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New R18+ guidelines emerge

New R18+ guidelines emerge

The classification guidelines which will dictate the Classification Board’s decisions regarding R18+ games have been released today.

The Minister for Home Affairs and Justice Jason Clare has confirmed that all states have agreed to the guidelines as they currently stand, although we’re still waiting to see each state pass a bill which brings the R18+ rating into law, which all are expected to do by the time the Federal bill comes into effect in January 2013.

The first state to pass such a bill has been Australia’s Capital Territory.

The guidelines are the rules of thumb by which the ACB measures and weighs the impact of the content it is viewing.

For the new R18+ classification, the full text concerning what is and is not permissable at an R18+ level are as follows:


There are virtually no restrictions on the treatment of themes.


Violence is permitted. High impact violence that is, in context, frequently gratuitous, exploitative and offensive to a reasonable adult will not be permitted.

Actual sexual violence is not permitted.

Implied sexual violence that is visually depicted, interactive, not justified by context or related to incentives or rewards is not permitted.


Depictions of actual sexual activity are not permitted.

Depictions of simulated sexual activity may be permitted.

Depictions of simulated sexual activity that are explicit and realistic are not permitted.


There are virtually no restrictions on language.


Drug use is permitted.

Drug use related to incentives and rewards is not permitted.

Interactive illicit or proscribed drug use that is detailed and realistic is not permitted.


Nudity is permitted.


So while it seems that almost all reasonably non-gratuitous videogames will be allowed to be legally classified under the new guidelines, the RC (Refused Classification) category also has explicit guidelines for what will be the mark of a videogame which does cross the line.

The full text for the RC section states that games will be refused classification under the following conditions:


Detailed instruction or promotion in matters of crime or violence. 

The promotion or provision of instruction in paedophile activity.

Descriptions or depictions of child sexual abuse or any other exploitative or offensive descriptions or depictions involving a person who is, or appears to be, a child under 18 years.

Depictions of:

(i)         violence with a very high degree of impact which are excessively frequent, prolonged, detailed or repetitive;

(ii)        cruelty or realistic violence which are very detailed and which have a very high impact;

(iii)       actual sexual violence.

Implied sexual violence related to incentives and rewards.


Depictions of actual sexual activity are not permitted.

Depictions of simulated sexual activity that are explicit and realistic are not permitted.

Depictions of practices such as bestiality.

Gratuitous, exploitative or offensive depictions of:

(i)         activity accompanied by fetishes or practices which are offensive or abhorrent;

(ii)        incest fantasies or other fantasies which are offensive or abhorrent.


Detailed instruction in the use of proscribed drugs.

Material promoting or encouraging proscribed drug use.

Computer games will also be Refused Classification if they contain:

(i)         illicit or proscribed drug use related to incentives or rewards;

(ii)        interactive drug use which is detailed and realistic.


Kotaku has noted that the new guidelines also make mention of videogames’ higher impact, a point it finds contentious for the ongoing debate.

The wording of such a mention, however, is careful to make clear that it is a response to the perception of such a difference according to the general public. Since the Australian Classification Board is meant to reflect current communit standards, this inclusion makes sense, in spite of having no evidence to back it up.

The question still remains as to what games, if any, will exceed the R18+ rating moving forward.

Stay tuned for closer and further analysis of the guidelines and their potential impact on games moving forward.


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