You Could Go To Prison For Selling An R18+ Game To Minors

You Could Go To Prison For Selling An R18+ Game To Minors

Now that each separate state and territory is in the process of putting together its own laws regarding R18+ and classification, we’ve managed to take a quick scan at some of the legislation, which has either passed or is in the process of being passed. It lays out, in detail, some of the specific restrictions for the display and sale of R18+ games in the State, and also includes information on how consumers and retailers could be punished if they put themselves in breach of those restrictions. You could go to prison for selling an R18+ game to minors.

Victoria’s proposed legislation seems to be the most harsh in terms of punishments. If you are caught selling an R18+ game to a minor in Victoria you could be looking at a major fine, or up to six months in Prison. Displaying an R18+ game in a public place where minors could possible see the game also comes with the same punishment.

The penalty for showing a game that has been refused classification to a minor has been massively increased. Previously the punishment was the equivalent of a slap on the wrist with a fine. Now there is the possibility of two years in prison for the same offense.

It’s worth bearing in mind that, at time of writing, this legislation has not yet been passed.

In the NSW legislation, which has been passed, there is no mention of prison time — but some pretty hefty fines. Individuals can be punished up to 100 penalty points for selling R18+ material to minors, with corporations themselves being subject to a punishment equivalent to 200.

Each State and Territory has committed to having its legislation put through Parliament before January 1, with ACT and NSW leading the way. Western Australia’s legislation has been referred to a committee and Victoria’s legislation is in the process of being looked at by Parliament.

More news as we get it.

Thanks Choc!


  • So does this mean these games will have a back corner curtained off section of the store like an adult shop?

    • Nah, nobody will ever be affected by these laws. They’re a pain to police, and don’t raise revenue like speeding fines, nor do they protect people from significant harm like assault laws.

      The only way someone would be done under these laws is by a sting, either by the police (unlikely), a community group (ex: ACL, etc), or another retailer who wants to crush their opponents by jailing their frontline staff (seriously unlikely).

  • Will this affect kids under 18 getting jobs in places that sell games? I know you don’t get kids working at bottle shops or bars. Would large stores like Big W simply not stock games with the R18+ rating?

    • I’m under 18 and work at EB games, I’ve asked my manager and they have no intention of firing me so I would guess not.

    • For the Record in Queensland if your 16 years old and can get an RSA (Responsible Service of Alcohol) you can serve alcohol, your not allowed to drink it just because you work in a bar, but most bars don’t want their staff drinking at work anyway.

      So an 16 or 18 wouldn’t matter, most bars also won’t hire a 16yo kid because it would be too much hassle explaining they can sell you a beer they just can’t drink one.

  • What about punishment for people who buy restricted content for minors. R18+ doesn’t include a “guidance” clause, meaning it should be illegal for a parent to provide restricted content to a minor; technically it enters the realm of child abuse and has the potential to incur involvement by DOCS (if they were a more reliable dept).

    • Addendum: yes, I am suggesting that children could be removed from parents who do purchase restricted content for children. It should be treated the same as supplying any other “restricted” goods: alcohol, pornography, nicotine, etc.

      • pro tip in NSW at least parents can give alcohol to children under 18 with supervision. In their own house, not in public.

      • How dare you conflate child abuse with providing restricted content, while advocating removing a child from their parents. You have no idea of the damage that can cause.

      • LOLOLOLOL I don’t get all you pro-nanny state people. And like Choc said, alcohol can be supplied to children and like timothyzeven said, taking children away from parents will do a lot more damage. I just simply don’t understand people with your mentality. The government should stay out of how someone wants to raise a children unless they are seriously harming them. Censorship should not be up to the government.

      • Personally I think this should be brought in as a law because politicians can’t then use the parents buying it and giving it to their ten year old. But then it wouldn’t be enforceable at all so all the 15+ year olds can still play R18+ games.

