Tagged With r18+

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Since 2012, plain tobacco packaging laws forced stores to sell cigarettes absent of all branding in an attempt to dissuade young people from buying them.

A few Target stores in South Australia seemed to be doing the same thing with video games.

They believed they were following the letter of the law and — bizarrely — they might be right.

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This is something I hear a lot on this site and on Twitter, mostly when a video game gets refused classification: "nothing has changed!" There's a widespread feeling, it seems, that the addition of an R18+ rating for video games has done little to change the situation of gamers in Australia. I'm keen to know how widespread that feeling actually is?

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The censoring of Left 4 Dead 2 was one of the more depressing parts of Australia's struggle for an R18+ rating — a brilliant video game completely butchered and broken in order to make it through at MA15+. But we've just gotten word that on August 29, almost five years after the game's initial release, the complete uncensored version of Left 4 Dead 2 finally made it through classification.

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We can all agree that classification is a complex issue and despite an R18+ rating for video games getting the go-ahead early last year, its existence and application will continue to be discussed (and potentially legislated) for years to come. Western Australia is the latest state to reconsider the ramifications of the rating, with a recent report suggesting games classified as R18+ should be banned outright from sale in the state.

12

Yesterday ABC News reported that the Federal Government was planning to merge the Australian Classification Review Board with a number of other review board and tribunals as part of a $500 million cost cutting exercise. What initially seemed like a strange move by the Abbott government is actually almost perfectly in line with what the Australian Law Reform Commission recommended in its extensive Classification Review in 2012.

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Before the first R18+ game, before Gamers 4 Croydon, South Australian Attorney-General Michael Atkinson knew his stance against adult video games in Australia could not last. His final stand took place in his own electorate of Croydon, a small suburb of Adelaide. There, a small, determined group of gamers did their level best to put a fatal dent into Michael Atkinson's re-election hopes. He was the one man standing between Australia and an adult classification for video games. They wanted to take him down. Atkinson would win the battle, but he ultimately lost the war.

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Back in November, Attorney-General for South Australia, John Rau, called on the Classification Review Board to reassess how the ratings system was being applied to several high-profile video games on Australian shelves. It was criticised as a huge waste of money, but the Classification Board undertook the review anyway, and now the verdict on said games is in.

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The Australian Classification Board has classified multiple video games as R18+ since the introduction of the rating in January this year. But despite this South Australian Attorney General John Rau is claiming the guidelines aren't being applied rigorously enough, and plans to write to the Federal Government in an attempt to apply more scrutiny to the Australian Classification Board.

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The kerfuffle over the R18+ rating and the recent banning (and subsequent reclassification) of Saints Row IV and State Of Decay has predictably brought forth the same old arguments about gaming. It only occurred to me over the weekend how very old those arguments are.

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On Friday we learned that the Australian Federal Government intended to implement a number of classification recommendations put forward by the ALRC. For video games, two recommendations have the potential to change the way content is classified in this country. We spoke to Josh Cavaleri, Legal and Policy Counsel for the iGEA to figure out precisely what these changes might entail.

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As a result of Australia's new R18+ rating, Mortal Kombat finally received a classification in this country. But while Warner Brothers waits to officially release the game here, Gametraders is exercising its legal right to import the game from overseas, slap an R18+ sticker on the game and sell it in-store — and why not?

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In Ron Curry's office at the iGEA there's an awkward space on the wall. He's never been sure what to put there. A piece of art, a photograph of some kind? Maybe, he thought to himself, he could frame Australia's first R18+ game and put it there.

Nah, that'll never happen.

12

When it was finally announced that R18+ legislation had been passed in Queensland, there was only one step left to take before the new legislation finally came into being — the Governor of Queensland had to sign off on the act. Now we can officially announce that the Classification of Computer Games and Images and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2013 has been signed. R18+ games can now officially be bought and sold in QLD.