A Letter From Michael Atkinson

A Letter From Michael Atkinson

Kotaku reader Robert wrote to South Australian Attorney-General Michael Atkinson earlier this year on the topic of video game classification in Australia. Robert has just received a reply. Would you like to read it?

Below are several key excerpts from the letter Robert received from the minister. You can also download a scan of the entire letter via this link.[imgclear]

You may be aware that there was talk of the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General releasing a discussion paper on [the introduction of an R18+ classification for games] . I have been awaiting the release of this paper… Alas, the paper has not yet been released and, despite my inquiring, I do not know when it will be available. I want the discussion paper released as soon as possible and have done nothing to impede its release.

Although some members are advocates of this classification, I believe other Attorneys-General, like me, reject it. Other Attorneys-General who are opposed to introducing an R18+ classification for computer games are content to let me be the lightening (sic) rod for the gamers.

I am well aware that many game players are adults… However, it is important you do not confuse the classification rating of a game with the game’s sophistication, or the challenge or interest to the player… It does not follow that a game is more interesting to an adult simply because it contains extreme violence, explicit sexual material or highly offensive language. Indeed, with all the effort and money that goes into game development, coupled with the effects and graphics now available, there is no need to introduce these extreme elements. I am bafffled and worried about why proponents of R18+ games are putting up their hands and saying ‘Give us more cruel sex and extreme violence!’

‘Interactive Australia 2007’, a report prepared by Bond University for the Interactive Entertainment Association of Australia, surveyed 1,606 Australian households randomly. The report found “79% of Australian households have a device for computer and video games”. Further, 62% of Australians in these gaming households “say the classification of a game has no influence on their buying decision”.

Given this data, I cannot fathom what State-enforced safeguards could exist to prevent R18+ games being bought by households with children and how children can be stopped from using these games once the games are in the home. If adult gamers are so keen to have R18+ games, I expect children would be just as keen.

Classification of electronic games is very different from the classification of film. In cinemas, the age of movie-goers can be regulated… Rising game and console sales make it clear that this is a growing area that needs careful regulation, even more so than cinemas and private D.V.D. hire and purchase. Access to electronic games, once in the home, cannot be policed and therefore the games are easily accesible to children.

What the present law does is keep the most extreme material off the shelves. It is true that this restricts adult liberty to a small degree, however, I am prepared to accept this infringement in the circumstances.

I am concerned about the level of violence in society and the widespread acceptance of simulated violence as a form of entertainment. I am particularly concerned about the impact of this extreme content on children and vulnerable adults.

I believe the repeated act of killing a computer-generated person or creature desensitises them to violence. To my mind, a child being able to watch depraved sex and extreme violence in a movie is damaging to the child, but the child’s participating (sic) in depraved sex and extreme violence in a computer game is worse.

Game-houses are always free to adapt games that would otherwise be R.C. [Refused Classification]and modify the game content to be in line with the M.A.15+ classification… I do not accept that this destroys the artistic integrity of the game – excusing gore and depraved sex as art is an immature argument.

Contrarily, it has been suggested that games that would otherwise be classified R18+ are instead slipping through as M.A.15+ and becoming accessible to children. This argument does not support an R18+ classification for games. There may be games that some people consider too violent for the M.A.15+ classification but the solution is not to create a classification that would permit even more violent games in Australia. M.A.15+ games are restricted to children over 15 and if younger children access these games it further justifies complete protection from R18+ games. It is up to parents and responsible adults to ensure a game is appropriate for a minor whatever age he or she is. It is up to members of the Classification Board to apply the Guidelines correctly and not to try to defeat the Guidelines because they disagree with the outcome of the actions of elected officials in a democratic rule-of-law society.

Please read the full letter now. I’d like to hear how you would respond to Mr Atkinson. Where are the weaknesses in his reply? Has he contradicted himself? What is the best way for the pro-R18+ movement to counter Mr Atkinson’s argument? Or perhaps you feel he actually makes some very valid points and, if so, which ones?

Sensible comments only, please.

Comments

  • I don’t understand how the good senator can on one hand say parents should restrict the MA15+ rating games from falling into the hands of children, but then on the other hand dismiss a parent’s ability to regulate the R18+ games as something which would be impossible to do…

    • The biggest hole in Atkinson’s argument is that logically he should also oppose an R18+ rating for DVDs (and videos, if anyone still sells videos), which are as much or more available to be watched by kids in the home. Moreso, since it’s easier to lock down adult material in a secure account on a computer than it is to lock down the parental security controls on a DVD player.

      I’m happy for there to be strict controls on what is R18+ (and stricter controls on what is MA15+)and what’s too bad even for R18+. Stuff like Fallout 3 should be able to get in uncut. Stuff like Manhunt can stay banned as far as I’m concerned. There must be some kind of limit, as there is with films, beyond which society says it just doesn’t want anyone to be subjected to even voluntarily (possibly especially voluntarily). Arguing no limits is a slippery slope, you quickly realise that “anything goes” is only a good philosophy if you’re the guy with the gun.

      • Not keeping games inline with DVD’s isn’t a hole in his argument. He says himself that he believes games are much worse than movies and their effect on people. That’s the way he chooses to distinguish the difference between the two.

    • I think the fundamental flaw is that his argument for “protecting the children” doesn’t actually work in real life…
      I can’t say for sure because I’m not an parent, or someone uneducated about these things, as most people who his argument is aimed at are.
      The fact of the situation is that, most parents would see a game rated MA15+ and think “oh billy(who’s 12) really wanted this game and it’s only MA15+… I guess it’s ok to get it for him”.
      But when this is happening, that game may very well be a game that is R18+ in other territories, but has been squeezed under MA15+ or just edited very slightly, like Fallout 3 simply had a drug in it changed from morphine to Med-X.
      Now I know these parents would scoff and never let Billy play the game if it had a black R18+ sticker on it, but very well may let him play it if it’s only a red MA15+.

      Oh yeah, and there’s that whole thing where you can apply parental locks on consoles now, so kids can’t play games they shouldn’t, but as said, this can’t (at least not easily) be done with DVD’s. So Billy might be able to sneak into daddy’s DVD collection and watch something he shouldn’t, much easier than a game he shouldn’t.

      Don’t you see Atkinson!?
      You’re an idiot.
      Please reply to this comment, I’d enjoy it.

  • “I do not accept that this destroys the artistic integrity of the game – excusing gore and depraved sex as art is an immature argument.”

    Ignoring the reality and harshness of the world is immature as well.

    “In cinemas, the age of movie-goers can be regulated…”

    We trust retailers to not sell restricted substances to minors, as well as 18+ movies, why not games? Are the clerks in game stores somehow different to other clerks?

    “I believe the repeated act of killing a computer-generated person or creature desensitises them to violence.”

    Your beliefs and those of your constituent mean exactly nothing to the people of Australia, parent your own children.

    “It is up to parents and responsible adults to ensure a game is appropriate for a minor whatever age he or she is.”

    Really? This is your argument? Sounds a lot like ours.

    • Ribs hit it right on the nail.

      ““It is up to parents and responsible adults to ensure a game is appropriate for a minor whatever age he or she is.”

      Really? This is your argument? Sounds a lot like ours.”

      The fact that the letter highlights multiple times the dangers of children getting their hands on an explicit video game, then says that the responsiblity falls down to parents is an EXTREME contradiction. It seems the real issue is being dodged; slack parents. The portion of happily 20+ year olds living with a partner with no children are being restricted too.

      Also, “…is appropriate for a minor whatever age he or she is”

      thats ridiculous, i wouldn’t show FEAR (currently out) to a 5 year old anymore than i would show hot coffee.

  • I guess the main point for me is, why can films, tv shows etc haev R rating sn games can’t? Any argument around this should fall back to that. One medium is allowed it, and another isn’t. How exactly is that fair?

    Also, he says that it restricts adult liberty, yet he is prepared to take that. Maybe HE is, but that doesn’t mean the majority of the population is. I could say I’m prepared to have sports banned from airing on TV. It doesn’t actually affect me so there’s no loss from my end.

    • The argument for censorship is always a complete non starter. It rests entirely on the idea that some content is so objectionable that the general public must not be allowed to view it. And to ensure this, an elite council must be elected with the express purpose of viewing all this degrading, vile content.

      Don’t get me wrong, I believe strongly in classification. But I do not want some government bureaucracy deciding what is and is not suitable for my consideration.

  • “What the present law does is keep the most extreme material off the shelves. It is true that this restricts adult liberty to a small degree, however, I am prepared to accept this infringement in the circumstances.”

    oh sweet monkey jesus im guessing a man his age does not play games in the way we do so id be easy enough for him to infinge upon this right because hes not the one who has to sacrifice.

    also i know the xbox 360 has parental controlls (im not sure about the PS3) if having the game in the same house as a child is such a big deal you can set up the xbox to not play an MA or R rated game without first entering a parental password now what if thier was some form of mandate requireing games producers to print this information on the first page of the instruction booklet or perhaps a promt when you insert the game for the first time that will lead you to set up this service if that were law would that perhaps sway this class A dickbag to our train of thought

    now on PC you can set up a password lock on the computer as a whole (which inveribly is why i find the whole internet censor shit thing rediculous why should everyone suffer because some lazy parent doesnt want to password lock thier computer to prevent small children unrestricted access) this lock will keep r rated games on a PC secure.

    now i would go into PS# however i do not own one or have mauch experience with one so i cannot comment if anyone would like to fill in my blanks or correct me please (for the recoerd the last time i looked over parental controlls om my 360 was before the new xbox experience)

    thanks

    • Greg, Just in reply to the Parental Controls. Both the Wii and the PS3 have parental controls similar to the 360. I believe that with Windows 7 (and other iterations of Windows) the same thing is possible.

      At the end of the day, All Michael Atkinson is essentially telling us is that he doesn’t trust Parents of Australian Kids to police what games they play. I have a few Nephews which come over to my place every now and again to play games.

      I have hard and fast rules about games which they are allowed to play, They have never played a game without asking me if they can play it first. Its not a hard thing to do… Perhaps all we need is more trust. If a parent lets their kids play those games then it’s their fault, not society as a whole.

  • Interesting points. But not really anything we didn’t know. Yes of course there is the risk of younger audiences playing games but they are no more difficult to regulate than movies. That’s rubbish. Once a film is out of the cinemas a child has many options to see it. The other issue is consistency. Why do some ultra violent games get through? eg. gears of war, fallout 3. These games have dismemberment, gore and high amounts of violence. I cannot see any difference to an example like left4dead 2.I played MW2 on the weekend and walked through an airport while numerous innocents were gunned down in front of me. I may have gunned a few down myself! Pools of blood everywhere! Yet that was passed. Like most things to me it must boil down to money. I theorize that there is a way to get your game passed classification and it probably involves filling government pockets.I am over the hypocracy and lies. The fact of the matter is I will be ordering Left4Dead2 from an overseas site and playing it full gore!!!!

    • i think it boils down to common sence on the part of the OFLC if they banned modern warfare 2 (the biggest game of the decade so far) a few governement reviews could expect violent retaliation

    • There is also rumors that MW2 will be recalled from Australian Shelves because of that level.

      I find this weird considering that isn’t the Classification Board refusing to ‘review’ is banning of the original Left4Dead 2?

      • Utter nonsense on both counts.

        The Classification Board saw “that level” when MW2 was submitted for classification and awarded an MA15+ rating, accordingly. It’s possible that complaints regarding a game’s content may trigger a review of the Board’s decision, but that can happen to any game.

        The decision to refuse classification to Left 4 Dead 2 was reviewed by the Review Board (a separate, independent body to the Classification Board, and the original decision was upheld.

          • The problem with Hot Coffee was that is was hidden from the classification board and they therefore didn’t see it while reviewing it. The MW2 level on the other hand they did see and decided that it was appropriate for a MA15+ rating, its a totally different situation.

  • I find it amazing that an attorney general whose seat is decided upon by a grand total of 20,207 voters can affect the greater Australian population so dramatically.
    Sure the issue isn’t of the upmost importance, but is vetoing a national policy change on the personal opinion of one man true democracy? I cringe to think one man could stop important policy.

  • When people moan about not having an R18+, probably reading what Atkinson says at the end probably rings the most truth as to the unnecessity of the rating. Many games actually get M15+ here but are rated 18+ overseas and are essentially slipping through. Take L4D1 that was 18+ in the UK but M15 here.

    The problem here isn’t the absence of the R18, its the lack of consistancy that we see on the OFCL, take the L4D2 paradox where L4D was fine but the sequel not. An R18 doesn’t solve it because it can only be granted upon reivew and not the first round.

    • “An R18 doesn’t solve it because it can only be granted upon reivew and not the first round.”

      An R18+ rating does not exist in the classification guidelines for video games; thus it cannot ever be granted. Not sure what you’re getting at with that comment.

      • I think he’s trying to say that if the R18+ classification gets introduced, L4D2 has already been RC’d, reviewed and awarded a rating so wouldn’t be re reviewed. Not sure if that’s how it works, but knowing bureaucracy, could very well be.

    • Stores that sell games already ask for ID upon purchase of M, MA classified games and/or other products (seeing as some do carry UMD, Blu-Rays).

      Of course, it doesn’t particularly help that a fair amount of customers disagree with this now standard form of procedure because “it’s a violation of my privacy, you can clearly see I’m older than that.”

      And Ribs, you’ve pretty much said what I’ve wanted to.

      Simply because some parents will allow their children to play games that are R18 but MA15 here, simply because it’s popular among the child’s friends – doesn’t mean that every, single parent will allow their child to view such content.

      And if the idea that “video games increase violence among youth” is brought up in this debate, it doesn’t really – experiments have shown that in the majority of such cases, instead of taking it out on others, it’s much safer for them to go and destroy things within a virtual world as long as the boundaries between what is real and what is virtual is kept the same.

      As I’ve said before, if someone is going to do something violent then they generally have the means to do so before-hand. Additionally, the majority of content seen within these games that Atkinson is blocking by dodging the R18 rating can easily be seen on free-to-air television on a simple flick through across really any time of the day. You can’t block the news, the actual reality of the world that such cruelty happens and with some games – developers are purposely projecting that cruelty in order to make the player think about such things which could help continue bringing awareness to many issues.