      • I’m going to assume you’re exaggerating here. Truth be told it is almost impossible to take kids away from… anyone really… except in the most extreme circumstances. My mother is a school counselor in a very poor area, and has seen some horrible things. Horrible things that aren’t “quite” enough to get kids taken. Put simply: This Never Happens. If kids get taken by DOCS it’s because of something that either puts their physical safety at significant risk, or involves sexual abuse. “Little” things like kids being given marijuana or booze, and occasional physical violence not resulting in long term injury get by with just a warning on a daily basis. The more you know the less you want to know.

        Now putting something about parents in the legislation on the other hand… the biggest problem for ratings systems at home is that all it takes is one kid to be allowed to play deadbeat dad’s copy of GTA and suddenly “the whole school is playing it so why can’t I?”… hence whole class groups of 10 year old kids shooting virtual cops. A threat to the parents like a fine would go a long way towards an excuse to shoot down what advertiser’s refer to as “pester power”. Deadbeat dad cops a fine, the rest of the local parents can point to it and inform their kids that they simply don’t want to get in trouble! Not that this will stop some kids from whining, but its that much easier to stick to your guns as a parent when there is a very clear legal decision, not just your own disgression.

    • This falls under the “display restricted content to a minor” and “display RC content to a minor” clauses. The penalties are currently monetary, but may, as Mark wrote above, begin to include prison time. However, these clauses are damn near unenforceable, and those who are most able to (ie: front-line retail staff who can see that MW3 is for the 8 year old) are financially disincentivised to do so.

  • The penalty for showing a game that has been refused classification to a minor has been massively increased. Previously the punishment was the equivalent of a slap on the wrist with a maximum $3000 fine. Now there is the possibility of two years in prison for the same offense.

    What the hell? *Any* RC material without taking into account why it was refused classification? Even if it was RC back before there was an R-18 category and probably would be classified under the changed act?

    If this is already the legislation for movies, books etc then I’ve got slightly less of a problem but games shouldn’t be singled out.

    Just as well a bullshit law like that is going to be unenforceable. I guess the police were running out of trumped-up bullshit laws in their back pockets to pin on people when they couldn’t get them otherwise?

    • This is already the law. It is already nigh-unenforceable. It is currently illegal (and at least a simple offense, but more likely a crime) to show MA15+ content to people under the age of 15. Again, it is already unenforceable.

      • Not quite. MA15+ content can (legally, at least) be shown to people under 15 so long as they’re accompanied by a parent or guardian. As it applies to games, a frontline store clerk just has to say “…And you’re aware that this game is rated MA15+?” And if they say “yes” then it’s perfectly fine (from the store’s point of view) to sell it.

        • Similar to what you’re supposed to do whenever someone is purchasing knives or scissors. You have to ask them for ID if they look young, because legally, you’re not allowed to sell them to people aged under 16 years old.

    • The law is being amended for games, films and books. Games are not being singled out. RC is being jacked because R18 games now exist meaning the Vic government expects RC to be extreme shit

  • So R18+ is going to be seen as pornography ^.^ not aloud to be shown in a public place…. So either have to be 18+ to enter a game store let alone buy an R18+ game, or maybe hidden away in black cabinets like cigarets yet again underground adult shops dedicated to selling R18+ games. Fuck me! They are honestly taking this way to seriously!

    • No different to any other R18+ classified material.. Porn is X Rated or Restricted.. different classification. Whether it’s a book, film or game.. if it’s R18+, then by the very definition it should be restricted to Adults only.. why is this such a shock to you??

      • Because of “entitled gamer” syndrome. Many people seem to forget that they changed their tunes in order to get the R18+ issue passed and now want to be outraged that they’re getting what they asked for.

    • Not really, it will be just in the old video stores and news agents where R18 videos and magazines would be in their own section of the store (usually right next to the counter or down the back)

      There’s a huge Difference between X18 and R18 in this country. You can not buy X18 from the news agent or from the likes of Blockbuster as you can only get them from Adult Shops but you definately by R18 movies from Kmart and R18 magazines from your local newsagent.

    • Not at all. There’s no way that R18+ games will be ‘hidden’ unless the cover art depicts gratuitous violence or nudity. And even then, it won’t be because of legislation, it will be because of individual prudence or lack thereof that they will be hidden or displayed, respectively.

