Adult-rated games now legally available in Australia

VIDEO game enthusiasts can now legally purchase adult-rated games in Australia thanks to the Australian Government’s new adult category for electronic entertainment. Leon Saw reports.

Photo: tbiley via Flickr

Video game players here in Australia are now able to legally access adult-rated games thanks to the newly-introduced R18+ category within the Australian classification system for video games.

The category came into effect on January 1, 2013 after being legislated by the Federal Government in June 2012.

The R18+ category allows games tagged R18+, by the Classification Board of Australia, to be legally distributed and sold in Australia to consumers over the age of 18.

But games that were previously banned in Australia under the old classification system, such as the 2011 iteration of the fighting game Mortal Kombat, will retain its “adult” rating and remain on the blacklist.

“The [Classification] Board [of Australia] is required to apply the Classification Act, Code, and Guidelines that are in force at the time of the application in making classification decisions,” says a spokesman for the Attorney-General’s Department.

For games like Mortal Kombat (2011) to be permitted in Australia now, the games’ publishers need to re-submit them to the Classification Board for re-classification.

But the Board will only re-classify  games at least two years from when it last classified them.

An Australian federal minister may also order a game re-classified by the Classification Board after the two-year period.

A spokesman from the Attorney-General’s Department says certain games, however, will not be eligible for re-classification and will remain banned in Australia.

“The creation of a new adult category for computer games from 1 January 2013 brought computer games into line with films in Australia and also brought the country into line with the rest of the developed world,” he said.

“However, there is still a Refused Classification category.”

“Computer games will be refused classification if they contain content that is very high in impact which falls outside generally accepted community standards,” he added.

The Interactive Games & Entertainment Association (iGEA), an organisation representing Australian and New Zealand video game distributors and publishers, has welcomed the implementation of the adult category – a category it has lobbied for for more than a decade.

In a statement, iGEA CEO Ron Curry said, “It’s great to finally see Australian adults have access to video games designed specifically for mature audiences, after more than ten years working with government, families, business and broader community to introduce an R18+ category.”

The Victorian Director of the Australian Christian Lobby, Daniel Flynn, however, said the adult category for video games being in place “is an unwelcomed development”.

“We were happy for the MA15+ video games that were gratuitous and violent in nature to be rated R18+, but we didn’t want a liberalisation of adult-rated video games in Australia,” he said.

“Such video games will end up in households where they can be accessed by children.”

Before the R18+ category came into effect, Australia was the only developed country without an adult category for video games. The MA15+ category was its highest for video games.

Under the new Australian classification system for video games, the first game placed into the R18+ category was Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge.

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