Censorship Minister Responds To Your Comments

Censorship Minister Responds To Your Comments

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Full credit to Michael Atkinson. He not only reads Kotaku and writes to us, but he also reads all your comments as well. As we just revealed, the South Australian Attorney-General and spokesperson for the anti-R18+ brigade has written a second letter to Kotaku. In it, he addresses a host of comments left by Kotaku readers the last time he wrote to us. You’ll find his lengthy response – in full – beyond the jump.

Editor’s Note: Prior to receiving this letter we had deleted a number of reader comments we felt went too far. The comments the minister makes reference to below may no longer be published on the site. And if you wish to respond to Mr Atkinson’s remarks, please do keep it civil.

I shall try to deal with Thursday’s posts in the order they appeared on the site.

EzyLee opened the batting for those advocating an R18+ classification for games by deriding my appearance. JW says I am “a dirty smiling twit.” Juggernautz says “You are an ignorant coward.” Ben says I am “a bully protected by the law.” Allure Media and Kotaku moderator David Wildgoose think this is an appropriate tone for the debate and so it continues. At 8.09 p.m. Shawn says “What is it with all these threats to his life. Does he really think ppl (people) give a damn about him.” Dateman at 8.59 p.m. says: “So when are they going to patch GTA (Grand Theft Auto) so Atkinson is a pedestrian? (i.e. run him down with a vehicle and kill him)”. Are none of the advocates of an R18+ classification for games – including the two Attorneys-General – worried about death threats and the kind of anonymous cyber-rage in which their comrades are engaging? If you are, why don’t you say so? Why is the site’s moderator letting this kind of thing through?

EzyLee then claimed I was up at 2.30 a.m. to hear the threatening message being slipped under my door because I was awake and “beating up hookers.” If you wish to back your claim about me EzyLee, please supply me with a real name and address for service so we can test the veracity of your untruthful, malicious and defamatory imputation in the best method known to our society. If some thoughtful R18+ advocates worry that Members of Parliament don’t take them seriously, or won’t engage them on their preferred territory, yesterday’s and today’s anonymous cyber-rage against me will confirm their worry.

Mr Waffle derided my suggestion that advocates of the R18+ classification test their claimed 90 p.c. plus approval among the public by a vote of 24,000 people living in the inner-north-western suburbs of Adelaide (Croydon State District). He asserted that my challenge was “Meet me behind the shed at 5 schoolboy brawling.” No, Mr Waffle, I am the Attorney-General because I am an elected Member of Parliament and have the confidence of a majority of the Members of the Lower House of the South Australian Parliament. My opposition to R18+ games is seven years old and widely known. Duskbringer claimed “His electorate, who I am sure tip the scales toward the greyer end of the community” was also wrong. My electorate is inner-city, full of apartments and townhouses being built on former industrial sites, occupied by young “wired” professionals and recently arrived refugees from Sudan, West Africa, Bosnia, Iraq, Eastern Turkistan and Afghanistan and dotted with cafes and ethnic-specific groceries. Mr Waffle and Duskbringer might have had a point if my electorate were rural, or in an outer-suburban Hillsong belt, or in a genteel, leafy retirement neighbourhood, but they didn’t do any checking and got it completely wrong. Croydon presents no barriers to their campaigning.

I am trying to explain to bloggers like Mr Waffle how the decision-making system works by laying out the logical method of removing my opposition to the R18+ classification: one way to remove me is to defeat me at the next election, as so many R18+ gamers have advocated (before retreating from that position yesterday); another is to make sure that after the next general election I do not have the support of a majority of Lower House M.Ps to continue as Attorney-General. That is how a parliamentary, rule-of-law democracy works. It does not work by means of vile abuse and death threats.

RG at 4.01 p.m. makes the same mistake as Mr Waffle: “So basically, Michael Atkinson, who holds a single electorate, has the right to hold every other electorate in the country to ransom.” (It would be a scandal, RG, if I held three or four electorates) My holding Croydon is a necessary condition of my vetoing an R18+ classification for games – it is not a sufficient condition. There are two further conditions: one is that I maintain the confidence of a majority of members of the Lower House of the South Australian Parliament and the other is that the Commonwealth, States and Territories of Australia maintain the legislation for a co-operative censorship arrangement that requires all parties to agree before the rules are changed. Not one of Australia’s Attorneys-General – not even Victorian Attorney-General Rob Hulls – has ever suggested that the latter be changed.

Clocks demands: “Just release the discussion paper, damnit!” Clocks, I am happy for the discussion paper to be released. I made the changes I wanted after the Brisbane Standing Committee of Attorneys-General last year. 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. Readers should be able to see what we are arguing for or against. Concerns were raised about my changes from other Attorney-General’s departments, including whether it was appropriate to include depictions of these ultra-violent, extreme games. I do not understand why anyone would want to exclude this material from the discussion paper. The same people who want to exclude it from the discussion paper want Australians to have games rated above MA15+ in their homes. The Australian public at large should have – via the discussion paper – descriptions of the games above MA15+. I haven’t stopped the discussion paper – I want it to show what these games are like, what is really at the centre of this debate. It is my opponents who are engaging in the cover up and trying to delay the discussion’s paper’s going out.

White Pointer makes the same mistake as Clocks when writing: “The fact you haven’t allowed that draft discussion paper through yet…”

Gladice says I should stop “whinging about the amount of threats made against you.” That’s number of threats, Gladice, not amount of threats. If you think you could face such threats with equanimity, Gladice, perhaps you are not married with four children and only a screen door and Gus the dog between you and the people making the threats at 2.30 a.m..

Nick “Enigma” Gibson complains that I haven’t been in touch with him about his seven-minute You Tube rant against me. The answer to that Nick – if that is your name – is that you didn’t provide me with any contact details. I am not a clairvoyant. You Tube stardom has tipped you into solipsism.

For those who complain that I have not responded to their abuse emailed to me (e.g. unfunk at 2.58 p.m.), my practice is to ask email correspondents for a real name and a street address. Most of the emails I get about this topic are crank or hoax emails in the sense that they are not from people willing to reveal a real name or a street address. When I write a reply, I want to write it to a real person at a real address, not a phantom.

Nick – if that is your name – demands to know why I am deciding the question of an R18+ classification for games and not him. That is because I ran for parliament, got elected, worked to be re-elected many times and gained the confidence of a majority of the Members of the Lower House of the South Australian Parliament. The party of which I am a member won a record majority at the last general election. As Attorney-General for the four years leading up to that election, I had been openly opposing an R18+ classification for computer games and giving my reasons. My Party and I recorded our biggest vote ever in March 2006 and were elected to govern for four more years (and I don’t for a moment claim that that was because of my position on the R18+ classification). Hours of television and radio news time, hours of radio talkback and acres of newsprint have been devoted to the topic by media outlets across the country. And I re-iterate, I am not the only Attorney-General opposed to an R18+ classification for games – I’m the one who is happy to be the lightning rod for R18+ gamers. The likelihood is that any successor of mine as Attorney-General for South Australia would also oppose an R18+ classification, whether that person be Labor or Liberal. So, Angus, vote Liberal all you like. As I understand it, the only Liberal Attorney-General among the Censorship Ministers has not stated a position yet and two Labor Attorneys-General are in favour of an R18+ classification. It would be a paradox if Angus’s vote tipped Victorian Attorney-General and R18+ supporter Rob Hulls out of office.

Juggernautz says: “We want you to do your goddamned job and be the people’s voice.” I am doing my job, Juggernautz, and I am the people’s voice on this and some other things. The Bond University poll that purported to show that 88 p.c. of Australians favoured an R18+ classification for games was funded by the Interactive Games Association. The vast majority of Australians have never turned their mind to the question of an R18+ classification for games and many have no understanding or interest in the classification system. Juggernautz, you think that 90 p.c. of Australians support your position on R18+ games because most of the people you mix with are gamers. You should get out more.

boc says my making myself available to debate the classification issue on Kotaku is “assinine (sic) and cowardly.” I presume, boc, you want me banned from the Kotaku site or for me not to debate the question at all. So, the boc position is: “Atkinson is only allowed to debate the question if he agrees with us. If he disagrees with us, he’s asinine and cowardly.” Perhaps you’ve heard of the Soviet Union, boc.

boc, being on a roll, asks: “I would like to know exactly what his electorate has to do with his position as Attorney-General.” Where to start, boc? Australia inherits from Britain the notion that every neighbourhood should be entitled to send a representative to make the laws in Parliament. Governments and law-making are based on majorities in Parliament. Ministers, such as the Attorney-General, can be Ministers only while they are themselves elected Members of Parliament (in my case, M.P. for Croydon) and while they retain the confidence of a majority of the Members of the Lower House of Parliament (which I do and have done for the past seven years). If you want to make the laws, boc, get elected to Parliament and if you want to be Attorney-General, then win the confidence of a majority of members of the parliament of which you are a member. If, as you claim, 90 p.c. of Australians support your position on games and therefore oppose mine, you should – according to your own reasoning – be a shoo-in to win the State District of Croydon at the next election. Some of the more intelligent bloggers on Kotaku understand the task ahead of supporters of an R18+ classification but they cannot bring themselves to admit that they do not have enough support from the Australian public to prevail in elections.

