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Australia consults public over 18+ rating

Government calls for arguments for and against new mature age rating

The Australian government has begun a period of public consultation concerning the possible implementation of a mature 18+ age rating for video games, with citizens being asked to submit their views on the subject.

The Attorney-General's Department has issued a submission paper featuring a short questionnaire, whose statements participants are able to agree or disagree with on a five point scale.

A sample statement reads: "Computer games should be treated differently from films given the specific, negative effects of interactivity on players, particularly their participation in violent and aggressive content".

A second discussion paper sets out the arguments for and against a rating in more detail, explaining that because Australia has no 18+ rating for games (unlike the situation with DVDs) violent games are often refused a rating in the country.

This generally leads to the publisher issuing a censored version specifically for the Australian market (as with Left 4 Dead 2) or to a title not being released (as with the forthcoming Aliens vs Predator).

The discussion paper indicates that the consultation is being made now because research by the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association (IGEA) "indicates adults are increasingly consumers of computer games."

The date for public submissions will end on February 28, 2010 after which the various arguments will be collated and discussed by the State and Federal Attorney-Generals.

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