      Sorry Atkinson, but children can’t forever stay in a world of Play School and other children’s “safe environments” when such events to desensitize them to things are a possibility every day.

      Sure, people can get around games being refused classification but why should people have to import such products that should be available as long as ID is shown on purchase? (Considering that a lot of games refused classifications are popular targets for piracy, due to people not wanting to spend more to import them).

      I could go on for a while, overall it seems ridiculous to continue on blocking a singular sector for a single rating.

      • Easy way to fix the whole “privacy”

        Make R18+ Games like Liquor or Tobacco, require customers by law to be over 18 and to produce ID when requested to do so. Slap massive fines on people who buy for underage people etc…Hell the amount of times I saw underage kids picking and choosing liquor, or giving money to parents in the store, right in front of us…then when we tried to tell them we cant sell it to them they try to saw “Im buying it, you have to sell it to me” etc…why isnt Alcohol banned since its such a menace?

        I laugh that supermarkets are allowed to sell tobacco to people, even though it’s proven to cause Cancer and kill people…sell alcohol despite the massive amounts of real violence that causes…

        Yet somehow, Violent Video Games are infinately worse than Tobacco and Alcohol, because if they are let through then every child will become a Desensitised Psychopath who will rampage through the streets murdering and raping people.

        Society is already screwed up beyond belief, I dont see how restricting games is going to somehow lead to this Lefty’s Utopian Government Controlled Fantasy World coming into existence.

        • Cigarettes and Alcohol are very bad examples. People use these when arguing about the legalisation of weed. Just because Cigarettes are legal, if weed is safer, it should be legal.

          The problem with banning addictive goods that have already been publicly available is that the effects of an instant ban can often be more detrimental than a gradual weening off. Take cigarettes for example, if they were made illegal tomorrow, a huge black market for them would exist. Prices would rise, and addicts would have to commit crime to be able to afford it. You can say the same about illegal things, but there isn’t that initial legal addiction that occurs.

        • There already are fines in place, however off the top of my memory the fines generally go to the offending seller for sale of the product to an underage person with or without checking for ID.

          As for the alcohol bit, it can also cause a fair bit of damage itself outside of violence.

          An interesting comparison, but not really the best. When we look at the past and we can see fiction and non-fictional literature and other mediums being banned because of a general ideal of a person and/or persons’ at a time and seeing as how this same view is being applied to video games – only to have these past mediums unbanned in the future. If such things in the past have been banned for the same idea now, it really isn’t going to change anything in society or how children are raised.

          War happens, crimes still happen and so-on. Simply refusing a more mature classification is absolutely ridiculous even when taking into consideration that R18 games here are often put into the MA15+ category, combined with that each country does have differences with their ratings that still would be preferable to be put into the R18 group instead of MA due to their content, and would also solve the censorship issues.

          There’s a fair few things to go along with this, but really. The game clerks aren’t any different to the movie store clerks, however this constant debate has come to the issue that many could take it that gamers and game-selling employees are being discriminated nationally because of this constant “think of the children” sort, considering that Australia has an aging population (more older than more children being born) theoretically that ideal is invalid.

    • I was asked for ID when I was buying Borderlands at EB last week and that’s MA 15+. The same as when I rented Wolf Creek (R 18+) the week before. I’m 24 and I look it, but it’s the law and the franchisees don’t want to be fined if the government comes and seizes a week’s worth of CCTV tapes.

      The biggest hole in his argument is that he thinks an EB clerk isn’t as trustworthy as a Blockbuster clerk.

      I’d really like to know why.

  • as much as i disagree with the man

    he sure knows how to put together a compelling arguement.
    i know how I feel about this
    and i still after reading this think we need an r18 classification
    but it is hard to put together good reasons why.

    • Its simple, first as adults we should have the right to decide what we want to watch or play and it is the parents decision what there kids play not the governments.l I hate the use of statistics. They are always false or used incorrectly. First as Australia is an aging population that means that most people who answered that survay are probably over, lets say, 25. Also, that first question is worded strange. You can also take it to mean that if a game is MA would i buy it over a game that is G? The answer, no iIbuy games that are good so i so ratings dont effect how i choose. Now if they added for your children, would people have changed there answer. Is that why is was worded like that so the statistics can be used for arguments either way.

      HMMMMMM MAYBE.

      Ok i am done. I feel much better.

    • It’s not that hard to come up with four great reasons…

      First that under eighteens need to be restricted from accessing unsuitable content in the same way that they’re restricted access to pornography, alcohol and cigarettes – three things that, I might add, are quite well restricted at current.

      Secondly that it encourages developers to seriously consider the availability of their content to their target audiences – forcing them to be more responsible for the content they put in games. Under the same logic it also brings existing content under new scrutiny – more scrutiny.

      Thirdly, Australia, its consumers and its games industry, should be brought into line with the rest of the world.

      Lastly that adults deserve access to view whatever content they wish to – especially considering they can on any other medium.

    • There is one way. Read it again. There is no “compelling argument” here. It’s a mish-mash of half-truths, conjecture and contradicting babble.

    • Compelling argument? I’d like Mr Atkinson to watch Ichi the Killer then play MadWorld (a Wii exclusive incidentally). After that, maybe an hour of Cannibal Holocaust before smashing through a few levels of the uncut L4D2. Then, I’d like him to tell me that a child is at a greater risk of harm from a computer game than a movie.

      When I saw a pirated version of Silence of the Lamb as an 11-year old I was traumatised for days. I wept like a stuck pig watching Life is Beautiful. Games, for all their “simulation” of life don’t come close to movies for their realism or emotional impact.

      Has Mr Atkinson ever actually played any of the games he’s denouncing? It doesn’t sound like it.

      Does he understand the difference between the words “participate” and “interact”? It doesn’t seem like it.

      That letter is full of ignorant, ill-informed palp and it offends my delicate sensibilities.

      • The whole insinuation of ‘depraved/cruel sex’ that he throws around is indicative of his inexperience with games.

        Maybe he’s referring to Rapelay? Fine. But no-one fucking buys that, it’s not on shelves in stores and it shouldn’t inhibit the classification legitimate titles in their intended state.

        Of course when I walk into JB/GAME/whatever and see a wall filled with rape-sims I’ll eat my words.

  • what he doesnt seem to get is that this is completly policable. my friend is a manager of EBGames he refused the sale of an MA15+ to a child under that age. it’s up to the retailers and parents to police this, not someone with no idea what the content is. hes not seeing what is going on. he is only forming an opinion on what other people are telling him. Retailers know the content. they can stop minors getting it by simply refusing sale, and parents can police it by simply taking the game from the child and returning it or trading it in

    • Yes, when I was in EB last Friday buying Dragon Age, I saw an EB employee refusing to sell something to someone without proof of age.

      • I work at ebgames and refuse to sell all MA15+ games to people underage or without ID.. unless their parents are with them.. in which i detail what the games does/is about and why I needed to see an ID.

  • This is just another classic “We need to protect you from yourselves.” aurgument, that’s typical in this right of center political atmosphere we have here in Australia since the neo conservative Howard years.

    • Except for the fact that Atkinson has been in his position since before Howard took government.

      Funny thing that you blame it on Howard though, as Rudd’s government is the one wanting to blacklist our internet. Now that’s what I call conservative.

      • There are idiots on both sides of the fence. Phillip Ruddock held similar views to Atkinson on this matter and he is responsible for the Attorney-General’s department having control over the OFLC. This isn’t an issue of left-wing vs right-wing or Labor vs the Coalition, it’s about censorship, inconsistency across different forms of media and arguing with idiots over the internet.

        • Exactly. If you take a look at Atkinson’s letter, you’ll see that he notes on the post script that the Liberal Party are also supportive on his stance that there should be no R.18+ classification.

          This is an issue of public perception. It is not made any easier when Atkinson paints this picture that the games that do fit in to the R.18+ category are mindless, sex-depraved games that are so abhorrent that no good can come out of them, hence there being no loss for their banning. The gamers are demonized for disagreeing, and the R.18+ movement is brought to a halt as their voices are vastly overwhelmed by the strength and numbers of both major political parties.

          Yet nobody wins. We all know that with basic regulations and observant parents, it is very unlikely that a child will get their hands on a game classified under the R.18+ classification if it had existed. Most parents are not idiots, and even if they don’t play video games can differentiate what is suitable for their children simply by its cover. Not only that, even if children did get their hands on such ‘excessive’ games and became criminals, they would not have been the causation to their actions; merely the correlation.

          Which leads me to my next point. It seems that Atkinson uses video games as a simple scapegoat, the easy excuse to the real causes of criminality; social and economic inequality. By appearing under the guise of preventing children from becoming violent by banning games that would suit an R.18+ classification, Atkinson is able to hide away from tackling those issues, leaving Australians for the worse so that he can remain popular.

          And now for a real contradiction to his letter:

          “62% of Australians in these gaming households ’say the classification of a game has no influence on their buying decision’.”

          http://www.abc.net.au/tv/goodgame/video/default.htm?pres=20081124_2100&story=8

          In his letter, Atkinson refers to a survey by Bond University that suggests that the public aren’t influenced by the classification scheme when purchasing video games. While that may be the case, Atkinson clearly ignores one other significant fact, that the same 93% of people believed that there should be the implementation of an R.18+ classification!

          This just goes to show what a manipulative bastard Atkinson is. Through political trickery and spin, he will do anything to infect his point of view on to others; integrity intact or not. It’s disgusting how one can claim that a survey is ‘absolutely bogus polling’; discounting it when such evidence threatens the whole foundation their argument to merely use it later for your own advantage. It is hypocritical and downright deceitful.

          So, to end my rant:

          “I think you will find this issue has little traction with my constituents who are more concerned with real-life issues than home entertainment in imaginary worlds.”

          Again an immature attitude towards gamers has been rudely expressed by Atkinson. But sadly, he is right. It’s simple really; people are hardly ever in power to do what is right, but to gain power for power’s sake. Atkinson is clearly one of these people.. So long as such games are viewed with disdain, Atkinson will take that same stance against an R.18+ classification as it is not worth the political risk for one that going in to an election year. If that Bond University survey holds true however, that 93% of the Australian public do want an R.18+ classification, then with just the right amount of nudging and media attention, public consensus may just sway our way. Only then could I fathom to see Atkinson agreeing to an R.18+ classification, purely out of political pragmatism.

    • Thats a really good idea. Get him off side with his peers.

      “Contrarily, it has been suggested that games that would otherwise be classified R18+ are instead slipping through as M.A.15+ and becoming accessible to children. This argument does not support an R18+ classification for games. There may be games that some people consider too violent for the M.A.15+ classification but the solution is not to create a classification that would permit even more violent games in Australia.”

      This dosen’t even address the issue of the games that are already available that should bet 18+. That is what will protect children. The reason 62% of gaming households don’t consider classification is because many don’t understand the difference between M15+ and MA15+. Even some people that post comments here don’t realise the difference. But everyone knows what R18+ means. That is why it is powerful enough to protect children.

  • My main question is to do with the reasoning behind his ‘games in the home’ defence. Sure, a child in the home could use the game disc to play the game, but isn’t it the responsibility of the parent/legal adult who purchased the game to prevent it being used by the child? Most consoles, at least, have a parental lock to prevent games of a certain rating being used without entering a password, but still.

    How is having an R18+ game in the house different to having an R18+ DVD on the shelf, or a music CD with explicit language? A child could access those as well, but they are still sold in Australia. I don’t believe the “games mean you’re the one doing it” defense is really that strong.

      • Unfortunately it’s highly unlikely that Michael Atkinson will ever read your letters, and instead that they have been answered by a public servant working in the department of the AG.

        It’s the nature of the system now that these ministers get more mail than they could handle by themselves, and so handle none of it. That’s not to say they go unread, because a DotAG employee will read each and every one of your letters, but Michael Atkinson is stuck in his ways and will have instructed his department to respond to all mail about the R+18 rating in the same manner.

        Plus they must be getting these letters daily, so do you really expect a level 2 public servant not to do a copy and paste reply to them?

  • The fallacy of this whole argument is that its a lot easier for a kid to buy an MA15 game then R rated movie

    R rated (generally) if you like youngish you cop an ID check, MA they take your word for it (generally) because the penalties are a lot less harsh for an MA breach then an R breach.

    If a parent fronts up to a R rated film with a kid, the cinema does not let the kid in. Its against hte law

    just do the same with games. Parent tries to buy little johnny r rated game with little johnny in toe, shop says nup can’t have that (i mean yes the loophole would be the parent says its for themself but then they are the disgraceful parent for lying)

    We have MA15+ games that realy should be rated R on the shelves today which kids can rock up and buy easily

    I saw 15 MW2’s sold to 15ish old kids last week. This is the fallacy of Atkinson. R rated games or those that should be are being sold to school kids without their parents knowing…

  • I would like Atkinson to explain and proove, how policing of movies in both cinemas and retailers differs to policing the sale and playing of a video game? saying they differ just contradicts itself in so many ways.
    Cinema staff can refuse a child into a movie without proper identification or a parent to accompany them. the retailer can refuse the sale of a movie to an underage person without ID or a parent.
    same goes for Video Games. Retailer simply refuses the sale without ID or parent. and if the child purchases the game with a parent or ID the parent can easily police this. take the game away. parental lock requires a password. enable this and the console will not play the game above the rating you set. and as far as i know Xbox live prevents the game being loaded if the player accociated with the gamertag is under the game rating.

  • The other problem with Atkinsons argument (and something that gamers 4 croydon HAS to point out) is that the examples he mentions WOULD STILL BE BANNED

    they are banned in films they are banned in games….. we don’t want X, want fair and equitable treatment

  • quote

    ‘democratic rule-of-law society.’

    sorry if 6 out of seven attorney generals agree to have R18 and we still don’t have it

    we live in a dictatorship not a democracy

    how can he say we have a democracy when he is ruling the world (in this instance)

    • i agree this is’nt democracy this is some dickbag abusing a stupid legal loophole one that should never existed.

