Company of Heroes 2, The Walking Dead and 10 others to have Australian classifications reviewed

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The Australian Classification Review Board will take another look at the age ratings of 12 games, after a request from South Australian attorney general John Rau. Rau’s concern is that classification rules haven’t been applied strictly enough – so don’t expect to see any of the ratings drop a digit.

They’re not exactly niche titles, either.

The games in the Board’s sights, though I’m sure they wouldn’t use that metaphor themselves, are Alien Rage, Borderlands 2’s expansion packs compilation, Company of Heroes 2, Deadly Premonition: Director’s Cut, Deadpool, Fuse, Gears of War: Judgement, God Mode, Killer is Dead, Splinter Cell Blacklist, The Walking Dead, and The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct.

All 12 were rated MA15+, which usually denotes sexual or violent scenes which are “strong in impact”. But Rau told ABC News in September that current classification standards risked exposing children to that very stuff – despite a government agreement in January to introduce an R18+ mature classification and tighten up restrictions for MA15+.

“It is concerning to me, particularly as a parent, when I see that 13 games have been released in Australia as MA15+ whilst exactly the same game attracts up to an R18+ classification overseas,” he said. “These particular games have been assessed as having intense violence, blood and gore, nudity and suggestive themes.”

His comments have clearly provoked a direct response from the Board, and Australian games industry body IGEA aren’t best pleased. In fact they’re “highly critical” of the Board’s decision to review the games.

“Most people don’t realise that before a video game lands on a store shelf, it has already been rigorously examined against a set of guidelines set out by our Government,” said CEO Ron Curry. “In fact, Australia is one of the few developed nations to have classification guidelines determined by Government.

“Not only have these games already been examined against stringent guidelines, we also haven’t heard of any formal complaints made by parents or adults who think the video games are wrongly classified,” he continued. “The review is an unwarranted and costly exercise to satisfy a vocal yet unrepresentative minority”.

Oh dear. On the one hand, the issue of ensuring children don’t have to take on the full implications of Stalin’s Order No. 227 is a real one. On the other, we regularly hear from Australians frustrated to the point of despair about their nation’s comparative conservatism when it comes to games classification. This is the same Board which temporarily refused Saints Row IV classification until its alien narcotics were seen to.

Is this something that frustrates you? Or are you relieved to hear that a new group of teens might be banned from accidentally playing The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct?

Thanks, Polygon.