Australia's R18+ Classification Starts Today

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Australia's R18+ Classification Starts Today

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Australia's government finally admits that adults play games.

Until today - that's January 1st, 2013, in case you haven't been keeping track - Australia was one of the few developed nations without an 18+ classification for games. Previously, the highest rating available was MA15+, meaning any game not suitable for 15-year-olds was automatically refused classification and ended up either effectively banned from sale, or censored into oblivion la Left 4 Dead 2.

After Attorney-General and noted anti-gaming demagogue, Michael Atkinson, stepped down in 2010, gaming proponents stepped up their efforts to introduce the much-needed classification. The Federal Parliament passed legislation to introduce the rating, which serves as a rough equivalent of Europe's PEGI 18 category, back in June, 2011.

Under the new law, publishers can submit video games for consideration for the R18+ category, and games that have been refused classification before can be resubmitted, providing at least two years have passed since the original rejection. There is still no equivalent of an "Adults Only" or "X" category, so any games deemed too violent (or, as is often the case, too sexually charged) for the R18+ rating can still end up in the "Refused Classification" ghetto.

According to South Australia's Attorney-General, John Rau, the new category should also prevent publishers from trying to squeeze excessively violent games into the MA15+ rating:

"We've actually achieved a good balance where in effect MA15+ has become more restrictive and games that previously would have been in MA15+ are now going to be sitting in R18+," he told ABC. "It's a win for the gamers who wanted to have the opportunity as adults to purchase these games, but it's also a win for parents because they can be more confident that games that are age-inappropriate will not be available to people under 18."

Source: ABC Via Polygon

Permalink

Congrats to Australia! Hopefully this means you guys can start getting some of the awesome awesome violence and mayhem that the rest of us get to enjoy! Blood! Blood everywhere!!!!!!

...ahem. Maybe I'm getting a bit carried away.

Now once you convince game companies that $120 for new games is atrocious... :P

Oh, right. This is, like, a thing now.

That's good. Fewer banned games and unnecessary censorship!

Well-said by John Rau at the end. Sensible move indeed. On the 'good things to happen today' scale, this rates a 7: Worth a celebratory piss-up.

well it's about time they caught up with other countries.
not having an Adults Only category is a non-issue though when most companies try to avoid it anyway, I mean when was the last time a successful long-running franchise has been AO classified?

I know those of you out there will prove me wrong somehow and link something but my last line of defence would be that they are the exception to the rule, not the norm..

This seems like a great way for the new year to start. Hooray for Australian gamers.
Glad to see things finally seem to be going good for Australian gamers.

It's great to hear those across the ditch can finally enjoy what the rest of us have for a while.

Congrats Australia, enjoy the freedom... and crappy shooters, HOOOOOOO, BA-ZING, damn im edgy!

About bloody time.
And with more and more games going on retail shelves for around $80 or less now it finally doesn't suck as much to be an Aussie gamer.

Is it wrong that I felt pleasure when I read the title?
That's great. I hope to see the cute little black sticker on a game box before the end of Februrary.

I wonder if left for dead 2 can be reclassified as R18+ so Aussie games can get the full experiences like the rest of us.

Does this many M15+ are going to become R18+ games? Does that mean god of war?? What about Call of duty:blackops 2 or halo 4?? Do they stay MA15+ or now become R18+?

what new games will fit under MA15+ And which one wills fall under R18+??

From my understanding of an article i read 6months or so ago, no ratings will be retroactively changed, with a few exceptions, and it will be up to the publishers of previously banned titles if they will resubmit for classification. That costs them money, so they will have to weigh up whether another bash at a rating will be profitable or not.

Exceptions to retroactive re-classification : If publishers want to resubmit uncensored versions of previously altered games (so they could get the MA15+ rating eg GTAIV and San Andreas). I doubt many would though. The publishers of Syndicate (the new one) stated clearly that they WILL NOT be resubmitting the game for classification to australia so that is out.

I would assume MK9 will be available soon, as i read something about that being resubmitted in january.

No i don't have links to these sources, just things i've read over the last 9 months since the legislature was put through parliament.

well, thats a start. took these idiots long enough.
since i live in australia, i was hoping for a R rating. at least i got my self the uncut version from L4D2 from ebay but good to know that i can get uncut versions now.

but im wondering my self now too what games will get a R label on which originally were 15.

