Australia to Issue R18+ Rating for Video Games

Australia’s Ministry of Justice has agreed to issue a R18+ rating—restricted to persons over the age of 18—to video games, which historically have been banned if there were high levels of violence in them according to Joystiq. All jurisdictions in the country, with the exception of New South Wales, agreed to the proposal put forward by the Commonwealth government last month; however it is only recently that the Justice Cabinet in New South Wales has agreed to the proposal.

“I am delighted that NSW has decided to support what is not just a practical public policy, but a very popular policy,” said Minister of Justice Brendan O’Connor. “It is a credit to all jurisdictions that the meeting has now been able to achieve agreement over what is a complex matter in classification policy.”

A survey conducted by marketing research firm Galaxy earlier this year showed that 80 percent of people questioned about the policy support the introduction of a R18 rating for games.

Though games with high levels of violence will be allotted the adults-only R18 rating, video games that are considered by the Office of Film and Literature Classification to have “extreme” levels of violence will still be refused classification and banned.

The Australian government hopes to roll out the new rating by the end of the year.

Analysis: On the surface, the passing of this legislation has paved the way for Australian gamers to purchase games that otherwise would’ve been outright banned in their country because of its content. Unlike in the US, where the Supreme Court found that extreme content in video games is not grounds for banning or branding, the Australian government has had their hand in the regulation of content quite regularly.

I recall a story related by Something Awful’s AccountingNightmare, who was extremely excited to hear that Ninja Gaiden Black would be coming to XBox Originals, given that the copy she was attempting to receive from the US got lost in the mail. However, Microsoft had “no plans to release” the game in Australia simply because of the content was considered “extreme” by the Office of Film and Literature Classification.

Keep in mind, however, that we’ve yet to see whether a game like Ninja Gaiden Black and its decapitation cinematics, or other games with high levels of violence, will actually be released in Australia under the R18 rating, or whether the Office of Film and Literature Classification will continue to see games like them as being too “extreme” even for adult audiences. We’ll know only after the rating rolls out into the mainstream.


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