With Grand Theft Auto IV’s Australian release only a couple weeks away (April 29), there’s more and more information coming to light. One particular piece of information makes me incredibly disappointed to be Australian.
Apparently our government don’t think we’re able to cope with R18+ rated games. Our highest rating for video games is M15+, which from the games I’ve played for allows for quite a bit of violence / language / drug themes etc.
So that begs the question what content in GTA IV will cause it to have a R18+ rating ? Sexual content possibly ?
Other nations allow their residents to make their own educated decisions about the content they deem acceptable, this happens in the movie industry, so why not gaming. The Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC) works on a different rating system for computer games, than it does for movies, for what reason I cannot understand. Australian gamers should be mad they are receiving yet another release that differs from that which many of our international gaming friends will receive.
As with communication, gaming is now done on a global scale on services like Xbox Live and the PSN, players no longer compete with those in the same room, but with anyone in the world. It remains to be seen if the excluded content has any impact on Australian’s experience in the game, potentially, removing content from Australian releases of games, may give international competitors an advantage.
I don’t blame Rockstar (creators of GTA IV), for the stripped down version of the game, it appears their hands were tied by our laws. The franchise has had a troubled past with Australian releases, most versions requiring editing prior to a release down under to meet our highest M15+ rating.
More @ Kotaku