R18+ Rating Is A Risk To Australian Children, Says Minister

R18+ Rating Is A Risk To Australian Children, Says Minister
michael atkinson mugshot.jpg

South Australian Attorney-General Michael Atkinson has outlined his reasons for opposing the introduction of an R18+ rating to Australia’s videogame classification system. In a statement delivered to Gamespot, Atkinson writes:
“I don’t support the introduction of an R18+ rating for electronic games, chiefly because it will greatly increase the risk of children and vulnerable adults being exposed to damaging images and messages.”


  • God it MUST be hard being a parent – you know, watching what your children do and stopping them from playing naughty games.. I think we should call the Child Welfare Agency (or whatever they are called) on Atkinson, clearly he is unable to be a fit parent for his children

  • I wish I could bold for emphasis… “to hire R18+ videos [from a shop, presumably]”. Compare and contrast with “Once electronic games are in the home”.

    Because I am relatively sure that no-one ever takes rented R18+ Videos (do people still rent videos?) home to watch them.

    And why is there any greater risk of the 15 year old working at the video store not checking for ID than there is for the 15 year old working at Kmart/Game/EB etc.

    Let’s ban everything and just pray as our relaxation.

  • This guy makes me ashamed to be a South Australian.

    In a recent article I read that in a random survey 90% of Australians votes yes to an R18+ Classification for games.
    Not having an R rating means these titles are given an M rating, opening them up to our kids, or banning them, meaning people will resort to illegal methods to get a copy of the games they want to play.

    It amazes me that as our AG, he can be so out of touch with what the people want , and what is good for the people.

    I think your kids are more at risk of getting messed up from their inherited genes than they are from a few games Mr Atkinson.

  • What an IDIOT!

    Seriously, once games are in the home, it is the PARENTS RESPONSIBILITY to make sure their children don’t play violent games. Cigarettes and alcohol can be found in the home and they can be deadly to childrens health, same with cleaning chemicals, but they are not BANNED in the home why? Because they will only cause physical and medical harm to children, and games can scar their innocent young minds. Oh that’s why.
    Lets just BAN cable TV while were at it, the same way you can LOCK certain channels is the same thing as going to your PlayStation and making only G and PG games playable via the Parental Lock system.

    Retards running government…

  • Have his children gone out and done any violence?

    Once R18+ movies are in the home, they are just as accessible to children as games are. They are both a disc. Games are probably easier to monitor, as there are probably 3 or 4 devices in the home (Console, DVD player, Computer) that can be used to play them, whereas Games can only be played on one device.

  • If he has an opinion about vidiogames, then he should shield his kids from them, not all of Australia. I don’t like the idea that I cannot play a game because of some guys paranoia, as an adult it’s insulting to my maturity.

    Also, an R rated game would be illegal for children to by, if you are going to play the “kids will get their hands on it anyway” argument, why not start with alcohol, cigarets and drugs; You know, the things that have actually been proven to be detrimental to an underaged persons health.

  • I am very worried that this mans idea of a safe community is turning everyone into mindless zombies.
    Lets wrap everyone up in cotton wool and take away their decision making abilities.
    I’m feeling a distinct obsessive compulsive parenting on Atkinsons part.


  • This guy is an idiot. He’s basically saying because he sucks as a father and cant control his own kids we must all have the same problem and must be helped.
    Also, how hard is it to lock or hide away the R rated games with the R movies and pornos we all have? If im not mistaken they were both the same size last time I checked.
    I don’t think insulting me and every other adult and parent by calling them careless and irresponsible is a fair argument.

  • So basically his kids don’t wanna spend time with him because they’d rather play GTA? Can’t say I blame them. I’d also like to know what his definition of ‘obsessed’ with games is. Its a hobby, of course kids wanna spend their time doing it. Games are also certainly a lot more intellectually stimulating than watching a movie.

    I can’t believe he actually thinks they’re “rehearsing harmful behaviour”. I don’t see the army playing massive bouts of manhunt 2 to desensitize them to killing. Maybe if he spent less time trying to ban harmless video games and more time bonding with his kids he’d realise that the only thing responsible for harmful behaviour in children is parents.

