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R18+ games still not over the line in Oz

Feds sign off but States could set bar low, forcing more games into adults-only territory

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Australia's national Parliament has passed laws creating a new R18+ rating for computer games, but just what will earn that rating is now up to the nation's nine States and Territories, all of which must pass their own legislation before gamers can enjoy currently-banned fare.

There's not much on the banned list, with just three titles deemed too nasty for local release in the last year.

Australia is, however, all-but alone among developed nations in not having an official rating for games deemed suitable only for purchase and play by those who have attained their legal majority.

Ron Curry, CEO of the Interactive Games & Entertainment Association (IGEA), welcomed the new federal law but says adoption by the States and Territories is far from certain, even though the national law was drafted with input from all Australian jurisdictions. “No-one has said anything to the contrary but some States are not pushing ahead as quickly as others,” he told The Register.

Curry fears two scenarios, one of which is rejection of the classification by some States and Territories. That possibility is very real, as in New South Wales the government has recently made concessions to the Christian Democratic Party's platform to win votes it needed to pass its own policies. The Christian Democratic Party is opposed to an R18+ classification. If one State or Territory did not enact its own law, games would therefore be legal to sell in some Australian cities but not in others, a situation Curry feels would be massively inconvenient to the games industry, and frustrating for gamers.

The second scenario would see the States and Territories agree to laws implementing an R18+ classification, but lower the bar so that more games win the adults-only rating.

“You could get an R18+ classification that could look like an MA15+,” Curry worried.

IEGA will therefore lobby hard in the three States – West Australia, Queensland and New South Wales – that it thinks have the greatest potential to cause problems.

Curry hopes those talks succeed and that “we can put this issue to bed, because that will leave us to talk about other more important stuff and not an issue that in this day and age should be irrelevant.” ®

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