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Australian government plans media review

Videogame ratings just one factor up for discussion in 2011

At the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General meeting last week (delayed from the summer) Australian politicians already agreed to draft preliminary guidelines for an 18+ mature rating for videogames. A move games companies and consumers have long been calling for.

Uniquely amongst Western countries Australia has no age rating higher than 15+ for videogames, despite an 18+ rating existing for movies. As a result many games have either had to be censored or banned in the country.

The Attorneys-General decision appears to have inspired a wider review of media ratings though, with Federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland and Minister for Home Affairs Brendan O'Connor announcing that he will ask the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) to conduct a review of all classification procedures.

According to a press release obtained by the Australian GameSpot website the review is being undertaken in light of "changes in technology, media convergence and the global availability of media content."

"It has become increasingly clear that the system of classification in Australia needs to be modernised so it is able to accommodate developments in technology now and in the future," said O'Connor.

"When the National Classification Scheme began, classifiable content and the way it was delivered to consumers was relatively static. Today, films can be watched in a cinema, on DVD, on TV or downloaded. Many videogames include significant film segments to tell stories, and some films have interactive content," he added.

"The National Broadband Network will increase this ready access to classifiable content. People, particularly parents, need a system of classification in Australia that allows them to make informed choices about what they wish to read, see and hear," he concluded.

It is unclear what effect the review may have on the recent decision on mature-rated videogames, but given the strong public support for the move it seems unlikely that it will be reversed.

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