Monday, December 20, 2010

Living The Life: China

[Part of a series of posts in which I detail the events that occur during my first championship season in Codemasters' F1 2010. These will be written in a diary-esque form describing my thoughts and reactions as I participate in each event. I'd like to take this opportunity to apologise for the delay between this post and the previous one; see here for why it took so long.]

Yet another track that I haven’t been to and need to learn, one that is apparently similar to the previous track in Malaysia due to its unpredictable weather, the same designer in Hermann Tilke and tight but fast corners. I go into this round ill with a cold or perhaps even the flu, which will no doubt make the race harder to endure, particularly after the other sessions leading into it. After a fairly decent result in Malaysia I approach this track with some confidence but also some apprehension -- the fact I have to learn it means that anything could happen and, if rain does indeed play a part, the conditions could either suit my driving style or hinder it, so time shall tell as the weekend progresses. I do have to say, though, the track is quite amazing architecturally, the structures sitting above the track on the front straight (easily visible from the paddock and pit garages) screaming futuristic, sleek and perhaps even alien design; it’s really quite remarkable and definitely a sight to behold.

Friday Morning, Practice 1

Well, China is a lot trickier to learn than I was personally expecting, its insane amount of bumps and tight hairpins really grabbing your attention if you’re not careful. The track in itself is indeed quite like Malaysia, even opening relatively similar with its right-hand, long and sweeping hairpin first corner before switching abruptly and immediately into a left-hand one. While China’s first turn is longer (which means a faster speed can be maintained in the initial moments of it, before a hard braking section to ensure you hit the late apex) than Malaysia’s, its second one is shorter, the chance to begin accelerating coming earlier than that circuit but trickier due to the four or so bumps that sit perfectly right where you want to accelerate. China also has a small straight after this corner whilst Malaysia veers to the right for another sweeping turn quite quickly, before both circuits mimic each other again with a tight fourth turn -- Malaysia’s characterized by the uphill, blind but not so tight apex, whilst China’s by its severely tight hairpin where it is very easy to run off. I mention the comparison not to offer an opinion on either circuit but to highlight how confusing their similarities can be: because the China round follows right on after Malaysia’s, it’s very easy to get caught out in your rhythms as your mental map tricks you into thinking you are running a lap of Malaysia rather than China. I found it an interesting -- if minor -- challenge to deal with and definitely a feature that defines the Shanghai circuit. Anyway, as you’d expect my first run saw quite a few times where I went wide at a few corners -- the tight hairpin after the back straight proving to be particularly tricky -- as I came to terms with the circuit. Its tricky corners caught me out more than a few times, the bumps in particular being my main concern (and surprise). The desire to accelerate out of the various corners early is very tempting but the bumps prevent it through their uncanny ability to induce wheelspin regularly -- something I had to be mindful of as I continued to learn the circuit. I was pleased, however, to see my track-learning skills remain, the Shanghai circuit quickly entering into my mental picture despite the similarities to Malaysia. It was confusing at times, but I got a handle on it a lot quicker than I expected to so that was nice. My second run was better though I did get caught out a few times in turn 3 where a bit of wheelspin saw me careening off the track as I tried to catch it. Nothing serious, though. In my third run the team wanted to try some research and development parts, expecting me to achieve a lap of 2:05.933 once the parts were fitted -- something I managed easily on my first timed lap. My success means that I will get reduced rear tire drag at 5.0%, though I have no idea what that actually means -- I just drive. It was around this time that I also noticed it was significantly overcast, however the rain never eventuated. My fourth run was average with a lot of moments including a few run offs, a few missed apexes and having to catch wheelspin on the bumps. I did learn, however, that short shifting (changing gears at lower revs) was my friend, as it helps maintain grip and lessens the chance of wheelspin out of those trickier corners. My fifth run was short and messy so I came in early to switch to the Option tires. In turn 3 I went into the gravel trap after missing the apex, and in the long sweeping turn that brings you onto the back straight I had a half spin, which incidentally ruined a good lap. My sixth run, on the Options, was better, the new tires surprising me once again with their insane levels of grip and faster times. I improved my lap time by 2 seconds with still more to find, but caught a bump in turn 3(seems to be my sticking point) just as I was accelerating out and over those tricky bumps. This caused another half spin, though again it was minor. I also went wide on that sweeping long corner (my other sticking point, apparently), catching the exit curb wrongly and had yet another spin, this time on my in lap back to the pits. It was sunny again by this point though quite hazy due to the severe amount of smog that was permeating the track’s complex. My seventh run was great with no mistakes and another second shaved off my lap time. My engineer made an intriguing statement too, suggesting that it becomes really obvious when I find confidence in a circuit and start to push its limits and those of my skills, referencing the data that they have in the garage and how it changed from cautious approaches to corners and later pushes on the throttle, to deep entries and earlier exits -- a really insightful thing to hear as it correlates with how I felt as I became more comfortable with the track. My eighth and final run was okay, my Option tires going off so I couldn’t match my time I had set earlier but it was still good practice, something I definitely needed with the still relatively unfamiliar circuit. Overall for the session I did a total of 22 laps, my fastest time so far being a 1:38.008 which netted me 7th place. Mark Webber was first, his teammate Vettel second (separated by 1 thousandth of a second no less -- absolutely crazy!) and Hamilton third. Definitely a great session in which I learned quite a lot and quickly too -- important, I think, in terms of the weekend’s potential.

