Australia should introduce R18+ game classification, says EA president

EA Games president Frank Gibeau believes that the Australian government should introduce an R18+ classification for video games, as the lack of a rating higher than 16 "effectively censor[s] entertainment choices for adults."

Writing in an editorial published on GamesIndustry.biz, Gibeau says that the current classifications in Australia shows a poor understanding of an entertainment medium where the average age of the consumer is 28.

He wrote, "Government policies that don't allow for the rating of mature content in videogames effectively censor entertainment choices for adults. These policies show a poor understanding of today's videogaming audience. Existing legislation in Australia that limits age ratings of games to 16 demonstrates a distance between those policies and the reality of the videogame industry and the people that play interactive games in Australia today."

Gibeau continues by pointing out that the effective censorship of video games in Australia is also potentially harming growth of the industry in the country. "As the Australian government moves to participate in the economy of the global gaming market, policy makers should consider the environment they create for game makers," he writes, "Governments that design policies hostile to game developers and their creative medium will struggle to attract investment from the global industry.

"The implementation of a new 18+ age rating classification is the right step for consumers, and for the industry, in Australia."

It is understood via 1UP that all attorneys-general in Australia must agree to the introduction of an R18+ classification for it to be implemented. Unfortunately South Australia attorney-general Michael Atkinson has previously blocked attempts to introduce an R18+ classification. In an email statement sent to GameSpot in early 2009, Atkinson said, "I don't support the introduction of an R18+ rating for electronic games, chiefly because it will greatly increase the risk of children and vulnerable adults being exposed to damaging images and messages."

With the resignation of Atkinson earlier this year, Australian gamers will now look to his replacement - John Rau - for the introduction of an adult classification for video games. Although Rau was reported to be pro-R18+, he has since said he currently has no stance on introducing an R18+ rating, but will "listen to the arguments" as he is "not aware of the relevant factors."

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