Should We Get Rid Of MA15+? South Australian AG John Rau Thinks So...

John Rau, the Attorney-General for South Australia, has come out in support of an R18+ rating but, perhaps just as significantly, he has also claimed that he is behind the abolishment of the MA15 rating, in order to create a greater distinction between games for adults and children.

"At the moment, children can access a range of MA15+ games that are regarded as inappropriate for children," said John Rau, "while adult gamers are prevented from access to many games available in other countries.

"By abolishing the MA15+ classification, we will create a clear distinction between games that may be suitable for children and those that are suitable only for adults."

If we were to read between the lines, it's possible that John Rau, who will already have had access to the new guidelines presented by Brendan O'Connor, is simply following what has been presented by O'Connor's guidelines. It's also possible that this is simply John Rau's own personal opinion on the matter, but the removal of the MA15+ rating has been brought up by Brendan O'Connor before - and during an interview with Kotaku directly after the SCAG meeting in December, he confirmed that the possibility was discussed.

It's hard to tell precisely how O'Connor's new guidelines will structure a potential new ratings system for video games, but how would you guys suggest they be structured? Plenty are opposed to the removal of MA15+, but personally I do feel that the current system is counter-productive, causing a lot of confusion for parents. Is the removal of MA15+ a good solution?

Let us know in the comments below.


Comments

    The MA15+ classification is easily the worst understood of the bunch in all mediums.

    Back when they were making those changes to include the horrible coloured rectangles, there was research done that showed that people simply did not understand the rating. Not only that, most people did not distinguish between M and MA15+ (at the time, M was referred to as M15+).

    I wouldn't go as far as saying that the MA15+ should be removed. It still serves some purpose, but the difference between M and MA15+ needs to be highlighted.

    I don't think abolishing the MA15+ rating would greater establish which games are for children and which are for adults, as there are some games out there which don't need to be restricted to adults but are still clearly inappropriate for younger children. Like Red Dead Redemption or Mass Effect, clearly designed with adults in mind but contains material that teenagers can access in other mediums.

    Then again, I'm not really sold on the age restriction thing, but that's another matter entirely.

    I dunno, sounds dumb to me. Just make it like the movies, we understand that system, that's the system you've set-up, why continue to make video games some odd exception? Just seems like another layer of confusion for the un-savvy consumer to be baffled by. There's obviously an area where a games content is greater than M and lesser than R18+ and I don't think it's fair that a 15 year old should be denied something that is suitable for them. Especially considering the 15-18 year old gamer is a major part of the market. Sounds like they're being lazy and think it'll just be simpler to slap an R18+ on everything MA15+.

    Though removal of the MA15+ category may make a clearer distinction between what games are intended for mature and non-mature audiences, surely there are some games that are in the middle, and made for teens?

    Games that would, say, fall in the ESRB's Teen and Mature ratings, that aren't requiring to be restricted solely to ages 18+ but requires to be restricted from 10 year old kids.

    I can't really think of any definite examples (Star Wars games?), so this isn't really an argument I can truly back up on, so it's more of a suggestion/query.

    However, I would imagine, if they were to remove the MA15+ rating, they would need to have some sort of age gate for the M rating, otherwise the vagueness of what is 'mature' may cause even more confusion.

      I'm pretty confident (but don't quote me on this) that the ESRB teen rating can be scaled to ages (i.e. T10+, T15+, etc). I'm pretty sure I've seen it on boxed games before.

      In either case, so long as we get an R18+ rating, I'll be happy.

        ESRB has an 'E' and an 'E10+' rating. ESRB's ratings are G, E, E10, T, M, AO, with age ratings 0+, 6+, 10+, 13+, 17+, 18+. The low E rating used to be K-A (Kids to Adults) but they felt that 'Everyone' was a better name.

    But the problem we have is the distinction between other mediums ratings and video game ratings.

    In saying that can't hurt to try it out...

    lol I read the title and thought this was a case of, "We don't want R18, and we should also get rid of MA15+" :P

    I don't think its that bad of an idea to be honest, probably be a lot of work to have to reclassify everything though

    I think the point of the changes put forward was that M15 remains (for those semi violent games), and the the MA15+ becomes R18+.

    It's not really loosing anything, just reclassifying things so they are representitive of the games in the rating.

    To be honest, this system would be putting things more in line with movies, although a complete review of the media ratings act should be performed and all media put on a level field.

    I would object to this: bring in R18 and remove MA15.

      Doh, typo! I meant 'I wouldn't object to this'.

      /wishes for an edit button.