So what exactly is the difference between "Adult Only" and "18+" in a country where 18 is the adult age?

The guidelines for R18+

The impact of material classified R 18+ should not exceed high.

Note: Material classified R 18+ is legally restricted to adults. Some material classified R 18+ may be offensive to sections of the adult community.


Classifiable elements

THEMES

There are virtually no restrictions on the treatment of themes.

VIOLENCE

Violence is permitted. High impact violence that is, in context, frequently gratuitous, exploitative and offensive to a reasonable adult will not be permitted.

Actual sexual violence is not permitted.

Implied sexual violence that is visually depicted, interactive, not justified by context or related to incentives or rewards is not permitted.

SEX

Depictions of actual sexual activity are not permitted.

Depictions of simulated sexual activity may be permitted.

Depictions of simulated sexual activity that are explicit and realistic are not permitted.

LANGUAGE

There are virtually no restrictions on language.

DRUG USE

Drug use is permitted.

Drug use related to incentives and rewards is not permitted.

Interactive illicit or proscribed drug use that is detailed and realistic is not permitted.

NUDITY

Nudity is permitted.

Note: Some of the terms used in this category are defined in the List of Terms at the end of these Guidelines.

Guidelines for what will be refused classification:

RC - REFUSED CLASSIFICATION

Note: Computer games that exceed the R 18+ classification category will be Refused Classification.

Computer games will be refused classification if they include or contain any of the following:

CRIME OR VIOLENCE

Detailed instruction or promotion in matters of crime or violence.

The promotion or provision of instruction in paedophile activity.

Descriptions or depictions of child sexual abuse or any other exploitative or offensive descriptions or depictions involving a person who is, or appears to be, a child under 18 years.

Depictions of:

(i) violence with a very high degree of impact which are excessively frequent, prolonged, detailed or repetitive;

(ii) cruelty or realistic violence which are very detailed and which have a very high impact;

(iii) actual sexual violence.

Implied sexual violence related to incentives and rewards.

SEX

Depictions of actual sexual activity are not permitted.

Depictions of simulated sexual activity that are explicit and realistic are not permitted.

Depictions of practices such as bestiality.

Gratuitous, exploitative or offensive depictions of:

(i) activity accompanied by fetishes or practices which are offensive or abhorrent;

(ii) incest fantasies or other fantasies which are offensive or abhorrent.

DRUG USE

Detailed instruction in the use of proscribed drugs.

Material promoting or encouraging proscribed drug use.

Computer games will also be Refused Classification if they contain:

(i) illicit or proscribed drug use related to incentives or rewards;

(ii) interactive drug use which is detailed and realistic.

Note: Some of the terms used in this category are defined in the List of Terms at the end of these Guidelines.

LIST OF TERMS

Note: Words which are used in the Guidelines but which are not contained in this List of Terms take their usual dictionary meaning. Refer to the latest edition of The Macquarie Dictionary.

Coercion: The use of threat or power to force agreement to sexual activity.

Demean: A depiction or description, directly or indirectly sexual in nature, which debases or appears to debase the person or the character depicted.

Elements: Themes, violence, sex, coarse language, drug use and nudity.

Exploitative: Appearing to purposefully debase or abuse for the enjoyment of others, and lacking moral, artistic or other values.

Fetish: An object, an action or a non-sexual part of the body which gives sexual gratification.

Intensity: Strength of the treatment or subject matter; strength of engagement or involvement.

Interactivity: The quality of being interactive. Providing or capable of providing for user participation that enables some measure of control in relation to user action, data input and commands. The user's participation may influence outcomes that in turn, may affect what options are available to them for subsequent interaction.

Offensive: Material which causes outrage or extreme disgust.

Sexual Activity: Matters pertaining to sexual acts, but not limited to sexual intercourse.

Sexual Violence: Sexual assault or aggression, in which the victim does not consent.

Sexualised Violence: Where sex and violence are connected in the story, although sexual violence may not necessarily occur.

Themes: Social issues such as crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependency, death, serious illness, family breakdown and racism.

Treatment: The way in which material is handled or presented.

Violence: Acts of violence; the threat or effects of violence.

Note

1. All legislative instruments and compilations are registered on the Federal Register of Legislative Instruments kept under the Legislative Instruments Act 2003. See www.comlaw.gov.au.

