Was the R18+ classification a pyrrhic victory?


Australia’s video game industry and gamers themselves hailed last week’s in-principle agreement by almost all of the nation’s states and territories on the need for an R18+ classification for video games as a historic victory. But was it in fact closer to a veiled defeat? Maybe, according to IT industry commentator and former Electronic Frontiers spokesperson Geordie Guy:

“Barely an hour after the announcement by the attorneys general, the Australian Christian Lobby – one of the most vociferous opponents of the rating – issued a press release welcoming it. Why? Because they are driving at the new adult rating essentially replacing the existing MA15+ category, making the games that are currently targeted at teenagers adults-only, and pushing for that which is rated for adults only overseas to continue to be banned.

While the various groups pushing for R18 for games pushed for a category, a poor job was done at articulating what it should contain, and the door was left open for the ACL and apparently the NSW Attorney General, to redefine some of our classification guidelines to promulgate the myth that computer games are more “impactful” than movies. What we needed to say, wasn’t “we want an R18 for games”, but “we want a category for computer games the same as other countries have, because our adults are the same as theirs”.”

At this stage, it’s safe to say that the final outcome of the R18+ classification debate is still a little unclear. Guy’s right — it’s not quite transparent just yet what precisely will go in the R18+ envelope, and of course NSW can always become the fly in the ointment. A new Government is always a wildcard. However, we await the coming clarity with a cautious optimism.

Image credit: Nathan Forget, Creative Commons


  1. As I tweeted at the time, any policy that the ACL approve of should raise a warning flag to any rational, reasonable, compassionate person, since the ACL is basically opposed to anything decent. Ironically, they don’t represent ‘Christians’ in any way.

  2. I think the ACL is trying some spin here, they lost and they are trying to turn it into a victory somehow. While many MA games will become R, that is not a bad thing by any means. The processes and inertia that made getting the R rating so hard will I think make it hard for the ACL to adjust the MA guidelines.

    • I agree.

      I think their defeat was always inevitable, and they just need to show their supporters that they actually have some influence.

      There was talk — I think from the South Australian A-G — of “re-badging” MA15+ titles as R18+ and doing away with MA15+ entirely, but frankly I would be quite surprised if that was the actual outcome of the meeting.

  3. Perhaps the ACL are just trying to twist things around so their supports think they have some power.

    Even if the R18+ still has restrictions, the issue has been bought to national attention, and there has been good public discussion about it, mainstream TV shows explaining that lots of adults do play computer games. Its all good for our cause.

    There has been generally widespread support for adult gamers (even the PM has mentioned it). People supporting the ban have become increasingly isolated.

    Im sure the ACL is trying desperately to corrupt and manipulate the NSW government right now, but the momentum is on the gamers side.

    • Im sure the ACL is trying desperately to corrupt and manipulate the NSW government right now

      I think the fact that Greg Smith sat out is evidence that they already have.

  4. i’ve said it before and i’ll say it agian who gives a S#*t i’ll still keep importing my games just as i have always done and i would like to see them stop me doing that, once again Australia the nanny state strikes again

  5. Norwegian tragedy highlights impact of violent video games

    “The studied indifference of this killer to the suffering he was inflicting, his obvious dehumanising of his victims and the evil methodical nature of the killings have all the marks of games scenarios.

    “But this tragic incident should galvanise everyone to ensure these principles are adhered to. Governments are not elected to live in denial, particularly of facts so tragically proven.

    The ACL have struck again. The full article is above but these two paragraphs and the bolded bits highlight their message.

    I’m lost, how do these people have any influence, they are at odds with the general populous, and aren’t a representation of Christians at large.

    And that’s ignoring the fact trying to use this tragedy for their agenda is not very Christian, or moral, or ethical, etc ..

      • Exactly the ACL should be ashamed of themselves for using what was a religiously motivated attack to try and push their agenda of the ratings of computer games. I’ve seen propaganda come out of groups associated with the ACL which are very similar to Breivik justification for the shootings circulated in Australia.

        • Of course the ACL are trying to capitalise on this tragic event and spin it to their benefit.

          It’s a two fold approach, firstly they’re trying to spin it in support of their anti-R18+ rating for video games, and second it diverts attention from the fact that Anders Behring Breivik (the shooter) “has been described by police as a Christian fundamentalist with right-wing views”.

          Does that sound like anyone else we know, perhaps Mr. Jim “Just hope that as we remember Servicemen and women today we remember the Australia they fought for – wasn’t gay marriage and Islamic!” Wallace?

          Hmmm… I feel like now I’m trying to use the tragedy in Norway to my advantage… I hate it when I’m drawn down to the ACLs level…

          *reluctantly presses post*

  6. While this MAY be a victory, it isn’t really for me. I won’t stop importing the greater majority of my games, simply because it’s WAY cheaper.

  7. So the ACL think that this will stop causing violent uproars and massacres, they blame computer games for making the people do these things, hmmm let me think, does that mean your going to put a rating on cartoons then, simple example, Tom and Jerry, cartoon show that has been around for many years, violent from the beginning the show began. Now are you going to put a classification rating of R18+ on a childrens show, NO u wouldnt.

  8. they should keep the MA15+ rating for video games, and bring the R18+ rating and reclassify the old games that were originally banned in australia, that way, these titles are still avaliablee, but they are restricted to older gamers

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