SA Attorney General Wants R18+ Video Game Classification To Be 'More Rigorously Applied'

The Australian Classification Board has classified multiple video games as R18+ since the introduction of the rating in January this year. But despite this South Australian Attorney General John Rau is claiming the guidelines aren't being applied rigorously enough, and plans to write to the Federal Government in an attempt to apply more scrutiny to the Australian Classification Board.

At a press conference today, he voiced his concerns.

"It is concerning to me, particularly as a parent," John Rau said, "when I see that 13 games have been released in Australia as MA15+ whilst exactly the same game attracts up to an R18+ classification overseas.

"These particular games have been assessed as having intense violence, blood and gore, nudity and suggestive themes."

Multiple video games have been rated R18+ since January, including games like The Last Of Us, State of Decay, Grand Theft Auto V, Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel and Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge. R18+ games are now commonplace to the extent that it no longer makes news when a game is given that rating. In addition, the Classification Board initially refused classification to Saints Row IV, a game that received adult's only classifications in every other western country. State of Decay was also refused classification, despite being released without a hitch in other markets.

John Rau is claiming that up to 13 video games have been rated MA15+ here in Australia but given higher ratings overseas. He did not name these games specifically, but said he is considering referring these games for review.

"If the standards are not more rigorously applied I will be referring each of these games to the South Australian Classification Council for review," he said.

According to Rau, the Australian Council on Children and the Media had come to him with concerns over the application of the R18+ rating.

SA Government doubts tougher video games classification rules are working [ABC]


    Sucks when the guidelines don't advance your agenda, eh.

    Wouldn't get too upset yet. This is likely posturing ahead of the SA election in March.

    Wasn't he the nutbag that wanted to redefine the system such that anything above an M rating went straight to 18+?

      Correct this is the guy who was all like, 'let's just make stickers'!

        That approach works better when you're Education minister. Gold stars for everyone!

        ill be honest i agree with him, there should be G,PG,M15+ and R18+, none of that MA15+ bullcrap

          I kind of agree it's silly to have two M Ratings.

          G: Everyone
          PG: 8+, Supervision for younger kids maybe.
          M15+ & MA15+: Both suggest over 15
          R18+: Adults.

          I don't think there would me any real impact converting MA15+ to R18+.

          On a side note the SA Attorney General seems out of touch with what's actually happening. I become very suspicous when they say they can name these games, but just not now. I'm thinking these are the games that came out before we got R18.

            they don't even have to get rid of the MA15+ rating, just rename it to R15+ so its explicitly stated and quite obvious that its restricted. although, i'm not against getting rid of it.

            in fact, getting rid of the MA15+ rating and just having an R18+ rating might even stop the "think of the children" rubbish coz it will be clearly stated that its not for children

            lets be honest, how many mature 15 year old gamers do you know? Maybe there should be more classifications, i.e. M15+ MA17+ R21+ perhaps.. *shrug*

              What about M12/13+ à la PEGI/ESRB?
              21+ is unnecessary do the 18 being the max in Australia in most instances
              G, PG, M13+, R18+

    Are we really "here we go again"ing, though?
    This doesn't sound so bad, really.
    The real kicker is when games get banned DESPITE us having the R-18.

      Agree with you, SR4 really shouldn't have been banned, unless the're going to start banning movies and TV shows that show them taking drugs for bonuses.

      That said, GTA V really should be R18+. It's not a kids game. And he's right, there are games that get by as MA15+ that really shouldn't.

        Any movie or TV show what had drugs providing super powers would get RC in Australia
        There isn't really a double standard, it is just that it is easier to black and white say this drug gave a benefit in a game (and they are more likely to have it in the first place)
        Had Rambo gone "Ahhhhh morphine" and injected himself after getting shot and then rambo'd on it would be an issue

          Have you ever seen the Max Payne Movie? The new drug did seem to give people super powers. Or demonic hallucinations.

            I haven't seen it but that sounds like what I mean by it is easier to prove 'positive impact' in a game. It could be debatable if a demonic hallucination has had a positive impact, where as take drug to gain 10% bonus to weapon damage is pretty black and white.

          but plenty of movies already portray drugs in a bonus or positive way, it doesn't have to be 'super powers'

            Such as?
            All movies I can think of might have drug use but tends to end up destroying their family or getting them shot

        I'm still amazed Splinter Cell got through with a 15! There is a lot of stabbing going on in that game

          Really? I played throught the entire game and felt more than comfortable with it receiving a MA15+ classification.