      Upon re-reading the post, I see where the concern comes from, but “display” will probably mean “demonstrate the media”, not “show the cover”. Otherwise, MA15+ games would have to be hidden already!

      • Edit: Ooookay, this got a whole load of crazy. They don’t use the word ‘display’, they use the phrase ‘keep with other classified computer games’, which does suggest that, yes, keeping the boxes together would be an offence.

        Defence lawyer in me says: “I’m just keeping the boxes together, the media is hidden behind the counter in the drawer” but I dunno how well that’d hold up.

        Hell, without seeing the final legislation and just going by the linked memorandum above, this could apply anywhere, not just in a shop. It could apply in a house. It could apply to data on a hard drive (ex: steam). And it only applies to, quote: ‘unclassified computer game[s that are] subsequently classified R 18+’, so if it’s classified R18+ but was never RC’d, then it’s exempt!

        Horrible, horrible drafting here :S

      • Yeah. This was my first question on the subject. Does display mean on the shelf or actually running. I’m hoping for demonstration but it’s not hard to imagine it meaning on the shelf.

    • Extreme ecstasy of looking at CoD front cover and fap while looking at Catherine’s PS3 cover. Then girls will drool all over Shepards face on ME3 and little kids will fap at the alternate cover which covers the Fem Shep badass look.

      Oh and Risen 2 original blood coloured cover will cause trauma and they will become a killer.

  • The penalty for display is interesting, since by the same legislation potentially the only reason for the higher rating is a higher impact due to interactivity.

  • Does “Displaying an R18+ game in a public place where minors could possible see the game also comes with the same punishment.” mean showing the game playing (like the demo stations) or just showing the actual case? It reminds me of my younger days when I would look at the “Adult” section of the video store and wonder what was hidden behind those curtains. Or even back when arcades were still good and you’d have House of the Dead with that curtain hanging around it.

    • Good point. At the eb expo they had games on big screens for all kids to see but then restricted the ages who could play them. Was kinda wierd as they could watch the games for hours if they wanted but not play for 5min.

      • I assume the Expo was rated “MA15+” – much like the Big Day Out is – so, so long as they’re accompanied by an adult they’re OK to be present to see the vids from MA games. Somewhere on the ticket or in the marketing, EB would have made the fact that MA content will be displayed abundantly clear.

  • i wonder if some bi law that allows the “censoring” of r18+ covers can be made, so that, you can still sorta advertise the product, just not show it. in the same way porno mags in 7eleven are.

  • Please be aware that display in this sense means showing (displaying) video and gameplay in public areas.

    The same rules have long been applied to MA15+ movies and games. The reason why store don’t put mature games on playable machines and why arcade machines that are, or close to MA15+, have curtains.

  • Some of this is just silly:

    prohibit a person from leaving either an R 18+
    computer game, or unclassified computer game which, if
    classified, would be R 18+, in a public place or on private
    premises without the occupier’s permission.

    Don’t lose your copy of COD people!

    I also didn’t see anything about displaying R18+ game cases, just demonstrating the game itself. So you can have the game on shelf but you can’t show the game’s contents (and the rules on advertising are very restrictive, basically limited only to showing alongside other R18+ content). Looks like we’re going to see even fewer advertisements for games.

  • The wording suggests to me that it’s the CONTENT that is unable to be displayed ie game demos rather than promotional material like box art or posters.

    Which is perfectly reasonable given that there’s no ratings on point of sale material that I know of, and the whole purpose of ratings is to keep restricted material out of access of minors.

    However I would like some clarification on that.

  • Guys under the current laws proposed and in place (such as NSW) parents are allowed to buy R18 games for kids without punishment.

