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Australia Likely To Get 18+ Game Rating

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the thank-you-uncle-government dept.

Australia 55

hypnosec writes "Australia is set to update the age rating system for video games, adding a new 18+ category which should allow for the more violent games to be sold in the country. The current maximum age rating for a console or PC game is 15+. If a title didn't meet the specifications for this age it was denied a rating and was therefore not allowed to go on sale. This didn't necessarily mean the game never hit the shelves, but it could only do if tweaks were made to remove some of the most violent or questionable content. The first parliamentary session in the new year is set for the 7th February — giving the poor fellas a nice long break — where the bill to introduce the new age rating will be voted on by the lower house. If it passes there, it will go on to the senate, which has the ability to pass it into law."

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55 comments

Better read the article (5, Funny)

ArrowBay (2326316) | more than 2 years ago | (#38816721)

Just based on the headline, I thought that somehow the whole country was being rated as only suitable for 18+. Sure, I could see parts of Brisbane getting this rating, but the whole country?

Re:Better read the article (1)

Dan East (318230) | more than 2 years ago | (#38819249)

Yes, the headline is open to misinterpretation. The article is really about a new game called Australia, which will probably get an 18+ rating. Game must be pretty obscure, because I've never heard of it, so I'm not sure why it made the Slashdot headlines.

Sanity to prevail? (5, Insightful)

RogueyWon (735973) | more than 2 years ago | (#38816731)

On the face of it, it looks like sanity might finally prevail. And in all likelihood, it probably will.

There's just this little nagging worry at the back of my mind that after going through the political process, what might happen is that a bunch of games that would previously have been released as 15+ will now be released as 18+ and that games which couldn't have been released before... still won't be able to be released because the 18+ guidelines won't actually be much/any more permissive than the old 15+.

But that's just paranoia, right? Perhaps somebody with more knowledge of Australian politics and their ratings system could provide comfort.

Re:Sanity to prevail? (3, Interesting)

jimmetry (1801872) | more than 2 years ago | (#38816789)

I don't have any supporting evidence, but I assume our rating systems are pretty similar to those in the US and UK, simply to make the process of importing a whole lot easier since we have pretty similar "moral standards" (based on the judgement of a few geriatric goons). It means developers don't have to consider Australia "special" and decide whether they'll make a special version just for us or consider us insignificant marketshare.

Re:Sanity to prevail? (4, Informative)

KorrodeAU (1546509) | more than 2 years ago | (#38816901)

Problem is there was an original set of draft guidelines drawn up that stated the games R18+ rating would basically allow the same degree of content that is allowed in R18+ films, however that draft was unable to gain an unanimous vote (required) from all the AG's. A re-draft was then done on the games R18+ guidelines that was more limiting and can easily be interpreted as little other than a re-branding of MA15+. That is what got passed by the AG's.

Re:Sanity to prevail? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38824075)

Can't we just impeach these AGs or something? It's not like their views are *actually* representative of the country at large (obviously, in this case!). Why the flying fuck are they STILL in a position where they're allowed to make such wide-sweeping decisions about OUR fucking lives? Fucking get rid of the idiots.

Re:Sanity to prevail? (3, Insightful)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 2 years ago | (#38816847)

This will also drive online sales for 18+ games. Likely a lot of 18+ games will simply never hit the shelves in the original format, as parents will notice they are unsuitable for minors, rather than wallowing ignorance and buying unsuitable games for their children. So most brick and mortar versions will be adjusted to lower the rating and gain access to a larger market and those sold online will be original versions (strict rules on contracts with minors in Australia so, Adult only contracts for online sales).

Re:Sanity to prevail? (4, Insightful)

Gadget_Guy (627405) | more than 2 years ago | (#38816915)

Likely a lot of 18+ games will simply never hit the shelves in the original format, as parents will notice they are unsuitable for minors, rather than wallowing ignorance and buying unsuitable games for their children.

