The soon-to-be-introduced R18+ rating for videogames is set to have an effect on the games and electronics industry in Australia.
Australia is one of the only countries without an R18+ rating for games. If it is passed, games that have been previously been restricted or stripped of content due to violence or sexual references, will be marketed as R18+, enabling retailers to profit from this sector of the gaming market.
The proposed Guidelines for the Classification of Computer Games recognise the unique interactive nature of computer games. However, according to the guidelines, games containing extreme violence will continue to be refused classification and banned from sale altogether. Currently, games that have not been banned have been stripped to fit an MA15+ rating.
Years have been spent lobbying for it, as lack of such a rating has been named by many, a gross violation of the rights and freedoms of Australian adults. A national telephone survey conducted by Galaxy last year showed that 80 per cent of the 2,226 people contacted said they supported the introduction of an adult only category for games.
Hon Brendan O’Connor, Minister for Justice, in his press release said, “the introduction of an R18+ classification for computer games will provide better advice to parents and help prevent children and teenagers from accessing unsuitable material”.
He approved of the decision by NSW to join all jurisdictions in agreeing to create this new category for gaming. “Once introduced, the new classification will also afford adults the opportunity to view material designed for adults.”
He has thanked all jurisdictions for their support a “very popular policy”.
Amendments have been made to draft guidelines presented at the last meeting of which requires some jurisdictions to seek approval from their respective Cabinets. Currently, the Commonwealth is preparing to legislate to introduce the new classification.
R18games.com.au has lobbied in support of the changes and says the new rating will also lower piracy for those who seek the banned games illegally.
Phil Cleaver from the entertainment department at David Jones in Robina Town Centre said the new rating was unlikely to affect sales at the department store. “We’re a family store, so we don’t stock any adult content.”
David Jones does stock MA15+ games, of which there could be fewer when the new rating is passed.
An R18+ rating will bring Australia in line with jurisdictions such as the EU, which follow the PEGI rating system, and the US, Canada and Mexico with their ESRB ratings.