Australia’s federal government plans to block websites that contain games that are unclassified or have what is considered riskier than an MA-15+ rating, and the censorship will apply to all age groups.
A spokesperson for Communications Minister Stephen Conroy told the Sydney Morning Herald that all Flash and downloadable games as well as online retailers that sell boxed copies of MA-15+ games via mail order will be filtered.
“This is confirmation that the scope of the mandatory censorship scheme will keep on creeping,” said Colin Jacobs of online lobbyist group Electronic Frontiers Australia.
“Far from being the ultimate weapon against child abuse, it now will officially censor content deemed too controversial for a 15-year-old. In a free country like ours, do we really need the government to step in and save us from racy web games?”
The Interactive Entertainment Association of Australia has stated that this new plan is the direct cause of not having a 18+ rating for games, and such a situation could affect players of MMOs like WoW and Second Life because online games are unclassified.
“That [online games] exemption [on content ratings] is the only reason why multiplayer games with user-generated environments are possible in this country,” said Mark Newton, an ISP engineer. “Without it, it’d only take one game user anywhere in the world to produce objectionable content in the game environment to make the Australian Government ban the game for everyone.”