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Australia Getting An Adults-Only Game Rating

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Non-Aussie gamers may not be aware of this, but for years now getting a video game title designed for adults approved for distribution in Oz has been a bit of a nightmare. Basically, the rating system ends at "MA15+", meaning that any title in that category is intended only for those 15 or over. So that lands it somewhere between "T" and "M" for those of us in North America. This has meant that games that are deemed suitable for teenage audiences are the upper limit of the violence/sex/Satan worship that is allowed in games that are allowed into Australia. To illustrate: The Mortal Kombat reboot was banned from reaching Australian shores (which is perhaps not a surprise, considering it's one of the series that prompted game ratings to be established worldwide), while Fallout 3 and Left 4 Dead 2 had to be "edited" to be deemed acceptable. In fact, the censorship required for Fallout 3 to make the cut, as it were, ended up censoring the game globally. Essentially, if you want to make a game for grown-ups to play, and you want it to sell in Australia, you have to make it okay for fifteen year-olds to play as well. While one could argue until one was blue in the face over how "mature" and "adult" most games are that are made for mature adults, the Australian rating scenario is nevertheless...well, bizarre. As Aussie-Gamer points out, this situation has resulted in games that are clearly for adults - such as those in the Grand Theft Auto series - being shoe-horned into a rating system that makes it accessible to kids who can't even drive yet.

Enter Minister for Justice Brendan O'Connor, who recently announced that Australia would finally, at long last - remember, this has been going on since the very first Mortal Kombat - be getting an adults-only game rating, à la the North American M. Titled R18+, it mimics the country's long-standing rating for movies that are clearly for grown-ups. While it isn't in place yet, the proposed amendment to the current system has been accepted in principle by all jurisdictions in Australia and has the backing of the federal Minister for Justice, meaning all signs point to yes for the new classification's passage, and for a victory for civil liberty down under.

Now, here's hoping they work it out better than it does here in Canada, where this writer recalls watching a mother buy a copy of Conker's Bad Fur Day for her grade-school aged son without even a cursory glance at the box. Still, that's better than the next person in line, who un-ironically bought two copies of Snow Dogs...

For more of the back-story on this issue check out our previous coverage:

Australian Federal Attorney Generals Seeking Public Feedback On R18+ Classification

46k Petitions Delivered By EB Games In Favor Of Australian R18+ Video Game Classification

5 Comments

MADCV said:

being in Australia, i've just imported everything unrated and half the price from the UK.

silly billys

ironmouse said:

It's good that Australia will finally have an R18 rating for games.
Now for EB and others to campaign for lower game prices!! (I still find it funny how they can pull Res Evil for 3DS cos of its no delete option, to protect their 2nd hand market, but they won't touch game prices in general).
It's ridiculous that we have to pay so much for games (e.g. RRP for console game is usually around $110AUD, don't forget our aussie $$ is just over the US$$) especially when they rip us off on digital download games (Steam ups the price by $20-$30), so I import from the UK and other places where I can get the games for a third (or up to sometimes half) of the price (e.g. got DA2 for $32 compared to $90 in local shops).

LordoftheAvenue said:

I was extremely ****ed off with L4D2 heavily edited when other games came through with much more violence/blood/gore.

A couple of years ago I felt cheated at how I couldn't (then) play Marc Ecko's Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure.

R18+ rating for videogames here in Aus? Long overdue.

akella said:

The number of persons who import games from the UK is rising every day! It`s much cheaper!

Dexter said:

This has mostly been a hard fought battle by aussie gamers. The new rating has been blindly opposed by church groups (although they don't have quite the same leverage as in the US). The argument seemed to be that "violence is bad" ironically without realising the old rating system was shoehorning violent games into the hands of 15 years olds; often younger games too as retailers often valued the sale more than following the ratings guidelines.

And girls who like girls who like rumble packs!

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Dexter on Australia Getting An Adults-Only Game Rating: This has mostly been a hard fought battle by aussie gamers. The new rating has been blindly opposed by church...

akella on Australia Getting An Adults-Only Game Rating: The number of persons who import games from the UK is rising every day! It`s much cheaper!...

LordoftheAvenue on Australia Getting An Adults-Only Game Rating: I was extremely ****ed off with L4D2 heavily edited when other games came through with much more violence/blood/gore. A couple...

ironmouse on Australia Getting An Adults-Only Game Rating: It's good that Australia will finally have an R18 rating for games. Now for EB and others to campaign for...

MADCV on Australia Getting An Adults-Only Game Rating: being in Australia, i've just imported everything unrated and half the price from the UK. silly billys...

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