Australian censorship ministers at a recent Standing Committee of Attorneys-General (SCAG) meeting agreed to finalize and eventually distribute a proposal introducing an R18+ rating for video games in the region.
Their decision comes only a week after South Australian Attorney-General Michael Atkinson withdrew his support
for the discussion paper and public consultation process on the possible adults-only rating. Many, including Victorian Attorney-General Rob Hulls, who drafted the paper, assumed that the proposal would be delayed indefinitely as a result.
"Games may pose a far greater problem than other media - particularly films - because their interactive nature could exacerbate their impact," Atkinson has previously said. "The risk of interactivity on players of computer games with highly violent content is increased aggressive behaviour."
Hulls, however, was able to achieve consensus with fellow censorship ministers. According to a report
from the Sydney Morning Herald's Screen Play weblog, Atkinson changed his stance on the issue at the SCAG meeting for unspecified reasons.
The Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC), Australia's media ratings board, does not currently employ a rating above MA15+ for video games, which restricts titles to users age 15 and older. Games leaning towards adult content with violence and sexual content are banned from sale.
Just in 2008, the board has refused classification for four titles -- Shellshock 2: Blood Trails, Dark Sector, Fallout 3
, and most recently Silent Hill: Homecoming
. All of the titles have been adjusted or will be adjusted to fall under the MA15+ rating.
Titled "R18+ For Computer Games," the paper was sent to ministers in September and details the advantages and challenges with introducing an adults-only rating for video games. Once finalized, the paper will be posted online and distributed to game industry groups and family associations for their opinions.