Game classification report details acceptable themes and depictions for developers

Australia R18+ guidelines highlight ‘harmful interactivity’

Interactivity in games can have a harmful and detrimental effect on children, according to newly released game rating guidelines in Australia.

The new report, published by the Classification board, has been designed to help finally bring 18+ rated titles to the country’s games industry.

Whilst the new guidelines recognised R18+ games, the report suggested that games should not be treated the same as films due to their interactive nature.

“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,” read the report.

The guidelines noted that games will be refused classification if they contain illicit or proscribed drug use related to incentives or rewards and interactive drug use which is “detailed and realistic”.

Violence in games will be permitted for developers, but it must not frequently gratuitous, exploitative and offensive to a “reasonable adult”.

Depictions of actual sex meanwhile are not permitted, although simulated sexual activity “may” be permitted, as long as it is not explicit or realistic.

Australia’s industry trade body the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association’s responded with a “reserved and qualified” welcome of the guidelines, but expressed concerns over the difference in perception between games and film.

“There will be continued debate about whether the interactivity of video games has a greater impact than other forms of media, and we will continue to refer to the lack of the evidence to support these claims,” read a statement.

“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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