Friday Afternoon, Practice 2

Sunny conditions yet again, with a 47% chance of rain. We’ll see what eventuates, however. My team wanted to try some more R&D tests, this time expecting a 2:05.759 which I thought was very easy given my knowledge of the track. My first run was over remarkably quickly, the bumps in turn 3 catching me out yet again and throwing me into the wall on my exit lap (no less), my front wing dislodging in the process. After sitting in the pits for repairs (and feeling slightly embarrassed), I went back out for my second run which was better, the team’s R&D goals met with ease. It was a good, clean run, and due to coming out behind Webber I was able to follow him for a few laps. It was fascinating seeing the different approaches he took to each corner and how well his Red Bull car performed generally -- it’s definitely in a different league to my Virgin. My third run was short as I decided I wanted the Options instead, due to the foreboding, overcast weather. I wanted to set a good time before the rain settled in, a decision that proved to be fruitful as my fourth run, now on the Options, was when the heavens decided to open their doors and start casting drizzle all over the circuit. Because of this I actually thought I had made the wrong call as I came out behind Buemi whom I had to pass heading into turn 1 just before a yellow flag thanks to two cars who had spun in turn 3, but my subsequent laps were good despite the rain, proving that I seem to perform quite well in unpredictable, uncertain conditions. The rain increasing rapidly, I switched to the Intermediate tires for my fifth run, it quickly proving to be a wise choice due to a puddle in turn 6 which I aquaplaned on, my front right tire dipping into the inside of the apex and thus inspiring the officials to give me a warning for corner cutting. Despite feeling like I had eliminated my corner cutting problems from earlier in the season, it was a warning I could accept quite easily as it didn’t feel intentional and certainly not my fault. The rest of the run was smooth, some good practice under my belt. The sixth run for Practice 2 was marred by the exit curb of turn 6, my weak exit catching it incorrectly and inducing an unnecessary spin. Strangely this resulted in yet another warning for corner cutting as I was trying to recover, simply because I was on the inside of the corner. I’ve accepted all of the warnings I have received so far, putting them down to rookie mistakes or errors but now I’m starting to wonder if the officials are being a little unfair. By this point the rain was steady and seemed like it was here to stay, a point I welcomed as I wanted more practice under wet conditions. It was funny, though, the track didn’t seem to be as slippery as I thought it was in the initial laps of P1 even as the track became increasingly saturated. My seventh run was clean and consistent, though the car did try to step out a few times thanks to the wet surface. The rain seemed to have eased a little as hints of a dry line were starting to appear, but it also seemed to be quite steady going down the long back straight. My eighth run was nothing, the rain no longer falling meaning the Intermediate tires were useless and it was better to switch to the Primes. I got a warning for gently colliding with Robert Kubica exiting the pits which I thought wasn’t right as it wasn’t my fault he didn’t give me any room by going a little bit wider. My ninth run, now on Prime tires was characterized by my amazement at how quickly the circuit had dried, the grip returning extremely quickly and as if there was no water at all. Chandok was coming up behind me as I exited the pits so I stayed wide in turn 1 to let him past but he spun instead. Not sure why. I also managed to only be a few tenths behind the time I had set earlier on Options, which was both good and bad -- good because it demonstrated that I was comfortable with the track but bad because it highlighted how insignificant my lap on the Options really was. I decided to go out for a tenth and final run just to confirm my progress over the session but only got one flying lap in due to the session expiring. A total of 19 laps with a time of 1:39.284 done on the Options before the rain settled in, which secured 12th position for the session. I think it was the rain that hindered my ability to match the times set in P1 though being a practice session it doesn’t really matter so long as I made progress which I feel I certainly did. The warnings were annoying though, mostly because they didn’t feel justified. I’m confident for tomorrow.