In the real world – as distinct from blogsites for gamers – people disagree about questions of censorship and they resolve this through the process of parliamentary democracy. That is why some Attorneys-General support you and some support me.

boc, and most bloggers on this site, seem to be contemptuous of parliamentary democracy and the rule of law because they are not getting their way. They want instant gratification – or civility, the rule of law, responsible government and parliamentary democracy should be tossed down the lavatory. By contrast, I will cheerfully accept an R18+ classification on the day that, under the agreed lawful process, Censorship Ministers endorse an R18+ classification for games. That is the difference between me and the bloggers on this site. I acknowledge that it may happen after I am gone. Memento, Homo, quia pulvis es, et mi pulvirentam reverteris.

Another difference between me and a few of the bloggers on this site is that the latter think it is o.k. to threaten to kill a person if he disagrees with you about a political issue such as R18+ games. Ben, who first posted at 1.30 p.m., is one of these. At 2.11 p.m. he writes: “It really isn’t surprising that your (sic) getting death threats from people. Did you ever stop to think, hmmnn maybe I’m wrong on this one.” Dale backs Ben at 2.29 p.m.

RG evokes a pleasant memory when he mentions the peasant woman in Monty Python & the Holy Grail. Arthur tells her he’s the King and she replies “Well, I didn’t vote for you.” To which Arthur replies that one doesn’t vote for Kings and goes on to make a claim for sovereignty based on grasping Excalibur from the Lady of the Lake accompanied by orchestra. If RG is an Australian citizen aged 18 or over and enrolled to vote, he gets to vote for his State Parliament and the Federal Parliament and therefore has a say in the identity and policies of two of the Attorneys-General who are Censorship Ministers. That he doesn’t vote in the State District of Croydon is neither here nor there. Does RG want to be granted the vote in all eight States and Territories?

Rory Betteridge fulminates about Jack Thompson (of whom I had never heard until yesterday) and says, addressing me, “Like you, he’s a staunch Catholic.” This would come as a surprise to my mother and father, wife and four children, as it is a surprise to me. As the accused used to say before the House of Representatives Un-American Activities Committee mutatis mutandis “I am not now, and never have been, a Catholic.” Why does Rory think one’s religion needs to be appended to one’s arguments in the public square, like a yellow of Star of David on Jews during the Third Reich , and on what sub-stratum of fact did he assert that I am a Catholic? Do I look like one? Rory could now apologise on the Kotaku blog for his mistake and explain how he came to make the mistake and why he felt compelled to throw a blanket over Jack Thompson and me, but being an R18+ gamer means never having to say you’re sorry.

I’ve devoted many hours this week to trying to explain my position to R18+ gamers. I’ve read every post. I’ve tried to respond to every criticism. Maybe a few bloggers understand but, on the whole, Kotaku seems to be a morass of hatred and abuse comparable to Julius Streicher’s Der Sturmer. Parliamentary democracy cannot work without a civilised discourse. The moderator of this site will not keep the discourse civil. Most Members of Parliament who might read the past two days of dialogue would conclude that a civilised dialogue with R18+ gamers is impossible and therefore not worth trying. That is a pity. Perhaps we can try again sometime.

Comments

  • Christ does anyone else get the feeling that he’s being a smart arse just cause he can be? Michael, this is the Internet, and that letter is going to make you even more of a douche on here. Just give us our R18+ rating and this will aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaall go away.

  • Well you know what we think, you’ve sifted through the good and bad comments made online. But what do you think Michael Atkinson? Do you think that games are being rated without consistency? Do you think that games ratings are being enforced properly?

    I have seen very little in the way of keeping parents informed, encouraging them to show an interest in what their kids are playing. If you don’t support people having access to R18+ interactive media, what is your position on consistency of the rating system that is in place?

    You have my real name, I am a Brisbane resident, hopefully I will not also have to provide my street address for you to understand my viewpoint.

  • He’s becoming a candidate for the new Jack Thompson and similarly, Atkinson just needs enough rope before he gets his comeuppance.

    Governments change and Mr. Atkinson’s attitude betrays the fact that he is afraid of losing his stranglehold over Australian censorship issues. I personally find it objectionable that a man I never had a say in voting for has such power, but there it is.

    We can, and will wait you out Mr Atkinson. It’s just a matter of time.

  • He still fails to answer the question about whether he understands that R18+ games (as rated in all other countries) get rated as 15+ games in Australia because of the lack of an 18+ catagory. These games will 95% of the time get through as 15+ as they bring huge amounts of dollars to those involved in the industry. Everytime Mr Atkinson has avoided answering the question of why if he thinks games are too violent, that it is ok to let kids play them. I would never buy an 18+ game for my kids, but I would consider buying 15+ if I were naive enough not to research the game first, as most parents fail to do. Why has he not answered this question, why is he letting kids play gta4? That game should never be sold to kids of 15 years old, but the big buisiness dollars get in the way of what is right sometimes I suppose.
    Mr Artkinson, you are failing parents by letting these 18+ games into our system under the 15+ guise. Why will you not address this main argument in my eyes?
    (I’d prefer a R21+ catagory for these games to be honest, they should be allowed in a free society, but should be properly classified to protect people) No matter what, these big multi million selling games will always get past the classification board, but please allow them the right to classify them as they should sensibly be, stop putting them in the hands of 15 year olds, please.

  • As i said in another article’s comments, including examples of games that would get through under the r18+ rating in the discussion paper would be ok, just not if you are providing the examples or giving input on them.

    As depicted in your letter to The Advertiser (http://www.kotaku.com.au/games/2009/03/atkinson_addresses_r18_rating_kotaku_reader_responds.html) your examples are far from the truth or relevant.

    As others have descibed some of the examples you give of adult related content in games (running down pedestrians in a car) have already been given approval under an MA15+ rating, while other examples (such as a game involving rape) would be refused classification under any rating system we have.

    Yes please include examples in the discussion paper, but have someone truthful and objective writing these examples. Give us an example of adult content that is currently rated MA15+ that would now be rated R18+ (eg. running down pedestrians in a car), and also content that is currently removed from R18+ games to fit into the MA15+ category (eg. the addition of prostitues in GTA) and also please be clear about the games that would be still be refused classification under any rating system (eg. the rape game).

    To provide misleading and sensationalist examples in the discussion paper is not just misleading but borderline criminal and is at the least propaganda on your part. Yes give us examples, but have accurate, truthful, objective examples we can all agree on (or at least the classification board will agree on).

  • Michael Atkinson…. Whats the diff from allowing an R18 movie or an R18 game. The same rules apply. Yet i can see R18 movies walking off shelfs and being watched by 100s and 1000s of people. When rules like this prevent games from being allowed to enter AU it dosnt hurt the gaming company… It hurts australia. It kills our sales. It kills the gamers. Although some changes may be minor but it moves sales over-seas as imports and online buys.

    Im not gonig to make threats or over the top comments… Cuz i would preffer this to change.

    Think back to the GTA days when it first came out. Passed the board with a M15 ratting with no issues… Hot Coffee came along and everyone went into panic mode. The “R18” side of the game was not even accessable from the shelf. If someone wanted the R18 side of it… they would have to ask for it…. Why should this be any diffrent. If i want to buy a game that is set in some realistic world and uses drugs to get ya self going (Bioshock and most games in that matter) its my choice… not yours.

  • If you’re reading this Michael, could you post your e-mail or direct me to a webpage or e-mail form? I’d like to talk to you.

  • So Atkinson advocates moderator censorship as a means of “keep(ing) the discourse civil” on Kotaku. When will you realize that the internet doesn’t work like a magazine, newspaper, or other form of media? On the internet, people apply their own censorship, for example – ignoring the comments from idiots. If (like on many other blogs and forums) there was some means of rating each comment, it would be even easier to self-censor, because the rating would inform us of the content. Comments rated as inflammatory or assinine could be purged from the listings, providing a more pleasant reading experience for all. In a perfect world, perhaps the site would allow users to select the range of ratings that they wished to read, and hide the remainder.

