Australian Government Rolls Out R18+ Game Rating Guidelines

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Australian Government Rolls Out R18+ Game Rating Guidelines

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The Australian federal government has released draft guidelines for an R18+ videogame rating that would strengthen the MA15+ rating but impose "virtually no restrictions on the treatment of themes" for adults.

Slowly but surely, Australia is dragging itself toward recognition of videogames as a legitimate entertainment medium. Gamers down under have struggled for years with a dysfunctional classification system that topped out at MA15+, which meant that games were often edited for the Aussie audience or just banned outright. Resistance from one or two individual state-level Attorneys General kept the system in place but it appears that finally, the country is ready to acknowledge that grown-ups play videogames too.

As expected, the guidelines released by Home Minister Brendan O'Connor ahead of the next Standing Committee of Attorneys General meeting in July tighten up the restrictions on the MA15+ rating but balance that by allowing videogames to be given the same sort of R18+ rating as films. An "impact test" will be used to determine what material falls into the category; "the impact of material classified R18+ should not exceed high," according to the guidelines.

"Violence is permitted except where it offends against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults to the extent that it should not be classified. Sexual violence may be implied, if justified by context," the document says. "Sexual activity may be realistically simulated. The general rule is, 'simulation, yes - the real thing, no'."

Drug use and nudity would be permitted under the proposed guidelines and there would be "virtually no restriction" on language. Some material would still be restricted but the bar would be set much higher to include "detailed instruction or promotion in matters of crime or violence," promotion of pedophile activity, depictions of child sexual abuse, gratuitous, exploitative or offensive depictions of excessively frequent, prolonged or detailed high-impact violence, and other similar material.

"We've recently seen several states publicly express their support for an adults-only rating for games and I'm keen to reach a unanimous decision at the July meeting," O'Connor told the Herald Sun.

But not everyone is onboard with the new plan. "We remain concerned that these draft guidelines would legalize games with high levels of graphic, frequent and gratuitous violence, including violence against civilians and police, and would not adequately protect the community," said Victoria Attorney General Robert Clark. "I intend to pursue these concerns in discussions with Minister O'Connor."

A full copy of the Australian government's draft guidelines for R18+ videogame ratings is available in PDF format from news.com.au.

Permalink

Wait a minute... WAIT A MINUTE.

Do Australians seriously have Emu in their official symbol?

+ 5 Faith in humanity

Well it's about fucking time, way to catch up to reality Australia. I bet you aussies are pretty happy this is finally coming about.

CommanderKirov:
Wait a minute... WAIT A MINUTE.

Do Australians seriously have Emu in their official symbol?

I think it was supposedly something about Kangaroos and Emu's not being able to go backwards, or something.

Well that was surprisingly mature of them.

CommanderKirov:
Wait a minute... WAIT A MINUTE.

Do Australians seriously have Emu in their official symbol?

If you like that you'll love Tristan da Cunha

OK... Good news, but some things though... Did they think this through before writing it?

document says. "Sexual activity may be realistically simulated. The general rule is, 'simulation, yes - the real thing, no'."

Now, feel free to point it out if I'm forgetting something here, but unless this was lifted wholesale from the film classification guidelines, this particular statement makes no sense whatsoever.

With a handful of exceptions owing to Full Motion Video (Which nobody really uses much anymore), video games are 100% simulated by definition.

This means 'the real thing' is a meaningless concept when applied to computer games.

Ergo, this comment implies pornographic computer games can get an R18+ rating, while otherwise equivalent sexual content would have an X rating (or be banned altogether).

That's... A very weird statement, to say the least.

"Violence is permitted except where it offends against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults"

In other words you better not have shocking violence in your fantasy even though you'll find plenty of it in the real world.

This sentence is vague enough to still allow censorship.

These restrictions are too restrictive. When talking about material for adults EVERYTHING should be OK in fantasy content-wise.

well there goes my business of importing Mortal Kombat to Australia

Father Time:
"Violence is permitted except where it offends against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults"

In other words you better not have shocking violence in your fantasy even though you'll find plenty of it in the real world.

This sentence is vague enough to still allow censorship.

These restrictions are too restrictive. When talking about material for adults EVERYTHING should be OK in fantasy content-wise.

No more restrictive than US guidelines, to be honest. You don't hear people complain about US censorship being too harsh, do you?

On-topic, bout fucking time, and I say that on behalf of Americans for Australia, a group I didn't just make up off the top of my head.

What's that Australia? I can't hear you over the sound of eviscerating things.

A step in the right direction guys, but seriously, those restrictions are still pretty bad.

But not everyone is onboard with the new plan. "We remain concerned that these draft guidelines would legalize games with high levels of graphic, frequent and gratuitous violence, including violence against civilians and police, and would not adequately protect the community," said Victoria Attorney General Robert Clark. "I intend to pursue these concerns in discussions with Minister O'Connor."

