Australia's R18+ classification for video games came into effect yesterday.
Until Jan. 1, 2013, Australia was one of the few developed countries in the world to not have an R18+ classification for video games. The highest rating for video games was MA15+, which meant that any game that the country's Classification Board found too mature for the MA15+ category was Refused Classification and effectively banned from sale.
The R18+ classification comes into effect after the Federal and State governments passed legislation last year to introduce the rating.
As of Jan 1, 2013, publishers can submit video games for consideration for the R18+ classification, and games that have previously been Refused Classification may be resubmitted to the Board provided two years have lapsed since the original classification. The introduction of an R18+ rating does not mean that previously banned games will automatically be reclassified, and games that the Board deems inappropriate even for the R18+ rating can still be Refused Classification.
South Australia's Attorney-General John Rau told the ABC:
We've actually achieved a good balance where in effect MA15+ has become more restrictive and games that previously would have been in MA15+ are now going to be sitting in R18+. It's a win for the gamers who wanted to have the opportunity as adults to purchase these games, but it's also a win for parents because they can be more confident that games that are age-inappropriate will not be available to people under 18.
The Interactive Games and Entertainment Association of Australia believes that the new classification guidelines are already slowly becoming irrelevant.