R18+ computer games classification under consideration by Australian Government

Discussion paper released canvassing public opinion on an adult rating for computer games

Following years of lobbying by gamers and the local games industry, the Federal Government has finally released a discussion paper on the introduction of an R18+ classification for computer games in Australia.

The paper, Should The Australian National Classification Scheme Include An R18+ Classification Category For Computer Games?, asks the community to contribute its ideas on whether the categories of the National Classification Scheme (NCS) should apply to computer games in the same manner as it does for films.

Although the NCS allows for the sale of R18+ DVDs, it does not allow the sale of R18+ computer games anywhere in Australia.

“Some people think that preventing the sale of R18+ computer games is a good policy because it prevents the lawful sale of what they consider to be offensive material,” the paper reads. “Others say it prevents adults enjoying the ability to purchase games that are available in other markets overseas.

“This is your opportunity to tell the Australian and the State and Territory Governments your views before they consider whether the current situation should be changed.”

Under the current NCS, computer games that are unsuitable for a minor to see must be classified Refused Classification (RC). These games may not be sold, hired, exhibited, displayed, demonstrated or advertised. This means that a computer game that contains material that would have been rated R 18+ in a film may not be sold in Australia.

“Were an R 18+ classification introduced, the RC category would still exist for games with, for example, gratuitous or exploitative depictions of sexual violence, such as the sexual assault simulation game Rapelay,” the paper reads. “It could also include games that included violence with a ‘very high’ impact that offends against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults to the extent that they should not be classified.”

In the paper, the Federal Attorney-General's Department said the rationale behind releasing the discussion paper, was that Research commissioned by the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association (IGEA) indicated that adults are increasingly consumers of computer games.

“The Australian Government has been discussing the adult classification of computer games with its State and Territory counterparts for some time,” the paper reads. “The ministers responsible for censorship have considered the issue of an adult classification for computer games on a number of occasions. Before these ministers consider the matter further, it is timely to consider the views of the community.”

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