*Bangs head repeatedly against desk*
What do you think you need to protect anyone from - people have been playing video games for decades now! It doesn't seem to have ended civilization anywhere else yet! What the hell do you mean "impact test" how about you just look at the rest of the damn world! I mean I'm not even Australian and this is making me rage ... Ah, bureaucracy when you absolutely positively can't afford to actually get anything done.

Andy Chalk:

"Violence is permitted except where it offends against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults to the extent that it should not be classified. Sexual violence may be implied, if justified by context," the document says. "Sexual activity may be realistically simulated. The general rule is, 'simulation, yes - the real thing, no'."

I never understood why people assume 'reasonable' and 'ethical' are synonymous, granted both are open to interpretation.
A reasonable solution to overpopulation is mass murder but that is not the ethical solution.

I cannot be reasoned with, therefore I am not a reasonable person. This statement defines all politicians.

So Liberal Crime Squad would not get a rating?
image
I guess we do need to protect the children from that kind of graphic filth.

why not have a new rating: YHTBFSORHIASTPTGSIICUAWPMYGCABSOYP.
You have to be fucking stupid or really hardcore insane and shit to play this game seriously it is completely unedited and will probably make you go crazy and be scared of your postman.
that way, nobody complains about stuff getting edited out, and all the stuff that nobody would ever put in a game goes into it. you cant buy it, it would just sit there, cover art showing only something like a 10-barreled rocket-launching shotgun drenched in blood and a quote- 'like GTA, but not for pussies.'
the only way to get it would be to steal it and then...
it plays MLP:FIM.
or exacly what the thief expects: something which provides endless evil. think of:


but an actual game.
but good for australia.
NB: i dont actually like the idea of Gears of Halo Theft Auto 5, its an example of why there needs to be censors, and if you actually played it youd see why.

thebobmaster:

Father Time:
"Violence is permitted except where it offends against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults"

In other words you better not have shocking violence in your fantasy even though you'll find plenty of it in the real world.

This sentence is vague enough to still allow censorship.

These restrictions are too restrictive. When talking about material for adults EVERYTHING should be OK in fantasy content-wise.

No more restrictive than US guidelines, to be honest. You don't hear people complain about US censorship being too harsh, do you?

I've complained but there's a big difference. The ESRB is unrelated to the government. If a game gets an Ao rating it has no impact on whether it's legally allowed here or not.

Bout damn time. Good thing the Australian government finally acknowledges it is not just 13 year olds who play games.

CommanderKirov:
Wait a minute... WAIT A MINUTE.

Do Australians seriously have Emu in their official symbol?

Gentlemen we have our winner. I don't need to read anymore comments as this man has simply landed the hay-maker.

Kudos to you sir, kudos.

OT:

Screw the Australian government, the P.T.C has gotten to them and infiltrated their highest ranks.
Still seeing as they have taken a step forward I should probably welcome them to 1958, Congrats, WW2 is over and 'Nam is in full Swing.

Wont be long before you guys actually catch up to the real world.

So why the hell didn't yahtzee comment on this?

[wuote]"'simulation, yes - the real thing, no'."[/quote]

Lol? EVERYTHING in videogames is simulated. How the hell can it provide "the real thing"?
Even a Hentai-game is still a Hentai Dating simulator

thebobmaster:

Father Time:
"Violence is permitted except where it offends against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults"

In other words you better not have shocking violence in your fantasy even though you'll find plenty of it in the real world.

This sentence is vague enough to still allow censorship.

These restrictions are too restrictive. When talking about material for adults EVERYTHING should be OK in fantasy content-wise.

No more restrictive than US guidelines, to be honest. You don't hear people complain about US censorship being too harsh, do you?

No, but that's mostly because in America you can generally buy a maturely-rated game as a kid so long as your parent is in the store with you, whereas in Australia you generally can't buy it at all if it's above a certain arbitrary "mark" deigned by the government.

And that's ignoring the fact that Australian copies of maturely-rated games tend to be edited in order to make it under the bar (which is why Good Old Games' move to let users select their region, which allowed Aussies to dodge the content censors on Witcher 2, was such a big deal). Whereas games like Mortal Kombat are released without any censors at all in the States, and you can watch as limbs fly off and bones shatter without end.

So no, Australia's content restrictions are really nothing like America's at all. And this new set of standards was done begrudgingly, and leaves them plenty of room to censor titles at a whim. So it's a step forward, but not a very large one.

Andy Chalk:
"Sexual activity may be realistically simulated. The general rule is, 'simulation, yes - the real thing, no'."

How the hell could it be anything BUT simulated?

Have the person who wrote these guidelines ever even heard of video games, they do understand they consist of entirely simulated worlds?

CommanderKirov:
Wait a minute... WAIT A MINUTE.

Do Australians seriously have Emu in their official symbol?

Do Australians seriously have Kangaroo in their official symbol?

I figured that would be... you know... kind of stereotypey. Like having the British coat of arms include a cup of tea and a monocle.

That said: =F Must be some happy Aussies about.

thebobmaster:

Father Time:
"Violence is permitted except where it offends against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults"

In other words you better not have shocking violence in your fantasy even though you'll find plenty of it in the real world.

