Federal government backs R18+ rating for video games

Gillard Government pushes forward plans for adults-only video games rating

The federal Government has backed a new adults-only rating for video games that would see the introduction of a new R18+ classification. Home Affairs and Justice Minister Brendan O'Connor announced on Sunday that the Government will push forward with plans to introduce the change this week.

"We want to provide better guidance for parents and remove unsuitable material from children and teenagers. The introduction of an R18+ classification will help achieve that," O'Connor said.

In the current classification system, video games can only be sold in Australia if the content is suitable for 15 year olds. According to O'Connor, this has caused video games that contain violent and sexually explicit content to receive a lighter classification (MA15+) than in other parts of the world.

"There are dozens of games that are currently classified as MA15+ in Australia, but in other countries these gaming titles are restricted to adults only. If the new category is introduced, it could result in computer games that are currently classified MA15+ being reclassified R18+, providing a new level of protection for children."

The decision to introduce an R 18+ rating for video games has received significant support from the Australian community. In December 2010, O'Connor released the results of a national telephone poll conducted by independent research company Galaxy. Of 2226 respondents, 80 per cent supported the introduction of an R 18+ classification for computer games. The poll covered Australian residents aged 16 years and over from all Australian states and territories.

The poll follows a public consultation earlier in the year, which received more than 60,000 submissions. Approximately 98 per cent of submissions were in support of an adult classification for video games.

Despite the federal Government's backing, the new rating could still hit a wall if one of the states or territories decides to oppose it during Friday's meeting of the standing committee of attorneys-general. An R18+ classification for computer games can only be introduced with the agreement of all Commonwealth, state and territory ministers.

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