Atkinson Reveals His Demands For R18+ Discussion Paper

Atkinson Reveals His Demands For R18+ Discussion Paper
michael atkinson mugshot.jpg

South Australian Attorney-General Michael Atkinson has revealed why the discussion paper on an R18+ rating has yet to be made available for public consultation, a year after it was first proposed. Atkinson says the sticking point is his demand for the inclusion of illustrations of the type of content an R18+ game would contain.


  • The is just ridiculous, the guy is a sadist who seems to enjoy getting his kicks from making the gaming community wait for something that should have gone through many months ago.

  • If this is the case, then lets get on with it. I have no objection to showing R18+ illustrations in the paper. All they will show are screen grabs from current MA15+ games that should have been classified R18+ in the first place, such as GTA4, which in turn further promotes the need for an R18+ rating.

  • Mr. Atkinson has a point. Examples depicting what an R18+ video game would show is valid. However, David’s right. Images wouldn’t be sufficient.

    R18+ titles could be deemed so because of the themes introduced in the game, not just blood and gore on a wall or body.

    But shouldn’t the examples and information come from the Classification Board? I know there is no R18+ classification yet, but still. wouldn’t THEY be the best ones to offer it?

  • He wants pictures of what R18+ games would look like? Why doesn’t he just go down to local game store and pick up any number of games that are ALREADY rated R18+ in other countries, yet make their way for sale over here without a single change, to an MA15+ audience. Like, I dunno, The Witcher, F.E.A.R. 2, Kane and Lynch, etc, etc, etc…

  • Examples of what the new rating would mean could be useful. But we all know that examples provided by Atkinson would be hugely inaccurate, sensationalist and misleading as we saw in his previous letter to The Advertiser (

    If he actually used real life examples of things that have been removed from games to achieve an MA15+ rating that would not need to be removed if an R18+ rating existed then i’m all for it, but of course he wouldn’t do that, he would create some hypothetical child-raping game which would be banned under any classification system and claim that the new rating would lead to games like this hitting the streets.

    Oh and of course there’d definitely be no mention of games that are currently rated MA15+ (like Godfather or the edited version of GTA4) finding a more suitable rating in the R18+ classification.

    It’s all about adding his own spin to the discussion paper that is along the lines of ‘creating a new classification will see adult-orientated ultra violent, sexually expilict games flooding the marketplace which will corrupt our kids’ when the truth is the games he is so afraid of would be banned under any classification system.

  • “The same people who want to exclude it from the discussion paper want Australians to have games rated above MA15+ in their homes.”


    You are dictating what people can and can not have in their homes as entertainment based on your personal belief of what videogames represent.

  • …..what?

    Is there a similar checklist used for movies and TV programs ratings?

    If so, use that.

    If not, stop fucking stalling.

  • It appears that R18+ is being pigeon-holed as “ultra violent” or “extreme sexual” content. Obviously a picture of those exact moments in a game are going to be taken way way out of context. Hell, you could take a screenshot of an M rated game and make it appear super ‘whatever’. But, how about games that would receive an R18+ rating for some other reason. Like some extreme adult situation that does not involve strong imagery. Take a screenshot of two people having an R18+ rated conversation I say.

    Let the government not forget the point of an R18+ rating. Not to round up all the violence and sex, but rather properly categorise content that is suitable only for 18+. I.E. something a 15 year old would have trouble understanding or putting into context. I, of course, base this on the current R18+ rating we have for movies/cinema, which is simply for “High level content.”

    It is quite clear what Mr. Atkinson’s intensions are here. Firstly to deflect responsibility, and secondly shock the public. “zomg! my children will be playing all these games if there is an R18+ rating!”. Perhaps he fears he is losing ground on the subject. Indeed, it’s quite obvious he has dug in too deep to be reasonable and admit we do need an R18+ rating. That would make him look weak. Hooray for politicians. :/

  • I’m all for it. let’s start with screenshots of GTA:IV and Bioshock, two games i know of off the top of my head that got 18+ ratings overseas and MA15+ here. hell, my bioshock disk is the very same one that got released in the UK. the box says MA15+ but the disc says 18+.

    Include all the photos you like in the paper, to really make the point that these games are coming out in Australia already, r18+ rating or not. all Atkinson is doing it making it easier for 15 year old to buy r18+ games.

  • I think it is a fair enough point, and I don’t see it as a big deal. The supposed justification for the banning of R rated games and not movies is that the interactive nature of them makes their content “worse”. I can’t think of any single image from a (banned) videogame that would be worse than what you can find in a (non banned) R rated movie (e.g. Hostel).

  • Dear Michael Atkinson,

    I come from a not so distant time when video game ratings meant what they said. People respected them, and when “Goldeneye 007 64” was given an MA15+ rating, in those days when that game was released I was not allowed to play such a game, and I understood why. When I was older, I was allowed to play the game, and because I waited, I appreciated it more. There was something to be said for Goldeneye 007 64, and, having read the James Bond novels in part, Goldeneye 007 64 could have been a whole lot worse in corrupting the youth.