    I assume you can observe the intentional similarities between your request for censorship of Kotaku, and our request for an R18+ rating for games. All we want is for the rating scale to better reflect the content of each game, rather than allowing undesirable content to fall into MA15+. That such a scale would also allow additional, currently RC, material to become accessible to responsible adults is an extra bonus to many people, but is not the totality of the issue.

  • One of the few problems with democracy is that politicians are not voted in for single ideas, they are voted in on certain ideas from the entire range of promises. If i went up for election and promised an R18+ rating, but a 1000% increase in tax (I know it won’t happen, just hypothetical) I won’t get voted in, simply because of the tax. If I promise to continue the ban on R18+ games, but halve all taxes (again hypothetical), I will get voted in, again only for the tax reason.

    Also, I would like to see Michael Atkinson have a regular weekly/monthly post on this site, where he answers and counters sensible questions and arguments one on one.

  • While I do agree with some of Mr Atkinsons points I feel I must make one. I am sick of the juvenile insults some bloggers make at him. It doesn’t help our cause and just adds fuel to his fire. Lets refrain from it and make him focus only on our legitimate points. As alot of his replies are on insults lets stop that and make him focus only on the real issues.

    Mr Atkinson:
    The reason people are worried about what will go on that discussion paper about MA15+ games is that there are so many ways to describe something. Take the description on a game like Fallout 3 for instance. It was refused classification for using real drug names but allowed back in after a change of names. (Ironically there is now some game coming out with morphine use that has been let through.) Now gamers tend to describe Fallout 3 as a game where the player travels through a post apocalyptic world and is forced to make moral choices as he tries to find his dad and survive in a dangerous wasteland. It could however be turned into something like this. The player travels round killing creatures and humans violently while taking drugs and being given the opportunity to commit atrocities. Both are techically correct yet paint a vastly different picture. If all the MA15+ games are described like my second description then the uninformed reader will definitely vote against r18. It is important that any descriptions are taken in context of the overall story and purpoose of the game and not broken down to bang bang kill kill drugs drugs. Perhaps (not sure if this is possible) a short playthrough could accompany a description.

    Second point. What is your take on the onconsistency of our current ratings system. And r18 rating could help overhall the system and prevent alot of the games that being lowered a ranking stay in the adult category where they belong. Most gamers who advocate R18 are not after a influx of violent stupid game like postal. These games would probably still be banned under an R18 rating. My question is why can you trust the classification board to Refuse classification to games that don’t fit in now but yet don’t trust them to do the same with an R18+ rating.

    I am interested to hear your views on my points and questions. Please ignore any threats on this board or any other as they are just venting and have not validity to them. These people don’t represent all gamers in the same way Al Qaida don’t represent all muslims. I look forwad to your responses.

    Regards,
    Simon Tanner
    Rockhampton, Queensland.

  • I’m pro R18+ ratings for game.

    But I would like to say that Michael is in his right to rebut those immature responses.

  • In my experience a politician sticks to responding reasonable arguments and communicates his opinion thus. I really don’t get why this man is continuing to respond to the few trolls that feel the necessity to express their anger and frustration through the only means they know how, with abuse and unfounded accusations.

    While I understand that all that internet abuse may be hard for Atkinson to stomach I really do feel that he is treating this issue as if he is dealing with children. While there are a few that read this site and comment (whether child by age or mental development) I really don’t understand how it could be thought of as either prudent or appropriate to address such people at the expense of real discussion.

    What I really want to see is Mr Atkinson’s response, point by point, to the issues raised and facts asserted in the original letter by Terry.

    It is my belief that Mr Atkinson’s stance comes from one of outright ignorance and obvious conservative values. I can appreciate that he may represent the majority of his electorate, but I find it hard to believe that if the non-gaming community were to be educated on the facts they would agree with him. Maybe if they were only told his lies and misunderstandings they would, perhaps therein lies the reason for no real discussion of Terry’s letter. I think Mr Atkinsons is afraid he will be revealed for a fool, and so does not enter into to reasonable discussion.

  • My worry is that this whole exchange has been sought to get the reaction it has to provide some kind of validity to Mr Atkinson’s argument. The threats and immature comments found on this site is not a true representation of gamers in general. The anonymous nature of internet allows such stupid acts to take place, but to try and take these exchanges as a valid discourse on the subject is ridiculous. Reader comments on such sites as http://www.news.com.au can be just as obscene or irrelevant. You would never see a politician parade such comments, or promote its distribution amongst his colleagues on any news site post or blog. That is what Kotaku is, a news site. The site moderators do not have a responsibility to give you a formal and productive forum to start a dialogue with anonymous internet users.

    Mr Atkinson, I commend you on your effort in replying to these comments, but it must be understood that choosing a site like Kotaku, then complaining about the anonymous abuse only contributes to serve the notion that you are out of touch with new forms of media and technology. The internet will always provide an anonymous forum for immature people, so don’t bait and provoke them to get a reaction that you can parade as justification. There are plenty of independent, free media, free speech action groups that would happily enter discussions with you. Who you choose to entertain is not a refection on their judgment, but yours.

    If you require a residential address it can be obtained through email correspondence.

  • Just some quick rebuttle:

    “boc, and most bloggers on this site, seem to be contemptuous of parliamentary democracy and the rule of law because they are not getting their way.”

    Most of the commenters on this blog feel completely disillusioned with the current democratic process of changing legislation because a man so seemingly ignorant to the realities of the world of gaming is blocking something that could help Australia move forward and begin to embrace gaming as an entertainment form appropriate for both adults and children.

  • “Juggernautz, you think that 90 p.c. of Australians support your position on R18+ games because most of the people you mix with are gamers. You should get out more.”

    Out of the entire infuriating email, this, I find very insulting.
    It is no different to me stating to him that ‘90% of the people he mixes with are close-minded, stereotyping, ignorant fools. Oh, and because of this, I think he needs to find new friends, because his current ones do not conform with my ideals’.

    Gah, I had a lot more written, but the automatic page refresh stole it from me. . Maybe if he treated gaming as a legitimate pastime, and those who enjoy it as equal human beings (since he wants to keep playing the multicultural card (keyword being CULTURE)) and not as some sort of social stigma, or horrible stereotype, he would get the same sort of respect in response.

    Or hell, just release the damn Discussion paper so the issue may be discussed in other more civil public spaces than the free-for-all that is the internet.

  • Well that was a revelation, apparently some people take shit online. And I was dismayed to see how quickly he dismissed the one study done on this topic because it didn’t agree with his pre-determined views. Now count how many times he used the word “democracy”. Give up people, my recommendation would be to write to the other attorney generals, and labor party ministers in general, and let them know the damage this member’s backwards views are causing to the party, making them look like 1950’s wowsers (not that the libs are any better).

  • Funnily enough, just like most people who like to come out looking like the ‘good guy’ he focuses on all the super negative comments.

    Not one bit of discussion or response to valid comments that made a clear, concise and accurate point about the reasons why we should have R18+ games, of which (among the terrible drivel of some utterly stupid users of Kotaku who insist on posting death threats and stupid ‘angry’ arguments) there were many.

    It is a typical avoidance strategy, focus on the points that are easy to ‘shut down’ and avoid actually discussing the main points in debate at all.

    I doubt I can be bothered to contact Mr Atkinson directly like I have in the past, in the end I don’t think having an R18+ classification is really that much of a big deal because the majority of games that I think should be rated R are being released at MA15+ anyway.

    Unfortunately this slight of hand is common place for politicians, to make it seem like he cares and is responding to the debate, when actually he didn’t cover anything at all – he just pointed out the failures in comments that others made, uneducated arguments are uneducated arguments the intelligent people that want real discussion and answers get ignored in favour of ‘owning’ the people that already failed (I can’t seem to emphasise this enough).

  • Jake also made a point that I forgot to make, but before me as well. Glad that there are other people thinking about this on the same page as me.

    Well done Jake 🙂

  • Dear Mr Atkinson,

    I will address you informally, sparing us the need for pointless eloquence. I have written this once before, and sadly lost this reply to the wonderful world of refreshing comments page, so I shall briefly summarise my points.

    I am an immigrant from the UK. I am 24. I have been exposed to Adult media (No pornography, mind) since the age of 8-10, when my cousins introduced me to the world of Freddy Krueger. I have since spent the remaining 14 – 16 years playing violent video games, and watching violent movies.

    And I am probably one of the kinder people you would ever meet.

    I will firstly apologise on behalf of my less eloquent and more prone to rash word co-gamers. They don’t speak for all of us on the issue at hand, though they do share a sentiment of strong disapproval of your voting record.

    See, I agree with you on several points.

