Well folks, it’s official. The Australian Minister for Home Affairs, Jason Clare, has officially announced that an R18+ category for video games will be introduced, as the legislation passes happily through both houses of Federal Parliament.
This evening saw the bill pass through the Senate (Upper House), without amendment.
Mr Clare described these reforms as “important” and pointed out they have been in the works for more than a decade.
The R 18+ category will inform consumers, parents and retailers about which games are not suitable for minors to play, and will prevent minors from purchasing unsuitable material.
The reforms also mean that adults are able to choose what games they play within the bounds of the law.
Back in 2009, the Australian Attorney-General’s Department released a discussion paper on the topic, asking the public whether they believed Australia should have an R18+ rating for video games. The responses came back overwhelmingly positively – with more than 98% of the 58,437 respondents supporting the introduction of R18+.
The introduction of this legislation sees Australian video and computer game classification brought into line alongside the existing categories used to classify films.
Australia can also shrug off the label of being the only western country without an adult rating for video games, with the new scheme much more consistent with international standards.
But it’s not necessarily all smooth sailing from here: Just because the federal government has approved the move, each individual state and territory now has to work out how it’s going to implement the changes. All the relevant parties agree to the reform, so in many cases, it will simply mean a local introduction of the new rating, but in others, state Attorneys-General may take a very different approach.
Either way, the changes are now official, and Australia will indeed have an adult rating for video games, effective January 1st, 2013.