Atkinson Argues His Case, Says He Doesn’t Trust Classification Board

Atkinson Argues His Case, Says He Doesn’t Trust Classification Board
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Michael Atkinson has admitted he opposes an R18+ category because he doesn’t trust the Classification Board to apply the guidelines “in their plain meaning”. In a third letter to Kotaku, Atkinson outlines his case against the introduction of an R18+ category in response to Kotaku reader Terry O’Shanassy. Atkinson claims the Board will stretch the limits of an R18+ category in the same way they currently stretch the limits of the MA15+ category.


  • For someone who is so quick to blast others for not checking their facts Mr Atkinson once again completely fails to miss the point.

    There are R rated games for sale in Australia, they’re just rated MA 15+ here instead and get through with minimal or no edits to their content.

    Mr. Atkinson, please listen to reason, an R rating would keep the grand theft Autos and Fallout 3’s, game’s of extremem violence, drug use and plenty of other horrors, further away from children and vulnerable adults than they currently are.

    It’s not about accessing adult games. You seem to fail to understand we have the access all ready, these games are for sale in your local JB HiFi and Dick Smith’s. We want an R rating because it makes sense and its appropriate. Not because we want even more glorified gore. Trust me, we get enough.

  • Nice to see him replying to one of the better written criticisms of his stance, but I can’t help but see more comparisons to Jack Thompson arising – I suspect this is largely because we’re dealing with a Politician, nothing more.

    Just stop threating to harm/maim/kill the guy – It’s not going to help get an R18+ category introduced.

  • Well spun my friend, well spun. Now we know that what you are doing is changing the paper to be tabled to include “your” choice of what could become r 18+ games. Once again, the rape game is tabled as an argument. This game would not be allowed through however games such as Grand Theft Auto would be bumped to r 18+ where they should be. As a gamer I like the fact that I can play this game legally in this country but as a citizen it affects me that a fifteen year old can play it also. You are the reason for that. You are supplying these games through ignorance, the OFLC is acting in accordance with its boundaries. There is only MA so that’s where the border line games fall champ. Well done. Please retire soon so Australia can move in to 2009 and finally stand next to the other socially responsible countries.

  • Thank you Mr Atkinson for a much more reasonable and informative response to the issue than your last letter. I can’t say I agree with your reasoning, and there is something about the tone of it that still infuriates me, but it’s definately better than nothing, and a vast improvement on the last. Civil discourse tends to breed civil discourse.

    However, I’m not sure if it was made clear in Terry’s original letter, but I know he clarified it in a later post, that he too feels that the current classification guidelines need an overhaul. You stated “If those games fit into MA15+ , they will still be classified under MA15+ if there is an R18+ category”. He infact made this exact point in a later post, and that he wished for this overhaul to happen as a part R18+ introduction.
    (My apologies to Terry if I misunderstood, and my interpretation is incorrect)

  • surprise surprise, when discussing an r18+ rating he Mr Atkinson again mentions Rape games as many times as he possibly can.

    Why including this misleading, offensive material in this discussion?? If anything this content should be used as an example of something that is currently refused classification and will remain to be refused classification. Why do you insist on filling this debate with misleading, sensationalist claims that informed readers know is just not true?

  • Mr Atkinson.

    It is good to hear that you, like many gamers do not trust the Office of Film & Literature Classification. We are well aware that their rating system is flawed.

    I understand your argument against R18+ games. However I must disagree with it on a personal level. The classification system is flawed in many ways, however we appoint these people to do their jobs and we must allow them to do it.

    The other option is to ensure the system rates games in line with other countries. If a game is rated R18+ in the USA, why is it that the same game is rated MA15+ in Australia with no revisions, it does not make sense.

    I honestly believe that we need to publicise game ratings, to ensure that parents are aware of what happens when they give their 12 year old a copy of Grand Theft Auto IV. In this case it is not the failing of the classification board, the retailer or the child, it is the failing of the parent. Would you disagree with this?

    I also think that as gamers we need to stop the stupid threats, they are not condusive to what we are trying to do, and they set us back everytime somebody makes a stupid threat. We are adults here, not children so lets act like it.

    Please respond to this Mr Atkinson, I would like to talk to you more about this matter, in a civilised manner. However I will not publish my address on this forum, that is a safety issue, but I live in The Gap, in Brisbane. However feel free to contact me at my e-mail address of godis_lives @

    I look forward to hearing from you.

    Paul Rosenow

  • Okay, Mr Atkinson.

    If you are so passionate about this issue that you are willing to use your elected position to get the result you desire, then perhaps it’s appropriate that you begin your compaign to have the MA15+ rating abolished.

    Based on your opinion, the fact that my 15 year-old nephew can head home after school, fire up Grand Theft Auto 4 and proceed to drive around a city, stealing cars, running over pedestrians, shooting women in the back of the head, having carpark sex with prostitutes, executing police officers, and other obviously criminal activites, suggests that the current ratings system is flawed.

    …but you don’t want the ratings system reviewed, do you? You like it just the way it is.

    If there was an R18+ rating, this kid would not have access to such a game.

  • As a person who has been Exposed to Pornography Violent games (i have killed trillions of virtual Characters)
    and Extremely violent movies from the Tender Age of Seven (vividly Remember watching fightclub and Seven at that age)
    i have never been in a fist fight.
    i was never reactive to mates who would punch eachother for kicks.
    an i am extremely disturbed by human sufering
    Which is why i take interest in terrible things that happen around the world and try to what i can to Educate people.
    Which is why i think u should take more interest in these things and stop Bicaring over video game

    Child Witches in Africa

    But i am sure you are only out to protect those kids living in australia from ummm nothing.

  • Hmm.
    It seems to me a little bit double standard that he -to paraphrase- “stands for the whole of Croydon”, and yet holds his own family experience as what is a necessity.

    Excessive Gaming is a different issue, Mr. Atkinson. Please stay on topic.

  • It’s funny, though. I know Terry well online and would like to point out this – Mr Atkinson writes:

    “… Of the 24,000 people in my electorate of Croydon only one – yes, one, Terry – has told me he opposes my stance on R18+ games and supplied me with his name and a street address”.

    However… Terry actually lives in Vic 😉

  • “Machine Noise”?
    The echoing corridors of Dead Space?
    Songs from multiple genres and eras on GTAIV?
    Sweeping instrumentals from the menus and cutscenes of Halo?
    Machine noise!

    “Terry claims: “Those mature adults are not, I might add, playing simplistic arcade-style shoot-em-ups. Mr Atkinson is erroneous if he thinks so.” Again, Terry has just made this up and verballed me.” There was an obvious if in Terry’s statement, and from “machine noise” it seems Mr Atkinson may unknowingly think all games are “simplistic”.

  • If he’d prefer people import the games illegally (it’s illegal to import a game refused classification, or a game that’s unedited whereby the same game was edited for a MA release in Australia), then fine. I’ll continue to download or import games from online. Currently enjoying my unedited copy of Silent Hill Homecoming, which I would have bought if it hadn’t of been edited and resulting in a delay in release.

  • Sounds a bit ridiculous to me – a member of parliament who doesnt even trust their own classification board.
    The OFLC has stretched and changed the requirements because over time people and the communities conceptions can change.
    By stifling debate and discussion there is no way we can move out of the dark ages.

  • “The Classification Board is an independent statutory body which makes classification decisions about films, computer games and publications. Principles for decision making are set out in the National Classification Code, agreed by the Australian Government and the States and Territories.”

    “I am an M.P. not the general manager of the universe. And I think this will become worse if R18+ games become available. The O.F.L.C. will then stretch R18+ so far that nothing much is RC, as it has done with film.”

    As a M.P. and the Classification Board as an independent statutory body working within the National Classification Code… how can you make such a calm as above? Clearly M.P’s would never “stretch” electoral promises in their favour to achieve re-election?

  • Wow… just wow.

    I do not believe that he understands the issue in debate here at all.

    He doesn’t trust the Classification Board? But they are controlled by the Attorney-Generals as they are a department of the Attorney-Generals – I can’t profess to know what power Mr Atkinson has towards or regarding the Attorney-Generals Classification board, I mean, he is only the South Australian Attorney-General after-all.

    I’m completely convinced that the discussion paper will have invalid ‘examples’ of what will be allowed through as an R18+ game.

    The content used for the examples of content that will be allowed through classification at an R18+ level should come directly from the games that have received an RC classification in the last few years, of which there are very few, and of which I don’t believe any to have been RC due to Rape being included in the game.

    I would like to refute:

    To my mind, a child being able to watch ultra-violence and sexual defilement in a movie is damaging to the child, but a child participating in ultra-violence or sexual defilement, or both, in a computer game is worse. Moreover, playing a game with on-screen violence makes violence part of their everyday lives and what is especially concerning is that this is the gamer’s recreation. Terry O’Shanassy asserts that interactivity doesn’t make violent games a greater risk than violent films or violence in other mediums (“The contention that the interactivity of video games makes them trainers for anti-social behaviour and even causes anti-social behaviour is an insupportable one.”) – tell that to the family of the Bangkok cabbie murdered last year in a literal re-enactment of a scene from Grand Theft Auto. Ask the murderer, Terry – he told us what he was doing.

    I cannot believe that he said this. Especially after the comments made earlier about ‘hearsay’ and ‘arguing with facts’.

    I’m sorry but NO study has definitively found one way or another that interactive or non-interactive entertainment makes a human being any more or less violent. Mr Atkinson is extremely hypocritical here, he can pick and choose information to better serve his argument, but shoots down comments that are equally un-proven as ‘un-educated’ and suggests further research to be done.

    Sorry, but I believe that if a human being is born with violent tenancies they will do something violent whether a video game, movie or anything inspires them or not. Massacres and extreme violence happen, they are NOT caused video games.

