The Australian Federal Government has released draft guidelines for a reformed video game classification system, which supports the introduction of an R18+ rating.
The new guidelines, released by [PDF] home minister Brendan O'Connor, are similar to those in place for the film industry, removing restrictions on bad language, drug use and nudity. The current guidelines forbid the classification of any adult-themed games.
The R18+ rating will allow "virtually no restrictions on the treatment of themes", and violence in games "except where it offends against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults to the extent that it should not be classified."
On the topic of sex, the draft says, "Sexual activity may be realistically simulated. The general rule is
'simulation, yes - the real thing, no'".
O'Connor said, "The Gillard government wants to provide better guidance for parents and remove unsuitable material from children and teenagers. The introduction of an R18+ classification will help achieve that and will also bring Australia into line with comparable nations."
"This issue has been on the table for many years, without the necessary progress to make a change. We’ve recently seen several states publicly express their support for an adult only rating for games and I’m keen to reach a unanimous decision at the July meeting."
The government will decided whether to take on these new guidelines in July.
Last month, South Australian Attorney General John Rau said that the state was finally ready to adopt the long-proposed R18+ adult rating for games, but only if the lower MA15+ rating is eliminated and all games in the category pushed into the new, higher rating.
However, this new draft has both the R18+ and MA15+ ratings available together.