    1) I agree that there should be tighter restrictions on access to games from Juveniles.

    2) I agree that retailers and merchants breaking these restrictions should be punished.

    I disagree that there is no need for an R18 rating. You see, I have a mind, and I use this mind to be able to determine if I find a series suitable or not for myself. As an adult, I am legally allowed to drink, procreate, get married, and a myriad of other things. I know of the existence of rape, drugs, and other nasty substances.

    I choose not to do these things, despite having seen adult media that either directly or indirectly shows these things. We have an R18 rating for TV, we have an R18 Rating for movies. Please explain the issue for having the same thing applied to another form of interactive entertainment.

    An R18 rating actually harms the economy of Australia, rather than asissting it. By effectively banning the game, you are making it so that the only way to play the game is to pirate it. With internet access, getting access to any banned game is completely Trivial.

    I see no way to adequately finish this small essay. You are aware of the issues at hand, and the arguments no doubt. Do not allow the words of my less eloquent companions dissuade you from the notion of a reply, you have what you sought, an actual argument to counter if you so choose. Or, you could simply choose to ignore it, and pick on the comments of my less eloquent companions, as you have seen fit to do so thus far.

    If you require to continue the conversation in private, my email is [email protected].

    Looking forward to your eventual reply.

    Regards,
    JD

  • Another thing Mr Atkinson dont put Kotaku Bloggers or readers in the same catagory we
    all come from very different walks of life (thats the beauty and Often Ugly that is the Interenet)
    Which is one of the main problems at the core of this debate.
    Please take other comments or letters into account if your going to reply to them such as Terrys and not just the Abusive ones.

  • “Dale backs Ben at 2.29 p.m.” – Don’t misquote me, stop your petty trolling, consider that Croydon should not hold be allowed to hold the nation ransom on any issue up to and including this one and, again, you are employed in the public’s service so do your damn job.

  • The topic which enraged me enough to write to the advertiser in the first place is Atkinson’s refusal to release the discussion paper.Here is that topic address from him above:

    “Clocks demands: “Just release the discussion paper, damnit!” Clocks, I am happy for the discussion paper to be released. I made the changes I wanted after the Brisbane Standing Committee of Attorneys-General last year. 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. Readers should be able to see what we are arguing for or against. Concerns were raised about my changes from other Attorney-General’s departments, including whether it was appropriate to include depictions of these ultra-violent, extreme games. I do not understand why anyone would want to exclude this material from the discussion paper. The same people who want to exclude it from the discussion paper want Australians to have games rated above MA15+ in their homes. The Australian public at large should have – via the discussion paper – descriptions of the games above MA15+. I haven’t stopped the discussion paper – I want it to show what these games are like, what is really at the centre of this debate. It is my opponents who are engaging in the cover up and trying to delay the discussion’s paper’s going out.”

    The reason they would be opposed is because, no doubt, that you have lied about the kind of content that is in those games, just as you lied about it in you letter to the Advertiser, by pretending that an R18+ rating is really an X rating. I fail to see what you stand to gain by your consistent misrepresentation of the issue.

    I’m sorry that you have to endure some brainless abuse from the less diplomatic end of the intertron but this is a place with it’s own culture. I’ve sat in on question times that are little better in the underlying tone – that of immaturity – and with exposure to how people communicate online you get to know better when people are literally suggesting you be run over in GTA or, as might happen in parliament, whether you are a bag containing scum. I’d prefer people didn’t use the simplistic insults but I should think a seasoned politician would be made of sterner stuff and, I would hope, have the integrity to not use people teasing you as some kind of “reinforcement” to your positions. That is an argument only as strong as the insults themselves, which is to say, like straw.

  • Mr Atkinson, please address the points presented in Terry O’Shanassy’s letter, instead of avoiding the actual issue. I am aware that many gamers have responded inappropriately, but they are not the majority.

  • “Never argue with an idiot. They bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.”

    “This is the peril of arguing with an idiot. It is very likely that you will win, but if you do win, no one cares”

    “When you’re arguing with an idiot, make sure the other person isn’t doing the same thing..”

    It’s an easy mistake to make Mr Atkinson (or perhaps you’re doing it on purpose.. the tone of your letter seems to suggest that you’re using the comments as validation), to treat every comment made on the internet as a well thought out piece made by someone eagerly awaiting a reply.

    It doesn’t take long to realise that a place where people of any age and background can anonymously type whatever they like in the same time it takes to break wind, will be full of rubbish. Responding to the rubbish is called getting “trolled”.

    For every single person creating a post, there’s hundreds who are purely reading. To them, you will only look completely unprofessional and inexperienced by getting into slinging matches over comments like which you’ve quoted.

    If however you’re purposely cherry picking comments to cast a large community of Australians in a negative light, then you’re a clever politician, and a great forum troll.

  • I disagree with almost every point he makes, but in fairness, I do respect the fact that he does respond to the things people are saying – how often does that happen?

  • I don’t recall asking you to “face threats with equanimity” Michael. I simply meant that such statements are irrelevant and don’t add anything to your argument other than make it seem as if you’re trying to gain sympathy.

    You seem to have the idea that arguments made anonymously aren’t valid or worth responding to. I don’t think that this is a productive viewpoint.

    Perhaps you’d be better off spending your time arguing a reasonable case against an R18+ rating rather than trying to discredit kotaku posters.

  • He’s doing really well at getting you all mad, just ignore him. We’ve all found ways around getting the games that we want, he will be dead or retired soon enough.

  • I find this bit hilarious

    “my practice is to ask email correspondents for a real name and a street address. Most of the emails I get about this topic are crank or hoax emails in the sense that they are not from people willing to reveal a real name or a street address. When I write a reply, I want to write it to a real person at a real address, not a phantom.”

    I sent you an email with my full name and address Michael and you never responded to me!

  • Im actually wondering why Mr Atkinson even bothered posting here.

    He did not respond to any valid and well written posts. He just picked up all the hate and used it as a ladder for his soap box.

    It sort of shows the sort of ignorance we are dealing with, this makes me think of the old adage of arguing on the internet!

    You may not expect more from the general populace of the internet but this man is supposedly an elected official.

    I feel we should expect a higher level of respect and modicum rather than the diatribe of uneducated tripe he spouts to his constituency and now unfortunatly us.

    Mr Atkinson, could i suggest you take the lead on this debate and make the sensible decision of reforming Austrailia’s rating system to include an R18 classification then most importantly educating parents in what is actually acceptable content for children to experience.

    Buying Adult themed computers games should imo be akin to purchasing cigerettes.

    TO KOTAKU ADMIN.

    Can you confirm this really is Mr Atkinson?

    I am having trouble coming to grips that the crap im reading is actually written by at elected official of the Australian goverment.

    Thanks

  • Atkinson, you CAN’T explain what you are trying to do. That is the problem. Every time you write something, it is the same thing OVER AND OVER!

    Did you ever consider that you may actually need to do some research ON YOUR OWN!

    GTA, witch you so happily use as your anti-R18+ ‘Poster boy’ is classified R18+ in the US and Europe. Did you ever consider that the reason kids are getting this sort of content is because we have a VERY fucked up rating system? How about, instead of complaining, you DO SOMETHING, because all every one is seeing you as is a bully becues you are

    1. Not listening to anyone.

    2. Not thinking.

    3. You have NO CLUE what is ACTUALLY going on.

    The rating system is not Low, it is simply a guide line. If we do not have an R18+ in the set of guide lines, then how do you expect any one to stop doing anything?

    If you REALLY want to protect kids, then here is a BETTET idea.

    Completely re-do the rating system, so it is a lot more clearer of what is in each classification.

    Why? Well, this is why:

    Fallout 3 was banned for drug references, not violence. All they did to the game was change the name from a really drug name to a made up one. Then it was let in.

    I think, Atkinson, you need to change your tactics. COMPLETELY, Instead of just trying to stop the R18+, why not offer up a different way of doing it?

    There is no point stopping something, unless you have a better idea, so come up with one, or let it in. GET OVER your ego, and stop taking thing out of context. Ho, hold on, you can’t, your a polly who twits everything anyone says to bend to your will.

    Ho, hold on, thats what you do for a living. My bad.

    Also, this is a warning to every one of you STUPID post Shiites that he quoted. It dose not help our case when you say things like ‘When is the GTA mod coming out’, or ‘You use stripes!’. This just shows him you are just like him. And idiot.

  • Mr Atkinson says, “The Bond University poll that purported to show that 88 p.c. of Australians favoured an R18+ classification for games was funded by the Interactive Games Association.”

    I, therefore, ask this one simple question in response: Mr Atkinson, can you provide any proof to support the allegation that you’ve made there?

