Thursday, September 13, 2012

Australian R18+ Games Rating Guidelines Released

Update: People more knowledgeable than I are saying that the guidelines for R18 are basically the old MA15 ones with different wording. If the government have gone and relabelled the MA rating to R and just weakened MA, then that's just wrong, and they've totally missed the point of why the rating was needed. Kinda wishing I didn't speed read these in class now!

The Australian Government has released the new guidelines for the classification of computer games in Australia.

The document states that the following matters are considered when games are classified:

"(a) the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults;
(b) the literary, artistic or educational merit (if any) of the publication, film or computer game;
(c) the general character of the publication, film or computer game, including whether it is of a medical, legal or scientific character;
(d) the persons or class of persons to or amongst whom it is published or is intended or likely to be published."

It also states that the following principles will be adhered to as much as possible

"(a) adults should be able to read, hear, see and play what they want;
(b) minors should be protected from material likely to harm or disturb them;
(c) everyone should be protected from exposure to unsolicited material that they find offensive;
(d) the need to take account of community concerns about:

(i) depictions that condone or incite violence, particularly sexual violence; and
(ii) the portrayal of persons in a demeaning manner."

The guidelines for the R18+ rating are as follows

"Impact test

The impact of material classified R 18+ should not exceed high.
Note: Material classified R 18+ is legally restricted to adults. Some material classified R 18+ may be offensive to sections of the adult community.

Classifiable elements


  • There are virtually no restrictions on the treatment of themes.


  • Violence is permitted. High impact violence that is, in context, frequently gratuitous, exploitative and offensive to a reasonable adult will not be permitted.
  • Actual sexual violence is not permitted.
  • Implied sexual violence that is visually depicted, interactive, not justified by context or related to incentives or rewards is not permitted.
  • Depictions of actual sexual activity are not permitted.
  • Depictions of simulated sexual activity may be permitted.
  • Depictions of simulated sexual activity that are explicit and realistic are not permitted.
  • There are virtually no restrictions on language.
  • Drug use is permitted.
  • Drug use related to incentives and rewards is not permitted.
  • Interactive illicit or proscribed drug use that is detailed and realistic is not permitted.
  • Nudity is permitted.
Note: Some of the terms used in this category are defined in the List of Terms at the end of these Guidelines."

It seems to be a fair compromise for gamers and people who want to keep inappropriate games away from kids, hopefully "[h]igh impact violence that is, in context, frequently gratuitous, exploitative and offensive to a reasonable adult" will be judged fairly though, that seems to be really subjective.

One paragraph that's a bit worrying though is this one

"Due to the interactive nature of computer games and the active repetitive involvement of the participant, as a general rule computer games may have a higher impact than similarly themed depictions of the classifiable elements in film, and therefore greater potential for harm or detriment, particularly to minors."

Which is basically saying games are likely to be judged harsher than film and literature because of interactivity and it could cause greater harm to children. But you know, if the guidelines are enforeced properly, why should that really matter? >_>

We'll have to wait and see, hopefully this new rating doesn't end up making things worse.

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