85% Of MA15+ Games Were Rated ’17 And Older’ In USA

85% Of MA15+ Games Were Rated ’17 And Older’ In USA

Last week Games.On.Net interviewed Gamers 4 Croydon candidates about the upcoming SA elections and their effort to shine a light on the need for R18+. In one telling point candidate Chris Prior talks about his research into what MA15+ games here were actually rated overseas.

The interview is broad ranging, looking into G4C’s commitment to local issues, not only the core concerns around gaming. But if I’m bringing it up here there’s obviously more juice on all things R18+.

In the most telling of statistics, Prior looked back at the past three years of game releases and found that 85% of MA15+ rated games were rated M (for 17 and older) by the USA’s ESRB. 50% were rated 18+ by the Europe’s PEGI.

“There are a huge number of adult games that are rated for teenagers here in Australian, and that’s a big issue,” says Prior.

He then points to the flipside of this issue, suggesting most games that are banned will still be banned.

Candidate Kat Nicholson then likens the ability to slightly modify games to suit MA15+ as being like bleeping the swear words out of Pulp Fiction and then suggesting the movie is now OK for kids.

More good insights, and some more useful talking points to add to your personal arsenal.

Community Interview: Gamers 4 Croydon [Games.On.Net]


  • That point about Pulp Fiction hit the nail on the head.

    In a video game context, with GTAIV specifically. They remove the blood and most of the visual representation of sex. But a 15 year old can still virtually have sex with a hooker (which is still clearly what’s happening in game) and still shoot a pedestrian in the face.

    Very appropriate for their age!

    If retailers were as strict with R18+ video games as liquor and general stores are with booze and smokes, kids would struggle to get their hands on it alone and it would be in the hands of their folks.


    you do realise that the ESRB system jumps from PG13 to MA17

    This makes the article moot in my opinion since any game that would be suitable for 15+ but not 13+ would then get the MA17 rating. This doesn’t change for games that would get the Restriced Adult 18+ in many countries, but it quite obviously would allow for inflated figures.

  • I’m sorry, but I have serious doubts that Michael Atkinson would be unaware of these figures. I would guess his response will be:

    “See I was right the OFLC is involved in a conspiracy to undermine the existing classification of games and because I was right about this clearly I am right about Australia not needing a higher classification.”

    Note: I don’t actually agree with this statement just pointing out that Atkinson’s stance is not based on fact, but pure opinion.

    I personally feel an 18+ Classification is outdated and that the system should forgo it in favour of a 17+ and 21+ & that this should cover all media

  • I think these figures are good evidence in a point that needs to be made…

    To me it seems like most game developers when publishing a game will decide during development which rating category they are aiming for taking into account 3 main areas, all ages (G, PG), teens and above (M, MA) and adults (R). This means if you have a classification system which fits these targets you end up with games that don’t push the boundaries of the classification they are aimed at because the developer would not want to take a chance that the game would be classified above the rating they were aiming at. For example if a developer designed at game aimed at teens they would ensure that it didn’t come close to being graphic enough to get an adult rating as this would cost huge sales.

    This leads to the problem caused by the Australian rating system. Here we end up with games that are aimed at the adult market but either just squeeze into our MA rating or are edited in order to do so. This means we end up with a large number of games at the extremely graphic end of the MA rating as there is no where else for these games to go.

    To me this results in the MA rating for games being a more violent, graphic and adult classification than it is in film and literature. But unfortunately adults don’t realise this and allow their kids to play MA rated games as they’ve seen MA rated movies and they were OK. If anything this position of protecting the children by not having an R rating is doing more harm than good.

  • someone should ask atkinson in an interview whether he believes R18+ Movies should be banned from Australia.

    His views will surely be biased and hopefully alot of non gamers will be able to see how ridiculous he is being.

    • He probably does. Wasn’t he behind the recent SA law which requires all R-rated media to be pretty much brown-bagged with only the title?