Saturday Morning, Practice 3

Dry and sunny conditions, though a touch hazy once again due to the smog that surrounds the circuit. My team wanted some more testing with another easy target time of 2:05.759 which I achieved on my first flying lap in my first run, no problems. Those times were very lenient which was nice as it meant I could focus on other things. I turned in a bit too early on my second lap at the hairpin at the end of the back straight and bounced over the inside curb more than normal, spinning as I accelerated off it. A similar thing happened on the third lap at the turn 8/9 kink, the lap also featuring some debris a little earlier in turn 4. For some reason I wasn’t enjoying this session due to feeling uncomfortable in the car. My gloves weren’t on properly so it didn’t feel right as I gripped the steering wheel, and I also seemed to be sitting a little differently too. My second run was also uncomfortable, an off at turns 7/8/9 adding to the discomfort as the bumps in the gravel bounced me around a bit. The reason for the off was accelerating too early, and it didn’t affect my session other than some lost time as I recovered. On my fourth lap I went wide in the final turn but it didn’t matter as the lap was ruined earlier due to Schumacher exiting the pits in front of me and getting in the way a bit. My third run was clean though I wrecked my best lap yet by braking a tad too late heading into the hairpin at the end of the back straight. I was still feeling uncomfortable too, but was dealing with it reasonably well. My fourth run consisted of a switch to the Options and a spin on my out-lap exiting the hairpin due to turning in too early yet again. It was nothing severe and I pressed on to wind up behind Liuzzi who held me up on my next lap, so I aborted and passed him on the outside in turn 2 (yay for more grip on the Options!). I improved my time on the following lap, ensuring the run wasn’t all bad. My fifth run was where I noticed it was overcast again and it featured clean laps with nothing else to report. Run six saw a decision to attempt a hot lap under pressure from the time limit of the quickly expiring session. I crossed the line with only 2 seconds to go, allowing my flying lap to go ahead but yielding no improvement, unfortunately. Still, it was good to intentionally add some pressure to see how I handled it and despite no improved time, I think I handled it quite well so I’m quite pleased with that. I ended up 11th for the session with a 1:38.375, the 14 laps in total okay but perhaps not as good as I was expecting. The discomfort, mistakes inspired from it and various competitors impeding my progress combined to make for an average session, though when considered alongside the previous two I still made progress for the weekend. I didn’t quite match my time from P1, though.

Saturday Afternoon, Qualifying

Virgin expect 20th or better for Qualifying, which should be doable if Malaysia -- where similar expectations were required -- is anything to go by. An interview just before the session asked how I thought my team compared to the others, to which I replied that I thought we were travelling along nicely for a new team.