    And to use Grand Theft Auto as an example… a game that is currently available in Australia with an MA15+ classification blows the mind…

    This brings to my attention a point that I don’t even think Mr Atkinsons realises about his view on this issue. His debate is not about R18+ games at all, it is about the moralistic viewpoint of violence in video games and its effect on society, it’s not about having R18+ games or not – and thus it is very disappointing that someone so disconnected from this debate has such an imovable opinion on the matter.

    Does anyone else think that he is sticking to his guns just because he sticks to his guns? So many valid points have been made and dismissed because they are ‘anonymous’ and ‘uneducated’ this is ridiculous, a valid point is a valid point – this is just an excuse to ignore facts.

    It confuses and baffles me why I am being harangued, threatened and abused by people who want the right to play a handful of games. It confuses my why so many gamers are arguing that they should have the right to play games that enable them on-screen to bash, torture, slay, slaughter, rape and take drugs. I am concerned about the state of mind of an individual who thinks he should have the right to do this in a computer game and then wants to tell me about it. Add to that the threats to me and I feel more certain about my stance that I should do what I can to minimise the number of these games in Australian homes.

    This is just amazing!! I take that as a direct insult on my intelligence and my freedom of choice. Just because you can’t understand it doesn’t mean anything for someone else. It’s like saying your opinion is the only one that matters because it’s right. But sorry, it’s an opinion.

    Consider this. Video-games and movies (interactive and not) are an escape from reality. In these situations I can experience different experiences that I cannot morally or legally experience in real life. This is not a case of me wanting to ‘bash, torture, slay, slaughter, rape and take drugs’ this is a case of me doing this in a situation where it doesn’t directly hurt or effect anyone because it is ‘fake’. But alas, by saying that it ‘confuses and baffles’ you that people want to play these games then you obviously consider anybody who would play these games to be at a level of lower intelligence than your own and to not have the ability of free choice and not have the ability to discern the difference of what is ‘real’ and ‘fake’. That said, I would never and have never participated in ‘rape’ in a video game, neither have I participated in ‘torture’ and I do not want to ever participate in these things, however our classification system will not allow these types of contents at an R level either.

    You seriously asked your own child if they thought that the person they just killed in a fake, computer generated video game had an aunty or a cousin? SERIOUSLY?

    At this point, I’m done. I doubt I will receive any response but as we continue along this direction I realise that the situation is hopeless because the parties involve are so hopelessly stubborn that things will never change no matter how bad the point of view on the situation is.

    Please also note, that Mr Atkinson is correct that this is a fairly minor issue. I would not vote based on this notion. Frankly, I don’t care about the removed content or the extra pushing of boundaries personally, I just think that we have the most relaxed rating system in the world at the 15+ level and it is a major slight on our society to keep it so.

  • This dabate isn’t just about letting adults play adult games. We can play adult games now. Importing and Downloading are just a few ways to do this. It’s about having a responsible rating in Australia for these games so that the general public can make an informed choice about what they and their family play.

    By not having a Rating System with a R18+ rating we are in fact making it easier for our children to access these games. The game manufactures simply tweak a name or some small other detail until it can be released under the MA15+ category.

    Games such as Fallout 3, Silent Hill, Resident Evil and Grand Theft Auto should not be placed in a category for people under 18. The fact that a 15yr old can buy Grand Theft Auto is just disgusting because the game is made for adults and should be placed in an adult category.

    It is irresponsible to continue to permit these games to be placed in the MA15+ category.

  • It’s nice to have him talking at last, but instead of talking about keeping adults away from content, he should be pushing to get tougher restrictions on MA15+ games.
    If there is a viable alternative (R18+) then tightening the current rules on MA15+ games would be a much simpler process that wouldn’t have much opposition (and I daresay there would be a lot of support for).

    If the R18+ category for games was to follow the same rules as the those set for films then graphic depictions of rape or sex would STILL BE ILLEGAL so arguments talking about keeping them away from kids have no standing.

    Opening up an R18+ category allows for more control not less.

    Allow the category in, change the rules on MA15+ as part of the same proposal, and take the GTA’s and Saint’s Row’s out of kids’ hands and into those of adults.

  • Firstly Mr. Atkinson, your tone offends and frustrates me.

    1.”I hope Victorian Attorney-General Rob Hulls doesn’t stop the discussion paper’s being released in April.”
    – Please don’t pass the buck here, Mr. Atkinson. YOU are the one who has delayed the release of the paper because YOU wanted to change something – though it has taken you QUITE a while (almost unreasonably so). Anyway, to me it seems to me, if Mr. Hull were to stop the release it would be because he doesn’t agree with your changes. Is that what you believe?

    2. Please don’t compare us with members of outlaw motorcycle clubs. It is ludicrous and bordering on the defamatory. It’s a needless comparison that only serves to disparage gamers.

    3. RE: Eros Foundation – Please keep to the topic on hand Mr. Atkinson (R18+ rating for games). Again, it would seem you are trying to compare our two parties.

    4. “Terry claims: “Those mature adults are not, I might add, playing simplistic arcade-style shoot-em-ups. Mr Atkinson is erroneous if he thinks so.” Again, Terry has just made this up and verballed me.”
    – Well he did say ‘if’, Mr. Atkinson. He did not make anything up; he did not put words into your mouth. Though please forgive him (and all of us) if we think it’s possible you have such a small-minded view of computer games.

    5. “As my youngest boy blew away one humanoid after another with an automatic rifle recently, I ribbed him “Do you think any of these have aunties or cousins?””
    – Did he respond by saying, “No O father of mine, I don’t. You see, they’re not actually real…and I can understand the difference between reality and a game.”

    6. “I worry about parents not taking an active role in regulating their children’s game playing.”
    – So you think YOU should be the one to regulate every child’s, every adult’s, game playing instead? Because by not allowing some games into the country (as a result of not supporting an R18+ rating), that is what you are doing.

    7. RE: The Thai shooting. ONE person? One instance of game-related violence, from a different country no less, is NOT enough ‘evidence’ to base any sane legislation here.

    8. “The reason Terry is so angry at me is that I have belled the cat – told the public what is in these games.”
    – He is angry (we all are, and frustrated) because it is a lie. You said that an R18+ rating would allow a game into the country that has the player raping other people. That’s not true. That’s providing misleading information.

  • Which game ‘allows’ rape?

    If we’re talking about GTA San Andreas

    1. It isn’t rape. It’s consensual
    2. It isn’t an official part of the programming. Only hiding the code (and modding) allowed it to be played. It was rogue programming.

    Had a game studies lecturer try and tell us the same thing.

  • ok so essentially what he is saying is that in order to keep 3 games (thats THREE! games) out of the country he is willing to relable dozens of R18+ games as MA15+ and make them available to children all over the country.

    and i bet u 2 of those 3 would have been banned under a 18+ system anyway

    well dont “atko” your a credit to hypocrites everywhere.

  • Ok, Mr. Atkinson, how about we argue about this matter through an Everybody’s Golf: World Tour battle royale match, which is as G Rated a game as you can get, so you won’t be too offended by it.

    Personally I am offended that a politician would ignore his own people about a notable issue. Julius Caesar didn’t care about the Gaulish villages he exploited and conquered, but that was a simpler time where people named Brutus were to be wary of, and the Ides of March was considered very unlucky indeed. I am not threatening you with violence, I am just pointing out that if you were a senator in Ancient Rome you would be dealt with in a different way to how we deal with politicians we don’t like now, in our own country, by voting them out. Thankfully politician mortality rates associated with assassination are at an all time low in Australia, because people play violent video games to avoid doing that kind of thing in real life.

    By the way, my name is Jacob Martin and I live in Abbotsford, Sydney. There, now you know who I am. My PSN nick is GeekPhilosopher, so if you have a PS3 do send me a message with your reply. Or you can leave a comment on my blog through my URL.

    Anyway, enough is enough Mr. Atkinson, we need an R18+ certificate to address content which is mislabelled under the MA15+ rating, the MA15+ rating was used well in the Nintendo 64 era but times change and gamers get older and the adult themes need to be given a rightful place. People like you are the reason why Brett Easton Ellis’s “American Psycho” is shrinkwrapped in every bookshop I find it in. Censorship of art isn’t right, but sometimes art needs to find its proper audience without being gutted of its meaning. Like with video games.

  • Mr. Atkinson,

    I understand your stance on classification. In fact, I work in the retail industry, specifically in the business of selling games. It is a trying thing to inform parents that the game their child has selcted is extremely violent/contains high-level sexual references/drug use, etc. This is because the MAXIMUM rating we can allow is MA 15+. Now, to use a recent example, GTA 4 should never have received that rating. Do you want to know the largest difference between the US and AUS versions? You can select the type of ‘service’ supplied by a hooker. That, and you see some of the action (albeit badly animated). With this in mind, this game is totally unacceptable as an MA 15+ game.

    Being in the industry, I would love the power to say to people: “Legally, I can’t sell you that, as I can face a massive fine.” Just like a liquor store. I think what we really need is the classification (to prevent games from sneaking in on a lower rating), as well as giving retailers the legal right/imperative to refuse to sell a game to a customer due to the rating.

    If you combine the two, I believe you will eliminate a large number of the problems associated with adding the R 18 classification to the gaming industry.

    Once again, thank you for reading my points, and please, ignore those of the gaming community who flame and otherwise call you names – they are not an accurate portrayal of the majority of games I know.


  • First off I need to commend Mister Atkinson for taking the time to read our posts and respond to them. It’s more than what others would do.

    “It seems to me disproportionate for some adult gamers to be so agitated about their ‘right’ to play a few games. The Classification Board considered 903 applications in 2007-2008. Three of those games were RC (Refused Classification). Most of the decisions gave G, PG and M ratings. The highest number of decisions was for G ratings and 55 games were MA15+.”

