The lights are on
It's been a running joke that a Mature-rated game like Left 4 Dead 2 (above) will be banned from Australia even before it releases, but thankfully this sad-but-true situation may be coming to an end in the country with the possibility of a new video game rating classification.
Previously, the highest a game in Australia could be classified was MA15+, and games deemed beyond that designation simply weren't released. Now the government is backing the introduction of an R18+ rating. This new rating would come with as-yet-unknown criteria, but it is believed that some games previously banned outright may finally find a home under this new R18+ rating.
"We want to provide better guidance for parents and remove unsuitable material from children and teenagers," explained Brendan O'Connor, Minister for Home Affairs, who backs the measure. "The introduction of an R18+ classification will help achieve that."
O'Connor says that some games that are currently MA15+ could be reclassified, as well as those that are currently not rated.
Despite this breakthrough, we don't know if the measure will pass, or what Australian retailers think about the matter. As you know, here in America, the ESRB has an Adults-Only rating, but the existence of the rating itself hasn't prompted American retailers to carry AO-rated titles. In essence, it is a kiss of death.
Hopefully Australia's R18+ rating is instituted and provides a useful outlet for Australian gamers and parents alike.
Email the author Matthew Kato, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.