Atkinson To Appeal Modern Warfare 2 MA15+ Classification

South Australian Attorney-General and video game censorship advocate Michael Atkinson is to appeal the MA15+ rating handed out by the Classification Board to Modern Warfare 2.

Speaking to Radio National, Atkinson was asked for his views on the recently released game, described by interviewer Peter Mares as "violent and bloody and graphic and confronting."

"I'll be appealing against that classification, I think it's wrong," said Atkinson.

We have approached Activision for comment regarding the proposed appeal, but they have yet to respond.

The Member for Croydon, who will be challenged for his seat at the March 2010 state election by Australia's first gamer rights party, went on to admit he had no faith in the Classification Board to do its job properly.

"It doesn't surprise me. The Classification Board in Australia does everything to try to get games in under the radar. But just because the system is not being applied properly, it does not mean that the principles of the system are wrong.

"What I want the Classification Board to do is to apply the guidelines properly. What I don't want is the extremely violent, sexually depraved, drug use games in Australia at all. At the cinema, we can stop people under 18 going in to see R18+ rated movies. We can't stop these games that are extremely violent and depraved from getting into the home or getting into the hands of children."

Atkinson raised the example of "the Japanese game Rape Play where one scores points for raping a mother and daughter." Mares noted that this game is not available anywhere outside of Japan, even in countries that do have an R18+ rating. But Atkinson suggested that "Rape Play" (sic) would be released in Australia.

"Well, I wouldn't put it past the Classification Board to make that an R rated game, frankly, on their previous form," he replied.

Atkinson also described an unnamed game in which "the player straps explosives to himself and blows himself up in a market and scores points for how many people he kills." (Anyone know what game he's talking about? I honestly have no idea.)

When it was suggested to Atkinson that, as Attorney-General, he would be responsible for drawing up the guidelines for an R18+ rating if it were introduced, and thus he would be able to ensure that such "extremely violent, sexually depraved, drug use games" would still be refused classification, he once again reiterated his lack of faith in the Board.

"I have no trust in the Classification Board to apply the guidelines sincerely and correctly," he said. "And thus to draw up such guidelines would be to do so in sure and certain knowledge that they would be stretched and then broken."

Finally, Mares asked the minister whether he knew the status of the Commonwealth discussion paper on video game classification, originally scheduled to be released to the public in April this year. Mr Atkison denied any knowledge of why it has not yet been issued.

In the second half of the segment, Mares spoke with Gamers 4 Croydon founder David Doe. Hit the link below to listen to the full interview.

Does Australia need an R18+ rating for computer games? [Radio National, via Screen Play]


Comments

    I still cant understand why people listen to this guy. He isnt a gamer, how can he make judgements
    Governments hire economists to help with economic policy, people experienced with overseas governments to give advice on foreign relation, etc.
    Yet a person who has little experience with games, and is considered a ludite is allowed to pass judgment on an entire industry. It makes no sense, along with all his arguments.

    Thanks Michael, I was thinking about maybe buying MW2 some time in the next few weeks, but as a result of this I'll be going out to buy it today before the fun police rock up. Mission accomplished.

    Also, I hate how he denounces any opposing opinion as "advocacy", and therefore not worthy of intelligent debate. How would you classify your own views Michael? Fair and balanced? No, you're advocating a very specific agenda. One which is at odds with the wishes of the other states' Attornies General by the way.

    That "76% of the vote" that you mentioned is 76% of a single district of one of the least populated states in the country, how dare you extrapolate that to be representative of Australia as a whole.

    Everyone else has picked apart his flawed argument and his ignorance of the issue, so I'll say it.

    Man, this guy is such a (Snip! - Ed).

    I wish David Doe and Gamers4Croydon the best of luck.

      Douche.

      It should be permitted. As it was allowed in this article posted minutes prior. ;)

      http://www.kotaku.com.au/2009/11/madden-arcade-has-three-balls-ice-sculptures/#more-367945

        Different context.

