It's difficult for a game developer to release an adult-themed video game in Australia. That's because there is no game rating assigned for titles intended for people 18 and older -- the highest rating for video games is MA15+. If a game falls above that classification, then the game is blocked from release.
South Australian Attorney General Michael Atkinson said in a report
on news.com.au that he would like to keep it that way. "It certainly does restrict choice to a small degree, but that is the price of keeping this material from children and vulnerable adults. In my view, the small sacrifice is worth it," he said.
When a game has high levels of mature content, such as drugs, sex, or violence, Australia's Office of Film and Literature Classification Board refuses to give the game a rating, effectively banning the title from the country, unless the game developer makes changes to the game's content to fit into the MA15+ category.
Other types of media such as movies in Australia do have an R18+ rating. Most countries have a rating system that includes a rating for adults. In the U.S., the Entertainment Software Rating Board has an "M" for "Mature" rating for people ages 17 and up, Continental Europe has PEGI, which has the 18+ rating, and Japan has the "Z" rating for adults.
In 2008, Australia's classification board refused to rate numerous titles including Shellshock 2: Blood Trails, Dark Sector, Fallout 3
and Silent Hill: Homecoming
. All of these games received edits so that they could fall under the MA15+ rating.
The most recent high-profile game that was refused classification
in Australia was Valve Software's zombie shooting-fest Left 4 Dead 2
. Valve said last week
that it is appealing the OFLC's decision.
Atkinson added, "People are participating and 'acting-out' violence and criminal behaviour when they are playing a video game."
Victorian Attorney-General Rob Hulls, however, noted the inconsistency that video games do not have an R18+ rating, while movies do have access to the rating. He said Australia is "out of step" with the rest of the world, according to the report.