Atkinson "won't surrender" anti-R18+ fight

South Australian Attorney General says lack of graphic game images in public discussion paper will result in "overwhelming response in support of R18+"; hints that his stance could change if gaming community engages in civilised debate.

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Australians are right now being asked to voice their opinion on whether an R18+ rating for video games should be introduced, with the Australian Federal Attorney General seeking public submissions into the issue. But while the consultation process won't conclude until February 28, 2010, one high-profile figure in the games debate has already decided that the majority of respondents will be in favour of an R18+: vocal anti-R18+ campaigner Michael Atkinson.

Michael Atkinson.

The South Australian Attorney General had previously lobbied for the discussion paper that accompanies the public consultation process to include graphic game images. In April last year, the then Minister for Home Affairs, Bob Debus, made the R18+ public consulation the concern of his office, taking power away from Atkinson and the other Attorneys General. In an exclusive phone interview with GameSpot AU, Atkinson said the public consultation is incomplete without the pictures he first proposed in March last year. He says the majority of Australians don't care enough about the issue to have a say, and as a result, the discussion paper responses will mostly be from gamers.

"I don't think the discussion paper presents a fair and balanced view of the issue without pictures of the games that would be rated R18+," Atkinson said. "I think the majority of the population are unfamiliar with these games and without images, they won’t be able to imagine them in their mind's eye. They’ll have no idea how violent or sexually depraved they are, and what kind of torture, drug use, and blood spatter they include.

"I also believe that very few people outside the gaming community will have a say in this public consultation, which will mean an overwhelming response in support of R18+."

Atkinson has also told GameSpot AU that a recent spout of personal death threats has made it unlikely that his opposition to the introduction of an R18+ classification for video games in Australia will shift or soften anytime soon.

Atkinson talked of renewed death threats and a daily flood of abusive e-mails, letters, and correspondence from what he assumes to be those opposed to his current stance on R18+ for games.

"It's unlikely I’ll change my stance [on R18+ for games] anytime soon, considering the last death threat I received was pushed under my door at 2am, presumably by someone who doesn’t like my stance on R18+," Atkinson said. "It was like something out of a Hollywood film--letters cut from magazine headlines arranged together on a page. I receive abusive emails from anonymous senders on a daily basis. I get called a paedophile every single day. But I won’t surrender," he said.

Atkinson says only the start of a civilised debate between himself and the gaming community will make him consider changing his stance on R18+. Although the threats keep coming, Atkinson says he intends to continue actively replying to as many letters as he can and continuing to have his voice heard.

"I'll consider changing my mind about all this when the gaming community decide to behave in a civil fashion and apologise for the theats to me and my family. But I don't plan to back down from the fight. I started my mission and I plan to finish it." he said. "Other Attorneys General regard this as a low-key issue. Others support R18+, and others oppose it. Others are indifferent. I personally try to reply in a reasoned way to everyone who writes to me about this issue, something that's become very hard lately with the daily flood of anonymous and abusive e-mails."

Atkinson made headlines in November last year when he appeared on ABC’s Radio National program National Interest and declared his intentions to appeal the Classification Board of Australia’s classification of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2--which was rated MA15+--because he was against "any game that encourages gamers to perpetrate extreme violence and cruelty onscreen…and allows players to be virtual terrorists and gain points by massacring civilians." Now Atkinson says he has no memory of what happened to this appeal.

"[Federal Minister for Home Affairs] Brendan O’Connor was planning to appeal the same game I was, and I understood that he went ahead with this appeal so there was no reason for me to do the same," Atkinson said. "I don't know what the result of this appeal was."

According to the Classification Board of Australia, the Classification Review Board has not received an appeal on any video game classification decision from O'Connor in 2009 or 2010. The board also told GameSpot AU in November last year that no appeal from Atkinson had been received, which indicates that neither minister followed up his intentions to appeal Modern Warfare 2.

Although hurt by the tirade of personal threats to him and his family, Atkinson remains positive. He revealed that his son Christopher is an avid gamer and a participant in competitive gaming tournaments in South Australia.

"I do sometimes discuss the R18+ issue with my sons, yes," Atkinson said. "I even bought them a Mario game for Christmas."

Stay tuned to GameSpot AU for more news on Atkinson tomorrow. Meanwhile, check out GameSpot AU's Aussie Games Classification FAQ feature.