  • I went to “Contact Us” on that nor18 site, and this is what I had to say to them:

    Hi, just in reply to one of your arguments that you are stating on your website:

    “Presently MA15+ is the highest rating for video games to be legally sold in Australia, with anything above this standard rated as Refused Classification (RC). An R18+ rating would allow interactive games with higher impact content, such as extreme violence and sexual conduct, to be freely available on the Australian market.”

    In the past three years of game releases in Australia, it was found that 85% of MA15+ rated games were rated M (for 17 and older) by the USA’s ESRB, and 50% were rated 18+ by the Europe’s PEGI (Taken from http://www.kotaku.com.au/2010/02/85-of-ma15-games-were-rated-nc17-in-usa). Your argument states that more games that include extreme violence and sexual conduct will become available given the introduction of an R18+ rating. The issue here is that most of those games are already available in Australia, and they are available to those who are 15 or older (or look 15 or older) as there is no national standard for checking the ages of those under 18. I do accept the fact that with an R18+ rating, more violent/sexually explicit games may become available in the future. The benefits of having an R18+ rating would far outweigh the downsides. Here are some possible benefits of the R18+ rating:

    – Game retailers could be given the power to refuse the sale of games to anyone under 18 or face strict penalties for doing so, such as is the case with cigarettes and alcohol
    – Games that include blatant sexual depravity, such as the Japanese “rapelay” games, where the protagonist is able to rape girls/women, would still have their classification refused
    – In the case of “Left 4 Dead 2”, this game would have been classified correctly, and no modifications would have been done on this game to reduce the gore level. How is this a benefit? Gamers have already experienced the same amount of gore on the game’s prequel, “Left 4 Dead”, under an MA15+ rating. The lack of the original content in the game modified for Australian standards disuaded gamers to buy the game from Australian retailers, and many decided to import copies of the game from overseas, where these restrictions were not known (excluding Germany). In a roundabout way, this actually hurt retailers more, not being able to push as many copies out as importers.

    I, for one don’t recommend that young children be able to play these games in the first place. I have a son of my own who will be brought up around games, as my wife and I are avid gamers. It is the parents of these children who need to stand up for their families, and reduce the amount of games that contain violence or sexual conduct that come into their homes. For God’s sake, Grand Theft Auto 4 can be purchased by a 15 year old. Please don’t let the lack of an R18+ rating ensure that children will have greater access to these games, we NEED an R18+ rating to ensure that the message that you want to send is not “It will bring in more violent and depraved games” but “we will be able to regulate the games that we ALREADY get into Australia” (85%, remember?)

    Thank you for reading.

  • You know whats funny?

    In the advertising for this site, the first thing that came up for me was; the PEGI 18+ Logo.

    Meanwhile there are 2 other screens right below it that have our MA15+ Logo.


  • I know, right? How can they expect to be taken seriously when their web site isn’t even showing the correct info? All the “pictures” of violent games aren’t in-game at all, most are just promo shots. They mean well by not wanting an R18+ rating, but don’t really understand the consequences of not actually having the rating, whereas most stuff is available to teens anyway. Boggles the damn mind.

  • The issue with this particular stat is that the ESRB’s own ‘adult’ rating for game never gets used, because that rating is a kiss of death for any game at retail. Most major retailers in the US won’t stock it, and all three console manufacturers have categorically stated that they will never approve a game with that rating on their systems.

    The result is that the ESRB ratings have a very similar problem to our own ratings – there is a concerted push to get adult content into a somewhat-less-than-adult rating.

    Additionally, the ESRB ratings aren’t as fine-grained as our own. They jump from T (13+) to M (17+). Content of each rating aside, purely based on age, T is closest to our PG, and ESRB’s M is closest to our MA15+. We have a ratings category inside that.

    Anyway, the PEGI comparison is far more relevant to us than the ESRB’s system, and even there the stats are pretty telling.

    • “Content of each rating aside, purely based on age, T is closest to our PG, and ESRB’s M is closest to our MA15+. We have a ratings category inside that.”

      How is our MA15+ closer to their M17+ than our R18 is??

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