Read The New R18+ Guidelines, And Prepare For Disappointment

The new guidelines for the R18+ rating have just been released, giving us a concrete idea of what the new adult rating for video games will look like. It's difficult to tell precisely how these will be implemented by the Classification Board when the rating comes into being in 2013, but at first glance, it does not look promising.

To begin with, the issue of interactivity increasing the impact of violence — yep, that old chestnut — rears its ugly head.

Interactivity is an important consideration that the Board must take into account when classifying computer games. This is because there are differences in what some sections of the community condone in relation to passive viewing or the effects passive viewing may have on the viewer (as may occur in a film) compared to actively controlling outcomes by making choices to take or not take action.

Due to the interactive nature of computer games and the active repetitive involvement of the participant, as a general rule computer games may have a higher impact than similarly themed depictions of the classifiable elements in film, and therefore greater potential for harm or detriment, particularly to minors.

Interactivity may increase the impact of some content: for example, impact may be higher where interactivity enables action such as inflicting realistically depicted injuries or death or post-mortem damage, attacking civilians or engaging in sexual activity. Greater degrees of interactivity (such as first-person gameplay compared to third-person gameplay) may also increase the impact of some content.

And it looks as though some games that were banned previously in Australia, without an R18+ rating, would most likely be banned under the new R18+ rating. Particularly with relation to in-game drug use.

Computer games will be Refused Classification if they contain: (i) illicit or proscribed drug use related to incentives or rewards; (ii) interactive drug use which is detailed and realistic.

It's too early to make judgements — we'll have to wait and see precisely how the Classification Board applies these guidelines — but the R18+ rating, at this stage seems to share similarities to the previous MA15+ rating.

You can read the new guidelines in their entirety here.


    censorship is fucking stupid, notice how they ban anything about drugs? its BS. Not all drugs are bad, L.S.D is 100% safe but yet its illegal because it opened peoples mind and helped start the anti-war and anti-government movement in the 60's. Democracy doesnt work because its only democratic among a few people, the majority dont have a say.

      Woodstock man!. WHOOOO! We acoomplished so much.....

      No...... wait...... what was that for again????

      100% safe? L.S.D. can cause permanent psychosis from one bad hit.

      Last edited 16/10/12 2:18 pm

        *100% safe?

    You all jumped on the "we need to protect the children from GTAIV" bandwagon to veil what you truly wanted from the start. Every single person that has commented on this issue (here on kotaku) has never once said "I hope we can do drugs under the new rating".

    Why are you surprised?

      Because I had hoped we could do drugs under the new rating?

      I for one aren't all that surprised. Just bitterly disappointed.

      Not everyone. Personally I just want the games ratings system and the guidelines to come into line with other ratings around the world. I want a system that treats ADULTS as adults and let's them make their own choices in their entertainment mediums and not be dragged down by the "won't someone think of the children" crap that plagues the world today. Children have more rights, protection and choice than adults today. I just want things to be equal.


        " I won't let my kids watch / play that. It's too violent and they're too young to understand right and wrong" = Good parent
        " My kids are watching / playing this game / video. It's too violent. I'm going to blame someone else. Now..... where's my smokes and vodka?" = Parent who should not have children.

      Nah, not quite. While we acknowledged that under classification was an issue, many were expressing their frustration that gmes with mature content were being refused classification and wanted that rectified.

      I, for one, want more titties.

      My submission actually called for an update to a system that cater to developing sophistication of content and audiences. But, im not surprised that the underclassification issue got more volume.

      It was a convenient argument that people knew that politicians would listen to.

    drugs are bad mmkay

    I applaud their sneakiness in their use of the term "may have". Because they say it that way, they lay the burden of proof at the feet of anyone opposing it. In other words, they never said that it "will have", so anyone arguing against them must prove that it "will never", which, due to some small impressionable minority, cannot be proven. The sneaky bastards. One small step for common sense, and one giant leap in the opposite direction.

      can you prove that it is not damaging?
      What happens if in 12 months time a report is published that states that there is a more visceral effect in the participation of violent video games in comparison to watching a film?