  • So that Peanut can’t even parent his own son’s gamimg habits properly, so the rest of the parents and the gamimg community in Australia has to live with a 3rd rate, flawed ratings system which actually makes it harder for parents to make informed choices. Thanks Michael.

  • In reality it is going to be practically impossible to regulate and control the 18+ age restriction.
    Besides that I’m somewhat perplexed that its really an issue. All the games I’ve played have fallen within the M15 rating (obviously) and I’ve never once felt that a game was missing something because I couldn’t see copious amounts of blood and violence.
    IMO opinion there is enough violence readily accessible on the internet and TV alone these days there’s no need to add it into video games in the name of ‘art’.

  • I just don’t get it. Is he saying that his argument is that children and adults have difficulties distinguishing between a form of media and real life?

    I can see how because we have some control over how a game plays out that it can be more immersive than a movie but i sure as fuck can tell the difference between what I am viewing on a screen and real life.

    Does Mr. Atkinson run out of a theatre when he sees a train coming towards the screen?

    To conclude: douchebag, douchebag, douchebag.

  • @ RUFiO

    There’s more at stake than “copious amounts of blood and violence”. Think of the wide range of mature themes that games could explore – just as film does – if we didn’t have to ensure they were suitable for 14 year olds.

  • Outlining his own concerns about video games and his children is a bold move, it allows people to say he is biased, but at the same time, more people will listen because he can relate to them. I don’t know about you guys but when I was growing up and an adult game was being played I wasn’t even allowed to touch the case.

    My concerns lie with the people who listen to Atkinson before hearing both sides of the story. Likewise I’d like to hear some gamer parents point of view on the situation.

  • Everything’s been said, over and over again. The guy simply doesn’t get it.

    We know the facts, shame he can’t seem to wrap his head around them.

    *disappointed panda*

  • Heavens…

    If half of what this guy said was true, then damn – with the sorts of games I played when I was a child put me on the fast track to becoming the next Adolf Stalin Ghengis-Bin-Laden. I’m utterly doomed.

    Dear sir, I’m a twenty three year-old, credit-average University student with two degrees, studying masters. I have a loving girlfriend, two cats, four fish and a pet canary, and I play Cricket on the weekends.

    …I’ve also played Postal, slaughtered childen in western Europe, caused Nuclear Armageddon (four or five times), Shot prostitutes and stolen their money, murdered police officers and declared holy war against infidel crusaders.

    At which Pyschiatric facility would you like me to check myself in to, Mister Atkinson? Because I am clearly a risk to your bubble-wrap society.

    …What a joke…

  • I’m a gamer parent and Atkinson still makes me shudder in horror at his ignorance.
    I control what my 8-year-old child plays and watches. I know what disturbs her and what doesn’t, and I’ll always check things out before letting her play things. I see no reason why if there’s an ‘R’ rating for movies, there shouldn’t be one for games as well.

    My concern is that by not having the 18+ rating, games like for example the GTA series are getting shoehorned into a rating that it’s legal for 15-year-olds to buy and play, where otherwise they would most likely be restricted to 18 years and over.

    And personally, my exposure to violent video games for the last 15 years has not desensitised me to violence in any way shape or form. I was horrified at the supermarket the other day to see a mother dragging her young son around by the ear and berating him. And the news on TV is something I stay away from because it makes me nauseous and tearful.

    Basically Atkinson is a narrow-minded fool trying to impose his own views on the whole country.

  • @RUFiO

    Sure I have a problem with cuts being made to games, but my biggest concern is when games like GTA IV & Fear 2 are given an MA15+ rating when they clearly need an R18+.

    My concern isnt with the amount of gore Im missing out on, I just want parents to be able to make informed decisions when it comes to what their kids are playing. Because once parents are buying R18+ rated video games for minors, the ‘blame’ can finally be put on their shoulders. Whereas at the moment, people like Atkinson are blaming gamers and the industry itself for making inappropriate games available to children.

