An electronic gaming industry association has issued a submission to Federal Government to lobby for the introduction of an R18+ rating for electronic games.
Lobby groups have failed for a decade to convince government to introduce the classification, which has resulted in dozens of games banned by the Australian Communication and Media Authority (ACMA) for including content not suitable for people under the age of 15.
However in December, the Federal Government 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.
Interactive Games and Entertainment Association (iGEA)CEO Ron Curry said there is great weight behind the push to introduce a higher rating.
“Australia needs an adult rating so adults can play games that are age appropriate for them and parents can make educated choices for their families based on clear, consistent guidelines,” Curry said in a written statement.
“There have been some claims an R18+ classification will expose Australia to unlimited high level content but this is simply not the case. The Classification Board will still refuse games that exceed the adult rating guidelines.”
Curry previously told Computerworld he feared the ministerial reshuffle may have killed the consultation paper after the government had not responded to repeated requests to move forward the classification debate.
He was unavailable at the time of publication to respond to questions regarding the difficulty in passing a higher classification rating through the state Attorney Generals, which became apparent early last year after the latest push was rejected by South Australian Attorney General Michael Atkinson.
The iGEA said Australia is the only Western country without an adult classification for video games with the maximum rating currently at MA15+.
The group said in its submission that “there is no known psychological peculiarity of the computer game experience which indicates that there should be different classification categories than those that exist for film” and said the lack of a R18+ rating is “inconsistent and unjust”.
The global video game industry will draw some $US73.5 billion in revenue by 2013 according to PriceWaterhouseCoopers, dwarfing other entertainment sectors. Sales of Microsoft's Halo 3 topped $US170 million, according to the publisher, setting a record for the highest gross revenue within 24 hours across all entertainment products.
Submissions will close on February 28.