I only just got through to Q2 on my last flying lap which was done under pressure from the expiring time. It was the third sector which got me through -- instead of sector one which had been my best in practice -- and it was great to achieve a time under pressure. My earlier runs in Q1 were fine, all laps remaining clean and consistent but just not being fast enough so I was quite lucky. Q2, however, wasn’t so clean, my first flying lap in my first run aborted due to having to avoid two spins in turn 2; I think one was Jenson Button and the other Schumacher but I’m not entirely sure. Switching to fresh Options (the others were quite worn as I had used them in practice) my second run was consistent and clean, though the first attempt at a lap was slightly scruffy. Unfortunately for me I didn’t progress through to Q3, sitting outside of the top ten with a time of 1:38.714 and in 13th for the race. It’s a little ironic how the time I set in P1 is still my best for the weekend. I also found it quite remarkable that the top times in qualifying were basically the same as the ones in Malaysia, despite the different layout. Proves how similar the two circuits really are I suppose. Overall I’m happy with my performance in qualifying but definitely feel I could have done slightly better, and it certainly felt as if the weekend was going backwards slightly. I exceeded my team’s goal of 20th, and was much more confident in the session than I was in P3. Hamilton obtained pole.

A post-qualifying interview asked about my car’s performance and my thoughts on the session; I told them that I thought the car was working well for me and that we as a team are right where we want to be.

Sunday, Race

Due to my decent qualifying position and China’s similar track layout to Malaysia, Virgin expects me to finish in 18th or better which I think is possible. So much so, in fact, that I’m aiming at 15th or better but we’ll see how things go. I’m starting on the Prime tires for the race with a long first stint and then switching to the Options to end the race. There’s a 47% chance of rain according to the radar, something I hope eventuates as I need more practice in the wet and seemed to handle it nicely in Malaysia.

Unfortunately for me I had yet another slow start, dropping a few positions to 16th but didn’t mind as I had nowhere to go with so many cars everywhere, piling into turn 1 and 2. I managed to pass Buemi between turns 6 and 7 which brought me to 15th but then went wide in the same section on the following lap, giving him the position back. I believe it was the heavy fuel load in the car -- and my inexperience with it -- that caused me to go wide so easily. On lap 3 Rosberg spun in turn 3, giving me 15th back in the process. On lap 4 there was debris on the track that I had to avoid -- probably from Rosberg’s earlier spin -- and on the same lap I went wide at the hairpin at the end of the back straight. This put Kobayashi on my tail, where he stayed for a handful of laps before something strange happening. One minute he was there, the next he wasn’t and I was told that Lucas Di Grassi, my teammate, was in 16th instead. I had a minor spin in turn 2 due to accelerating too early, allowing Lucas through while Chandok got past on lap 12, between the hairpin and the final corner. It was at this point I realised that my tires weren’t that great and they were causing me to struggle. These moments put me down into 17th place but that didn’t last long as I got 16th back on lap 14 due to Chandok pitting. I was lapped on lap 16 and noticed on the next lap that it was becoming overcast yet again. On lap 21 it began to lightly rain, the conditions welcomed by me but unable to be used to my advantage (I felt) due to me having to move aside for the frontrunners. This allowed Chandok to catch back up, but he pitted again on lap 26 and Senna -- who was behind him -- ended up being the one to pass me instead. I figured it was because he was on wets, because my pace was still pretty good in the increasingly wet conditions. I pitted on lap 27 as the conditions were worsening and I was aquaplaning a lot, opting for wets instead of the team’s recommendation of intermediates. Unfortunately I lost control heading into the pits on the wet surface and went straight into the wall, losing my front wing in the process. I got penalized, too, as I was trying to recover by reversing into the pit lane, resulting in a drive through. I did this immediately, coming back in for it on lap 28 to get it out of the way. Angry, I lost motivation and figured that this race was essentially done, an attitude I came to regret a little later. Now situated at the back and in last position, I continued the race with a disheartened approach, though quickly got over it when it came time to overtake Kovalainen on lap 29, something I managed into the hairpin. Up next was his teammate Trulli who I passed on the main straight as he pitted, then after that it was Kobayashi on lap 30 as we both headed into turn 1. On lap 31 I passed Hulkenburg who was in the pits and at the same time, Senna was exiting and came out in front of me. I quickly got by him on the next lap, giving me 17th position. In turn 6 on lap 35, I had a minor spin, the track severely wet and my recovery allowing Senna to retake the position, though a pitstop for him gave me the place back relatively quickly. On lap 39 Virgin informed me that Lucas had retired, giving me his position of 16th in the process. On lap 50 Chandok pitted for what seemed like the fifth time, giving me 15th, while on lap 51 the track started to dry out. On lap 54, with a dry line forming, I passed two cars for 13th, both of whom were in the pits changing to dry tires. Due to being 2 laps down, I stayed in 13th and finished there, my best result yet. It seems choosing the wets paid off as I gained positions while everyone else swapped to inters and then the wets as the conditions kept worsening. Their change back to the dry tires near the end of the race also benefitted my progress, since I elected to stay on my tires until the end. I was a touch nervous about staying on the wets as the track dried but I wasn’t slowing down, and I cooled my tires whenever possible in the puddles that weren’t on the racing line. All in all China was a great race for me despite initial signs suggesting it was another average one, my best result yet definitely being something to be proud of. Overall I think my performance in general is improving and while unpredictable conditions certainly helped me -- and certainly seem to suit me -- I think I can also say that I’ve stepped up and continue to progress as the season does. Webber won the race, Hamilton came in second and Alonso managed third. My 13th placing puts me into 19th in the driver’s standings, while Virgin went up to 11th in the constructors’, moving ahead of Lotus. I met both mine and Virgin’s expectations in the race, something they congratulated me on when I got back to the garage, my agent in particular expressing her delight in my performance. Onwards to Spain and the infamous Catalunya circuit, then!

