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Australia officially gets the R18 rating for games

The end of the classification farce in Down Under

It may sound absurd but until now, Australia did not have an adult rating for video games. Either, it was suitable for adolescents aged 15 or it was practically prohibited. A prominent example that doesn't lie too far in the past was the action game Syndicate. There, the argumentation was:

The game contains violence that is high in impact and is therefore unsuitable for persons aged under 18 years to play.

Of course, there were already attempts to finally introduce a R18 rating since both consumers and the industry were very upset about the fact that some games did not at all get a release (GTA III) or do so only in a censored version (Soldier of Fortune III). And yes, the discussion is going on for such a long time that these examples actually make sense. The first time reports emerged about this political initiative was back in 2008. It was especially annoying because one of the General Attorneys could not understand why there were even people that were interested in games only suitable for grown-ups (watch the interview here).

It is important to compare this situation to other countries. While, for example, Germany often suffers from cases where a game is not released or just in a heavily censored version, it is not illegal for people to import the uncut version from foreign countries (except games that are explicitly banned). In Australia, this is much stricter. If a game has no rating, the import is prohibited.

So much for the past. Now, endless rounds of back and forth, a law has been introduced that installs the R18 rating for games. It only took 4 years for this to happen.

Of course, even after this there can be titles that are even too violent for the adult rating and it is also possible that games, that would have gotten a "15" rating without problems, now gets an "18" just because the classification board doesn't have to have a bad conscience that they'd otherwise reject too many games.

Either way, this is a good week for Australian gamers. They now have the same possibilities that their fellow film fans have when dealing with adult material. Congratulations.

Release: Jun 22, 2012 - Author: Bob - Translator: Mike Lowrey

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