  • @ Christopher B

    LOL – but seriously, It’s more than just about getting the games we want, it’s about ironing out the apparent lack of understanding about who the core gamers are.

    For instance My sister works in marketing for the chain store ‘Game’. Before working there she was always under the impression that her 30 year old Brother was ‘Too old’ to play silly little games.

    She knows better since working in the industry.

    I’ve told her most people I know import games.
    I said to her, well the products are better i.e. no censorship, generally 30 or 50 dollars cheaper, and sometimes released weeks or months before.
    She was shocked to here that, and that my money wasn’t going to her company..and although I’d imagine only about 10% of people who buy games import regularly..the bottom line is people are moving MONEY AWAY from local businesses, and that affects her job stability.
    With the global crisis as it is, I suspect managers of stores like ‘Game’ and others that employ thousands around Australia will go bust by COB this year, and that importers (like myself) may be the straw that broke the camels back so to speak. If you want a reason to stop my money from going overseas, then give me a reason to keep it in Australia, Mr Atkinson.

  • When I was a little kid, I had no interest in playing with an old toy firetruck until one of my other siblings started playing with it. Preventing me from being able too.

    Are any of these games that get refused classification actually worth playing? Does not seeing your character get a blowjob make GTA4 any less of a brilliant game?

  • Mr Atkinson,
    your question as to why your religion is important in this process is a prudent one. Luckily, I have an answer for you.
    (By the way, your reference to holocaust victims isn’t entirely out of context, but I feel a little melodramatic.)
    Religion is about telling people what is right and what is wrong with no room for adjustment.
    Democracy is about being able to change the rules of law as society changes.
    There is no reason that religion should not be able to exist in a democratic state, but religious reasoning can impede the progress of democratic decisions in cases such as the one we find ourselves in today.
    My point? Your religious affiliation makes you think you are righteous in this debate, and in most, I am sure. Also, your unusual placement within the Australian government allows you to hold up new legislation by yourself if you want to. This is undemocratic. My problem isn’t necessarily that you believe what you believe – I can’t change your mind – but that any one person in our nation has the power to hold up the legislative process. It is antidemocratic and it allows people such as yourself to abuse the system for your own agenda.
    If 90% of polled Australians are in favour of the introduction of an 18+ rating for games, you should not have the power to deny them.

  • Thank you for replying, Mr Atkinson.

    You replied to my comment remarking that your invitation to run against you was like calling someone out for a schoolyard brawl, by saying that the only way to effect a change is to remove you from office. My comparison is wrong; this challenge is more akin to standing atop a castle and shouting at the army of peasants below “you’ll never take me alive!”, the maiden R18+ chained in the tower behind you. Suitably dramatic comparison, I think…

    In the end the issue really doesn’t matter to me much, as it simply means turning to the internet for purchasing options. After all, millions of dollars in lost business for Australian companies isn’t worth the price to save the children from ‘rape & murder’ simulators (oh wait, those just get classified as MA15+ anyway, little Timmy won’t miss out!).

    Oh, but one more thing-

    “Parliamentary democracy cannot work without a civilised discourse”

    Funny, every Question Time I’ve watched has been anything but civilised… at least you lot don’t break out into fistfights like Taiwan I suppose!

  • ”The Bond University poll that purported to show that 88 p.c. of Australians favoured an R18+ classification for games was funded by the Interactive Games Association. The vast majority of Australians have never turned their mind to the question of an R18+ classification for games and many have no understanding or interest in the classification system. Juggernautz, you think that 90 p.c. of Australians support your position on R18+ games because most of the people you mix with are gamers. You should get out more. ”

    Oh, so now suddenly the funding of research determines the outcome of the study? Perhaps you should have a look at a lot of the research on trying (and failing) to find causation between game violence and real word violence, and have a look at the major funding constituents. Dr. Craig Anderson and Brad Bushman aren’t exactly bias-free researchers.

    Secondly, I think it’s very much in your favour that the greater public doesn’t realise the flabbergasting lack of an R18+ rating relating to games whilst movies do indeed have said rating (not to mention X ratings…) Because, Mr. Atkinson, if they DID stop to think about it or if the question was even raised fairly by the mass media then your position would be severely weakened.

    Thirdly, I stand by my statement that you are ignorant on the subject. You are unwilling to accept that the majority of people want an R18+ classification and yet you have not done the research to find out and continually try to impede the discussion. Then, when an 88% approval rate for R18+ games IS released you immediately claim it’s biased because the research was partly funded by the IEAA (not the IGA which you stated). Do you realise how much money the Australian government is losing on tax and export revenue by cutting out a portion of the world’s largest media entertainment industry? Here’s a couple of figures which can be very easily found in any web search:

    1. Australia earns $100 million in export revenue from games each year.
    2. The Australian interactive entertainment industry employs approximately 5,000 people.
    3. 14% of all game classification decisions are in the MA15+ category.
    4. In the first six months of 2007, the total market for interactive entertainment hardware and software grew by 30%.
    5. The average age of gamers is 28 years.

    I had written you quite a large email which took me a while to research and form my arguments for and got no response, so please don’t tell me you read and respond to all your emails.

    And lastly, you have no idea who my friends are nor what I do in my leisure time so please don’t be telling me to ‘get out more’. My social life is perfectly fine, thank you very much.

  • Personaly I find it amazing that he could write all that and cherry pick the responses to find a way to not respond to a single valid argument put forward.

    No R18 letting through games that should be classified that under MA restrictions. Ignored

    The majority of gamers being in there late 20’s.
    Ignored

    Mr Atkinson you’re on the internet, people can, will and always will be complete cockstains on the internet. Anyone who’s spent any significant time on the internet can tell you this. You need to learn to filter them out and actually look at the people who aren’t immature 15 year olds that basically want R 18 games so they can jerk it to virtual titties. There are valid arguments being presented and you’re ignoring them, which I’m betting has a lot to do with the amount of vitriol levelled at you.

    You can find me at 3 Janlaw St Cleveland 4163 QLD
    I’m not afraid to give you my full identity, why are you so afraid to discuss the actual issues?

  • As disappointing as it is to see his opinion of the issue (and also the fact that most likely everyone he was responding to did not speak for the majority), you have to give one to him for at least trying to respond to some of the reader questions/thoughts.

    But get the discussion paper out already!

  • TL;DR.

    Hehe.

    My name is Desi Quintans, 209 Carpenter St, St Marys NSW 2760. I’m not the kind of person who wants R-18 games because I’m after “zomg blood gore” but more because I think video games need more freedom to be able to advance as legitimate art and not remain just toys. Send me some mail or drop in, Mr Atkinson. Whatever, let’s get some dialogue going.

  • Mr Atkinson, while I appreciate you taking the time to respond, I don’t think you have addressed any of the issues that were raised. Could you please respond with answers to these questions –

    1. Do you think the current ratings system is consistent and why?
    2. Do you think that Games ratings are being enforced properly? If not, do you think they should be and how can this be done?
    3. Do you believe that not having an R18+ rating forces games with adult content into the MA15+ rating?
    4. Do you believe that not having an R18+ rating stops children getting access to adult material?
    5. You mentioned that you have no problem with the discussion paper being released to the public. Where can I see this paper?
    6. You also mentioned that you are not the only minister who disagrees with having an R18+ rating. Can you tell us what other ministers support you as it would be good to hear their thoughts as well?
    7. What is the process of parliamentary democracy for this case? You mention that some people agree with you and some do not. Can you please take me through the steps of this process as relating to this case?

    In your response you called for a civilised discourse with Gamers yet ignored all the questions and issues that were raised in a civil manner. I, and the majority of the Gaming community, are happy to hear your thoughts on the issues to see if we can work together to a satisfactory outcome for all parties. I do not want to become the Attorney General for South Australia (commuting there from North Sydney would be a nightmare!) and I have no intention of being elected into a government job. My intent is not to have you removed from office, it is to have a ratings system that is fair, consistent and one that does it’s job in advising the public of the suitability of content for the different age groups. When responding could you please concentrate on the questions above and not the processes of being elected into government in Croydon.

    I do not believe that the interactive nature of games means that gamers are more likely to be violent, drug takers or visit prostitutes. I play games regularly yet I have never assaulted anyone, I do not take drugs and I definitely haven’t visited any prostitutes! As far as I am aware, no study has been done that shows gamers are more likely to be any of those things. I may be mistaken and if so I would like to see the study that showed that gamers are more likely to do these things. If there hasn’t been one perhaps that would be a good and practical next step. I do not believe that it is right to discredit an entire study that was done by an independent group like Bond University but as you pointed out the last one was commissioned by the Interactive Games Association. Perhaps this one could be a joint study commissioned by yourself and the Interactive Games Association so no-one could be accused of bias. If you need help conducting the study, I am willing to help. My email address is [email protected], please feel free to contact me directly.