SOURCE: http://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/F2012L01934

So in the long run, it's good we have an R18+ rating now, but... it seems it still might be a little rigid for my liking.

Time will tell i guess.

John Rau is attorney-general in South Australia, a state of Australia... not AG for the whole country, i know, nitpicking... :)

Metalrocks:
well, thats a start. took these idiots long enough.
since i live in australia, i was hoping for a R rating. at least i got my self the uncut version from L4D2 from ebay but good to know that i can get uncut versions now.

but im wondering my self now too what games will get a R label on which originally were 15.

You will only be able to get an uncut version if the publishers re-submit the game for classification in it's original form. Doubtful that they will, as most sales of the game would have already been done, and the cost/reward for resubmitting would probably not be worth it.

It's about time but some of the rules to sell them are kinda odd compared to selling other types of media.
The one I don't get is that it can't be displayed next to a non R18 game which is all right to do for dvds and bluerays.
I just don't get it.

seule:
John Rau is attorney-general in South Australia, a state of Australia... not AG for the whole country, i know, nitpicking... :)

Not at all. Mistake has been fixed. Thanks for the heads up.

good, now re release left4dead2

I can't wait for (hopefully) the re-releases of games like Left 4 Dead 2.

I'm really happy for the Australians. I hope some of you gaming Aussies out there are celebrating!

now part of me wishes I could afford to emigrate to Australia.

As an Australian, I finally feel...slightly validated.

tippy2k2:
Congrats to Australia! Hopefully this means you guys can start getting some of the awesome awesome violence and mayhem that the rest of us get to enjoy! Blood! Blood everywhere!!!!!!

...ahem. Maybe I'm getting a bit carried away.

Now once you convince game companies that $120 for new games is atrocious :P

Too right mate.

SoulSalmon:
So what exactly is the difference between "Adult Only" and "18+" in a country where 18 is the adult age?

I want to know this too. I think the US ratings system may be slightly bonkers. Looking it up on Wikipedia, they've got the standard Universal, Parental Guidance, but then they've got 10+, 13+(?), 17+, 18+ (?)

I'm not sure what magical processes happen between 17 and 18 =D

Hehehe Australia THAT'S not a rating system
THIS is a ratings system!

Well, you see, over here it was the 1st of Jan 2013 Yesterday, but W/E, this is finally a good thing happening to Australian gaming. Now all we need is fair prices that don't include shipping it in from the UK and we might actually be close to equal with the rest of the world in games, but I don't really see that happening.

WWmelb:

Metalrocks:
well, thats a start. took these idiots long enough.
since i live in australia, i was hoping for a R rating. at least i got my self the uncut version from L4D2 from ebay but good to know that i can get uncut versions now.

but im wondering my self now too what games will get a R label on which originally were 15.

You will only be able to get an uncut version if the publishers re-submit the game for classification in it's original form. Doubtful that they will, as most sales of the game would have already been done, and the cost/reward for resubmitting would probably not be worth it.

i was referring to future games. the older once i have already which i got from ebay if it was cut here like L4D2.

Kiwi here (those bunch of islands to your south-east), I congratulate you! One small step for games, one giant step for Yahtz--I mean Australians.

At least now they are no longer trying to shoehorn games that are R18+ in other countries into the MA15+ Classification where parents are more likely to buy it for their children. I have seen one of the endings in Far Cry 3 and that alone should make it R18+ instead of the MA15+. Those of you who got that ending will know what I am talking about!

I fail to see why the "THINK OF THE CHILDREN!1!1" argument was even remotely relevant to opposing this...

Under the new law, publishers can submit video games for consideration for the R18+ category, and games that have been refused classification before can be resubmitted, providing at least two years have passed since the original rejection. There is still no equivalent of an "Adults Only" or "X" category, so any games deemed too violent (or, as is often the case, too sexually charged) for the R18+ rating can still end up in the "Refused Classification" ghetto.

I fail to see "so what changed?"

About - buh-loody - time. Now all we need is too beat down the ludicrously over inflated game prices here and we're all set!

itchcrotch:
About - buh-loody - time. Now all we need is too beat down the ludicrously over inflated game prices here and we're all set!

amen to that. im already happy if a game costs less then 60$. at least over xmas, the prices were pretty down. got my self guild wars 2 for nearly 70$ and originally it was nearly 100$.

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