    Yes, only 3 of those 903 games were refused classification. That number only represents the games though that were not modified to squeeze into our MA15+ rating – be that prior to or after being initially refused classification. Many developers pre-emptively alter their games slightly (and I do emphasise the word “slightly”) in order for it to sneak into the MA rating before even submitting it for classification to get around the delays that would happen should it be knocked back. Out of those 55 MA rated games, how many of them do you think did this? Some of the modifications were so minor, it was simply changing the name of a drug. The player still takes the drug in the game, they are just taking a made-up drug instead of a real one. I don’t see the difference.

    “My main concern is that these games will become available to children and vulnerable adults. Again, Terry tells me off for being concerned about children accessing these games.”

    You see though Mister Atkinson, if a game was classified R18+, it would not be freely available on shelves for anyone to walk in and buy. You would need ID for a start, and the games may not even be advertisied or on the shelves at all. In fact, in many countries who have an R18+ system, the developers modify their games to fit into MA15+ anyway because being classified R, to them, is effectively banning it from sale, due to how they are more difficult to buy. Many retailers refuse to stock R18+ games in some countries.

    As to what happens once the game comes home, and who has access to it, well that responsibility lies soley with the parents or guardians. I’d also like to know who you classify as “vulnerable adults”. Do you mean those with a mental health problem? Because those people with those issues don’t need games to do something stupid.

    “(And Terry, if you haven’t seen someone become obsessed with a computer game, then perhaps you haven’t sat around while they play into the early hours of the morning and writhed to the machine noise that passes for background music.)”

    I’ve done better – I’ve done it myself. Countless hours spent playing games until the early hours of the morning in my youth. I still do it occasionally. Its fun. But am I a murderer? No. I know when something’s not real. I don’t think you are giving people enough credit to have the capacity to tell the difference between real and make believe.

    “If those games fit into MA15+ , they will still be classified under MA15+ if there is an R18+ category.”

    No they won’t…not all of them anyway. They won’t be modified, and will be classified R18+ instead, like they should be.

    “Information about the classification system is easy to get, it’s easy for parents to find out more, or just sit down with their child while he or she is playing the game and watch what he or she is doing. It’s not hard for parents to decide whether the game is appropriate or not.”

    Exactly! So put the decision in the hands of the parents, please. Don’t make a parent’s decision for them.

    “(“The contention that the interactivity of video games makes them trainers for anti-social behaviour and even causes anti-social behaviour is an insupportable one.”) – tell that to the family of the Bangkok cabbie murdered last year in a literal re-enactment of a scene from Grand Theft Auto. Ask the murderer, Terry – he told us what he was doing.”

    So, one murder by a guy who said he was re-enacting a scene from a game. I’d like to know how that compares to the number of murders re-enacting a scene from a movie, or TV show, or book, or how many murders have been made by copycat killers. The fact is murderers will murder, and you can’t blame that soley on games. Thousands die in car accidents each year, does that mean we should ban all motor sport because it’s a bad influence?

    Also, I’d like to compare that one murder with this story: – where, inspired by the very same game, a 6 year old kid took the family car because he missed the school bus, and he really wanted to get to school. Ignoring the obvious fact that the parents shouldn’t have been letting a 6 year old play GTA, the kid wasn’t trying to murder anyone. He wanted to get to school!

    “The reason Terry is so angry at me is that I have belled the cat – told the public what is in these games.”

    How many of these supposedly R18+ worthy games have you actually played, Mister Atkinson? I mean you are speaking with such authority about what’s in them, you must play them all of the time…right?

  • “To my mind, a child being able to watch ultra-violence and sexual defilement in a movie is damaging to the child, but a child participating in ultra-violence or sexual defilement, or both, in a computer game is worse. Moreover, playing a game with on-screen violence makes violence part of their everyday lives and what is especially concerning is that this is the gamer’s recreation.”

    This is opinion. This is the problem with so-called ‘common sense’. It’s not necessarily correct at all. It has never been definitively proven that there is a causal link or even a higher level of risk involved. There have been a smattering of studies which support the position, however their support is usually showing correlation, and that correlation can be explained by asserting that people who have strong, anti-social violent tendencies tend to be attracted to extremely violent media. Not games, but media in general.

    In fact, for every study done that has supported these conclusions, there are many more which are not trumpeted as heavily in the media because they fail to confirm ‘common sense’. Either they show no link, or they actually show the opposite, that violence in games is actually less impactful because it is interactive. Recently there have been studies which showed that playing games actually engages our subconscious, and that what we’re doing is akin to engaging in a lucid dream. In fact, gamers have been showed to have a higher instance of lucid dreams and a much lower chance of having nightmares, despite having more exposure to violence. It has also been shown that this subconscious engagement can significantly help in the treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, among other things.

    I could understand an agument that suggested that higher-rated games should not be allowed because there may be a risk to the small minority who may be ‘at risk’ because they already have mental issues, though I would not support the position. However it still seems inconsistent, as what they are susceptible to is violence. The medium doesn’t matter, and so if R18+ games are banned, then R18+ films should also be banned by the same logic.

    Really, I think what this comes down to isn’t a case of ignorance. Mr. Atkinson is probably aware of studies which show his position to be shaky. However I suspect that he simply doesn’t care about the science, unless that science supports the position he ‘knows’ is ‘right’. In other words, no amount of evidence to the contrary will sway him from the position. Attacking through logic doesn’t work with people who are convinced that they are correct, unless the evidence is completely overwhelming, and honestly there hasn’t been enough evidence in this debate to conclusively end the debate.

    Australia will get an 18+ rating. But it won’t be until Australia’s current generation of politicians retire and those of my generation, 20-30 now, who have barely known a world without video games, are in power. It’s a shame, but I suspect it’s just a waste of effort at the moment.

    On the R18+ games being squeezed into MA15+ issue, that is actually one major issue. The OFLC are viewed as inconsistent and untrustworthy because they do this, but the other option for them is to ban tons of games. One only needs to look at the ratings issued to games at the top end of the classification scheme and compare them to game ratings issued in New Zealand, which has a near-identical classification process and generally has very similar community expectations and ratings rules. There are a lot of games that get 18+ ratings in NZ (and from the BBFC in the UK, the PEGI in Europe…) which are released at MA15+ here. They should be refused classification but the OFLC are not unreasonable tyrants and will bend the rules just enough to allow things through, or they will get publishers to modify things so that the games slip just inside the bounds of the rating.

    My opinion:
    – The MA15+ bracket should be tightened.
    – R18+ should be introduced for games, designed to grab the upper end of what is acceptable in the current MA15+ bracket, plus a little more flexibility. Probably you wouldn’t allow much more through in terms of violence, but generally speaking it should be on par with what is allowed in film, for consistency. The oft-quoted Japanese Rape game would definitely not be allowed through. I don’t think that it would make it through the OFLC even if we had an X rating for games. Which I’m personally fine with us not having.
    – The powers that be (whether at state or federal level) should increase and enforce penalties for retailers that sell R18+ games to minors.
    – A major education campaign should be embarked upon to educate parents on the rating systems for games and the sort of content that is allowed in each rating bracket.

  • If I get pulled over for speeding and I tell the police I was doing it because I love computer games, will Need for Speed Games also start to be banned?
    If a guy kills a guy in a taxi, chances are he was already messed up, i don’t think GTA made him do it.

  • Perhaps it could be said that the limits of the MA15 rating are stretched because of the lack of a R18 rating? Surely it is near sighted to suggest that it is better that games such as GTA IV et al find their way into the hands of a 15 year old rather than a (presumably) more mature 18 year old? One would hope that implimenting an R18 rating would keep objectionable material out of the hands of teenagers rather than open the floodgates to games promoting drug abuse, rape and the other nasties that Mr Atkinson opposes.
    To be fair I am a New Zealander, and this debate does not affect me directly – I just find it interesting/amusing that our cousins over the ditch still treat games with such contempt.

  • “So put the decision in the hands of the parents, please. Don’t make a parent’s decision for them.”
    Thats it right there Atko!
    what do you say to that point?
    do you think you have that authority?

  • I don’t see what the fuss is all about, international business that sell these games are a dime a dozen so if you want it just get it imported. Problem solved. Continuing to press this mater only brings it into further light and will end up seeing MORE games banned.

  • Mr Atkinson,

    Not sure where to start, as most of my thoughts have already been discussed by the many people that have been criticising your responses in a mature, adult fashion. Unfortunately I don’t live in your electorate (I sit within Hindmarsh’s boundaries) so I can’t exercise my opinion through my voting habits; instead, I’ll add another voice to the chorus of meaningful feedback.

    Ultimately, I think there must be a misunderstanding, as implied by your sensationalist viewpoint of an R18+ rating being allowed into the mix. Just because an R18+ rating finds its way into the classifications available for video games does not mean that the flood gates will be opened for all and sundry to come into the market with an OFLC stamp. Particularly for console games, I don’t think you’ll find the three major players (Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo) will let games be published on their respective platforms that would put the industry in question (the console market in particular is historically quite pro-active in this regard, if you’re unaware of this I would suggest reading Kent’s “Ultimate History of Video Games”). Particularly with regards to a game encouraging or endorsing something as hideous as rape, I believe that this *should* be given RC. It’s a question of setting the rules correctly, and introducing an R18+ category and re-evaluating the criteria for different ratings would be a timely thing to do. I believe it is long overdue, and it seems it would be a good, mutual opportunity to give this a rational discussion in light of your thoughts on the OFLC. And as you noted in your response, it should be the parent’s responsibility to be engaged with their children’s entertainment and be aware of factors like classifications about the OFLC.

