South Australia planning to restrict MA15+ games to 18-year-olds

State plans to restrict sales of MA15+ games to adults only; MA15+ and R18+ to exist side by side.

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South Australia is moving ahead with plans to introduce a law that would ban anyone under the age of 18 from purchasing an MA15+-rated game.

A spokesperson for South Australian Attorney-General John Rau told GameSpot AU that this move is "a more practical measure" than Rau's previously announced intention of removing the MA15+ category altogether.

"Complementary South Australian legislation [on R18+ for games] is likely to be introduced in State Parliament in May," Rau told GameSpot AU.

South Australian Attorney-General John Rau.

"However, my long-stated position has been to protect children by creating a clearer distinction between games that may be suitable for children and those that are suitable only for adults."

"Therefore, my intention is that the South Australian legislation will prevent the sale of MA15+ games to minors. This move will give parents greater certainty about the appropriateness of games for their children."

South Australia's newly proposed legislation is recommending that sales of MA15+ games in the state be restricted to those over the age of 18. For example, under the proposed law, anyone under the age of 18 in South Australia would not be legally allowed to purchase MA15+-rated games such as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 or Skyrim.

Rau's office confirmed that the new law, if introduced, would be policed at a retail level. More details on how the legislation will actually work will be announced "in due course."

In April last year, Rau announced his intention to "phase out" the MA15+ in favour of R18+, saying the state would only embrace the new adult category with the elimination of the former.

"If there is a national opportunity to embrace R18+, South Australia will do it with the quid pro quo that MA15+ is eliminated as a classification and all games that are now rated MA15+ will be made R18+," Rau told GameSpot AU in 2011.

"We do this [different legislation in different states] with film now--the ACT and NT have different legislation when it comes to X-rated films compared to the rest of the country. This already exists and the sky hasn't fallen in. I don't think that it will be a problem if South Australia has a slightly different regime in respect to games than the rest of the nation."

However, while Rau's plans have changed, his reasons for wanting to restrict the MA15+ classification for video games in South Australia have remained the same--to create a clearer gap between content made for children and content made for adults.

"At the moment, there is an unbroken continuum from G to PG to M to MA15+, which includes some pretty violent games," Rau said last April. "What we want to do is make sure there is a clear gap between material for adult and material for children and empower responsible parents by making sure game classifications are helpful. No adult would be any worse off [with the abolition of MA15+ for games]; in fact, adults would be better off because there would be more games available in the R18+ category."

Rau's office confirmed it wants the proposed legislation to head to parliament as early as next month; for this to happen, the legislation must first be approved by the South Australian cabinet.

GameSpot AU will continue to update the story.

Discussion

37 comments
Z_kincaid_666
Z_kincaid_666

My opinion on this subject is that they should keep the MA15+ rating. Hell even lower some of the gore or sexual references and bring in the R18+that has a lot more of both but if they take out the MA15+ rating it's like going from playing HALO 3 (that has "moderate science fiction violence") to playing the "original " Witcher 2 (not the "Enhanced Edition") and its going to leave a whole lot of people alienated and this is coming from a sixteen year old

scq7
scq7

Most of you did not read the article in full. Classification uniformity is needed across ALL media across ALL of Australia. I applaud the sensible introduction of the R18+ classification. I disagree with the impractical phase out of the MA15+ classification Mr Rau states: "It is also important to note that there are some games that are rated MA15+ in Australia which are rated R18+ in other countries" The proposed removal of the MA15+ is therefore a condemnation of the previous classification scheme, the performance of the South Australian Classification Council & recent SA Govt policy. Mr Rau's assertion that "while the idea of parental supervision in relation to film is justifiable, it is ludicrous when applied to video games" also appears baseless. On what grounds can this statement be explained or defended? In summary the previous absence of a classification scheme with an appropriate ratings scale has created problems. So rather than confront that issue the SA Government has instead created a new additional problem by removing MA+15. The whole thing is becoming a confusing mess. Who would want to run a retail business in SA?! I am a 34 year old SA citizen and will be raising this issue with my local member. Yet again.

