Atkinson: I'm not delaying R18+ discussion

Earlier this month, GameSpot AU reported the public consultation process for the introduction of an R18+ rating in Australia was suffering several delays at the hands of South Australian attorney general Michael Atkinson. Atkinson's proposed changes to a discussion paper due for public release have...

Earlier this month, GameSpot AU reported the public consultation process for the introduction of an R18+ rating in Australia was suffering several delays at the hands of South Australian attorney general Michael Atkinson. Atkinson's proposed changes to a discussion paper due for public release have still not been made, some four months after his initial objection that the paper was 'biased'.

But in a letter to Kotaku AU published today, Atkinson claims he is not the one responsible for the delay; rather, the other censorship ministers are the ones holding back the discussion paper's release.

Atkinson says the changes that he proposed to the draft discussion paper in November 2008 included illustrations of games rated above MA15+, which raised concerns from the departments of other attorneys general. Although Atkinson remains adamant that these illustrations should be included, other censorship ministers are "engaging in a cover-up and trying to delay the discussion paper's going out."

"The change most important to me in this paper was to include illustrations of what games above MA15+ were like. This debate shouldn't be a clinical written analysis of arguments only. Readers should be able to see what we are arguing for or against.

"Concerns were raised about my changes from other Attorney-General's [sic] departments, including whether it was appropriate to include depictions of these ultra-violent, extreme games. I do not understand why anyone would want to exclude this material from the discussion paper," Atkinson's Kotaku AU statement said.

Atkinson said he intends to take "his version" of the discussion paper to the next Standing Committee of Attorneys-General (SCAG) meeting in Canberra in April, where he says a decision will be made on its release. Atkinson stated that he hopes this will be as soon as April.

For more on Australian games classification, check out our Censory Overload feature.

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47 comments
Falcon084
Falcon084

Any Cl*sfication goes againts the very essance of freedom. I do not believe that children should be playing Grand Theft Auto but they do because we do not have this. Under current laws people are alowed to import these games from other contries and this is taking money out of Australia. The man stoping the change is the Attorney General of SA, his view is a personel one and not a legal one. God save Australia because no one is going to save the Attorney General (taken from a quote from former PM Whitlem :lol: )

Scarshi
Scarshi

M rated or below: Meh MA rated: hmm, okay MA+ rated: not sure, ask your mother R18+ rated: Hell no, go play outside! Your too pale! Its all about labeling things correctly. If something is Poison you don't just put on a label "This stuff is bad". Details make the best choices so no one passes the blame. Cause and Effect.

shivLasers
shivLasers

@Gameking5000 My cousin (who is 9) has dead space and the only reason he keeps playing it is that he wants to watch all the death animations and laugh at them, some of those death scenes made me uncomfortable because my aunty and my mum were in the same damn room, I asked my aunty why would you buy this for a 9 year old and she said our deal was that he can buy any games that arent R18+. Dead space would definately have been R18+ if there was such a thing but no, they decided to make it MA15+ because of atkinson. The people he is trying to protect are the ones getting hurt the most. Also my friend has every game that has been banned in Australia, he only got them because he heard how they were banned and how awesome it must be. Also I have heard that Germany also has a strict rating system, is there any truth to that?

Smoolander
Smoolander

What is the biggest disgrace here is that some of the games that Atkinson has used as examples of things gamers are 'trying to get their hands on for a R18 rating' would not even pass an R18 rating in this country. His example in the past of a game that is a 'rape simulator' would by RC'd. As like any politician, he is misusing examples and facts to present his own high powered view without considering the vast majority of reason that is being applied to this from the gaming community.

Tyrling
Tyrling

Thanks Star_Jump, good to see a lot of people here actually listen to reason... Someone should ask Mr Atkinson if he plans on selling soft porn to children as well... Once we get our R18+ rating (if we ever do) a hell of a lot of children will loose access to extremely violent and adult material, and only then will Atkinson realise he wasn't helping these children, but rather condemning them to the monstrosities he claims violent games create... Ironic really...

Star_Jump
Star_Jump

I completely agree with Tyrling. Michael Atkinson's dogged refusal to allow in an R18+ rating is in fact allowing more adult material through to the younger audience. No one knows this better than gamers themselves.... and the unfortunate thing about that is - nobody else besides gamers /game research experts know this. The media in South Australia was in fact quoted saying something along the lines of "because Australia does not have an R18+ rating, the games allowed in are CONSIDERABLY TAMER than those in other countries". How uninformed is this?? It's just a shame that the government does not place putting an adequate ratings system in as a high priority in this country so that people like Mr. Atkinson can even veto a discussion from taking place.