    If parents are really having such a hard time monitoring what their kids play, for god sakes read a consoles manual and enable the parental lock.

  • What really shits me about Atkinson is that the rule that allows a single AG to stop a change to the legislation is intended to stop other states from forcing their own values on others. Yet here we have Mr Atkinson blatantly abusing the rule to force his own extremist views on the rest of the country. No one should be able to abuse their power like this.

  • For in idea on how archaic Mr Atkinsons ideas are substitute the word alchohol for the words games or electronic games.

    Every argument the Atkinson has for the refusal of an R 18+ rating is also a good reason to have one.

  • ATTN: Attorney-General Michael Atkinson

    Adding an R18+ isn’t going to introduce NEW games into the country. It will allow us to RE-CLASSIFY the ones already available that SHOULD ALREADY BE R18+, but have been given an MA15+ because they are borderline “ok for kids”.

    You getting it yet??

  • I have been playing games since the days of pong and I have many MA rated violent games in my collection, yet I’m not going out committing crimes. Somehow I know the difference between a game and reality. It all comes down to how the children are raised. I have a baby boy and as soon as he’s able to walk all my games that are above a G rating will be locked away. That being said I have witnessed on a boy about 8 years old asking his dad for GTA and the store attendant saying that he thought it wasn’t suitable, yet the father bought it anyway and the attendant knowing it was for the son sold it to him. There are parents out there that just don’t care or are too lazy to take an interest in what their kids are doing, and shop assistants that are too lazy to check for I.D..

  • I really don’t think the R18+ rating is necessary. I mean the only thing we’ve missed out on is a bunch of low rated gory games and silly hentai adventure games. Gaining the rating will just allow developers to make more.

    “SAW: The video game. Press X slowly to decapitate cheerleaders arm.”

  • The unbelievable thing is that his basic arguement is just plain false.

    Atkinson: We must protect children from violent games by banning R18+ games.

    Result: Games are submitted to the OFLC with very slight modifications and receive an MA15+ and go straight into the hands of under 18s, because parents alarm bells only go of when they see an R.

    Could someone just make it clear to Mickey that granting an R18+ would actually produce the result he wants?

  • “Once electronic games are in the home, access to them cannot be policed and the games are easily accessible to children.”

    So are R rated movies and pornography. You know what? Parenting is hard. Everyone knows that. Kids will be dipshits and try to get their hands on material they’re not meant to be playing/watching, and it is the responsibility of parents to regulate the kind of content their children are exposed to. That’s how parenting works, so if you’re going to have kids then you just need to learn to suck it down. If it’s something a parent can’t deal with then they shouldn’t have kids.

    If anything, not having an R18+ rating is potentially doing more damage to children as games that really should be rated R are getting through with an MA15+ stamp. There are some games that explore certain themes that aren’t appropriate for 15-year-olds and really do need an R rating. Without the rating, many parents will be oblivious to what they’re buying for their kids and just assume that if it’s rated MA15+ then their teenage children can play with it.

    Finally, games don’t hurt people, people who play games don’t hurt people, but unstable individuals do. So just raise your damn kids properly, make sure they’re happy and healthy (physically and emotionally) like any other parent would and they won’t go shooting at Germans or killing hookers. It’s not that hard.

  • I think SpiritWolf has shown why this R18+ argument keeps failing, and that is becuase everyone is too focused on the games we can’t currently get. Now I for one, also don’t miss any of the currently banned games (however if a number of games such as Fallout 3 and GTAIV weren’t modified, then this would be a different story).
    But as others have said in the above comments, an R18+ rating would actually be a good thing for the moral crusaders, in that it would allow an additional ‘adults only’ classification category to put those games with borderline content in, rather than having to ‘compromise’ and rate them MA15+.

    The rating system is meant to be an aid for informed and responsible parenting, not a set of rules for a nanny state to enforce. Unfortunately it appears Micheal Atkinson sees it as the latter.

    I realise I’m just preaching to the choir by posting this here, but hey, the larger the choir gets, the louder it grows.

