Australian pol says country's ratings 'out of step'

Australia is "out of step" with the rest of the developed world due to its lack of an R18+ rating for video games, Victorian deputy premier and attorney general Rob Hulls says.

The deputy premier's strong critique comes after Australia's Federal, State, and Territory Attorneys-General met last week and agreed on starting a public consultation process to explore the games-classification issue. Currently, the top rating available for video games in Australia is MA15+, as opposed to R18+ for films and DVD. Any game deemed unsuitable for the MA15+ rating is illegal for sale in this country, with titles like Dark Sector and Soldier of Fortune: Payback recently running into censorship problems.

Australia's federal government has still not decided on whether it supports the introduction of an R18+ rating for video games, saying it wants to first gather community opinion before formalizing its stance. A spokeswoman for Federal Minister for Home Affairs Bob Debus says the government will soon ask for community submissions about whether Australia needs to expand games classification to include an R18+ rating. The spokeswoman said that the minister was particularly keen to hear from parents to see if an R18+ rating would further "empower" them. No date has been set for the start of the consultation process.

For any change to the ratings system to be made, all of the Australian government's Attorneys-General will have to agree on the decision. South Australian Attorney-General and Minister for Justice and Multicultural Affairs Michael Atkinson has consistently opposed an R18+ rating. In a recent parliamentary statement, Atkinson said, "I do not want children to be able to get their hands on R18+ games easily. I understand that the lack of an R18+ classification denies some adults the chance to play some games, however, the need to keep potentially harmful material away from children is far more important."

However, Victorian deputy premier and attorney general Rob Hulls has welcomed the move for a new round of public consultation, saying that research compiled by Victoria suggested there were persuasive arguments to support the introduction of an "adult only" category of computer-game classification in Australia.

"It seems inconsistent that in Australia, adults are allowed to view 'adult only' films which have been classified R18+ by the Classification Board, but not computer games with an equivalent high level content," he said in a statement. "With the increasing convergence between films and games, the different approach to classification principles is difficult to sustain."

"At the moment, Australia is out of step with the rest of the developed world on this issue."

The Interactive Entertainment Association of Australia (IEAA) has also welcomed the move, saying that the community in general was accepting of an R18+ rating.

"Since the creation of the computer and video games scheme in the mid-1990s, the community attitude towards an R18+ classification has only been tested once -- during the guidelines review in 2001/02," IEAA CEO Ron Curry said in a statement. "Community response to the guidelines review in 2001/02 was strongly in support of an R18+ classification for computer and video games, and research by Bond University in 2005 and 2007 also indicates that the Australian community strongly supports an R18+ classification for computer games.

"The IEAA maintains that the introduction of an R18+ classification will more accurately reflect the true nature of people who enjoy interactive entertainment. Seventy percent of people using computer and video games are aged 18 and over, while 20 percent are 39 years and over. It's incongruous that Australian gamers are prevented from playing games adults in other countries can freely access."

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The no0b hunter posted a comment   

Its short shighted and unfair


josh50 posted a comment   

mitch07 I am 16 (almost 17 now) and I remember when I went 2 pick up gtaiv from eb they asked me for id and i remember when i bought resistance: fom


mitch07 posted a comment   

I think It is worse now because a MA 15 game like gta 4 have been released for kids to play freely ( even i a seasoned gta player was suprised with language violence etc) whereas if it were R rated there would be more restriction on sale. Ive been in many games shops and never heard of anyone being asked for ID when buying MA games, furthermore most parents would let their children play MA games but if it had a big R on the packaging they may think twice.


GARY posted a comment   



balkanboy posted a comment   

This really sucks, if you dont like the fact that its R rated dont buy it simple, why dont you buy your 14 year old son a packet of smokes since he cant get it on his own gee come on wake up abit this is so not fair and the dam games cost more here in AUS then importing it.................


balkanboy posted a comment   

This really sucks, if you dont like the fact that its R rated dont buy it simple, why dont you buy your 14 year old son a packet of smokes since he cant get it on his own gee come on wake up abit this is so not fair and the dam games cost more here in AUS then importing it.................


nexis posted a comment   

Wpl, would your mind have been changed if Rockstar had of decided not to release GTAIV here because of cesorship. Lets not forget the avarage age for gamers has now increased to aorund 28. Meaning a very small percentage of gamers are children. We aslo allow R18+ ratings for movies but most DVD players dont have parental lock out as where gaming machines do. If you dont want your child playing 18+ games buy something like a Wii which caters for younger people. Wlp you are only 18 so you do have allot of watching R+ media before you can have an hounest judment judment on weather 18+ has an impact on media.


Nathan posted a comment   

Video games are more than just first person shooters and they aren’t getting banned purely for violence reason. The same type of conditions that are put on films are used when they classify games, which means that games are also getting banned for sexual and drug references. Now think of all the movies that are considered classics that have these types of references in them. Movies like "Taxi Driver" and "Leon: The Professional" both have extreme violence and paedophilia references in them, but they aren’t considered damaging to society but rather classic films that are pieces of art. I work at a university that teaches Visual Art and allot of the students use the more modern media to produce their art, including video games. Just think about a world where the government only let its citizens produce and purchase art that they had deemed suitable for children. I think people need to stop thinking that this decision only effect whether or not we get the new Soldier of Fortune in this country and see that it is far, far bigger than that. You've got to keep the future in mind, and I think most people will agree that computers and all their associated elements is where the future is already headed.


Dean posted a comment   

wlp: I think you're missing the point. The point is, *we don't control the content of the games*. The games (mostly) come to us from the U.S. where 18+ games are allowed. As I mentioned, Australia is a relatively small market for U.S. game-makers, so if we "ban" their game because we can't rate it above MA15+, it's unlikely that they're going to change it to cater for us (as I mentioned, GTA was an exception to that, but AFAIK, it's the only one). So by not having an R18+ rating, you're not going to stop game-makers from creating R18+ games, you're just stopping them from coming legally into the country.

So the choice is either: 1. create an R18+ rating or 2. continue to ban games in Australia. There is no third option, "stop making adult-only games."


danielcohen posted a comment   

To all the people who think that the R rating will ONLY result in MORE VIOLENT games, you are forgetting something. Currently some games which should be getting rated as R18+ are getting lumped in with the MA15+ games because they're not violent enough to merit banning. If there is an R category then these games will be released for ADULTS ONLY. Kids can't get a hand on it; and numbskull parents who don't pay much, if any, attention to what their kids play will see R18+ on the box and, hopefully, realise it is inappropriate content for them. Then again, maybe not.

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