NSW MP Wants To Reclassify Up To 50 MA15+ Games To R18+

NSW MP Wants To Reclassify Up To 50 MA15+ Games To R18+

R18+ classification has now been passed in two states and territories, ACT and NSW, with the rest still playing catch-up — but when the NSW parliament sat to discuss its own legislation, MP Greg Donnelly stated that, post the introduction of R18+, “steps will be taken” to reclassify up to 50 MA15+ rated games at a higher classification.

“Following the introduction of the new framework on 1 January 2013,” he said, “steps will be taken to look at what are colloquially referred to as the 50 video and computer games — at least 50 — that it is believed in one way or another have been shoe-horned into the MA 15+ category and should now be rated at the higher classification.”

In context, it’s an interesting statement. Brendan O’Connor had previously stated games that had been refused classification under previous guidelines would not be given the chance to be reclassified as R18+ under new guidelines, so we had assumed that would apply across the spectrum of categories — including games that had previously been classified as MA15+.

In the wake of the above comments, however, it appears as though the waters have become muddied. O’Connor’s statement may have been made in an attempt to quell the ‘floodgate’ fears — fears that an R18+ rating would bring new, more explicit video game content into Australia. Perhaps that doesn’t apply to already classified MA15+ games?

But if it is possible for MA15+ games to be moved into the R18+ category, does this then mean games such as Mortal Kombat, which were refused classification in the past, could now be reclassified under the new guidelines?

Getting a straight answer to that question has been difficult — we asked the Attorney-General’s department to confirm precisely what will and won’t be allowed under the new guidelines.

“Games that are currently Refused Classification will remain RC under the new arrangements,” said a spokesperson for the Attorney-General’s department, “unless reclassified.”

But, according to the AG Department’s spokersperson, the classification board may seek to reclassify content on its own initiative. A request for reclassification can also be made at the request of the Commonwealth Minister responsible for classification.

In addition, individual state and territory Classification Minsters can also request the same process. This may be the method by which Greg Donnelly intends to reclassify current MA15+ rated games at R18+.

It’s also worth noting, however, that games can only be reclassified in this way two years after the game’s previous, existing classification.

We’ve asked for clarification from Greg Donnelly’s office on his precise position on the matter. If games have been “shoe-horned” into an MA15+ rating then, of course, reclassifying these games is absolutely the correct course of action. But the same rule should apply to games that have been refused classification under old guidelines. If MA15+ games shift up a category, surely it’s only fair that games that would have passed under the new guidelines also be reclassified.

In addition, we’re keen to see precisely how this process will work. All 50 of these MA15+ classified games are already on shelves — the logistics of reclassifying all these games could be troublesome.

Thanks to Dan Golding for the tip!


      • Obviously just waiting for the entire country. Least I won’t feel like such a loser for pre-ordering it anymore.

    • I’m pretty sure Valve have confirmed that they *will*be re-submitting the game to be reclassified, we just need to get the law’s processed first. Sorry I don’t have proof :/

      • All they need to have done is re-release it under a new name and not sell the disc at retail. No oflc. No problems. This is how smart companies deal with the issue. Download only and no boxes on shelves is how l4d2 should have released.

    • L4D2 is currently in the hands of 15 year olds, I don’t see valve updating the MA15+ version to an R18+ when it’s currently being bought and played by people under the age of 18.

  • As a current EB employee, One who will always question parents when their buying a MA game for their 6 year old child (Do you know this game has high violence, sexual themes etc etc, sadly its still about 50% of parents that don’t care and buy it anyway) I’m interested to see how EB’s going to handle the introduction of R18.

    I don’t think they would go for a sectioned off area, but i would be funny having a black curtained-off and dimly lit area at the back of the store heh.

    • We arnt talking about porn here gosh -_- lol

      I don’t see anything changing in how the games will be displayed, just more checking

        • Ya think? Even when you tell them that the games contain content which isn’t suitable for a child parents buy it anyway.

          Some parents don’t give a fuck. The games could come in opaque black plastic like porn mags and they’d still probably buy it for their kids.

      • R rated movies have to be displayed in a separate, designated spot in SA stores now, so why can’t the same rules apply to games?

    • I’ve always imagined it would just come down to not advertising the games in-store, and they wouldn’t be allowed to be shown on shelves or something like that… sounds reasonable to me.

    • lol, id assume there would maybe be a separate shelf, perhaps near the counter for easy monitoring?
      I think the R rating will deter parents a bit more, it has that negative connotation along with adult movies, should make parents think twice if thats the first thing they think of, lol.

    • I hire R18+ dvds from my local video store. They are on display. If you look closely you can see movies like pulp fiction and the ecorcist -ON THE SHELVES!!!!