I don't think that parents will stop the 18+ games from being stocked. Most of the people I see in the computer game stores are adults. In Australia, the average age of a gamer is 32 years old. 75% of gamers are aged 18 or more. Source: Australian gamers getting older and wiser, Oct 2011 [theage.com.au], or download the full report [igea.net].

As an aside, here is a suprising finding from the article:

63 per cent of gaming households play on a dedicated gaming console, 62 per cent play on PC, 43 per cent play on a mobile phone, 13 per cent on a gaming handheld and 13 per cent play games on a tablet computer.

So much for PC gaming being dead.

Re:Sanity to prevail? (3, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#38817313)

This won't stop kids from playing them either. It will just stop them from buying them at least ones without a fake ID.

Re:Sanity to prevail? (1)

DanTheStone (1212500) | more than 2 years ago | (#38818133)

Not to mention that Australian IDs are ridiculously easy to fake. They're a lot less complex than US or Canadian IDs.

Re:Sanity to prevail? (1)

AzN_DJ (950218) | more than 2 years ago | (#38824065)

Not every state - Victorian and New South Wales are very difficult to fake, and driver licenses in NSW if issued under the age of 18 have these extra "features":
The date of birth of the licence holder is repeated in the card background.
A red box surrounds the facial image.
A reference to the date of the holder’s 18th birthday appears in the banner of the card.

I can't speak for other states (I know Queensland looks sort've difficult to fake), but considering the majority of the population reside in these two states, isn't that good enough?

The bigger problem is the large asian community in Australia. They all look alike!

Re:Sanity to prevail? (1)

delinear (991444) | more than 2 years ago | (#38817331)

PC gaming was never really dead. It was just a convenient excuse for a) draconian DRM ("piracy is killing PC gaming, we need DRM...") and b) cheap console ports ("PC gaming is dead, it's not economically viable to do anything beyond a cheap port - you should be grateful we're even doing that").

Re:Sanity to prevail? (2)

somersault (912633) | more than 2 years ago | (#38817337)

Anyone that thinks PC gaming is "dead" isn't exactly firing on all cylinders.

Yes, sometimes ports are done poorly, but not always. I actually much prefer the menus in Skyrim to those of Oblivion and Morrowind, even if they obviously were designed to work well with joypads.

Once modding becomes common on consoles (surely it has to happen eventually) then the only thing PCs will really have going for them - and against them - are adjustable graphics levels though.

I didn't even have a PC that I gamed on for a few years there, but now that the PS3 and Xbox are getting a bit long in the tooth (and that Windows 7 is actually a passable OS), I'm back to PC gaming. I'll definitely be getting a PS4 for the Gran Turismo, Uncharted and LittleBigPlanet games, but this time I'll probably keep my PC up to date too.

Re:Sanity to prevail? (1)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 2 years ago | (#38826999)

PC Gaming has one thing going for it that console games will never really have, a huge range of discounted really cheap games delivered by steam etc ie less than $10 dollars. What kills discount console games, the console licence fee. Also PC games leave you TV free to play DVDs in the background.

Guess who in reality attacks PC games, not the games manufacturers but M$, Sony and Nintendo. The only time I have ever had a game console was prior to the advent of game capable PCs and have not had one since.

Re:Sanity to prevail? (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 2 years ago | (#38827333)

Haha.. I have almost the exact opposite experience to yours :p

You can get PS1 games and budget PSP/PS3 games on the PS Store. Likewise with the Wii Console thing and Xbox Live. Not as big a selection as old PC games though obviously, but what is there is usually the cream of the crop type thing.

I have my PC hooked up to the HDTV in the lounge, so that doesn't apply to me.. though I have an identical HDTV in my room, so it kind of does..

My first computers were heavily used for games.. Commodore 128, Amiga 500, 600, 1200, Macs.. then we got our first console (PlayStation 1) around the same time that we got our first x86 PC, and I've had PlayStations since then. I stopped PC gaming altogether for a while after the PS3 came out.