    I, and the rest of the gaming community, would greatly appreciate your response. Thanks,

    Brendan Dowd

  • Mr. Atkinson,

    Your relentless responses to internet commentary conveys that you are indeed very committed to your job and more-so as a representative on the subject — however, it also shows a naïveté of your knowledge of your audience. Most of the people that post comments on websites as such are, somewhat, venting, and are not at all worth responding to. If you would stop being such an egoist and simply did your job as a representative of the, as you so often mentioned, South Australian people, this might all have gone a lot smoother, and kept you reputation intact.

  • As a supporter of the R18+ rating for video games, what can be surmised by this letter is the following, which few have seemed to realise;

    Don’t waste your time, Mr Atkinsons’ time, and hence potential discussion time, with slanderous remarks.

    As a community it drags us all down in the eyes of others.

    And I do agree with Mr Atkinsons’ point here – to an extent, the content of posts do need to be moderated more extensively, but at the same time there’s only so many moderators and they can’t be everywhere at once.

  • There is no point trying to fight Michael Atkinson. His christian views will never ever allow him to change his views on this issue.
    He is the boss, whatever the hell he thinks goes, well so he believes anyway.
    All your doing, is promoting illegal downloading.

  • Dear Mr. Atkinson

    Whilst I applaud your direct communication with the gaming community on this issue, I must draw your attention to the fact you haven’t actually addressed any of the most common points raised when arguing in favor of an R18+ classification. In your next response to Kotaku I strongly urge you to carefully address such common points in an objective, professional manner. Thus far your letters have consisted of nothing but irrelevant ramblings. You seem to be merely ignoring intelligent arguments and cherry-picking the immature, abusive comments to discredit the gaming community.

  • I am offended by Atkinson’s words, from the way he words his argument, he suggests that all gamers stay inside all day playing games and only socialise with other gamers and having no life outside their own room. This shows that you do not take any of us seriously Mr. Atkinson, and you wonder why many people think you hate video gamers. Expect emails soon.

  • it’s great to read so many reasoned comments, rebutting the false arguments made my Atkinson.
    i for one had gotten tired of the insults and threats, and had not been reading all comments on this issue because of them.
    its a shame these had to be pointed out by him for these to stop.

    I have written three polite emails over the last 6 months to Michael Atkinson, offering first my reasons why i thought his position was flawed,
    and then requesting that the discussion paper be made public, when stories i read suggested he was the cause of the delay.

    I have not received any reply, other than to my first email where i was asked to include my address, which i then did, as for my 2nd & 3rd emails.

    As you many of you have pointed out, Atkinson is being a politician, presenting inflammatory comments when he believes it will help his position,
    and then responding politely to insults that don’t deserve to be acknowledged, shows him as ‘reasonable’ when he is not responding to any rational arguments.

    we can all hope he will respond to the points raised here, as he obviously has a lot of time on his hands to write such a long response.

    No doubt it would be frustrating to have so much vitriol aimed at oneself, but he does claim he is happy to be the lightning rod for this issue.
    And Atkinson may be telling the truth when claiming there are other Attorney Generals opposed to the rating change.
    It seems absurd that one person has the power to veto a decision on an R18+rating for video games in the Australian democracy, but this is the situation!

    I agree with commenters who suggest that if someone wants a game that is banned in australia, it would not take much effort to do so.
    the same is also true of a child who wants to play a game that is rated higher than their age.
    It doesn’t help this situation that currently many games that would receive an R18+ rating were it to exist, currently receive an MA15+ rating in australia.

    Movies and Rock& Roll were decried as evil & corrupting when they were new, Games are still young comparatively.
    i fear that we may simply have to wait for video games to become part of accepted culture, for australia to receive an R18+ rating.
    in time i’m sure it will happen, when someone younger, who grew up with games is elected as the SA Attorney General. This may just take a while!

    Until then we can all do our best to help bring about change by telling friends & family about the issue, i know some people in the Croydon electorate!

  • Wow, I’m actually kind of surprised that I was addressed here. So I thought I should at least clarify a few things.

    “”
    I presume, boc, you want me banned from the Kotaku site or for me not to debate the question at all. So, the boc position is: “Atkinson is only allowed to debate the question if he agrees with us. If he disagrees with us, he’s asinine and cowardly.” Perhaps you’ve heard of the Soviet Union, boc.
    “”

    I don’t recall suggesting or implying that you be banned from Kotaku. So you presume wrongly. Nor is your impression of the ‘boc position’ correct. I do not believe what I have written previously implies that. The asinine remark I believe is valid as your response didn’t directly address Terry’s response. The cowardly remark was regarding your electoral challenge where to me it came across as bullying. Yes, I have heard of the Soviet Union.

    “”
    If you want to make the laws, boc, get elected to Parliament and if you want to be Attorney-General, then win the confidence of a majority of members of the parliament of which you are a member.
    “”

    I’m quite happy living where I am in Victoria. I’m quite happy with the AG we have here. However, in your scenario, I would have to move to any and every state and oust the entrenched MP who is the AG in that state any time I disagree with any of the AGs. Can you see the impracticality of that?

    “”
    If, as you claim, 90 p.c. of Australians support your position on games and therefore oppose mine, you should – according to your own reasoning – be a shoo-in to win the State District of Croydon at the next election.
    “”

    I don’t recall stating anything about 90 p.c. of Australians supporting anything. I believe you have mis-attributed this to me. Rereading, possibly you have confused me with Juggernautz.

    “”
    Some of the more intelligent bloggers on Kotaku understand the task ahead of supporters of an R18+ classification but they cannot bring themselves to admit that they do not have enough support from the Australian public to prevail in elections.
    “”

    I think if you laid out a fair case for/against R18+ games to the public they would be in favour of the category. Is it important enough to most people to be an election issue? Probably not, but, that doesn’t mean that they aren’t in favour of it.

    “”
    boc, and most bloggers on this site, seem to be contemptuous of parliamentary democracy and the rule of law because they are not getting their way.
    “”

    I don’t see why having contempt for our government is a bad thing. It’s not like government is perfect.

    “”
    They want instant gratification – or civility, the rule of law, responsible government and parliamentary democracy should be tossed down the lavatory.
    “”

    Yes that’s right. We want anarchy. That is a poor generalisation.

    “”
    By contrast, I will cheerfully accept an R18+ classification on the day that, under the agreed lawful process, Censorship Ministers endorse an R18+ classification for games. That is the difference between me and the bloggers on this site.
    “”

    We will cheerfully accept an R18+ classification on the day that, under the agreed lawful process, Censorship Ministers endorse an R18+ classification for games.

    It’s not like there’s any other way of getting the R18+ classification. Or is there…

    “”
    I acknowledge that it may happen after I am gone.
    “”

    We acknowledge that it will most likely happen after you are gone.

  • I only want to make one point. In not having a 18+ rating you are letting games through which should NOT be played by people under 18. Games like GTA and Darkness come to mind. These games are not suited for people under 18 but now people as young as 15 can get their hands on it.

    The reason for Mr. Atkins’ decision to veto the classification is in fact having the wrong results. The problem is not games that contains unnecessary amounts of violence, drugs or sex being played by minors … This is already happening because parents think “Oh, my child is 15, he can play these games”.

    You are in effect giving parents a false sense of safety.

    Realize you are causing what you are trying to stop from happening.

  • Dear Mr Atkinson,

    When you started corresponding to Kotaku, I was looking forward to an intellectual, beneficial debate where people who support the R18+ rating could give their reasoned arguments, and you could respond with equally equally intellectual arguments explaining why you think it is not a good idea. Alas, I was wrong. You could have responded to Terry’s marvelous letter with a thoughtful analysis of his points. Instead you choose to carefully ignore EVERY SINGLE ONE of the points raised. You could have responded to the 99% of forum witters who continued the debate in a thoughtful and intellectual manner. Instead you cherry-picked the comments that went too far (of which I can assure you, being a member of several professional photographic forums, happens pretty much everywhere) to make it sound like you were taking the high road, as the honorable minister you are. No, Mr Atkinson, your behavior on this forum has been anything but honorable or decent. While you could have taken the high road and ignored (as everyone else does) the rude comments and responded intellectually to the meaningful responses. Instead, you took the low road to score cheap points.