      Question does anyone know what government office can close this loophole as in change the legislature so that a unanimous decision is not required im thinking that would be the easer option what with atkinson being a zealot on this subject perhaps the best option is to take the desicion from his hands

  • What worries me is that he seems to equate movie violence with video game violence. What is worse, a child seeing a real person being beaten to death. Which happens quite a lot in even MA 15+ rated movies or a roughly simulated person being killed in a way that doesn’t really emulate reality. How many zombies do you see running down the street.

  • One thing that he frequently states always seems to stick out to me.

    “Classification of electronic games is very different from the classification of film. In cinemas, the age of movie-goers can be regulated… Rising game and console sales make it clear that this is a growing area that needs careful regulation, even more so than cinemas and private D.V.D. hire and purchase. Access to electronic games, once in the home, cannot be policed and therefore the games are easily accessible to children”

    One could make and identical argument for any adult restricted item. Be it cigarettes, alcohol or adult films and magazines. All of these items can be readily purchased by an adult and then kept at home in an un-regulated environment.

    If one of his driving issues is that adults only material can be accessed in the home by children if not properly secured, then why does he not speak out against or attempt to enforce bans or restrictions on the take home nature of these items?

    Heck, even the restricted movies can be purchased on DVD\Blu-ray 6 months down the track and brought home. Why is one form of age restriction good enough for all other (and in many ways more harmful) items and not good enough for others? I would have no problem with the introduction of a fine based system for the sale of restricted titles to minor’s.

    Also he seems to be under the impression that every gamer on the planet is some sick deranged pervert lusting for nothing more than violence and sex. The want to play something as the designer intended is a little different to being a closet sociopath.

    I’ve played many violent games in my time and I’m no more de-sensitised to real life violence than I have ever been (i.e. not at all).

  • We’ve been going about the pro-R18+ argument the wrong way.

    What we should be doing is not buying games which have been censored (no matter how minor the censorship is) from Australian retail stores.

    By telling the stores that we’re not buying X game because it’s been censored to comply with our rating guidelines, the retailers can cherry-pick the numbers and complain that this censorship due to the lack of an R18+ rating is costing them sales and that if it continues, jobs will be lost.

    This would then put business pressure on the SA government to get Atikinson to change his mind as in the current economic climate, state and federal governments are trying to keep people in jobs.

    This economic angle could even be used as the main point of a national advertising campaign on this issue (with a major focus on SA) if the major game retailers pool their resources together. Press releases, TV ads, newspaper ads, radio ads, billboards, Internet ads…..all these things can be used to push this argument forward.

    I just hope this idea catches on with Joe Public. It’ll be very tricky to get this idea to catch on but it’s more about sensationalising the figures that are there (as 99% of advertising does so well).

    • I made a forum post at australian gamer when L4D2was still under review by the classification review board, in it I stated a plan for boycotting the game (from australian retailers) if we ended getting the censored version, I stated that we ought to take down the numbers of people participating in the boycott to asses the actual economic impact and then present this in the media and also to the government. I also included a poll asking people whether they would be willing to play a censored version of L4D2. Surprisingly everyone was pretty much against my idea they said that it would be unfair to punish retailers and that they would buy the censored version anyway.

      I thought that it wouldn’t be punishing retailers anymore than normal as it was simply formalizing a boycott I assumed many people would make anyway due to the censoring of the game. Also it is really the fault of the classification system not us for any lost profits as they are forcing retailers to sell an inferior product, and retailers really should be forced to stand up for themselves on this issue.

      However when the details of the censored version were released on this site, the comments were in very stark contrast to those in my thread, people seemed most adamant that they would not be purchasing a censored version. So perhaps there is still some hope for my plan, anyone wanting to help me bring to fruition my plan of boycotting censored games and forcing retailers to pressure the government and also being able to collect some solid economic evidence to contribute to our arguments please send me an email at: “[email protected]”.

  • bloody politicians can talk some crap about stuff they know nothing about i’ve been playing games like gta since i was 10 and i dont think i plan going around killing people and having sex with prostitutes

  • He contradicts himself in saying it is up to parents to to ensure a game is appropriate for minors but then by quoting the Bond university study he seems to indicate a lack of faith in parents being able to do this very thing. In addition he explains that once games are in the home they cannot be policed at all, which further contradicts his latter statement about parents. Also he get’s frustratingly close to mentioning DVD’s in the context of this argument which would totally destroy itself if he actually recognized that there is virtually no difference in preventing access to DVD’s to than in preventing access videogames within the home. His statements imply a view that videogames are to children like a jar of candy on a shelf whereas DVD’s hold as much interest as book. Given the difficulty of many adult themed videogames I would think it is even harder for a child to access inappropriate content in them then to simply play a DVD and fast forward to the interesting sections.

    Also his comments about games not necessarily holding to more interest to adults because of certain content and that calling them art because of certain content is immature are debatable, after all imagine if the art in galleries and theaters was only allowed to contain content below an MA15 classification. Indeed increasingly these days we are seeing art in galleries that is an audio-visual interactive experience, when does this cross the line into becoming a computer game that has to be classified Ma15+ or are these things exempt from classification as virtual training programs are?

    Lastly his contestant references to violent or “cruel sex” are starting to become irritating, if you look at the guidelines for classification, it clearly states that even in regards to content classified with an adult rating sexual violence and promoting drug use are still prohibited. I thin we really ought to be calling Micheal Atkinson to account for either his absolute ignorance or complete misrepresentation of the classification guidelines, although I think to some extent he believes that gamers are trying to get some “anything goes” adult rating becuase they are simply sick and twisted. Either that or he is trying to represent us in this way, however the fact that this is a single correspondence rather than a media release indicates the first theory is true.

    • Spot on Ayrton, and nicely expressed. The suggestion, no, the statement that video games are more difficult to regulate than movies, art, music, etc, is simply ludicrous. Console makers have made a very deliberate decision to allow parents the ability to restrict access to games based on classification. I don’t have children, but if I did, chances are I would still have a copy of Zombie Strippers (c’mon, it has zomies AND strippers!!!) in my possession. There are two points to note in this example:

      1) If I had children, this film would be stored somewhere my children could not access.

      2) However, if they did find it, there is absoluteley no way my DVD player could stop them from viewing it.

      I find it isanely hard to fathom that Atkinson honestly believes video games within a family household are harder to regulate than films. As previously stated, he openly contradicts himself with regards to his faith in parents to restrict access to certain content. Beyond that, the implication is that Atkinson does not have any faith in the avergae Australian’s ability to responsibly raise a child. He will therefor remove that responsibility entirely, and not only mind our children for us, but treat us like children as well. Its insulting.

      To finish off the example above, on the flipside, if my hypothetical child was to find an R18 game that I had stored somewhere, and proceeded to pop it in the console, he would be prompted to enter a password. He would then have to make do with staring at the box for a while. End of story.

      Honestly, while Atkinson does compose a nice letter (or his advisors do), closer observation makes my head hurt, and I have neither the time nor the space to completely rip that piece of writing apart.

      • Actually I think that some DVD and set top boxes players have parental controls although I couldn’t say whether or not yours does but if we can trust the parental controls on DVD players (which if I recall are similar in design) why can’t we trust those on consoles? the PC itself is a console yet Atkinson appears to be happy (although he may support the net filter) for parents to make sure their children do not access extremely more inappropriate content via the internet (something which is much harder to do) but not use parental controls to control video games. In fact without an R18 rating it is even HARDER for parents to use these controls as they operate on the basis of classification levels and because Adult games currently are placed in the MA15+ category parents who let their children play MA 15 games now are not able to use these parental controls to prevent them playing the games that really should be R18 and have to rely on other methods, the same methods which Micheal Atkinson doubts could prevent children from accessing these games. He should either trust parents and give them everything they need to do their job or if he does not (which he seems to imply) he should live up to his words and take upon himself the sole responsibility of monitoring the media exposure of every child under 18 in Australia, rather than talking these half-methods which help no one.

  • Of the entire letter, it is this line that I find the most frustrating:

    Access to electronic games, once in the home, cannot be policed and therefore the games are easily accessible to children.

    This is pretty much the single point his entire argument boils down to.
    Something that should not be any thing to do with the government, and purely to do with good parenting.
    I don’t see movies, alcohol, smoking, or hell, even driving a vehicle banned outright. I mean, all of these things have age associated restrictions, yet are every bit as accessible to a child at home.
    And at least two of those things pose a far far greater risk to a child’s development, yet I don’t see anyone banning cigarettes or alcohol outright screaming ‘THINK OF THE CHILDREN!’. No they just regulate the sales of them. Just as they do for R18+ movies, so why do they refuse to do the same for games.

    • Actually smoking around children under 16 in houses and cars is now a legally enforceable ban in NSW

      its fun to watch the cops sit outside public schools booking all the soccer mums who smoke in the car with their kids

      • True, but my point was more that because the parents smoke, they must have smokes sitting unnattended at home and therefore accessible to THE CHILDREN!

  • Atkinson’s Letter: “It is up to parents and responsible adults to ensure a game is appropriate for a minor whatever age he or she is.”

    Exactly. I wholly agree. The Classification board should assist in making this decision with as much accuracy as they can. As such, they have no place deciding -for- us; ie: choosing which games are unacceptable in place of the adults in society.

    How is it possible that he does not see the contradiction here?

    I see Matt Gosper just above has the same opinion.

    This is just ridiculous – that he’s claiming that he should make the decision for us.

  • “I am bafffled and worried about why proponents of R18+ games are putting up their hands and saying ‘Give us more cruel sex and extreme violence!’”.

    He know for a fact nobody has ever said anything like this when speaking about the reasons for this classification.

    BIGGEST CONTRADICTION RIGHT HERE:

    “Access to electronic games, once in the home, cannot be policed and therefore the games are easily accesible to children.”

    “It is up to members of the Classification Board to apply the Guidelines correctly and not to try to defeat the Guidelines because they disagree with the outcome of the actions of elected officials in a democratic rule-of-law society.”

    On one hand, he states that games cannot be policed in the home. Instead of allowing parents to police their children and what their children should see, hear and play, he decides for all parents. He directly takes the decision out of the parents’ hands and makes the decision for them. AND THEN, IN THE SAME LETTER, mentions the concept of democracy. Is he being deliberately obtuse?

    “explicit sexual material”
    “cruel sex”
    “depraved sex”
    “depraved sex”
    “depraved sex”

    Every time. Every single time Atkinson makes his point about why he is opposed to an R rating, he mentions sex as one of the reason. One thing he never, ever, not once, does however is name the games he is referring to. It is tiring to read his statements time and time again with no titles of games he is talking about. Is he referring to Rapelay? If so, then say so. Clearly mention a Japanese game that wouldn’t enter this country anyway because IT IS RATED X. NOT R, BUT X. Does he really expect anyone to believe that we will see games like Rapelay on the shelves of Big W? If not, then say so.

    Make clear, distinct, specific points about particular games, Michael. As opposed to just nonsensical scaremongering about THESE GAMERS WANT GORE SEX SWEAR WORDS IN THEIR GAMES DEPRAVED VUNERABLE ADULTS CHILDREN CAN’T BE PROTECTED!!! with absolutely no mention whatsoever of what you’re referring to.

    Seriously, I’m really, really exhausted from reading the same old thing from him. Exhausted because every single argument he presents is factually incorrect or unclear and he never, ever, ever seems to even begin to understand this. Surely, someone on his staff AT SOME POINT has maybe mentioned this at least once? Is he still going to be making these outlandish claims in ten years time?

    • He also sent an almost identical letter to me in which he DID mention rape play amongts a list of japanese rape-games, as I said before the current classification guidelines even in regards to R 18 content do not allow sexual violence, and we should be pointing out in the media that Atkinson is either unaware of this or blatantly misrepresenting the guidelines.

  • PS3 & Xbox360 (what 99.9% of young gamers will be playing on) both have parental controls. These can NOT be bypassed without the parent’s action.

    NOW WHAT THE HELL IS THE PROBLEM.

  • Did we notice he distorted the facts here:

    “‘Interactive Australia 2007′, a report prepared by Bond University for the Interactive Entertainment Association of Australia, surveyed 1,606 Australian households randomly. The report found “79% of Australian households have a device for computer and video games”. Further, 62% of Australians in these gaming households “say the classification of a game has no influence on their buying decision”.”

    The trick is that it was a RANDOM sample, and paid no attention to whether the household even contained children. If we think about it a little more, homes with children over the age of 15 aren’t going to care about ratings as the child can just buy it themselves anyhow. Homes where the children are to young aren’t going to care about ratings (the game is for the adults anyhow). Homes without children aren’t going to care about ratings either. That leaves homes with children old enough to play games (and how are interested in games), but younger than 15 as the homes that need to worry about what a game is rated (and only then if the particular game is for a child/accessible by a child). Now it seems to me that 48% of gaming households paying attention to ratings actually seems higher than I would have expected.

  • “79% of Australian households have a device for computer and video games”. Further, 62% of Australians in these gaming households “say the classification of a game has no influence on their buying decision”.

    This statement is indicative that Australian households are not being served by the current rating system for games, and are instead opting to ignore the rating advice on offer, pointing to the need to educate the public and revise the system in such a way that it is clearer, more consistent and trustworthy.

    If I were a parent of a 15 year old, knowing already the content of games such as GTAIV and LFD1, was being given a rating of MA15+, then I would ignore the rating system as well.

    Currently we’re in the situation where some parents are ignoring the rating system because they are not well informed as to the kinds of games that are being passed through as MA15+ – consequently buying inappropriate games for their children.

    While other parents are ignoring the rating system because they are very well informed and realize what is and isn’t appropriate for their kids, and make the decision themselves to not purchase violent games for 15 years olds, regardless of an MA15+ rating.

