Sep 28, 2009

R 18+ Ratings for Video Games

In Australia, the R 18+ rating for video games doesn't exist. If a game if deemed too violent, sexual or otherwise for the MA 15+ rating, it is given an RC (Refused Classification), which means it is banned from import. Anyone raided and caught selling the game will be fined. Most often, what happens is the developer edits and/or removes the offensive parts of the game and resubmits it to the Office of Film and Literature. If it's now clean enough, it gets the highest allowed rating of MA and ends up on our shelves.

Games that have been RC include most recently, Dark Sector, Manhunt, Marc Ecko's Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure, Reservoir Dogs, BMX XXX, Blitz: The League, and Postal 2.
These games most often were banned for violence considered too real, too connected to sex or shown in too positive a light (usually incorporating incentives for violence), however, you'll notice Mark Ecko's Getting Up can shut down because of its portrayal of graffiti. A fuller list of RC titles and their subsequent outcomes can be found here.

There's been a lot of outcry from gamers and industry folks who really, really want the R rating for games so as to stop the absolute banning of games. Similarly, there are those on the other side of the fence who are rather happy it's not around, as it removes unwanted threats. Instead of bitching about it in the dark, I decided to go right to the source - I emailed the OFLC and asked, simply and quickly, Dear members of the classification board, I was hoping you could please answer this simple question for me: Why do you not provide an R rating for video games in Australia? I'm eager to understand why, thanks very much, Simon J. Green.

To my surprise, I received a hard copy letter, mailed to me in the post, from the Attorney-General's Department, Territories and Information Law Division. The letter is a fascinating insight into the minds of those people who make the laws of our country, the very heart of the matter. I invite you all to read it and discuss what you think. (Names and contact details have been blanked for privacy)

Link to Page 1
Link to Page 2
or download in a .zip

For a big fat discussion and history on this topic, I suggest you read the excellent Cnet article Censory Overload: Games censorship in Australia.

I bought it before it got banned. THought I should hold on to it as a collector's item. I sold it.
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