Australians can give a sigh of relief, as the R18+ rating has finally made its way through parliament. Video games entering Australia have been at the mercy of the classification board when it comes to getting a rating, as there was no R18+ rating, the max being MA15+. Australia lacks a dedicated classification board for video games, such as the ESRB of America, therefore, games are funneled into G, G8+, M15+(Recommended), and MA15+ (Restricted).
The main problem this presented, was games not qualifying for the maximum rating, therefore not entering Australia. Alternatively, the developers modified the game to fit the standards, in one case, ruining the game. One of the more recent victims being the ultra violent Syndicate, which I was looking forward to before it was denied. But the more pressing issue was having games with extreme violence, sexual themes, or drug use be put under the weak rating of MA15+, enabling young teens or uneducated parents to purchasing inappropriate media. Too many times I have seen a clueless mother walking out with a 12 year-old clutching Call of Duty or Battlefield, knowing that he could be gunning down countless players and shouting expletives at strangers on the internet in no time.
It’s now up to the individual states of the nation to locally pass the bill, though nobody expects much resistance. With any luck, this will mean re-releases for games like Left 4 Dead 2, Syndicate, and Mortal Kombat, the likes of which were banned or censored. That being said, these titles are still available as imports from the UK, so the restrictions only hinder the players and disadvantage retailers. The bill will come into effect on the 1st of January, 2013.