  • He has made a valid point that the artistic integrity of a game is not hindered by the removal of gore or sex. I’m actually glad he can considers “artistic” relevant vocabulary when talking about games. To the same extent though, if Wolf Creek (rated R+18) were edited a bit to remove some of the blood and gore, it’s artistic integrity would still be intact, yet that doesn’t mean it’s appropriate viewing for 15 year olds.
    on a quick note (I’m meant to be working)..
    He seems to think that bringing in R+18 will open the flood gates for extreme content in our country. In reality less than 10 games per year are refused classification, meanwhile hundreds of games already flood the market which are given MA+15 could be given R+18 instead. So to protect Australia from 10 games (which by all means could still actually be banned, R+18 isn’t just the new RC) per year, we are shoe-horning games into R+18. If someone were to look at all the MA+15 games we have that are R18 in the UK you’d come out with a figure to rebut his point that we’re not actually protecting anyone, if anything we’re (read: he’s) doing more harm than good.
    I also question if Atkinson has actually seen some of the content he’s discussing. He seems quite hooked on the idea of depraved sex and violence. Perhaps he should be reminded of the content we’re already getting. I wish I could make a short trailer with examples of UK R18 games.. the bathroom sex scene in GTAIV: TBoGT, Airport in COD:MW2, sex scenes in God Of War, chain sawing grunts in Gears Of War, Bioshock 2, exploding heads in Fallout 3, stylised violence in Madworld, realistic violence in Killzone 2. If this were in a trailer (which didn’t attempt to celebrate such things) and at the end posed the question, “shouldn’t these games be rated R?”

  • Er, what?
    In one part of his letter, he claims that it is impossible to regulate the use of video games (i.e. prevent children playing MA15+ and above games) once a video game enters the home. In another part, he claims that it is the responsibility of parents to ensure that they know what their children are playing and to take necessary actions.
    Which is it?
    If it’s the classification board, etc, job to regulate it, an extra classification rating makes sense, as it can explicitly prevent the sales of certain games to minors.
    If it’s the parents responsibility, then an extra classification rating makes sense, as it provides better information to parents.

  • I should also point out here that these are the same arguments put to cinema and TV from long ago. The “desensitised children” arguement for example has been proven to be wrong.

    The main crux difference between TV/Cinema and games is the interactivity. This is where the debate should be housed. If games were not interactive, R18 is on the same playing field. The interactivity is argued to have a greater impact. Our arguement back should be the studies that have shown this is not the case, and that in fact kids that play violent games are actually more calm then those that done.

    Michael Atkinson also contradicted himself saying that parents monitor what movies come into a house, but does apply this arguement to games (which he said if its in the house, kids will play it). He also made out the desirability of R18 for kids is an issue. What teenagers are after porno and violent movies any less?

  • His argument about movies being more easily regulated etc is inaccurate…every one of these movies is released on DVD and any child could easily access an R18+ DVD in a house hold once purchased by an adult.

    This guy is crumbling under pressure and i love it…politicians grasping for manipulated data, ignoring research that opposes their opinions, making up entirely false information, disrespecting others and other politicians etc. We will receive an R rating eventually…it’s just a matter of time. Is the purpose of the government not to serve the public and respect public decision? It is not to overthrow them with a personal minority opinion.

  • “I do not accept that this destroys the artistic integrity of the game – excusing gore and depraved sex as art is an immature argument.”

    What he’s doing here is using the straw-man argument: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Straw_man

    I do not know what others have argued, but this is what I stated in my letter:

    I am writing in response to your stance on video-game classification. I believe your view of the ‘gamer’ community is misguided, and that the restriction of game classifications is inhibiting the development of a potential new medium.

    I am an eighteen year old male, who is currently studying design in visual communication at university. I am an advocate of the arts, of literature, of music, of film and, indeed, video games. While I would not deny that literature and film are capable of producing works of the most tasteless appeal, it would be a fallacy to ignore the great emotional and intellectual impact of others. It is true that there is yet no such thing as a video-game that could rival the likes of novels such Lolita, but I believe this is because video-games are a medium still in their infancy. Censorship by the government will do nothing to help the development of this industry through a violent, angst-ridden adolescence to a medium which will one day be capable of deeply affecting one of the largest-growing demographics in the world.

    The statement that video games are nothing but “virtual suffering that R18+ nerds seek to inflict for their gratification on the computer screen” is blatantly prejudiced. I may not speak for the entire ‘gamer’ community but I myself am a pacifist and would like to think that I am a well-adjusted individual who both has a social life and a range of interests beyond a screen.

    I can think of none of my friends – also involved in video games – who would seek out a game which promoted the ability to ‘rape a mother and her two daughters’; most ‘gamers’ are not entirely morally depraved. However, rape is indeed a terrible and deeply emotional subject, and its denial within media has been a significant issue before. No doubt treatments such as these by the medium have contributed to the severe emotional distress of rape victims, and the difficulty that has often been encountered by victims in admitting and seeking counselling. This is, however, only one instance. I mention this not to advocate permitting a player to commit such a horrible deed within a video-game context, but how that presentation – and furthermore the denial – of adult subjects within the media is a significant issue. Allowing adult subjects to be presented within a new medium does not necessarily mean that the viewers will advocate these things. I would support this statement with references to games such as the upcoming ‘Heavy Rain’; a game about the emotional and moral impacts upon a group of characters affected by a child abductor.

    I am personally more concerned with the issue of addressing rape within real Australian cities than is presentation in a fictional context. I would urge you to reconsider your stance and its implications.”

  • Michael argues we should not confuse high levels of violence and sexuality with increased entertainment. however HE should not confuse increased levels of violence and sexuality as being without entertainment value, context is always the deciding factor.

    the reason we have an 18+ catagory of film is to accomidate movies like Saving Private Ryan or Wolf Creek, where the context of realisitic or intense violence is appropriate for drama and horror respectively.

    he also states that in the implimentaton of a 18+ catagory of games he cannot see a way to prevent households from purchaing these items and them getting into the hands of children and implies this is justification to continue without a rating.

    frankly by that argument he should be pushing for a banning of alcohol and cigarettes from australia, both are intended for adults only and do actual physical and mental(rather than supposed mental) harm. and both have poor track records of being kept from underage persons after sale using the same standard every other country uses for their 18+ catagory games, ID only sales and fines for sellers who do not comply.

  • This is what disheartens me most about this situation.

    Michael Atkinson is no idiot, and he believes he is doing the right thing, and in a way, he is. But censorship and the outright banning of material is not the right way for him to go about it.

    There are other ways to prevent these games from getting into the hands of kids, either through education about games ratings, or holding sellers and parents responsible for letting children get hold of this material.

    Restricting the content itself is admittedly the easiest method, but that ease adds an an ethical cost.

    Imagine if every product that was unsuitable for children was removed from Australia. Imagine living in a country where everything we read and saw and experienced was toned down so that a child can happily view it.

    Imagine if Oscar winning films such as Silence of the Lambs and The Departed were made suitable for children of all ages. They are violent films, yet the violence is there to serve a purpose, and without that violence the films would have less of an impact and may not have earned the accolades that they have today.

    What I am trying to say is that I agree that R18 games should not get into the hands of children, but stopping them at the border and censoring them deprives us of the impact and emotion that games targeted to adults can deliver, and it is hindering the entire medium of Videogames from becoming a widely respected art-form.

    Mr Atkinson, your goals seem noble and just, but there must be a better way to achieve them.

  • “I am bafffled and worried about why proponents of R18+ games are putting up their hands and saying – Give us more cruel sex and extreme violence!”

    I would put my hand up against putting a Maple Leaf in front of the statue of David. It doesn’t mean I want to see penis all day long!

    Like it or not, the video game industry is fast becoming our new form of cultural and artistic expression, one day it could even be the main form (just look at MW2 sales compared to Transformers movie weekend sales)… They’re artists, not toy makers. So start treating them as such.

    It’s a very exciting time for the games industry. You’re trying your best to hold it back but eventually you’re going to have to give in.

  • If anyone’s interested, I found the original copy of Anderson’s ‘comfortabley numb’ paper here –
    http://www.sitemaker.umich.edu/brad.bushman/files/ba09.pdf

    Atkinson refers to it towards the end of the letter.

    I also found this by Andersons co-author on the same page – ‘When God Sanctions Killing – effect of scriptural violence on aggression’.

    http://www.sitemaker.umich.edu/brad.bushman/files/BRDKB07.pdf

    Where, a quick scan suggests the same co-author suggests that ‘People who believe that God sanctions violence are more likely to behave aggressively themselves…’
    It would be interesting to see if Mr. Atkinson supports those findings too.

  • In much the same way as the Modern Warfare 2 boycott helped Activision to record sales, focusing the classification debate on Michael Atkinson does nothing more than bring attention to an otherwise unremarkable (if depressingly uninformed) politician. There is no such thing as bad publicity.

    Productive and useful political action on games classification should not be attempting to convince Michael Atkinson; it should be attempting to convince his audience. This needs to be about helping Australians understand the massive penetration of an increasingly mainstream passtime and the problems it raises for artistic development and free speech across all media.

    Every time Atkinson’s face pops up it makes the whole debate nothing more than a mudslinging match between marginalised radical fringes. Sensible politics doesn’t engage the crazies.

  • The man backs himself up solely with strawman arguments. Rather than addressing the questions people has, he poses himself questions he wants to answer. The sooner he loses his seat the better.

  • “are content to let me be the lightening (sic) rod for the gamers.”

    He speaks of gamers as if they were some uncontrollable force or feral population, awesome way to appear arrogant to your recipient.
    He also likes to repeat the phrase “depraved sex” and “violence”, so basically he’s accusing you of being a feral sex fiend:P (Not that sex is bad, did you know that’s how the human race has survived for so long? However, that’s a different issue altogether.)

    It can be hard to back up the gamer point of view as he probably sees us as just a bunch of nerds who want to see more blood and squishy bits, but the real issue here is that the government advocating censorship and denying freedoms to Australians.

    I believe that preventing kids from getting their hands on mature games should be the responsibility of the individual parent. Those who don’t want their kids playing violent games should take matters into their own hands rather than place the blame on others, surely there are more important things for the government to do than force their ideals of how society should be entertained or children should be raised. (Right? Please tell me I’m right…)

    Surely a more beneficial solution would be to approve the R18+ rating, get clerks to ask for ID and educate concerned parents on how to solve their problems.

  • These sorts of issues are a great argument for the abolishment of state governments, and handing things over to the federales. How can a fedral government body (oflc) be dictated to by a state minister (and someone who to me appears to be the result of inter sibling…. well you know the rest!)

  • His arguments are still full of holes and bizarre misconception of the content gamers in Australia want unedited. I can understand why he has latched on to Rapeplay and other Japanese adult games but these games aren’t released in the US or Europe where they do have 18+ ratings nor released on home consoles (at least, in their adult form) on home consoles in Japan.

    I do know what he means about the lack of awareness of classifications on games (and movie to an equal degree) and I’m sure a lot of parents will buy little Jimmy’s game for him without thinking twice about the MA rating (I DO think the big black R18 – Adults Only rating might catch her eye though) but that’s not a fault of the game industry nor the Board of Classification. It’s the parent’s problem. If a clerk sells House of the Dead: Overkill to a 10 year old, that’s the clerk’s fault not the game. Aside from Alcohol, I’ve been IDed ONCE in my life. When I was 12, I wanted to buy Ghost in the Shell (BBFC rating – 15) on VHS. When I got to the counter the youth serving at the desk looked at me. “Are you fifteen?” he inquired. “Yes.” I responded, my face flushed and my terror obvious to all. “Hmmm…” He rubbed his chin. “okay.” What was he going to do? Ask to see my driver’s license? It’s a tough rule to enforce but the enforcing of the rule is not the job of the makers of the product.

    Refusing to classify content for one medium (games) that is fine in another (movies), again, doesn’t solve any problems. Infact, it creates new ones when games that can’t get an R18 rating are squeezed through with an MA15 one.

    Sure, this ploy might make big developers look more closely at their games and expunge that nasty violence or sexual content and make it all lovely and nice… except… Australia is a Minor Territory. That means, in terms of video games/movies/music sales, it’s not a big deal. While some might edit the content, others might feel that the cost outweighs the potential profit. What it does mean is that more people are importing games from other Territories which lower profit in Australia and in turn harm Australian distributors.

    Should there be an R18 rating for games? Of course there should be. Any rational human being would realize that. Should the R18 rating be enforced? I’d have to say yes, and more so than MA15 is currently. The person selling the game should make clear to the customer that the game in question contains material not suitable for children and if they still wish to buy the game.

    What is to stop a child watching a pornographic DVD purchased by a parent? Nothing. Consoles however, can be locked by parents so even if the child did get the game, assuming they aren’t using the adult’s account, they couldn’t play it.

    I understand that Mr Atkinson believes that “the repeated act of killing a computer-generated person or creature desensitises (children) to violence” Which is fine. But just because he believes it doesn’t make it true and extensive studies tend to show this not to be the case. It also brings us back to the point of all this. An R18 rating. The child shouldn’t be playing the game in the first place.

    Can we convince Mr Atkinson that this is the case? Of course not. After reading his unaccurate, contradicting diatribe, I realize that nothing we cay would change his opinion. He continually spouts nonsense based on his own uneducated conjecture. He says that “It is up to parents and responsible adults to ensure a game is appropriate for a minor whatever age he or she is.” which is the most sensical thing he has said, yet he preceded it with “62% of Australians in these gaming households “say the classification of a game has no influence on their buying decision” and “I cannot fathom what State-enforced safeguards could exist to prevent R18+ games being bought by households with children and how children can be stopped from using these games once the games are in the home”.

    He also says “It is true that this restricts adult liberty to a small degree, however, I am prepared to accept this infringement in the circumstances”. Admirable sentiments but it leaves me with a question. Mr Atkinson is prepared to accept this infringement of liberty. Since when does Mr Atkinson speak for all in Australia? Because he has seen fit to shoulder the burden of denying us our freedoms. Are we prepared to let him? Do WE “accept” it?

  • Michael Atkinson seems to believe having an R18+ rating means anything not MA (restricted to 15+) will fall into this R18+ category. It appears that he doesn’t yet undertand that games can still be given a RC (Refused Classification) while an R18+ rating exists, therefore banning the game still.

    I think if he can understand this, it might be a win-win for all of us.

