Sunday, 24 July 2011

Australia Gets R18+ Games Rating

It could be argued that videogames has long since ceased to be thought of as a 'teenage' pastime. With more and more games hitting the shelves every year, developers have begun to widen the net on their target audience.

Whilst some developers have chosen to target parents and very young gamers by producing many family-orientated titles that allow children and parents to play together, other developers have gone in the opposite direction all together, prefering to make 'Adults Only' or R18 games. This has also lead to greater classification restrictions on violent and otherwise explicit games.

Now Australia has finally joined the list of countries which allow an R18+ games classification. It has taken campaigners almost a decade to persuade the Australian Government that such a classification was needed in order to stop minors getting their hands on inappropriate gaming material. The new classification changes are expected to be enforced in early 2012.

On Friday 22nd July 2011, all Australian states ( with the exception of New South Wales) agreed that violent and sexually-explicit games would now be rebranded as R18+, which would then replace the previous rating MA15+, although it is uncertain what form this may take.

In a press release on Friday, the Australian Minister for Home Affairs, Brendan O'Connor explained how the new classification would help to curtail the risk of inappropriate videogames falling into the hands of gamers who were too young to play them. He 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. Once introduced, the new classification will also afford adults the opportunity to view material designed for adults."
[Sourced from:]

Left 4 Dead: M15+ or R18+, that is the question...

 However, it could be argued that the introduction of an R18+ classification is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, the legally-enforced classification means that shops will be forbidden from selling games to a youngster who is below the legal age limit.

 On the other hand, it also gives developers the right to produce highly violent and morally corrupt videogames on the understanding that they will only be played by adults, who are said to be mature enough to process fiction from reality.

Left 4 Dead is a good example. The game was originally considered too violent under Australian law and had to be toned down by the developers so that it could attain the highest classification possible at that time, which was MA15+ (not to be played by anyone under 15). Under the new laws, the game would automatically be given an R18+ rating and be released to the public uncensored.

Characters from the later Left 4 Dead games all depicted with weapons

The question is, then: Do R18+ classifications really help to censor and control violent images which may be viewed by young children and impressionable teenagers, or do they in fact encourage the production of even more violent games, which can then still be accessed by youngsters if left around in the family home?

The sad truth is, there is probably no way of knowing for sure...

Surely videogames developers must have some obligation to ensure that in the production of extremely violent videogames, they do not interfere with the correct moral development of impressionable minds.

Moral development is concerned with the process by which young people and those of an impressionable nature internalise the rules and expectations of society. In other words, the moral compass by which they learn about right and wrong.

Thus, Adult Only videogames (should these be viewed by people who are deemed too young to fully-differentiate between violence in a videogame environment and violent acts commited in the real world), can disrupt the moral compass, and nurture an individual who sees these potential acts of violence and depravity, as the norm.


What do you think about the Australian R18+ classification?
Do you think that games which deal with mature themes should be labelled as Adults-Only?
What effect might R18+ classification have on the future of videogames as a whole?
If you would like to share your thoughts on this issue, please leave a COMMENT in the Comments' Box below. Thank you.

See Also:

PEGI & ERSB: What Those Age Ratings Really Mean


  1. I would like to clear a few things up:

    1) It only seems that South Australia will re-sticker MA15+ ratings. New South Wales is the only state which will not enforce the rating

    2) We in Australia don't actually know what games are going to be classified as R18+ (or re-classified) at this stage

    3) It isn't actually going to launch until next year.

    But I think it is needed IMHO.

  2. Hi Strikester,

    Yes, from what we understand, South Australia will re-sticker some MA15+ games as R18+, but this is a separate action from the actual R18+ ENFORCED rating when it becomes legalised by next year.

    You are right to point out that there is no way of knowing which games are going to be rebranded as R18+, as this hasn't been decided yet.

    Mini Gamers also thinks the R18+ rating is a good idea, but we can also see an inherent dangers from developers who see the new rating as a 'green light' for making OTT violent and morally-corrupt content.

    Thank you for taking the time to comment. You raise some interest points.