  • Up to 6 months in prison for displaying R18 games where minors might see them seems a little harsh… The local video store (where I lived growing up) had no qualms about displaying R rated movies wherever they landed in whatever genre they fitted in… but then again, the Arthouse section was right around the corner from the cartoons, so the owners may have just been… um… blind, I guess…
    EDIT: If it’s just referring to displaying footage, then that’s alright, I guess… Will make a lot of rolling ads they have in games stores a little boring, tho, considering how many games are likely going to be pushed to R18…

      • Yes, I realised that after I posted. When I read “display”, I envision cardboard cutouts and “displaying the game” on a couple of shelves. Legalese was never my forte, so a clarification in the article would have been nice…
        Edit: Not legalese – the original document for Vic says “demonstration”, not “display”, which is a lot clearer.

  • and of course yes, display means displaying the actual game. Not the box (although in South Australia R rated movies have to be covered and displayed different. This will flow to games i feel)

  • Mark didn’t mention this but the Vic law also prohibits broadcast of the game on television including advertising

    • Instead of specifying an exact fine in legislation, they specify an amount of “penalty units/points” and work out the fine by multiplying the amount of units by how much they are worth. In NSW each point is worth $110 so the fine for selling R18+ material to a minor works out to be $11,000 for individuals and $22,000 for corporations. Does that help?

  • I’ve worked for “adult” bookstores and I should point out that in NSW X rated DVDs are technically illegal to sell – the law is just rarely enforced. The police have better things to spend their time on and the process in getting a conviction is red tape city. In 10 years in the industry I’ve seen maybe 5 raids, all caused by complaints from competitors or antiporn campaigners making formal complaints to police which the cops HAVE to investigate. There have been some raids where police are investigating drug dealing by staff where they get x material as by-catch. My concern with games is that the anti gaming lobby will force cops to enforce the laws

  • As a retailer the raids are a pain in the arse – legal fees and staff downtime cost precious $, the cops have to take ALL the DVDs to check for illegal content even if its legal material and it’s at least 12 months for stock not breaching the law to be returned – and this is BEFORE you add in fines, loss of staff and the possibility of jail time

  • You don’t need a RSA to supply alcohol to friends (over 18). That’s if you are serving at a event as a bartender etc.

  • This sounds fine. Our EB Games store wouldn’t sell 15+ games to minors to the best of our ability and with it being 18+ even easier, ask everyone. Not hard. You people wanted the “R” rating and this comes along with it. It’s not even something you should about. It takes 5 seconds to ask “You over 18, I’ll need to see I.D.” done. What the Frack is hard about that?

  • Wait, so if I played my copy of GTA3 which was recalled and I refused to return, or my UK imported copy of GTA4 in the same room as my 15 year old brother in law in Victoria, I could get two years jail?



  • fyi the uncut version of GTA IV is legal in Australia. The uncut PC version was passed no probs and patches were released to uncensor the console versions.

    Also, some of these laws regarding R rated games are a bit extreme because there is STILL the old mentality of “games are worse due to interactivity”. Once that mindset is gone we’ll be in the right place. Having read the wording of the draft legislation from the Federal government, most of it seems reasonable and considerably more liberal than the MA15+ rating but still less liberal than the R rating for movies. The government seems to almost be treating R rated games as porn.

    But hey, what do I care? I can’t remember the last time I bought a game locally. Imports have always been the way to go. The government and it’s petty laws have always been irrelevant to me. NEVER been caught, fined or had anything seized. So once again I laugh at the Australian government for being so naive. Our R rating sounds much more like Singapore or Germany’s 18+ rating. i.e sold under the counter only and treated like porn.

  • What about advertising for these games, then? Does this mean that you cannot even advertise a game if it’s been rated R18+ (since that would essentially be the same as displaying it in a place where minors can see it)? Movies rated R18+ are frequently advertised on TV and other places visible to minors but I’m guessing games will not be…

    • Yep. It says so in the Victorian legislation. You can only advertise R18 games in other R18 media.
      Eg: Trailers before the start of a R18 movie.

  • Gamers asked for government intervention and they got it. No government has the right to tell me what I can and cannot show my nephews, that responsibility is the parents and theirs alone. This law will be ignored like all other classification, and rightly so. I dont care that appealing to family groups and government sensibilities was the only way to get some games legal here, its still wrong.

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