          Oh that's allright then. For a moment, I thought you called Michael Atkinson a snip.

          Somewhat justified, but your mother would not approve, and neither would Big Brother Atkinson.

        Remember, Kotaku isn't a place to personally attack people with nasty names and so forth...

        Besides, Atkinson might start using them as excuses in looking to have Kotaku removed from the internet as we're all uneducated and ignorant to his clear and logical arguments.

        I mean... what?

          According to wikipedia.

          Douchebag, or simply douche, refers to a person with a variety of negative qualities, specifically arrogance and engaging in obnoxious and/or irritating actions without malicious intent.

          Is it not then an observation? ;)

            Shush.

              a douche is also awomans hygenedevice :P

    Well once teh game is in the house hold wouldnt it be upto the childrens parents to stop them playing the game? anyways dont all current generation consoles have a parent lock ability?

      Indeed a parental lock, I swear my 360 has this...

      When parental locks were mentioned, Atkinson stuff like "Keep dreaming". Pretty much indicating that they don't exist, or won't work.

      Wether he does his research or not, he's a politician. He knows the ins and outs of every single word in the english language, and he will use this to his advantage.

        All consoles have a parental lock. It's called a power cord and makes the console unplayable when removed!

    "At the cinema, we can stop people under 18 going in to see R18+ rated movies. We can’t stop these games that are extremely violent and depraved from getting into the home or getting into the hands of children.”

    is this guy for real. last time i checked DVDs get released onto shelves the same way games do and we often get unrated versions of movies that are even more violent or sexual that the theatrical release.

    what a moron. seriously. his arguments are a joke. with an R rating i personally feel parents would be more watchful of their child playing an R rated game over a MA rated game. It would also make some games that IMO should be rated R not squeezed through as MA.

    Does he intentionally call the game "rape play" rather than "rapelay" because he knows people are only going to download the thing if he mentions it, or is that giving him far too much credit and it's just because he's an idiot and never knows what he's talking about? Who am I kidding, it's clearly the later. :D

    The fact of the matter is though that I read about rapelay a few months ago and how controversial it was I was able to find and download a copy of it within a few minutes. It's a terrible game that is next to impossible to figure out even with the menus in English and was uninstalled the same day, but it's still easily available to anybody with a tiny bit of computer knowledge. Porn of the same nature isn't legal anywhere in this country even under an X rating, so his argument that they'd let in a game of it under an R rating is just absolutely ludicrous.

    Also, what is his damn obsession about stating that all these things in games give you points? I don't recall rapelay having points, just as there are no points in the terrorist level in MW2, or points awarded for killing hookers in GTA.

    I won't go into whats wrong about this entire argument but

    Modern Warfare 2 fits into the current guidelines (even the terrorist level)

    It will be fine folks

    Oh and he is teetering on the brink anyway

    If there is major backlash from the South Australian Premier affair with a woman scandal in the levels the media expect Labor will lose and Atkinson will no longer be AG

    He truly is a master of spin. Take one nugget of truth - Modern Warfare 2 is definitely under-rated and should be 18+ - and then attach all the rest of this circular logic, irrelevant posturing and fanciful rhetoric to it.

    The more he talks about it though, the more it's out in the open and the more chances he gives for reasonable opponents to poke holes in his arguments, assuming that the media gives them equal time to do so.

    The hypocrisy of this guy makes me so sad. Not a month ago in his letter which was posted on this very site, he stated that there are many attorney generals against a R18+ game classification but he is copping all the flak because the others won’t speak out, implying we should sympathise with him for being the face of inaction over the R18+ issue.

    Yet he makes actions like this, declaring on radio that he will appeal the decision to rate the game M15+. You can't lament your status as a lightning rod of gamer hate on the issue and continue to be an active participant. Either cop your duly deserved criticism as a member of government or sit down and shut up.