Re:Sanity to prevail? (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 2 years ago | (#38817451)

52yo Aussie here, currently hooked on "World of Tanks", my 78yo dad can also play a decent game of doom. When I was a kid, old farts had train sets or pinball machines in their shed, so the only thing that's really changed are the toys.

Re:Sanity to prevail? (1)

trongey (21550) | more than 2 years ago | (#38817645)

WOW! 194% of Australians are gamers!

Re:Sanity to prevail? (1)

Gadget_Guy (627405) | more than 2 years ago | (#38817981)

WOW! 194% of Australians are gamers!

That's overpopulation for you!

(And just in case you were serious, it is due to gamers owning more than one gaming device)

Re:Sanity to prevail? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38817691)

These annual reports get dragged out by the IGEA every year or so. They are not accurate representations of gamers in Australia, as much as gamers would like to think so.

The people chosen to be surveyed have been picked from a pool from an online survey company. They have signed up in order to win prizes, and other rewards. They select participants based on age, sex, etc, in order to get a representative pool of Australians. However, you only need to take a cursory glance at the numbers to know that something isn't right. The results are heavily biased towards internet savvy types, and are possibly biased to non-professionals, unemployed, etc.

The 2005 survey was performed through a much more expensive and inclusive random phone survey. The average age was 24. The IGEA changed to the current system in 2007 when the survey indicated that the average age of gamers had increased to 28. As of the most recent survey it is at 32. A 4 year increase in the average age of gamers in 2 years? I don't think so. A 8 year increase in the average age of a gamer in 6 years?

If the average age of gamers was increasing at a higher rate than the population was aging, I'd suggest gaming has a pretty serious problem on its hands. Clearly kids have stopped playing games. They must be out there hitting hoops with a stick, while their grandparents play Battlefield 3.

Re:Sanity to prevail? (1)

Gadget_Guy (627405) | more than 2 years ago | (#38818435)

The people chosen to be surveyed have been picked from a pool from an online survey company.

It is true that they conduct the survey online, and like all surveys you should be wary of the results (especially when they are conducted for an organisation with an angle). But in this case it is run by a large, established market research company [nielsen.com]. This is not just a backyard operator extrapolating results from just 50 respondents. The participants come from the same pool of people who take part in their offline market research.

A 8 year increase in the average age of a gamer in 6 years?

Given the huge explosion of gaming capable being owned by traditionally non-gaming people (eg. smartphones, tablets), I don't think that it is too unusual that we should see the average age increase. The report showed the proportion of households with gaming devices increased dramatically over the 6 year period. Consider that back in 2005, most people with children would have already had some gaming device, so the bulk of the increase of households must have come from the older generation. Hence, the average age goes up.

Re:Sanity to prevail? (2)

RogueyWon (735973) | more than 2 years ago | (#38817039)

Well, in this area I'd expect it to work more like in the US/UK, where some non-specialist retailers decide not to stock 18-certificate products - I think Walmart is a good example here. I'd be very surprised to hear of a specialist entertainment bricks and mortar retailer deciding to avoid 18-cert stuff. So far as I know, that only happens in countries which have much more draconian sales regulations - basically stating that the titles in question can't be put out on display.

More of the same (2)

vikingpower (768921) | more than 2 years ago | (#38816853)

More of the worlwide tendency: governments wanting frantically to control what people see, hear, read, have access to, and do.

Re:More of the same (4, Insightful)

Gadget_Guy (627405) | more than 2 years ago | (#38816923)

More of the worlwide tendency: governments wanting frantically to control what people see, hear, read, have access to, and do.

Haven't you got that backwards? This is the government making more content available that was previously banned.

A game? From a shelf? How deliciously absurd. (4, Insightful)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 2 years ago | (#38817003)

Governments have always done that since there have been governments.
What you're seeing today is governments scrambling to stuff the internet genie back in the bottle.

