Industry Responds To Atkinson, Respectfully Disagrees

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The unprecedented comments over the past few days on the R18+ rating debate from South Australian Attorney-General Michael Atkinson has prompted a response from the wider games industry. Unsurprisingly, it appears there's little common ground to be found on the issue.

Writing on behalf of the industry in his role as CEO of the Interactive Entertainment Association of Australia, Ron Curry followed up his pro-R18+ stance on the ABC yesterday with the below reply to Atkinson's recent remarks on Kotaku:

IEAA respects the fact that Attorney-General Atkinson has taken the time to address the comments made by Kotaku readers - kudos to him for that. While we may not always agree with his position we do respect his right to voice it and his candour in doing so.

We agree on a number of issues; adults play computer games, children should be protected and that simulated violence has widespread acceptance. We agree that readers should be able to see what we are arguing for or against (though the caveat we add is that it should be done so in a clear, logical and open manner).

However, there are (obviously) a number of fundamental issues on which the Attorney and the IEAA disagree. I think it's obvious to Kotaku readers what those issues are as they have been discussed, debated and blogged ad nauseam. Saying that though, it would be remiss if a few of the Attorney's comments were left unaddressed.

An R18+ classification for video games does not mean we will have this sudden exposure to extreme violence, sexual defilement and rape. This style of content is currently prohibited under the National Classification Scheme and extending an R18+ to video games (the classification itself is nothing new) does not broaden the parameters. To suggest so is disingenuous.

The debate on the impact of violent media on behaviour is an ongoing one, with equal academic arguments supporting views which are diametrically opposed. Proponents on both sides of the debate offer 'evidence' selectively and often in an hysterical manner to support their argument. To lower this important and needed debate, irrespective of view, to one of hysterical rhetoric or moral panic, serves no one well.

Lastly, we agree that the present law keeps the most extreme material off the shelves which, paradoxically, makes it even more attractive to children. Bit torrent sites are an easy option for the not overly PC literate to access these games which are then made available in home without any classification markings at all.

Simulated violence, wrongly or rightly, has always existed in society with widespread acceptance. Comic books, slap stick comedy, film, movies, Tom and Jerry and alike have always been part of media consumption. The content doesn't change, but the delivery model does. As technology accelerates to convergence of delivery methods, we need to focus on content, as to do otherwise is short sighted. We need to future proof the protection of children and ensuring a classification scheme which deals with content equally allows everyone to understand what is suitable only for adults.

We look forward to Attorney-General Atkinson's final approval of the discussion paper so that the issue may be debated in a wider forum.

PS. We are pleased the Attorney loves his Wii - we now consider him a gamer, just like the rest of us!


Comments

    Good ole Mick Atkinson. You can pick holes the size of barges in his arguments, but he isn't going to let that stop him. Sounds like he's a stubborn old coot, so I don't like the chances of a change of mind. Let's face it, Australia is going to be stuck with an antiquated game rating system for the foreseeable future, until we actually get new blood in for his position. There ain't no changing that.

    Meanwhile, I import.

    Calling him an old coot won't get us anywhere Deek

    I think I'll buy Atkinson Madworld so he can 'really' enjoy his wii.

    wow, there are some fucked-up ass hats on that abc site.

    "dale, to me that is a small price to pay to protect our children from violence in video games. these teach the kids that violence is OK and if we give R rates games to kids before we know it we'll be no different to the bloody yanks with a school shooting week after week

    frankly we need more leaders like michael atkinson who stand up for what's right - good on you atkinson, you have my vote!!! its a shame this matter is going into the hands of public discussion, who can trust the same public that voted in rudd the dudd with his recession to do the right thing by Australian children, our FUTURE??"

    Mr Atkinson, I would imagine that you're reading through this forum to gather some intel on whatever hysterical mannerism results from this article. So I can only hope you're going to pay particular attention to this post.

    It's very simple, and needs no further justification. Just as obvious as what would result from jumping out the window of the highest floor of a building... death. As you can see I'm a big fan of analogies, which helps when explaining something to people of such blatant and undisguised bias.

    R18+ protected children from seeing Freddy Krueger disembowel teenagers in 1984.

    R18+ protected children from seeing the movie Saw in 2004 where a man sawed his own foot off.

    R18+ protects children from witnessing adult sex videos.

    R18+ SHOULD be protecting children from games like Grand Theft Auto 4 where you can have sex with a prostitute, pay her, then stab/shoot/bash her to death to get your money back.

    R18+ SHOULD be protecting children from shooting the heads off diseased africans in Resident Evil 4.

    R18+ SHOULD be protecting children from using drugs and killing realistic looking people with knives, guns and chainsaws in Fallout 3.

    I can only hope you understand this point of view, because if not, then I feel deep concern for the future of Australian Children.

