Australian gamers get R18+ ratings

An adults-only computer game rating category will at last become a reality with legislation passing federal parliament last night.

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The new law fulfils the Commonwealth’s part of a deal with states and territories to include an R18+ rating in the games classification system.

“These are important reforms over 10 years in the making,” Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare said in a statement on Monday.

“The R18+ category will inform consumers, parents and retailers about which games are not suitable for minors to play and will prevent minors from purchasing unsuitable material.

“The reforms also mean that adults are able to choose what games they play within the bounds of the law.”

Previously, the highest rating for computer games has been MA15+ meaning overseas adult-only games are usually banned here or given a lower classification allowing children to obtain them.

The new laws bring computer games in line with the classification system for films and other material and make Australia more consistent with international standards.

They have received overwhelming support during years of consultation – one discussion paper received more than 58,000 submissions with most in favour.

Shadow attorney-general George Brandis said it made sense that Australia’s classification regime would now be uniform “classifying all media according to a single set of criteria”.

“The passage of this bill will no doubt be welcomed by adult gamers all across Australia,” Senator Brandis told the Senate.

“The industry has been waiting for this change for some time.”

The Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games)Amendment (R18+ Computer Games) Bill 2012 passed the Senate on with bipartisan support. Similar legislation will be formally passed by the states and territories and will come into effect nationally from January 1, 2013.

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