Captain_Tom
Captain_Tom

What's the matter Mr. Atkinson? Bitter at the world because you weren't made a High Court judge?

Pilch_R_eD
Pilch_R_eD

Riiiight. It's everyone else's fault for not excepting HIS changes to the proposal, even though they all excepted the original proposal except him . . . . . Am I seeing a crazy loophole to this that actually makes it his fault ??? So it's ok for him not to except THE proposal. But he gets all pissy and blames all of them when they don't accept HIS proposal. I hate politicians. I can also get screenshots of Super Violent R18+ Games! It's called taking screenshots of our MA15+ games lol. Hurrah for idiotic bureaucracy!

gameking5000
gameking5000

I know a 11 year old student who plays Grand Theft Auto IV + his friends come over and they play it together. Now that really disturbs me. The parents also have a responsibility you know, you cannot just rely on ratings.

Tyrling
Tyrling

I think this is a total crock... Seriously, he seems to be missing the main issue here, and that's that by disallowing an R18+ rating he is making extremely violent video games MORE accessible to children... Lets look at a classic example, GTA4 (I know, cliche right?) This game WAS supposed to be an R18+ game, making it only accessible to people over the age of 18 (a legal adult in Australia), but because we DON'T have an R18+ rating, its an MA15+ game, now accessible by children 15 and over... Atkinson thinks he is doing parents a favor by "protecting" their children from even the slightest chance of being exposed to adult material in gaming, but all his doing is making the parent oblivious to the violent material their children are playing in what SHOULD be an R18+ game... I think Atkinson should stop playing the Martyr by taking us gamers "biased" slings and arrows and simply listen to reason. Exposure to adult material should be governed by the parents of the child, the government has no place to tell the individual what they are allowed to and not allowed to view/play/listen to and i feel anyone who truly agrees with Atkinson's agenda is either misinformed or just a lazy parent who blames their inability to care for their child on the media...

gauntlet2021
gauntlet2021

@ dwardbean, I understand where you're coming from, some people seem to be influenced by the wrong factors here. I personally don't feel any need to increase the levels of gratuity in games, violence isn't a very high priority for me. I'd much rather just have a great story or possibly great artistic design (which IMO is lacking recently but whatever). I just hate seeing shameless censorship in the media in general. Much of what the OFLC will consider offensive may not be considered offencive by others, and I feel that it should be up to the individual to decide whether or not a product is too explicit for them. With an R rating, people should be able to better determine for themselves whether or not the content will be more than they're comfortable with. That's what I think, anyway, you might think differently. I could go on about related things on a more global level, but I don't think this is the place so I'll just stop there.

maldoror19
maldoror19

dwardbean, I don't think it is a want of more violent content, but the want to be able to make the decision to choose content as an individual adult/parent rather than have the choice made for them. In fact, I would say the reason a lot of poeple are angry is because this issue infringes on their rights. This point has nothing to do with games and could be relating to any medium such as film. I personally don't like to play really violent games, but at least I should have the right to choose to. Also, for anybody wanting to play a game because of its level of violence probably aren't old/mature enough to judge what games they should be playing; and as you have importantly pointed out, the level of violence has nothing to do with the aim and purpose of almost all games. It is just that this 'debate' in general has blurred the intentions and purposes to why the rating sytem is there for. Thanks for your response.

dwardbean
dwardbean

To Malordor19, thanks for your thoughts. My message wasn't to everyone involved and is derived from the young gamers I am in contact with and is aimed toward those on this thread who are screaming for blood over this issue. Who are they? Hypothetically, 18 to 30 year old gamers. Read their particular comments and you can see they have no interest in the welfare of younger gamers and the actual reason there is a ratings system in the first place. I totally agree with you on giving games the correct rating, and there are people genuinely trying to get this passed for the right reasons. But I don't see too many of them on this forum. So I would have to disagree with you on the reason a lot of the gamers posting on this forum want the R rating. It's simply content. They want the content that they feel they are missing out on. The majority of which adds little to no value to the game's core aim, it's gameplay, other than it's explicit in nature and I feel they are indicative of their demographic. If there was no promise of this kind of material being available to them via the R rating, most of them couldn't care less. Yes, a lot of the criticism towards the OFLC and others is well earned for many reasons but my posts are directed towards those who have they're own agenda. So to those angry people tearing strips off of Mr Atkinson and on your high horse baying for blood, why dont you be honest with yourself and tell us the the real reason you want to play an R rated game. Because the innocent children will be out of harm's way or because you want to sever the enemy's limbs while they scream in agony, showering you in blood.