This sentence is vague enough to still allow censorship.

These restrictions are too restrictive. When talking about material for adults EVERYTHING should be OK in fantasy content-wise.

No more restrictive than US guidelines, to be honest. You don't hear people complain about US censorship being too harsh, do you?

On-topic, bout fucking time, and I say that on behalf of Americans for Australia, a group I didn't just make up off the top of my head.

That's because there is no American government censorship.

The MPAA is nothing but a trade body with a copyrighted sticker, their rating is not a requirement to sell your game legally. It's like a metacritic score except has even less to do with game quality ZING!

The only thing is most of the big-stores like Wal-Mart and Target only stock games with MPAA ratings but that's just store policy, any retailer could sell games without MPAA approval or from an alternate ratings board.

Theoretically if Notch was living in Australia when he released Minecraft he would have to submit his game to the censorship board before he could sell it. Frankly censorship in the internet age is outdated, just look at this superinjunction fiasco in the UK with twitter and the internet in general flouting court gagging orders.

The only US government censorship is of "obscene" material such as hardcore sex which only prohibits publicly advertising and displays (they can't do shit about private consumption and discrete distribution) or footage of things that are actually illegal like snuff films or child sexual abuse.

thebobmaster:

Father Time:
"Violence is permitted except where it offends against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults"

In other words you better not have shocking violence in your fantasy even though you'll find plenty of it in the real world.

This sentence is vague enough to still allow censorship.

These restrictions are too restrictive. When talking about material for adults EVERYTHING should be OK in fantasy content-wise.

No more restrictive than US guidelines, to be honest. You don't hear people complain about US censorship being too harsh, do you?

On-topic, bout fucking time, and I say that on behalf of Americans for Australia, a group I didn't just make up off the top of my head.

The US doesn't need censorship, we have Fox News for that.

All right, I retract my previous comparing to the US guidelines, since the Australian government controlling it makes it apparently a case of apples to oranges. However, considering the number of retailers that will allow AO-rated games to be sold, rating a game AO might as well be banning it, since the game developers have to censor it in order to sell it. Just because the government isn't involved doesn't mean that the games are able to be sold uncensored.

A Pious Cultist:

Like having the British coat of arms include a cup of tea and a monocle.

...except that would be the most AWESOME coat of arms ever created.

OT:
And much festivities ensued. This is three steps in the right direction, and maybe only one or two back!

CrystalShadow:
OK... Good news, but some things though... Did they think this through before writing it?

document says. "Sexual activity may be realistically simulated. The general rule is, 'simulation, yes - the real thing, no'."

Now, feel free to point it out if I'm forgetting something here, but unless this was lifted wholesale from the film classification guidelines, this particular statement makes no sense whatsoever.

With a handful of exceptions owing to Full Motion Video (Which nobody really uses much anymore), video games are 100% simulated by definition.

This means 'the real thing' is a meaningless concept when applied to computer games.

Ergo, this comment implies pornographic computer games can get an R18+ rating, while otherwise equivalent sexual content would have an X rating (or be banned altogether).

That's... A very weird statement, to say the least.

Realitycrash:

"'simulation, yes - the real thing, no'."

Lol? EVERYTHING in videogames is simulated. How the hell can it provide "the real thing"?
Even a Hentai-game is still a Hentai Dating simulator

And consider this from the other angle. "The real thing" will be subject to censorship. What the fuck does that mean? "The real thing" in regards to sex is sex.

Hungry Donner:

CommanderKirov:
Wait a minute... WAIT A MINUTE.

Do Australians seriously have Emu in their official symbol?

If you like that you'll love Tristan da Cunha

Hi. I decided to do some googlin'.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Coat_of_arms_of_Tristan_da_Cunha.svg

Seriously, WHAT THE F**K??

Hum... I never knew ratings were meant to protect the people... I always though of them as more... guidelines so that people were informed and could make informed choices. Censoring art is not really a path that any government should want to go down. Totalitarian states makes a foundation on censoring media so having free exchange of opinions would be a good thing. I guess the perception of ratings are different in different places.

busterkeatonrules:
Hi. I decided to do some googlin'.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Coat_of_arms_of_Tristan_da_Cunha.svg

Seriously, WHAT THE F**K??

They're spiny lobsters, also called rock lobsters but that term risks getting the B-52s song stuck in your head.

CommanderKirov:
Wait a minute... WAIT A MINUTE.

Do Australians seriously have Emu in their official symbol?

Don't bag the Emu, it has been known to disembowel a man with a single kick, kangaroos too. Our national crest is twice as deadly as anyone else.

I think the opponents of the R18 assume all parents are loving and want to protect their children from the readily accessible porn already available on the internet, no real proof of age needed for it either. They must also think that the under 15s don't or don't know how to pirate games.

CommanderKirov:
Wait a minute... WAIT A MINUTE.

Do Australians seriously have Emu in their official symbol?

Doesn't Peru have a Lama on theirs?

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