    The other issue I wanted to raise is the inappropriate sensationalism you often apply to your replies. Granted, this seems almost ironic in light of the people who express their criticism of your policy through threats of violence given their own sensationalist responses. But I digress – it is your sensationalism that worries the (intelligent) gaming populace at large. To demonstrate this, the following was quoted from your original letter in this post:

    “It confuses my why so many gamers are arguing that they should have the right to play games that enable them on-screen to bash, torture, slay, slaughter, rape and take drugs.”

    The points in the above I have issues with are “torture”, “take drugs” and “rape” (“bash” and “slaughter” are common themes in literature over time, though the use of these words also illicit an emotional response that detracts from the context you may be lifting them from). I don’t believe there are any games that actively advocate or encourage “torture”; there are “sandbox” titles that let the user do what they want within the confines of the title, but I don’t know of any that encourages the player to actively torture someone. In re-invigorating the classification system, you could always note this as being grounds for RC and then open up debate on the topic. If the character in the game experiences torture, then it of course becomes a different subject; the former is action, the latter is passive and likely related to the story-telling motif of the title. Titles like Silent Hill Homecoming and The Darkness note torture as a component within a narrative, and I believe that at least in the latter (not having played the former), it becomes a crucial point in the story at that leads to the next branch of the story that sends the character into a purgatory-like area of the game’s virtual universe.

    For “take drugs”, the problem with this statement is that it lacks any conditions for the act. Is the “drug” a fictitious substance with little grounding in the real world (e.g. your character consumes a fictitious product, which in turn effects the sensory perception of the environment)? Does the drug provide a reward for its use, and is the drug an illicit substance found in the real world and depicted as such (thus creating discussion on grounds for RC)? Is the drug a ficticious substance used in the game, but its use provides a moral question to the player with real consequences (I think Fallout 3 and perhaps Bioshock fall into this category, though it must be noted that both contain socio-political backdrops and in-game consequences for the use in either title)? I can’t recall a title that has demonstrated the use of real-world drugs in a realistic manner of sorts, though I may be wrong in this. Please correct me if I’m mistaken though, but I would appreciate concrete evidence and the title of the game (as well as the platform it was released on).

    Lastly, I find extreme contention with the reference of games that encourage or reward “rape” that have been submitted for approval in Australia. If any game were to encourage or reward such an act, then I believe a RC would be appropriate. Simply having an R18+ classification does not automatically equate to this kind of content being created or sent for submission to Australia. My worry is that this descriptor will illicit such an emotional response, despite that fact that its groundless (you’re welcome to prove me wrong on the “groundless” comment – name the title and platform it was intended to be released on, and any indication that the gaming public at large is after such a game), that it encourages the sensationalist response you’re comments are prone to creating. It will also tip an uninformed opinion of the state of the games industry in your favour, which of course is the purpose behind your opposition to the R18+ classification.

    I don’t anticipate that you will respond to this comment, but I would encourage you nonetheless to consider these points and publicly respond on Kotaku, as I’m certain other readers would like to hear what you have to say. My issues with your conduct is on two fronts – first up, the classification schema could do with an overhaul, including the rational inclusion of an R18+ classification to bring it into line with film and television (again, there is *no* definitive study that suggests video games encourage acts of violence any more than film or television; if you can disregard the Bond University study for bias, the same rationale can be applied to peer-reviewed study on both sides of the aforementioned argument) and the risk of sensationalism (as demonstrated by the quot I noted above and thereafter argued against) means that instead of intelligent debate about the topic, there is a worry that the discourse that follows will be sullied by irrelevant examples and images taken out of context for the purpose of sensationalising the situation. This in turn illicits angry and (at times) irrational responses from the gaming populace at large.

  • Mr Atkinson,

    You acknowledge their’s a problem where the OFLC ‘stretch’ the guidelines so games can be classified as MA15. To your knowledge do they ‘stretch’ classification of games to be rated G instead PG? or about M instead of MA?

    The reason they need to ‘stretch’ the guidelines is because you don’t give them any other choice. Many games undoubtedly would have been classified R18 had the option been available.

    Yes having an R18 would mean less RC games, but it would also mean having less MA15 games. By there not being an R18 classification it is obvious you (and the government in general) view video games ‘for kids’. You might say otherwise but if the highest rating restriction available is for 15 year olds maybe the definition of a child has changed since I last checked.

    You think you are protecting the Australian public – reality is though the longer you lobby against the R18 classification the longer you’re making ‘adult’ games available to minors.

  • It’s worth noting that people don’t hide behind screen names because they don’t want to put their name firmly behind their opinion, it’s more likely that the internet is full of nutters and no one wants to reveal their full name to all the weirdos.

  • Honestly, having an R18+ rating does make sense to keep GTA and a few other titles out of younger kids hands.

    But pay it no mind, I imported Silent Hill Homecoming and will continue to import titles that get delayed because of retooling for MA15+.

  • So basically, we’re back to square one where “you are either with us or you’re a pedophile”? Great. Just great.
    If Mr. Atkinson knows that the average age for a gamer is 30, why does he continue to press the point we are children needing herding? A child (which should be any age below 15) should not have access to the sorts of games on debate to begin with. If a child(again, I stress any age below 15) is able to obtain any game with a classification above MA15+ via parents/uncles/aunts/grandparents, then clearly it is the responsibility the guardian/parents to censor any game inappropriate to the child themselves until they can understand their actions ingame(or even look at what your kid is playing once in a while also helps). If they do not understand the meaning behind the big blue ratings, slapping bigger blue stickers isn’t going to help.
    With the topic of GTA4, yes, you are able to steal cars, murder, rob etc, but then you start getting star ratings and the police start to do what they’re supposed to be doing. Although it may be downplayed in the game, you do have a cause and effect sort of result. Basically, do something bad (murder, etc) means something bad will happen to you(jail). If gamers are mentally sound I’m sure they will be able to translate that in real life. About the case of the cabbie murder in Bangkok, my condolensences. True the murderer explained he tried to reenact GTA, but he was also left alone to do his own thing a lot unsupervised. While this does not shift the blame off the murderer, it does show the potential cause and outlet of the attack.
    Regarding how “The number of games refused classification each year is tiny – just 3 out of 903 last year” It does not matter if the number of games refused classification is 3 or 300. If the other countries have access to such titles, why are we not allowed? Are Australian minds inferior to those of Americans where we cannot comprehend that what we do in a video game is not real, while fun, does not translate well in real life? Please Mr. Atkinson, give us more credit.
    And how adult themes such as “bash, torture, slay, slaughter, rape and take drugs” are acceptable in other media such as books or films (examples such as Braveheart, The da vinci code) while totally not acceptable in games? Please do not say that children will be exposed to it, because clearly R18+ and MA15+ should not be available to consume such products anyway. Vulnerable adults? No one is pointing a gun at my head and forcing me to play anything. If we deem a game is not suitable for ourselves we can make the decision to not play it. Simple as that. And regarding rape, such things will not be allowed through censorship under R18+ rating anyway, why do you keep mentioning that?
    Mr. Atkinson, if you wish to have my name, sex, age, address, educational background,etc please come and ask for it yourself. I will not ask for your home address just to validate you are indeed Mr. Atkinson, so don’t ask for mine just. But if you really want to know then come and ask for it yourself.

  • Whacko Atco is always good for a laugh isn’t he? He complains about protesters wanting to remain anonymous, whilst declaring himself the spokesperson for several Attorney Generals (people paid for and answerable to we taxpayers) who themselves wish to remain anonymous. I suspect Atco may be one of the “vulnerable adults” he is so concerned about, it would explain why he is unfamiliar with the concept of irony.

  • Finally, child pornography has been introduced into the argument!

    It’s about time we got lumped in with biker gangs, mail-order pornographers, and child pornopgraphers!

    Thanks Michael Atkinson for your delightful response. Patronising and offensive as always.

  • Mr. Atkinson,

    I can understand your concern with the current rating system. I implore that I see children playing video games way above their age limit. But it also implores me that minors can and do walk into video game stores and buy these games without legal restrictions. It also scares me that many games are slightly retooled in order to get a MA15+ game without modifying any of the actual content so per say. An overhaul of the classification system is in order, of which I fully agree, and the best way in order to do this is to bring multimedia entertainment in line with other forms of entertainment (film, pictures, etc) with the introduction of an R18+ rating, giving legal protections and prosecution to people who sell and hire these forms of games to minors, as well as reinforcing in the public that these forms of entertainment are only meant for Adults.
    So as a concerned adult, I implore you to expand the classification system to include a R18+ category so multimedia which should not be shown to the underage public, either because its rehashed or because it technically fell into MA15+ guidelines, is kept away from our children.

    Yours Truly

    Jacob Kelly

    P.S. Contact kotaku if you really want to contact me for my email address Mr. Atkinson, as I really do find some of your posts to the ‘gaming’ public to be quite demeaning and I would like to see what you could say without abusive tirades.

  • I’m glad to see the arguments have been cleaned up 😀

    Mr Atkinson, I know it must be frustrating to have your political view on this issue constantly attacked, especially when some people have been rather immature in their responses, but so many good, valid arguments have been brought up yet you still dance around them trying to ‘defend your honour’.

    It is not necessary to be a smart alec trying to discredit gamers, nor is it helpful to ignore our arguments and only banter about the issues only from your own perspective.

    I would like to see you respond to the arguments about games being incorrectly classified under our current system. You argue that “If those games fit into MA15+ , they will still be classified under MA15+ if there is an R18+ category.” This is exactly what an R18+ classification is meant to fix.

