R18+ Games are Available in Australia from Today

The new rating system will legalise games that were unavailable in the country before

Australia's New Year's Day is already almost over, but the January 1st marked more for the country than a change in the number its citizens write at the end of dates. As of today, R18+ games are now officially available in Australia as its new rating system comes into effect.

The introduction of an R18+ category where there was none before has two sides to it. On the one hand, some games that were simply unavailable in the country because they could not realistically be labelled as the previous rating highest MA15+ will now be allowed on store shelves, for purchase only by adults. On the other hand, some games that were squeezed into MA15+ to fit with the previous rating system will now be shifted up to R18+, potentially pissing off those Australian citizens in their late teens.

ABC News also points out that South Australia's Attorney General, John Rau, has said that some games will still be completely unavailable in the country, like those that are “obscenely violent or sexually explicit” or “depict drug use”. Rau is reported as saying that “the regime contemplates that some games will be so unsatisfactory that they will be refused classification altogether. Now, that will continue.”

Putting aside the potential annoyance for those in the 15-18 age bracket, this move seems like a positive one. Australia is well-known for being restrictive when it comes to video games, wary of their potential (and so far unproven) effects on violent behaviour, so it's good to see the country finally bringing games more into line with the other forms of media.