What R18 Could Mean For Younger Australian Gamers
I'm an Australian gamer, and welcomed the introduction of the R18 rating with open arms. No more would I be forced to watch, bereft, as promising titles were denied us. It turns out that some still are, and that kind of rankles, but honestly the Sw33t L00t wasn't the only reason I was looking forward to the R18 rating finally migrating to our shores.
When I was perusing the shelves of my local EB Games yesterday, a group of boys came tearing through the store. Their ages ranged between nine and thirteen, and they were super excited because they had money to burn and games to play. I smiled, because I knew that feeling. That was why I was there, after all.
Then the youngest in the gaggle pushed past me and grabbed Duke Nukem Forever off the shelf.
"Aw man, it's on sale!" He crowed, triumphant. "I hear it has the best sex scenes."
There was some controversy over DNF in Australia, with most industry insiders betting the game would be refused classification for its sexual references, nudity, implied sexual violence and just general crudity. As gamers, we were all pretty surprised when it crept past the classification board with only an MA15+ rating, completely uncensored.
Must have been something in the water that day.
Something that smelled like liberty.
The only downside about this was that, before the introduction of the R18 rating, the nine year old could have gone to the counter and in all likelihood, walked out of the store with a copy of Duke Nukem Forever without the cashier batting an eyelash.
But since the introduction of the R18 rating, at least in my area, I've noticed an increased vigilance. No one wants to accidentally sell an R18 game to an underaged kid; the public backlash could be huge. With that in mind, this increased awareness of the age of consumers has filtered down to include the MA15+ umbrella. The conversation went a little something like this:
"Hey bro, gimmie this one," said the kid as he slapped down the box on the counter. The cashier looked him up and down.
"Your mum or dad here?" He asked, and the kids' face fell.
"Can't do it then, dude. Sorry."
With only a minimal amount of ribbing from his friends, the boy put the Duke back on the shelf. His disappointment didn't linger for long, as he was soon eagerly extolling the virtues of the upcoming Need for Speed title.
It was pretty refreshing to see the MA15+ rating enforced for once. If that kid really wants Duke Nukem Forever, he'll come back with his parents, and they can make the call as to whether he's mature enough to play the game. That's why the rating is there, and I think a lot of people tend to forget that we do need ratings to protect kids from exposure to potentially very disturbing material.
In that respect, the R18 rating potentially has a much broader impact than most people intitially expected. And so far, it's all been for the better.