    Many games that contain adult content are passing through our classifcations board and given an MA15+ rating, even though the exact same games are classified 18+ in other countries. It is assumed that an R18+ rating wouldn’t just be attached on the end of our ratings scale to allow games to include more excessive adult content. The whole system should be retooled to prevent games that contain adult content that should be rated 18+, to have a category that can help consumer awareness, rather than being put into a lesser 15+ category as is currently happening in Australia.

    You say that games “enable [us] on-screen to bash, torture, slay, slaughter, rape and take drugs”, yet there is no game classified in Australia that allows digital rape to occur. I also can’t imagine a classifications board being insane enough to allow rape to occur in an 18+ game either. I think the majority of gamers, if not all of us, are not advocating the ability to have rape and other such excesses in our games. We just want our currently inferior rating system revamped, and for our games to not be unnecessarily censored.

    “If parliament decided laws on the basis that adults should be able to do and see what they want, then child-abuse images (child pornography) would be freely available.”
    I would say that it would be more fair to suggest that adults should be able to see and play what they want, as long as what they are seeing and playing wasn’t produced through crime, as child pornography is. Mr Atkinson you are just trying to slander the notion of 18+ games with whatever you can find, and it is rather childish to suggest such a thing.

    “It is put to me that the majority of Australians want an R18+ classification for computer games because an industry-funded poll has come to this conclusion.” …. “Furthermore, it is human nature for people to tell a push-pollster they should be able to do something when the law says they can’t.” …. “I suspect the vast majority of Australians don’t really care if R18+ games are available because they have no interest in the issue, but it’s easy to agree with the pollster and get her off the phone.”
    I’m sorry but suggesting the poll is invalid because of who funded it is rather silly. Unless you have evidence that they weren’t ethical in running the poll or doctored the results then this is just a slanderous accusation with no backing. Also where is your backing for this assertion that people by nature want to go against the law if they are being polled? This is an absurd thing to suggest.

    Despite all this, I doubt Mr Atkinson will deviate from his current ‘defend myself against internet bullies and ignore the real issues’ stance. It’s very hard to agree that you were wrong, or at the very least, misinformed.

    Also, I didn’t post my full name or put my email address in this post, not because I wish to remain anonymous, but obviously because it isn’t wise to post such details on public boards.

  • Mr Atkinson,

    I respect your defense on this topic and that you have not backed down on a issue that you feel strongly about.

    Around this time, last year. I e-mailed your offices directly with a message for you. I was asked for a name and mailing address so that you would be able to contact me directly with a answer. I am yet to receive a written response to the questions and views I shared.

    That aside.

    I have seen very little discussed in terms of how a R18+ classification would be enforced if it were instituted. Away from the discussion papers on bringing this issue to the table, Are there any plans or ideas as to stop children accessing games that are not appropriate? Is there a plan to stop parents allowing access to the games deemed “Adult only”

    Thank you.

    Alix J Wilson
    The Scarecrow

    Please e-mail me at for my mailing address if you wish to respond. I do not want to place my personal details directly on the internet.

  • Perhaps someone should point out to Mr Atkinson that by depriving adult gamers the choice to buy unedited games here in Australia we are sending money overseas instead of using it to help our own economy.
    Yes I realize the number of games that are banned or edited are small, but those games are usually big sellers that most gamers buy one way or another. Most of us wouldn’t hesitate to import a banned or unedited game, and all that money does add up. It’s a shame that all that money can’t be put back into our economy, especially now with the recession. Every little bit helps after all.

  • Dear Mr Atkinson,

    Unlike you, I can discern the difference between real and make believe.

    You are a man who believes in a make believe religion based around a make believe god, with no proof but a couple of 2000 year old books of questionable editing and authorship.

    I, on the other hand, trust in science, and science has not yet been able to determine a causative link between videogames and violence. Every study done to date, without question, has failed to find a definitive link.

    Here’s the thing: the studies that have been done, as awkwardly and haphazardly as they are – small sample sizes, questionable methods, and uncertain conclusions – hey wow, they sound a lot like the bible! – have the same overall conclusion as studies of ALL violent media;

    There is NO causation between violent media and violent people.

    If you have such evidence of a link to warrant your stance on videogames, I implore you to show your findings to the world! If your evidence is conclusive, I will back your stance on R18+ videogames to the day I die. Hell, I’ll even petition the government to refuse classification to R18+ books, magazines, and movies.

    But I’m not just going to take your word on it. Show me proper science with proper evidence, and the case is repeatable and the logic scientifically sound and I’ll accept and even support your position.

    But I can die in the knowledge that, like evidence of god, there won’t be any findings of this kind in my lifetime, or any lifetime.

    The human mind is so complex that there is no possible way media can have such a negative impact on human beings, otherwise we’d all be slaughtering each other in the streets the moment Josephine Baker appeared on film, Superman appeared in comics, or Elvis shook his hips on Ed Sullivan.

    Also, I would please ask you to refrain from calling me and other videogamers sick and twisted in the mind, and implying we could be murders, thieves, and rapists, as you have done in many of your responses to the push for R18+ for videogames.

    I mean, after all, you’ve nearly been done for defamation twice already, and as they say, third time’s the charm…

  • It’s people like Michael Atkinson that make me lose hope for the world of government. They are so blinded by moral ignorance they fail to see what is right in front of them.

  • First, it was “I’m doing it for the children”, now it’s “okay but I don’t trust the ratings board”?
    The MA15+ rating is stretched to its limits only because of the lack of a R18+ rating. Poor effort, 3/10.

    It’s becoming clear that Mr Atkinson will continue to produce one weak argument after another in an effort to delay the release of the discussion paper for as long as possible.

    It says something about our political system when one man can halt the political and social progress of a nation, and not be accountable for his actions. No parliamentary review, no administrative review. This is not democracy.

  • Mr Atkinson, after reading both this letter, and the second letter you sent to Kotaku, I believe, while you think you fully understand the argument being made, and I understand your opposition to the R18+ catergory for rating of video games in Australia, I don’t believe you actually do understand the full argument. First off, you claim that evidence that the majority of Australians do want an R18+ category for rating video games(as taken from the Interactive Australia 2009 report)is biased as it is paid for by Interactive Australia, which is an organisation within the gaming industry. There are 3 problems with what you have said here. First off, this isn’t the first year this report has been made, and it does follow the trend, as first shown in 2007, that people who play video games, what they want from them and how video games affect the public as a whole have changed. The results from the 2007 report show no where near the public intrest as the 2009 report. Secondly, the groups of people who were questioned to get the data for the IA 2009 report varied largly. I know this from having contact with those who wrote the report during the entire time they wrote it. The people they got to answer questions were varied, as is normal with a report to do with the views of the Australian people, so that they got a valid representation of the Australian Public. Thirdly, those who organised and completed this report do not work within the Gaming Industry. They are academics who were asked by the IA to create this report. The result of the report wouldn’t have affected them in any way that would have benefitted them.

    The next issue is the topic of the report on the topic of introducing an R18+ rating system for games. While I am not sure what the exact hold up is(without being directly involved it is hard to know when everyone is pointing the finger at everyone else), I do know that your request to have images of such games that would fit the R18+ rating is not appropriate for the report. You, aswell as any politician, should know how easily it is for something to be taken out of context when not all of it is shown. This is done constantly with political campaigns. The same issue would arise by adding stills into a report, as they would not be able to show the proper context. For example, someone could put a picture of a man with a bullet hole through his head on the front cover of a newspaper and say “Man shot in the head” and many could take it as an innoceant person being shot in the head. However, the real story could be that he had a bomb strapped to his chest and he was running towards PM Kevin Rudd to attempt to kill him and everyone around him. If you do want to see examples of games that would be rated R18+, you would need to show videos of almost the entire game up until the section that would deem it to have an R18+ rating so that who ever views the report would be able to understand the context. The prefered way would be for them to actually play it, however, not everyone has enough time to do either of these. For other more apparant examples, simple look at some of the games on the market today under the MA15+ rating. Some of the Grand Theft Auto games, the Manhunt series, these games can depicate graphic scenes of violence that would be better classified under MA15+. In other countries they are rated 18+, but in Australia, due to a lack of such a rating, they are able to sneak in under the MA15+ rating.

    R18+ games do not need to have rape, torture, or brutal slaughter in them, and chances are, even if we get an R18+ rating that games that involve rape or torture and slaughter of minors will not be admited. We have an R18+ rating for movies in Australia but that doesnt stop movies with scenes of rape in them being rejected from Australia.

    Also, you say that video games are worse due to the interactive state of them. Yes, they are interactive, but that doesn’t make them worse then film. A good film will suck you in, make you feel like you are really there, really the person from which the film’s point of view is set. While a game might have a “press x to kill” button, that doesnt make it immersive, and if it isn’t immersive, the interactivty goes to waste. I can think of a much more interactive and immersive, while very violent and horrific, event that millions of people participate in every day, and not all of them are messed up and go out and kill people. It’s war. Now before anyone says “How can you compare video games to war. War is real” thats my point. War is real. It is the ultimate immersive and interactive experience. People who become violent after playing video games would have been violent even if video games hadn’t existed. The same can apply to some people who do the same after being in combat. While many men, women and children get harsly effected by what they see, and become mentally unstable, many are mentally unstable to begin with.

    We don’t want an R18+ rating so we can rape and tortue people, we want an R18+ rating so stop children from being able to play games that are too violent and innapropriate from them that are already on the market under the MA15+ rating, while not stopping those who are old enough and mature enough to play them.

  • “There are many, many games that are strategic and challenging without requiring extreme violence or sexual defilement.”
    This actually reveals a lot about your understanding of games and gamers. It’s not something I’m surprised about–you didn’t grow up with games. You are potentially going to be the last generation who thinks like you do about games and after that R18 classification will be introduced. It’s simply unfortunate we have to wait for your generation to be replaced.

