After years of screwing around, Australia could have an R18+ rating for videogames in just "a couple of months."
The bumpy ride for grown-up games in Australia may finally be nearing an end. All but one state attorney-general voted to support an R18+ rating for videogames at the today's meeting of the Standing Committee of Attorneys General [which actually took place yesterday, I think, in the trans-dimensional measurement of Aussie-time], the lone holdout being New South Wales AG Greg Smith, who abstained as expected. Nonetheless, Federal Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor said after the meeting that he would introduce the classification at the federal level, at which point it would be up to each state and territory to adopt it.
"This is a big step forward in the long-running debate on classification of computer games for adults," O'Connor said after the meeting. "Once introduced, the classification will afford adults the opportunity to view material designed for adults. It is a credit to all jurisdictions that the meeting has now been able to achieve agreement over what is a complex matter in classification policy."
Despite his confidence, there are still issues to overcome. The New South Wales Cabinet must come to a decision on the matter, although it is considering calling an out-of-session meeting in order to get the question settled quickly. As well, the previously-proposed R18+ guidelines were amended at the meeting, which some jurisdictions involved in the process will have to approve before the federal legislation can be drafted.
But while there may yet be delays in the process, it would appear that the big moment is at hand. Australia will get a mature videogame rating and it will happen relatively soon. I must admit to a certain sadness over the prospect of losing one of my favorite comedy punching bags but on the whole, I'm glad to see our Aussie brethren finally getting the recognition they deserve.