Computer Games such as Aliens vs Predator, Left 4 Dead 2, and
Fallout 3 are amongst a number of computer games that have been
banned (at least initially) from release in Australia. Currently,
if a computer game is considered by the Classification Board to be
of a category which should be more restricted than M 15+, then the
game may not be released in Australia. Perhaps if there was an R
18+ category those games and many others would not have been
This may soon change. Late last year the federal government
released a discussion paper calling for public comment on whether
Australia should introduce an R 18+ classification category for
computer games. If approved, it would mean that adult only computer
games could be released in Australia, making Australia the last of
the countries with a classification system to adopt such a
The discussion paper asks, "Should the Australian
National Classification Scheme include an R 18+ classification
category for computer games?" and proposes a number of
arguments for and against the introduction of the R 18+
Some of the reasons offered by the government in the paper as to
why an R 18+ classification should not be
introduced include the concerns that:
"Playing violent computer
games has a greater negative effect on people than viewing the same
degree of violence in films";
"It would be difficult to
enforce age restrictions for computer games"; and
"Minors would be more likely
to be exposed to computer games that are unsuitable for
A number of the government's suggestions as to why an R 18+
category should be introduced have been based on improvements in
technology, the increase in the average age of gamers (which is now
about 30), and the shift in a number of social factors. Those
"A new classification will
supplement technological controls on minors' access to
age-inappropriate computer games";
"Adults should not be
prevented from playing R 18+ level computer games simply because
they are unsuitable for minors";
categories for films and computer games are easier to
"The R 18+ classification
category sends a clear; unambiguous message to parents that the
game material is unsuitable for minors".
Ultimately, a balance must be reached between: a) allowing
adults to read, hear and see what they want; b) protecting minors
from material likely to harm or disturb them; and c) community
concerns about depictions that condone or incite violence.
At this stage, it appears that Australians support the
introduction of the R 18+ classification. In fact, a 2009 report
released by Interactive Entertainment Association of Australia
revealed that 91% of Australians surveyed (both gamers and
non-gamers) supported the introduction of the R 18+
It is also reported that South Australia's Attorney-General,
Michael Atkinson, is the only Minister, among Ministers responsible
for censorship and overseeing the classification in each state and
territory, who is publicly opposed to the introduction of the R 18+
classification. Mr. Atkinson has also overseen the introduction of
recent changes to South Australian Law relating to classification.
See this article for more detail:
South Australia's Changes to Film Classification Law.
Submissions on the introduction of the R 18+ classification
category are due by 28 February 2010.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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