Classification Board: What's Next For R18+?

In the wake of news that R18+ legislation passed through the senate without amendment, Jane Fitzgerald, Assistant Secretary at the Classification Operations Branch spoke extensively at Game-Tech about what happens next for R18+ in Australia. There's a lot that still needs to be done, but Jane seems confident that loose ends will be tied up in time for the January 1 deadline.

Jane also went into detail on the difficult process of pushing R18+ classification through Parliament.

"Bringing this into fruition has been a really long task," she said.

"To cut a long story short, there were 27 speakers in the House of Representatives, and two parliamentary committee inquiries, on top of all the other stuff that happened before it got there. This included me having to give some evidence to one parliamentary inquiry. Then there were four speakers in the senate last night, but the bill has now passed."

According to Jane, the Classification Board has plenty to do before January 1, and not all of it is in her hands.

"Before we can relax, before January 1, we’ve got plenty to do,"she explained. "Firstly we have to finalise new standardised computer game guidelines. Some of ou have been keenly following these. What I can say today is that the commonwealth is hopeful of finalising the guidelines very soon, over the past six months detailed negotiations have occurred to produce a set of guidelines that will be acceptable to all jurisdictions and I hope that in the very near future they will be released.

"Finally we need to produce a new markings determination, which is a document that sets out the rules about how and where classifications and consumer advice need to be displayed. And we should also have that done before January 1."

And there is, of course, the matter of the additional state and territories legislation.

"The states and territories have some work to do as well," she said. "They need to pass the complimentary legislation through their respective parliaments. The ACT has already drafted its bill and I know that several other states are very advanced in developing theirs."

Jane remains optimistic that state legislation will be passed in time.

"All censorship ministers have agreed on the timetable, so I’m operating on the assumption that they’ll all get the job done," said Jane. "We know, from keeping in touch with our state and territory based colleagues that people are at various stages of advancement with getting the legislation drafted to be passed. All of the jurisdictions have sitting period in the second half of the year, so they can all potentially get it done.

"I’m choosing for the moment, to operate on the basis that it’ll be done. So let’s cross that bridge when we hopefully don’t come to it!"


    L4D2 uncensored please so it's actually worth playing..

      Valve actually said that they'll immediately release a patch one Australia gets an R rating. Meaning the people who are not old to play the game but bought it before the rating change will be playing it.

        It was MA15+, and considering it's been over 3 years since the release of L4D2, then most of them will be old enough :p

          I hope that is the case, I had a pirated version at first and was sad when I finally bought the Australian copy D:

          I was pretty surprised that Dead Island got through despite being infinitely more violent. :S

          Given the patch will only be released over Steam (console players can enjoy the same support Valve provided on consoles for TF2) then how were any Steam sales policed in the first place?

      AFAIK they cant get a game which was rejected under previous laws re submitted under the new laws

      I think it would be good if they can however having a US version i'm not too much of a worry about this :)

        Any game can be re submitted - but at expense to the publisher and must have changes made or be seeking a new classification. None will be done automatically but if say Mortal Kombat was sent in it may pass as R18+ this time, instead of failing to meet the requirements for MA15+.

    Which states are lagging behind and should we be contacting our state representatives to try and encourage them to push it through?

      I'll give you a hint, it starts with South ...

      Yeah I want names. Who can I type angrily at?!

    I won't be surprised when QLD lags behind :(

      Considering "Can Do Campbell" is basically in bed with the ACL I won't be surprised either. We might have to head south to NSW buy our games there and smuggle them back across the border. :) Who I'm I kidding I haven't bought retail in years thanks to Steam, GMG, OzGS and eBay.

    Im still waiting for the ACL to decry that this is the start of the end of the world and that have proof of horses eating each other what with this and the thing about gay marriage yesterday

      I think the gay marriage debate is why we haven't heard anything yet.

      Imagine the I told you so's if the world really did end. I could just die... Wait.

    18+ Rating = Good... Finalise Guidelines = Pending / Concerned...

    Just because there is now an R18+ Rating, doesn't mean something like Mortal Kombat get a free pass, the problem that still could happen is with the guidelines, but all that might happen is they decide to adjust the goalposts, so the definitions of MA15+ might just be moved to the R18+ category and no major amendments will be added.

    Personally, I don't believe something like this will actually happen, but until a complete set of guidelines are agreed and they include something like "High Impact Level Violence", then we should keep some of the excitement in check.

      I'm sure a lot of people are being reserved in their excitement. For the reasons you mentioned I certainly am. Even so it's good to get a little excited, SOMEthing is gonna happen and it probably will make the system better, rather than worse.

      Personally I thought MK was a horrifically violent game. Would not be surprised if it got RC. I know it's supposed to be humorously over the top, but the violence and the fans baying for blood put me off.

    haha I want a R18+ sims

      that won' happen ea is determined to keep it teen rated it the states heck they even toned sims 3 down a lot compared to 2

    Now if we only had some truly mature games to go along with the new classification.

    No. Ultra violent isn't the same as mature.

    It still infuriates me beyond my ability to adequately express it that there are "censorship ministers" in the first place.

    please put R 18+ on all future FPS games and make it harder for teenage trolls to get their hands on those games......

    So what about all the other classification issues, where do they stand at the moment? Eg the need for every game to be submitted for review, and all that talk of switching to a self-classifying system. Also the whole deal where so many smaller games don't bother to get classified (and therefore released) here because the market isn't big enough to justify the huge cost of classification.

    You know, all that jazz.

    This is potentially a double edged sword having an R classification for games now. The censorship board may decide that an MA15+ rated game may be suited to an R rating in some cases under the new system. An R rating will be a hindrance to sales. It is for theatrical box office releases.

    My concern is that it will either force publishers to make cuts to bring it back down to a lower rating. Or worse still, not release them in our territory at all. Could you imagine the upset if the next COD or Gears is slapped with an R rating? And realistically how much have we really been deprived of under the current classification system? You could probably count them on one hand when you think about it...

    I myself have imported where this has been a problem in the past. There's ways around it...

    Don't get me wrong, I detest censorship, but I worry how our board arbitrarily applies ratings to everything currently. Things are about to get interesting I reckon if this passes in all states.

      In response, the question I would ask is "Does that impact upon sales of such games in the UK / Europe that are rated 18?" It would seem not.

      Yes, some stores may not carry them if they are going for the family demographic, but I doubt it will impact much. How many stores who sell DVD's don't sell R rated DVD's (excluding "mainly concerned with sex" related R ratings)?

      Cinema releases are a different beast and I'd suggest are impacted more by the demographic of movie patrons, mainstream advertising requirements and impacts/backlash. Future TV broadcast restrictions may also influence (assuming your not selling to SBS).

      I don't think an R rating will hurt a game's sales, I think perhaps we have an MA rating because movie distributors thought R was hurting their Australian Box Office (I'm not sure of the history but it seems about right given how many action movies hit the MA rating these days)

      The R rating should be reserved (in my understanding) for things OTHER ADULTS may find objectionable, things like Gore or Horror, No Russian perhaps, excessive visceral violence (I'd throw Gears in this category for sure - there were parts of it that sickened me (usually when I got killed and ripped in two) so I could see it getting an R rating given the option, do I think it would hurt their sales, not one iota.

    My father is good friends with Susan Close and Jay Weatherall. I've already put in my two cents to get this done in SA.

    If only Mortal Kombat 9 would get unbanned...

    We have much gorier games in MA15+ rating...

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