R18+. It happened, finally. Back when I was editing Kotaku Australia full-time, I penned a number of pieces on the subject. In 2008, it seemed like such as uphill battle, so to see it become reality four years later is actually amazing to me. Now that it's here, the Australian Christian Lobby, one of R18+'s main opponents, reckons that the restrictions on sex and violence for R18+ should be the same as the current MA15+.
Speaking with The Age, ACL managing director Jim Wallace stated that for R18+ "to work", its limits on sex and violence would have to match that of the lower rating:
"I expect the new [R18+] classification to be described no differently to MA15+," said the managing director of the Australian Christian Lobby, Jim Wallace.
"If [R18+] is described in looser terms, or is less demanding than the existing MA15+ -- which is already letting [in] things that shouldn't have been there -- then it's not going to work. We already know that some of the games that are sold in Australia are unacceptable and should never have slipped in under the old rating."
Personally, I don't have an issue with a broader look at the ratings now that we have (well, will soon have) R18+. Heck, one of my arguments back in 2008 was that the inadequacies of MA15+ worked both ways. But the idea that the limits on sex and violence in R18+ should be the same as MA15+ defeats the purpose of the new rating.
Take for instance Left 4 Dead 2 and Soldier of Fortune: Payback, both of which were refused classification due to decapitaton and dismemberment. If the restrictions on violence stayed the same, even with R18+ these games would have been RC'd.
Fortunately, Ron Curry, head of the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association, does not share Wallace's opinion:
"We clearly wouldn't agree with that," he said. "There's no evidence to suggest ... that the content that currently sits there [at MA15+] should only be suitable for adults."
R18+ still has a little way to go and even when it is adopted by the states, I doubt it's an issue that will magically vanish. Games will still be able to be refused classification, though I can't imagine what would now land in that category...
Game on over sex and violence [The Age]