The final version of the Guidelines for the Classification of Computer Games, which comes into effect on January 1st 2013, has been welcomed by the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association (iGEA). In a statement released yesterday, they said:
We, along with many other stakeholders, have worked for many years to have the classification scheme acknowledge that adults play and enjoy video games and are due the respect of a classification category that reflects ‘age appropriate’ content for adults. The new guidelines released today show that they have been crafted to try to balance the concerns of those who have resisted an R18+ classification and adults who want to play video games designed specifically for mature audiences and that are readily available in other developed democracies.
However, the iGEA still have a couple of minor issues regarding the new classification, the draft of which was amended in November of last year:
Given the opposition to the introduction of an R18+ category from a vocal yet unrepresentative section of the community, along with a largely conservative group of Attorneys-General, it is no surprise the new guidelines hold video games to a higher standard across a number of categories compared to film and what originally existed for video games.
As we have previously stated, we are concerned with the acknowledgment in the guidelines that interactivity has greater impact on players, despite the Federal Attorney-General’s office publishing a literature review in September 2010 that found no evidence to support these claims. There will be continued debate about whether the interactivity of video games has a greater impact than other forms of media, and we will continue to refer to the lack of the evidence to support these claims.
The actual power to use the new R18+ rating will be in the hands of the Classification Board, whom the iGEA hopes will “reflect the standards of morality, decency and propriety accepted by reasonable adults, not just the vocal ones”. Under the new classification, games which would receive a rating of R18+ can now be legally sold in Australia, but they must comply with the following guidelines:
Violence is permitted. High impact violence that is, in context, frequently gratuitous, exploitative and offensive to a reasonable adult will not be permitted.
Sexual violence may be implied, if non-interactive and justified by context.
Sexual activity may be realistically simulated. The general rule is “simulation, yes – the real thing, no”.
There are virtually no restrictions on language.
Drug use is permitted.
Drug use related to incentives and rewards is not permitted.
Nudity is permitted.
As for which game will be Australia’s first to receive the new rating, only time will tell.