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South Australia to get MA15+ and R18+ games

When the Australian Federal Government introduced legislation to allow adult R18+ rated video games into the country, one state stood alone and claimed it would not go along with the rest. South Australian attorney-general John Rau made his position clear: He would abolish the existing MA15+ classification, jumping straight from the non-age-restricted M rating to the adults-only R18+.

John Rau

SA Attorney-General,
John Rau

In the five months since his statements in April, Rau has reminded gamers of his position, but today we see a backflip. According to local media, the attorney-general now believes that the new classification guidelines address his concerns, and make MA15+ games more age-appropriate.

He says:

The new MA15+ classification is now so different to the previous one that I no longer see an issue with it. I will, however, keep a watching brief on MA15+ games.

The guidelines include much tighter requirements for every level of classifications – in particular, what constitutes MA15+.

According to Rau, the new guidelines (which have been copping flak from gamers for being too conservative) will be effective at preventing children from buying or accessing "unsuitable" games. The big deal for him is the fact that previously-rated MA15+ could now be re-classified as R18+, even though this move is judged on a case-by-case basis, requires a complaint and an inquiry, and is rather unlikely.

The guidelines draw an obvious distinction between games that are suitable for children, early-teens, and games that are only suitable for adults.

This is critical, as teenagers and children will be restricted from purchasing unsuitable games.

Games like Syndicate may now be rated R18+ in Australia

Games like Syndicate may now be rated R18+ in Australia

Rau seems satisfied that younger gamers will have even less access to adult materials than they currently do, with the new guidelines enforcing stronger restrictions on violence, drug use, nudity and sexual activity.

South Australia has not yet introduced specific state legislation for the introduction of R18+ rated video games, leaving the Australian Capital Territory the only region to have done so. The new federal legislation kicks in on January 1st, 2013.

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