    “It confuses and baffles me why I am being harangued, threatened and abused by people who want the right to play a handful of games.”
    You can’t expect people to appreciate you telling them what they can and cannot play. And you have to remember that this is the Internet–your opinions are going to attract people who would otherwise never dare state threats publicly.

    “I watch my own children play violent and aggressive games that are legally available – legally available because they have been classified as MA15+.”
    So I assume they are over the age of 15? What if the same games were rated R18, would have you let them buy them?

    “As my youngest boy blew away one humanoid after another with an automatic rifle recently, I ribbed him “Do you think any of these have aunties or cousins?”
    This is one of the difference between your generation and the gaming generation. We know that it’s a 3D model described with 1’s and 0’s to look human. We’re not desensitised to violence in games, because we know it’s not real in the first place. I actually have a lot harder time watching violence in movies because I know they ARE real people, not computer code. The answer to your question is “No”–they don’t have families, they’re not real.

    “tell that to the family of the Bangkok cabbie murdered last year in a literal re-enactment of a scene from Grand Theft Auto.”
    A person in your position should know better to use incidents like this as ammo. I could find plenty incidents from decades ago that would suggest Coyboy movies should have been banned. I can also find incidents that suggest Superman movies should have been banned due to kids jumping off their house roofs. Gaming is now a part of our culture, there are going to be links, just like movies and books were, and still are, linked to some violent crimes.

    “I worry about parents not taking an active role in regulating their children’s game playing.”
    I worry that because R18 games don’t exists that parents will think all games, including MA15+ games, are harmless fun for kids (“how bad could an MA15 game be?”). I think when parents start seeing R18 games they’ll get an appreciation for what is appropriate, just like they do (or should) with movies. Also, most young families I know have been exposed to games for years before having kids. They know what the content of these games are, just like you knew what the contents of movies could be like before you were a parent.

    “To my mind, a child being able to watch ultra-violence and sexual defilement in a movie is damaging to the child, but a child participating in ultra-violence or sexual defilement, or both, in a computer game is worse.”
    I’m quoting this so it’s clear I didn’t miss the point. There are studies both for and against what you think, so it’s not worth debating here. But you’ve used the arguement that it’s only 3 games a year, and so will I–it’s only 3 games a year. Children will most likely be getting their “simulated” violence from lower classified games.

    “I am concerned about the level of violence in society and the widespread acceptance of simulated violence as a form of entertainment.”
    So, (ignoring the shallow threats from trolls here) do you believe gamers are more dangerous than non-gamers? Is your son a threat to society because you allowed him to play MA games?

  • Dominic Lim said:
    “It says something about our political system when one man can halt the political and social progress of a nation… This is not democracy.”

    Yes it is, he is the elected offical. The Australian public has the right every few years to vote him out.


    As for the subject at hand, while i do believe their should be an R Rating for games to segregate the MA rating out. It is humourous to see My Euro region disc of GTA arrives with a British rating for 18+ but gets away with MA15 here.

    However, like Mr Atkinson i certainly dont wish to see games get any worse. Drugs, rape and torture simple provide no artistic merit or legitimatly improve gameplay. Movies may have these to tell a story, but games are interactive. Funky J, yes people that want this sort of things in their games should be looked at by a doctor.

    Like me, i know most people will not go and enact the goriest and darkest of game subject matter in real life. Though there are clearly some easier affected people out there. I hate reading the Games make Mass Murder headlines, i point out to others that the greatest Mass Murder in Modern History happened before Video Games, 62 Million People were killed in WWII and 5 Million of those were Jewish Holocaust victims.

  • Dear, Mr Atkinson,

    I respectfully thank you for taking the time to actually respond to actual debate in an intellectual manner. It certainly is a refreshing change after your previous couple of posts which completely avoided the issue. In the interests of hopefully keeping the discussion going, I would like to respond to a few of your comments.

    Firstly, as an introduction to an argument, the line “That might be more useful than bagging me anonymously on blogs and by anonymous emails, but use up your time this way if it makes you feel better.” is quite dismissive of the readers here.

    Is Atko the only opponent?

    To your first actual point – Terry was referring to the fact that no other attorney general has publicly stated that he opposes an R18+ rating. In your responses, you claim that there are others, yet you refuse to name them, which means we have to take your word for it – a little hypocritical after accusing other people of hearsay. I think you will also find that not once did Terry actually say that not one supported you, he simply said not one publicly supported you, which makes your ensuing personal attack on Terry somewhat misplaced.

    Once again, in the next two paragraphs, I take string issue with your callous and dismissive tone. “being an R18+ gamer and blogger means never having to say you are sorry.” “at least they have the courage of their convictions.” “Until R18+ bloggers like Terry are prepared to conduct themselves in a civil and open manner and check their facts,” to name a few. Wow, just wow. Comparing a person who wishes for an R18+ rating to outlaw motorcycle gangs? And you are complaining about the abusive emails you get! What about the abusive posts we get from you that are no less abhorrent!! Also, can you please tell me what part of Terry’s response was not civil and open? It was certainly more civil than the slander you used in these paragraphs. And finally, mentioning “checking the facts” is more than a little rich after mentioning a Japanese only game about raping in the R18+ argument, despite the fact it would never receive an R18+ rating here, or any where else.

    Age of Gamers

    I have to agree with you pretty much there, although Terry was simply illustrating a point, but as that is not related to R18+ classification, I will not continue.

    Number of Games Affected

    I personally, have never once wanted to play a game banned in Australia, yet I still wish for an R18+ rating. If anything, I believe content like that in Grand Theft Auto 4 should be R18+ – it is simply not suitable for kids. In most other countries, it is R18+. Here, it is only MA15+. I am not arguing for a right to play extremely violent games – indeed, as you yourself mentioned, there are next to no games being banned, which means all the violent games are rated MA15+ – I am arguing for a system that more accurately rates games based on their content, which cannot work without an R18+ rating. So please don’t imply that I am a psychopathic monster who enjoys raping virtual people because I support an R18+ rating.

    Furthermore, your continued reference to “bash, torture, slay, slaughter, rape and take drugs.” hurt your argument. They are all (apart from rape) MA15+ material! Perhaps if there was an R18+, this kind of material would be rated R18+. What is better, a higher, adults only rating with restricted sales, greater acknowledgment of the type of material it contains, and higher level of age restriction on console being allowed? I must admit, I find you position completely baffling – it seems terribly counter productive.

    Finally, you state: “I am concerned about the state of mind of an individual who thinks he should have the right to do this in a computer game” I again, find this a bit over the top. Have you never watched a movie or tv show that features bashing, torture, rape, murder or drugs? I am pretty sure you have. Why then is having the same content on a video game so abhorrent to you? This more means that you don’t appreciate the medium as an art form (which is entirely understandable), rather than everyone who likes these type of games being a crazed lunatic.

    Children & vulnerable adults

    Again, your points seem somewhat counter-intuitive. As you said, there are precious few games actually banned, which means the main affect of an R18+ rating would be certain MA15+ games can be given a higher rating, consistent with their ratings overseas. How in any way does this increase the exposure to children and vulnerable adults? This is still ignoring the fact that there are myriads of online retailers based overseas that you can freely purchase these games from, even if they are banned here – anybody who wants to get hold of them can get hold of them. You make reference to your children playing games in the early hours in the morning. Ignoring the dismissive “machine noises” comment, and that we are talking about R18+ rating, not video game addiction, how come they were playing games so early in the morning? Doesn’t this refer more to parenting than games? And how exactly is this a reason of no R18+ rating? Particularly as you say they are MA15+ games (I am really hoping the child you are referring too is over 15…)

    Your second paragraph again details exactly why there should be an R18+ category! Yes, the OFLC does bend to allow games to be released. The is why games like GTA4 are released here is MA15+, yet overseas it is R18+. Isn’t it better to have this higher rating to allow parents to make a more informed decision, or are you pleased that 15 years olds in this country are deemed old enough to play GTA4, when overseas they are not? Sure. Besides, the OFLC’s guidelines are under the control of the attorney generals – if they let games through with an R18+ rating that shouldn’t be, that can be fixed. Even if they stretch R18+, isn’t it better than them stretching MA15+ so that almost nothing is banned (as again, you admitted)?

    Once more, you assert “If those games fit into MA15+ , they will still be classified under MA15+” which is a little odd, as previously you just mentioned you don’t trust the OFLC because they will try to allow as much as possible in the highest category to appease the industry. Right. And it also completely ignores the fact the games such as GTA4 are rated R18+ overseas. TO me, this means that an R18+ rating will help! Parents see A LOT of difference between an MA15+ rating and an R18+ rating. You also state: “It’s not hard for parents to decide whether the game is appropriate or not.” If it isn’t that hard, then why don’t you want an R18+ rating, I am confused? You just said that parents can decide quite easily if the games they are playing are decent or not.

    You again state that participating in a violent video game is worse than watching a movie. So why has no study shown this to be true? And how does it make violence an everyday part of their lives, as you suggest? You seem to be happy ignoring the plethora of scientific studies conducted in the area to keep your view point. And what has this got to do with an R18+ rating? You mention the murder of a bankock cabbie. Horrific, yes. Helping your point, no. For starters, he was enacting GTA4, as previously mentioned, a game with an MA15+ rating here, but an R18+ rating overseas. TO me that sounds like the perfect argument to allow it to be given a higher rating! But I digress, it is not the perfect argument. This murder is not the only one conducted GTA style, and nor does anyone deny that. What is denied is the link between video games and violent behavior, which is what Terry was saying. In the Bankock murder, while the murderer was enacting GTA4, did playing the game cause him to transform from a normal, lawful person to a crazy psychopath? No, of course not. Just because he played the murder out GTA style, doesn’t mean that he was not already deranged, that he was not going to kill anyway. On your reasoning, maybe we should ban religion, I seem to recall once religious members of the KKK in America tied a living black man to the back of a truck and dragged him until his body was shredded. Maybe we should ban alcohol, as I seem to remember many instances of alcohol fueled murders. I am not seriously suggesting this, but the point I am making is that some deranged people do some deranged acts, sometimes in the name of something quite innocent. Please don’t confuse this.

