Australian Gaming Industry

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By Brayden Hatch

There’s some good news right now for the Australian gamer. From the 1st of January South Australia will have an R18+ classification on new game releases, while still unsure if this will become retroactive, it means that games which are given the R18+ (or equivalent) classification will no longer need to be modified to reach our MA15+ shelves. This also means that games can be specifically restricted to adults (let’s celebrate my fellow over eighteens’), which is something many, both gamers and non-gamers alike, have been crying for over the last decade.

This is an attempt to restrict the access of high impact violence and other scrutinized ratings being available to minors. While there is a great need for this, speaking as someone who has worked in the gaming-retail field I can tell you that this is only part of the solution. There is nothing more frustrating then when a kid walks toward the counter with an MA15+ rated game in arm, a big smile across their face and the first words out of your mouth are: “sorry is your mum or dad here? Because I can’t sell you this game without them present,” only to have the parent a few minutes later purchasing the title when realistically it’s probably the worst thing they could do for their child. I may not have the right to tell someone how to raise their child but as a whole we are responsible for what we feed the future generations. I still see this being a problem in the future, but illegality aside there is nothing stopping an adult buying R18+ material for their children, especially when the title would have been released under the MA15+ rating in the past. The other issue is that in our current generation games are being purchased digitally online, making it so much easier to gain access to content previously unavailable on Australian shores. Most of which never made it past our rating classifications. The introduction of an R18+ rating is definitely a huge step forward for the Australian gaming community and while it may not solve all the issues for which it’s intended it’s certainly a massive win for the adult equation.

In another spot of good news the Australian Federal government has announced it will invest $20Million into the Australian games industry. This will serve to generate more job opportunities within the field but also give way for larger scale project development and access to more current game engine technology. It has long been important to literate the understanding that gaming isn’t just a hobby or a past time but an industry that can genuinely contribute to the Australian economy. There is concern that the money may be misplaced or misused but it isn’t every day that creative arts receive government funding on a scale that could provide a step forward within the industry and certainly help to ensure the life of studios that are already hard at work.

While we all eagerly await news on Sony’s and Microsoft’s new consoles, Nintendo has just released theirs: the Wii U. An entry into a new generation, new hardware, new games and new expectations, all certainly leading up to what could be a very exciting year in gaming, especially here in Australia.

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