Proposed Aussie ratings scheme could abolish M category

Terry Flew, chairman of the National Classifications Review, says independent body will propose to scrap the current M category in favour of a T13+ category.

In September, the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) released a discussion paper calling for public submissions into the current Australian classification review.

The review, due to be completed by early 2012, was commissioned late last year by Federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland with the aim to reform Australia's classification laws in light of recent technological changes, media convergence, and the global distribution platforms of media content.

The ALRC wants to replace the M category with a T13+ (Teen) category.

The discussion paper outlines the ALRC's proposed changes to Australia's current classification laws, including the proposal that only video games "produced on a commercial basis and likely to be MA15+ or higher" should be referred to the Classification Board for classification. According to the ALRC, the classification of games likely to be rated G, PG, or M should become voluntary.

Now, ALRC review chair, professor of media and communication at the Queensland University of Technology, Terry Flew, has revealed that the ALRC is also proposing that the current M category be replaced with the more age-specific T13+ (Teen) category, across all media.

The proposed T13+ category would retain the current M classification guidelines and would bring Australia's classification system more in line with those of the USA and Europe.

"What we found particularly from parents who submitted [responses to the ALRC classification review] was that there was a lot of confusion as to what the M category is, and its relationship to the PG and MA15+ ratings," Flew told GameSpot in a recorded interview (below). "So we've delineated these categories more by age, proposing PG become PG8+, that the M category be replaced by T13+, which will retain the guidelines currently in the M category."

Flew said the ALRC is also proposing to change the wording of the MA15+ category, from "Mature Accompanied" to "Mature Audience."

"This has created a lot of legal issues around who could buy games in a shop," Flew said. "What we found was a shifting rationale behind classification--the idea that the role of classification is to protect people from dangerous content is a view still held by a number of people who submitted to this review, but generally this view is in decline. What does remain significant is the view that classification has value as an information device. People who don't see classification as particularly important for themselves do see it as relevant to children."

"We would hope that a more age-appropriate reference scale provides a better information base on which to make those decisions."

Click below to hear GameSpot AU's full interview with Professor Terry Flew.

TerryFlew by Laura Parker

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Discussion

8 comments
TBoneTony
TBoneTony

Also perhaps the only people who ever thought of age ratings being there to 'protect' kids from harmful content are those people from the Australian Christian Lobby and other religious groups who still try to violate freedom of speech by trying to censor minority groups with their religious babbeling against other religions and against gay and lesbians. I am now thankful to say that for once in my life I now look at the ACL as just a minority of a few and not part of the opinions of most people in Australia.

TBoneTony
TBoneTony

I have been long saying that many parents who are not familiar with content ratings should have things more simple for them, such as the M rating changed to a T13+ rating. Puts it more in like with the ESRB in America that is what I still consider to be the best way for communication for parents. Also it is nice to see that there is less of an attitude of age ratings there to protect children from harmful content and more of an attitude that age ratings are there for communication for non gaming parents, or for parents who don't want to watch their kids play the game but still are wanting to find games that are suitable for their kids. It is annoying, but thankfully now we are starting to see that there IS some common sence in the people at the classification board, even though politicians still are ignorant when it comes to gaming.

SuprSaiyanRockr
SuprSaiyanRockr

Oh, that's fine. For a second, I thought that games normally rated M would be forced to choose a higher rating. This is fine.

TyrannicFeenix
TyrannicFeenix

So long as they approach it sensibly and with constant public interaction I see no problem here, just as long as it doesn't delay our R ratings introduction. There are a lot of games out there I'm dying to play.

gameking5000
gameking5000

Do we really need to change the classification system to a more age based approach. The system is fine the way it is.

BaronSector
BaronSector

As long as I can still play AC, Im good.

FlamingFury
FlamingFury

It makes a lot of sense to me. Good to see things moving forward.