    You then go on to discredit a poll because it is industry funded. It was conducted by academics at a leading university. Are you saying they are corrupt? By the same reasoning, are you saying that government polls are all inaccurate because they are funded by the government? You state “The reason Terry is so angry at me is that I have belled the cat – told the public what is in these games.” How was Terry angry, he was simply responding to several inaccuracies in your letter? You haven’t told the public accurately what is in these games at all. As Terry mentioned, and you conveniently ignored, you mentioned a raping game that would never receive a classification in any western country. That is misleading, and a reason to get annoyed. I also completely question your assertion that “it is human nature for people to tell a push-pollster they should be able to do something when the law says they can’t.” Since when? That’s just made up nonsense. I also find it interesting how you dismiss actual surveys and studies into the field, instead believing that your uneducated viewpoint is more accurate! You again sensationalize issues in your defence of the censorship argument. This is about heavy handed censorship – no one is suggesting all forms of censorship be removed, and raising an emotional issue like child pornography is obviously an attempt to deflect away from the real point.

    In your final paragraph, you link violence in society to violence in video games. Again, there is no evidence for this! You can’t just simply make stuff up that you personally believe to be true and state is a fact!

  • So let me get this right…Atkinson is trying to take away consumers’ rights to buy certain things…adult consumers I may add. And then he wrote a long letter basically saying he doesn’t understand why people are getting angry when their consumer rights are being taken away?

    He doesn’t even mention what is wrong with violent entertainment in other mediums. What’s good for the TV goose isn’t good for the gaming gander. And please do not introduce pornography into the discussion, as it’s not a good comparison to the games we’re talking about. M-rated games (the 17-and older classification where I come from) are as much a legitimate part of the video game market as the R movies that get a wide theatrical release are a part of Hollywood.

    I have a feeling that Atkinson’s refusal to allow a R18 rating is more of a psychological reason than a practical reason. Becase as far as I can understand, the guidelines of the MA15+ rating are actually being bent and given more leeway to allow games that would normally feel more appropriate in R18+ land. One rating doesn’t exist, so we have to distort another one to make the product fit? How is that an improvement? It adds more confusion and deceit to what a product is classified as and what it actually contains.

  • Dear Mr. Atkinson

    I, as mother of two young children completely understand your concerns about ultra-violent videogames, however there are many issue to be discussed and many suggestions to be made about this topic.

    My two children, age 8 and 10 love playing their videogames. Of cause I would never let them play anything above a PG rating.

    And yes, I do believe there are some very susceptible people in society who may be influenced by the images and ideas displayed in certain videogames. But these few people do not account for the majority of videogame players.

    Most people, like myself who play videogames have families, friends, children, a steady-job and we pay our taxes. The reason we would like to have an R-18+ on videogames is to insure that no game developers’ and manufactures are somehow sneaking-in mature content into a lower rating.

    Many gamers in Australia and fans of digital entertainment including DVDs, TV and Movies are well aware that the OFLC is not foolproof. Many times have I seem Movies and Television shows grossly under-rated by the board. And many things completely over-rated simply because the person who was reviewing the material did not have the cognitive skills, experience or maturity needed to understand the situation of the storyline.

    It is true – if an R-18+ rating was introduced it may be abused and stretched to it’s limits, however this is not a certainly.

    My belief, as a parent and as a gamers is that an R-18+ Rating should be introduced, not because older gamers want to play more and more violent videogames but because we could make better informed decisions about our software purchases. There are many parents who are gamers, and many parents who are not, and it is the parents who are not gamers who are most at risk of buying inappropriately rated games.

    As mentioned earlier, the classification of MA-15+ is being stretched and skewed until the line is blurred. The reason I am concerned that there is no R-18+ rating is that once the MA-15+ rating has been taken to it’s breaking point, it will most likely be revoked from videogames and the highest rating would then be M-15+ and that rating would be abused and then revoked and we would move down to PG and just keep going backwards until the only rating left for videogames is a G rating.

    One might say to me, you’re a parent – wouldn’t you like all videogames to G rated to you wouldn’t have to worry about what your kids are playing? Yes, that’s true, but that’s not the point. I am the parent and the appropriate adult – it is my job to take care of my children and only buy them games that I think are appropriate. It is not the job of the ratings board or anyone else to be my children’s caretaker.

    And it is not the job of the rating board to dictate to parents and consumers what we can and cannot watch. But this is not the argument I am making. My concerns is when that an authority tries to ban something they deem as inappropriate or far more damaging to the community that it will force said damaging content to abuse the current system structure creating a far more damaging outcome and those who were meant to be protected by the system structure will be exposed to the damaging content instead of being shielded from it because said damaging content could not be classified into an appropriate classification were the impact of the content was clearly defined because the appropriate classification did not exist.

    A system for purchase of an R-18+ rated game is quite simple. All games with any R-18+ rating would not be displayed on the shelves of the department stores or videogame software outlets. The R rated games would be keep under the counter out of plan sight or keep in the stock room at the back of the store. Since the gamers purchasing the software are 18 or over they would know if the game is available for sale and they would simply ask the clerk at the counter to go and fetch the game they want.

    Actually, this is quite an old system of selling high rated games. This system has long been in use in the American department store chain WAL-MART and long ago in the 1980’s.

    Also, unlike many videogame consoles of the past, modern game videogame console have a parental locking system that requires a password to be entered in order for a particular game to work. This system is quite good, my 10 year old tried to play one my MA-15+ games without my knowledge and but the system would not run the game without my password. My child gave up in the end and was not exposed to any unwanted content.

  • MA’s arguments still seem unusual.. He claims to be against violent games being made available to kids, yet supports legislation that allows violent games to be rated M15+ instead of R18+?

    Must be politician thinking cause, I support his original argument but not his conclusions on how to enact that argument in legislation.

    What are the 3 games (of the 903 submitted for classification?)that were Refused Classification? And would those 3 games be classified as R18 if there was such a classification?

    Finally if MA thinks the Classification Board stretches the rules, does he have the power to recommend a review of their guidelines?
    If so, is he doing so?

  • Anthiny said:
    Dominic Lim said:
    “It says something about our political system when one
    man can halt the political and social progress of a
    nation… This is not democracy.”

    Yes it is, he is the elected offical. The Australian public has the right every few years to vote him out.

    Dominic Lim is right.. he just doesn’t know it..
    We do not live in a Democracy… we live in a Representative Democracy. There is a difference between the 2. Look up the definitions if you need to.

  • You just don’t get it. For the most part, we don’t want to play games that were otherwise banned. We simply just want games that are not suitable for a 15+ aged audience to be rated to be only played by the 18+ demographic.

    I don’t want my 15 year old being buying games that aren’t suitable for their age. Give the parent the ability to vet what their children are playing by removing the childrens ability to buy unsuitable games.

    Mr Atkinson, what about this do you not understand?

  • God Michael you STILL don’t get it! It’s not that we specifically want to bash, torture, slay, slaughter, rape and take drugs in a video game, it’s that if a developer has put that in the game then to gain the full experience of the game you need to do it. By censoring these aspects you take away parts of the games artistic worth. It’s like not showing Michelangelo’s David becasue hes naked!

  • Well I for one think that he has a valid point. Of course companies are going to continue to stretch the limits of what is acceptable media whether its in a videogame or a movie and classifications boards will have to rate it accordingly. However I believe that Michael Atkinson and his peers have a unique opportunity to actually tighten up the standards for giving an MA15+ rating by introducing an R18+ rating. If you tighten them up enough you caould have games like Fallout 3 and GTA4 moved up into the R18+ rating. I don’t believe the introduction of an R18+ rating should be allowed to make more extreme games. Push the acceptance rate up a little more to reflect the over 18 market by all means but I’d rather see some of the MA15+ games uncensored and pushed into the 18+ category and push some of the M15+ rated games up into the MA15+ rating. Having more ratings within the standards accepted by the majority of Australians would allow for better flexibility in the rating of games which would, in turn lead to better informed consumers, it would not lead to degrading morality or declining standards in the games themselves.

    There is some intelligent debate in arguing for greater flexibility in rating videogames, but post on the Internet on a site like this and you’ll always get trolls who add nothing to the debate. The more airtime you give them the worse they become, so try and stay on message and ignore the idiots

  • The *rape* game that Mr. Atkinson keeps referring to would be a definate RC, as it should be. We just want a fairer, more responsible system. These games are already here, now wesmply need them to be rated correctly and kept away from the peope they are not intended for, and most retailers are well aware of their responsibilities when it comes to the sale of this material

  • Bradly does have a strong point. It’s bad enough we have to pay inflated prices for games. So why should we Australian’s pay inflated prices for reduced or modified content?

    It should also be pointed out that an R 18+ rating will not add more explicit games into our market. The truth is we already have the games, they just have the wrong classification.

    In effect, R18+ will simply make it clear that 12 year olds and under should not be playing the likes of Grand Theft Auto 4, BioShock or (dare I say it) Manhunt.

    I feel that the introduction of an R18+ will keep such content off the shelf. It will mean that anyone who busy such a game is required *by law* to be 18+ and show appropriate identification.

  • Michael Atkinson: “There are some gamers who know exactly what is in these games and that is why they want to play them. I think that is a small number. I get their letters and emails and they worry me.”