    In your arguments so far, you have dismissed a study simply because it was funded by the Interactive Games Association (which of course, therefore means that you have admitted that any government study should be dismissed because it is funded by the government), when you have previously referred to much less dependable studies. Your wonderful line of:

    “running down and killing pedestrians on the pavement, raping a mother and her two daughters, blowing onself up in a market, cutting people in half with large calibre shells, injecting drugs to win an athletics event or killing a prostitute to recover the fee one just paid her (Welcome to the world of R18+ computer games).”

    almost brought laughter to my eyes as every single one of those that you mentioned apart from the raping part is legal in Australia as MA15+, when in other countries that kind of content is R18+!! As for “protecting the children” as you claim is the reason for your stance, it doesn’t seem to be working that well. Furthermore, your reference to the rape game further shows your wish to completely misrepresent all facts as the game you are referring to is a Japanese only game that would be refused a R18+ rating in every country in the world. You mentioned a sorrowful tale of the refugees in your electorate, how you walk your dog in the morning, and many other completely random points in an effort to show everyone what a fine, upstanding citizen you are, despite the fact that all those are not related at all to the topic being debated (well, one side is debating, you are jut avoiding).

    You say you have tried to respond to every criticism, yet why have you not responded at all to any meaningful criticism of your stance? Instead you have issued a hollow challenge (which you know full well that the vast majority of people don’t even live in SA), you have extremely offensively and dismissively called people who support an R18+ rating “R18+ nerds” (which hardly places you on the moral and ethical high ground like you seem to believe you are on), you have refused to respond to any valid criticism, you have again, rudely dismissed the argument by saying that to stand against you, you need to supply a name and you have openly admitted that you are going to misrepresent the issue in parliament by “reading the highlights out to Parliament soon.” I am sure you won’t be reading out the thousands of legitimate correspondence you get.

    You have made it very clear to me, and everyone else, that no matter what points people raise, no matter what evidence shows your position to be counter-intuitive, no matter what the public wishes, you are not going to change your mind. That is the very worst quality a politician can exhibit.

  • Mr Atkinson:

    Why are you responding to random comments on the internet instead of writing that paper?

    You’re making a lot of people unhappy for something you clearly know nothing about; your ignorance astounds me.

  • I just sent this to his email address;

    Dear Mr Atkinson,

    I am an Adelaide resident, with 2 children. I am also a computer game enthusiast.

    I am concerned that your stance on providing an R18+ classification is misguided. I believe that by failing to provide appropriate levels of classification, games with strong adult themes are incorrectly classified as MA15 and allowed to be placed in the hands of children.

    With my eldest child entering his teens, he is beginning to request access to games that I do not believe he is mature enough to understand, and I do not wish to expose him to the content of many of these. Whilst this is currently within my control, unless the classification system changes it will not be for long.

    Some of his friends already have access to games rated MA15+. They are playing games that encourage violence, drugs and sexual themes not appropriate to a child of his age. When he visits their homes there is little I can do to restrict it, and once he turns 15 he can purchase these games himself.

    As you have mentioned in your letter to Kotaku, sometimes games with strong themes are bottlenecked into the MA15+ to support the industry.

    I request that you please review your stance on this very important topic and look to include an R18+ classification as soon as possible. Once this is in place, can I also humbly request that you have all games currently rated as MA15+ reviewed, and have the adult themed games reclassified as R18+

    Regards
    *Name, address and phone number removed for online post*

  • Vangalorr
    Posted March 16, 2009 4:00 PM
    I find this bit hilarious

    “my practice is to ask email correspondents for a real name and a street address. Most of the emails I get about this topic are crank or hoax emails in the sense that they are not from people willing to reveal a real name or a street address. When I write a reply, I want to write it to a real person at a real address, not a phantom.”

    I sent you an email with my full name and address Michael and you never responded to me!

    As have I. No response. But I don’t live in Croyden, and therefore do not count.

  • Seeing as Mr. Atkinson seems to read some, if not all of the comments made here, i hope the issues i raise will not fall upon deaf ears.

    I would like to ask, essentially HOW are you protecting young children by not approving of this R18+ classification?
    I hope you understand that by taking out a particular cut scene, reducing the amount of blood (as evidenced in some of the cuts in GTA IV) and renaming a drug (Fallout 3), still does very little in reducing the severity of the images depicted to those who play these types game.

    So, you believe that by cutting out these minor things, it should be ok for Australian 15 year olds to play games that are being classified as R18+ all over the world?
    Oh, but wait.. there’s a little less blood and the drugs in the game have been renamed so that means everything is fine, and by doing so you are protecting the children. Yeah right..

    Further, parents who actually believe this material is suitable for their 15 year old may be shocked once they see them playing it.
    As a casual worker in the retail industry (I’m a full-time university student), a mother asked me about GTA IV as her 15 year old son requested it.
    I was able to explain to her what the game was about and by the end of our conversation she honestly did not think this game was suitable for her son.
    However, crafty as her son was, all he had to do was show her that it was rated MA15+, so she pretty much had no other choice but to get it for him seeing as she believes in the rating system, but it does no justice to her at all.
    I saw her the next day to return the game.

    Like i said, a watered down version should do the trick eh? It’ll protect the kids!

    Instead of nagging him to just implement the R18+ classification so that we don’t get censored games, why not get him to justify why he believes it is the right thing to do by not implementing this classification.

  • Mr Atkinson, what you are say about Vdieo Games was said about Sciens Ficiton BOOKS when they first started aperaing.

    And the same things were said about Movies.

    And about TV.

    And about theatre.

    Yet, our world has not exploded, we have not been destroyed as a race.

    Runny, that, hay.

    Also, adding pics to a paper is rather silly. It is a dissociation paper, not a picture book! It is not meant to be a graphic novel. And the fact it has taken you this long to get a few screenshots (in game pics) is very funny. You SHOULD have had it done, and out, or have you only just come up with the idea?

    Insted of changing the paper, why not change the idea insted?

    All the games you have complain about are already in this country, under the MA15+ classification, and you some how think that an R18+ is going to stop more of them?

    All you are doing is stopping the protection, not making it.

    The ratings are not law, they are guide. If parents don’t care what there kids see, your way of doing things will not change that.

    All in all, your approach is total fail.

  • I think Michael Atkinson has misunderstood the position of many gamers. I suggest he better understand the people he supposedly stands for by looking at the issue, rather than spending his time making come-backs for his grudges. Arguing with idiots will only make you as smart as the idiot you argue with (yes, that does apply both ways)

  • I think its very clear whats happening – the AG is cherry-picking comments which are easy to refute and proceeds to put all gamers in the same basket through using over-the-top/irrelevant examples.

    I wrote a letter to him and gave my full name and address as did so many others I know – all of us wrote maturely and non-abusively, but none of us have got a response.

    He will not change. I think his perspective is a very passionate one – he propbably thinks gamers are all lost cases that have been overcome by some dark psychopathic viral infection and that he is some sort of ‘paladin of light’ that is on a righteous crusade to purge the lands of this virus… or something.

    BTW, here is the letter I sent (that I havent got a reply to):

    ————————————————————

    Dear Attorney General Michael Atkinson,

    I’m sure you have heard plenty of opinions about the R18 classification issue, and it seems that you are steadfast in your stance, a fact that makes me question my own effort in writing this email.

    In a recent interview/article on gamespot ( http://au.gamespot.com/pages/news/story.php?sid=6203703 ), you provided a fairly lengthy justification of your stance. I personally am an adult ‘gamer’ -if you would like to put me into that ‘category’, and I support the R18+ classification even though I would personally NOT buy most R18+ games as I dislike being exposed to that level of violence/gore in my recreational time.

    My disagreement to your stance is a fundamental one: I strongly believe your decision is not well argued or researched and has numerous logical flaws (F*) …

    F1. You dont provide any unbiased independently-researched conclusive empirical scientific evidence for most (if any) of your claims. Your claims seem to be assumptions based on personal opinion.
    F2. You often only state one side of the coin, and give incomplete logical arguments – especially with the double standard of film classification, which you only mention when it is beneficial to your argument.

    Some of the flawed assumptions (A*) you present in the article are:

    A1. Games are more dangerous than films due to their interactive nature
    A2. Children and easily-influenced-adults need to be protected from violent/sexual/crime games
    A3. Extreme violence, perverted sex, and criminal activity are not essential for adults to enjoy playing electronic games
    A4. Since very few games are refused classification each year, you are not ruining the industry
    A5. Age regulation is harder to enforce for video game classification
    A6. Video games cause real world violence

    I will now refute (R*) each assumption (A*):

    R1. This can be directly refuted using F1. (no evidence). This is a very strong claim to make, proof of this would require a great deal of research into the areas of cognitive science and psychology. You cannot just assume something and impose law on it -even if it seems intuitive. It is intuitive that the Earth is flat.

