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Australian Classification Board Requests To Rate Mobile Games

Australia's Classification Board, notorious for its stringent approach to video game content, is looking to extend its ratings jurisdiction to mobile games, including iPhone applications.
The director of Australia's Classification Board, which assigns content rating to media including video games, has indicated concern to the Commonwealth Censorship Minister that the Board does not currently rate mobile phone games, including iPhone games. "Some so-called mobile phone applications, which can be purchased online or either downloaded to mobile phones or played online via mobile phone access, are not being submitted to the board for classification," director Donald McDonald said during a Senate Estimates committee meeting, according to iTnews. Apple says there is currently no Australian law that mandates content rating for mobile games. "But if there is a legal requirement within Australia to do something, absolutely we would adhere to that requirement," an Apple spokesperson said. Such a requirement would result in a massive undertaking for the Board -- according to data from tracking site Apptism, there are currently over 90,000 applications for the iPhone alone, nearly 18,000 of which are games. By contrast, in the 2008-2009 ratings year, the Board processed just over 1,000 non-mobile video games. The ESRB, the industry ratings organization for North America, has also indicated its interest in providing iPhone game ratings. But while the Classification Board is an arm of the Australian government, the ESRB is a voluntary organization. Some developers have voiced objections to those ESRB advances, due to the additional cost associated with obtaining a rating. The Classification Board is also notorious for its approach to video game ratings. It has so far refused to allow an age rating higher than MA15+ to be given to games, meaning titles that would receive ratings like R18+ -- which is available to films -- are refused rating and cannot be legally sold in the country. Most recently, Valve and Electronic Arts lost an appeal to have Left 4 Dead 2 released as MA15+ in its original form; the game will now appear in Australia only in edited form.

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