Australia’s New Classification System May Be Restricted To Mobile And Online Games (For Now)

Australia’s New Classification System May Be Restricted To Mobile And Online Games (For Now)

On Friday we learned that the Australian Federal Government intended to implement a number of classification recommendations put forward by the ALRC. For video games, two recommendations have the potential to change the way content is classified in this country. We spoke to Josh Cavaleri, Legal and Policy Counsel for the iGEA to figure out precisely what these changes might entail.

One recommendation allows minor modifications to be made to computer games without further classification. According to Josh this is most likely a move to help facilitate the games industry’s ability to release add-on content for existing video games, and to allow updates to video games to get past classifiers with relative ease.

“The proposed reforms for modifications are likely to cover the usual range of add-on download content for games including map packs, weapon packs, character packs etc,” explained Josh. “The reforms are expected to confirm that such modifications do not require separate classification and can simply inherit the classification of the original game. This approach will certainly be welcomed as the games industry continues to sell a growing amount of DLC online and through local retail channels.”

But that’s arguably the least interesting change — the government’s intention to use video games as a trial for a new automated classification system could be a genuine game changer, making it markedly easier for developers to classify games here in Australia. The extra time and expense of classifying content has long been a problem for many publishers in the Australian market, and has led to many games not receiving official releases locally.

This new pilot system is something the iGEA has made reference to before. According to Josh, it’s a system they’ve been developing alongside the Federal government for some time.

“[It’s] an exciting project that iGEA has been working on over the last two years in collaboration with the Attorney-General’s Department,” he said. “The system is expected to allow developers and publishers to generate a local classification for their game for each participating territory around the world by completing a sophisticated questionnaire. The questionnaire will cover a number of classification elements we are familiar with — including themes, violence, sex, language, drug use and nudity. The system will use responses to provide a dynamic classification that coincides with the cultural expectations and classification requirements of each participating territory around the world, including the classification guidelines in Australia.”

The iGEA have discussed this system before, and believe it would be extensive enough to cover the different cultural sensitivities of most countries across the globe, with a few exceptions. For now, Josh believes, the government will most likely restrict the pilot system to mobile and online games.

“We are yet to see the specifics of the reform, however we certainly expect that it will cover games that are sold to be playable on mobile devices as well as games that can only be played with an active internet connection (MMOs, social networking games and possibly even the latest Sim City). In due course, we hope that this pilot program will be extended to include all exclusively digitally distributed games.

“We will obviously have a more comprehensive understanding of the impact of these reforms once they have been published and introduced for debate.”

Comments

  • compulsory classifications should be gotten rid of anyway, most if not all companies would still get their games classified, but it stops the government censoring shit.

    • lol good luck with that, especially in our nanny state. Also i doubt most would get them classified as it costs money…..

      What they need to do with the classification system is as follows

      -Significantly lower the costs to do it for those games up to M15+ ($900 odd to rubber stamp a classification is ridiculous)

      -Lower the cost of MA15 and R ratings. Yes they need to front the board but again, the costs are prohibitive (especially when compared to Film). Considering its a government arm and needs to exist they have the means to lower the costs downwards thus increasing economy activity by increasing likelihood people will rate games here, collect GST and pay tax…..

      -Reduce the unbelievable cost of appeals now. $10,000 is ridiculous.

      -introduce pricing that is fair and just across all mediums. Film gets a far better deal than video games.

      -Do a far better job of educating the community about the classification system. Last time you saw a tv ad explaining R is not for kids? How about never….. they really need to advertise things.

      • Presumably the new questionnaire based automatic classification system is cheaper than the current system. Presumably they’re trying it for the online/mobile market first, since many titles never get classified there. If it works there, it may be expanded to other areas.

        • absolutely and it needs a trial phase i am just trying to put my 2c as to what they should fix as well

      • Most companies would still get their games classified, I’m sure lots of stores wouldn’t sell unclassified stuff, that’s how it works in America.

      • (in reply to Choc)
        You mean like these? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C6MHsb4xLZc
        These ones were from videos, but I’ve seen similar things on TV from time to time… not recently, but far from “never”.
        Also I don’t watch a lot of TV, so it’s entirely possible they are showing but I’m not seeing them.

        • sure do mean those, but the problem is you have already purchased the DVD before seeing it…. pointless

          it should be on commercial television

Show more comments

Log in to comment on this story!