    R2. The same demographic needs to also be protected from violent/sexual/crime films (that incidentally reach much higher extremities than video games do).

    R3. It is true that these extreme factors are not essential to enjoyment, But they add a level of reactionary emotion that gives people their ‘fix’ when they perform their daily escapism ritual (reading, watching TV, films, etc). This is the reason why M-rated films are more popular than G-rated films. The average blockbuster is a formulaic mixture of violence, sex and swearing. Sadly and frighteningly, it’s what people want, and is very obvious. I would say that: a film is obviously more interesting to a large demographic of adults if it contains extreme violence, explicit sexual material, criminal activity, and offensive language. Just look at the film industry, the same would apply with games.

    R4. You aren’t ruining the industry, but you are definitely affecting it in a negative way. This is undeniable. you may also be suppressing potential economic activity unknowingly because game studios may decide to scrap a
    game idea after considering these restrictive laws.

    R5. You write “In cinemas, the age of moviegoers can be regulated, and at the video store people must provide ID to hire R18+ videos.” This is also true of M15+ and MA15+ games, they check your identity at the point of sale. You go on to say: “Once electronic games are in the home, access to them cannot be policed and the games are easily accessible to children. These days, older children (18-30) are often living in the family home with younger children (under 18). This means games belonging to older children or parents can easily make their way into the hands of those under 18.” How is this ANY different from R18+ DVDs lying around in Australian households? I’d argue that it is much easier for a minor to unknowingly play a disturbing DVD autonomously compared to installing/running a game. Don’t forget that most graphically violent/extreme games require sequences of complex interaction and control to even get to the point of ‘bad experience’, so it is much less likely to occur. Also, It is much easier to block a game (many have inbuilt parental control and blood/gore filters) from being played than DVDs, which are ubiquitous technology and can be played on various devices.

    R6. Video games causing real violence is so far, the primary debate. Since there has not been any compelling evidence (F1) to back this claim, It should work as the legal system does: “Innocent until proven guilty”. The fact that a criminal played a violent game as a past time does not make the game the culprit. With the popularity of games today, it is statistically normal for there to be an overlap between violent games history and violent behaviour history in some select cases. When an incident is found, it is often sensationalised by the media. However, there has never been a conclusive correlation between playing violent games and real life violent behaviour (compare with a criminal who has watched some violent films – it literally presents no argument, because watching violent films is commonplace but playing violent games is more niche at the moment). Consider instead all the people recreationally playing violent games that do not have violent real life behavior – it does not make for an interesting news article. Also consider the violent crimes that have nothing to do with violent games. I would also like you to consider that violence has been a staple of human society ever since history has been recorded – it is part of the human condition. Violence didn’t suddenly erupt when violent computer games first came into existence, and there has not been any real evidence against violent games so far.

    Violent/extreme games are no more harmful than violent movies (which can be much more damaging and disturbing than games due to their immersiveness and personalisation with characters). Id say it is a reasonable observation that film is a technological extension of written literature, and video games are a technological extension of physical/mental sport. Film and Literature has a much stronger ability to present believable, immersive and disturbing narratives with more graphical and aural precision/extremity than any video game that exists today OR tomorrow. For any R18+ games you can name, I’m sure you can name 10 R18+ movies that you would much rather not let your children see than that game. All other household exposure to minors through family members is due to bad parenting, not games. Video game addiction is just like any other form of addiction – it desensitizes and destroys – the problem is not video games, it is addiction. Lack of mature habits lead to such problems and these things are to be blamed on bad parenting. Why punish the people who are mature and have done nothing wrong?

    My argument is not so much that R18+ games should be allowed, But instead it is that they should not be disallowed based on empty claims and assumptions. It is true that most R18+ games are not particularly good or noteworthy in the field of video games, but it is more about the principal of censorship based on unmitigated fear and hype. I would say most people who are against censorship are against it because of the concept of censorship, not the subject; they do not care for the games, but the fact that something is being censored without their democratic input.

    If you have made it this far, I appreciate your time greatly

  • Having read Preets post in full, I am yet to see a better argument for (or, as preet states to “not be disallowed”)the R18+ rating. I would be interested to see an actual response from the AG, as opposed to the smart arsed letter he has provided. Although, in fairness, if you want somebody in his position to take note of what you are saying, you are better of making a valid, balanced argument than say, threatening to beat him up. So, the ball is in Atkinson’s court. He can either continue with the smart arse approach, which says a lot about how he chooses to govern, or he take a couple of teaspoons of concrete, harden the **** up, and answer the actual arguments presented to him, and back up his opinion using actual facts.

  • If Mr. Atkinson would like to stand for re-election on a single issue basis – as he is smugly challenging “us” to do – then I will gladly take up the gauntlet.

    (And no, Michael, this isn’t my real name. You’ll get that just as soon as you announce your single issue campaign.)

  • How many studies have to be done to show Mr Atkinson that the average age of a gamer is between 26 and 31, so how is an R18+ classification going to hurt all the little kiddies, exspeicaly if the shop’s are meant to enforce the movie/game classification, but also what about the parent’s of the gamer’s below 18yrs are they not the one that would buy the game’s for there kid’s so wouldn’t they be responsible for there kid’s playing R18+ game’s?
    I doubt i’ll get an anwser but i can live and hope.

  • Bruno I agree with you. F.E.A.R 2 should have been R18+ that game scared the shit out of me. Playing it at 12 in the morning when the winds blowing and making scarey sounds is no the best idea.

  • well, it is a bit late now, i suppose, but i only just found this article.

    i have to thank you Michael Atkinson.

    Thanks mostly to you, my 13 year old brother is able to go into Big W and buy GTA:SA, and not only that, he also knows how to pick up a “street worker” also finds it amusing to drive to a quiet spot for 30 seconds, and after the little clip, he finds it ultimately amusing to run the street worker over after the deed.

    Now is this the sort of content you are allowing minors to not only play, but buy?

    I am a 21 year old gamer, and while i find that i am legally an adult, i also find it insulting that not only is my little brother able to do all of this, but you are still going on about the service you are doing Australians?

    please. Just quit while you are ahead. you disgust me as much as Senator Conroy and his Clean Feed, thinking he can protect Australians from illegal content with a filter that does not block P2P traffic or affect VPN’s

  • Did you know there are parentla Controls on all the latest consoles from the Xbox 360 to the Nintendo DSI all have parental Controls that allow parents to block certain ratings not just for games but also movies, but you dont have that on DVD players do you also cd palyers for music like Rap music which can have lyrics refereing to killing and mistreatment of Women and others and drug dealing nad other criminal offences. Also why not ban Alchool as you can see where having a problem with it and Teen drinking and Violence and its not like Video Game Consoles like Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft would allow extreme products on there Systems any way and like all rated products you have to show ID to obtain it and its the parents faults if they where to go and buy it for them but Adults have a right and responsibilty as well so who are you to tell whats what for others how about I tell you cant watch TV because it can cause harm to your self also how you cant drink Alchool because you can drunk and attack some one, or listen to music like rap where it might influence you to act out crimes like robbery, drug dealing and other crimes

  • Did you know there are parentla Controls on all the latest consoles from the Xbox 360 to the Nintendo DSI all have parental Controls that allow parents to block certain ratings not just for games but also movies, but you dont have that on DVD players do you also cd palyers for music like Rap music which can have lyrics refereing to killing and mistreatment of Women and others and drug dealing nad other criminal offences.

    Also why not ban Alchool as you can see where having a problem with it and Teen drinking and Violence and its not like Video Game Consoles like Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft would allow extreme products on there Systems any way and like all rated products you have to show ID to obtain it and its the parents faults if they where to go and buy it for them.

    Adults have a right and responsibilty as well so who are you to tell whats what for others how about I tell you cant watch TV because it can cause harm to your self also how you cant drink Alchool because you can drunk and attack some one, or listen to music like rap where it might influence you to act out crimes like robbery, drug dealing and other crimes.

    I am 20 and an Adult so does that mean you and the Goverment are in charge of my life then do we all ways have to dumb down every thing for Children dont they have enough stuff there age any way like toys.

    And one thing worrying about Children getting there hands on them R18+ is least of your worries most of them as you can see on the news or even in the streets if you bothered to look from your nice house are doing crimes like stealing, vandalism, assualts, and even drug dealing and that isnt because of Video Games since none realy have that type of stuff besides GTA which is for Adults/Mature people and most of those kids dont play it or played the game since there out side commiting crimes then playing video games and its not or fault your kids are on them so dont use that reason for your own personal crusade.

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