        The burden of proof lies on whoever is making the positive claim.

        You can't prove that it is not damaging but you can disprove that it is. The problem is that to disprove that something is damaging it first has to be proven to be damaging.

        That's exactly my point - you can't prove that something never occurs when it is known to occur in a very small number of extremely susceptible people, and you can't prove that these people are no less susceptible to the same content in more passive forms of media (or rather, you can, but not sufficiently to conclusively relate it to the argument).

        If, in 12 months or 12 years, such a report is published, I will wholeheartedly change my views, but until someone can prove it is a real and present concern, and that it affects a significant proportion of people more than the same content in passive media, I side with the 99.9999...% of normal people that it has never been successfully proven for.

        All we can go on is the evidence presented to us, and as of yet, all evidence points to negligible effect in all but the very most extreme of cases.

      Interesting wording in the previous paragraph, tho - they pretty much admit that it's because "there are differences in what some sections of the community condone in relation to passive viewing ... compared to actively controlling outcomes by making choices to take or not take action".

      Does this mean that action that is necessary to progress through the game will be considered as irrelevant as the choice one has to walk out of a movie halfway through? Or is it just their way of saying that even though there's no evidence, a sufficient number of people are concerned about it to make it necessary to consider? Unfortunately, I think it's the latter, but I'm a little cynical after all this time.

      All in all, it doesn't look that bad, but I find the whole "drugs are bad" thing more than a little odd.

    In other news, steak is to be banned in Ausfailia because its potentially damaging to babies.

    When did drug use become the big bogeyman? It's in all the other media... I remember seeing involuntary drug use tied heavily to a benefit/incentive in a movie. No, seriously.. this guy injected someone else while they were incapacitated with stuff that kept them alive! They even named it directly - Adrenaline. I don't recall seeing any tragedies from kids injecting each other with adrenaline after this, but you know.. it's still an obvious danger. When are they gonna crack down on this?

      It's fine to show it, just not make it interactive.

    "interactive drug use which is detailed and realistic."

    Well there goes my big idea for a Wii U game. It was going to display a pile of cocaine on the tablet screen which you could then use a credit card to divide it up into lines and snort it off the screen. This is how the government is killing the Australian game development industry - they're stifling innovation.

      There are stacks of apps exactly like this on the Google Play android store.

    I wonder how many people have actually taken up drugs because of an interactive gaming experience? I'm betting not many, otherwise we'd be hearing about those cases instead of this a priori reasoning about gaming. But we should never let facts get in the way of a good moral panic.

    Fantastic, Now I can enjoy importing banned games because i get to play them and my wallet doesn't get f*cked in the ass. Sorry Aussie gaming industry have fun going out of business because of the govenment who are to dumb to understand what an adults rights are. I can see the millions of dollars lost to importing right now.


      From a fellow Lachlan

    I always said that the new R18 will be the old MA15. Looks like its heading that way.

    "Impact on minors" Isn't this whole fucking thing about keeping these games out of the hands of minors and making them available to purchase exclusively for adults? Why does this even need to be considered? Put hefty fines on sales to under-age persons and let adults decide on what they want or don't want to play for fucks sake.

    How fucking hard can it be for the incompetent usurping politicians to grasp this concept?

    Stop buying at retail. Eventually publishers will abandon it leaving only digital products that the oflc can not classify or ban as they will not be retailed here. If u spent even one cent at eb or jb you are to blame for this situation continuing.

    THIS IS NOT NEW!!!!!!!!

    I've been saying all along, the the proposed for R18+ was not what we wanted. But no-one cared. Good one.

    The whole time the proposed for R18+ wasn't a "real" R18+, it's was simply moving what is currently MA15+ to R18+. They said this in the initial discussion paper, then mentioned again in further documents released.

      I still think this will be an improvement. In the same way that things that should have been R (and thus RC) got squeezed into the MA rating by the OFLC then over time I think they'll gradually allow more and more to squeeze into the R rating that would otherwise have been RC previously.