    I was thinking of writing to you with some sensible points that you continue to avoid responding to. But now that you’ve suggested anyone who does writes to you, is a person who needs want the gratuitous RC-classified gore these R18+ games will provide and are “worrying” members of the public… I’d prefer not to be added to some ASIO watch-list. [It DOES sounds like a threat in your letter]

    Also, out of the 55 MA15+ games released last year, I’d say 10-15 should be rated R18+.

    I’ve played them and wouldn’t let a minor under 15 anywhere near where one was being played. I’ve got a work collegue who I warn of games he shouldn’t let his kids near. He asked me a year ago “why there isn’t an R18+ restriction on these things?”

    I gave him your name.

    Sincerely (and painfully),

    Darryn Verey

  • Out of all the comments posted here, one thing that I find consistently disappointing is that no one has yet consistently defended the right of adult individuals to access any material (assuming it was not made via coercion, force or variants thereof, such as snuff, real rape and child pornography) that they wish.

    Instead, many gamers have stated that they desire an R18+ rating on the grounds that it will “keep violent games out of the hands of children.” Whilst I will not question the sincerity of this, I consider this an apologetic, weak stance that compromises on the core principle involved: individual rights.

    I am not defending Michael Atkinson. I consider his replies condescending, patronising, offensive and bordering on defamatory. He likens us to outlaw motorcycle gangs, accuses us of having psychopathologies because we want to see violence, take virtual drugs, etc.

    And it seems to me that, in order to avoid being tarred with the brush of “wants to see horrid violence,” we refuse to stand up for the central issues, instead taking a relatively weak stance that bases our case on Atkinson’s premises. Atkinson opposes R18+ games on the grounds of “protecting the children” (saying that OFLC inconsistency will make the matter worse) and the replies above have often argued FOR R18+ ratings on the grounds of “protecting the children.”

    Both sides thus concede Atkinson’s core premise: that the liberties of adults can be sacrificed ‘for the children.’

    I disagree with this premise. My position is that we should allow R18+ games because adults have the right to access whatever material they wish to (unless this material itself was created via the violation of the rights of others (i.e. snuff, child porn, real rape)).

    Yes Mr. Atkinson, I wish to view games with extreme content. Whilst extreme content in and of itself does not make a game good, extreme content has many artistic uses. For one, Sandro Botticelli did a series of paintings on the subject of the Rennaisance-era Catholic concept of “Hell.” These paintings depicted horrible tortures and extreme violence. You can see similar depictions in Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” (which was rated MA15+ rather than R18+, although its graphic violence far exceeds that of some R18+ horror films, such as the original version of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre).

    Some people slam the Jerry Springer Show for its unpleasant content, yet Sophocles dealt with the subject of incest in his play “Oedipus Rex.” I am not arguing that Jerry Springer is Sophocles, or that Tobe Hooper is as much of an artist as Sandro Botticelli: I am simply arguing that the presence of extreme content DOES NOT automatically make something an artless piece of trash.

    So, extreme content in and of itself does NOT deserve the vilification Mr Atkinson piles upon it. Thus, we gamers should NOT be ashamed of admitting that we wish to consume entertainment products which have extreme content.

    So yes Mr. Atkinson, I wish to consume products that contain things you find objectionable. You do the same. You are personally a Christian and I consider many of the ideas promoted by your religion objectionable. You are a member of the Australian Labor Party and thus you probably believe in economic ideas I consider objectionable. However, a civilized society with the civil debate you so espouse must retain the right of people to DISAGREE with eachother, which is why the State must not be used as a weapon of one side against other sides.

    The First Ammendment to the US Constitution prevents the establishment of an official state church for precisely this reason: as soon as one side on any theological dispute gains control of the apparatus of the state, it is only a matter of time before all the heretics are purged.

    So yes Mr Atkinson, I am proud to admit I want to consume objectionable content. This does not mean I in fact want to, in real life, rape and kill and inject myself with morphine. Any reasonable human being, even many young ones, can tell the difference between fantasy and reality. And additionally, you cannot say anyone with a fantasy of doing X would in fact do X. Quite a few human beings would like to kill specific other humans, but that does not mean they will in fact do so.

    Following on from the above, a convincing argument can be made that being able to live out these repressed desires in a virtual world provides a ‘catharsis’ that stops people from having to do these things in real life. For example, you constantly bring up a Japanese game that allows you to rape people. If your “seeing X in a video game will make people do X in real life” theory were true, then Japan should have the highest rates of sex-crime in the world.

    In fact, Japan has the lowest rate of sex-crime in ALL of the OECD countries! Japan also has graphic novels with a lot of pornography avaliable on mainstream newsstands. This pornography can include bestiality, pedophilia, sadomasochism, rape, homosexuality and bisexuality, it explores every avenue of perversity really, and yet Japan has the lowest rate of sex-crimes in the OECD!

    The theory of replication (seeing X makes people do X) that you propose thus does not fit with empirical reality. It seems that the “repression theory” (strong social taboos against ANY expression (even fictional ones) of X make people desire X) fits reality more strongly. For instance, observe the American city of Las Vegas, which more or less exists entirely for people to indulge in their vices for a week before going back to virtue-land and living their normal lives. Europe, for instance, has much more porn and a much more socially liberal attitude towards sexuality, and like Japan it also has a lower rate of sex-crime than the United States (which on average has less liberal attitudes towards sexuality).

    Thus, Mr. Atkinson, the evidence seems to indicate that the more people pathologize, repress and deny currently-unpopular natural desires and persecute NON-COERCIVE means of expressing them (i.e. the natural desire of many to inflict violence against their enemies, and the non-coercive means of ‘quenching this thirst’ by playing violent video games), the more people will find some way to quench these thirsts. And if all safe, noncoercive alternatives are removed from society, all that is left is the coercive ones.

    The same situation exists with illegal drugs. By waging war on drugs, you create the ultimate forbidden fruit. Many people that do drugs don’t even do it for the drug, rather they do it for the joy of rebellion against prudes and wowsers. Same with youth binge-drinking (which the tax on alcopops won’t help, since now they will just get an older friend to buy vodka and they will mix it with coke (resulting in a stronger drink overall!!!)).

    In conclusion Mr Atkinson, your theory of “saving the children” is based on a false “replication” model of human behavior. And even though yes, you aren’t even protecting the children (as pointed out by my fellow gamers) by opposing R18+ ratings, my concern is with the adult liberty you seem happy to sacrifice on the altar of “for the children.” Yes, I am proud to admit I wish to exercise my liberty to consume material you find objectionable. You consume material I find deeply objectionable (your religion) and I am more than happy to let you control what you consume. All I am asking is for you to acknowlege I have the same right.

  • Well I cannot understand why anyone would want to be a politician but I’m not going to try and stop people from doing so. I also can’t understand why anyone would want to watch someone peeing on another but I’m not going to try and ban porn. Seems a little unfair – people can get their fix of twisted (real life) porn but if i want to ‘slay’ someone in a (virtual) videogame I can’t because Michael Atkinson can’t understand why anyone would want to. Sorry Michael but you can’t deny people what they consider to be works of art and not expect to cop some threats and nasty comments – suck it up, your coming off as petty.

  • StudiodeKadent:-
    I completly agree. I do not have kids, nor will I anytime soon, and to be told that I am not allowed to view/experience something in it’s entirety is A) Censorship and B) A chokehold on my choices. I have parents. I don’t need you telling me what I can watch/play/experience. Thats my choice and I should be entitled to it.

  • He will never change, so why bother trying to write maturely to him if all he is ever going to do is resort to name calling.

    No ammount of concrete information is ever going to change his stance, not even the book Grand Theft Childhood.

    So in return, I am just going to display a few videos I posted up on youtube as my own real attempt to talk about the R18+ rating in videogames in Australia

    In these videos, I never ever talked about Mr Atkinson, I only just mentioned that only one Attorney General is openly opposed to it, and I left it at that,

    Please watch these videos and leave your comments, that will be the only thing that we can ever do until this man is voted out of office.

  • I agree with the man.

    As far as most of you are concerned, I don’t believe you can really see his points. And that is a pity.

    Why do so many of you find his tone disagreeable? He is being raged at by hundreds of gamers, and myself being one of them found his tone respectful.

    How true he is when he states he is wary of you all. How wary he should be, as far as I am concerned.

  • “It confuses my (sic) why so many gamers are arguing that they should have the right to play games that enable them on-screen to bash, torture, slay, slaughter, rape and take drugs.”

    No, that’s what 15 year olds can do NOW, because you are blocking an R18 rating. If Australia had an R18 rating, Grand Theft Auto IV would’ve been restricted to adults, and not just given minor edits (that don’t prevent the things you describe) and released as MA15+. Atkinson’s insistence on treating adults as if they were fifteen year olds has an unavoidable corollary you’d think would disturb even him – it results in fifteen year olds being treated as adults.

    The issue boils down to this: should fifteen year olds have access to all the media consumed by adults? Is there no difference between the maturity of an adult and a fifteen year old? If the answer to either of these questions is no, if you think there IS a major difference between yourself and a fifteen year old, then Australia needs an R18 category for videogames and promptly. Please, Mr Atkinson, stop stalling.

    For the sake of the impressionable children.

  • Cypher,
    Thankyou for your helpful comments! It’s good to see someone else standing up for the individual rights issue involved here!

    No offense, but the issue most emphatically does NOT boil down to “should 15 year olds be able to access material intended for 18 year olds.” You are conceding Atkinson’s core premise: that the rights of adults may be sacrificed “for the children.” The minute you concede this point, Atkinson wins, because the population of Australia does not understand the technical problems with the current system, and thinks that having no R-rating means we will have less R-rated content in Australia, which of course (to their mind) is good “for the children”.

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