Australia's R18+ legislation has passed the House of Representatives, with advocates hoping that it will be adopted by the Senate at some point. This puts the adult classification that most Australian citizens have been asking for multiple years on track to becoming law by early 2013. In order for it to pass through the Senate, the bill will require the support of either the coalition or the Greens (both support the R18+ classification). Once it passes the Senate, the R18+ legislation will become law.
Congressmen Joe Baca (D-Calif.) and Frank Wolf (R-Va.) introduced a bill on Monday that would require video games to carry a special warning label similar to the kind found on cigarettes. That warning would be:
"WARNING: Exposure to violent video games has been linked to aggressive behavior."
The bill is H.R. 4204, or Violence in Video Games Labeling Act. The sponsors say the law is a reaction to increasing evidence that playing violent games can have a serious long-lasting impact on children that should require a health warning to consumers.
The Australian Law Reform Commission is proposing a voluntary system where only games with a rating of MA15+ content or above would have to be classified by the Australian government. The Commission also suggested that all classification ratings for various forms of entertainment should become consistent across all forms of media. That is the conclusion of the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) Classification-Content Regulation and Convergent Media report that was commissioned late last year by Federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland.
According to a Kotaku Australia report, the R18+ ratings bill has hit a slight snag in the Australia Parliament. According to a tweet from Ed Husic, MP for Chifley, the Coalition government has asked that the R18+ bill be sent for an inquiry. Under the rules, if one MP calls for an inquiry on a proposed bill, it must undergo further scrutiny by a Standing Committee.
According to the Australian government, gamers in the country can expect the adult-level R18+ classification for video games to be in place by January 1, 2013 (thanks to Cheater87). As promised, Federal Minister for Home Affairs Jason Clare introduced the R18+ bill in parliament yesterday and announced that the federal government expects the R18+ for games legislation to officially come into effect next year.
Australia's Federal Minister for Home Affairs Jason Clare announced last month tentative plans to continue the work of former Federal Minister for Home Affairs Brendan O'Connor in introducing an R18+ adult ratings classification for video games to lawmakers. At the time he said that he would introduce a bill in the February session of the parliament.
The Australian Government will finally debate and vote on an R18+ video games classification in February, according to several published reports. Former Federal Minister for Home Affairs Brendan O'Connor had taken responsibility for the bill, and had been pushing for a vote on the subject for a very long time.
UK video game industry trade group UKIE has sold its stake in chart tracking firm GfK Chart-Track, according to a report in MCV. The trade group has reserved - but still has a deal for exclusive access to its data. UKIE held a 20 percent stake, which it sold to GfK, which has had a majority ownership of Chart-Track since 2008.
Update: This story is apparently ancient history from March 2010. While it's fun to refresh your memory, it's not news. We apologize for presenting it as such.
The Australian Christian Lobby is doing its best to slow down the momentum of an R18+ ratings classification in Australia by using a new tactic: comparing mature video games to cigarettes. The group used the public consultation period for the R18+ classification to assail the games industry.
Former Federal Minister for Home Affairs Brendan O'Connor, a staunch supporter of R18+ for games in Australia, was today renamed minister for Human Services and minister assisting the School Education. He'll be replaced by former Minister for Defence Materiel Jason Clare. Naturally he'll inherit his portfolio of issues including the R18+ ratings classification for games.
The ESRB and the CTIA detailed a new ratings systems for mobile games this week - backed by such companies as AT&T, Microsoft, Sprint, T-Mobile USA, U.S. Cellular and Verizon Wireless. Two companies that were curiously absent from that list hold the lion's share of the market when it comes to platforms: Apple and Google.
The ESRB and CTIA have finally revealed details on the voluntary rating system for mobile apps that was revealed last week. The ratings system currently has the support of six major mobile service and hardware providers including AT&T, Microsoft, Sprint, T-Mobile USA, U.S. Cellular and Verizon Wireless. Apple and Google did not throw their support behind the new ratings system because they already have their own process and system in place - and it has been refined to their satisfaction.
The Entertainment Software Review Board (ESRB) has teamed up with trade group Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association to create a standardized rating system for mobile applications and games. The ESRB says that the new ratings system will be "based on age-appropriateness of their content and context," according to Gamasutra. An official announcement on the new ratings system will take place next Tuesday in Washington, DC.
The final guidelines for the new r18+ games rating classification have been released by the Australian government (thanks to Cheater87). Federal Minister for Home Affairs Brendan O'Connor also announced that all of the states have signed off on these new guidelines. The guidelines, made public this week, finally explain the important parts of the R18+ rating, and show changes to the existing MA15+ rating.
EA's official news blog chronicles a recent visit by German Deputy Foreign Secretary Dr. Werner Hoyer to the company’s Redwood Shores, California campus. Hoyer, a member of the German parliament stopped by to discuss a variety of topics related to the German games market and EA studio in Cologne, Germany.
