One of the most common questions surrounding the introduction of an R18+ rating for video games in Australia has been whether or not previously-released games would be re-classified to bring them into line with the new legislation. Mostly, this question has been asked about games that have been refused classification, but it seems the NSW government would like to reconsider some games currently rated MA15+, as well.
NSW MP Greg Donnelly has said that "up to 50" MA15+ rated games are in the firing line, and promises that "steps will be taken" to re-rate them with a higher classification.
His statement, from Kotaku Australia is simple:
Following the introduction of the new framework on 1 January 2013, steps will be taken to look at what are colloquially referred to as the 50 video and computer games — at least 50 — that it is believed in one way or another have been shoe-horned into the MA 15+ category and should now be rated at the higher classification.
This doesn't quite mesh what we've heard previously from the federal government. Minister Brendan O'Connor has stated that games which had been previously refused classification would not be given the opportunity to be re-classified as R18+. At the same time, he's never outright said anything about re-ratings going the other way.
A spokesperson for the Attorney-General's department didn't really clarify anything with a statement today:
Games that are currently Refused Classification will remain RC under the new arrangements, unless reclassified.
Reclassifying games is a tricky business, particularly when these titles have been on-shelves for any amount of time. Previously, games could be reclassified two years after receiving a classification (including RC). There has been some discussion that - for games effectively banned in Australia - this 24-month rule could be temporarily relaxed when the new laws are brought in. This now may not be the case, with the AG department spokesperson telling Kotaku that the Classification Board may now be able to seek to reclassify content on its own initiative, without requiring a request from either the public or the publisher. The Commonwealth Minister responsible for classification can also make this sort of request, as can individual state and territory Classification Ministers - it's believed this is how Greg Donnelly intends to raise the 50 MA15+ games he's taken issue with.
We just want to know which 50 games these are, and if he actually has a list. It is a widely known (but not officially acknowledged) issue in Australia where many games are shoehorned into an MA15+ rating when they perhaps deserve an R18+ sticker instead, but there are also plenty of RC games that could be happily reclassified under the new R18+ rules. If games are allowed to shift in one way, here's hoping they can shift the other, too.
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Jimmy the Geek