Finally, my friends, Australia has grown up. January 1 2013 marks the first day that an R18+ Adults Only rating for video games comes into effect across the nation. Starting today, the new R18+ category will bring the classification of computer games into line with films, and means Australia is no longer languishing behind the rest of the western world.
Games that are deemed to contain “high impact” themes and content, or are only suitable for adults, will be given the R18+ rating, and will only be sold or rented to people able to show proof of age. In most states and territories, it will be illegal for people under 18 to buy, hire or view any games with the rating, and it will be illegal for retailers to sell R18+ games that do not feature the new Classification Board markings. (At present, Queensland is the only state to have not passed legislation to deal with the new system, and is expected to consider the new laws “early next month”.)
At the same time, games which do not meet classification criteria will be refused classification in Australia, effectively banned from display or sale.
Despite the introduction of the new classification, the first R18+ games are expected to be a few months away yet, with many gamers speculating over just which of the 2013 blockbusters will be the first to get an R18+. Early favourites including Tomb Raider, Aliens: Colonial Marines and Crysis 3 have all been granted MA15+, leading some fans to wonder whether upcoming RPG South Park: The Stick of Truth may receive the dubious honour.