Australia to introduce adults-only rating on video games

Australia will introduce an adults-only rating for video games, bringing it into line with the U.S and Europe.

Gamers have lobbied for an adults-only rating for years, believing that it would allow for more mature themes.

Australia is the only developed country not to have the adults-only on video games, despite public support for one, The Sydney Morning Herald reports.

Today, attorney-generals across the country met and formed an historic in-principal agreement to introduce the R18+ classification, it reports.

All ministers except for the state of NSW, governed by a conservative Liberal party, agreed, but the Federal government said it would press on regardless, SMH reports.

At a news conference following the agreement Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor said: “We've now struck an historic agreement and we can move forward to having an adult classification in this country as is the case in New Zealand, the US, Europe and many other parts of the world."

The video games industry welcomed the in-principle agreement on R18+, which it said had been almost a decade in the making.

"An in-principle agreement for an R18+ classification is a big step towards a robust ratings system that best equips parents to manage their children's access to appropriate content, as well as enables adults the ability to play games of their choice within the confines of the law," said Interactive Games & Entertainment Association CEO Ron Curry.

Mark Bradley, vice president of game publisher Electronic Arts, said he was "encouraged" by the agreement as "the current policy of the Australian government forces arcane censorship on adults who play games ... cuts they would never impose on movies, books or other forms of artistic expression", SMH reports.

The Australian Christian Lobby "cautiously welcomed" the outcome of today's decision but questioned why it was not deferred until the Australian Law Reform Commission completed its review of the National Classification Scheme, which includes examining the classification of games.

In December 2010, O'Connor released the results of a national telephone poll which showed that of 2226 respondents, 80 per cent supported the introduction of an R 18+ classification for computer games, PC World magazine reports.

The poll covered Australian residents aged 16 years and over from all Australia.