As for this story, by censoring mature games people are forced to pirate, so the government simply lose out on the sales tax of those who would have bought.

Let me just clarify something here for you all. (4, Informative)

AbRASiON (589899) | more than 2 years ago | (#38816895)

"Australia is set to update the age rating system for video games, adding a new 18+ category which should allow for the more violent games to be sold in the country"

While it's good they are fixing a stupid problem, no one BUYS games here anymore, everyone I know is all over international mailing services. Where I can buy games overseas at HALF the cost they are here - and that's not from Asia either, I'm talking US / UK releases of the games. PS3 is region free (thank you Sony for something smart) and X360 AU is compible with UK releases. Plus Steam - when they do rip us off here (normally other publishers, not Valve) we get our US friends to gift them to us at a sensible price and pay them back via paypal.

Re:Let me just clarify something here for you all. (1)

AbRASiON (589899) | more than 2 years ago | (#38816905)

Sigh, fucking punctuation cutting shit out on this site.

My opening sentence had the following words after the quotes.
"for approximately 90 to 130$ US"..........

Re:Let me just clarify something here for you all. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38817229)

Not to mention russian key sites... :)

It's a pretty tall order asking us for $100 AUD when the aud hit parity with the US dollar ages ago. And their Skyrim was $50 on steam.

Re:Let me just clarify something here for you all. (2)

tsa (15680) | more than 2 years ago | (#38817423)

I live in Holland and here it's the same. Usually games are much less $ in the US than they are â in my own country, so I buy them in the US. It usually takes less than a week to get them here, too.

Re:Let me just clarify something here for you all. (2)

tsa (15680) | more than 2 years ago | (#38817437)

That â was meant to be a Euro sign. Thank you /., for still not supporting the Euro after TEN YEARS!

Re:Let me just clarify something here for you all. (1)

bloodhawk (813939) | more than 2 years ago | (#38824735)

You will find most Xbox 360 games are region free. While the Xbox support region coding, most games don't seem to use it, I import a lot of my games into Aus from the US or from playasia

Re:Let me just clarify something here for you all. (1)

ghostdoc (1235612) | more than 2 years ago | (#38824969)

I buy on Steam, and this will fix a lot of games showing as 'unavailable in your region'.

Of course there are ways around that for games I really want to play, but it'll be more convenient if I can just get them on Steam.

Violence? More about nipples (4, Funny)

Smigh (1634175) | more than 2 years ago | (#38816909)

The thing that usually pushes these games over the ratings is nipples.

I'm ok with mutilations but nipples? No way, I hope they go back with this measure, no nipples should be hidden from all mankind, forever!

Re:Violence? More about nipples (3, Informative)

donscarletti (569232) | more than 2 years ago | (#38818833)

In Australia no.

If you read the classification guide, the guideline from G to MA15+ is: "Nudity should be justified by context. Nudity must not be related to incentives or rewards." i.e. it cannot be "collect 12 badger skins to see my labia". The proposed R18+ guidelines allow for incentive related and contextually unjustified nudity of course (up to and including actual footage of human genitalia), but there was never a general prohibition on nipples, or wang, scrot or vag for that matter. It was always either violence or drug use that got games banned in Australia, apart from BMXXX, which was considered "contextually unjustified nudity" to the censorship board and just about every game reviewer that played it.

Re:Violence? More about nipples (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38819611)

In Australia no.

" i.e. it cannot be "collect 12 badger skins to see my labia". The proposed R18+ guidelines allow for incentive related and contextually unjustified nudity of course (up to and including actual footage of human genitalia), but there was never a general prohibition on nipples, or wang, scrot or vag for that matter.

So you guys never got 'The Witcher'?

Re:Violence? More about nipples (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38829351)

Nudity must not be related to incentives or rewards." i.e. it cannot be "collect 12 badger skins to see my labia".

But how will they learn about married life?

