No, really -- despite its reputation as an ultra-conservative, mature-rating hating government, "the reality is that many more games that are restricted to 17-year-olds in the U.S. or 18-year-olds in Europe are available without edit for 15-year-olds in Australia," said Chris Wright, former marketing head for THQ's two Australian studios, Blue Tongue and Studio Australia. "On balance, Australia is probably the most lenient country in the world for access to mature games."
No, really -- Wright was the man who presented Saints Row to the Australian classification board and he prepared plenty of ratings submissions in the country, both as head of THQ Asia Pacific and its two Australian studios. He knows the system, meaning he knows what it has and what it doesn't, such as an R18+ rating.
"I believe passionately that Australia needs an R18+ rating," Wright said. "But for me the R18+ rating is not about access to games, but parity with other entertainment forms and the acknowledgement of gaming as an adult pursuit. The R18+ rating will have a net effect of greater overall restrictions on access to games -- many games that would have previously been available to 15-year-olds will now only be available for 18-year-olds and above -- but will mean that a few games at the top end of the maturity scale are allowed to be released."
Legislation in Australia recently approved the R18+ rating (though it may take a few years to be enacted) and its Law Reform Commission is attempting to revamp the country's video-game rating system to acknowledge its adult audience. But recently, Australia has had more than ratings to worry about.