Aussie R18+ draft guidelines released

Proposed new adult rating for games allows high violence except where it "offends" community standards; MA15+ tightened to restrict incentive-based nudity, sexual activity.

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Last December, the push to introduce an adult rating for games in Australia stalled again, with censorship ministers gathered at the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General (SCAG) delaying their decision until new guidelines could be created to show the impact of an R18+ rating. The draft changes have now been made public, outlining the type of content that could make it as an R18+ title in Australia.

Minister for Home Affairs Brendan O'Connor.
Minister for Home Affairs Brendan O'Connor.

The draft guidelines, which were released by the office of the Federal Minister for Home Affairs Brendan O’Connor, show that the proposed R18+ rating for games would be applied to titles deemed to feature high impact classifiable elements. Under the proposed guidelines, an R18+ rating would allow:

*Virtually no restrictions on themes;
*Violence except where it "offends against the standards of morality, decency, and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults";
*Implied sexual violence, if justified by context;
*Realistically simulated sexual activity;
*Virtually no restrictions on language; and
*Drug use and nudity are permitted.

The R18+ guides are similar to those that currently exist for film in Australia, except for the caveat that game violence must not offend community standards.

The MA15+ rating for games, too, has been tweaked in the proposal. While most of the guidelines for the rating have been retained, several have been added, including:

*Strong and realistic violence should not be very frequent;
*Sexual activity must not be tied to rewards or incentives;
*Interactive drug use that is detailed and realistic is not permitted; and
*Nudity must not be related to incentives and rewards.

The proposals have already been sighted by Australia's state and territory attorneys-general, who will review the guidelines before making a decision on the introduction of an R18+ rating for games at the next SCAG meeting in early July.

Minister O'Connor--who has staunchly supported an adult rating for games--reiterated the federal government's backing in a press statement, saying that the new classification would help bring Australia into line with other comparable nations.

"This issue has been on the table for many years, without the necessary progress to make change," he said.

Stay tuned to GameSpot AU as we bring you more R18+ news. For more on the issue, visit GameSpot AU's previous coverage.

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