The Interactive Games & Entertainment Association, an industry trade group active in Australia and New Zealand, has submitted a proposal for an R18+ rating to the Australian attorney general's office, hoping to alter long-standing practices effectively banning games which exceed a certain threshold of violent or sexual content.
Unlike its ratings for films, Australia's game rating system does not include "R18+" or "X18+" ratings, which pertain to content rated for those 18 years of age or older. The game system tops out at "MA 15+" -- meaning games with content deemed more mature than is suitable to an MA 15+ rating are denied classification entirely, and cannot be sold at retail in the country.
Through the month of February, the country's office of the attorney general is accepting submissions
of proposals to add an R18+ rating to the game system. And now, the IGEA says it has formally filed its own recommendation, citing independent polls demonstrating wide public support for such an addition.
"There have been some claims an R18+ classification will expose Australia to unlimited high level content but this is simply not the case. The Classification Board will still refuse games that exceed the adult rating guidelines," said IGEA CEO Ron Curry.
"An R18+ classification is essential to protect consumers whilst providing them with the full information to make educated decisions about their entertainment choices," he added.
High-profile games like Bethesda Game Studios' Fallout 3
and Valve Software's Left 4 Dead 2
have butted up against rating limits; both games had to be adjusted to see release in the Australian market, following initial classification refusal.
Despite the attorney general's office's call for submissions, a change to the rating system would still require unanimous consent from the country's state- and federal-level attorneys general -- and Michael Atkinson, attorney general for the state of South Australia, has been the most outspoken critic of such an addition, often pledging his intention not to give any quarter.
"I receive abusive emails from anonymous senders on a daily basis. I get called a paedophile every single day. But I won't surrender," Atkinson said in an interview last year
, speaking on the controversy surrounding the issue.
"I don't plan to back down from the fight. I started my mission and I plan to finish it," he said.