aaronobst
aaronobst

%96 of Australia is pro- R18+ that's one hell of an uproar

gameking5000
gameking5000

Mr. Atkinson is doing a great job unlike my state's (Victoria) lord mayor who seems to definetly support R18+ rating. It's not that he gets 24 hours to think about this, he's a governor and he's busy with other matters too.

Sagacious_Tien
Sagacious_Tien

I still believe he is at the centre of the controversy and the delaying of releasing a paper which will inevitably prove what we've all been saying all along.

maldoror19
maldoror19

To, dwardbean, most poeple don't want an R18 rating to have more violent games - it is so that games that exist and the ones to come out in the future are placed in the correct rating system. A lot of MA15 games should be R18 and are in other countries! Also, if Atkinson is showing images from R18 games, then he should include Fear2, which was released here as MA15 yet R18 in every other country (it is exactly the same version). Even so, showing still images of games is redundant and out of context anyway, but what is more alarming is that the 'discussion' paper (a delay tactic in itself!) will be released publicly for all to see these images that are from 'banned' games. That's interesting coming from someone who wants to protect people from these very same images. This issue turned into a farce quite a while ago, and contradictions like the Fallout3/VelvetAssassin morphine decision are making it blatantly clear that the entire censorship boards and game industry is in need of growing up because the main demographic of gamers already have. I have played games most of my life and am now 27 years old (the majority of gamers are 25-30). Surely this medium, just like film and music and tv and art etc etc etc, can be established enough to be able to cator for the older as well as the younger generation too. Is that too much to ask?

Venom_89_69
Venom_89_69

thing is though all it takes is the person who is selling the R rated game to say no to anyone who is under the age of 18. If a parent buys an R rated game for their kid who is under 18 then its not anyones fault but the parents for letting them play said game.

damaster101
damaster101

I saw a violence against video games interview on tv this morning the nines morning show, Today or sunrise?Anyway they were saying kids are playing all these violent video games and studies show that it causes aggression long and short term,a bit of bs some more talk etc. The problem is they didn't mention on how kids got these games its as if the only was as if parents just bought it for them.Now okay if we had an R+18 maybe this could have reduced this happening?And maybe most kids are actually SANE and if played moderately can certainly tell the difference between reality and a videogame.I played silent hill when i was young for christsake i also watched alot of scary/violent movies and i turned out fine. Also parents need to know about the parental controls on the gaming consoles because i know there all there.

dastud2007
dastud2007

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Caer_Death
Caer_Death

This is the evils of democracy and the extremist pitfall. The world needs freedom, not democracy!

Fusion_Master
Fusion_Master

im curious as to why the issue of 'kids' playing r18+ video games is even an issue. if the rating passes and some games are granted the r18+ rating, it will mean kids will have a harder time getting their hands on the material that is deemed 'inappropriate' than they do now.

Fusion_Master
Fusion_Master

one might presume the illustrations he wants to make obvious to those unfamiliar with the r18 argument will potentially sway the views of individuals. does showing the most violent, or sexually explicit imagery of an r18 game actually get across the point of what we are trying to get changed? i think not. the result of an r18+ rating in australia should; a) up some game ratings which are currently ma15+ to the new higher rating where appropriate and b) allow content currently being banned and removed from games in australia so that they may slip through on an ma15+ rating to remain unedited for anyone who wishes to play the material, as their right as an adult. along with their right to drive, drink, gamble, purchase pornography, smoke, etc... oh and lets not forget purchase/listen to/ view music and movies rated R18+. "“Censorship reflects a society's lack of confidence in itself."

