Last week, at the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General meeting in Canberra, Australia's censorship ministers decided to draft preliminary guidelines for the introduction of an R18+ classification for video games in Australia, as well as review the current MA15+ and RC categories of classification. But it seems like games aren't the only type of media to receive a classification review.
Today, the Federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland and Minister for Home Affairs Brendan O’Connor announced that they will ask the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) to conduct a review of classification in Australia in light of "changes in technology, media convergence and the global availability of media content." In a press statement, O'Connor said that the current classification categories would also be considered as part of the ALRC review.
"It has become increasingly clear that the system of classification in Australia needs to be modernised so it is able to accommodate developments in technology now and in the future," O'Connor said.
"When the National Classification Scheme began, classifiable content and the way it was delivered to consumers was relatively static. Today, films can be watched in a cinema, on DVD, on TV or downloaded. Many video games include significant film segments to tell stories, and some films have interactive content. The National Broadband Network will increase this ready access to classifiable content. People, particularly parents, need a system of classification in Australia that allows them to make informed choices about what they wish to read, see and hear."
O'Connor said the ALRC review will also look at the whole classification system and how it works "in the 21st century."
Ron Curry, CEO of the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association (iGEA) welcomed the review.
"Our understanding is that the ALRC review will look at all aspects of classification, including video games," Curry said. "We are looking forward to engaging more fully with the government on the wider implications on games, particularly in the digital environment."
The review is slated to commence in 2011; until that time, the Federal Attorney-General's Department is seeking comments on the proposed terms of reference for the review to be provided here until January 28, 2011.