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Australian R18+ guidelines stress potential harm of interactivity

Leading trade body expresses "concern", stresses lack of evidence for the claim

The guidelines for Australia's long-awaited R18+ rating for games indicate that the medium will not be regarded as equivalent to other forms of entertainment.

A document released by the Australian classification board - reported by VG247 - stressed the importance of gaming's interactive elements in terms of their possible negative effects on minors.

"As a general rule, computer games may have a higher impact than similarly themed depictions of the classifiable elements in film, and therefore greater potential for harm or detriment, particularly to minors," the document reads.

The idea that interactive entertainment is potentially more harmful than passive entertainment is well known, but it's veracity has often been disputed. Indeed, Australia's leading trade body, the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association (IGEA), said as much in a reply statement that offered the guidelines a, "reserved and qualified welcome."

"Given the opposition to the introduction of an R18+ category from a vocal yet unrepresentative section of the community, along with a largely conservative group of Attorneys-General, it is no surprise the new guidelines hold video games to a higher standard across a number of categories compared to film and what originally existed for video games," the statement read.

The IGEA admitted its concern over the guidelines, citing a report published by the Australian Attorney-General's office in September 2010 that found no evidence of interactivity having a greater effect on players.

"Ultimately, we will need to wait to see how the Classification Board interpret and administer the new R18+ and revised M and MA15+ categories. We trust that they will reflect the standards of morality, decency and propriety accepted by reasonable adults, not just the vocal ones."

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Matthew Handrahan avatar
Matthew Handrahan: Matthew Handrahan joined GamesIndustry in 2011, bringing long-form feature-writing experience to the team as well as a deep understanding of the video game development business. He previously spent more than five years at award-winning magazine gamesTM.
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