The classification guidelines for the new R18+ rating for video games have been released to the public ahead of the rating's introduction in January, 2013.
"These are important reforms over 10 years in the making," said Minister for Home Affairs and Justice Jason Clare.
The key point is that they will treated differently to other mediums due to interactivity. An action than constitutes an MA15+ rating in a film may be deemed R18+ in a video game under the new system.
"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," says the guidelines.
It also doesn't mean all games will be allowed into the country. Video games will still be banned if they include "illicit or proscribed drug use related to incentives or rewards" or "interactive drug use which is detailed and realistic." Sex is also restricted and can only be implied.
Here are the full guidelines:
Interactivity is an important consideration that the Board must take into account when
classifying computer games. This is because there are differences in what some sections of
the community condone in relation to passive viewing or the effects passive viewing may
have on the viewer (as may occur in a film) compared to actively controlling outcomes by
making choices to take or not take action.
Due to the interactive nature of computer games and the active repetitive involvement of the
participant, 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.
Interactivity may increase the impact of some content: for example, impact may be higher
where interactivity enables action such as inflicting realistically depicted injuries or death or
post-mortem damage, attacking civilians or engaging in sexual activity. Greater degrees of
interactivity (such as first-person gameplay compared to third-person gameplay) may also
increase the impact of some content.
The impact of material classified R 18+ should not exceed high.
Note: Material classified R 18+ is legally restricted to adults. Some material classified R 18+ may be offensive to sections of the adult community.
There are virtually no restrictions on the treatment of themes.
Violence is permitted. High impact violence that is, in context, frequently gratuitous, exploitative and offensive to a reasonable adult will not be permitted.
Actual sexual violence is not permitted.
Implied sexual violence that is visually depicted, interactive, not justified by context or related to incentives or rewards is not permitted.
Depictions of actual sexual activity are not permitted.
Depictions of simulated sexual activity may be permitted.
Depictions of simulated sexual activity that are explicit and realistic are not permitted.
There are virtually no restrictions on language.
Drug use is permitted.
Drug use related to incentives and rewards is not permitted.
Interactive illicit or proscribed drug use that is detailed and realistic is not permitted.
Nudity is permitted.
More classification guidelines can be found here.
By Ben Salter