Computer games with strong violent or sexual content are likely to be more readily available in New Zealand from next year as a byproduct of a decision by the Australian Government to create an R18+ category for computer games, an industry association says.
Legislation allowing adult-only computer games was introduced into the federal Parliament and is expected to take effect from January. At present, the highest classification computer games can be given in Australia is MA15+.
New Zealand already has an R18+ classification for computer games but, because distributors tend to treat Australia and New Zealand as a single market, many games with adult content destined for New Zealand have been censored so they can come in under Australia's MA15+ bar, according to the Australian-based Interactive Games & Entertainment Association.
Its chief executive, Ron Curry, said the Australian law change would have a knock-on effect in New Zealand and mean more games with stronger adult content would be available here.
"What we have seen is New Zealand getting modified product that was going on sale in Australia as opposed to the full versions of games. The advantage for New Zealanders now is they will more than likely get products as they were released," he said.
Games which have been censored for the New Zealand market, reportedly because of the lack of an R18+ category in Australia, include Grand Theft Auto IV and The Witcher 2 - primarily for sexual content.
Curry said there was no trend towards studios developing games with stronger adult content. If anything, the growing popularity of online games was having a moderating effect.
"If you look at popular games like Angry Bird, they are not high violence or high impact."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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