  • “I believe the repeated act of killing a computer-generated person or creature desensitises them to violence. To my mind, a child being able to watch depraved sex and extreme violence in a movie is damaging to the child, but the child’s participating (sic) in depraved sex and extreme violence in a computer game is worse.”

    Man, isn’t that what an R18+ rating would prevent? Man. MAN.

    I agree with what Dan Houser, I think it was, said the other day, about it being so frustrating and hypocritical that the movie industry is pretty much exempt from the same criticism that the game industry is now under.

  • I am going to import every single game that is refused classification in Australia. This will take revenue out of the country and into the hands of foreign businesses.

    Congratulations Mr Atkinson, you’re a real ambassador of our economy.

  • “There may be games that some people consider too violent for the M.A.15+ classification but the solution is not to create a classification that would permit even more violent games in Australia. M.A.15+ games are restricted to children over 15 and if younger children access these games it further justifies complete protection from R18+ games.”

    So… He’s saying that young children playing MA15+ games that should have been rated R18+ is better than them playing the same game with an R18+ rating, when that would cause it to be less available to young children?

  • Firstly, I am very pro R18+, but I think before you attack Atkinson you need to take his points on board. I can understand why he doesn’t want R18+ material getting into the hands of children although I don’t belive that taking away basic freedoms of adults is the solution.

    In a perfect world, we could meet Atkinson in the middle. We could get our R18+ content, but parents who purchase R18+ games for children should face fines similar to if they brought the kids cigarettes or alcohol, not just the retailers. I really think that this should apply to MA15+ games as well, the ratings are there for a reason and I would love to be able to play my violent online shooters without some 8 year old kid singing the theme song to “Postman Pat” over his headset.

    Which brings me to another major issue: make all headsets for online gaming R18+.

    • That’s an interesting point about the headset.
      Firstly I agree, they should be working on fixing the problem of the material getting into the hands of children and not the material itself. The focus is in the wrong direction.

      As for the headset, it would probably better if the console parental controls could work for online chat too. Does it already? I don’t know.

  • Oh, another issue. When are we going to start censoring books? I don’t understand why books are exempt from any sort of censorship.

    There’s a bit of a ruckus at our local high school because one of the new vampire books is full of vampiric fellacio (?!), and I remember that some of the girls found a library book when I was in high school that featured a teenage girl getting a dog to perform cunnilingus on her.

    Sounds a lot worse than shooting Zombies in my humble opinion…

  • The last line of his letter is really just rubbing it in our faces that the policies for which he was voted into power are unrelated to the (lack of a) R18+ policy. If nobody in his electorate cares about an R18+ rating, then why does he have power over it at all?

  • So…by saying that the R18+ rating gives children access to these games, isn’t he admitting that this ratings system and the laws around it are flawed? Do children have access to cigarettes and alcohol, too? The problem lies in the lawful restriction of this content, not in the content itself.

    Furthermore, a game that would be rated R18+ being edited down slightly to receive an MA15+ rating seems that it would actually allow content that was questionable enough to be given an R18+ to fall into the hands of 15 year olds, albeit with some slight watering down. The toning down of the violence in many games that would be R18+ doesn’t dilute the themes within. Would the slaying of innocent bystanders in Modern Warfare 2 be worse if their limbs came off, too? To me the scene is just as disturbing either way.

    By the way, Mr. Atkinson: it’s really easy to import games.

  • Ok… basic rebuttle of a few of his arguements.

    By taking the power away from parents to control what children do, he is actively encouraging parents to let the state raise thier kids for them. Which is NOT the goal of a free society.

    At the same time, by refusing sale of R18 games in australia, he is only encouraging imports which are far less regulated and cannot be tracked to a purchaser as easily as an in-country purchase. At the same time he is removing any ability to control and regulate anything children see.

    R18 exists in movies, Tv shows and other formats, has for 100 years, graphic depictions of sex, violence and other forms of adult material are far more realistic on Tv and movies then in any game.

    If it’s up to the parents to descide what’s best for their kids, why is he not giving parents the choice?

    Let’s see, what else…

    Ahhh yes, the fact that R18 games are finding their way into MA15 ratings does DIRECTLY support a classification of R18 for games, at present material that would not be deemed suitable for a minor is being made MORE AVAILABLE to a minor as opposed to less, especially when all major software vendors in Australia already voulentarily enforce the rating system/sale to minors over the counter. By removing R18, games are being shoved in Ma15 instead for the very reason that the system is broken.

    Ahhh yes, the coup-de-grace, studies undertaken in the UK AND the US have shown that since the introduction of mature content video games, CRIME HAS DROPPED substantially, petty crimes such as robbery, shootings and stabbings have dropped in direct correspondance to the availability of games. People with mental disorders or anger issues are no longer going into the streets to shiv people but playing games which allows them to vent their anger in a harmless manner instead of affecting the public.

    I would easily like to compile a response letter to atkinson, perhaps someone from Kotaku can get together all the rebuttle points and send them to him as a direct challenge to this.

    Oh, and they may want to add that all the people who mailed AGs in other states received responses from those AGs saying they overwhelming support R18. Maybe we need to compile these letters as an amendment to a message to Atkinson, let him know he truely does stand alone on this issue.

  • Wow…. where to start?
    _________________________________________________

    -“Indeed, with all the effort and money that goes into game development, coupled with the effects and graphics now available, there is no need to introduce these extreme elements. I am baffled and worried about why proponents of R18+ games are putting up their hands and saying ‘Give us more cruel sex and extreme violence!’”-

    There is “no need”? You are “baffled”? Then maybe, seeing as you have absolutely no idea about the industry you are holding back, you should stop trying to personally govern it with your own blind, moralistic agenda?

    Also please link me to any game that you have played where there has been “cruel sex”? Oh, you can’t, because you make up disgusting lies about games letting you rape mothers and daughters for points when there are no such games in existence.

    _________________________________________________

    -““79% of Australian households have a device for computer and video games”. Further, 62% of Australians in these gaming households “say the classification of a game has no influence on their buying decision”.

    Given this data, I cannot fathom what State-enforced safeguards could exist to prevent R18+ games being bought by households with children and how children can be stopped from using these games once the games are in the home.”-

    Did you stop to think that the 38% of households who DO use the ratings system would represent the number of households with children AND gaming systems? The average gamer in Australia is almost 30 years old, and not every single household has a family in it.

    Anyway, the exact same thing can be said of absolutely ANYTHING not suitable for children in a household. If your child gets a hold of a knife, it is the parents fault. If your child gets a hold of a lighter, it is the parents fault. If the child finds content unsuitable for them in the form of DVDs or CDs, it is the PARENTS fault! We don’t go around banning knives and lighters because a child COULD get hold of them at some point.

    It is NOT the governments job to parent the children of the parents of its society with arbitrary laws that disallow the basic freedom of being able to view the entertainment that they wish to view. You may not understand why they enjoy it, but that is not your prerogative,and it should not be illegal for them to enjoy it; you are in your position to represent the people, not to control them based on your own ideals.

    You are saying that our ratings system, and the way games are governed, is mediocre, and I agree; but the answer is not to ad-hoc a new law on to our flawed ratings system. We need to fix the ratings system itself and educate society on how to use it so that they can make informed decisions about what they buy.

    This is the basic idea behind any sort of rated entertainment, and to treat videogames differently based on your PERSONAL OPINIONS and not on any kind of fact at all is just ridiculous.

    __________________________________________________

    “Classification of electronic games is very different from the classification of film. In cinemas, the age of movie-goers can be regulated… Rising game and console sales make it clear that this is a growing area that needs careful regulation, even more so than cinemas and private D.V.D. hire and purchase. Access to electronic games, once in the home, cannot be policed and therefore the games are easily accesible to children.”

    This is completely false. Access to electronic games once in the home is HOW a parent can police their child’s content viewing.

    Every single games console has parental lock features that will disable games that are of a certain rating; all a parent has to do is enable this feature in the settings and any games rated above the maximum allowed rating become completely unplayable without the parents password.

    __________________________________________________

    “What the present law does is keep the most extreme material off the shelves. It is true that this restricts adult liberty to a small degree, however, I am prepared to accept this infringement in the circumstances.”

    This here is the most infuriating remark in this letter. YOU are prepared to accept this infringement of basic human rights! You, personally! And now every single person in Australia has to suffer this decision too, despite how they may feel about the issue.

    You have stated here, quite clearly, that you are neutralizing the people’s liberty to enforce an arbitrary law that only you agree with; no amount of you saying other attorney generals agree will have me believe you until one of them comes forward.

    Again, your job is not to force your own philosophies and opinions on to society, but to represent the needs and wants of society.

    _________________________________________________

    “I am concerned about the level of violence in society and the widespread acceptance of simulated violence as a form of entertainment. I am particularly concerned about the impact of this extreme content on children and vulnerable adults.”

    Violence has been simulated ever since artistic expression and entertainment were integrated in to society. Shakespeare’s plays had almost nothing but revenge, betrayal, violence and death; early shows on television recreated violence, hell, just look at the amount of WWI and WWII movies that were created in the 40s and 50s.

    Not only that, but you are still operating under this strange mentality of “if some don’t agree with it, it shouldn’t be allowed”. This is what ratings are for, and this is how everybody in a society is able to view what they want to. It is fair, and nobody, despite how they view simulated violence and how you judge them for viewing it, is left without options.

    Violence is part of life, and while glorification and intense violent scenes can be damaging to some, completely disregarding violence’s place in society and jumping to the conclusion that it is bad and must be censored is just as ignorant as assuming parents can’t take care of their own kids.

    _________________________________________________

    “I believe the repeated act of killing a computer-generated person or creature desensitises them to violence.”

    Again, what you believe and what is actual fact are two completely different things. You are in no position to assume this information, and it is a gross injustice that you can base your entire argument on your opinions about subjective material.

    There have been many studies done on this subject, all of which have found absolutely no causal relationship between videogames and increased violence or desensitization. Once again you are basing your entire argument on your personal opinions.

    _________________________________________________

    “It is up to parents and responsible adults to ensure a game is appropriate for a minor whatever age he or she is.”

    And then you end it all with this, which just completely flies in the face of everything you have been saying. It is up to the parents and responsible adults, but we should still remove any choices that they might want to have regarding adult content in games? Nice.

    You are out of touch with the industry you are trying to control; your opinions and reasoning for your actions are ludicrous at best; you flat out LIE about things related to videogames to garner support; and your views on violence and it’s place in society are so archaic you are holding back an entire countries right to choose to view what entertainment they want.

    I am just completely dumbfounded that this kind of thing can happen in our so called “government”. Aren’t we meant to be the ones in charge of our country?

    • Ditto, Brendan… well said.

      We control nothing in this faux democracy.. we are just subjects, not citizens. It’s about time this so called government got with the times and starting thinking about the needs and wants of its “subjects”. The PM is a Dudd, too..

  • Hey everyone if you want information on the issues and full letters, interviews, videos and all kinds of useful stat’s check out http://www.growupaustralia.com

    It’s got a facebook group as well, its kind of serving as a nexus for the R18 issue and its really active. They’ve received corrospondance with media outlets and Atkinson himself.

    There is also a survey and a petition to sign.

    Get in on it!

  • I think the decision he’s making (no R rating for games) shouldn’t be allowed to be made by one men like himself and that’s where the real problem lies. The whole system is flawed because, (from what I’ve read) all the other State Generals are FOR the R rating but a change can’t happen unless ALL the Generals agree. And because he’s the only one against it, voting doesn’t seem to even count in this situation (when it really should!) so essentially we’re living in a kind of dictatorship under these old men who get to make our decisions for us.

    These types of issues really should be decided by a fair voting system where the majority rules and not left up to one man to make the decision for the entire Country. Maybe even something like, everyone in South Australia be restricted from R rated Games but all other states should get them because our Generals approve it.

    I don’t really know what I’m talking about though.

  • Just wanted to say thanks to everyone for leaving thoughtful, considered comments. The pro-R18+ argument is so much healthier when stated in mature, articulate fashion. Keep it up!

    • David, totally agree. It annoys me when gamers act immature and do more damage to the cause then good.

      Other then that, my mate, also Robert wrote to the Mr Atkinson earlier this month and received back the exact same letter. I just called him as thought he sent it through to Kotaku but he didn’t.

  • “cannot fathom what State-enforced safeguards could exist to prevent R18+ games being bought by households with children and how children can be stopped from using these games once the games are in the home”

    vs

    “It is up to parents and responsible adults to ensure a game is appropriate for a minor whatever age he or she is.”

    He has a solution to his own conundrum.

  • It’s all a moot point really…

    Perhaps fun to entertain but also a bit pointless really – nothing, and I mean NOTHING is going to change his stance on this issue.

    Efforts to change our current system needs to be more constructive (A.K.A applying political pressure etc…) otherwise the only thing you will get is hot under the collar.

    🙁

  • Really when it comes down to it the fallacy in his argument is a lot simple than some people think. All you have to do is look at one sentence in this letter, right here

    “It does not follow that a game is more interesting to an adult simply because it contains extreme violence, explicit sexual material or highly offensive language.”

    The fallacy comes from the fact that these things are OPINIONS. Its HIS opinion of what is ‘highly offensive language’ what HIS opinion on ‘extreme violence’ is. I don’t think i’ve EVER played a game, ever, that has ‘highly offensive language’. Maybe that’s because of my age but, honestly, games don’t do that very often, and i’m not offended all that easily. And that’s the rub, just because something offends HIM, doesn’t mean it offends EVERYONE, so why should everyone have to suffer under HIS bias.

    Same with extreme violence, its a game, its not real and it doesn’t bother me, movies are FAR worse, look at the Saw series, that’s horrific, but thats not banned. Look at all the recent horror movies (chainsaw whatevers 97 and a half) or the latest zombie movies where people get torn apart in gory detail. No one banned those movies.

    The argument that you can restrict people seeing those movies is flawed. It might stop you getting into a theater, but it generally won’t stop you getting it from a rental place, and even if it does it just proves that ratings CAN prevent kids from accessing this sort of stuff. Once its in the home, its up to the parents to manage it, its not up to the government to ‘protect’ our kids from this sort of thing. They’ve done everything they need to with movies, everything else is up to us, that’s on us, and its none of their business.