      The other key thing to note is that at least we now have the R rating there, even if we don't necessarily agree with the guidelines. I'm pretty sure the guidelines can be changed without requiring legislation, so we may also find the guidelines will evolve over time without requiring the same political nonsense that we went through for 20 years trying to get an R rating.

        Im with you Cameron. All this has done is close the door for further reform. People were so excited for this that they never read what was actually being proposed, or simply ignored it hoping it would get better. And now its too late.

          Actually this is the first time the public has been allowed to see these changes for themselves.

      And I didn't read this comment but you're basically right yeah. Same amount of RC'd games.

    To me all it looks like is that most MA15+ games will just get lumped into R18+ and we'll still see many RC'd games regardless. Just slapping on the R18 to keep gamers happy.

    dayZ drug use NOT TO BE TOLLERATED

    I'm cool with this. If a game is banned that I want, I'll import. Against other issues like asylum seekers, racism, gender equality and education, this just isn't important. Sorry guys, it just isn't.

      You're right. But this ain't an asylum seekers, racism, gender equality and education website...

      Maybe its not important to you. I don't give two about seekers, racism and gender equality because they don't affect me. If everyone else in Australia can be ignorant bigots, why not gamers???

      I get your point man, and I agree to a large extent, but just because there are more important issues, doesn't mean we should forget about the little things.

        Once you start ranking issues on importance and only addressing the most important one then you only end up doing anything about one single issue. And more often than not that'll be the issue that you can't actually resolve anyway. Just because it's not at the top of the list doesn't mean it should just be ignored.

    We warned you. For months there were those of us pleading with gamers and lobby groups to focus more on the rights of adults and less on the protection of children. What started as a good gesture to show that the industry could be responsible turned into the only argument we heard.
    Too much focus on why it made sense for concerned parents. Rarely did we hear about the rights of consenting adults during the campaign.

    Judge - "Court is in session. Please state your case"
    Parent - "I'm suing because this game is corrupting my 10 year old child"
    Judge - "Where did your child get this game?"
    Parent - "From me. For his birthday"
    Judge - "You are sentenced to 10 years for idiocy. Case Dismissed"

      Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't the Ace Attorney Phoenix Wright suppose to do the Turnabout not the Judge!

    The guidelines have said that all along. I don't know why it's suddenly news now. They've always been obsessed with this anti-drug garbage and "more harmful due to interactivity" shit.

    I'll just keep importing. Don't give two shits about this counties censorship laws anymore.

    I hate to say I told you so but...... I told you so

    Make your opinion count, vote Greens.

    From their web page policy statement :

    51. make the workings of the Australian Classification Board and OFLC more transparent and subject to public review.
    52. ensure that regulation of the internet is transparent, accountable and protects freedom of speech, expression and access to information.

    Probably be crucified for this, but lets face it, another 50 years of doing exactly the same thing will make EVERYTHING better, not.

    They've gone 100 years on the war on drugs and it looks like they'll happily do another 100. How long do you think it will take to get some actual political change on ratings at that rate?

      This comment has been deemed inappropriate and has been deleted.

      We all know how good Government bodies are at making promises.

      'There will be no Carbon Tax under a Government I lead"

    Import ftw. flawed rules will remain the same and ill import what i want to play EC

    This means that games that 15-16 year olds play today might be R18+ under the new guidelines.

    "Bahahahaha I pwned you n00b!!!"

    "Are you old enough to play this game lawfully?"


    It's still progress. A lot of the guidelines are similar to the MA15 ones, but there will undoubtedly be more wiggle room and they also can't RC games due to themes (like graffiti and drug use)... at least, that's what I'm getting from a brief skim of it.

    That's enough I think. A lot of MA15 games will probably get bumped to R, but a lot of other games that self-censored or were refused classification previously will get through on R too. It'll probably take a while for the classification board to sort themselves out... by which point they'll be irrelevant anyway as digital distribution will be taking the lion's share of the market and not passing through their classification system at all.

    It comes down to parenting, if kids want to buy restricted games it is easy, what parents should actively do is monitor their children's interactions with ALL media.

    I think everyone's jumping the gun a little bit.
    How about wait and see how the guidelines are actually applied.

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