South Australian attorney general John Rau intends to introduce a revised games ratings system for his home state, and asked for nation-wide acceptance.
Hooray? Not quite. It won’t help you get your hands on the likes of Mortal Kombat and an uncensored Left 4 Dead 2 – but it will stop under-eighteens buying Grand Theft Auto IV or Fallout 3.
ABC News reports South Australia will soon drop the MA15+ rating in favour of a scale of G, PG, M, and R18+.
The shuffle would see all games currently rated MA15+ reclassified as R18+, making it illegal to sell them to minors.
It will apparently not permit games currently refused classification to be sold under an R18+ rating, as it seems no revision to the assessment criteria of the category has been proposed – it’s simply being renamed, and enforced at a higher age bracket.
Rau said he intends to try and take the system nation-wide if possible.
“I will push for the South Australian position on MA15+ games to be adopted nationally, but if it isn’t, I’m prepared to go it alone,” he said.
“There has to be a clear difference between what adults can get and what children can get. At the moment the MA15+ classification is like a crossover point between what is acceptable and what is unacceptable.”
This is arguably quite true. Australia’s patchy classifications mean many games released in under the MA15+ label contain content considered too extreme for under eighteens in international markets – up to 70 percent in one study – while less controversial examples can be refused classification based on media attention and interest group pressure.
“The next step will depend on what happens [at the next meeting of state attorney generals] in July. Certainly, in order to implement R18+ for games here in South Australia there will need to be some regulation or possible statutory amendments made but I don’t think it will be hard to do this. We just have to wait until the federal position becomes clear,” Rau told Gamespot.
South Australia’s current attorney general continues the position’s tradition of holding unusual opinions on games ratings. Former incumbent Michael Atkinson was the sole roadblock in multiple attempts to introduce a nation-wide R18+ category over the course of his service.