    As for the MW2 rating, I believe it is adequate within out current ratings system and I think the rating will likely be upheld if Atkinson bothers to formally appeal at all. Bluster and the appearance of action is better than the reality, the rating will be upheld and Atkinson will lose face, mostly due to the warning system in place within the game for that scene. The system rates of levels of violence, language and horror, it does not measure “that one scene where you’re a terrorist, that you can skip if you like, it’s not a big deal if you do. Or you can play it, but not participate if you like as well”.

    If Atkinson has issue with our current ratings system is being applied and how it would be enforced should an R18+ category be released then he can get off his butt and do something about it. But he won’t, because if he did he would lose either way. Either A the system is fixed and he loses an excuse to refusing an R18+ category or B a report finds that the system works already, and he loses face for being wrong on the issue.

    Atkinson, the new Jack Thompson!

      Funny, I was thinking the exact same thing. How long until he suffer (enjoys?) the same fate.
      Let him keep talking - he is just digging a bigger hole into which he will eventually disappear.

      The new Jack Thompson? Hardly.....

      While Jack Thompson was a lawyer, he didn't have any political authority. And while his views on video games were conservative and almost puritanical at times, to his credit, at least he provided an argument to his beliefs.

      Michael Atkinson is not arguing. He's simply using his position as Attorney General to enforce a personal agenda. And the reality is that until he's removed as SA attorney general, there ain't a damn thing anyone can do to stop him.

    Maybe some one should point out to Atkinson that RapeLay ended up pissing off a bunch of feminists who bitched about it badly enough to cause a considerable reform to Japan's adult game market, in regards to what material is appropriate.

    Really, both his examples are games that never even had classifications, were never to be released with a rating, and furthermore never to be released in Australia.

    Hey I hate to play devils advocate here, but the current system is flawed. My brother, 13, owns COD MW2 and GTA4, both of which he bought without the help of an adult from the local game store. The fact is that even with the ratings in place, at the end of the day they don't get enforced. He has no idea how to torrent, and wouldn't be able to get a hold of these games if they were made illegal.

    It's a shame that Atkinson has to be so closed minded about it, because it does effect my gaming experience as an adult, but the fact is that the current system needs a complete overhaul from classification to distribution. Until that happens, who is to say that maybe it is not in our best interest, in our children's best interest to refuse classification on some titles?

    Just some food for thought. My gamer tag on MW2 is NRKey if you want to try taking it out on me!

      ""Hey I hate to play devils advocate here, but the current system is flawed. My brother, 13, owns COD MW2 and GTA4, both of which he bought without the help of an adult from the local game store. The fact is that even with the ratings in place, at the end of the day they don’t get enforced.""

      That's one of the fundamental reasons why we need an R18+ rating... if this happens now the store is likely to get a slap on the wrist (if that) and the employee will probably lose their job (maybe)...

      With the R18+ rating, the store would face MASSIVE fines if caught selling to a minor, no company would want to be seen doing that, so they are likely to make sure that staff are checking for ID...

      Parents MIGHT get a clue then, if they are carded to buy the game in the first place for Little Johnny, they might think twice at what they are buying because it's designed for adults.

      I would agree that we need better enforcement, both now and if a new system is put in place. I would daresay though that if R18+ classifications were put in place then the penalty for breaking that and selling to a minor would be just as stiff as other restricted items (alcohol, cigarettes and DVDs), and would hopefully whip the retail industry into shape.

      However I can't agree with you that using the current RC model to keep these games out of children's hands is the best course of action. Aside from my own personal views on the matter, I say that because the fact is that not even that is working at the moment. GTA4 was originally refused classification, but was reclassified as MA15+ following a few minor changes. Specifically: sexual acts were no longer shown, characters no longer accumulated pools of blood after dying, and characters no longer showed wounds as they were being injured (http://www.kotaku.com.au/2008/05/australian_and_unmodified_gta_iv_compared/). These are only minor aesthetic changes that hardly address the adult content that still shows up in that game (not to mention the ninja-update they did with the episodes...).