      Exactly the point. A lot of games coming out should be R18 thats why the rating is there now. I dont see how this is an issue. Also funny he doesnt name names, sounds like he just picked an arbitrary number out of his head and went with it. Can someone hold this douchebag responsible?

    I agree. It does need to be more rigorously applied. Even with an R18+ so many games are still being refused classification.

    Multiple video games have been rated R18+ since January, including games like The Last Of Us, State of Decay, Saints Row IV

    I think you meant Grand Theft Auto V Mark?

    It is our concern as 18+ gamer that we are not getting what we should be getting such as uncensored State of Decay and uncensored Saints row IV. I don't see Jaws movie getting banned for rigorously dismantling body parts.

    The issue that needs to be resolved is the fact games are refused classification still.

    The classification system works, it's the parents that need to be better educated in how to understand and apply these guidelines to their purchasing habits for their "little darlings"

    I believe he has good intentions. I agree with his sentiment that have been games released as MA15+ that should have been R18+. I also believe the more games with an R rating, the more it will present parents with the fact their children are playing violent games designed for mature minds (I know, I'm using the term "mature" again).

    If the current state of things continues we'll be unable to limit the violence on display for the next generation of kids.

    Well at least he's not lobbying to remove the R18+ rating, just the MA rating.

    Woo consistency!

    Saints Row IV ended up with an MA15+ once they removed that drug mission.

    It would have been nice if these 13 games were listed so we knew which ones he was talking about. For all we know they might have been released before we even had an R Rating.

    Can I just say that I kind of agree?

    Okay, here me out before you lynch me!

    Saints Row 4: Perfect example. A game that should have been rated R18+ no matter what they left in or took out, but was made available to "children" under the MA15+ rating. What in the world made the ACB think that "Okay, now that they can't take drugs that give them rewards, it's totally suitable for a 15 year old?"

    I don't agree that games should be censored in this country when they're being released under R18+ in other countries without alteration but I also don't agree that games that are clearly not meant to be MA15+ aren't getting the appropriate rating. I certainly didn't write letters to Michael Atkinson, write huge long articles on my blog about this issue to be given a bandaid solution.

      "Saints Row 4: Perfect example. A game that should have been rated R18+ no matter what they left in or took out, but was made available to "children" under the MA15+ rating. What in the world made the ACB think that "Okay, now that they can't take drugs that give them rewards, it's totally suitable for a 15 year old?""

      I appreciate the point you're making but you haven't indicated why SRIV is a "perfect example" of a game that should be ratied R18+ regardless of what is taken out. Are you able to elaborate on why you feel that the game fails to comply with the MA15+ guidelines?

        I just feel like the game was aiming for an R18+ rating, then because they take out the loyalty mission for Shaundi, it's MA15+? No.

        While we finally have an R18+, it's not up to date with the rest of the world. Why is it rated R18+ in other countries, but MA15+ here? What makes it less harmful here?

          Our ratings are applied differently. I personally think that the MA15+ guidelines are probably still too lenient, especially with respect to violence, but that doesn't mean they're not being followed.

          GTAV is only an R18+ for the drug references/usage, as that is the only area the classification board felt the impact of the content was "high" (no pun intended). Personally I'm 30 hours in and apart from seeing a bong in Franklin's house and a scene where one guy samples some cocaine with the intent of selling it, the presence of drugs is almost entirely peripheral.

            See and that's another thing! Without giving too much away, why did GTA:V get away so easy whenTrevor tortures someone to get information to assassinate someone. How come the drug thing is SO much worse than that?

              I don't disagree with you there. I guess they still felt the drugs were more pervasive than the violence, but I think the violence is right up there.

    I wonder if he is unknowingly referring to games that were released before we had an R18+ classification. Without releasing the titles, it's definitely a possibility.

      Mortal Kombat (Megadrive)
      GTA:San Andreas (PS2)
      Double Dragon (NES)

    "R18+ games are now commonplace to the extent that it no longer makes news when a game is given that rating."

