It’s looking increasingly likely that we won’t create new ratings systems for VR content any time soon, instead adapting old ones. Australia has added fuel to that fire today.
As spotted by Press Start, the Australian Classification Board, which gives games a recommended age rating for use, has just listed one of its first VR titles: Batman: Arkham VR for PlayStation VR. The game has been given a mature ‘M’ rating for players aged 15 and older, citing “mature themes and violence” as one reason. The other reason, surprisingly, is “VR interactivity”, suggesting that the support for the tech is one of the main factors in its rating.
That’s not to say that all VR experiences will be getting a minimum of an M age rating; games without violent content will likely be able to get a more lenient listing. All other Arkham games have been given an M rating too, so this is actually pretty consistent. That said, we know that this entry into the series is set to focus on detective work over action.
We’ll definitely find out how much of a deciding factor VR will be in ratings systems soon enough; PlayStation VR releases on October 13th with a host of other titles that will need to be rated by a lot of different territories. It’s going to be interesting to see how much more intense games like Here They Lie and optionally supported projects like Resident Evil 7 fare.
In fact, the Australian Classification Board isn’t even the first rating system to incorporate VR into its considerations. Back in June we reported that the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) had rated its very first VR film in Hammerhead VR’s ABE VR.
What remains to be seen is if a new ratings system will be brought about by VR’s rise in popularity. Industry figureheads like Sony’s Shuhei Yoshida admit that we may well need a new system to help recognize the radical changes that VR brings to the table. We’re inclined to agree, and we hope we see such a system come about sooner rather than later before the inevitable VR moral panic starts to set in.