There’s a heap of information, speculation and more about R18+, so MCV looks at things the new age rating will mean for ANZ.
- The protracted battle for equality in the Australian age-rating scheme began in 2002 when it was brough to people’s attention as Grand Theft Auto III was pulled from shelves.
- The guidelines for what kind of content can fit into an R18+ rating use different language than the current language in the guidelines for MA15+.
- Subtle linguistic changes such as allowing for ‘high’ impact violence as opposed to ‘strong’ will guide the common sense application of the guidelines to each game.
- So too will the change in the age a game is classified for, meaning that the authorised assessors will have in the back of their minds that the game they’re submitting must be suitable for 18 year olds, not 15 year olds, which will, in the end, make a difference.
- In the short term, with all eyes on the Australian Classification Board, any kind of culture of permissiveness is unlikely to form, due to the close attention being paid to ensuring that games are being classified correctly, so expect more games to be RC’d, just as before.
- The guidelines explicitly state that games have a higer impact for minors due to their interactivity – a controversial statement which led Dr Jeffrey Brand to condemn the supposed ‘progress’ the R18+ classification represents.
- There is a push to re-classify some games which exist at an MA15+ level once an R18+ is in place. Games cannot be automatically shifted into a higher bracket (or a lower bracket from RC to R18+), and must go through the classification process again.
- Games can only be re-submitted two years after their initial classification, meaning Call of Duty: Black Ops II (for example) cannot be re-rated for some time to come. The only exception to this rule is if a game has been edited in some way (so if it’s a new version, a Game of the Year edition or some similarly altered version of the existing game).
- Specific retail training is underway to educate store staff as to the regulations surrounding R18+ games and the potential punishments for a failure to enforce them.
- The R18+ classification is expected to come into effect in January 2013.
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