    • in some states as the laws about R18 are, you will HAVE TO by law have a sectioned area. Those states currently are South Australia and WA.

    • haha bringing back the old days of the house of the dead games with curtains around them… if anything it made it more intriguing to the underaged

    • There is no difference between how a MA15+ and a R18+ in terms of how you have to handle it. You are not meant to sell it to people under that age unless they have a guardian/parent present. I’m not sure about SA/WA having to put them in their own area.

  • Does the state even have the right to reclassify? I thought they were only allowed to revoke a classification and it’s up to the distributor to reclassify.

    • Yes any state or federal attorney general can request a re-classification. It also costs them $0 (whilst it costs members of public and publishers, $10,000)

    • Yeah, as long as a game is available for sale instead of banned or censored to fit MA15+ then I don’t really care. Rate them all R18+ for all I care.

  • Does anyone know what the 50 games that Donnelly is referring to are? By the way that quote is worded, it sounds like they have a specific list. Has anyone seen it?

  • I doubt this will happen. Who pays for the re- submission? It implies that previous categorization was wrong. It allows parents to go WTF – YOU MEAN THAT GAME SHOULD HAVE BEEN R18+ – let me try and sue you. Also according to the guidelines – do not games have to actually be changed to actually be eligible for a new classification?. Or are 50 games suddenly exempt?

  • making this law retroactive is messy & dangerous.
    eg: if Call of Duty 4 gets bumped up to R18, then all 15-17 year olds who have legally purchased it at MA are now in breach of the law. coz while it is permitted for a minor to play / watch MA rated content with the consent & supervision of their guardian, R18 content is very strictly an 18+ affair.

    are we going to have partents’ of 17 year olds being charged with providing (reclassified) R18 content to minors when the minor themselves purchased the content legally before the reclassification?

    like I said. messy.

    • Yes, making this law retroactive is messy & dangerous. However if they bought the game while it was still legal I cant see it being a problem. There is absolutely no way the police would charge a person who bought the games under the old system. However, give it 3-4 years, there will be no one who bought it under the old system who cannot have it, problem solved.

    • This happened with Manhunt 1. Originally classified MA15, it then got RC’d. There was an amnesty period where you could get a refund i believe.

    • Nope. because it happens to movies all the time If you got a copy of it when it was rated MA15, then it doesnt matter if the game is upped to R18 as you can only get into trouble if you brought the now R18 version of the game for a minor.

      Hell its why David hicks is now thinking of suing the government for being thrown in prision when what he was charged with wasnt technically a crime when he was caught red fucking handed working with the taliban and al-qeda.

      • You seriously have no clue over the hicks thing do you… The whole point is he was never caught doing anything. The evidence was circumstantial and the charges were retroactive… Hes been proven almost conclusively to be innocent just the yanks dont want to lose face…

      • Your talking about David Hicks?

        If so, the supposed Providing Material Support for Terrorism is a very, very different to the Possession of an R18+ Game by a Minor, especially if they bought it at a time when it was legal.

        As I said above, there is absolutely no way the police would charge a person who bought the games under the old system, they don’t have the time and resources to make an effective deterrent. However, given it 3-4 years, there will be no one who bought it under the old system who isn’t 18, problem solved. Sure it takes time, Sure its imperfect but its a problem that solves itself.

    • I don’t think he’s talking about applying it retroactively. It sounds more like he’s got a shitlist and is going to get the relevant minister to ask the classification board to re-evaluate them. Either they will move up or they won’t but that’ll be up to the classification board. This is basically the way it’s meant to work.

      To put it another way, one of the key arguments for introducing R18+ was that there’s games being classified as MA15+ which shouldn’t be in that category and should have been R18+ (Madworld on Wii for example maybe). Assuming that that’s the case, once the new category is introduced, it isn’t unfair to think that specific titles which we know were under-rated previously would be re-evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

      This MP saying he’ll force stuff to be moved is just posturing and rhetoric to make it sound like he’s being tough against it. He doesn’t (or at least shouldn’t – they’re supposed to be an independent body) have any say in how the board actually decides to classify the material.

    • Ok first off it is NOt unlawful or illegal for someone under the age of 18 to play or own even a game that is classified R18 either by retrospectively changing it or by adults purchasing it (they own it) . The minor can not be charged with anything. The only person who can be charged/fined under the act is the person who supplies the item to said minor. In other words the actual retailer bears all the responsibility though an adult who can be shown purchased the product with sole intent to give to a minor knowingly could be charged, it is highly unlikely and would be quite a hard case to prove.