Discussion

234 comments
999realthings
999realthings

Interesting notes about the death threats. Is that even legit? I'll sure like to know the details or is he just pulling BS outta nowhere to streghten his stance. There is so much flaw in his arguement that just astound. Firstly, why would non-gamers(side parents of gamers) care about R+18 rating, they don't play games so an R+18 would affect them as much as the banning of alcohol for people who don't drink. Then he wants to put images of games on the discussion paper on how sexually and violently deprave they are. I played a fair amount of games and not R+18 games would be about sex and torture. Some of the games just adult themes to have deeper story. And most of the picture of those violent games are just going to be picture of games that are MA+15. I mean look at AvP. Initially banned but then got appeal and is now MA+15 which means a child could probably get it. Good job on defending the kids there. Then the closing statement shows how out of touch Atkinson is. He discuss the R+18 issue with his kids but buys MARIO!!! for him. How old is his son, 9 or something? If the kid is older than 15, he could go to Ebgames or whatever and get a game that should have been an R+18 but is now just a MA+15 like GTA, Prototype or Fallout 3. But on his defense, it was retarded and immature to sent death threat or abusive e-mail to a guy who obviously won't change his stance no matter what. It just giving the much needed points he need to continue supporting this debate.

johnnyauau
johnnyauau

For the record, I have no luck in contacting Michael Atkinson. I don't know where he lives and what his email is. So there's no way for me to put my message across. At least I won't have to anyway since I'm not interested in sending messages all the time.

danielgreen81
danielgreen81

This is becoming increasingly frustrating to me. We have jumped through all the hoops and red tape he's put up, and he seems to just be looking for excuses now. I am beginning to resent be referred to as a 'gamer' not because I am, but the way it comes across is that we are all the same. We are not all the same. It's like referring to 'shoppers' all as the same person. While each has a certain majority group, that is only a small part of the whole. I don't understand why he can't see that. For every under 18 gamer there's at least 1 over 18 (based that the average gamers age is approx 30 something) As an aside, if there WERE graphic images included in the discussion paper, would that then have to be classified? - R18+ based on the content - And then, because there's no classification rating on discussion papers would be illegal in Australia? Yeah, I could only hope.

Falcon084
Falcon084

He is the head Lawer for the whole state of South Australia. His arguments for banning R18+ in AUS is not a leagel one and I suspect his playing of vedeo games is purely political. As far as death threats are concerned the people who write them are letting the rest of us gamers down. If you are one of them stop you are hurting our cause.

johnnyauau
johnnyauau

Well I've analysed Michael's comments and did some research behind this saga. For starters, the reason for the delay is Michael's announcement of adding pictures to give an idea how bad games were. The second is if there were death threats, I like him to give examples and there's actually a video section in Aussie Games Classification FAQ feature the second page on how to NOT write to Michael Atkinson. One of the comments is part of the six page letter he wrote somewhere on this section. Finally, Modern Warfare 2 that was going to be banned never happened. I would've believed that Michael would follow the procedure but he's a busy man. No offence but if Michael Atkinson is honest with how he manage to answer the critics, it would've been resolved long ago. Instead, he intends to put a permanent ban on R18+ hoping he'll put his message across. I'm going to be 24 on my birthday which is on the 28th of January. Anyway, if he is finally voted out, maybe there won't be anymore censorship and it would put everyone's mind at ease.

SaberSpellSword
SaberSpellSword

you know whats funny? Atkinson's whole argument is based around how he is supposed to be PROTECTING our children but my forum post shows that he is actually HARMING them. lol (sorry, I'm bored)

SaberSpellSword
SaberSpellSword

that sad face was meant to be an angry face like this >: (

SaberSpellSword
SaberSpellSword

Holy crap! Its a cospiracy! someone has edited out all the links and I can't write any further mesages on the 7pm forum!!! someones trying to stop people voting in the survey! I smell Michael Atkinson at work >:(

olthof
olthof

It is disgusting that people are giving him death threats. Sure his position on the issue is wrong, but everyone has the right to an opinion and we should respect that. I'm all up for debate on the issue and it looks like he is too. Death threats and abusive emails don't help our cause one bit. Oh and great job SaberSpellSword, I just read it. Awesome!!

