R18+ classification guidelines released

Computer games will fall under one of six ratings under new guidelines, with some games refused a classification if they contain certain criteria.

Guidelines for the R18+ classification for computer games have finally been released, nearly four months before the classification comes into effect 1 January, 2013.

Computer games will be classified under six categories:

• G
• PG
• M
• MA 15+
• R 18+
• RC (refused classification)

Six classifiable elements will be used to determine a game's classification category — themes, violence, sex, language, drug use and nudity — taking into account the context and impact of the criteria under the guidelines [PDF].

“Impact may be higher where a scene or game-play sequence contains greater detail, including the use of close-ups and slow motion; uses accentuation techniques; … uses special effects; … is prolonged; is repeated frequently; is realistic, rather than stylised; is highly interactive; [and] links incentives or rewards to high impact elements,” the guidelines state.

Games will receive an RC rating if they contain illicit or proscribed drug use related to incentives or rewards; detailed instruction or promotion in matters of crime or violence; or the promotion or provision of instruction in paedophile activity, amongst other criteria.

The classification has been a long time in the making, with a discussion paper on the topic released in December 2009 after years of lobbying from gamers and the local industry.

A total of 58,437 submissions were received for the discussion paper, with 98 per cent of submissions supporting the classification.

The Interactive Games and Entertainment Association, which has previously welcomed the classification of games, said the classification means computer games will now be held up to a higher standard.

“Given the opposition to the introduction of an R18+ category from a vocal yet unrepresentative section of the community, along with a largely conservative group of Attorneys-General, it is no surprise the new guidelines hold video games to a higher standard across a number of categories compared to film and what originally existed for video games," the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association said in a statement.

"Ultimately, we will need to wait to see how the classification board interpret and administer the new R18+ and revised M and MA15+ categories. We trust that they will reflect the standards of morality, decency and propriety accepted by reasonable adults, not just the vocal ones."

Follow Stephanie McDonald on Twitter: @stephmcdonald0

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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