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Down Under gamers get closer to 18+ rating

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Australian gamers are poised to get access to hard core R18+ games like Mortal Kombat Reboot following the release of long anticipated draft guidelines from the government supporting the introduction of a new classification for computer games.

Until now the Australian gaming industry and its users have been caught in a conservative time warp which banned games tagged with a rating higher than MA15+.

The Federal Government announced in March that it would review the National Classification Scheme for the first time in 20 years.

The review has been sparked by outdated classifications in the gaming sector and will also be core to plans for a proposed national internet filter.

The draft guidelines have been distributed to State and Territory ministers ahead of a meeting in July where they will decide whether to create the new rating. Under present legislation, an R18+ classification for computer games can be introduced only with the agreement of all Commonwealth, State and Territory ministers.

"The draft guidelines make it clear that sexually explicit games or games with very frequent, strong and realistic violence will not be allowed in the MA15+ category," said home minister Brendan O'Connor.

The proposed guidelines mirror those applicable to classification in the film industry and remove restrictions on offensive language, sex scenes, drug use and nudity.

The classification would allow “realistically simulated” sexual activity with “the general rule of simulation, yes – the real thing, no”. Violence is permitted except where it “offends against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults to the extent that it should not be classified.”

Computer games would still cop a ban if they include or contain detailed instruction or promotion in matters of crime or violence, deviant sex practices, or detailed instruction in the use of proscribed drugs.

"The Gillard government wants to provide better guidance for parents and remove unsuitable material from children and teenagers. The introduction of an R18+ classification will help achieve that and will also bring Australia into line with comparable nations," O’Connor said. ®

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