Australian gamers are suddenly a lot closer to playing with the grown-ups.
Another day, another step closer to a seat at the big table for Australian gamers thanks to yesterday's passage of legislation allowing for the creation of an R18+ videogame rating in the country. You probably already know this but in case you've somehow missed out, Australia has R18+ ratings for movies - hence the amusing cornucopia of hardcore porn titles on the Australian Government's Classification website - but videogames, since they're just for kids, top out at MA15+.
It's a ridiculous situation that does far more harm than good, because while a number of irredeemable games are just outright banned, a great many more that should be R18+ are instead squeezed into the MA15+ category. The net result is that underage gamers can legally get their hands on more "mature" material in Australia than almost anywhere else in the world, while adult gamers down under just get shafted. But not for much longer!
Jason Clare, Australia's Federal Minister for Home Affairs, announced yesterday that R18+ legislation had successfully passed through the Senate without amendment, clearing the way for it to finally become law. "These are important reforms over ten years in the making," he said. "The R18+ category will inform consumers, parents and retailers about which games are not suitable for minors to play, and will prevent minors from purchasing unsuitable material. The reforms also mean that adults are able to choose what games they play within the bounds of the law."
Individual Australian states must now pass their own "complementary legislation" to implement R18+ ratings, although that's expected to be pretty much a formality, as State and Territory Attorneys-General had already agreed to the reforms at the last meeting of the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General in July 2011. Assuming all goes according to plan, R18+ videogames will be a real, actual thing for Australians as of January 1, 2013.
Source: Jason Clare