Games - Interactive Movies - Players
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Who plays computer games?
Adults, as well as children,
play computer games.
In their early/mid 1990s
drive to protect children from the alleged dangers of computer games, Australian
politicians gave very little recognition to the fact that a significant
minority, if not a majority, of players were, in fact, adults. At
no point during the initial panic over computer games did anyone suggest
that this form of entertainment adversely affected adults. With very
few exceptions, the automatic assumption was made that children were the
exclusive players of computer games. For example, during discussion
of Queensland's Classification Bill in
1995, Deputy Premier Tom Burns recognised that some adults had "genuine
civil liberties concerns" over the decision to ban games of an "R" level
and above, but he believed in taking extra caution as computer games had
"particular appeal to children". This degree of caution was such
that he believed "...research is needed to ensure that any future decisions
in this area are based on cold, hard evidence." (see LAQ
1995a and LAQ 1995b).
Subsequent research from
both industry and Government groups found considerable earlier underestimations
of the percentage of adults who played computer games - but no one took
corrective action because of these findings. Australian games industry
magazines, Hyper and PC
PowerPlay conducted surveys and found that thirty-three and sixty
percent of their readers respectively were over the age of eighteen.
One Australian games distributor, Psygnosis,
alleged that the percentage of computer gamers over eighteen to be closer
to seventy-five percent. Overseas industry figures suggested similar
percentages, America's Interactive Digital
Software Association providing a seventy-two percent figure.
The research of the Australian Government supported these findings.
For example, a recent OFLC study formally
recognised that adults play computer games and deserve to be able to buy
games aimed at their age group. Finally, countries with which Australia
likes to compare itself and owes much to politically and culturally, namely
the US and the UK, have both had computer games
classification systems that recognise that adults play computer games
for many years.
Adults can readily supervise
their children’s use of computer games. As a very large percentage
of adults actually play computer games themselves, it stands to reason
that they know enough about the technology to supervise their children.
The academic research supports this conclusion.
In fact, Australian adults are nowhere near as afraid and as ignorant of
technology as those who persist in supporting severe regulation suppose,
with 66 per cent using a computer in the past year and 50 percent accessing
the Internet during that same period (10 per cent of adults were sufficiently
proficient and comfortable to order goods through the Internet) (see ABS,
1998). This is not to say that some parents might not have difficulty
supervising their children’s use of computer games, but such people are
in a small minority and the current games classification system is in fact
overkill in dealing with this situation.
proportion of adult computer games players are women.
For further details, please see other pages at this Web site such as Accusations
and the Resources. Especially relevant
are particular magazine and newspaper