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From January 1 2013, there has been a revised classification scheme in place for computer, console and arcade games. Since that time, games with R18+ high level content have been legally sold and hired. Along with this change, the criteria for MA15+ level games have been revised.
This was introduced after years of intensive lobbying by the games industry and many gamers.
Their arguments included
The outcome to the end of October 2014, was that 43 titles received an R18+ with 37 of these for “high impact violence”. So there are 37 titles out there with levels of violence higher than those legally sold or hired in 2012 and earlier.
The major change to the violence criteria is that “strong and realistic violence should not be frequent or unduly repetitive”.
The outcome (as at October 2014) is that of the 108 titles given MA15+,103 were for “strong violence”. Over half of these (77) have adult classifications in either or both of the US and Europe (incl UK). 27 of these have gained adult classification in both the US and Europe. It is noted that Grand Theft Auto V (given MA15+ here) was one of these, with PEGI (Europe) stating that it contained “Extreme violence, multiple, motiveless killings and violence towards defenceless people”.
It would seem that the revisions to the MA15+ criteria have not been really effective in reducing the exposure of 15 to 17 year olds (and younger children playing illegally) to strong, and bloody or horror violence. Parents who thought that MA15+ games classified this year would have lesser levels of violence, might have some justifiable concerns.
Review and restrict the use of M and MA15+ games by children under 15 years.
Regardless of the outcome of these actions, parents have a tricky task in managing game play for healthy outcomes. ACCM’s game fact sheets might help.