    I think it's a good idea to get rid of MA15+. Will remove some of the "gray" area and provide a distiction for the general public. As gamers we know what the content of most games will be and whether or not it is suitable for our kids, younger brothers/sisters, etc. Most non gamer parents i see buying games for their kids pay no attention to ratings, but i bet you that they wouldn't buy their eight year old an R rated movie.
    Eighteen is the legal age for most things and i don't think that adult video games should be any different.
    If i was a gamer between the age of 15 and 18 i might think a bit diffrently....

    Quick fix - Remove MA15+ and add the R18. Reconfigure the M rating to include games up to R18 (and to perhaps need parent/guardian to accompany when purchasing?). Problem solved.

    Mmm I don't really think that would help much and also the 15-18 year old gamers would miss out on games which would be a pain.

    O'Connor has been pretty consistent about wanting the games classification system to be easy to understand. Making it different from the film system undermines that goal.

    Rau's comments regarding the MA15+ were restricted to the implementation of the system in SA. I think he's aware that doing away with the MA15+ would not happen, but is looking at a way to do that within his jursidiction.

    If he's able to do so (which isn't guaranteed: all he's said is that he's looking into options), that would likely mean that games classified MA15+ would be marked 18+ in SA, or restricted so as to be purchasable only be those 18 or over.

    There is precedent for something like this. The states do not legally allow the sale of X18+ material, despite the existence of that classification.

    What they need to do really is remove M, not MA, more games fit into the MA category (not suitable for children under 15, but still suitable for a mature(ish) teenager, such as Mass Effect) Most parents don't know the difference between M and MA15+ it just confuses them why they go to buy GTA for their 12 year old...

    One alternative would be to dump MA, and declare M as suitable for, say, over 13s. Whether it was a recommendation or an enforced age limit is a separate argument.

    This way you'd have
    G: for everyone, littlies included.
    PG: primary school suitable.
    M: high school suitable.
    R: adults.

    Sure it's almost as arbitrary as the old system and just as easy to get around, but at least it's a more informative scale.

    Love the idea!!!

    Speaking as a parent of some very influential young boys, and as some one unplugged enough to understand that I will not have full visibility of the intended audience for a given game/movie/TV show/whatever. And most importantly, speaking as a 35y/o gamer/movie goer/TV watcher/whatever...

    I would love a nice thick line in the sand, rather than a tiny thin one. That way I know when i need to get involved and when I can trust the classification system.

    Three ratings...
    G = For everyone (it's fine, don't worry about it)
    PG = Not for "Immature" people (Are you comfortable with this?)
    18+ = Not for kids at all (This is NOT for them, its for me)

      The problem with this approach is that, ultimately, it undermines the effectiveness of the R18+ rating. Currently, the lack of an R18+ rating undermines the effectiveness of the MA15+ rating, because it's been fairly well established that games that would otherwise be rated R18+ are being massaged to fit in as MA15+. Games targeted at adults end up in the hands of kids.

      Remove the MA15+ rating, however, and you suddenly have a reverse of the situation: a classification category that is adult-targeted but contains teen-friendly material. And the moment that happens, you stop being able to say that R18+ is strictly, no-holds-barred, absolutely utterly adults only. It loses value as a tool of enforcement/restriction.

      A better solution would be to remove, tweak or re-name the M15+ category. Establishing the difference between the M15+ classification category and MA15+ censorship category is where the bulk of the confusion lies, not between MA15+ and R18+.

    They used to have a ratings guide at the start of videos, back when VHS was standard and each had it's own shape.
    While the colours have remained, the shapes and guidance have disappeared.
    This creates a gap of knowledge. Parents understand, but children don't. Sometimes even parents don't.
    And all you see for guidance are comments next to the rating on dvds and movie posters, or on tiny ratings guides outlining the meanings.
    Consistency across mediums is the key to understanding, if they remove MA+ in games, would they do the same for movies?

    The only way to keep everyone happy is to sell all games from behind a counter with simple plain packaging and large warnings with pictures of obese and violent people on them. Also these games need to be highly taxed in order to pay for the social and health damages that they are causing.

      Lol. You are either very serious or trolling and noone reacted to either except to give me a chuckle. Thanks :)

    I don't think the removal of MA would be good. It serves as a spot between R and M that is needed. It's for things that may be a little bloodier or deal with more serious issues then an M game but aren't so bloody or serious they should be restricted to adults only. Something like Red Dead Redemption for example.

    Really it's a rating for games 16-17 year olds can play. M is more for 13-14 year olds.

    What they should do is rename it to try and distance it from the M rating. Also when the changes go through (assuming they do) they should run an ad campaign that clearly lets people know what the different ratings mean, what sorts of things the games with those ratings contain and what ages the ratings are sutible for.