    If games had the same rating system as movies, then they would have the same safety net, and obviously movies are properly regulated because as i said i don’t see anyone banning the latest Saw movie and that is by FAR, much, much worse than any game i have ever played.

    It boils down to personal opinion. My line is not his line, i don’t want his line. If something crosses MY line, i’ll do something about it, but its my line to deal with, i don’t need him dictating what i can and can not ‘handle’.

  • I find it interesting that in his letter, he points out the large amount of games that are released, and breaks them up into their respective ratings. What he overlooks in this regard however, and I feel that this is very important, is that even though there is the smallest portion of games in the MA15+ rating, these and the M15+ games are generally the games that see the most financial success. It also does not point out games that have been rated MA15+ that really probably should have been.

    All the other ratings have realy quite a defined area of what you expect to see in them, but the MA15+ rating has such a broad range of content from games that have been shoehorned into it by narrowly avoiding being Refused Classification, and that probably would have just received an R18+ rating if it existed.

    And it’s no good saying that one state should be able to veto changes to classification cause it would change things for the whole country. Veto is a terrible system. Imagine if it were in place for things like tax laws. The country would grind to a halt. Veto does not, and never will work. The only way for something to work in my opinion is a majority vote, even if you require it to be over a certain percentage.

  • I really wish that Michael Atkinson would read some of these comments, very good arguments… RANT: One thing I really don’t like about his letters, is that he puts very smart arse comments in & gets away with it.

  • His argument is the same over and over, he doesnt want kids getting their hands on R18 games. The thing he doesnt understand is the a lot of games that are currently MA15+ are being let slide into that category. They SHOULD be R18 but because theres no rating they just get crammed into the lower category – how does that help keep these games out of kids hands.

    Lets use the most recent example – Modern Warfare 2. MA15+ After finishing it, and playing one or two of their “controversial” levels that game SHOULD have been R18 and is R18 in almost every country its released in – except this one. It was let slide because its an AAA title. Good job on protecting the kids there.

  • Oh great, we haven’t heard any of these contradictory arguments before. He’ll go back to sticking his fingers in his ears, and we’ll go back to importing our games from countries where adults are treated as such. And next time can we have that picture of him with the bible-verse suspenders, it always brightens my day.

  • “I want the discussion paper released as soon as possible and have done nothing to impede its release.”

    Then why is it that absolutely everyone believes that you have, Michael?

  • I sent an email to him explaining the parental controls features on every console (with links to the websites of Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo). So we’ll see what he says (if anything) about that.

    The fact is, once a game is in the home, parents can EASILY “police” the games that their children have access to.

  • lol what is “cruel sex”, exactly? Anything that doesn’t coincide with his idea of “a good time”? I guess it’s only the missionary position once a month for the old Atkinsons.

  • From all these readings now and stuff I’ve read before, I can’t help but notice that atkinson has been giving the same arguments over and over again without adressing many of the rebutes the gaming community has given beforehand. Makes me wonder if he truly listens to the other side of the debate or if he’s taking a narcissitic/ignorant stance on this. From what I garner, most likely the latter two.

    I’d like to see him engage in a face to face debate with someone in the gaming community. Maybe Doe should put him up to the task one day. Even a press conference would suffice. Either of these would probably show just how uneducated he is about this whole issue.

  • Does anything bring the rage like a form letter from our good friend Mike, does it?

    Of all the bizarre “let’s cover my bases” reasons through this letter, I’d like to FUUUUUUU- at a couple of main ones:

    “79% of Australian households have a device for computer and video games”. Further, 62% of Australians in these gaming households “say the classification of a game has no influence on their buying decision”

    First of all, this is the guy who claimed that independent research (also by the Bond University) finding that the median age of Australian gamers was 30 was “absolutely bogus polling” and that all the research in this area was “trash” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sFQ2JbW__rs&feature=channel). So how does he start backing himself up with the same numbers he’s claimed were biased?

    Secondly, guess why no-one pays attention to the classification when they buy games? Because they’re either old enough not to care, or assume that every single game is appropriate for children because there’s no adult rating.

    “Access to electronic games, once in the home, cannot be policed and therefore the games are easily accesible to children.”

    “Contrarily, it has been suggested that games that would otherwise be classified R18+ are instead slipping through as M.A.15+ and becoming accessible to children. This argument does not support an R18+ classification for games. There may be games that some people consider too violent for the M.A.15+ classification but the solution is not to create a classification that would permit even more violent games in Australia. M.A.15+ games are restricted to children over 15 and if younger children access these games it further justifies complete protection from R18+ games. It is up to parents and responsible adults to ensure a game is appropriate for a minor whatever age he or she is.”

    So remember, it’s up to parents to ensure that un-policeable (obviously hasn’t heard of parental controls) games don’t get into their households where parents will be unable to control their children from getting at them. Children apparently gain superhuman strength and intelligence in the presence of L4D2.

    “Contrarily”, otherwise R18+ games sneaking into the MA15+ catagory in Australia IS reason to argue for introducing R18+, as that way “responsible adults” can realise that Timmy 15-year-old definitelly shouldn’t be playing through No Russian.

    In closing, visit Gamers 4 Croydon and donate some spare coin. Even if it doesn’t work, enough press will allow reasonable non-gamers to see how stupid this situation is, and public opinion is the only thing that’s going to be able to oust this moron.

  • If ever there was a live debate organised between Atkinson and someone from the video game industry and all they discussed was plain, true facts – then Atkinson would crumble under his contradictions and factual errors.

  • Anyone else notice that Atkinson apparently doesn’t even understand the current classification guidelines?

    “M.A.15+ games are restricted to children over 15 and if younger children access these games it further justifies complete protection from R18+ games.”

    Um, wrong. MA15+ is restricted to people over 15 unless “accompanied by a parent or adult guardian”. So if a parent chooses to give their under 15 child access to current MA15+ games they are acting entirely in accordance with the guidelines.

    R18+ is restricted to people over 18, end of story. Not. For. Kids.

    That’s why we need the R18+ rating. So parents (and Mr Atkinson, apparently) finally understand the distinction, and realise that some games just aren’t suitable for kids!

  • http://www.growupaustralia.com/

    is the greatest thing i have ever seen. FINALLY someone puts an adult style argument and lobby group together without the moronic dribble of 15 year olds. This must be supported as much as we can because if we can get a lobby group going, and one with adults with children and people who are of upstanding natures then that is how you get the classification. Not threatning to bomb Atkinsons house etc…

    When R18 is discussed and you get ‘fuck atkinson’ and the like, its the 15 year olds saying it, not mature 30 year olds….

    If you go back and read the GTA3 ban document, the OFLC at the VERY end of the document request the attorney generals to give them R18 so they can do their job right

    maybe someone should bloody listen to them 6 years later! It must drive the censors nuts the complete inconsistency in the laws.

    • Not sure if Dave agrees and he has been in this business longer but…

      in all the time i have been in the media this is the biggest groundswell and smart attacking of the R18 laws i have ever seen

      Previously we’ve seen immature attempts to bring R18 in and lack of media coverage but this seems to be on everyones lips in the media at the moment and on the web.

      Publications who didn’t give a rats before, actually now do. There has been articles in the advertiser, daily tele, smh just to name a few which is the most i’ve seen and just for that Gamers 4 Croydon (seriously change hte name!) should be congratulated.

  • I’m with DerangedStoat 100%. The most galling and hypocritical sentence in the letter is the following:

    “Access to electronic games, once in the home, cannot be policed and therefore the games are easily accesible to children.”

    As opposed to children raiding the family liquor cabinet or beer fridge? Watching R-Rated films when their parents aren’t home? Finding Dad’s porn stash?

    The worst part of all this is the seemingly haphazard way that the board decides what is suitable and what is not. Slow motion dismemberments and decapitations are fine in Fallout 3 were okay but Left4Dead 2 was some kind of crime against humanity?

    The Modern Warfare 2 undercover CIA/Terrorist stage? Not a problem there it seems.

    Saint’s Row 2 gets through but I bet if it had been a Rockstar release it would’ve been hacked to pieces.

  • “I am concerned about the level of violence in society and the widespread acceptance of simulated violence as a form of entertainment”

    You mean like in movies and on TV? Or how about REAL violence considered entertainment such as boxing and UFC?

    “Access to electronic games, once in the home, cannot be policed and therefore the games are easily accesible to children.”

    Just like alcohol, cigarettes, pornography…..

  • “It is true that this restricts adult liberty to a small degree, however, I am prepared to accept this infringement”

    Dictatorship much?

  • I’d love to point out to all who are publicly opposing this R18 classification that the overwhelming majority of computer game players (in particular the 18+ ones) all seem to be in favour of this. The people that seem to be against this are quite often the older generation, and a group that do not play games to any notable extent.

    It seems to be that the ones keeps this down, are the good old out of touch doomsayers who aren’t affected by their uninformed positions.

  • As far as I see this its quite simple.

    It is MY choice as an adult not the governments if I want to watch horror movies with graphic violence.

    It is MY choice as an adult not the governments if I want to watch hardcore x rated porn. (not saying I do)

    And it is also MY choice not the Governments if I want to play games that are violent.

    As has been said. ID before buying a R18 game is a good start. Maybe even a campaign letting parents know about a new classification. Some legistlation still refusing R18 games that basically none of us would want to play that has such things as rape.

    The games dont make me violent. If anything they make me less violent IRL because I have used up my violence in the games.

    This Atkinson is totally ignorent. He thinks he is right but he isnt.

  • It is finally good to hear a well-reasoned article by Michael Atkinson. Yes, we know he does sensationalize some times (most recently with Modern Warfare 2 about getting points for killing civilians in the massacre level, which is a blatant lie), but heck, all politicians do that and it is to be expected.

    Most of his points are valid, and do make logical sense, the problem is, however, is the argument that “Access to electronic games, once in the home, cannot be policed and therefore the games are easily accessible to children. If adults think they can devise a lock-out system to defeat children, tell ’em they’re dreaming.”

    I don’t need to emphasize the obvious implications of this statement with reference to movies, alcohol, and guns (Look at Foxtel’s way you can buy Adult footage on demand) as I’m sure someone here has already said it.

    Heck, we may not agree with it, but its good that he’s coming up with some arguments and reason behind it, instead of blatantly shutting it down.

  • way i see, retailers aske for ID at brick stores and online well most people under 18 don’t have a means of buying online through things like steam and amazon etc.

    R18+ movies are on are shelves etc and if retailers don’t let them rent or buy them then game shops should be able to as well.

    If they put the same fines and stuff for selling ciggies to minors i reckon we wouldn’t have to much of a problem.

  • I think the biggest problem with his attitude is that he thinks it’s reasonable to say that “YOUR deprivation of liberty is something I’M willing to accept”. Back off, Mr Atkinson.

  • The last paragraph sums up his reasoning for the response.

    Spend 6 pages arguing that R18+ has social impacts to then undermine the whole show by making a flippant remark about others being worried about real-life, but he cares about our imaginary worlds.

    The document is purely to spark a retort from short fused people so the Hon Michael Atkinson MP can use it as ammo, like he has done previously. His argument isn’t even coherent, its a round about slew of quotes, figures and objective summation with some form of self justification because he has children and they play video games.

    The stats are in plain view, he provides them, the majority of games are G, PG and M which is what the majority of the developer aim for, the meat of the market. The whole point of R18+ is for the fringe games (M and RC, 6%) to be handled appropriately and for everyone to be able to use discretion without castrating a developer or group.

    The way I see it, R18+ would be a part of the options the OFLC would have at their disposal to make a proper decision. The RC category is subject scrutiny because its a finer line then it should be, L4D2 is a prime example.

    Give everyone the democratic rights we’re supposed to have, its compulsory to vote and yet we have no voice. Its like we’re guilty before there was ever a crime.

    • One of the smartest comments in this entire thread (of many! amazing we aren’t all sex depraved violent morons)

      Shane makes a point I think a lot of people may not have thought about. The OFLC knowing that if they refuse something is actually censoring the public and could have an economic impact and impact financially the publisher etc may only pull the RC in the situation where they seriously have no other choice. This leads to a situation where games are rated MA15 that should not be because they feel they are not at last resort time.

      As someone said earlier, only about 9 games get RC’d a year, but I can tell you if you look at history that this number is rising each year. Its not that the games are getting more violent, its that the graphics are becoming more realistic.

      If R18 existed i can guarantee a whole lot more games then 9 per year would get that rating (think about the last few years and all the games squeezed into MA15 and you get hte picture) which actually serves to IMPROVE the ability to keep this out of minors hands.

      If we had R18, Modern Warfare 2 would be rated 18. There is no doubt. Why? Because publishers do have brains. When they submit a game they also submit a form with an ‘expected rating’ which htey think the game deserves. They all have OFLC training in how to guess this rating.

      They would just slap MW2 with an R18 and the OFLC would be happy (after watching it of course, MA15 requires the OFLC to view it in action before stamping that classification) rubber stamp it. Atkinson should be happy because minors can’t buy it (even with parents as earlier stated) and the publisher MARKETS the game towards adults as they would do and as they generally do.

      I reckon if you asked off the record Dave, Activision head honcho of Australia should 15 year olds be playing this game, he would absolutely say no, but because they have money to make and MA15 is the higehst they can go, officially they have to say yes.

  • “I want the discussion paper released as soon as possible and have done nothing to impede its release.”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sFQ2JbW__rs
    About 1:16 he says in no uncertain terms that he has sent the paper back to be rewritten, so he has impeded the release.

    He also cites an example of a Thai man killing a taxi driver in this interview with Stateline (here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ebe9BEe024U). The man stated that he did it for money and nobody seems to have raised the point that this is a game that is commercially available in Australia.

    The more he says, the easier it is to point out the flaws in his arguments.

  • Couple of points I would like to make in response Mr. Atkinson

    Why is it not the responsibility of the parent/guardian to control the substances and materials exposed to their children, shouldnt the classification be just that a GUIDELINE so that responsible parties can be informed of the content?

