The discussion paper for an R18+ rating for video games in Australia has at long last been released by the Federal Government. You may recall that the intention to produce a discussion paper surfaced some time ago, but it has been repeatedly withheld for reasons unknown.
The sixteen-page discussion paper, which you can read in full here offers points both for and against the introduction of an R18+ rating for video games. It also briefly examines classification systems used in other countries.
The paper reasonably assumes that the criteria by which a game could potentially be be given an R18+ rating would be consistent with that applied to films. Importantly, it also stresses that games featuring extreme content, such as Japanese game Rapelay (one of South Australian Attorney-General Michael Atkinson's chief arguments as to why an R18+ rating should not be allowed), would still be refused classification even with an R18+ rating in place.
The paper also includes details as to how submissions can be made to the Attorney-General's Department. Submissions should address the question 'Should the Australian National Classification Scheme include an R18+ classification category for video games?' The deadline for submissions is 28 February 2010.
A template for making submissions can be found here.
The report and template can be accessed in both DOC and PDF formats from here.
For more information on the R18+ issue, take a look at http://everyoneplays.org.au/