Now that it looks as though Australia is set to (hopefully) receive its R18+ rating before the end of the year, we've collected a few reactions to the news from folks as wide ranging as the Green Party, EA, Ron Curry of the iGEA, and - believe it or not - the ACL.
We are encouraged that AGs have reached an in principle agreement to bring Australia’s game ratings in alignment with modern policy.
Australia needs a rating system that recognises that millions of adults play videogames
The current policy of the Australian government forces an arcane censorship on adults who play games – cuts they would never impose on movies, books or other forms of artistic expression
This year, the American Supreme Court voted overwhelmingly to affirm that game developers deserve the same creative freedom as film makers and authors
Today's news is encouraging since continued delays in Australia will keep adult consumers waiting for the right to make their own content choices for entertainment, and increase risk of adult content being accessed by minors
An in-principle agreement for an R18+ classification is a big step towards a robust ratings system that best equips parents to manage their children’s access to appropriate content, as well as enables adults the ability to play games of their choice within the confines of the law.
It is entirely reasonable that each Minister should have taken the necessary time to fully understand the underlying issues and to grasp why Australia so desperately needs an adult classification for video game, and we look forward to entering into a dialogue with NSW Attorney-General Greg Smith.
This is the first step in the legislative process and until we can review the final guidelines, we can’t fully assess the impact of an adult rating for games in Australia. We can be confident however that all content will be subjected to stringent classification guidelines and games which exceed an R18+ classification rating will still be refused classification and banned in Australia.
With an adult rating finally on the horizon, we can now better focus our energy on more relevant discussions around content classification as entertainment formats and content continue to blur.
ACL was surprised that the issue was not deferred until the Australian Law Reform Commission completes its review of the National Classification Scheme, which includes examining the classification of games."
ACL’s concern in this debate has always been to maintain the existing ceiling for games so that there is no possibility of a higher level of graphic violence and interactive sex legally available for sale and hire in Australia.
The draft R18+ guidelines as originally proposed would have matched the R18+ guidelines for films. This was clearly never in the interests of the community, with the boundaries of the R18+ film guidelines slowly eroded to allow extreme violence, actual sex and simulated paedophilia in films.
Although ACL awaits the final detail from the meeting, it appears that the existing ceiling for games has been maintained with a commitment to move the more extreme MA15+ games into a newly-created R18+ rating.
With some tightening of the MA15+ category, the retention of the existing RC category and no liberalisation of the existing games market, the outcome today is a significant improvement from what had been previously put to ministers for their approval.
Despite the R18+ ratings for games issue seemingly resolved, there was still a lot of work to do to ensure children really would be protected from harmful games through effective enforcement mechanisms and by consistent application of the guidelines by classifiers.
The assurance of ministers who backed the R18+ rating as a means to protect children needs to be matched by action to prevent children from accessing such games.
In this respect, ACL welcomes the agreement of ministers to ‘commence drafting amendments to their enforcement legislation to reflect the introduction of an R18 + category for computer games’.
Concerns remain that the classification system over time allows higher levels of content to be pushed down into lower ratings. There is still some work to be done in ensuring classifiers apply ratings in a consistent manner, with the interests of assisting parents in mind.
The ACT has consistently campaigned for this important reform and we are pleased to see it implemented today.
This decision will allow adults to access adult content on computer games in the same way that they already can for film and printed material.
This decision also protects parents and their children by giving them better information and advice on the content of computer games and whether or not they are suitable for young people.
I congratulate all those Attorneys who have supported this decision, and look forward to seeing further details about amendments to the National Classification Code from the federal government.