R18+ for games: meet the new boss, same as the old boss

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Michelle Starr is the tiger force at the core of all things. She also writes about cool stuff and apps as CNET Australia's Crave editor. But mostly the tiger force thing.

Australia's new classification guidelines for computer games have been announced, finally including video games to be classified R18+.

(Credit: The Australian Classification Board)

What has been revealed under the new video-game classification guidelines (PDF) will probably surprise none and disappoint all. Although there is now a long-overdue R18+ rating for games, the new guidelines are more restrictive than those for other media, such as TV and films, citing the hoary old chestnut that interactivity makes video games more impactful.

Due to the interactive nature of computer games and the active repetitive involvement of the participant, as a general rule computer games may have a higher impact than similarly themed depictions of the classifiable elements in film, and therefore greater potential for harm or detriment, particularly to minors.

Interactivity may increase the impact of some content: for example, impact may be higher where interactivity enables action such as inflicting realistically depicted injuries or death or post-mortem damage, attacking civilians or engaging in sexual activity. Greater degrees of interactivity (such as first-person gameplay compared to third-person gameplay) may also increase the impact of some content.

Like classifications for film, context is key; violence, sex, language, drug use and nudity are permitted under all classifications to varying degrees, so long as the context of the game justifies its inclusion.

Just as the guidelines for classification are more restrictive, so too are the guidelines for material that is Refused Classification. No actual sex is allowed, along with simulated (but realistic) sex, as opposed to films, in which both are permitted under the R18+ classification. There can also be no use of illicit drugs depicted in video games in Australia, whereas all drug use is permitted under the R18+ guidelines for film and television.

You can view the video-game classification guidelines here (PDF) and the film and television guidelines here.

What do you think? Are the new R18+ classification guidelines for video games fair?

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DaveW1 posted a comment   

Years of stuffing around and they still make a complete mess of it. Why did they even bother creating the new R18 category if they were going to be so restrictive. All it will do is push more people to optain the games they want through the internet, and mostly though illicit means.


PeterW6 posted a comment   

seriously what is the god damn point of R 18 laws for games (which are meant for adults) which end up being worse then MA 15 what are we 2 year old kids that need to be wrapped up in bubble wrap so we don't get a boo boo. They need go to the US or Europe to learn what R 18 is about


ChrisS1 posted a comment   

OFLC = FAIL...... grow up! 65% of gamers are 28-35!


Chandler posted a comment   

"particularly to minors."

Ummm... it's an 18+ rating - why are minors even involved?

"No actual sex is allowed, along with simulated (but realistic) sex"

Isn't that WHY we need the R18+ rating? Bring on the Leisure Suit Larry! :)


Elly MariaB posted a comment   

So let me get this straight. We don't want minors that are 18 viewing sex in videogames. Classification sounds more like a MA rating. Obviously the insinuation is that adults that play video games don't know what sex is.


Elly MariaB posted a reply   

Argh, the formatting on this site just wiped out my plus signs. Pretend they are there after the "18" and two after the "MA". Stupid website.


commanderjarak posted a comment   

To steal a quote from "Apocalypse Now" "We train young men to drop fire on people, but their commanders won't allow them to write "f**k" on their airplanes because it's obscene!"

I really think this quote still holds true 33 years after it was written. What hurts more people? Blowing their heads of or a bit of sex??

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