      I'm not a parent or guardian so it's easy for me to say this now, but I think that if parents are concerned about what their kids are playing then they should take some responsibility for it.

      you say he doesnt know how to download the games its not hard to learn and trust me once him and all his friends can no longer buy the games they want one of them will figure out how to download it(only takes a google search)

    he thinks that based on the clasification boards past conduct they will slip a rape game an R rating if it were introduced??!?!? the only reason they slip games MA ratings is cause its so obserd that we dont have an R rating...
    their behavior stems from the problem you have created you idiot.

    when the entire industry pulls out and 1000s of people lose their jobs (retail, distributors, publishers, developers)

    only then will he be happy but only then will Rudd arc up and tell him what an idiot he is, especially in such an economic climate.

    Who cares, he'd be saving you from a crap game.

    You can't regulate something unless you legalise it. That is why R18+ games need to be legalised, so we can have proper legislation put in place to control the sale and rental of these titles to minors.

    Lets remove the R18+ restriction on cigarettes and alcohol and ban it outright like games. Its the Atkinson way.

    OMG GROW THE HELL UP STOP CONTROLLING EVERYTHING RUN UNRULY STREAK DOWN THE ROAD IN YOUR UNDERWEAR ITS ALL GOOD.

    I hope there will be more shows like this in the future.

    I honestly think the best way to bring an R18 rating to Australia is to force Michael to speak in public on the subject as often as possible.

    If you listen to the show, Michael comes across as a jowl-wobbling reactionary, with David presenting commonsense ideas in a way I think a lot of Australians can appreciate.

    All that is being suggested is that Parents and Adults should be able to decide what is best for themselves and their families, and that they should have the resources necessary to make that decision an informed one.

    Right now, if you google 'Michael Atkinson' - it's all about his stance on video games. Hopefully this will extend to other forms of media, and as NegativeZero says above, give an opportunity for his other opponents (we can't be the only ones) to challenge his argument.

    "At the cinema, we can stop people under 18 going in to see R18+ rated movies. We can’t stop these games that are extremely violent and depraved from getting into the home or getting into the hands of children."

    It's a good thing movies aren't released on some sort of format that would allowed them to be sold at retail and then viewed at home, if that happened our society would be full of desensitised, violent youths!

    Oh, wait...

    The man might aswell just ask to ban all video games, he isn't even trying to come up with an alternative, he's just treating video games like they are the devil, as shown in the chinese studies, internet is the source of brain damage in relation to video games, video games are just the catalyst, Atkinson could be reasonable, though the internet isn't a very reasonable place, just a place where self control can reign (children won't learn this on the internets).

    Hey guys, just wanted to let you all know I had an article published in the Sydney Morning Herald today (in Heckler). It's just my opinion but I would think (hope) most of you agree with me.
    http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/ratings-need-a-gamer-approach-20091122-iss4.html

      Sorry to turn this into a personal forum, but oh-em-gee, it's Dutch.

      Congrats on getting the Heckler piece, I cheered when I read that today (albeit quietly and to myself, but still, it was a cheer nonetheless!)

        Cheers, I was mainly hoping it could get our viewpoint into the mainstream media a bit.

    This is actually good news. (1) Gamers and Atkinson are on common ground that the Classification Board in its current form doesn't produce consistent decisions in a way that the industry can understand and work to. (2) Gamers and Atkinson are on common ground that the Classification Board needs to be reformed. (3) Atkinson is independently generating publicity for the classification reform debate without just responding to gamers. (4) Legal challenge (presumably under the AD(JR) Act) puts the matter before a court, who will produce binding, public precedent on the manner in which the Classification Board should be discharging its duties and the tests it should be applying. All parties will have a clear sheet to be working from in understanding how the law should be applied and developers will have a better understanding on their chances in future legal appeals.

    He does have a good point, I mean, look at all the rape games that flood the markets in countries with an 18+ rating!!

    Hes single handedly saving the country guys!!

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