Australia's R18+ Classification Has Arrived
Language of the new rating guidelines contain problems, disappointments, exasperation.
Ratings systems differ across the world, depending largely on either cultural values or the hobby horses of given politicians. Despite study after study finding no evidence that games make their players into terrorists, drug addicts, sex fiends or fursuiters, many countries continue to throttle game content by instituting a soft form of censorship. In Australia, that takes the shape of refusing classification, and it's particularly extreme given that until recently the country had no classification available for games deemed adult (18+) in nature.
Finally, after years of advocacy and what is probably the only political party ever founded specifically over game ratings, Australia have at long last implemented an R18+ rating. While passed into law back in June of this year, it's only now coming into effect, and we have just learned the exact language of the classification's guidelines. Which are, well... sigh.
As a general rule computer games may have a higher impact than similarly themed depictions of the classifiable elements in film, and therefore greater potential for harm or detriment, particularly to minors.
So here we are again, aye? Let me be clear, one of my other jobs is moderating for a kids' game, so I'm quite aware of the kind of little shits too much Halo and Call of Duty can turn your children into. But Halo and Call of Duty aren't the problem-- bad parenting is. And what the issue at all has to do in the language of a game classification for adults remains mystifying for me.
The guidelines also reiterate the Classification Board's "Just Say No To Skooma" policy saying even otherwise R18+ games can still be refused classification if:
(i) illicit or proscribed drug use related to incentives or rewards;
(ii) interactive drug use which is detailed and realistic.
Well dang. How's that going to affect Mario's shroom-popping antics? He's already in hot water for the fursuit thing.
While it's too early to say how the language of the guidelines will really be interpreted by Australia's Classification Board, the existence of an R18+ rating for Australia at all is still a major step in the right direction. You can read the entire set of R18+ guidelines here.
Thanks, Kotaku Australia.