Australia Creates New System To Classify Explicit Video Games

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CONCERNED by the increasingly violent and sexually explicit content of computer and video games, Australia has decided to place a rating system on the games similar to those for film and television.

The new rating system for computer and video games, however, will be more strict than that existing for movies because of the interactive nature of the games, Federal and state ministers said.

In a joint statement, the ministers announced their Feb. 18 vote, which decided to place all new computer games and video games under the following categories: G (General), M (Mature), * (Restricted), or X (Adult).

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A new classification, G8, was also created for children under eight years of age.

Video arcades are only allowed to have games rated G8.

The new ruling does not ban games but leaves it up to officials in each state or territory to decide if they want them to be sold in their respective regions.

``We've got to be realistic,'' says Federal Attorney General Michael Levarch. ``There is a market for these games.'' A ban, he says, would create a black market.

The classification system only applies to new games, which disappoints Margaret Reynolds, a federal senator and former Cabinet minister.

Ms. Reynolds wanted to see a voluntary retroactive rating system for all existing games. ``It's up to the public to call for the recall of extreme material,'' she says.

The decision followed an inquiry by the federal Senate Standing Committee on Community Standards last October, which recommended a ban on the most explicit games.

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