It’s become something of a running joke among gamers, with games failing to see release in Australia, effectively “banned” due to violent or objectionable content. Some, such as the latest Mortal Kombat, never see release. Others, such as Left 4 Dead 2, eventually see release in a heavily edited form.
Of course, these games weren’t so much as banned, as unrated, with the current Australian ratings system topping out at a rating comparative to the ESRB Teen label, the MA15+.
That may be coming to an end now, however, as Australia is closing in on instituted an R18+ (equivalent to Europe’s “PEGI 18″ rating) classification by the end of this year.
Unfortunately, things involving politics rarely move smoothly. Altering the National Classification Code in Australia requires the unanimous approval of all nine “censorship ministers,” each representing a different territory. At the moment, there’s a single hold-out: the Attorney-General for New South Wales, one Greg Smith, who abstained from this latest vote, delaying the whole proceeding. Smith argued that the matter should be put before the cabinet for decision.
Still, he didn’t vote it down, did he? Brendan O’Connor, Home Affairs Minister, also seems determined to get this done, suggesting that the federal government could and would override the dissenting New South Wales minister. Were this to occur, Australia could find itself in the bizarre position of having R18+ games being sold everywhere in the country aside from New South Wales. Thankfully, Smith’s spokesman is intimating that they’re open to further negotiation, and the current political vibe is that NSW will eventually support the new rating.
Here’s hoping Australia can join the rest of the gaming world. At the moment, they are the only developed country without an R18+ rating or equivalent.
Alex grew up in the mean streets of Vancouver, British Columbia. He decided to be an English professor, got a bunch of degrees, and then got bored. Now he's a law student who plays lots and lots of video games and spends far too much time on his computer. When not playing games, reading about games, or writing about games, he's reading comics and watching MMA. At some point, sleep is involved. Possibly.
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