knifey
knifey

he isn't ignorant I work for the government and due to various people in positions of government they make my job much much much more difficult so it may not necessarily be him

dwardbean
dwardbean

Wow! This topic certainly does get people fired up, doesn't it. So here's some more fuel for the fire. Atkinson's shenanigans are typical of someone in his position. Ignorant. One more decision maker using their power to gratify a personal agenda. However, that said, Australia doesn't NEED R rated games. Christ, the world doesn't need R rated games. I think we already have R rated games. Just because they have an M15+ sticker on them doesn't make it so. Some of the things I've experienced in MA15+ tites are already beyond the limits of what should be explored through games. Exactly how extreme do we have to make these things before we can truly appreciate the "adult" nature of our favourite medium. There's being able to express yourself and then there's pointless gratuitousness, which many, many games already have in spades, what is the point in taking them even further. I don't know, maybe it will make gamers finally feel like grown ups. Some sort of justification to show that we can be just as, if not more, shocking and offensive than film and other media. I'm certainly not anti-violence, anti-sex or anything else for that matter and I love my M15+ games as much as the next pwner, but we really need to ask ourselves what the R rating offers us as gamers. I know what it offers me. Nothing. Nothing at all. And now I will get back to actually making games with the sound knowledge that I have made no difference at all to the opinions of my fellow gamers. Take care all.

ScrawlKnight
ScrawlKnight

@jamesh-42 Agreed. To the rest of you, stop slamming him just because he's someone you think you can blame. Sure he's an idiot, but it doesn't mean it's all his fault.

jamesh-42
jamesh-42

The truth is probably somewhere in between. Atkinson probably did ask for the violent imagery to be added to the report back then and got voted down. The other Attorneys-General are probably waiting for a second response. If they are going to show imagery of current games that have been refused classification, it would also make sense to show imagery of games that received an MA15+ rating but would have received an R18+ rating if it was available.

criegz
criegz

Oh c'mon! You can't be serious! Just pass the damn rating and stop delaying! People want R18+ games! NAO!

spetz_naz_basic
spetz_naz_basic

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

spacemariens22
spacemariens22

such a load of s##t! stop delyaing the inevitable atkinson! just give us our R18+ system stop delyaing it!!!

johnnyauau
johnnyauau

He's got some nerve using every trick in the book so that the R18+ would never be there. I know 'his version' is going to be really restricted on the R18+ material. Also he's throwing his own beliefs ahead of everyone else. It's obvious that Michael Atkinson is denying his involvement and blames on his ministers on delaying them. It's really ridiculous that movies can go up to R18+ but games don't. Also why some games got banned but the others gets rated because of that same material. It's totally inconsistent that he thinks his kids is having fun with these games because of his beliefs. I always knew there is a double standard throughout the procedure. He still believes that games are for kids and the parents are the ones to blame and the minister and his rating crew can decide what games people can play not knowing that adult's are also playing these games as well. What kind of person goes around thinking he's doing the right thing but tries to blame it on someone else? All he has to do is to agree on R18+ and this would be over with. Well this kind of news is still unknown but if a group decide to do a protest out on the street where the home of the ministers were or the parliament than it will grab everyone's attention and so focus on Michael Atkinson than there's no way he will hide from his own lies. That's just an idea anyway. So vote him out or think of something that will expose his true nature about his stance against R18+ on games, maybe with evidence and then there's no way he'll hide from the true fact that adults also play games as well.

selbie
selbie

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

MarioMainic
MarioMainic

Is this guy a tool or whatcause i hate him so much Ouh im micheal atictenision im making people angry but this r18+ games and other crap now im being could a tool By the way i was being sarcastic

Payback7
Payback7

I'm over this. Any R18+ games I will just import till the silly old coots get their act together and realise that gaming is a legitimate form of Adult entertainment. And @E-i-N-e very well said regarding children playing these games and the parents blaming everything and everyone but themselves.

Sigh_han
Sigh_han

Pffft he's so pathetic. First claiming that the discussion paper was biased, he then wants to put in ultra violent pictures so it can go in his own favour. Hypocrite much? He wants to steer the rest of the attorney generals in his own direction by showing those images which aren't in every bloody game to begin with. Idgaf what he does, i know where my beliefs stand and i hope that the rest of the attorneys are smart enough to know the right thing to do. Its about time Australia has a R rating.

