The most adult rating that the Australian government can give out is a MA15+ rating, meaning that if a game or movie is considered unsuitable for 15 year olds then it is often refused classification and effectively banned. This happened to Left 4 Dead 2
recently, sparking a nationwide debate about whether the rating system in Oz should be changed.
Apparently though, the South Australian attorney-general, Michael Atkinson, is very much opposed to the introduction of an R18+ certificate that would be used for more gory and adult content, mainly because he doesn't like the interactive nature of violent games.
"People are participating and 'acting-out' violence and criminal behaviour when they are playing a video game,
" he explained in a comment to News.au
"[The current rating system] certainly does restrict choice to a small degree, but that is the price of keeping this material from children and vulnerable adults. In my view, the small sacrifice is worth it,
" he added later.
According to reports Michael Atkinson is one of the only voices within the government opposing the idea of a new rating system for the Australian Office of Film and Literature and his sole vote is holding everything up. Atkinson was previously also in the news for trying to censor a public survey that would have been used to guide the OFLC on the issue - which, as Joystiq
points out, means he tried to censor a survey about censorship and prevent the government from polling the populace. Crazy.
While we can certainly understand Australian's hard line on violent media and it's efforts to protect children from certain things, if the ratings system is policed and maintained correctly then the games shouldn't affect children anyway? Introducing a new R18+ rating would theoretically only give consenting adults more choice and would still give the OFLC the option to refuse classification to objectionable and truly offensive media.
That's just our two cents though - let us know yours in the forums