    Sorry, he says that as though there's something sinister at play but why should it be? Is it worth a headline when an R18+ movie comes out? Should we hold a press conference for the latest issue of Playboy each month? Why should it be news, exactly, Mr. Rau?

      This is not a comment by Mr. Rau, more a statement by Mark that there isnt big gaming news headlines when an "adult" game is released with ban-potential in Australia.

      I'm still disappointed in the system we have that forced Saints to be cut down where GTAV was not. There is a clear drug aspect to GTAV, yet fictional alien drugs in Saints that let you fly and throw fireballs is taboo. So much so that it dropped from RC to MA. Lets not bring up the "omg rape" gun.

      Fiction has its own context, GTAV is trying to be realistic, all the more reason for the classification board to wake up and take notice. GTAV is an adult game and should be rated as such. If other titles get banned then they should be consistent in their refusal, not just let one game through because the internet would nerd rage if it didnt.

        My bad, for some reason I read that paragraph is a quote form John Rau.

        I agree with what you're saying, I personally think it's laughable that SRIV was banned for the narcotics and not the rape weapon.

    I don't mind if more games get bumped from MA to R18.
    Actually, it probably is a good idea, especially if they got the same rating overseas.

    Last edited 20/09/13 2:19 pm

    whilst exactly the same game attracts up to an R18+ classification overseas(Emphasis mine) That is an interesting way of phrasing it because it means that not everyone has classified it as R18+ which could mean that only one country did, painting an entirely different picture of the impact of the game's content.

    this would also have the effect of stopping some of the advertising of games as well as you cant advertise a r18 games and movies on free to air tv and even on cable you cant until late at night

      I was seeing ads for GTA V from Big W or something a day or two before its release at like 6pm though.

    I've said it before, and I'll say it again.

    We could have an X rating for games, but it won't stop adult content getting into the hands of minors. Purely because of sloppy sales staff and irresponsible parents.

      Well, if there were X-rated games, it would be quite difficult for kids to get them, because it's technically illegal to sell X-rated content in all states, and it only really gets sold in sex shops. Which are *really* strict about making sure they don't sell to minors.

      But X18+ for video games makes essentially no sense, because the line between R and X is that R can have similated sex, while X is for showing actual sex. How, exactly, one is going to have a video game with non-simulated sex, I'm not sure (unless God of War 17 goes live-action for its cutscenes and they decide they really need the sex to be real, not just pretend).

        Yes I can't wait to have to go into a sex shop to buy Saints Row V... under a newspaper of course!

    This comment is kinda redundent as the average age of a Gamer is 26-45. The games Dev's arnt even targeting the age group he is discussing .

    As a parent it comes down to me to decied what games are relivant to my children not an advisary board. My 15yo doesnt get to play anything MA+.

      The classification board seem to think he should however. Interesting.

    The classification database shows 52 games that have been rated MA15+ this year... none of which I'd go so far as to say merit an R18 rating (with a couple that might, but I haven't played them - Gears of War: Judgement being one of them). Personally, I think the classification board are doing a brilliant job, aside from the guidelines' obsession with drugs (fault of the guidelines, tho, not those applying them).

    Well Mr. Rau, maybe you shouldn't have f*cked with the guidelines for R18 when you were drafting them up? And if the argument is "Other countries are classifying it X, whereas we're classifying it Y", well NO SH*T SHERLOCK. That's what we gamers have been decrying for ages. So either you shut up and just accept that the system you designed is broken and doesn't work like the rest of us did 10 years ago, or you actually take the public's opinion into account for once and rebuild it from the ground up in a way that benefits everyone. First order of business, throw the Refused Classification system out the f*cking window.

    I have a feeling that the reason they are not releasing the list of games is because it will contain things such as L4D2 which were shoehorned into MA before we had the R18+

    How tricky are the god botherers in naming their hate groups by official sounding names— Australian Council on Children and the Media. How about the ACCC ping them for false advertising? Should be: People Who Believe in Old-Man Sky Fairy and Think That Everybody Should Respect Their Right to Tell You How to Live Your Life. Any introspection from these wowsers would result in a full-on mental breakdown, so they spend their lives shouting LALALALA while the abyss beckons them with ambivalence. :)

    My wife teaches grade 5 students, 10-11 years old. Many of them have GTAV and play COD. I wish he was putting his efforts to getting parents aware that ratings are there for a reason.

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