    The fundamental point is: Atkinson thinks that an R rating would allow more games into the country, while the IEAA says that it would simply label existing games more appropriately.

    Surely this is a point of fact which can be checked? If we had an R rating, would the 3 games that were rejected last year have been allowed in?

    Please Mr Atkinson, if you have genuine evidence that an R rating would allow material into the country that isn't presently being permitted, show it to us.

    Facts, please, not speculation.

    We're not getting anywhere anyway, Michael. So I reserve the right to call M.A an old coot. He is, you know that. He's stubborn, set in his ways, unable to open his mind to new ways of doing things. He's got "old coot" written all over him.

    Crap Tactics

    Excuse me but how does over 50% of the Australian population become untrustworthy in your eyes? Mearly because they didnt vote in the greater of two evils your too blind to see.

    You are an idiot and your post proves it.. wait was this about computer games?

    If i can see rape and excessive violence every night on tv.. the idea that computer games corrupt me when they have much tigher restrictions on the same content well is dubious argument at best.

    Go home.. your obviously not australian since you dont like most ppl here.

    @ Cat Tactics, it sounds like the person you've quoted is suggesting that it's ok to give children R18+ games to play with. I hope Mr. Atkinson does not read that message and believe this person is making a valid point. If adults were to give children R18+, let alone M or MA15+ games to play with, then it's the fault of the adult and NOT a fault of the classification system.
    A responsible adult should not be giving a child any form of material, whether it be video game, movie, or even book if the rating is not suitable for their age group.
    And admittedly it sucks that Australia may go into recession, and maybe Rudd could be handling it better (not for me to say, I don't know much about the economy) but we also need to remember that it all started from the saturation of the American housing market. Blame Mr. Bush!

    I'm quite sick of being ignored by politicians. It's not enough that an even more significant issue, the fact that since I turned 19 my meds to manage my Asperger's are no longer subsidised by the Government, but the small comfort of knowing children won't be able to get their hands on GTA: Chinatown Wars while grown adults can, is denied me. Politicians in Australia have failed to listen on many occasions and the only way we can change anything is to get louder so their deaf ears can hear us. This really is the arse end of the earth.

    "Surely this is a point of fact which can be checked? If we had an R rating, would the 3 games that were rejected last year have been allowed in?"

    More to the point, doesn't that PROVE that we're already putting everything on the shelves anyway? I can't understand why anybody with half a brain would oppose an R18+ rating with that knowledge in mind. It hardly seems like rocket science.

    That's it. The Truth is out. Jerry MUST PAY for his crimes and violent acts against Tom. I mean, doesn't the damn mouse think Tom not have uncles and aunties ? the nerve of that mouse. Ban him back to America Michael. Think of the CHILDREN!

    "R18+ protected children from seeing the movie Saw in 2004 where a man sawed his own foot off."

    Saw was actually MA15+, as is every Saw movie. Which just shows the classification board's leniency to violence.

    I find it demoralizing to think that people in positions of power and influence in my country consider the proposal to tighten the classification system for video games unfavorable because it does not satisfy criteria it is not designed to do.

    Media classification is NOT meant to keep violent content from children; it is meant to advise parents on what to keep from their children, and our present system does a bad job at this.

    I would also like to put forward to my fellow readers my theory that the link between violent media and violent outbursts is as insubstantial a concept as a link between Dead Baby jokes and infanticide

    I can understand how it must be frustrating for Micheal Atkinson having to deal with all the infantile responses he receives in comment threads, people are getting at times irrationally defensive. I'd like to make the distinction however that a large portion of these people are most like under 18s who feel the need to defend their past time, yet they are not affected by the issue. Things just need to be kept into perspective, something that can be lost with the anonymity of the internet.

    However the same distinction can not be made for the ridiculous diatribe that I just witnessed on that abc discussion page. The amount of ignorance possessed by these people far outstrips any I've seen at this point. Atkinson himself has become at least reasonably informed about the issue having been involved about it for so long and can hold conversation to the point, the nature of these comments just astounds. More to the point, the same concession to the expectation of infantile behavior can not be given to those who operate under pseudonyms clearly announcing their adulthood (or whose comments intentionally make this known, for some vain attempt at offering a position of authority). The pathetically snarky behavior really amazes me, if this is the "opposition", as it were, to this debate then I'm at a loss as to what to offer these people. Clearly their intention to follow only their internal monologue lies way above the desire to form an opinion based upon rational and statistics based arguments and information.

