A recent article reports that the discussion paper on whether Australia should introduce an R18+ rating for video games is not likely to be released.

Australia is the only Western country without an R rating for computer and video games. If a game is deemed unsuitable for MA15+ by the Office of Film and Literature Classification, it is refused classification and cannot be sold. Titles including 50 Cent, Bulletproof, Postal 2, Leisure Suit Larry, NARC, Singles, Blitz: The League, and Manhunt have all been refused classification in recent years. In 2008 alone, four game titles have been banned: Silent Hill, Fallout 3, Dark Sector and Shellshock 2. (Edit: as Liam points out, Fallout 3 was edited in response to the Australian ban, and has since been released in a cut down form here and worldwide.)

According to recent surveys, the average age of gamers in Australia is around 30 years old. The lack of an R18+ rating for games hurts both Australian adults and Australian developers.

An R18+ classification would require the unanimous support of all Attorneys-General, and in the past moves to change the current classification have been blocked on the vote of a single state Attorney-General. This appears to have happened once again. EFA has now launched a campaign to help Australian gamers to lobby their Attorney-General. It is our hope that public discussion on this issue will not be stifled by the unsupported views of one politician.

13 comments

  1. I'm glad you're seizing on this opportunity to call to light the current problem with video game classification. I highly recommend that you alert people to the fact that very popular games such as Grand Theft Auto III and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas were also banned for a period of time and that now all GTA games since III are censored for the Australian version. Most game players that I speak to are unaware of this fact and are usually quite alarmed.

    Comment by Gerry on 30 October 2008 at 23:54
  2. Is this yet another example of conservative views, ideals and morals being forced on the general populace? This needs to stop.

    Comment by Anonymous on 31 October 2008 at 02:28
  3. Shouldn't our political representatives be passing laws that allow the bypassing of this Attorney General?? That would be the common sense thing to do, so that in future no AG could abuse their position in this way....

    Comment by Sharon on 1 November 2008 at 12:33
  4. Something tells me Censorship will be a big political issue. Whatever parties are against all this censorship are sure to get some huge voting swings. Come on parties, stand up!

    Comment by James on 1 November 2008 at 22:42
  5. Games that are are released as F-L/OSS are usually the hardest to regulate. As the source code of the game is fully available with the author giving everyone's legal permission to run, modify or redistribute without restrictions, anyone is free (if they are a hard core programmer of course) to modify to suit their own needs. So like if the game is really high in impact, i can tone down the impact by getting the full source code, edit and recompile with a milder impact. And if a violent shooter game isn't realistic enough like not enough blood and gore, then i could just edit the source code and recompile it with a higher impact. It's a lot of work but it's possible. How's the OFLC gonna really control this? And of course, there are no legal restrictions on redistribution so you can make as many copies as you wish and pass it on to anyone.

    Comment by Gnu.org and fsf.org on 4 November 2008 at 06:31
  6. I support this initiative, but saying that Fallout 3 is "banned" may be misleading to people who were not following the issue pre-release and may be confused to find the game sitting on retailers shelves.

    Sharon: The Attorney General IS a political representative, it's a ministerial position. Politicians do not have exactly have a history of passing legislation which limit their own power

    Comment by Liam on 7 November 2008 at 02:40
  7. Hi Liam, I agree that it may be a bit misleading - I've edited the main post now.

    Comment by Nic on 7 November 2008 at 20:45
  8. Here's the ABC Stateline segment that I initiated and got to air.

    http://digg.com/educational/No_R18_Gaming_Classif...

    I post the Digg link in hopes it gets Dugg to help spread the word, but you can also view it directly on the page. We have to stand up to this travesty of logic and common sense. One mans misguided opinion can NOT be allowed to stop a democratic society and the process of government. It must be changed.

    Comment by Mark Limburg on 9 November 2008 at 22:47
  9. Pingback: Tech Wired Australia - An Australian Technology Blog and Podcast » Does Australia Need An R18+ Rating For Video Games?

  10. May I respond to liam's comment. The game wasn't exactly 'cut down' they simply changed the name of a drug in the game from 'morphine' to 'Med-X'. That is all that was done to the game!

    Comment by Andrew on 18 November 2008 at 05:35
  11. There is a really pretty site related to this issue set up by a games industry professional at : http://www.r18games.com.au/ - check it out, and tell your friends.

    Comment by GameBizPro on 18 November 2008 at 11:24
  12. I have got very upset about this recently with the Jack Thompson Vs. Rockstar over GTA:SA. I can't believe I am entitled to a partial refund from TTI for GTA:SA because of the HotCoffee mod. GTA:SA was intended for adults long before it's release. It was build for adults and sold to adults. I'll calm down when most of the staff at the OFLC are fired for not doing their job anywhere near good enough because they are not. I thought it was hilarious that Channel 10 allowed their BigBrother program to get destroyed by minorities, but when it comes to stuff I really care about like computer games I get angry. In the meantime I am going to ignore these proposals and the OFLC, they are incompetent and don't deserve the respect of being listened to until they start being realistic, competent and legal. I would like to get the money that TTI apparently owe me and put it towards making people like Steve Fielding disappear off the face of the planet, but unlike him I am reasonable.

    Comment by peeto on 20 November 2008 at 09:13
  13. Actually, as I understand it the problem rests largely with the S.A. Attorney General who has vetoed an 18+ category. All of the other state Attorney Generals are fine with it.

    Most people point to violence in games, but seriously the gore-fests are getting through anyway, (I've just finished playing Dead Space - a corpse stomping good time!), and it is usually sexual content that sees it banned, (though I'm sure developers simply don't bother submitting these titles any more in Aus).

    The OFLC are doing their jobs. They can only describe the actions of said game, then if it falls outside the guidelines it gets banned - they can't just arbitrarily ban something or allow it through.

    BTW, unless I am mistaken Manhunt was released, only to be withdrawn later on after a complaint by the W.A. Attorney General.

    Comment by Somedood on 30 November 2008 at 14:00