Note: All images are of the PC version (save for the map) and were sourced from here; this game continues to prove difficult when it comes to finding images.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Talking About Minecraft #2: Narrative Implications

The Green House Of Harmony

[Edit: So it seems I was incorrect about the narrative and that it will come during beta -- which is now out -- rather than be implemented with it immediately. I apologise for the misinformation but still stand by my thoughts below.]

In two short days Minecraft will finally enter into beta. Saying that feels somewhat strange as I consider the experiences I’ve already had with the game and the fact that, intriguingly, the game as a whole feels more fully-fledged than a good portion of the so-called Triple-A titles that usually get all the attention. Reaching beta status will bring with it changes, keeping the future of the game both vague and exciting as it continues to evolve. Of these changes, one in particular stands out as something worth pondering: the inclusion of a narrative. What this will mean for Minecraft as a whole remains to be seen until Monday but after hearing about it, I can’t help but wonder if the game even needs one. Allow me to explain.

One of the main things that separates Minecraft from other games -- and something that I alluded to when talking about it earlier -- is its ability to let the player craft their own narrative rather than engage in a predetermined one. Despite putting you into a randomly generated world and expecting you to decide what to do with it, the Minecraft story, for me, has always been about the journey rather than the destination, and it’s this point that doesn’t only make me curious as to how a predetermined narrative could be implemented, but whether it should be in the first place. Aside from the odd anecdote on Twitter, in blog posts or articles on various gaming websites, the first story I heard about and came to enjoy was X’s Adventures in Minecraft. While David -- X’s real name -- was the cog in his adventure’s machine, his viewers were the ones who kept it turning through suggestions, participation and enthusiasm. It may have been him exploring his world, building the ‘X-System’, the ‘Green House Of Harmony’ or the ‘X-Light 9000’ but it was us, as viewers, who ultimately experienced the journey and shared in its delights. His adventure was almost like a biography, one told to hundreds of people but interpreted differently by each individual who saw it; it all meant something different to each and every one of us. Coe’s Quest, the second ‘story’ I experienced in Minecraft, was similar in that it took us along for the ride and allowed us to experience everything as Coe did. From the initial awe of the landscape that eventually became home to CQHQ, to the exploration of a distant land and the creation of Castle Dogbone, to the trip to the Nether, the discovery of Misty Island and, most recently, the construction of a train station to mark his 100th episode, each event and each outcome was a shared experience, performed by Coe but engaged by many. No other person experienced Minecraft in the way that Coe or X did but, by capturing it all on video and sharing it on YouTube, we all got to share in the pleasure of a narrative that we, ourselves, would never have gotten to experience otherwise. Personal quests that became public, unique yet unified.

