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Despite R18+ Rating, Proposed AU Guidelines Could Still Refuse Classification

Despite the introduction of a new, adults-only R18+ rating in Australia's latest proposed game regulation guidelines, titles with extreme violence, sex or drug use could still be refused classification under the system.
Despite the introduction of a new, adults-only R18+ rating in Australia's latest proposed guidelines for computer game regulation, titles with extreme violence, sex or drug use could still be refused classification under the system. Games that include violence that is "excessively frequent, prolonged, detailed or repetitive" should be refused classification according to the guidelines, as should games that include detailed cruelty, sexual violence or "detailed instruction or promotion in matters of crime or violence." Other proscribed game content includes depictions of pedophilia, bestiality, "incest fantasies" and other "fetishes or practices which are offensive or abhorrent." Games that contain illicit drug use that is realistic or "related to incentives or rewards" can also be refused classification. The 16-page document [PDF] also suggests that a game's interactivity can cause certain objectionable content to have a greater "impact" than similar content in other media, leading to a potentially higher rating. "For example, impact may be higher where interactivity enables action such as inflicting realistically depicted injuries or death or post-mortem damage, attacking civilians or engaging in sexual activity," the document reads. Under the current Australian rating system, games that do not recieve an MA15+ rating or lower are refused classification, meaning they can not be legally advertised or sold by retailers in the country. But the new guidelines, which come after a lengthy political battle, allow for a new R18+ rating that allows content such as nudity, simulated sexual activity, implied sexual violence, and limited drug use. The new rating places no impositions on a game's language or themes. The proposed guidelines face a number of bureaucratic and legislative hurdles before they can be implemented, a process which Australia's classification branch manager of applications David Emery recently said could take "a couple of years."

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