RandolphRam
RandolphRam moderator

Hi everyone. We have recently deleted a number of posts made in response to this article, having deemed these posts to be inappropriate. Whilst we encourage debate and discussion amongst our readers, we do not condone the making of offensive statements about individuals. Anyone abusing the Talkback facility will have their comment(s) deleted and may have their account suspended with immediate effect, and without further notice. Thanks for your understanding and co-operation

betatester
betatester

Showing people pictures of out of context violence from video games seems like a bit of a shock tactic to get people thinking the worst and having them jump on the ban wagon. " Atkinson said. "I think the majority of the population are unfamiliar with these games and without images, they won’t be able to imagine them in their mind's eye. So you show them violent images of the game and then let them "imagine them in their mind's eye." what the game is like. Would definitely help mislead people to thinking the game is pure substanceless violence. "They’ll have no idea how violent or sexually depraved they are, and what kind of torture, drug use, and blood spatter they include. " Isn't this exactly what the ratings system is for? Apparently the ratings system is completely useless if this is what he believes. Strange though that it's fine for every other game and rating but suddenly when it's the r18 rating the person buying it will have " no idea how violent or sexually depraved they are, and what kind of torture, drug use, and blood spatter they include." Could go on but have to run!

SaberSpellSword
SaberSpellSword

The most difficult part of writting the post was making it interesting for people who have absolutly ZERO interest in the topic since those were the people who needed to read it.

SaberSpellSword
SaberSpellSword

If they don't air it within a week or so I'm going to post the exact same message onto a Today Tonight forum, and then if they don't air it there, I'll find some other news forum. I've given them all the information they need to run the story, I've practically done their job for them. all they have to do is air it so there's absolutly no excuse. The only problem here is that I've posted it maby a little too late. the survey entries close on 28th February, so i only have a month to spread as much awareness in the non-gaming community as possible. I should have Michael Atkinson shaking in his boots after this. After all, I've discredited EVERY SINGLE ONE of his arguments!

blangenakker
blangenakker

Good idea SaberSpellSword hope they air it

SaberSpellSword
SaberSpellSword

I just posted a 2000 word post on the 7pm Project forum that is specifically aimed at non gaming Parents. It discredits EVERY single positive point they have for not giving us an R rating and it also explains all the good points about bringing an R rating to our shores. It has direct links to the survey to make it easy for people and i also added a little note at the bottom for the 7pm project team asking to put this issue on the show. If they actually air this thing, then it will make the issue known to non-gamers nation wide! To read the post for yourself, head to http://7pmproject.com.au/forums/thread.jspa?threadID=119872&tstart=0 If that doesn't work go to 7pmproject.com.au then "forums" then"local news" then click on the forum titled "!!!IMPORTANT!!! Help protect your children from harmful content!" Notice how I didn't put any referance to gaming in the title and i also mentioned that their children are in danger (which is true to a point mainly coz of their ignorance). If THAT doesn't have the non-gaming parents of the nation flooding into the forum, NOTHING will.

GameHole
GameHole

What does he mean 'I even bought them a Mario game for Christmas'. WOW! A mario game, that does not link to the discussion he had with his sons.

herodotus2006
herodotus2006

"the discussion paper responses will mostly be from gamers. " As it should be. To turn this into a political debate with the seriousness and magnitude of something like Gun Control or Abortion is just plain wrong.An unbiased and sensible point of view is needed. That rules out childish gamers (with their death threats) and Atkinson himself. I do believe there are those stupid enough to make those threats, however they may not even be gamers, just trouble makers. As for including explicitimages...well now we're entering the controversial area of shock tactics such as those used in dangerous driving commercials. I feel sorry for this bozo's kids. Not too popular at school I'd wager.

Scarshi
Scarshi

... Show me pics of these actual death threats and maybe I'll be sympathetic. Unless this "Mario" game is adult rated, whats he trying to tell us? Has this guy ever actually sat down for a few hours to play these mature games, ever?

Oblenator
Oblenator

I see an epic flaw in the last paragraph, he says "I do sometimes discuss the R18+ issue with my sons, yes, I even bought them a Mario game for Christmas." First off, how is the R18+ issue and him buying his son a Mario game for Christmas related? Mario is and always has been G to PG in rating with absoulutly no chance of touching R18+. Secondly, if his son wants his Dad to buy him Mario games for Christmas, I doubt he is old enough to get in a tourny, unless it is for a Mario game (Racing, etc.) which still does not relate to the R18+ issue because as I said, it is G to PG. In short: Atkinson logic = flawed.

morbid_man_guy
morbid_man_guy

*sigh* There's always a few idiots out there who think that death threats are going to help, but I feel Atkinson is blowing this death threat thing out of proportion (he's probably only received a few, else he would have lodged a formal statement with the SA or federal police). Nonetheless it IS giving him a little more ammunition for his side of the debate. I think that since he's saying his behaviour may change if healthy, civilised debate ensues, we should give him exactly that - healthy, civilised debate (more so than we already are). If we DO give him that, let's see how his "stance" will "change". I'm banking on the assumption that he WON'T change, regardless. Anyway, here's to the hope of a better tomorrow (the kind of 'better tomorrow' where we get R18+ games!)