LE5LO
LE5LO

@Flame_Devil999 YOU'RE ABSOLUTELY RIGHT!

isshiah
isshiah

my parents were really strict when it came to things like this. not because they were educated on the subject, but because they jumped to conclusions based on the letters at the bottom of the box. in the end, ratings mean nothing. if they did, how could something like 'the darkness II' get in to australia, but not 'mortal kombat'? also, i have a feeling that they only going to move the MA15s up and not allow actual R games into the country. but i'm old enough to play them either way so hahaha kids!

Flame_Devil999
Flame_Devil999

@LE5LO I don't think you understand what is going on. R18+ is in the process of being introduced in all states as we speak. What South Australia is proposing is that with this new rating, all MA15+ games should be merged together, into the R18+ category. Now why I think it's stupid: If they move games which are not overly violent, as well as games parents are already buying for children into an 18+ category, it renders any actual 18+ games pointless. Parents will buy games like call of duty, skyrim and uncharted for their kids, see that they are in an 18+ category and think then that it's fine to buy everything else in there. It'll have the opposite effect intended, while stopping people over the age of 15 from going into a store and buying a game they have been able to buy in the past.

BibiMaghoo
BibiMaghoo

what the hell is wrong with these people. They finally sort an 18 rating and remove the 15 rating? wtf lol.

NBurrows
NBurrows

This makes perfect sense. Games like Uncharted DEFINITELY need to be restricted to 18 year olds and above due to their extremely graphic violence and language. Just like the film Wizard of Oz needs to be rated MA15+. We shouldn't allow kids to see it because it has a scary witch that might frighten them and give them nightmares. And don't even get me started on what rating Bambi should have...

LE5LO
LE5LO

@ People who like to read R18+ rants. Firstly, I hope this has ruined Michael Atkinson's day, wherever he is. ;) Secondly, this is great news for Australian distributors. Finally S.A gamers over 18 can buy games in their state that are banned in the rest of the country. Selling games that are normally federally banned will boost the South Australian economy. I imagine if this reform comes in, the other states will follow suit after seeing South Australian retailers generate higher profits than them. XD Thirdly, on the flip-side; it seems when it comes to video-games our modern pollies are just as clueless as 10 years ago. I'd hate to be a South Australian 15 year old and denied the purchase of something like the next Elder Scrolls game; what are those pollies thinking!? It sounds like a bunch of people who know nothing about video-games got together and planned this. Still, at least South Australia finally has an Attorney-General willing to work on the issue, their solution may not be perfect but it's a welcome change to a rating system that has been broken for over a decade. Coming from Melbourne though, this kinda pisses me off, I want to see nationwide reform, not just S.A. Jim

thibbledorfP
thibbledorfP

I agree with this particular statement from Rau, actually. Getting rid of MA15+ would give an R18+ rating a greater availability of games. It would also clearly delineate between games suitable for children, and those suitable for adults.

Ayzed
Ayzed

@RyanLockEB Dude.. I'm 24 and I love assassins creed.. lol.

Ayzed
Ayzed

Why do idiots run our country, why is it so hard for them to see the logic in having R18+ games ASWELL as MA15+ games?

famekiller
famekiller

most of my games already have an 18+ rating on them. Well since you asked.... it's because i import a lot of my games from the UK. How dare the Australian Government tell me what i can and can't play. I always thought turning 18 meant becoming an adult and making responsible decisions for myself. So up yours! Ban as many games in this country as you want. It won't stop responsible adults like me from playing them. idiots

DeadlyVip3r
DeadlyVip3r

Trust Adelaide to be backwards, there already 20 years behind. Trying to even go further back in time by restricting 15 year olds to M rating games or lower. C'mon Adelaide you can climb out of that big hole you call a city. Get with the times. P.S. Mullets went out of fashion 20 years ago.

benboz
benboz

Thats stupid. Then why keep the MA15+ rating anyway if they are gonna do it. That's stupid.

Nintendo_Man
Nintendo_Man moderator

I am hoping NSW will follow the system the ACT will have (which is the same as for movies). But MA15+ movies will still be sold to 15 year olds in SA which have far more violence, gore and sexual content than MA rated games.

