Australian government lays down guidelines for R18+ rating for video games

The Australian government released guidelines for the country's new R18+ classification for video games today, detailing what kinds of games will be allowed to be sold in the country when the new rating kicks in on January 1st, 2013.

The Australian government released guidelines for the country's new R18+ classification for video games today, detailing what kinds of games will be allowed to be sold in the country when the new rating kicks in on January 1st, 2013.

Under the new guidelines, each rating will be determined by a hierarchy of impact that ranges from very mild to mild, moderate, strong, high, and very high, with each corresponding to a rating. The guidelines state that impact may be higher where a scene or gameplay sequence "contains greater detail, including the use of close-ups and slow motion, uses accentuation techniques, such as lighting, perspective, and resolution, is prolonged, is repeated frequently, is realistic rather than stylized, is highly interactive, [and] links incentives or rewards with high impact elements".

"A game with a first-person perspective may have greater degrees of interactivity than a game with a third-person perspective"

The guidelines also state that the Classification Board must take into account the interactivity of video games when determining the rating the game should receive. The guidelines state that a game with a first-person perspective may have greater degrees of interactivity than a game with a third-person perspective, and this may increase the impact of the content.

"Due to the interactive nature of computer games and the active repetitive involvement of the participant, as a general rule computer games may have a higher impact than similarly themed depictions of the classifiable elements in film, and therefore greater potential for harm or detriment, particularly to minors," the guidelines say.

Under the guidelines, the six classifiable elements in video games are: themes, violence, sex, language, drug use, and nudity. Under the R18+ rating, the classifiable elements will be detemined as such:

THEMES
There are virtually no restrictions to the treatement of themes

VIOLENCE
Violence is permitted. High impact violence that is, in context, frequently gratuitous, exploitative and offensive to a reasonable adult will not be permitted. Actual sexual violence is not permitted. Implied sexual violence that is visually depicted, interactive, not justified by context of related to incentives or rewards is not permitted

SEX
Depictions of actual sexual activity are not permitted. Depictions of simulated sexual activity may be permitted. Depictions of simulated sexual activity that are explicit and realistic are not permitted.

LANGUAGE
There are virtually no restrictions on language

DRUG USE
Drug use is permitted. Drug use related to incentives and rewards is not permitted. Interactive illicit or proscribed drug use that is detailed and realistic is not permitted.

NUDITY
Nudity is permitted.

The guidelines can be read in full here. They are due to take effect on January 1st, 2013.

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