Plans to classify mobile and online games in Australia may be abandoned under new legislation being introduced by the federal government. The government has proposed an amendment to the classification (publications, films, and computer games) legislation to include a temporary measure that would allow mobile and online games to be released in Australia without classification for the next two years.
The Australian Law Reform Commission's (ALRC) review into the country's classification system has determined that that only games likely to be rated MA15+ or hired should be classified by the government. The review was commissioned late last year by Federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland. The point of the review was to find ways to reform Australia's classification laws in light of changing business models, globalization of retail, and new distribution methods.
When the zombie apocalypse comes, undergarments are optional. A player who obviously has too much time on his hands noticed that one of the characters in Dead Island - Xian - forgot to put her panties on. He created a ridiculously long video that rambles on for a well over a minute before showing (after the 1:55 mark) the character’s freshly shorn ..squirrel.
The South Korean Game Rating Board (GRB) has accused several MMO publishers of obstructing an investigation related to in-game "jackpot items," according to a report in This Is Game. The GRB wants to know from game makers if the in-game purchase of jackpot items should be considered gambling. The Jackpot item system lets players pay a set amount of in-game currency in return for a random item of potentially greater value.
According to a report in Computer & Videogames, House of the Dead: Overkill Extended Cut for the PlayStation 3 has been refused classification in Australia, even though an R18+ rating has been agreed upon "in principle" and will inevitably be launched in the country later this year.
Last month, Australia's attorneys-general agreed "in-principle” to introduce an R18+ ratings category for video games in the country. At the same time, NSW Attorney-General Greg Smith abstained from the R18+ vote, but promised to take the issue back to his Cabinet before making a final decision. Despite the fact that Smith abstained from voting, Federal Minister for Home Affairs Brendan O'Connor announced that the federal government would move ahead with introducing the R18+ rating for games based on the support from the remaining states and territories.
The ESRB is hosting what it calls an ESRB Twitter Party this evening starting at 9:00 pm ET, according to a post on the group's Facebook page. Twitter users can participate by sending messages with the hashtag #ESRB from 9:00 - 10:00 pm ET / 6:00 - 7:00 pm PT with any questions about video game ratings and safety. Those that participate will be eligible to win (by random drawing) a variety of prizes, such as a $50 GameStop gift card.
Electronic Arts is applauding the Australian government's plans to implement a R18+ game rating in the country. EA Asia Publishing vice president Mark Bradley told GameSpot Australia yesterday that the publisher is encouraged by the Australian federal government decision to bring the country's game rating in line with other countries in Europe and North America.
"Australia needs a rating system that recognises that millions of adults play video games," Bradley said. "The current policy of the Australian government forces an arcane censorship on adults who play games--cuts they would never impose on movies, books or other forms of artistic expression. This year, the American Supreme Court voted overwhelmingly to affirm that game developers deserve the same creative freedom as film makers and authors.
The Australian Christian Lobby has asked classification ministers meeting in Adelaide later this week that they should wait until the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) completes its review of the National Classification Scheme before voting on video game classification reform that would add a new R18+ rating.
ACL spokesman Rob Ward said that news about South Australian Attorney-General John Rau's desire to reclassify existing MA15+ games as R18+ may have some merits, but going doing so independent of other jurisdictions would complicate an already confusing ratings system.
"Mr. Rau’s suggestion wouldn’t address or fix the problems inherent in the existing classification system, such as subjective and ill-defined guidelines," he said. "The system also requires proper enforcement mechanisms and consequences for publishers and retailers who breach the guidelines."
The Nintendo 3DS game Dead or Alive: Dimensions has had its rating changed in New Zealand from a "PG" rating to "M" by New Zealand's chief censor Andrew Jack. Jack decided to re-classify the game last month after the Waikato Times newspaper alerted his office to its content. He subsequently issued an order that copies must carry an "M" label and a note indicating it contains violence and nudity.
Jack said the game had not passed through his office because the law does not require films and games already classified in the UK or Australia with an equivalent rating of G, PG or M to be reclassified in New Zealand.
The game was temporarily banned in Australia before receiving a higher rating.
An M rating in New Zealand does not restrict sales to minors because it is an "only an advisory," according to Stuff.
Citing a recent study that was published in Pediatrics magazine, Douglas Gentile from the Media Research Lab at Iowa State University said that parents want a universal ratings system for all types of media, but would be better off if they didn’t have age descriptors. Besides the fact that a universal system just won't work (different media has different descriptors that are likely not interchangeable - sort of like having universal descriptors for tobacco, drugs, and alcohol) ratings without age categories would be wildly unorganized and even more confusing.
"Regardless of what age raters set for a movie or video game, most parents will inevitably disagree," Gentile said. "With a content-based system, everyone can judge for themselves based on their own values whether a movie or video game is appropriate."