Re:Violence? More about nipples (1)

Rhacman (1528815) | more than 2 years ago | (#38819025)

I'm perfectly fine with them censoring the nipples of all mankind, however doing so for womankind is going too far.

We each need to take a long hard look at how these regulations have the ability to touch our personal lives and keep abreast of pertinent legislative measures.

By the way, game prices in Australia (3, Interesting)

bravni (133601) | more than 2 years ago | (#38817385)

Why is it so expensive? Taxes?
Or just good old price fixing?

I am a European, now living in Japan, and have ordered a lot of stuff from the US over the years. While I can figure out most factors for explaining game prices in these 3 regions (the 1 USD = 1 GBP = 1 EUR "special exchange rate", VAT differences, margins lower in the US vs rest of the world aka price fixing), I still cannot make sense of the outrageous prices in Australia...

Re:By the way, game prices in Australia (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38817617)

It's a result of when the AUD was back at USD0.60, the games market was establishing itself. The current price points were established, so people became used to playing around AUD$99 for a new release game. Now that the AUD is around USD1.05, the distributors still want to keep the same price point, but pocket the windfall from the exchange rates.

The distributors worst nightmare is setting the price point at AUD50 only for the exchange rate to go back to USD0.60.

The typical cycle is when the exchange rate is declining, they say they need to raise prices due to the exchange rate, when the exchange rate goes up, they keep the same price and pocket the bonus. In short, greed. I don't think it is the retailers, they have virtually the same margins, I think it's the distributors.

The worst part is that steam serves up Australian specific prices, however unlike the US prices, the Aus prices always stay at the release price, whereas US prices tend to go down with the age of the game. We see the same thing in store here, but not on steam.

Over Christmas, modern warfare 2 was ~AUD90 on steam, and AUD37 in local bricks and mortar EB stores, for example.

Re:By the way, game prices in Australia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38817633)

Considering it's cheaper for the stores in Australia (Harvey Norman) to open an online store, and import the games directly to the consumers from Europe. It's clearly price fixing. Or more likely it's a set mentality, due to the fact that many years ago, the AUD was worth 50-60 US cents. So twice the cost of games from the US was approximately right with the currency difference. The problem is that with the increase in the AUD value, game value has not moved, and instead the companies that sell games (EB Games, particularly) probably just absorb the extras as an increase in profits. Realistically, their profits are probably leveling out since a lot of people just import the games now.

Either way, the cost in brick and mortar stores is significantly more than it should be. Importing asian versions of the game result in a 50% discount from JB Hifi, and more than that from EB Games (50$ online, 80-100$ in JB, 100-120$ in EB)

Re:By the way, game prices in Australia (3, Informative)

Cimexus (1355033) | more than 2 years ago | (#38817695)

Nope it ain't taxes, it's simply "pricing at the levels the market will bear", plus the fact that pricing hasn't been adjusted to account for currency fluctuations.

Ten years ago, the AUD was worth half of what the USD was. Back then, our game prices were double (in raw numbers) US prices (e.g. a game that was $50 in the USD was $100 here, or so). No issues there - that is roughly the same amount after you converted the currencies.

However, now, the AUD is worth slightly ~more~ than the USD. So it's more than doubled in value in the last decade. But game prices haven't changed (much). They are still 50-80% higher than US prices (in raw numbers). Thing is, that's what people always bought games at. So companies, to an extent, get away with it because the actual numbers on the price tag haven't really changed (or in fact, they've decreased, but nowhere near as much as would account for the change in currency value).

Some are blissfully unaware of how much cheaper games overseas are (or simply don't pay much attention to the news and realise just how strong our dollar is now compared to what it used to be). Some are aware, but simply don't care because they have enough disposable income not to worry about it (the average Aussie has more disposable income than, say, the average American, and is used to paying higher prices for almost everything - food, clothes, cars etc.) Others, like myself, say "screw that" and simply purchase over the Internet from the US (or use a US-based Steam account or something), and save themselves a healthy chunk of change. More and more people are doing this and it's starting to become a mainstream issue (not just games but all kinds of things - retailers here are complaining about everyone importing stuff and arguing that sales tax/GST should apply to imported goods etc.)

