Australian federal Attorney Generals seeking public feedback on R18+ classification

15 December 2009
9:00 am

All of the hub-bub around banned/not-banned games and what "refused classification" actually means for games with content beyond what minors should be exposed to has started to attract the attention of higher eyes in the Australian government.

At long last, Australia's federal Attorney-Generals have released the much-wanted discussion paper regarding a R18+ classification for video games. Unlike many other countries Australia has no classification for games that surpass MA15. Games with content unacceptable for children are either not permitted to be sold in Australia or have to make various changes to pass the review board.

While Australia's public largely supports such a classification being created, in the same vein as tiered ratings that already exist for film, the lone holdout to such a change is South Australia's Attorney-General Michael Atkinson, who routinely equates wanting to be able to play titles like Left 4 Dead 2 with being interested in glorifying child rape and violent murder. His antagonistic and hyperbolic rhetoric has long opposed such a classification, and as the system requires unanimous approval from all seven of Australia's state attorney-generals to be changed, his single voice against it has meant Australian consumers do without.

This issue recently came to a head in the news here with the classification refusal of Aliens vs. Predator; the game's gore got it restricted by the classification board, and its developers went on record stating that they wouldn't sanitize the game to get it released here:

"The content of AVP is based on some of the most innovative and iconic horror movies, and as such we wanted to create a title that was true to the source material. It is for adults, and it is bloody and frightening, that was our intent. We will not be releasing a sanitised or cut down version for territories where adults are not considered by their governments to be able to make their own entertainment choices."

Atkinson has also long stood in the way of efforts to gauge public opinion on this issue, but finally it looks like the federal government has decided to take things into their own hands. Residents of Australia can submit a comment to the Commonwealth government on the topic of the R18+ classification, the first time that public opinion has been solicited directly on this topic.

While the public consultation website specifies that such a classification would still require unanimous approval from all of the Censorship Ministers, hopefully this discussion will show Atkinson that his childish obstructions are counter to the will of the Australian people. Anyone interested in submitting a statement can find the instructions on the Australian government website (link here once again) and you have until the close of business on February 28 2010 to make your opinions known.

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