Castle Dogbone suspended high in the sky

Consider my own story in the game, too, with its hardships and discoveries, unexpected moments and joyous success once my goals were finally finished. My second and now main world in Minecraft has been a constant struggle -- to gather the necessary materials; deal with the seemingly endless amount of Creepers insisting on destroying my hard work; and the constant need to re-appropriate my house design not once, not twice but four times as things like limited space and the aforementioned Creepers hindered my progress -- and yet, I couldn’t be more happy with how it has turned out so far, what events have occurred and what possibilities exist in the future. Success isn’t (or hasn’t been) measured in the completion of tasks, my progression from hapless wanderer to strong-willed survivor or the inspiration that comes from the sights and sounds that surround me, but rather by the journey I’ve taken, the things I’ve learned on it and the experiences that will reside with me for years to come. It might not mean anything to you -- and you certainly might not care -- but it has been my story and as it continues to be told, I’m learning, adapting and changing as a person simultaneously. It’s my personal narrative, relevant only to me and, quite frankly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

As a sandbox game, however, Minecraft loses its appeal to some players due to the lack of structure and tasks that need to be completed. That first night of survival -- and the hastiness that occurs before it -- is about the only actual thing that should be done in the game, the quest to discover diamond perhaps being another. The thing with these two objectives however is that, while probably smart to carry out as early as possible, they’re not necessary to the outcome of the game nor the experience a player can have. It’s not necessary to ensure survival on the first night; instead, you could pick a direction and travel towards it as a nomad, dealing with the situations that arise as you constantly trek forward. Or, instead of searching for the elusive diamond, you could instead gather wood and stone so that the building of a large structure can commence. The point is, the world that befalls you is open to your whims and desire as and when you see fit and while this is most certainly the appeal of Minecraft for a lot of people, it won’t satisfy everyone. Adding in a narrative could (and most likely will) give the game some structure, setting goals for those players who are happy to follow a guided (yet still quite open) path and engage with the ever-changing landscape gradually rather than spontaneously. Giving the game a format, if you will, will open it up to more people and, ideally, ensure that anybody who chooses to play the game has something they can do and (more importantly) enjoy. It might seem unnecessary to those of us who enjoy the unexpected, usually impetuous moments, but for those who crave goals they can work towards and accomplish and a set path with which to walk, the addition of a narrative to the game will be welcome.

So, does Minecraft need a predefined story? Personally, no, it’s already a strong storyteller; but as far as the game itself is concerned? It couldn’t hurt -- sandboxes are fun because they are essentially what you make of them, but sometimes they can be just as enjoyable when someone else is digging out the dirt and creating that epic sandcastle. Perhaps it might even be in the sky…

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

R18+ Rationale

Will Australia ever see this logo on games? I think so.

Last Friday the Attorneys-General for each state and territory of Australia, as well as the federal government met to discuss the possibility of introducing an R18+ rating for videogames in this country. The most prominent hot topic on the Australian gaming scene in recent years, the debate that has surrounded the various issues related to the classification system -- how it is currently and what it could be should it be changed -- has been argued both in favour and against for what seems like countless times now, the issue constantly arising whenever a game is refused classification (see my previous two articles about it here and here for more); an important figure, usually a politician offers their view on the subject; or when a developer or publisher, usually international, decides to edit their own game or not bother submitting it for classification in this country at all. Naturally, as gamers, our wide-ranging and general view is that it should be introduced, our arguments being for the accessibility of content that we -- as adults -- can relate to, as well as the issue concerning younger gamers who, under our current system, find themselves easily able to get their hands on games that are absolutely not intended for them, such as the inevitable (for our main example) Grand Theft Auto series or games such as Fallout 3, Left 4 Dead 2 and Aliens Vs Predator. While my personal view is shared with the majority of gamers, I’m more concerned with the attitudes it has inspired both in those against the introduction of such a rating, and those in favour: the gamers. I am, however, also impressed with how the issue in general has been handled in recent months. Here’s why.

