Australians will soon be able to purchase mature video games with legislation for an adult rating finally passing Federal Parliament. Despite offering an R18+ rating (deemed unsuitable for those under 18 years old) for films, the highest ranking for games has been M15+. This has prevented the sale of many games, if not entirely than in their original state as developers edit content to comply with local laws.
Left 4 Dead 2 serves as a memorable example, having been banned until Valve removed depictions of dismemberment and decapitations as well as other gory elements. The recent Syndicate reboot was also barred after failing to meet the nation's MA15+ rating, prompting EA to criticize Australia's classification system for being more strict with games than other forms of entertainment such as books and movies.
That's precisely what the newly-passed legislation aims to address, holding all forms of entertainment to the same standards. "These are important reforms over 10 years in the making," said Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare. "The R18+ 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 passage of this bill will no doubt be welcomed by adult gamers all across Australia," Shadow Attorney-General George Brandis told the Senate. "The industry has been waiting for this change for some time" – and it will only have to wait a little while longer. Australia's states and territories still have to set regulations for R18+ games, but the new classification will reportedly go live on January 1, 2013.