      It’s like alcohol or tobacco, whilst it is illegal for someone to provide (sell) these otherwise legal products to a minor it is NOT illegal for the minor to actually drink/smoke them. A police officer can remove the product from the minors possession but can not charge them with anything, only the person who supplies them.

      As for parents being charged, highly and extremely unlikely and especially due to the non-retrospective nature of criminality would never happen. Also the problem with re-classifying anything under our legal regime of classification (unlike in America where its actually a voluntary code and not a legal one) is second hand sales. The knock on effect is and can be chilling and very problematic especially since who is going to pay for all the new stickers sent out to everyone who might of purchased the product ever.

      The re-classification upwards of already classified content is highly messy, The retrospective legality is non existent in relation to minors using the product.

  • It will be interesting to see which games are on that list.

    Also, I assume that the burden of cost to reclassify these games would be on the developer/publisher themseleves. It might lead to a situation where they just don’t want to have to put in the time, effort and money required to get the games reclassified.

  • If there going to reclassify currant MA15+ will they reclassifiy currant RCed games as they were to violent for MA15?

    • says in the article that games hit with RC under the old laws wont be eligible for reclassification under the new laws.

      still, wont stop publishers re-releasing a ‘new’ edition (ie, throw in some DLC so its technically a new product & therefore eligible for submission).

    • Because games currently RC’d don’t pose a threat to minors. Put simply, the government will get more negative press than positive press if they start reclassifying RC’d games, but reclassifying high-end MA into R aids in the protection of minors (incidentally generating good press).

  • I don’t know why any of you think that the politicians have any intention of letting adults play games with content that was previously RC’d.

    They changed the rules for a better nanny state – not to remove the nanny.

  • It would be exactly how they handle the reclassification of movies from MA15 to R18 which is just a case of throwing a new sticker on the box and i definately agree that Mortal Kombat and L4D and other games that were RC’d should be re rated and given the R18 approval should they meet the guidelines.

    Off the top my head i can think of the following games that would be bumped up to R18: AvP2010, MW2 (for the no russian map), Dishonored, The Witcher 1 & 2, FarCry 3 i see being bumped to R18 for the drug use

    • Here in New Zealand, Dishonored is rated “R18- contains Graphic Violence.” Despite this, 16-year-old me had no trouble picking it up on release day without any I.D nor parental involvement of any kind..

  • I think this is a sensible move. Games like GTA4 are adult games and I think parents should know they have adult content.

  • I have no problem with this idea, assuming the cost is borne by the government, not by the publishers who have followed procedure to date.

    • So you’re happier with your (and our) tax dollars being spent than the money of private companies? That strikes me as very odd…

      • I work in the public service. It’s an odd system.

        Also, I’m not sure it’s fair that publishers get charged again because of regulation changes beyond their control several years down the track…

  • The real problem here is that arbitrary 2 year period to be reclassified. If the classifications have been drastically altered during that 2 year period, why shouldn’t the games be looked at again to make sure that they are classified correctly?

  • Well I have no issue with this happening as this was genuinely part of the issue with our ratings system, but it does seem unreasonable if they won’t go back and reclassify all the RC’d games of the last two years to make them legal to buy in Australia (assuming they fall within the scope of the new R18+ rating of course).

  • As a parent and a gamer, I’m happy if they separate the 18+ stuff – it makes it easier to find something suitable for the younguns, I don’t need my 6 year old begging to play GTA because it’s got a colourful box.

  • Soo.. the 50 or so games that were rated MA15+ were incompetently/fraudulently/negligently classified instead of refused classification? Is this the message he wants us to take home? Because that’s the exact message I am getting from this.

    Not that ANY of this even matters with imports being so utterly cheap and easy to get. It was really just a principle thing rather than a practical thing anyway.

    • classification is like putting a “are you 18” button before viewing porn. that sure kept me out when I was a kid.

  • I warned ya’s all that this would happen. Retailers will be bleeding when games that were previously M15 can now only be sold to 18 and over. But no…Let’s get an R rating you said. When the next COD or BF gets an R rating it will be shitstorm on the internets. Especially if games need to be modified to get a lower rating in order to bring in the fat cash! An R rating seriously limits the amount of revenue a piece of entertainment can bring in. What’s the answer I don’t know. All I know is that I was happy to import when something was refused classification here…

    • the majority of publishers believe there are games on the shelves today that are rated MA15+ which they would happily rate R18 if they could. They won’t modify the games just to get MA15+. There is numerous reasons for this. One being that it will be legal to import the uncut version into Australia with R18 in place. the Customs act only prohibits classified RC games. If a game is unclassified it is legal to import. If they never send the uncut version to COB and its never classified RC, its legal to import as an individual because under the Customs Act its not a prohibited item as its never been classified under Australian law!