Media Spotlight

The biggest thing to come from the recent SCAG meeting last Friday, I think, was the way in which the issue was handled in the various media outlets that chose to cover it. While it was inevitable that the gaming press would cover it strongly and focus on the angles that would benefit the medium in which they cover, the more mainstream press outlets also handled it, in my opinion, well, approaching the subject from both points of view -- for and against -- and not displaying the bias that coverage just a few years ago so obviously did. While admittedly, certain facets of the media didn’t report the facts accurately (suggesting, for example, that it was only related to PC gaming rather than the entire medium), for the most part the newspapers, TV current affair and news shows and online websites covered it maturely, objectively and even enthusiastically -- something that’s heartening to see as a gamer, clearly desiring the rating’s introduction, after years of biased reports and sensationalist, usually negative, headlines. But personal opinion aside, I think the coverage the recent developments have received is a good thing for gaming generally, as it’s treating the entertainment medium fairly and not treating it -- as it did in the past -- like something only intended for kids. Instead of being an inferior medium to the already established film, television and literature, the media approached the issue and games generally as an equal, (dare I say it) artistic medium who deserves to be considered among the mainstream population, and who deserves the coverage those established mediums already receive. It might be a baby step in the grand scheme of things, but it’s a step that hadn’t been taken previously and most certainly one in the right direction as both the medium of videogames, and we as gamers, move forward. The coverage wasn’t perfect, some outlets still approached it subjectively without realising it, and once Friday had passed very few areas of the media cared anymore, but it was a start and one I’m proud to see after observing the issue from the sidelines for so long. Progress is being made, even if it is just gradual, and that’s an accomplishment that didn’t seem likely just a few short years ago, and one that paints gaming’s overall image in a positive light rather than the negative one it has had for so long.

Just one example of the imagery that may only be seen if an R18 rating was introduced.

Gamer Feedback

Less impressive, however, was the response that gamers -- the very advocates for the introduction of the rating in the first place -- exhibited once the news of yet another delay arose on Friday evening. So intent on seeing an outcome that pleased them on an individual level, the news that no result was to occur until next year didn’t just disappoint them, it infuriated them -- the message of frustration abundantly clear in the various forum posts and website comments that were made that night and over the weekend. Instead of thinking about what the outcome meant and where things could go from here, these people reacted impulsively, slamming the various people involved in the debate’s process immediately with no concern for anything else. While it might be understandable that these people are angry, their irrational actions don’t get their disdain across and highlight their opinions, it demonstrates to those involved -- as well as those observing from afar, unbiased in their views due to not featuring in either camp -- that gamers (and thus, those that support the rating’s introduction) aren’t as mature as their arguments constantly suggest and instead are quite aggressive, juvenile people who probably don’t deserve the rating to begin with. This anger and animosity towards the outcome on Friday was remarkably annoying for me personally, watching their insults and irate behaviour play out as if gamers in general were trying their absolute best to bring the videogame medium down with their tirades. Swearing at politicians and hurling abuse at their opinions, or their desire to seek clarification from their particular constituents -- as was the case with Friday’s outcome -- doesn’t prove anything other than immaturity and it’s these attitudes that conflict poorly with our overall message and lobbying to get the rating introduced in this country. The attitudes were atrocious, the immediacy with which they were demonstrated appalling and, overall, it reflected yet another negative light onto a situation we worked so diligently to bring out of focus and put to bed.

To say I’m disappointed would be an understatement but to say I’m surprised would be lying. While the very people who have ensured this medium’s constant growth in recent years won’t admit it, gamers need to grow up and accept that, from time to time, things aren’t going to go their way. The ironic thing is that Friday’s outcome was positive, the various Attorneys-General approaching the issue with an open mind and, for the most part, agreeing that things needed to be changed -- be that introducing the rating or changing the current system to bring it in line with more modern times.

No doubt the R18+ rating will continue to feature prominently on the Australian gaming scene and, after seeing how the most recent development played out, progress will continue to be made. If gamers don’t get their act together and prove that our arguments were justified and that we do deserve the rating though, then I’m not sure I want the rating after all -- not if we’re going to act like that.