By January 1, 2013, gamers in Australia can expect the adult-level R18+ classification for video games to be in place, according to the Australian government. Federal Minister for Home Affairs Jason Clare introduced the R18+ bill in parliament two days ago and announced that the federal government expects the R18+ for games legislation to officially come into effect next year. It will be introduced at the federal level first, followed by states and territories shortly thereafter.
Jason Clare recently spoke to parliament, stating:
“This will bring the classification categories for computer games into line with existing categories used to classify films and make the Australian classification regime more consistent with international standards…”
“This reform has been a long time coming. Agreement to introduce an R18+ category has been reached after 10 years of negotiations with the states and territories. Over these 10 years, the Australian computer game industry has grown–along with the number of Australian computer gamers.”
“A lot of Australians are passionate about this reform. This bill will implement the Commonwealth’s obligations as part of this agreement–and state and territory jurisdictions will follow with their own legislation later this year…”
“It is anticipated that the Act provided for in this Bill will come into effect on the first of January next year.”
GameSpot spoke to Clare about the bill’s early 2013 date, to which Clare responded that it would give legislators enough time to pass the bill in both houses whilst also giving states and territories enough breathing room to craft their own complimentary legislation. The amendments to the Classification Act 1995 and Broadcasting Services Act 1992 will bring classification categories for gaming in line with existing categories for films and television shows.
Analysis: I can’t stress enough how great this moment feels. With the fight to bring an R18+ rating to Australia beginning about ten years ago—which might I add, would’ve made me eight years old—it is beyond amazing to see that something people have petitioned for will almost definitely come to fruition. With the gaming industry predicted to be worth $2.5 billion a year by 2015, it was beginning to get beyond ridiculous how far Australia was falling behind other countries with adult-level rating systems.
I can’t say I understand why it has taken so long. Paranoid parents have had nothing to worry about all this time as this bill is supposed to protect children by allowing games to be labeled appropriately. Having games with labels on the shelves doesn’t mean little eight-year-old Timmy can’t still obtain a copy; his parents could go out and purchase it themselves—in which case they’re either idiots or very fun parents.
With so much overwhelming support for introducing an R18+ rating, it’s somewhat unbelievable that it’s taken this long for Australia to reach this stage. As long as the bill isn’t pulled back in the meantime—which I wouldn’t rule out, given the Australian government seem to enjoy changing their opinion on something every week—this bit of news is most certainly a win for Australian gamers. This time next year, I, as will many others I’m sure, will own a brand new copy of Mortal Kombat and an unedited version of Left 4 Dead 2. Australia, welcome to the 21st century. Victory has never tasted so sweet.