The other factor is that, Australians are still buying at those high prices. If people simply refused to pay, well, prices would come down. But retailers aren't gonna do that without good reason ... they're looking to turn maximum profit after all.

The final thing is that the AUD, although strong now, is an incredibly volatile currency. It may be 0.80 EUR and 1.05 USD now, but in any economic crisis (such as the one that could easily unfold in the Eurozone this year), it will collapse as investors rush back to safehaven currencies like USD and JPY (which is stupid, really, as the AU economy is far stronger than the US or JP economy ... but currency traders don't really care about that). So if they reduced prices to US levels, and suddenly our dollar lost 40% of its value in a few weeks (which has happened before, and indeed, has happened within the last few years), then what? They'd have to raise prices back up, and THAT would create a huge controversy (far more so than failing to simply reduce prices in the first place).

Re:By the way, game prices in Australia (2)

Cimexus (1355033) | more than 2 years ago | (#38817739)

Oh and retail overheads are huge in Australia. Even compared to Europe. Minimum wage is ~$16/hr, but almost noone actually gets paid that. Most retail jobs are paying $19/hr at minimum - more for casual staff. I was getting $22/hr stacking shelves 10 hours a week at my local supermarket throughout my university years, for instance. And that doesn't include the compulsory retirement (superannuation) payments that the employer also has to make on your behalf (so add another 9%, at minimum)...

Re:By the way, game prices in Australia (1)

bravni (133601) | more than 2 years ago | (#38818147)

Thanks for your (and the other guys posting as ACs) detailed answers.

So it's mostly a ratchet effect on the foreign exchange, with massive impact because of AUD/USD volatility.

It sucks that online platforms such as Steam are playing that game and not allow you to buy in USD at US prices... Well it also sucks for me to some extent (although online prices in Japan are not so bad - almost in sync with the US, the selection is limited, with AAA titles such as Arkham City missing for obscure reasons, etc). There used to be a time where I actually relied on Steam more, when they had not implemented regional segmentation yet. Now I am back to brick and mortar import shops or HK based outlets.

Re:By the way, game prices in Australia (1)

AzN_DJ (950218) | more than 2 years ago | (#38824113)

Common website we all use down under: www.playasia.com
Cheap games as soon as they are released.

Sometimes older games do get cheaper in store, but it depends on the situation and what game.

Keep in mind a lot of people still buy games in a store because they are concerned about region locking. For those who aren't sure which platforms have it:
PC obviously has no region locking
PS3 has no locking whatsoever (you are free to import to your heart's desire)
X-Box has some region locked games, but 3/4 are unlocked (always check before you buy)
Wii is completely region locked (you're locked in bit**es!)

Re:By the way, game prices in Australia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38836093)

The reason is simple - the Australian economy isn't in the shitter like everyone else's.

Awesome (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38817629)

Maybe they will release that uncut version of "Knifey Spooney" after all

legislatures, how do they work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38818609)

The bill to introduce the new age rating will be voted on by the lower house. If it passes there, it will go on to the senate, which has the ability to pass it into law.

thanks for the education on how a bicameral legislature works

Misread (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38819237)

I just read: Australia Likely To Get 18+ Rating and thought: It's about damn time!

What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38824703)

Erm... It is a simple fix just name it 15~17? Are these people stupid or what?

HENTAI (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38825691)

Does this mean Aus can get Hentai games now?

Fellas..? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38838045)

From TFS:

The first parliamentary session in the new year is set for the 7th February — giving the poor fellas a nice long break

"Fellas" - as in men? Seriously? What century is this again? FFS, even the Prime Minister is a woman (well, sort of).

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