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Adults only

26 Jul 2011

What should have been an easy task has been flummoxing Aussies for the best part of a decade. 

Australia’s Attorneys-General have reached an in-principle agreement on an R18+ classification for video games. 

Following Friday’s Standing Council of Attorneys-General meeting, an R18+ video game rating for Australia is one step closer. It seems as if the Australian Attorneys-General have been waiting for Aussie gamers to go grey before finally giving in to a common sense approach to rating video games. 

Australian Federal Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor and the Attorneys-General John Rau and Greg Smith announced their decision to proceed towards bringing an Australian R18+ video game classification into law in a press conference.

"This is a big step forward in the long running debate on classification of computer games for adults," Mr O'Connor said.

"The introduction of an R18+ classification for computer games will provide better advice to parents and help prevent children and teenagers from accessing unsuitable material," he said.

Greg Smith, Attorney-General for New South Wales stated that he would be abstaining from endorsing the proposal until he has a public consensus on the matter.

The South Australia Attorney-General, John Rau, seemed very positive about the new classification, in stark contrast to his predecessor, Michael Atkinson, who spent years derailing the R18+ debate.  This has fuelled rumours that S.A., with its desire to remove the MA15+, wishes to simply bump the 15+ content into the R18+ classification and continue to ban adult-orientated material classified as over-18 in other countries.

Australia’s prudish attitude to adult-themed games has long been a thorn in game developer’s sides. This has often resulted in the token removal of content just to appease Aussie lawmakers and justify the MA15+ rating. 

In the past Kiwi gamers been caught in the cross-fire between developers and the Aussie censors, most notably with the release of Grand Theft Auto V. New Zealand had to put up with censored Australian copies of the game, with toned-down sex scenes and a bit less blood. The game was, quite rightly, still slapped with an 18 rating in NZ. The Australians figured that with less blood and sex, the game was acceptable for fifteen year olds to play, awarding the adult-orientated game a MA15+ rating.  

The R18+ classification debate isn’t entirely sewn up. However, Australian and Kiwi gamers should take comfort in that fact that it is highly likely that, in the coming months, the Australian Government will finally be recognising the rights of adult gamers.  

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