The Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC) is a statutory classification body which provides day to day administrative support for the Classification Board which rates films, computer games, and publications in Australia, and the Classification Review Board which reviews films, computer games and publications when a valid application has been made. While the analogous New Zealand body has the same name, both organizations are completely separate entities and as such, ratings do differ between them.
Film and Video Game Ratings
Below or beside the picture of the classification label is a list of the reasons the product received that classification.
The content is very mild.
The content is mild.
The content is moderate.
Classifications below are legally restricted
MA15+ (Mature Accompanied) – People under the age of 15 must be accompanied by a parent or adult guardian for the duration of the film in the cinema. Parental permission to see an MA15+ film is not sufficient. People under 15 are not permitted to hire or buy films or computer games classified MA15+.
The content is strong.
R (Restricted) – People under the age of 18 cannot purchase or rent the movie or computer games. Photo identification is needed.
The content is of a high level.
X (Restricted) – People under the age of 18 cannot purchase or rent the movie. Photo identification is needed.
The X rating applies to sexually explict material.
A rating of 'RC' denotes 'Refused Classification', where the game is effectively banned from being sold or demonstrated in the country. (there is no label as it is not a public rating)
Previous Video Game Ratings
These ratings are still shown on some older video games that are still on sale in Australia
|G — General : The G classification is for a general audience.|
|G8+ — General for children over 8 years of age: Material classified G8+ may contain material which some children find confusing or upsetting, and may require the guidance of parents or guardians. It is not recommended for viewing by persons under 8 without guidance from parents or guardians.|
|M15+ — Mature: Material classified M15+ is not recommended for persons under 15 years of age, however there are no legal restrictions on access.|
|MA15+ — Mature Restricted: Material classified MA15+ is considered unsuitable for persons under 15 years of age. It is a legally restricted category -- children under 15 cannot buy or hire an MA15+ computer game unless accompanied by a parent or adult guardian.|
Grand Theft Auto Game Ratings
The Australian OFLC has been quite harsh on the GTA series in comparison with other ratings boards. Grand Theft Auto 3 was originally restricted by the OFLC who gave it a rating of 'RC', but it later gained an MA 15+ rating meaning the game could be sold in the country. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas had it's MA 15+ rating revoked after the Hot Coffee incident, resulting in the game being banned. The 2nd edition re-release saw the game regain it's MA 15+ rating.
provides the age classification of all media in the country, including Grand Theft Auto releases. The majority of the GTA series is rated MA15+ (for "Mature Audiences" over the age of 15), however some editions of the games have drawn the RC rating ("Refused Classification") and others have been given R18+. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was famously re-rated after the Hot Coffee debacle, the OFLC changing its original MA15+ rating to RC. The re-release of San Andreas saw it obtain the MA15+ rating again, after the Hot Coffee material was edited out. Rockstar Games produced a different version of Grand Theft Auto IV for retail in the Australian/Kiwi market to meet Australian OFLC MA15+ guidelines. This meant there would be no blood pools forming beneath dead bodies, prostitute 'services' are shown from an obscuring angle (and no options are available), and injury decals are not shown on the protagonist or on NPCs when they are wounded. Copies of the game acquired from online retailers (Steam, Gamestop etc.) are the international version of the game, even if downloaded within Australia. The international version of GTA IV was eventually submitted for rating in New Zealand by a retailer, and was passed with an 18+ rating, allowing the uncensored version to be sold there.
Media that receive a "Refused Classification" rating are banned from sale; it was particularly easy for games to receive this rating, as there used to be no 18+ classification for games in the country (the R18+ legislation passed in June, 2012.). Games which did receive RC rating would have been edited to meet MA15+ standards to obtain an Australian release.
Note that the OFLC do not decide ratings policy, but merely enforce it -- changes to the classification system, such as providing an 18+ rating for games, must be authorised with a unanimous vote from every state attorney-general. The Attorney- General Michael Atkinson of South Australia is the lone opposing vote regarding an 18+ rating for video games.
In 2010 Michael Atkinson stepped down from his seat as Attorney General and the R18+ rating was immediately put up for vote. All other Attorney General's voted yes for the rating except Greg Smith who abstained until a few weeks later. The law has since been passed and was implemented on January 1 2013 with the first game to be rated R Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge for Wii U. Grand Theft Auto V is rated R18+ in the country which prevents minors from purchasing it.
The GTA series is rated as follows:
- Grand Theft Auto 1 - MA 15+ (M15+ on Game Boy Color)
- Grand Theft Auto: London 1969 - MA 15+
- Grand Theft Auto 2 - MA 15+
- Grand Theft Auto III - MA 15+ (originally RC)
- Grand Theft Auto: Vice City - MA 15+
- Grand Theft Auto Advance - M15+
- Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas - MA 15+ (later revoked due to Hot Coffee, 2nd edition given MA 15+)
- Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories - MA 15+
- Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories - MA 15+
- Grand Theft Auto IV - MA 15+
- Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars - MA 15+
- Grand Theft Auto V - R18+
- ESRB, the United States and Canadian computer and video game rating system
- ELSPA, the former British computer and video game rating system, replaced by the PEGI ratings.
- PEGI, the European computer and video game rating system
- BBFC, the British Board of Film Classification
- Australia, which contains more information on GTA's history in Australia, both in- and out-of-game.