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98 Percent Of Australians Support R18+ Rating
98 Percent Of Australians Support R18+ Rating
May 7, 2010 | By Leigh Alexander

May 7, 2010 | By Leigh Alexander
More: Console/PC

Amid Australia's continuing dispute and deliberation over whether to introduce an R18+ classification for adult games, new data shows overwhelming public support for the measure.

The Australian government announced at the end of 2009 that it would begin collecting public responses. At the time, controversial Attorney-General Michael Atkinson -- who has since stepped down -- said he expected "only a small amount of very zealous gamers" to support the R18+ rating.

But now that the Federal Home Affairs group has released a preliminary official report, it would seem Atkinson is proven incorrect, with 98.2 percent of Australians declaring they support the rating.

There were a total 59,678 submissions to the poll, and more than 50 percent of them were driven by an in-store promotion by EB Games. A group called Grow Up Australia, which in the past gained 16,000 signatures with its government petitition for the rating, drummed up 16,056 submissions.

Groups were also able to submit responses, and those that responded were highly polarized -- the Australian Christian Lobby and the Australian Council on Children and the Media, for example, opposed the rating, while Australian industry trade body iGEA, and the Australian Interctive Media Industry Association were examples of groups in favor. About 53 percent of the groups supported the rating, while 47 percent opposed.

In order for the rating to actually be introduced, however, Australian officials throughout the country must all agree, and no decision has yet been made.

The debate is key to the release of certain future mature-themed video games in the region. Australia's video game ratings system only goes as high as ages 15 and up, meaning that any game intended for an adult 18 and over does not get a content rating, and is de facto banned in the country.

Attorney-General Atkinson's replacement, John Rau, appeared to have a more measured approach to the rating issue; speaking at the time of his appointment he said he wanted to educate himself fully on the facets of the issue before making any final decision on it.

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James Smith
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Ratings are good and important but, crucially, useless without some kind of legislation that forces companies to not sell games to minors. Or to willingly sell them to a parent who is without doubt buying it for the whinging kid who shoves it in their hands.

Yes the 2nd scenario is a harder call, but without handling the issue, an 18 rating in Oz will be as defunct as it is in Britain right now. I don't think I have ever seen a cashier stick to the guidelines because guidelines don't make money. Especially when they are only a guide and not law.

Lets hope Australia can evolve the rating system into something meaningful!

Robert Green
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@James Smith: "Or to willingly sell them to a parent who is without doubt buying it for the whinging kid who shoves it in their hands."

That one is more of a judgement call. I'm not sure we should necessarily limit the choice of a parent to say "I'm ok with my child playing this game". Right now you'd have to suspect that a large portion of them wouldn't check the rating and would let little timmy play GTA4, but at least this parent couldn't claim it was someone else's fault. That depends on whether or not you think the purpose of an R18 rating is to prevent anyone under 18 from playing it or to provide parents of people under 18 with the information necessary to make the decision themselves.

Is it illegal in aussie for an adult to buy an R18 movie and let their kids watch it?