!


  20. Aw c’mon Australia, you used to be cool. Is a nation bred of convicts really going to let its government dictate what games they’re allowed to play online?

    I suggest protesting by staging a live-action version of Leisure Suit Larry outside Parliament…

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  22. I think it’s a good thing – if it does the right thing and blocks the vile filth (such as Child Porn) But will blocking really do anything? Shouldn’t they actually be going out and trying to SHUT DOWN these sites and arresting the criminals? What good will it do if they’re blocked, but actually still operating? They should be shut down and brought to justice not just blocked!

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