This means that any game submitted for sale in Australia must first be rated by the Classification Review Board (The Office of Film and Literature Classification is now defunct).. To be eligible for retail shelf space, the title must be awarded a MA15+ rating at worst. Any other rating, with content deemed overtly adult will result in an ‘unclassifiable’ determination, and subsequent banning of the title.
There is an appeal process, which can result in a re-rating of a title, as publishers of the upcoming F.E.A.R 2: Project Origin succeeded in pursuing .
Understandably however, a banning of any particular title causes much gnashing of teeth and wailing by fans of the unclassified game.
Given that the average age of an Australian gamer is now over 30 years of age, and that 90 percent of Australians back the introduction of an R18+ category for interactive entertainment , to help make the complex job of parenting easier, there was palpable relief when the state and territory attorneys-general met in March and agreed to release a discussion paper on addressing the issue.
Since that time, Australia has waited for the almost mythical discussion paper to be made public – read more about the roller-coaster rating ride here . In essence however, the sticking point is the South Australian Attorney-General, Michael Atkinson whose staunch stance against the introduction of an R18+ (or beyond) classification has derailed the ride at most turns.
Yesterday Jason Hill over at the Sydney Morning Herald reported that yet again Mr Atkinson has stalled the nine month old process, by failing to provide feedback and final comments prior to the release of the discussion paper.
Regardless of the outcome, for me one of the most annoying aspects of this process is the simple lack of any progress. These people are the elected officials, elected to lead and be decisive.
We don't want rash or unconsidered decisions made, but a politician that just stalls for time, regardless of his stance is not fit to govern.
Further in the report, Hill quite rightly points out that in the meantime, games such as Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars, FEAR 2: Project Origin and MadWorld have received the somewhat confusing and misunderstood MA15+ rating, whereas these games had received adult ratings in other regions.