The Parents’ Guide to Video Game Ratings

Out of all the things our kids asks us to buy, we are always wary when it comes to video games. Some of these games look innocent enough on the cover, but the rating says “M” and they are only 13 years old. It makes you think about what made them want the game in the first place since you know what they have been reading and watching, and those are not “M” rated.

Understanding video games and how the ratings work has been a problem with most parents. This is especially true if you are not a gamer yourself and would not know why they are spending so much of their time and attention on games. Worst, if you start looking at the reviews, it is filled with game jargon that can easily overwhelm you.

So here is a helpful primer which you can use before getting them their next console or PC game.


Video game rating system
The first thing you need to understand is that the ratings were not given after the classification board or reviewers have played the game. It is based on the summary the video game company shares with the board. But this can still help you get an idea about what the game is all about.

Fortunately, the Australian Classification Board is guided by a Commonwealth Act which tells them how the classification scheme is applied. In addition, a Classification Enforcement Act for each state and territory in Australia ensures the Commonwealth Act is being imposed.

The Classification Code agreed to by the Ministers of the different states and territories identified about seven classification categories, and we will explore each one here.

Seven classification categories
The classification categories can help you make informed decisions. The best part is that it does not just apply to video games, you can use this for movie ratings as well. Here are the seven categories you need to know.

CTC – Check the Classification
Video games and movies with this rating mean these were allowed to be advertised before being given a specific classification. You should see the CTC label of unclassified media on trailers, posters, or any other type of advertising material. Once a classification has been assigned, the CTC label must be replaced with the new category on all advertising materials.

G – General Advisory
These are media that only have mild impact language and themes and are suitable for general viewing. However, while G-rated movies and games can cater to children, not all media will be of interest to them. It will still depend on the story line or the nature of the video game or movie. For G-rated media, you can ask your kids if this is something they would want to play or watch.

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PG – Parental Guidance
The content of PG-rated media is mild in impact. But it contains themes or topics that children may find confusing or upsetting; thus parents need to be there to explain these to their kids. Kids under 15 are not recommended to watch PG-rated media without a guardian.

M – Mature Audiences
This classification means that these are media recommended only for teenagers who are 15 years old and over. M-rated video games and films contain elements such as nudity, crass language, and violence of moderate impact. As guardians, you might have to read more about what they are playing or watching to make sure these are themes that are suitable for your kids.

MA15+ – Mature Accompanied
The content for MA15+-rated media are strong in impact and is legally restricted to people 15 years old and over. These may feature elements like sex scenes or gory violence. Video game shops and cinema ticketing booths are required to ask for ID before allowing people to make the purchase. However, if they are making the purchase with a guardian, they can be sold MA15+-rated media.

R18+ – Restricted
These are media restricted to adults only. The content may involve sex scenes, violence, and drug use of high impact and will not be suitable for viewing for people who are below 18 years old. Just like with MA15+-rated video games and movies, proof will be needed before making a purchase.

X18+ – Restricted
These are media that are only legally for the exclusive viewing of consenting adults and are recommended not to be shown to kids.

If you want, you can print out this guide so that you have a reference everytime you go out to buy the video games. While policing content too much is not advisable, it is important that we are able to help transition our kids from varying themes involved in video games. So let us use the classification categories to make that happen.

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