A Parents Guide to Video Games – Classification
Computer games, whether they are locally made or come from overseas, have to be classified before they can be sold, hired or demonstrated in Australia. The Classification Board classifies films, computer games, and publications and some internet content.
Consumer Advice (content descriptors)
The Classification Board also adds consumer advice to indicate the type of content in a game. Consumer advice does not include descriptions of all content.
For example a game classified M – Moderate Coarse Language will include language of a moderate impact that requires an M classification; but it may also include violence that could be accommodated at a lower classification such as PG, even if the violence is not mentioned in the consumer advice.
The classifcations currently used for video games in Australia are as follows:
The content is very mild.
Parental Guidance (PG):
The content is mild.
The content is moderate in impact.
The classifications below are legally restricted:
Mature (MA 15+):
The content is strong.
Tips for Parents
Check the Classification. Use both the classification symbol and consumer advice on the front of the package to select the most appropriate games for your child and family. Visit the Classification website to search for classification information before you head out to the shops.
Carefully read and look at the package. Game content is described and depicted in detail on the back of virtually every game box.
Talk to other parents and older children. This is a good way to learn about computer and video games.
Monitor your child’s computer game play. Just as with TV, movies, and the Internet, it is always a good idea to be aware of and involved in the media your children consume.
Learn about and use parental controls. All of the newest video game consoles and handheld hardware devices, as well as the new operating system from Windows (Vista), offer parents the ability to limit what type of content their children can access by activating built-in parental control features. By activating parent controls you can ensure that your kids only play games that carry ratings you deem appropriate for them.
Consider your child’s unique personality and abilities. Nobody knows your child better than you do. Use your knowledge about your child when selecting computer and video games.
Play computer and video games with your children. Play games and talk about them with your kids as often as possible. This is a good way to have fun together as well as getting to know which games your child finds to be interesting and exciting.
Read more than the ratings. Game reviews, trailers and “demos” that allow you to sample games are broadly available online and in game enthusiast magazines. They can provide additional detail about game content that is useful when determining which games are appropriate for your family.
Exercise caution with online-enabled games. Some games let users play with other people on the Internet, but it’s important to realize that some of these games contain live chat features or other user-generated content, including character models (“skins”), settings (“maps”), weapons and other content that are not part of the Classification Board decision.
Be aware of downloadable “mods” that can significantly change the content of a game. Most PC games can be altered through the use of downloadable programs called “mods” which are broadly available on the Internet and can change the content of the game. Since players create them, mods are not considered in classifications. It is important for parents to be aware that some mods can alter a game in ways that may not be appropriate for younger players and may be inconsistent with the Classification.