Australia introduces adult classification for video games after more than a decade of debate

australia introduces adult classification for video games after more than a decade of debate hitman absolution r18

Australian video game fans have much to celebrate. As of Monday, video games intended for adults can be legally released in the country, no matter how bawdy, violent, or graphically sexual. After years of debate, Australia finally has an adult rating category for its game classification system.

Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Justice Jason Clare announced on Monday that Australia is introducing an R18+ rating for video games. “There are important reforms over 10 years in the making,” said Clare via a post on his official website, “The R18+ category will inform consumers, parents, and retailers about which games are suitable for minors to play, and will prevent minors from purchasing unsuitable materials. The reforms also mean that adults are able to choose what games they play within the bounds of the law.”

Game players in the United States don’t often remember how good they have it. When controversy over the sexual violence in many of Square-Enix’s upcoming games, namely Hitman: Absolution and Tomb Raider, it’s important to remember that we at least live in a place where someone can make and distribute games like them to discerning adults that want to play them. Playing as a bald guy who murders a gang of latex-lingerie-wearing nuns may be a game of bad taste, but at least the game is protected speech that people can engage. Some other countries use rating systems far more harsh than the ESRB, and many use classifications overseen directly by the government. Australia has been amongst the harshest game censors, but Monday brought a dramatic change to the nation’s policies.

Many games released in the US, like Mortal Kombat for PlayStation Vita and EA/Starbreeze’s Syndicate, have been barred from release in Australia due to excessive violence. Rather than release these games with ratings that restrict their sale to adults, like the ESRB’s Matura and Adults Only ratings in the US or the PEGI 18 classification in the UK, Australia simply blocks the games. This is because the rating system has only allowed up to R15+, a classification marking games for teens.

Violent games like The Darkness II have received the R15+ rating and seen release in Australia but many others never came out. Calls for an R18+ rating were dismissed by conservative Australian Parliament members for years, an issue that became particularly heated between 2007 and ‘08 when Rockstar Games tried to release Manhunt 2 and Grand Theft Auto IV in the country.

In fairness to the Australian parliament, Australia’s game enthusiasts haven’t always chosen the best ways to express themselves. Huge groups of gaming fans hosted events like Cosplay for a Cause, where a horde of people dressed like game characters marched in parliament in Adelaide, to convince politicians like Attorney General Michael Atkinson to allow an R18+ rating. Dressing up like Cloud Strife does not exactly engender serious debate or respect for your cause.

Gaming

From PUBG to Apex Legends, this is how battle royale happened

Battle royale games like PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds’ and Fortnite have become the biggest trend in video games. The genre is also pushing the envelope in Twitch streaming and eSports.
Mobile

Flex your thumbs (and your brain) with these fun texting games

Gaming consoles keep getting more advanced, but you can still have fun with the good old Latin alphabet. Here are our picks for the best texting games, so you can make the most fun out of that limited data plan or basic cell phone.
Gaming

The best of the last generation: Our 50 favorite Xbox 360 games

The Xbox 360 thrived during a generation where games were plentiful. Here's our list of the best Xbox 360 games of all time, including all game genres and even a few special indie hits.
Gaming

Google’s Stadia lets you stream big-time games from nearly any device

At GDC 2019, Google unveiled Stadia, a game streaming service that lets you play games on PC, tablets, smartphones, and TVs. Stadia looks to open up gaming to everyone, removing the need to buy additional hardware.
Gaming

Master Shinobi combat with our Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice beginner's guide

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is one of the hardest games of the generation, and it can be overwhelming, even for those who have played From Software's other games. Here is what you need to know to get started.
Gaming

World of Warcraft's allied races will make you want to start a new character

The Horde and Alliance are seeking new allies in their struggle for control of Azeroth. Whether you pledge your allegiance to the Horde or Alliance, we've got a guide to help you unlock every allied race that's coming in Battle for Azeroth.
Computing

Nvidia faces attacks from AMD, Intel, and even Google. Should it be worried?

Nvidia announced an expanded array of RTX server solutions designed to leverage the power of ray-tracing at GTC 2019. The effort will help Nvidia take on Google's Stadia in game streaming with GeForce Now, and the company's investments in…
Computing

How 5G networks will make low-latency game streaming a reality

Faster speeds and more bandwidth are some of the many promises that 5G can deliver, but for gamers, the most important thing is low latency. To achieve low latency, carriers like AT&T and Verizon are exploring hybrid models for game…
Product Review

Nintendo’s Labo VR Kit may look silly, but it really works

During our hands-on with the Nintendo Labo VR Kit, fears of a gimmicky product from Nintendo were quickly dispelled. While not a direct competitor to Oculus or HTCs own headsets, Labo VR brings a clever, new way to experience VR that makes…
Gaming

PlayStation does the smart thing, stops selling digital codes at physical stores

Sony will no longer offer PlayStation digital full-game downloads at retail stores. The game downloads will now only be available directly from the PlayStation Network's own digital store.
Gaming

Seven years later, ‘Dark Souls’ is still a gloriously punishing masterpiece

Despite my experience and love of From Software’s Dark Souls III and Bloodborne, I never played the original Dark Souls. The new remastered version gave me a chance to remedy that, and it was glorious.
Gaming

Atlus reveals Persona 5 The Royal, teases mysterious new female character

Atlus revealed Persona 5 The Royal in a trailer that features a mysterious new female character. It appears that the redhead will be an antagonist to the Phantom Thieves of Hearts, but many details about the upcoming game remain unclear.
Gaming

Save big on Corsair gaming headsets and a premium keyboard

From March 24 to 30, you can pick up one of two models of the great Corsair's Void Pro gaming headset on a sweet discount. One of Corsair's best mechanical keyboards is also on sale this week -- at a steep discount.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Robotic companions and computer-aided karaoke

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it's fun to gawk!