E-i-N-e
E-i-N-e

Hopefully this will reduce the number of overly annoying kids that sound like girls from ruining online gaming in the Oceanic Servers.

danmanpro
danmanpro

still waiting for the AO rating...

RyanLockEB
RyanLockEB

The fact that R18+ games are banned in AUS means we set them at a higher censorship level than MA15+ games. What happens when popular teenage franchises like COD, Assassins, Battlefield, etc are suddenly the same rating as previously banned games like Mortal Combat. I'd say it puts banned R18+ on the same psychological level as these popular titles and therefore more accessible.

boags24
boags24

If they do that with games, what about MA movies then? You can have one 15+ and the other 18+.

barronator
barronator

I kinda agree with this guy, the main point of getting R-18 isn't for more gory games, it's a clasification system designed to protect younger audiances and let parents pick more apropriate material, the more gore thing is just a side product of the main focus.

wawasjohn
wawasjohn

may aswell not have r18 then. thats just stupid. games should be the same as movies. MA for 15 plus makes sense.

RandolphRam
RandolphRam moderator

@gavin78 In what way is the headline misleading? SA is planning to have both an MA15+ and an R18+, but want to change the enforceable age of MA15+ rated titles to be 18 and over in SA only. This is a change from their previous position of possibly scrapping MA15+ altogether.

cheater87
cheater87

The thing is what if the games are still censored in the country to GET an M15 rating. Will they STILL get an 18+ restriction if they are censored?

gavin78
gavin78

Misleading headline - all they're doing is making MA15+ games R18+. CoD, BF3, Skyrim and Max Payne 3 are 18+ everywhere else in the World, so I don't get why this is a story. This shows why most of us wanted an R18+ rating....so that kids wouldn't be able to play violent games, and mainstream mature games wouldn't be needlessly censored for adults.

johnnyauau
johnnyauau

There always has to be a catch in South Australia. Why not get a wooden horse instead?

eBentl
eBentl

Poor SA you may have rid yourselves of Atkinson but his legacy lives on :(

aussiemuscle
aussiemuscle

The guy never played a video game in his life

flammable_zeus
flammable_zeus

What are these people doing making decisions? Shouldn't these decisions be left in the hands of people that actually understand what video games are in the first place? Seriously, it's as bad as Catholic priests deciding what people can and can't do sexually...

AyatollaofRnR
AyatollaofRnR

They should just go with the federal system, which is introducing R18+ soon. No need for this.

SIDEFX1
SIDEFX1

Yes, That is pretty boarderlined thinking cross linelocking thinking, It is fair and not fair. Oh well that is life, it is the law and what can you do about it.

badiie05
badiie05

haha MA18+ ... R50+, that's how i see it.

bugged
bugged

But would't this mean that games that would still fall under an 18+ classification will still be refused release as they don't fit the requirements of MA15+? To me it sounds like they're saying we'll give you your adult games as long as they are only MA15+ All it does is stop the 15 year olds playing what's currently out at the moment.

OmegaBILLy
OmegaBILLy

@xlord121 Same here. Is it just me or are games in Aus getting more expensive.

MVan86
MVan86

Hmm not a bad idea I must concede - considering that some MA15+ games in Australia are indeed 18+ in other nations. However his approach of trying to reclassify ALL MA15+ games as 18+ is far too broad. I'd say once we have an 18+ rating we should look to American and European ratings to give us at least a guide for what content a game has that pushes it out of the reach of 15/16 year olds.

xlord121
xlord121

Don't care anymore lol. I gave up on retail and started buying games online for half the price ages ago

Vaultboy-101
Vaultboy-101

What the hell is wrong with our politicians. What's the point of even labelling a game M 15+ if it's going to be restricted to 18 year olds? Ridiculous. Doesn't really make a difference though, everyone will get their hands on the games anyway :P

DarkDamo
DarkDamo

This is stupid. Games are not split into 'adult' and 'kids', there are mature games which can be consumed by teenagers. Sure the system might have been broken without an R18+ with some games getting MA15+ when they shouldn't have but when R18+ comes in that should be fixed. South Australia always has to be the odd one out...