TurambarGS
TurambarGS

How stupid. He initially claims that the discussion paper was biased. Then he wants to slap in a bunch of the most violent images he can find, which will be no doubt taken completely out of context and emphasis - that is, he'll find 10 stills of someone getting headshotted and slap them in and make out like this is what the games are constantly about. Will he put in stills of the morphine use? Or the cartoony GTAIV car sex scenes? Bet you he won't. Talk about hypocrisy. Retire already.

gauntlet2021
gauntlet2021

He's afraid of there being bias, so he wants to find the most graphic violence he can and show it on the proposal? Side by side to an MA game there's not much difference, but he seems to want to find the most horrific thing he can, show it while claiming that it's too horrific to be shown. What's so bad about there being a higher boundary for games? It's not going to cause people to kill people, that happens from game violence less than once a year. Compared to almost every other perfectly legal activity for adults in Australia, it's completelly insignificant. It seems like he simply doesn't like excessive content (far less excessive than movies, by the way), so he doesn't want anyone else to, which is a pretty narrow minded view in my opinion. I hope that he doesn't mess with this too much so this can get through, let people decide for themselves how they feel without his almighty wisdom. It seems like he thinks he's doing the right thing, but he comes off as the old man who always knows best, end of discussion.

Wrathesoul
Wrathesoul

IMO Atkinson is so full of BS it is pushing its way out the sockets of his eyes.. This guy only needs to do one simple little thing which he shouldnt have any say so in from the start a simple yes ADULTS can play what they like when they like how they like as gory and spooky as they like. Not be a mama's boy raised on the nipple until he was 40 in a anti normal world family..

joelgargan
joelgargan

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

shani_boy101
shani_boy101

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

forhekset
forhekset

And what do you think having these graphic images included in this report will achieve without having a point of reference? I'm pretty sure the difference between MA and R would be insignificant if shown stills side by side. But no, we'll just have these pictures by themselves of probably horrific violence that stand alone and will just confuse the situation more.

GizmoVirus
GizmoVirus

Wouldnt images from R or RC rated games be illegal in Australia based on there source? Maybe thats the issue the other AGs are having?

E-i-N-e
E-i-N-e

This is just getting terrible. Im starting to believe that these guys know that there going to lose. Most Aussie's feel it's alright to have R18+ games in Australia and who blames them? The Australian Government have been saying why should they let these games into Australia why should we let violence into Australa aswell as sex etc etc. There are plenty of R18+ movies that were made in Australia such as Romper Stomper etc. Take notice of the television show Underbelly, in almost every episode it shows sex, violence, and drug use however it is only rated MA 15+. If movies and also pornographic films that are R18+ are allowed onto Australian soil why not R18+ games? One last point aswell to people who say young children are going to get their hands on these games it is entirely up to the parents. They should know what their children get up to, they should know what people they befriend and many precautions have been made. Such as parental lock on the xbox. And if they were to argue " But they are going to get their hands on these no matter what we do" that is exactly like alcohol and cigarrettes. And last time I checked they arn't illegal in Australia, you just have to be yep you guessed it 18 years or older. I guarantee the Australian Government are pulling this off because they know they are going to lose.

gameking5000
gameking5000

Well that's not good, what are they doing!? Maybe they think they're going to lose.

mystic_knight
mystic_knight moderator

Thanks 4 the update. I dont think our position will change in regards to R18 status. It will remain MA limited, the report tells us he is quite adamant about this decision.

Lozzica
Lozzica moderator

Earlier this month, GameSpot AU reported the public consultation process for the introduction of an R18+ rating in Australia was suffering several delays at the hands of South Australian attorney general Michael Atkinson. Atkinson's proposed changes to a discussion paper due for public release have still not been made, some four months after his initial objection that the paper was 'biased'. But in a letter to Kotaku AU published today, Atkinson claims he is not the one responsible for the delay; rather, the other censorship ministers are the ones holding back the discussion paper's release.Atkinson says the changes that he proposed to the draft discussion paper in November 2008 included illustrations of games rated above MA15+, which raised concerns from the departments of other attorneys general. Although Atkinson remains adamant that these illustrations should be included, other censorship ministers are "engaging in a cover-up and trying to delay the discussion paper's going out.""The change most important to me in this paper was to include illustrations of what games above MA15+ were like. This debate shouldn't be a clinical written analysis of arguments only. Readers should be able to see what we are arguing for or against.

"Concerns were raised about my changes from other Attorney-General's [sic] departments, including whether it was appropriate to include depictions of these ultra-violent, extreme games. I do not understand why anyone would want to exclude this material from the discussion paper," Atkinson's Kotaku AU statement said.

Atkinson said he intends to take "his version" of the discussion paper to the next Standing Committee of Attorneys-General (SCAG) meeting in Canberra in April, where he says a decision will be made on its release. Atkinson stated that he hopes this will be as soon as April.

For more on Australian games classification, check out our Censory Overload feature.