    The problem is that a lot of people out there are like the person cat tactics quoted.

    they are ignorant of the situation and only get the sensationalised version of events. the fact is that it takes a lot of effort to read people in on what the current rateing system is doing to content in australia because people are so used to the movie rateings.

    u have to explain very clearly and to the point what is going on (i know iv tryed this a couple of times) people have trouble fathoming that the rateing system ISNT keeping R18+ content out like it says it is. Its increadibly missleading and i think its the same problem that atko is having.

    essentialy the general public view is "R18+ is bad for children!" which is very true. in fact noone is arguing this. so when u say "there should be R18+ for games" what they hear is "there should be games that are even more horrid then the MA15+ ones we already have".

    this sounds horrible and they instantly recoil from the idea, become very stuborn and u have to spend the next 30 min explainging what needs to happen. eventualy they get it and are horrified by the whole situation.

    lets be very clear here atko and anyone else who disagrees. We (gamers) and You (atko and the other ignorant people) are on the same side. WE WANT TO PROTECT CHILDREN. What we want is a revised system that encompasses ALL games and judges them and rates them accurately according to their content so that no parent is confused about what they should be buying for thier kids and that INCLUDES adding an R18+ rateing to mark out those games that should never be available to the younger players.

    I just worry that it's too late - the internet has already provided Mr Atkinson with enough ammo to make gamers look like threatening morons with bad grammar. And now, joyous, list in hand, he skips to parliament to tell everyone just how unstable and uneducated we are.

    I hope everyone's learned that perhaps you should keep your mouth shut if you have nothing of use to say.

    But for the record, Mr Atkinson - I AM educated, I DO vote, and your argument for being opposed to this issue is flimsy at best, and your "responses" to Kotaku readers, riddled with snarky comments, stabs at peoples' grammar and very fanciful side-stepping, are an absolute disgrace.

    There appears to be this large misconception that proponents of the R18+ classification for video games want to bring this in - and then wantonly distribute those games to children. The entire point of having the new classification is to keep the games out of the hands of children, and have the laws to prosecute anyone found not doing so. It also serves to help parents determine what games their children should, and should not, play. The argument of not having this rating equating to not having the adult themes it represents in video games is the same as someone covering their eyes with their hands and believing no-one else can then see them.

    @ Ben Murphy

    It's gone beyond statistics Ben. Also I'm loving the "Architect of the Matrix" impersonation, but there's no need to confuse these poor souls with such a complex vocabulary.

    I consider most comments on this topic braindead, yet I cannot blame people for their frustrations. I myself am 25 years old and soon will have children of my own. I guarantee that my children wont even know games like GTA and Saint's Row exist, let alone worry about the R18+ rating. However think of the uninformed parents out there, who didn't grow up as gamers. Their children con them into buying them inappropriate games, but when they reach the mature "adult" age of a whopping 15 years old, they're allowed to -

    Explode human beings, showering their tv screen in blood and flesh.

    Commence in interactive sex with two woman in God of War.

    Mow down walking human corpses, cut them in half with a sword, beat them to death with a baseball bat etc... in Dead Rising.

    Kill police officers, I repeat KILL POLICE OFFICERS, with an arsenal of weapons in Grand Theft Auto.

    All thanks to the lack of an R18+ rating in this country. I honestly believe our classification system needs to be reviewed and be prepared for an R18+ rating where it simply removes these types of games from our adolescent audience. However at the same time, still restricts unacceptable content from being released in Australia (such as the "rape" issue).

    It's very simple, it requires a little work to impose, however if Mr Atkinson truly cares about our youth as he says he does, then he'll act accordingly rather than simply oppose the notion. I pray that common sense prevails.

    Very few games have actually been refused classification in Australia under the current laws, and most of those are ones no-one cares about (BMX XXX anyone? How about Mark Eco's whatever-the-hell-it-was?)

    Exceptions of course include the need to edit parts of the GTA series, and to remove the incredibly inflammatory word 'morphine' from Fallout 3. (Even though I can quite happily buy and sell 'heroin' 'coke' 'downers' etc on my DS thanks to GTA...)

    The main reason I want an R18+ rating in this country is so that all the games which SHOULD be rated R, but instead sneak away with an MA are given the rating (and restrictions) which they need.

    Of course, just adding the R won't fix the problem that most parents are morons. We need to educate these parents so that they know games are not just for kids. But of course that a whole other debate, and I'll just get onto my 'parenting licence' rant if I go any further..

    Short Version :
    An R rating would mean violent games get the rating they deserve, not a weak-assed MA.

    @ Ryan,
    Wow I didn't realise the Saw series was actually MA rated!! Although a check of a DVD site states that the latest is rated R. This begs the question, does our ratings board need an overhaul? In Mr Atkinsons' recent letter to Kotaku he stated himself that there were issues with the system as it stands. So Mr Atkinson, instead of holding back on an R rating for games due to this issue, how about instigating an overhaul of the system itself? It is obvious that the board is letting games and movies into the country with the wrong rating. The Saw series for movies and Grand Theft Auto 4 for Games are an obvious indicator that the system isn't working.

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