R18+ classification for video games finally coming to Australia?

Attorney-General's department invites the community to have its say

The Australian federal government has released a discussion paper summarising the key arguments for and against an R18+ classification for computer games. You can download the full report from the federal Attorney-General's department Web site.

As the paper states, submissions are currently being sought from the community on whether the Australian National Classification Scheme should include an R18+ classification category for computer and video games.

"This is your opportunity to tell the Australian and the State and Territory Governments your views before they consider whether the current situation should be changed," states the paper. “The ministers responsible for censorship have considered the issue [of an R18+ rating for games] on a number of occasions. Before these ministers consider the matter further, it is timely to consider the views of the community.”

Because Australia lacks an R18+ classification for games, any title deemed "adults only" cannot legally be sold. The lack of an R rating for games in Australia has been a cause of mounting frustration among gamers, but all that may be about to change.

While this does not necessarily mean that Australia will receive an R18+ classification for games, it is the first encouraging sign to come out of the Attorney-General's department in some time. As early as last month, South Australian Attorney-General Michael Atkinson stated his intention to appeal against Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2’s MA15+ Classification because the game awarded points for “massacring civilians.” (As anyone who has played the game will know, Modern Warfare 2 does not allow players to gain points by massacring civilians.)

Two weeks ago, the hotly anticipated Aliens Vs. Predator was refused classification in Australia due to 'violence that is high in impact'. In explaining its decision, the Classification Board cited a long list of objectionable material, including "explicit decapitation and dismemberment", "spinal columns dangling from severed necks" and "stabbing through the chest, throat, mouth and eyes".

It was the latest in a long list of games to run afoul of the Classification Operations Board, including Left 4 Dead 2 ('Left 4 Dead 2 Banned In Australia'), Silent Hill: Homecoming ('Silent Hill: Homecoming banned in Australia'), and Fallout 3 ('Fallout 3 banned in Australia').

Interested parties have until close of business 28 February 2010 to lodge submissions. You can make a submission by downloading and completing the submission template. Submissions may also be mailed to the following address:

Classification Review
Attorney-General’s Department
3 -5 National Circuit
BARTON ACT 2600


If you have an interest in seeing an R18+ Classification for video games in Australia, now is the time to have your voice heard.

Follow GamePro Australia on Twitter: @GameProAu

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