Catholic Bishops support Aussie R18+ guidelines

Australian Catholic Bishops "welcome" proposed guidelines for adult rating for video games; Australian Christian Lobby describes changes as "frightening."

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Australia's federal government finally released the long-awaited draft guidelines for the possible introduction of an adult rating for games in Australia yesterday, with the proposed changes outlining what type of content would be allowed under an R18+ rating Down Under. While the games industry has welcomed the proposals, another group came out today in support--the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference.

In a press statement, the Conference--which represents the official views of the Catholic church in Australia--outlined that while its preference would be the banning of R18+ games, it acknowledged that such an outcome was not "achievable."

"In an ideal world, the sort of material that is included in R18+ or higher classification films and computer games would never be seen in a civilized democracy. However, it is not an ideal world and, in the real world in which we live, such material unfortunately is produced and is available, sometimes legally and often illegally, within our society," the press statement said. "The preferred position of the Catholic Church is that R18+ material should not be available. But if such an outcome is not achievable then the Australian National Classification Scheme should include an R18+ classification category for computer games."

This is not the first time the Conference has come out in support of the introduction of an R18+ rating Down Under. In its submission to last year's federal government inquiry into the topic, the Catholic Bishops also stated their preference for an R18+ rating to better control game content in Australia.

Not all Christian groups are on this side, however. Vocal minority group, the Australian Christian Lobby, has lambasted the proposed guidelines, describing them as contrary to the interests of parents and children.

"Not only is this proposal contrary to the claim that the introduction of an R18+ category for computer games would protect children by merely relocating existing MA15+ games to a new R18+ category, it would inevitably open the Australian hire and sale markets to a higher level of graphically violent and sexually explicit interactive games," ACL's chief of staff Lyle Shelton said in a press statement.

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. 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.

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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