  • Good on him for sticking with his guns.

    Many of you have probably said blah blah 90% want R18+ rating, and yeah thats the Majority right? If we had a pole to make illicit drugs legal im sure we’d get 90% support again.
    I’m just saying whats popular isn’t necessarily right, because if we made decisions like that kids wouldn’t even have to go to school.

  • Im tired of banging my head against a wall.

    Im exhausted of this, so im not going to type another 5 paragraph rant to tell you guys what you all already know.

    Just ugh.

  • @plmko
    obviously you havent read the comments. most agree with his morals, (ie, keeping mature games out of childrens hands) but his methods do the opposite. Currently mature games are allowed to be sold to the little kiddies. Yes a child can walk into a store and have no trouble buying a violent game now! If those more mature games were given a R rating, that should mean less mature games going to the kiddies. Get it? A parent is more likely to notice a R rating (adults only) when buying for a child.

  • So when my parents are in their 70’s or 80’s, I’ll still need permission to play the uncut version of Vice City once I’m in my 30’s? I bet Mr Atkinson was denied PlayGIRL as a kid. Poor thing. :`(

  • The man, after admitting to being unable to control his own kids via parenting, is instead perverting the course of the democratic system that employs in its public service to aid him? Vote for him!

    Also, “older children (18-30)”? Eighteen to thirty years of age qualifies these individuals as adults and voters. This man clearly has no regard for the younger voting public’s interests – Not to mention that 30 is supposedly the average age of the aussie gamer.

  • @plmko

    Correct, the popular opinion isn’t always the correct one. That is why Democracy doesn’t work as well as a Dictatorsh-wait… You are an idiot.

    If 90% of people want something and their country’s laws don’t allow it, then the laws need to change. If you don’t like this system then you should probably move to North Korea. They know what’s best for their population, no matter what the population says.

    It isn’t even a morality argument at this point. Morality is completely subjective and highly nuanced from person to person. But when asked “Taking your moral values into account, would you vote ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to this change of legislation?” People can have their morals without forcing them on others. Turns out that the VAST majority would vote Yes in this case. The legislation should be modified to reflect that.

  • “I have three sons who regularly play computer games at home–the eldest is now 22. I see my children become physically and emotionally obsessed with games and it is difficult to drag them away from the gaming console”

    wait, he has a problem with his children (one a 22yo) and his best solution is to not have a R rating… how does that relate at all? Mr Atkinson, your adult ‘children’ are legally able to get X rated porn mags and videos, alcohol, cigarettes etc etc. Are you planning to ban them, because i would hate to think you have double standards. An Attorney-General that affects laws according to his own parenting issues is a bad thing. As an ‘older child’ myself, im shocked you think myself or my wife are not responsible enough to look after ourselves or two children.
    Personally im sick of the fact this guy doesn’t have a clue of the current issues. Currently little children can get games that are too mature for them. Games that should be sold only to adults, are being sold to little kiddies. If these games were relabeled with a R rating, Parents are less likely to buy them for their kids.

  • “I don’t support the introduction of an R18+ rating for electronic games, chiefly because it will greatly increase the risk of children and vulnerable adults being exposed to damaging images and messages.

    The same logic can be readily applied to movies, music and books. Why the double the standard? Why the urge to take control away from parents and play ‘nanny’? It is not your responsibility sir.

    “The interactive nature of electronic games means that they have a much greater influence than viewing a movie does. People are participating and ‘acting-out’ violence and criminal behaviour when they are playing a video game. They are essentially rehearsing harmful behaviour. Children and vulnerable adults (such as those with a mental illness) can be harmed by playing video games with violence, sex and criminal activity.

    What scientific evidence do you have to support such a claim? You continually peddle this in various interviews and have yet to provide a single piece of legitimate evidence to back it up. I have read various study papers and to be honest, for every 10 studies there are supporting the idea there are 10 more which conclude exactly the opposite. Do not peddle your personal opinion and theory as fact, sir. Certainly do not use your own personal opinion and theory to run the country. Such requires more than a baseless theory.