    My point, Mr. Atkinson, is that times change, people get older. For gamers it’s not like Benjamin Button where we age in reverse, though some of us wish we did, it’s not going to work that way. And as gamers get older, they need a proper classification of video game interactive entertainment in case some of that content is not appropriate for fifteen year olds who are able to play more violent games which are not appropriate for them. Have you ever seen the documentary “Not Quite Hollywood”? Some interesting points about the R18+ certificate are made in that documentary which now echo our times with video games.

    I personally do not like many first person shooter games because of my ethics derived from that great visionary Osamu Tezuka, which are balanced by my Blakean respect for the human being. This does not mean I will deny others access to them. In the same way, I think it is absurd that despite public opinion you will not approve the R Certificate for video games in Australia, and as a newly minted 19 year old I feel it even more every day. How many more years will I have to live before video games are treated in a similar manner to film in classification terms? I think the personal attacks and death threats to you are awful, and you do not deserve it, but please… the time has come when an R Certificate for games needs to be brought about. Sometimes I do not approve of my brother running down civilians in Grand Theft Auto IV, but I will defend his right to do it to the death, because that’s a man who would never do that in real life.

    Jacob Martin

  • “Personally I have some trouble with the idea of a picture or illustration being able to represent content from an interactive video game. It would be quite simple to take a still image from a game out of context and potentially mislead an uninformed audience over the full game’s content.”

    Couldn’t have said it better myself, Wildgoose.

  • As I wrote in the other thread, I’m betting that the reason the other AG’s are uncomfortable with the changes Atkinson claims here he wants is that he is trying to dishonestly make out that X rated content is really R-Rated content.

    Given that he dismisses the games refused classification or otherwise affected at 1-3 per year (an estimate I believe is accurate enough, industry people who deal with our ratings system may have a better idea though) it would be worth examining those games to see if they would even pass at R18+ level.

    Atkinson’s ratings-horror show pony is “virtual mother-rape” games that he leads his list in his previous response to the Advertiser. If he needs to have clear guidelines for the ratings board that games presenting violent sex in an interactive fashion are not covered in R18+ but actually X, then this is wholly acceptable to me and I can stop feeling embarrassed every time a game is troubled for a soft-porn cut-scene or for containing violence or drug use that is identical to that depicted in other, MA15+ games.

  • So put images in the discussion paper. Even taken out of context, the worst imagery in video gaming is not worse than that of your average 18+ movie. Give him what he claims is all he wants to be amended in this paper, and let people decide. Whatever it takes to get it to the public for democratic process.
    My thought is that, desipite the inclusion of the images that Atkinson wants, the creation of an R18+ rating will be even more reasonable.

  • A lot of people commenting seem to believe that he wants pictures and screen shots of R18+ games.

    When I read it I thought that ‘Illustrations’ and ‘Readers should be able to see what we are arguing for or against.’ meant providing descriptions and relevant ideas on what would be included in an R18+ rating.

    This is a resonable request, although coming from him (based on everything I have read about and from him) its more likely a delay and stall tactic.

  • I can just see a great example: as an MA15 Game we have Fallout 3 with Med X on the pip boy, in the R18 picture we have the same screen shot with Morphine instead, Oh the horror.

  • Why do we bother trying too reason with this guy, he doesnt care what we think, nor can he see reason…lets just give up…

  • Asking for illustration proves how unqualified this guy is for the job.

    If he wants an illustration, rent an R18 movie and grab a screen from it.

  • Something tells me these illustrations (chosen by him) will be intended to shock people into a knee jerk reation against R rated games, not to “provide an insight into what these games are like”.

  • Mr Atkinson, in a previous you stated “The change most important to me in this paper was to include illustrations of what games above MA15+ were like. This debate shouldn’t be a clinical written analysis of arguments only.”

    If this is something you wish to base your argument on, are you willing to admit that images from MA15+ games should also be included? Because personally from a still image, I don’t think you could spot the difference. Too many games are coming into this country being shoe-horned into the MA15+ rating when they should rightly be rated as R18+

    If you cannot understand this major point in the R18+ discussion, you truly are not the right person to be making argument.

  • I agree with Steve
    People should be able to see how little of a difference there would be if R18+ games were introduced.

  • “Playing dumb” is a rather clever tactic. Mr Atkinson more than likely does acknowledges our real argument – An R18+ rating to sift inappropriate content out of the MA15+ category and place it into the R18+ category (out of reach of 15 year olds and below), whilst still excluding content from the system that should rightly be banned. We’re not after an R18+ category just so we can access more violent material (hello, it’s all there in the MA15+ category already). I believe he understands this completely, but under the influence of his own stubborn beliefs he uses the tactic of ignorance in order to misinform to the unknowing percentage of the population. Let’s face it, if you convince enough people who have absolutely no idea what’s going on in the first place, you’re going to gain the advantage. People will believe what sounds more “ethical” and won’t bother to do research, so Atkinson aims to make this as simple for them as possible – by making us look bad using commonly-used stereotypes and misconceptions reported by the media (read: Gamers murdering due to playing violent video games, etc). If we want to show the non-gaming community what we’re actually about, we’re going to have to make a bigger effort (in the most straightforward way possible) to appeal to the families out there that don’t want “murderous children”.

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