Sunday, 15 January 2012

Why the current classification system in Australia is broken (aka DO YOUR OWN PARENTING)

"Won't somebody PLEASE think of the children?!?!?" - Helen Lovejoy (The Simpsons)

Welcome back folks! I promised to bring something a bit lighter to the table this time, and after reading an article about how one of my all time favourite games (Mortal Kombat) was AGAIN refused classificaion in Australia, I thought I would share with you my thoughts on censorship, how it affects the gaming industry more than anything and how fucked up I truly think the Australian system is.

Now, for the uninitiated, Australia does not have an R18+ classification for video games; anything that doesn't qualify under MA15+ does not get released here.

Now, as a man who loves gaming, as well as loving that we live in a country where you can choose to watch whatever content you want, read whatever content you want and listen to whatever content you want, I find it extremely offensive that the Australian Government and certain other groups of people think they can tell Aussie adults (NOT kids, ADULTS) what they can play. The average age for a gamer is actually 32 years old (, and there are others)

Now I can hear all the close minded fools calling out already:

  • "Children will get to a copy of these games and play them". 
  • "Their friends are playing them so it's too hard to stop them". 
  • "I don't want my kids to be able to play these games"
I'm sure there are plenty more. Firstly, with MA15+ being the highest rating available, games like Grand Theft Auto are more easily accessible than if there was an R18+ rating! Not having the R18+ rating doesn't stop the games being made, but it will definitely make it harder for kids to get them. This would make it ILLEGAL for stores to sell kids these items. Sounds simple, doesn't it? Also, parents would think twice before buying games for their teens if it had an R18+ rating on it. You wouldn't hire them an R18+ rated movie, would you?

However, the biggest kick in the nuts here is that all these people blame video games for shit that their kids do.

  • "Oh, my son played Grand Theft Auto for 3 weeks straight. After this, he stole a car and ran over a bunch of people. If that game didn't exist, then he wouldn't have done that. The game made him do it"

  • My child played Call of Duty all the time. Then they snapped and shot a bunch of people at their school"

BULLSHIT! If anyone can play a video game and then think that reenacting what was in it is a good idea, then they have other issues to address, not gaming! 

It's amazing how you can hire a movie like Saving Private Ryan, let your kids watch it (teens I imagine) and say that's fine. If a person went psycho after watching that and shot some people, you woudn't hear them all say that Tom Hanks should be banned, or that that movie made them do it.

This is where the parents need to step in. Do you let your underage kids drink alcohol? NO! Do you let them smoke? NO! So why the hell are you letting them play games that you actually don't approve of? Why aren't you monitoring their purchases when they spend their money? Why aren't you simply just PARENTING instead of looking for something to blame for your kids' mental instabilities, serial killer tendencies and immaturity? 

Here's another thought; how about educating your kids on how the game is NOT reality? How about teaching them that human life is precious and not something to be played with? How about teaching them that it's just a game that they're playing and that it has no real application or meaning in the real world? 

Honestly, these parents need to stop blaming the government, game makers and everyone else and do you own parenting! For crying out loud, supervise them, educate them and when they do stupid shit, discipline them. Don't blame video games for your bad parenting.

Well, sorry for the short, rushed post. I'm off to Queensland in about 3 hours for a long awaited holiday. I'll be back in about a week with another post. In the meantime, be good or at least be good at it.


Tuesday, 3 January 2012

The deep deep depths of Bipolar Depression

"Being an 18-karat manic depressive, and having lived a life of violent emotional contradictions, I have an over-acute capacity for sadness as well as elation." - Frank Sinatra (1950's)

Well, welcome to my very first blog post. It's been a long time in the making and finally I've decided to start posting. A lot of my posts will be about the continuing battle between myself and my bipolar disorder, but I'll also post other random stuff that I think you'll enjoy or get something out of.

Now, instead of a boring post about how I found out I was bipolar or anything like that, I am going to tell you all about a particular time that was very difficult for me, as well as everyone around me.

In 2010, around May-June, my life was good; well paying job doing what I love (computer programming), beautiful daughter, and a gorgeous wife who was about 6-7 months pregnant with our son. It didn't get much better than that... Except that I didn't feel like that. I was so depressed that none of these things even seemed like enough reason to get out of bed. Nothing felt good anymore; I felt useless, hopeless and pathetic. I would look in the mirror in the morning and wonder things like "what is wrong with you?" "Why can't you just be normal and be happy with what you have?" "If you're so sad with your lot in life, why not just end it and stop the pain?"

The worst thing was that I didn't understand why I felt this way and, probably because I'm not too good with words, I had no way of articulating to anyone how I was feeling or why. This increased my frustration with myself and the world, who I think I expected to tell me why I was like this. This added a massive additional stress on my family, especially my pregnant wife, who had to deal with being heavily pregnant as well as dealing with a moody, argumentative, unresponsive husband.
This went on for weeks; there seemed to be no end. I tried doing things I enjoyed, I was taking my medications religiously and going to my appointments with the doctors I had to, I even tried self-medication (alcohol mainly).

It all came to a defining point one afternoon, while hanging out at a mate's place with some friends. Playing pool, Metallica blaring out of the speakers, a few sounds like paradise to me.

As usual, none of this was making me feel happy, and my friends were starting to pick up on this. After a couple of hours I decided to call it a day, lied to my friends about being fine and quickly left. I remember thinking that on the way home that I'd had enough. Now, I hate the words "give up". I hate having a problem left unsolved; a job unfinished; a foe unbeaten. Yet, this day, I had actually given up. I couldn't face all of the depression, the racing thoughts (normally a part of mania, rather than depression) and after nearly 30 years of fighting this battle, I was just plain tired. Exhausted.

I moved inside, my wife had to run an errand then, so I thought my time had come. I sat down, considering my options... Should I just take a handful of pills? Then, out of nowhere, my daughter just walked into the room; walked up to me and for no reason she hugged me, kissed my cheek and said "I love you, dad".

That one little gesture didn't completely cure my bout of bipolar depression, but it certainly stopped me in my tracks. I couldn't do that to my kid(s) or my wife. I recovered from this round of bipolar depression a few days later.

Now, this little story doesn't really have a moral. However, I hope that it encourages you to recognise that depression is a serious illness and that if you do see any of these symptoms, GET HELP!  It's just as serious as any other disease, especially if you end up like me that day.
The numbers are equally serious. One in five Australians experiences a mental illness within a 12-month period. Depression is the fourth most common problem managed in general practice. Mental disorders are the third leading cause of the non-fatal burden of disease and injury in Australia. If you are struggling, or know someone struggling with some type of depression or mood disorder, Beyond Blue, the Black Dog Institute and your GP are great places to start.

Well, that's all from me today. I hope you all take something from this post. I certainly know that I do feel better having put this all out there. Don't worry, I promise the next one will be a bit more light hearted.

In the meantime, check out my wife's blog, Accidentally Bad Housewife. It's pretty awesome. 

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