Videogames rated R18+ are now legal across all seven states and territories of Australia.
A few years ago, a big push to introduce the R18+ rating for games in Australia gained a lot of support from gamers, concerned parents, and lawmakers. Legislation was passed and handed on to Australia's seven states and territories, who each had to pass their own "complementary legislation". This week Queensland, the seventh and final state, passed its complementary legislation. All that is left is for Queensland's Governor to sign the bill in to law, and Australians across the whole country will finally be legally able to purchase and play videogames rated R18+.
"The introduction of this classification should be welcome news for parents, who will now have more control over the games their children are playing," said Queensland's Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie. "I encourage parents to be guided by these classifications, as I'm sure many are unaware of the levels of violence and adult material contained in some computer games."
It should be noted that this law is not retroactive, meaning publishers and developers will have to resubmit previously banned games to the Australian Classification Board to receive the new rating. Konami recently submitted its Mortal Kombat Komplete Edition to the board, a new version of Mortal Kombat (2011), which was banned under the old legislation. Ninja Gaiden 3, currently slated for a March 20 release, was previously classified under the new legislation, and will be the first R18+ rated videogame to be legally sold in Australia.
A long time ago, when videogames consisted of Pong and Pac-man, the Australian Classification Board scoffed at the very idea of videogames one day being realistic enough to warrant an R18+ rating. Thus, the highest classification for any videogame released in Australia was set as MA15+. However, as videogame technology became more and more advanced, it became clear that some games had content that was not suitable for anyone under 18.
This put these games in a kind of legal limbo in Australia. There was no legal rating above MA15+, meaning that if a game was deemed inappropriate for 15 year olds, it was simply banned for sale in the country. While very few games were outright banned (GTA: San Andreas is the most prominent example), many games had their content drastically altered to try and slip past Australian censors. Valve's Left 4 Dead 2, for example, featured heavy censorship of its depictions of violence, and actually had some gameplay elements completely removed.
The new legislation brings videogames in line with movies and television shows, which have had the R18+ rating for many years. It looks like the Australian government has finally come around to acknowledging that hey, adults can play videogames too.
Source: Queensland Parliment