Video Game Censorship in Australia
Date of Action: 1994-2012
Subject: Explicit Sexuality, Violence
Medium: Electronic Media "Electronic Media" is not in the list (Commercial Advertising, Dance, Design, Installation, Journalism, Literature, Mixed Media, Music, Online, Painting, ...) of allowed values for the "Has medium" property.
Description of Artwork: Not provided yet.
The Incident: The rise in violent video games in Australia gave way to strict limitations placed upon the video games allowed in the country. Because ratings are mandated at a federal level in Australia, this allowed the government to outright ban certain games from the country. Video games were rated by the same classification system as films by the Australian Classification Board. The system went as follows:
E (Exempt) - Exempt from classification. Generally applied to educational games or games where potentially offending material cannot be controlled by the developers (such as in certain multiplayer games).
G (General) - Must contain very mild or cartoonish violence, very mild language, and no explicit sexual material.
PG (Parental Guidance) - Similar, but loosened restrictions to the G rating
M (Mature) - Free use of language with limits only on foul words. Violence and sexual material may be used to a degree.
MA15+ (Restricted to those 15 years or older) - Can contain relatively free levels of violence, language, and sexual material.
R18+ (Restricted to those 18 years or older) - Free use of violence, language, and sexual material, with restrictions placed upon very strong themes such as sexual violence.
Refused Classification - The material is too strong to fit in the R18+ classification and is therefore banned, pending edits.
Though virtually all video games released publicly throughout the world would fit into the category R18+ or lower, video games did not have this rating. This meant the highest possible rating a video game would have is MA15+, and anything not allowable by this or a lower rating would be refused classification. Many iconic video games, such as entries in the Mortal Kombat, Grand Theft Auto, and Left 4 Dead series, were therefore banned. The developers of most of these games refused to edit their work to receive classification as the amounts of edits needed would take too much out of the games.
Results of Incident: In 2012, video games were finally able to receive a rating of R18+. This meant the majority of the previously banned titles were placed into this classification and available for purchase for those 18 years or older.