    “Retaining the present classification scheme for electronic games is necessary because: it keeps the most extreme material off the shelves; it prevents children and vulnerable adults from being exposed to sexual abuse, criminal activity and extreme violence in video games; it prevents children and vulnerable adults from virtual participation in sex, criminal activity and extreme violence, and; it results in game developers modifying their product for Australian and sometimes international audiences.

    I’m afraid you are drastically exaggerating the situation. When we refer to ‘adult games’ we aren’t talking about games based around being rape or child porn simulators. We are talking about games which contain legitimately entertaining, mature elements. An R18+ classification doesn’t automatically mean rape simulators and child porn will be legalized, just as it does not mean such for movies classified R18+. To the best of my knowledge these so called ‘rape simulators’ are not even developed or manufactured in Western markets. It seems you are making things up Mr. Atkinson. By the way, why exactly should virtual participation in sex be illegal? In your home state of South Australia sex shops which sell pornographic magazines and videos, as well as sex toys are perfectly legal. Why is it OK to actually perform sex acts yet the prospect of performing such activities virtually is reprehensible? What a nonsense argument. Just as I’ve never understood why you can have sex at 16/17 in Australia but can’t purchase movies of people having actual sex until you’re 18. Where is the logic? And no sorry, retaining the current classification system isn’t protecting children because anyone who actually plays games will tell you that the vast majority of games geared towards adults are actually sold totally uncut in Australia to anyone over the age of 15. As you said yourself Mr. Atkinson, very few games are refused classification. Adding to that, very few games are edited or otherwise censored as well. Even the ones that are banned can be readily downloaded by anyone who can use a mouse.

    “A child being able to watch sex and violence in a movie is damaging to the child, but the child participating in sex and violence in a computer game is worse.”

    Once again, this is your personal opinion and is not in anyway definitive. This is not a statement someone in such a position should be perpetuating without any sort of evidence. God, watch the uncut Aussie DVD release of Cannibal Holocaust and tell me it’s less damaging or disturbing than pixilated blood.. Animals were actually killed on screen for the movie at the request of director Ruggero Deodato and somehow a movie with actual snuff elements is more acceptable than spray painting walls in games like Getting Up Contents Under Pressure. Get a reality check. You support the sale of de-facto snuff films and yet deny adults the choice to play fictional video games. What wonderful logic.

    “Extreme violence, perverted sex and criminal activity are not essential for adults to enjoy playing electronic games. There are plenty of sophisticated games that are of interest to adults. A game is not necessarily more interesting to an adult simply because it contains extreme violence, explicit sexual material, criminal activity, or offensive language. Some of the most popular and highly recommended games for adults would not be R18+ rated.”

    But this is not why an R18+ classification is important. It is important because developers and publishers spend millions of dollars on developing and distributing their games and should have the same creative freedom as film directors and authors. They should not be restrained by you, one man who insists on peddling his personal opinion as a definitive fact in politics. A game maybe refused classification due to only one particular scene or element, not because of the nature of the game as a whole and thus developers/publishers must then spend thousands of dollars editing and resubmitting the game for classification simply because of just one or two offending elements that the Australian government doesn’t approve of. Mark Ecko’s Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure is a prime example: It was originally classified MA15+ but upon review at the request of then Federal Attorney General Phillip Ruddock the game was subsequently sent back to the OFLC and refused classification shortly before release date. The game had been mass produced and shipped to stores waiting to be released only to be recalled at the last minute. Does Michael Atkinson not understand how much such an incident costs the industry? The government basically robbed the publisher’s blind. Please show a little more respect.

    Some games, such as Grand Theft Auto IV, have been modified to meet Australian standards. The present system encourages game developers to consider what is appropriate for an MA15+ rating and adjust their product accordingly. Sometimes this modified version has become the internationally distributed version.

    Why the hell should international developers be restrained by Australia’s inane and disrespectful classification system? No way should they have to compromise their creative vision to please small time politician Michael Atkinson. For your information, the uncut version of Grand Theft Auto IV was actually passed unedited by the classification board a short time ago. The PC version is currently on shelves in it’s original, uncut form.

