Currently there is no R18+ classification for video games, this means many games have to be censored to fit under an MA15+ rating or face being banned. The Commonwealth Government has now finally opened up the debate to the public for their opinions on the matter.
The debate has been raging for years over why Australia is restricted to an MA15+ classification for video games and the damage this has had on the local video game industry.
Currently computer games that are unsuitable for a minor to see must be classified Refused Classification (RC). These games may not be sold, hired, exhibited, displayed, demonstrated or advertised in Australia. This means that a computer game that contains material that would have been rated R18+ in a film may not be sold.
This means that many games over the years have been watered down to fit in with the tight restrictions and therefore Australians are missing out on playing games the way they were intended to be. Some recent examples of games that have had to be modified for Australian release include Grand Theft Auto IV, Fallout 3 and Left for Dead 2.
Games like Grand Theft Auto 3, Manhunt and State of Emergency were at one stage all withdrawn from Australian shelves for breaches of the MA15+ classification. In some cases many games never get released due to the restrictions, like Alien Vs Predator and Mark Ecko’s Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure.
Although the majority of gamers are aged 18 years and over, and are keen for the move to adult classifications, many government officials have been wary due to the fact that video games are usually considered a medium for children. This debate has now been running for years but has never been open for the public.
Now the matter has been officially opened up for public discussion and everyone is invited to express their views on the positives and negatives for an adult classification. People who want to make a submission are encouraged to read a discussion paper supplied on the Australian Government website at http://www.ag.gov.au/gamesclassification and submit before 28 February 2010.