IGN.com.au writer Anthony Hetrih recently wrote an in-depth editorial on why Australia has a long road ahead in getting that rating. Moreover, what it would mean for their censorship board and the general public. His name might not ring a bell but Hetrih is a former member of the Australian Classification Review Board and author of the ACMI's 'Parent's Guide To Videogames'.
When Michael Atkinson stepped down as the Attorney General we all gave a sigh of relief for Australian gamers and ourselves because it was a step towards Australia getting an R18 rating and us avoiding any further 'GTA IV-gates' - getting a watered down Australian release.
However, according to Hetrih, Australia has a long way to go:
"Atkinson was just one cog in the machine; there are many other factors, some you may not have considered, that impact on the classification process in Australia,"
Hetrih writes. "While we still need a unanimous decision in favour of the R18+ classification from all of the state and territory Attorneys-General— many of whom have remained tight-lipped on the subject —early signs are good."
Should Australia succeed, it will mean developers won't censor their games to get the M15+ rating, and we won't relive the GTAIV debacle. However, for Australian 15, 16 and 17 year olds who would have otherwise gotten to play our equivalent of an R18 title under the M15 rating will be missing out.
Hetrih cites F.E.A.R. 2 Project Origin, Grand Theft Auto IV, and Left 4 Dead 2 among others as examples of titles rated R18 here being fully accessible to Australians as young as 15 - pointing out how disturbing it would be for a parent to see their 15-year-old kid playing games they probably shouldn't.
"MadWorld, F.E.A.R. 2 Project Origin, Grand Theft Auto IV, Left 4 Dead 2, Aliens vs Predator and, most recently, Mafia II, have all been classified the equivalent of an R18+ in both the UK and NZ, while in Australia they have been given an MA15+ age restriction,"
Hetrih writes. "From a parental perspective, it's quite disturbing that a 15-year-old teenager can play one of these games with no need for any adult supervision or consultation, while most other countries restrict the same content solely to adults.
You can check out the full editorial over at IGN AU
Keep it locked on NZGamer.com