Australian Capital Territory first to pass R18+ laws

The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) is the first of all Australian states and territories to pass legislation for an R18+ rating for video games.

The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) is the first of all Australian states and territories to pass legislation for an R18+ rating for video games.

A bill for an R18+ category for video game classification was passed in Federal Parliament back in June after a years-long effort to introduce the rating for video games, which would align the medium with films and literature. Prior to the passing of the bill, video games were an anomaly in the classification space, having a rating that capped at MA15+ (Mature Accompanied), which meant that any content that was deemed "not suitable for people under 15" was refused classification and effectively banned from sale in Australia.

With the bill passed at a Federal level, it is now up to the individual states and territories to pass their own legislation and determine how the rating will be implemented.

"This is about making sure that adults are able to view and play and read what they wish as long as it does not do harm to others," said the Attorney General of the ACT, Simon Corbell.

"An R18+ classification ensures that adults can access adult material in computer game form, but at the same time protecting children under the age of 18 from that material."

In Australia, all boxed games sold at retail require a rating from the Classification Board. The introduction of an R18+ rating for video games means that content that is "legally restricted to persons 18 years of age and over" can be legally sold in Australia. Content that falls outside of the R18+ classification can still be refused classification.The R18+ rating in Australia is roughly the equivalent of the ESRB's M (Mature) rating, the UK's BBFC 18 classification, and Europe's PEGI 18 rating.

All states and territories have until January 2013 to pass legislation at a state-level. The law that introduces an R18+ category for video games is due to take effect on January 1st, 2013.

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