I know, I know; the long-running saga of the R18+ rating in Australia has had more false dawns than I care to remember -- but it looks like there has finally been an agreement reached to bring Australian's classification system into the 21st century. At the end of last week, a meeting between state and territory attorney generals agreed in principle to create an R18+ rating for videogames. Only New South Wales abstained in the agreement, but did not actively oppose it. South Australia will make an amendment to any agreement allowing the state to class all MA15+ games as R18+.
What's most heartening is that the attorney generals seem to now understand that the absence of an R18+ rating meant many titles that were rated for gamers 18 and over were being rated MA15+ in Australia with few or no changes being made. "We've had a situation where too many games have been in the MA category," said Federal Justice Minister Brendan O'Connor.
Politicians have always branded the implementation of the R18+ rating as a way for "extremely violent" and "sexually graphic" games to flood into the country, not realizing that a higher rating would be a way for more mature games to be kept out of younger gamers' hands.
When Fallout 3 was initially refused classification by the OFLC, the decision had to do with the use of the word "morphine" as the game's healing mechanic. Developer Bethesda replaced it with "Med-X" in all countries and the OFLC gave Fallout 3 an MA15+ rating, whilst it was still 18+ in most other countries. It's this inconsistency in ratings that frustrated gamers the most, as it was unclear why some titles were refused classification (Left 4 Dead 2) and others (Aliens vs. Predator) were not.
The Australian attorney generals have dragged their feet on this issue for months, if not years, but to see an agreement finally settled on is comforting news. As a former Australian resident, I've got my fingers crossed for you guys.
After years of debate, R18+ games are getting closer [News.com.au] [Image]
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