    Will it progress the nation to treat everyone like irresponsible fools?

    Why are you making statements about children getting access to the R rated material? what about the scenario for underage people getting access to other materials such as magazines, movies, alcohol and tobacco? We can all make up worst case scenarios for these cases and yet these all have some form of restriction to over 18s.

    I think it can be said alcohol alone does more damage (to the children AND society) than R rated games could ‘hypothetically’, Games are just not supported by a billion dollar industry such as alcohol and tobacco.

    the argument ‘_A_ child may suffer damage, mentally, or physically’ seems to be used a lot, a minority ruling over the majority? There are people that are allergic to peanuts, should we ban all nuts because these people pose a threat to themselves?

    Stop treating the public like an idiot and maybe they will stop behaving as such.

  • It’s due to being a Christian nation.

    Religion, oh religion….. When, when will you stop ruining every aspect of society possible? 😐

  • People, people. We’re going about this the wrong way.

    I read someone made the argument that he removes a liberty from us that doesn’t affect him. So, let’s turn that around. What does Michael Atkinson like to do? What does he indulge in? I’m sure there’s something which isn’t wholesome and made of G-rated rainbows that he enjoys.

    We are the collective consciousness of an apparently excessively violent and depraved cruel sex hungry internet!
    How can one man hold a defence against us!?

  • Here are the enormous holes in his carefully crafted speech:

    When he says “this restricts adult liberty to a small degree, however, I am prepared to accept this infringement in the circumstances.”

    What he really means is “I’m willing to take away your freedom to impose my personal views on you”.

    When he says: “62% of Australians in these gaming households say the classification of a game has no influence on their buying decision”.

    What he means is: “I wont ask if they want R18 games, because they’ll say yes. Instead, I’ll ask another question and apply my personal logic to obtain the answer I want”.

    He conveniently ignores how many parents today are gamers themselves, well educated enough to make the call on which games their children play. And no, the classification system is not and should never be an absolute thing overriding each parents decision.

    The bottom line is that the classification system does not work. Reason being that people making the classification are not gamers and don’t even play the games. That would be like asking me to regulate, say, the fashion industry of which I happen to know absolutely nothing about. I wonder if we could get away with having a movie classification system where movies are classified without being watched.

    His most preposterous argument: “extreme violence in a computer game is worse.” That simply cannot be proven, and I’m personally convinced this to be false (I am the father of a seven years old, and I will hold my argument in front of anybody). That is, again, his personal view which he happens to be all too happy to impose on all of us.

  • I think Atkinson also needs to be reminded of what the youth of his generation used to do for fun. My dad always tells me of stories about when he was young, he used to take a .22 rifle and shoot anything he crossed. Birds, rabbits, kangaroos. He was 10 when he used to do this.

    Now, how does that compare to the fake, limited violence of video games?

    If you asked me, I’d trade in my console for a rifle and some ammo to go hunting things any day.

  • I enjoy that R18+ movies are on free to air tv. Yet he has nothing to say about that. If he was truly passionate about it, he would be pushing for all R18+ content to be removed from all forms of media in australia. This would include movies, music, and a nice heavy censorship on the internet.

    What I further dont understand is that games are easily modded. Why don’t developers just send a pictures of carebears to the classification bored and release a mod on their forums from an “annonymous” user who has “secretly cracked the game to show its original content”. Like seriously valve, quick forum post from mr nobody to release all that modding stuff we need….

  • Theirs an awful lot that annoys me in his response but the key things of note are clearly:
    1. He thinks violence and sex doesn’t have any entertainment value or adds anything to the interactive experience thus proving yet again he has no idea what he’s talking about.

    2. He still thinks that a rating which ALL adults know by now means ‘for adults only’ will some how be ignored if its used and children will be playing even more games that they shouldn’t be…. which blows my mind. That’s like saying if you handed someone a bomb that had a big button and the words ‘do not press this, you will die’ would press said button. People, even stupid irresponsible people aren’t THAT stupid. His argument for no R rating is illogical at best.

    3. He thinks games are completely incapable of being policed which is just nonsense. We have ID checks for alcohol and so forth as well as retailers with common sense(one would hope). A store clerk isn’t going to sell anything rated R to someone who clearly does not look 18+, that gets you fired.

    He is one of the most stubborn ignorant closed minded backwards thinking old men in the world. God he makes me angry.

  • He has valid points but the only thing i think is blatently untrue is when he states “Cruel sex” and “depraved sex.” i havent seen any cruel sex or depraved sex in a game for sometime. And games that have are usually banned in areas with R18 classifications.

  • its funny how he says that kids would be able to buy said R18 but earlier this year i went to my local JB Hi-Fi to buy Call of Duty: World at War, i gave the game to the person behind the register, as i am getting my money out to pay for the game i get asked if i have any ID on me, at that time i didn’t have any since i lossed my keypass at a gig i went to the week before so i said ‘no’, i then get informed that i wouldn’t be able to get the game since its a MA15+ and they would get fined if they sold the game to me because apparntly i don’t look over 15, ironically i was 21 (22 now), i even told the register person i was 21 but she didn’t listen, luckily i had my mum with me at the time as she was in the store at that time so i got her to say i was 21…so my point is that retailers can and should ask for ID for R18 games…i would gladly do that if it was a uncut game that under 18s shouldn’t be playing, just not under 15 ones XD.

    btw: i also had a Bloodbath,Deicide and Suffocation CDs too with graphic cover art…the register person didn’t say anything about them lol

  • Get used to it people, we are a minority. In any single constituency there are too few of us to make a difference. They just talk in circles, look like they’re dealing with it, wait for a rebuttal and then say the same thing with different words. It doesn’t matter to them how we view this because we don’t matter.

    Atkinson is like every other polly, backing down will cost them their job. It’s not possible for him to get voted down on this so he wont back down on this.

  • I recieved this exact letter also – I read over it with my friends; this was an infuraiting experience.

    He’s not really considered most of the arguments I put forth, however the impossibility of reading all the responses is kinda obvious.

    Regardless, the simple fact that he has quite clearly trivialized games in the final sentence provides the perfect reasoning for why he should NOT be the ‘lightning rod’ for gamers.

  • I agree with him, if the games are being sold to the wrong people, then we shouldnt have R18 games.

    They should regulate the sale of rated games to minors, thats what they should do. Until that is fixed, and ma15+ games stop being sold to the wrong people then we wont have a R18+ for a while.

    Also extreme violence and perverted sex are art, i think its called that sect of art thats meant to provoke adverse reactions. Kinda like the american psycho cheesetube rape, thats the most grotesque violent rape ever in anything. Its art.

  • Apparently he’s up for election in March 2010 according to that letter. Does that mean the twat could lose his place? I’m getting rather sick of his arrogance and consistently contradicting arguments.

  • I sent him an email and he replied with something along the lines of “I need a real address to send a letter too, so I know if I’m just throwing my research into the abyss.”

    I gave him my real address and I havn’t heard back after a month, I sent him another email but now I’ve given up.

  • While I’ve not had a chance to read through the full letter just yet be assured I will. I will attempt to make comment on the issue as I see it at present.
    Currently Mr A want’s to restrict kids from getting their hands on excessivley violent/sexual material. Which when you look at his goal is a very valid outcome to seek. Too often are children exposed to acts of violence or extreeme sextual nature that not only destroy’s their innocence but also gives them the idea that this is the way the world works.
    As a 27 year old I have grown up through the gaming boom of the 90’s all the way through to now and I’ve seen games push the barriers of what is socially acceptable. Personally I have a son of my own who I will ensure is out of the room when I play certain titles simply for their violent nature.
    As adult gamers I believe our message to Mr A has become lost in translation. We should as responsible adults be pushing for an R18+ rating not as a mechnaisim to allow the next ultra violent game into the country but to ensure that when a game is given classification it is done so appropriately. The biggest issue with games classification is that parents don’t understand it, they look at a game like GTA IV, or Left 4 Dead and see it has only a MA15+ rating and think to them selves “this can’t be too bad” then give it to their 14/15 year old child to play not knowing that MA15+ is the highest possible rating a game can get. Parents see’s that rating and equate it to a movie rating where this assumption is incorrect.
    Now while Mr A says the movie idustry is much more easily regulated this too is a failing I know myself when I went to see “The Devils Rejects” (which I walked out on) I saw a parent with a 12 year old watching the film.

    I admit this is not only a failing on the cinema but also the parent to allow their child to view this type of film, and issues like this will always arise where a parent simply doesn’t care.

    I think Mr A is taking the easy way out not realising the damage he is doing in the process, as adult gamers as we will if we wan’t it bad enough import it or, find another means to access the content. In the mean time he’s limiting parents to have the visual queue they need to say to their kids “Sorry but this is too old for you” the same way any parent would have done when their child picked up a movie at the video store that was R rated.
    Parents, Autnies, Uncles, Grandparents need these tools to ensure they know what to expect when buying games for the younger generations.
    With out this there will continue to be a huge inconsistency in games ratings in Australia.

  • Modern Warfare 2

    BBFC: 18 (Euro)
    OFLC: MA15+ (AU)
    OFLC: R18 (NZ)
    PEGI: 18+ (UK)

    Someone should think of the children because yet again an adult game has been rated MA15 in this country! We need to give the OFLC an R18 option because time after time they will be rating R18 games as MA15. All other points are invalid in this discussion. We are really doing a disservice to the community by not having an R18.

  • “Although some members are advocates of this classification, I believe other Attorneys-General, like me, reject it. Other Attorneys-General who are opposed to introducing an R18+ classification for computer games are content to let me be the lightening (sic) rod for the gamers.”

    Who?
    Name names. These other AGs must stand on their own merits, I’m sure you’re under no obligation to go in to bat for them. Perhaps if they were made to stand up for themselves, your argument against the issue would bear more weight.

    If you’re telling the truth and there are other AGs who agree with you, but you refuse to name them, then you’re trying to protect your public and professional image by not dragging anybody into it, which is counter-productive to democratic progress and smacks of political point-scoring.

    If, as I suspect, the claim that other AGs are also against it is an utter fabrication, then you are a wholesale liar and not worthy of office.

    Politicians and people in power who reverse their decisions are generally unpopular, it’s true.
    But you’re pretty unpopular already, mate. At least you could leave office knowing that you listened to and served the nation that employed you.

  • One major flaw that Mr. Atkinson has failed to realise is that the major consoles have been aware of the fact that children can easily access games and films that may be unsuited to their age, it is for this reason they have introduced Family Settings where the parents or guardians have to ability to lock out specific game ratings, for example, a household has children under the age of ten then the parents are able to lock out all games and films with an MA+15 or higher rating. When it comes time that the parents may have some time alone and they would like to play/watch said material then they simply need to enter a code or PIN and away they go, there is absolutely no reason for the government to not allow an R+18 classification.

  • Simply put, the OFLC is in place to determine which material is suitable for each demographic.

    I can’t see what give Atkinson the right to influence which material the OFLC gets to classify?

    I find it baffling that one man has the power to usurp an existing Government body.

  • ban alcohol just in case some kids get hold of it from someones dad’s bar. better ban cars in case some kids steal one and are too young to drive. we better ban lighters as well as tobacco just in case kids burn the house down.

    welcome to china

  • Okay for real now, why does he always mention extreme/depraved sex in his arguments?
    this ship sailed a long time ago and we’re not biting anymore….

    These games don’t exist in Australia, and even with an R18+, they wouldn’t make it through anyway.

    He is so misinformed: gamers aren’t saying “give us more cruel sex and violence” we’re saying “stop treating us like children, and start treating us like adults…”

  • Havent read all the comments, so someone may have made the this point already.

    So in the letter we have

    *‘Interactive Australia 2007′, a report prepared by Bond University for the Interactive Entertainment Association of Australia, surveyed 1,606 Australian households randomly. The report found “79% of Australian households have a device for computer and video games”. Further, 62% of Australians in these gaming households “say the classification of a game has no influence on their buying decision”.*

    Now i havent read all the report, but i assume this is the same report that said the average age of aussie gamers is 30. So it would be safe to assume the majority of the 62% of Australians in these gaming households that “say the classification of a game has no influence on their buying decision” are 30+ therefore they have no need to worry about the classification of game.

    More proof u can twist any report around anyway u like to suit your point of view as Mr Atkinson has done in that paragraph….

  • “Classification of electronic games is very different from the classification of film. In cinemas, the age of movie-goers can be regulated… Rising game and console sales make it clear that this is a growing area that needs careful regulation, even more so than cinemas and private D.V.D. hire and purchase. Access to electronic games, once in the home, cannot be policed and therefore the games are easily accesible to children.”

    He’s used that exact argument in the past but it still makes no sense at all. Game purchases can be regulated at the store counter just as DVDs or movies at a cinema (it could be made a requirement that the salesperson ascertain the purchaser knows how to lock the console or password protect the PC – a leaflet maybe). And, “once in the home” there’s no difference to how games or dvds are policed – in fact parents can lock consoles to not accept R18+ games without a password.

  • Michael Atkinson has NEVER opposed the X classification of films via SCAG but he prohibits their sale in SA and complains about them to anyone who will listen. If he must he can prohibit R in SA but not veto a new national classification.

    If content is legal in one format then it should be legal in another.

    I agree that many Australian parents are confused about the M15+ and MA15+ classification. The Federal govt confirmed this in research they did a few years ago. They are not confused about teh R rating.

    It is time for a truly national classification scheme that does not pigeonhole different types of media.

    If allowed- a plug for the Australian Sex Party. I am fairly certain that we the only party with a policy supporting the introduction of R18+ games. We are running in the Higgins and Bradfield by elections. If successful we will work hard to amend the Classification Act to prevent one Attorney General from being able to veto a national classification.

  • A world where a governing authority can declare a ban and legally restrict any art form for any reason (beyond something that is illegal) is not a free world.

    I am deeply ashamed of this country, and any country that decides for its people that something is “too erotic” or “too violent”.

