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Electronic GAMES

The moving image content in electronic games means that they fall under the definition of films set out in the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993.  The definition of games includes those played on Playstation, Xbox, and Nintendo consoles. Computer games played on either a PC or Apple Mac are also included in the definition of films in the Act. 

Unrestricted games

Under section 8 of the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993 unrestricted games are exempt from carrying a New Zealand classification label. However, if the game has been classified as unrestricted by the New Zealand Office of Film and Literature Classification or the Film and Video Labelling Body you may apply for a New Zealand label from the Labelling Body.

Any person exhibiting or supplying an unrestricted video game to the public with an overseas rating is responsible for ensuring that it meets the exemption requirements as set out in section 8 of the Act. The Department of Internal Affairs is entitled to seize and submit to the Classification Office any video game not carrying a New Zealand label that it believes should be restricted or banned.

Any person intending to supply a video game to the public and who does not want to rely on the exemption provisions of the Act may submit the video game for classification and labelling. For more information on how to submit a game go to Policy Advice No. 5. (PDF, v7.0, 141kb)

Any game with a legally affixed classification label will not be seized by the Department of Internal Affairs. The use of New Zealand labels will also help to reduce the consumer confusion that results from a variety of foreign labels currently permitted on unrestricted games.

Restricted games

If a game has content considered to be restricted or objectionable(see what the Act restricts in the law section of the website) in New Zealand it must be classified by the Office of Film and Literature Classification before it can be supplied or exhibited to the public in New Zealand.

Any video game that

  • has been classified as MA15+ in Australia; or
  • has been refused classification (banned) in Australia or Britain; or
  • has been classified 15, 18 or R18 in Britain; or
  • has restricted content under New Zealand law

is not exempt from the New Zealand labelling requirement and must be submitted for classification.

Banned games

If a game is classified as objectionable (banned) by the Office of Film and Literature Classification, this means that it is illegal to import, distribute or possess this game in New Zealand. The penalty for this offence is a fine not exceeding $10,000 in the case of an individual and $30,000 in the case of a body corporate.

The following games have been classified as objectionable:

Reservoir Dogs

Manhunt and Manhunt 2

Postal 2

Submission of games for classification

If you are a games distributor or retailer go to Policy Advice No.1 (PDF, v7.0, 169kb) on submitting a game for classification. You may also be interested in Policy Advice No. 5 (PDF, v7.0, 141kb) on the submission of video games exempt from labelling requirements.

If you are interested in submitting a game for classification contact the Labelling Body or go directly to a submission form (PDF, v7.0, 70.8kb). The Labelling Body acts as the agent for distributors who wish to submit films and games for classification.

More information on games classification

The Office provides a monthly newsletter to games distributors and other industry members on recent classification decisions.

January 2010 Games Update (pdf v9.0, 184kb)
Classified games to 31 December 2009 (Excel 108 kb)

You can download the Guide to Video Game Labels (PDF, v7.0, 183kb)to find out more about the labels found on games sold in New Zealand. 

Contact the Information Unit about subscribing to the games newsletter or for further information about the classification of games.

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