Classification system took effect on April 28

HONG KONG — Singapore has introduced a three-tier classification system for videogames.

System, which is more expansive than the two-tier system on trial since November, took effect on April 28 and is administered by the Board of Film Censors.

The game rating system beefs up the experimental Mature18 classification that has been in place since November and introduces a new rating below M18.

Under its content guidelines, games with mature themes or that contain realistic depictions of violence, drug use, nudity and strong coarse language will be classified as M18.

Games with moderate levels of violence, portrayal of implied sexual activity, nudity without details, coarse language and depiction of illegal drug use may be required to carry an Age Advisory label.

Games must apply to the BFC for classification, and those that fall into the new categories will have to carry warning stickers. Retailers will be required to check identities of customers buying M18 games.

The new system has industry support. “Electronic Arts supports the MDA’s efforts in the development of a videogames classification system,” Chris Thompson, VP-general manager, Electronic Arts Asia Pacific, said in a statement provided by the MDA.

“The new system will allow consumers to be more informed about available gaming content, and allow a greater choice of game titles on the shelves,” said Alan Chou, regional marketing manager of Microsoft’s Xbox 360 gaming system.

In November the MDA and the BFC banned Microsoft and Bioware’s role playing game “Mass Effect” from distribution in the country as it contains a lesbian scene of sorts — between a woman and a female robot.

Singapore was the only country in the world to ban “Mass Effect.” The decision was subsequently reversed, and the game became one of the first to carry the then-experimental M18 stickers.

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