    “In cinemas, the age of moviegoers can be regulated and at the video store people must provide ID to hire R18+ videos. Once electronic games are in the home, access to them cannot be policed and the games are easily accessible to children. These days, older children (18–30) are often living in the family home with younger children (under 18). This means games belonging to older children or parents can easily make their way into the hands of those under 18.”

    Please tell me you’re joking…..As if movies haven’t been available for viewing in private residences for more than 20 years. What a completely stupid thing to say. Even so why can the same laws not hypothetically be applied to the sale and exhibition of R18+ video games? Also, 18-30 year olds are not children sir, under Australian law you are legally an adult once you reach the age of 18.

    “I am not alone in my view. Groups such as Young Media Australia oppose the introduction of an R18+ classification saying that interactive violence can desensitise people to violence.

    Yeah okay, I can name a few groups that support an R18+ classification and say that games don’t desensitize people to violence. What’s your point? That you can locate a few biased organizations to support your flawed and fallacious points in regards to why you have a right to dictate 21 million people? Truly laughable.

    Please. This guy spurts out nothing but garbage. Fallacious, flawed, stupid, laughable, semantics, ignorant, arrogant are all words you can use to describe Atkinson’s argument. Everything he says can be debunked using a little thing called common sense. Anyone who’s properly informed can see right through his piss poor excuse for an argument. This idiot peddles more hyperbole than Uwe Boll.

  • “These days, older children (18-30) are often living in the family home with younger children (under 18).”

    I’m pretty sure that people over 18 are classed as ‘adults’, Minister.

  • The utter stupidity and ignorance of this man appears to know no bounds. How do these people ascend to positions of such power?

    Your sarcasm in your last paragraph David, is truly deserved… let be said this is the lowest form of wit, outside the hands of those who know how to employ it!

  • I work for a state government department and anyone with any sort of power or clout is generally misinformed, grossly incapable and usually illiterate. This man is living proof.

  • I think that media sites like gamespot/kotaku are actually talking to the wrong person(s) about the issue of M15+ rated games.

    They should be out notifying parents that their children have easy access to games such as fallout 3, which show scenes of violence which are far greater than the M15+ rating of a movie.

  • Until then I was wondering if there was a poitician that is a bigger idiot than George Bush. Clearly it is this waste of space.

    Email him at:
    [email protected]

    With thoughts and suggestions. Mine were:
    1. Allow R18+
    2. Hold your breath until 2010.
    3. Tell your kids they were adopted and unwanted, it will be less damaging than having you as a father.

  • this man is a complete nob, an extremist and his “older children” should be ashamed.

    him and Stephen Conroy should take a long walk off a short bridge.

  • I think the most important thing in this whole debate is that children are playing adult video games in Australia. For example grand theft auto is R rated in the US, therefore making it an adult game. But they tone down the nudity and sell it here to 8 year olds. I have seen 8 year olds buy MA15+ games because there is noone asks for ID on this classification. So let’s bring in R rating classifications and do our children a favour and do us adult gamers a favour by letting us choose if we think that “violent game” is good entertainment. Don’t choose for us. Plus get the eight year olds off our servers when playing adult games online!!!!
    Tell me does the attorney general get kick backs for allowing GTA into Australia and not other games??

    • that is a nonsence statement. no they are not.
      i think some kind of higher rating above MA 15 is needed whether its the same as for movies or not .
      i think movies need a new system of ratings they are outdated as well.
      G , PG maybe a PG 13 or 12+.. so many games are rated M and they should be PG.
      alotta games are overclassified M. they are just -playing it safe.
      such as The Sims. whats so damn M rated about that game?

  • No way . i dont think just because you intro a R 18 then u should just jack up the MA 15 games to R 18. the games that are banned should unbanned. or we shouldn’t bother at all.

    and kids aren’t really menat to have access to MA 15 games either. they cant go in to buy them. they have to 15 or be accompanied and i think alotta 15 yr olds can handle alot of stuff

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