An R18+ rating for video games looks to be on the horizon after the Minister for Justice Brendan O’Connor yesterday released draft guidelines for the new rating to State and Territory Classification Ministers.The draft guidelines aim to provide safeguards for children, differentiate between films and computer games and to ensure that the ‘Refused Classification’ category is retained.
A meeting will be held in July to determine whether or not to create the new rating.
While the previous South Australian Attorney General Michael Atkinson had opposed the introduction of an R18+ rating for electronic games on the grounds that it would “greatly increase the risk of children and vulnerable adults being exposed to damaging images and messages,” Minister O’Connor backs the rating for the very same reason.
“The Gillard Government wants to provide better guidance for parents and remove unsuitable material from children and teenagers,” said the Minister, “The introduction of an R18+ classification will help achieve that and will also bring Australia into line with comparable nations.”
The progress has been welcomed by non-profit organisation Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA) which has actively protested the lack of an adults-only rating.
“The federal government has shown strong leadership in this area which we applaud,” said EFA Chair Colin Jacobs.
“This isn’t about putting more violent games into the hands of kids. It’s the opposite, a category that is specifically forbidden to children. In a free country like ours, giving adults that choice shouldn’t be controversial.”
Surveys and polls have shown a large public backing for an R18+ rating for games but under current legislation all Commonwealth, State and Territory Ministers would have to agree for the new rating to be introduced.