After many years of deliberation, the Australian government and its ministers have finally warmed to the idea of giving Australia an adult, R18+ video game classification. At the Standing Committee of Attorney-General meeting (SCAG) in Adelaide today, federal, state and territory ministers met to discuss the proposed R18+ video game rating and all agreed (except the state of New South Wales who abstained from the vote) that it should be introduced at a federal level.
Video game classifications have always been a controversial matter in Australia, with many games getting censored to fit into the lesser MA15+ classification category, or outright refused classification and effectively banned within Australia; many also scraped through the classification system with disproportionally low ratings compared to other nations. Including an R18+ rating will now allow Australian adults access games intended for adults, less censorship of video games and the placing of games inappropriate for children into an appropriate rating.
Australia’s Federal Minister for Home Affairs, Brendan O’Connor, said (via GameSpot) that he would introduce the R18+ classification at the federal level, leaving it up to the states and territories to adopt it. He also mentioned that the process of introduction would only take a matter of months, with the proposed draft guidelines almost ready for federal-level legislation. This should hopefully see the introduction of the legislation before the end of the year.
Despite Australians having an R18+ classification for film and television since 1970, the Australian Classification Board did not move this adult rating to encompass video games in 1994 like it did for the other four (G, PG, M and MA15+) classifications. The impending introduction of the R18+ rating for video games still has several steps to do before full introduction, but it certainly is a massive win for Australian gamers.
Australia’s R18+ rating is restricted to adults who are 18 years of age or older, and will be the equivalent rating to the ESRB’s M (high end) and AO ratings, the BBFC and PEGI 18 ratings and Japan’s Z (18+) rating