    • I dont understand how this stops you from importing them, but setting that aside lets buy into your premise for a second: Are you honestly trying to tell us that the majority of profit from games, including CoD, is coming from people under 18?

      Like, I get that you think you are some kind of prophet predicting the end of the industry due to that meddling R18+ rating but you just come off as a 17 year old who is pissed he has to ask his mum to pick up a copy for Black Ops 2 for him.

      Personally I’m pretty sure an R18+ rating for CoD is a win-win situation. On the one hand you have less kids playing CoD and a better environment for the fans, on the other hand you have less people playing CoD in general. Everybody wins.

      • Our R rating is a lot of different to other countries. A lot allow under 18’s to partake under parental supervision, while here it’s strictly forbidden. I never stated that this would kill the industry. It will certainly affect it, and not in a positive way that we all hoped. Anything the CB touches turns to shit! ’nuff said!

  • Oh no! A shitstorm! ON THE INTERNET. Better get into the bunker.
    You would have made a fair point, except time and time again it has been shown that the majority of gamers are over 18 and therefore will not be affected by this, thus rendering your point moot. Sorry to hear your mum won’t buy R rated games for you, I’m real sad and shit l about how I won’t be able to play Battlefield 4 with the likes of you. /incaseitwasnttotallyfuckingclearimbeingsarcastic

    • Oh no it was clear. And Mummy stopped buying my games back when Milli Vanilli was big. Yes there’s a large portion of 18+ year old gamers, but there’s a lot under that age too. That’s my point. Those sales will be forgone now. Peace out!

  • God I hate governments.

    > “Games that are currently Refused Classification will remain RC under the new arrangements,” said a spokesperson for the Attorney-General’s department, “unless reclassified.”

    That is —> “RC games will stay RC unless they don’t stay RC”. FFS.

  • Oh stop being so damn dramatic. Stores in NZ, UK, USA, Canada and many others haven’t bled to death just because the popular games like GTA have an 18+ rating.

    The Australian R rating will be no different. I see R rated movies like Pulp Fiction, Goodfellas, Casino, Scarface and many others casually sitting around in Kmart, BigW or any other store that sells or rents movies. No one’s going to bleed or lose revenue.

    I also sincerely hope gamers start getting treated like adults because to me it’s look more like they’re still going to ban the same types of games they did before and label would-be MA games R18+. Did you also know that there is a certain time frame where by the pollies are actually allowed to request a product be reviewed? I think it’s 12 months. So unless there’s 50 would-be R rated games that have been classified MA within the last 12 months, this NSW MP won’t legally be able to make an application to have them reviewed. The CB is an independent body, pollies can’t just force them to reclassify products. They must be independently examined by the board and after 12 months or so the classification of any given product is permanent.

    But as I always say, who gives a fuck what the government does when we can just order our games online for cheap any way? Customs are useless, so no worries there either.

    • Your faith in our CB is to be commended. Your statement is predicated on them not fucking this up. Which they’ve never done in the past. Riggghhhht…

    • The rating system in the USA (The ESRB) is a voluntary code only and is not a legally enforceable structure unlike our statutory rating system here in Australia.

      This is why California lost the restriction of games case. Their First Amendment, whether its good or bad, trumps classification systems. This is also the same for the MPAA film ratings too.

  • I for one, welcome those comments and it will be interesting to see it in action.

    FYI – was at my local EB store in canberra over the last weekend and overheard a conversation between the EB guy behind the counter and a lady who was about to buy Dishonoured for her kid (who was standing beside her and didn’t look older than about 12). The EB guy asked the lady if he knew that the game was rated MA15+ and contained copious amounts of violence as well as a lot of blood. The lady looked confused for a second and then replied by saying that she didn’t even notice the rating as she was just buying it for her son. She then decided to NOT buy the game and started to ignore her son’s tantrum as she dragged him out of the store.

    Was truly epic. Annoying brat, for sure. But still epic to witness.

  • The law -can- be applied retroactively and you can be charged, but in wide-spread cases like ratings changes (and commenting on Kotaku) they tend not to bother and go with the stance “If you do it from here on out, you’ll be charged.”

  • Looking good quality and ceivrong able-bodied is a inevitability. Having a principle in existence is not. MOG is one of those sites who never think about the purpose rather than satisfying its players with their enthusiastic games options.

  • So that means if Netherealm and Warner Bros want to resubmit Mortal Kombat 9, they’ll have to wait until sometime February 2013? I really hope they do resubmit.

  • i knew this would happen. just an excuse for more censorship in this nanny state. R 18 means more censorship not less.. just like with movies. when they intro the R for movies in 74 movies were still being banned and still are.

    ofcourse games will still be banned and banned games not having ban lifted.

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