  • Does anyone else believe that if games get an R rating, parents might be willing to pay more attention to what their children play? It’s easy to lose perspective a little when it seems like everything your 13 year old son wants to play is MA15+

    I don’t think this will be an issue in even 10 years. By then most parents who’ve played violent video games will hopefully understand their content a bit better and know to approach it with their kids. If it still is then, I’ll jump on the protesters bandwagon.

  • This guy is a complete and utter moron!
    His argument is insane and baseless. He keeps saying how it’s to prevent kids playing the games.. well that’s not my problem.
    Should we also be banning alcohol, smokes, porn, and anything else that’s meant for adults because they *may* fall into the hands of kids.
    I truly hope he looses the next election and crawls back into his cave.

  • Most of these concerns seem to be about things that players can “simulate” or “choose to do” in the games. In GTA you can run over a prostitute, or hit her with a bat. Yeah, that’s violent, but I don’t recall the game forcing you to do that (although I haven’t played it through entirely.)

    Also, the government doesn’t allow us to do these actions in real life, so why should they allow it in a virtual setting?

    I’m just wondering if we could refuse classification and ban the sales of pens and paper, since I can write a fictional story about running over a prostitute. I’ve been practicing my drawing skills, so I could even draw a depiction of running over the prostitute.

    Of course, if I want to do that legally, I’d better make sure I draw the prostitute as an adult. If my depiction could be interpreted as her looking too young, with our current laws, I could be convicted for creating child pornography… even though it’s just a drawing. With that in mind, I guess we *are* banning crimes against imaginary characters, so this lack of R18+ is quite in line…

  • My Hero Michael “Lightening Rod” Atkinson – by Tom Hughes

    Michael Atkinson is an Australian scholar and hero that deserves none of the slander and debasing brought against him by the mindless mutants that make up the so-called ‘Australian Gamer’ community. He has bravely and selflessly sacrificed himself to the mercy of this perverse and evolutionarily backwards horde, proclaiming himself a ‘lightening (sic) rod’ for their filth and their hatred. This sacrifice shall surely see him ascend to the status of martyr, joining the ranks of Joan of Arc, Jesus and that monk on the cover of that Rage Against the Machine album.

    He alone defends the Australian public from its greatest enemy… itself. Such a heavy burden rests on his shoulders. Any parent will tell you the immense difficulty and responsibility associated with raising a child. Imagine how hard it must be for Michael Atkinson, a man tasked with parenting the WHOLE of Australia! If only gamers could take a break from drinking from public toilets and opening kittens with corkscrews, and put themselves in Michael Atkinson’s shoes, they might not be so quick to shower him with their acid, mongoloid vomit.

    But the quality I admire the most about ol’ Lightening-Rod is that even though he acknowledges the Australian public as simpletons incapable of deciding what’s best for themselves and also correctly identifying the gamer community as a rampant group of excrement-eating pedophiles that masturbate in bus stations, he chooses to represent them in government! Oh, how I wake up squealing with delight each day, knowing that I have the wisdom of the Roddmeister to guide me.

    But in order to keep this essay objective, I have some constructive criticism that hopefully Michael Atkinson will take on board to help Australia sanitized from the digital semen that stains the fabric of the Godless nations that would allow the veritable blood-orgy that is L4D 2 onto the shelves of their retailers. For one, I think the line between fiction an reality isn’t thick enough. For example, I was on a bus the other day and I saw an advertisement depicting a flying dog. After examining the sky for some time, I determined that dog’s couldn’t fly, despite the image on the ad. I concluded that I must have fallen through a gap between dimensions and immediately began to vomit blood and clawing my own hair out. It wasn’t until I was ejected forcefully from the bus that I returned to normality. I propose that all non-literal artwork should wear a large watermark with the world ‘fiction’ on it to avoid confusion.

    In conclusion, I can say without hyperbole, that Michael Atkinson is the greatest Australian that there ever was or ever will be. In a perfect universe, Michael Atkinson would have been born a million years ago and made immortal, so he could protect us from filth throughout the ages like that mutilated whore Venus de Milo, or that abstracted abattoir that was Picasso’s War or that exercise in perversion, that one Rage Against the Machine cover

  • I will start with the final paragraph.
    These elected officials should run for public re-election again seeing as there is so much debate.
    Anyone should be able to run for these positions in a truly democratic society.

    A parent has the right to enforce policies on their children, a parent can bring home whatever movie they like and allow their child to watch it.
    My parents didn’t watch certain movies that were violent or play certain games till they believed I was old or mature enough.
    Now I am 19 I can make these decisions for myself. It is moronic to enforce the current filtering on an entire populace ‘for the kids’ [I have a pet hate for people who believe they have the ethical high ground on any subject. It seems so weak to convey oneself as a shining knight of the kingdom…]

    I can’t even begin to think of any game that promotes cruel sex, please post a list of these games. I dare you.

    By promoting such child-protection driven arguments, you demote good parenting. You allow parents to become less of a role in their child’s upbringing.

    Youths these days are up to more than you think as well, they aren’t completely innocent until 18 and then become a deranged sycophant overnight when they LEGALLY become an adult. Many youths start drinking in their early teens and experimenting with drugs and alcohol. Personally, I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, and I don’t use any recreational drugs, [maybe Panadol for a headache, and sparingly] but I do play video games and expect to be treated as an adult.

    Also, with the internet these days a banned game can be pirated, by anyone. Now with this, the developers are being cheated by people who might even have normally bought the game.

    Adult Gamers have the right to play adult games.

    As Adult content, it should be sold in adult stores. A child will not be allowed in an adult store, by law. Other outlets could apply for a special license to sell restricted content. [certain restrictions could be put in place, perhaps a separate room for the store where ID is needed for entry]

    I appall the unfair restriction on Adult Media, I approve interactive entertainment for adults, and I implore reason be sought and Adult Content be sold and moderated in an Adult Store.

  • LOL michael once said in an interview with Good Game that that survey was funded by the gaming companies in it for the money. He’s now using those results for his own means?

    Hypocrite!

  • Never fear, eventually the older generation pollies will retire, making way for people who actually like to play games as recreation.

    My only worry is that laws will be so far changed that it may be impossible to reverse them to something suitable.

    Anyone want to run for seat in the next election? Call your party the GamersParty or something…get the vote of veryone over 18 and under 40 🙂

  • look, i’m as infuriated about this as anyone else, but what it comes down to is that THIS monkey is the ONLY person actually holding back the classification discussions on a reasonable, sane level. and you know what? his tenure won’t last forever. give it a few years and he’ll be gone so will his entire hypocritical argument.

    “Given this data, I cannot fathom what State-enforced safeguards could exist to prevent R18+ games being bought by households with children and how children can be stopped from using these games once the games are in the home. If adult gamers are so keen to have R18+ games, I expect children would be just as keen.”
    “M.A.15+ games are restricted to children over 15 and if younger children access these games it further justifies complete protection from R18+ games. It is up to parents and responsible adults to ensure a game is appropriate for a minor whatever age he or she is.”

    ARGUMENT FAIL

  • Ok, I just gonna come out and say it and I’m sure you will all understand WHY Michael stands so firm in the whole non 18+ rating debate

    Yep he’s a Wii owner!

    I rest my case.

    All that said. I work for a games store and we have strict rules on selling games to minors. I’ve had many a parent come to the counter about to buy GTA 4 for their 10 year old and I’ve asked ” are you ok with the content in this game and let them know it has Sexual references, violence, drugs, prostitution just to name a few. Then I go on to say the game is sold in the States and the Uk as 18+ and nine times out of ten they would have never even brought it up to the counter if it was clearly marked 18+. I think we owe it to parents to have a better informed decision on the content in games.

    As for parental locks on consoles, my son has been brought up to know that the game is not appropriate for him and it is completely ok with me just saying NO! It really is back on bad parents if I mother says ” he’s got all the other ones” (GTAs) then that is truly her choosing and not that of 1 person.

    I will conclude with. I don’t wish to play more violent or graphic games, I just want to experience the game the way it was intended. It’s like not showing you the one part of the Mona Lisa (her smile) cause it may look too provocative.

  • I’ve just turned 18+ and really wanted to get LFD2
    but id heard it’d been edited down to fit ratings which annoyed me

    firstly ruining the game makers work because games are an artist medium they shouldn’t have to be changed

    secondly they have done multiple tests proving violent video games don’t lead to violent behavior in real life as i say jack the ripper was around long before video games

    thirdly i can go buy alcohol or cigarettes which
    could someday kill me but i can’t buy a video game that hasn’t been heavy edited down

    fourthly who said these R18+ games would be pornographic if that’s the major issue just don’t let games with pornographic content in even under an R18+

  • I don’t agree that R18+ rating will be damaging to kids, quite the opposite: quite a few very violent currently available under MA15+ would be categorised as R18+ and only available with photo id to make sure the buyer is over 18.

  • “I believe the repeated act of killing a computer-generated person or creature desensitises them to violence. To my mind, a child being able to watch depraved sex and extreme violence in a movie is damaging to the child, but the child’s participating (sic) in depraved sex and extreme violence in a computer game is worse.”

    Okay, that, I thought was a legitimate point. The rest was logicless and contradictory and made me want to hit things

  • I find it funny that Mr Michael Atkinson states that it is almost impossible for a parent/adult to keep these games away from childen, really Mr Atkinson is that what you thing? because i know for one the XBOX 360 has a ratings lock, which if say if it was set to PG, no game or movie over that rating can be played unless a pass code is entered. Now i dont know if the new PS3(Play Station 3) has this setting but i would beleave it would and as for the Nintendo Wii, well again i know it has parent control, i know all this as when my sister and brother inlaw came to stay with me along with my nephew and neice i locked my XBOX 360 and Nintendo Wii to a rating that my sister and brother inlaw was happy with, so the kid’s COULDN’T play any of my games or watch any movie that were not rated lower than that was set on the consoles without entering a pass code.

    Also i remember when i was 16 and when i went to buy games rated MA15+, being i didn’t have any ID i could not buy the game unless i had my PARENTS buy it for me, even though i was over 15 years old because i didn’t have ID they wouldn’t sell it to me and same thing happened when going to rent games and movies when i was that age, so there is no real way you can say “there is no way from stopping children or young adults from playing these games if they are in the house hold” which means there is no real reason you cant inforce/allow a R18+ rating for video games.

    And banning a game from Australia these day is useless with such easy access to the internet, banning a game really is just going to take sales and profits from retail stores and gaming company and give them to people who will download, burn and sell it on the streets (piracy), so really you are just aiding piracy and turning fun-loving gamers children/young adults and adults into criminals and thiefs…….

  • What I find strange is that there is a double standard on censorship here and from that double standard comes an attitude that undermines current age prohibition laws. Basically what our Genera Attorney is saying is that age restriction all across the board doesn’t work, and that Australians should not put their faith in classification and therefore one category of media should be exempt from getting the rights that other media already have.

    And while his arguments on face value seem promising and wise, he is basically discriminating people on their interest.
    Say if I was a fan of horror/gore my interest is supported in Australia, but my interest in playing games with a fan base such as aliens vs predator is not. Why? Both are equally valid interests.

    Michael Atkinson has an extremely poor understanding of why supporters of a R18+ classification is angry and as a General Attorney he is imposing his will instead of finding a solution that keeps everyone happy, and hence game players feel their freedom of rights are being infringed by one man. (Yes he states that other GAs support his stance, yet they have not voiced their support of him. That speaks more about their support than anything else)

    What he fails to understand is that gamers are not just disgruntle about games getting banned or edited because of violence or inappropriate to minors content, but by the obvious lack of a standard across the censorship board. How one game can get through unscathed and another must be edited on arbitrary grounds.

    Gamers feel that their interests are not being represented by people who know anything about their interests. No one likes the things that they enjoy governed by people who know nothing about it.

    Anyway, my last point is this video games are a valid past time and an increasingly valid market in Australia. They should get the same respect as movies, books and other forms of entertainment, Sure it has its cons but please tell me what doesn’t. Michael Atkinson is a poor official for not understanding this fact, and his handling of the censorship issue demonstrates his poor leadership. He argues that parents are not influenced by classification then fails the point out the reasons and never even mentions the lack of education on the subject.

    He should realise that banning never works but just pushes content underground, but that proper education on these topics are far more effective in addressing the issues that he brings up. That way families are better educated and are in a better position to make choices that effect their families and protect their children. This allows the R18+ rating to be effective, young children to be protected by their parents and not infringe on Australian’s liberty to enjoy content as it was originally intended to be.

    As for his vulnerable adults argument, it is a piss poor attempt to add validity in an area of liberty. No politician would ever use an argument like that and expect to stay in office, it just highlights Michael Atkinson’s gross misuse of his powers.

  • I was about 10 or 11 years old when I first saw porn(not saying my parents let me).

    I was around the same age that I first saw and R18+ film.

    I wasn’t aloud MA15+ games until I was 13 though and compared to the films which depict realistic gore and depraved sexual acts I have always wondered why I was refused MA15+ games by my parents until the age of 13.

    Most people I know saw R18 films before playing MA15+ video games. I’ve got scared shitless over some horror films but video games have never frightened me.

    F—k you Atkinson.

  • i think we should just face the sad fact that a R rating won’t be happening in this country in this lifetime. The powers that be seem content to just throw our own arguments back at us(eg parental responsibility) just slightly re-skinned, then they sit back confident that they’ve got the power anyway. And it’s getting worse by the year we let little rich boy’s into gonvernment straight out of uni, without the skill to organize a piss-up in a brewery, that don’t care what the majority of australians want. As long as their shareholders,church buddies and jesus are on side the people of this country don’t seem to matter much (except for taxes)P.S. apart from the japanese market when have games had cruel sex anyway? no one is asking for tentacle games michael

  • RAGE!!!! Adult gamers should be allowed to make their own decisions and if Micheal Atkinson wants to enforce this he should work at a goames shop and say “Hey! This game is 15+! I don’t care that you’re 20, go play Mario. Look Mario. (happy sound).

  • The fundamental flaw in this ministers argument is that he’s a fucking douche. Utterly hypocritical, absurd nanny state rubbish. It doesn’t stand up to any logic whatsoever. He doesn’t deserve any more of my time so I’ll just say I’m glad the closed minded, ignorant fuckwit retired.

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