The introduction of an R18+ rating for computer games in Australia was something of a failure. While it meant for the first time that Australia's censorship and classification scheme recognised that adults actually play computer games and some titles are targeted at them exclusively, it didn't change the fact that Australia requires pre-sale government authorisation for computer games in the first place or that games would continue to be banned by a framework that makes arbitrary moral judgement on computer game content.
When it was introduced there was concern that previously rated MA15+ games would be the target of a frenzy of appeals that sought to have them upgraded to R18+. At least one bout of this has failed with John Rau's laundry list of appeals being rejected in their entirety according to a review board press release. Rau had filed appeals for;
- Killer is Dead
- Alien Rage
- Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Blacklist
- Deadly Premonition - The Director's Cut
- Company of Heroes 2
- God Mode
- Some DLC for Borderlands 2
- The Walking Dead
- Gears of War: Judgement, and
- The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct
This was never going to work. While the classification and review boards' reasoning and concerns are poorly supported or entirely unsupported by any meaningful research, metrics or facts, the things that do seem to get banned are at least consistent and fairly well understood; sex and violence can be tolerated on their own but the two concepts must be kept miles apart from each other in a single title or story line, anything which seems to present a fictional stimulant as desirable and otherwise harmless is banned, evidence of violence that stays on screen for long periods of time aren't tolerated (the board prefers blood and guts to disappear in a short space of time) etc. etc. Rau's appeals were purely on the grounds the games were quite violent and targeted at adults and on its own that wasn't enough. The review board seems to be less hair trigger than the original classification board too, so upgrades are less likely than downgrades.
There's a lot for Australia to be ashamed of in its censorship scheme, but at least today there's not one more thing.
Image: Peter aka anemoneprojectors