    I think MA15+ can coexist with R18+.

    To be honest this really wouldn’t bother me that much. As an adult gamer so long as I can make my own decisions on what I can play / watch and I don’t have someone else forcing there personal views on me like the censorship club seem to enjoy doing.

    That said when you consider games like Halo would be R18+ it seems a little over the top. Perhaps reviewing how games are classified and why there put into certain categories would be more appropriate than simply upping the majority of games to R18+. I get the feeling it would create a bigger demand for R18+ games by under 18 year olds, where as having the majority of games MA15+ and a few R18+ at the top wouldn’t be such a big deal when the biggest releases aren’t in the highest rated category.

    Im not against making video games a bit like buying cigarettes and alcohol where you have to show your ID and buying for minors brings a fine. If it keeps the ultra conservative cave dwellers happy and Adults still get to make there own decisions, go for it.

      "Im not against making video games a bit like buying cigarettes and alcohol where you have to show your ID and buying for minors brings a fine."

      The above is exactly how the current system is supposed to work. It's just that people are lazy / ignorant / intentionally disruptive. It would be simple to enforce, too: like a mystery shopper, we use a mystery kid who'd report to their boss.

      As for the rest of your statement, Scott, isn't that a very selfish way to look at it? I'm sure many are not as clear on the ratings as you are, but need to buy games for their children, so it's in your interest to act conscientiously, and support meaningful, robust, well-rounded reform.

    I agree with Cannon above; some games are aimed squarely at the 15-18 market (for example, with stylistic violence or mild adult themes) that would immediately go to R18+ under Rau's proposed new model.

    Perhaps the ALRC's review of the classification system will include the guidelines and criteria for each category; in that case I think more reform of what constitutes M15+/MA15+/R18+ levels of violence, adult themes, etc, is warranted.

    At the moment the dividing lines between the categories are ambiguous and confusing.

    This statement seems to ignore the fact that there are games targeted at pretty much all levels of impact. If there isn't a gap in the impact spectrum, why should there be a gap in the classification spectrum?

    While there are MA15+ games like Red Dead Redemption that received an 18 rating in the UK, there are other MA15+ games like Just Cause 2 that received a 15 rating in the UK. It isn't clear that all those games should be reclassified as R18+.

    If MA15+ is suitable for classifying films, then it should be suitable for classifying games.

    I think MA15+ is an important category (I think M and MA15+ should be the same thing).

    I don't think it should be as clear cut as 'kids' and 'adults'. I think there is room for content that is aimed at kids, mature audiences (late teens) and adults.

    Take COD for example (ignore the later games which are more violent), COD isn't a kids game but restricting it to R18+ is crazy. I think it is perfectly fine for a teenager (15+) to play the early COD games.

    Having 'kids' and 'adults' just leaves too big of a divide.

    Movies have an MA15+ rating. Why shouldn't games?

    MA15+ is required for "games for the elder teenage demographic." People don't just suddenly jump from child to adult.

    Removing the MA15+ rating is merely an attempt to get the current MA15+ bracket turned into an R18+ bracket, whilst not raising the threshold for Refused Classification. In other words, the worst of both worlds.

    The media might complain about gamers being 'bloodthirsty' but adults have a right to view violent fiction if they so choose, and at the moment all I see is movies and books being able to get away with FAR more gruesome stuff than video games.

      I think it is a fair compromise

        And I disagree, because it would basically concede our entire case and not expand the range of content a video game can use.

    The Classification Board is merely an advisory service, not The Ministry of Do What We Say.

    No matter what system they come up with, it will be adhered to, circumvented and ignored to varying degrees.

    The problem with abolishing the MA15+ classification is that it you will no longer recognise that there is a different between the maturity of a 12 year and a 16 year old.

    Personally I believe they should do away with the ambigious acronyms and simply explictly state age ranges, much like PEGI or ESRB. And whatever they do it must be consistent across Games, Film and TV, so that even the most dimwitted and complacent people only have to understand one code.

      Totally agree with an age bracket. It works overseas so why not here?

      I gotta say I find PEGI way too over the top sometimes, for example Portal 2 is rated "12", I'm personally happy to let my 7 year old play it. MA probably confuses a lot of people - but I preffer that to just stamping an arbitrary age on things, seriously if you follow PEGI's ratings - Lego Star Wars is rated "7" my kid's been playing that since he was 4 for goodness sake!

    I could see this working with an extensive retooling of the system by combining M and MA15+ ratings into a new rating, with the addition of R18+.

    If it's simply a case of renaming MA15+ as R18+, it's stupidity and laziness from the politicians.

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