The Australian government is considering the creation of an R18+ rating for videogames, a move which would pave the way for the sale of games currently banned in the country for exceeding the MA15+ standard.
The lack of a “mature” videogame rating in Australia, described by Bond University associate professor Jeffrey Brand as the “only developed democracy” without one, has been an ongoing controversy. Research by the Interactive Entertainment Association of Australia found the average age of Australian videogamers is 28, and that more than half of all gamers are over 18, while 88 percent of respondents to a separate 2005 survey indicated support for the addition of an R18+ classification.
The IEAA has been campaigning for updates to the current Office of Film and Literature Classification system, but this is the first official acknowledgment that changes are under consideration. According to a report by The Age, a spokeswoman for Australian Minister of Home Affairs Bob Debus said the possible addition of an R18+ videogame classification would be discussed at the next Standing Committee of Attorneys-General on March 28.
The most recent high-profile videogame to be banned in Australia is Dark Sector, a third-person shooter being developed by Digital Extremes for the Xbox 360. In announcing the ban, the OFLC cited the game’s “high level, naturalistic” violence, which exceeded the MA15+ rating and therefore could not be approved for sale.