Auhsoj100
Auhsoj100

There is no way I can possibly expect Atkinson to know what he's talking about when he buys 'Mario games' - that's MARIO GAMES, as in some of the most non-violent games ever made in history! Then again, exploding shells causing death will probably get the next Mario game banned...

mrfizzy89
mrfizzy89

I sent Mr. Atkinson a very polite and logical email on why i believe we should have an R18+ system. I never got a response. Sort of hard to have a discussion when he wont reply to your emails isnt it?

rockatanski
rockatanski

Umm. I've just thought of something.... Has anyone actually seen these supposed "death threats"? Or do we simply go by his word on it? This is all starting to get a bit strange.

rockatanski
rockatanski

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

DiabolicalX
DiabolicalX

So you talk to your son about his opinion of your idiocy? Mind telling us what his opinion is?

StingrayA
StingrayA

I love how Atkinson said he was going to appeal MW2 but didn't. This just shows that hes all talk and no substance to back his claims up, thus is just using his power as an attorney-general and personal bias to block the bill and not an actual point or case.

shivLasers
shivLasers

Because it was extremely civilized when he said that all gamers are criminals, also who has the time to go out a 2am and put a death threat under somones door who probably gets heaps of them and would just throw it away? Also how old are his sons? Old enough to be interested in R18+ and yet young enough to get children video games from his/her father. Sounds Fishy

yogibbear
yogibbear

And where would those pictures come from? From games that are currently rated MA15+. LOL THE IRONY. What a dumbass. You would have to be so very very ignorant to stick to your guns like this loser attorney. Everyone vote for Gamers4Croydon/

Revla
Revla

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

rockatanski
rockatanski

All South Australian gamers vote this ass monkey out. You only need 13000 votes. I think we're on a winner here.

Bad_Azz_Kratos
Bad_Azz_Kratos

"allows players to be virtual terrorists and gain points by massacring civilians." - this man clearly has less than no idea what he's talking about, you LOSE "points" for killing civilians at ANY other point in MW2, he just expects people who haven't played it to take his word on how evil it is. We all know that no matter what he says, he won't budge, even if every gamer in Australia apologises for threats made by the few utter 'tards that thought death threats would resolve the situation. Why did he even bother trying with the mario thing?

darthturkey
darthturkey

Who says that the next Attorney General wont continue, what continue what Atkinson is doing. Australia had a chance to bring in a R rating when they brought in the rating system for games back in the early 90's, Mortal Kombat was one of the first games i brought which had a M rating, so if anyone remembers the year when that was release on super nes, that is when the rating system came in. for game consoles. I cant see it happening, i like to have an R rating for games, as games have been either modified or banned for the last 15 years.

Scarshi
Scarshi

Actually, I don't see what he is achieving. If we really want that censored game its easy to import privately. I think that is what he wants all along. People to stay under the radar playing these adult games instead of on the retail shelves. I can hear the Joker clapping his hands together right now (Dark Knight).

Scarshi
Scarshi

So his stance for no R18+ games is on the reasoning people are oblivious to what Adult gaming is? Overwhelming votes to R18+ by gamers and not by others who don't play? Oh man he's lost the plot. Its purely a personal stance by him. If I parked my car at a place someone hated and I got a move it or lose it letter, I'd move it. He wants to risk death for his motives? He's got balls, pray they don't get cut off.

southwardraptor
southwardraptor

>"I even bought them a Mario game for Christmas." I dont even...

rockatanski
rockatanski

The Gamers for Croydon guys only need 13000 votes to kick this old piece of kaka out of his seat and into the sewer. That's actually not that much. I'm sure there's more gamers than that in South Australia.

Rinoa_Bunansa
Rinoa_Bunansa

I agree with Fusion_Master; clearly a person can read on the back of a video game case and see what content the game has. My god this guy is a Dick - hell look at movies and TV shows of today and all that violence, sex, drugs, rape, etc. and you watch those things for fun and entertainment- Video games are just another form of fun and entertainment, I mean, what the hell, there is a reason it says R18+ it means it is NOT suitable for kids under 18, and it's those "censored extremists" who screw it up for us all, and what the hell is that about "I even bought them a Mario game for Christmas." That game genre is rated like E for everyone and That givesway to what he thinks on the kinda games people should play in my opinion, and you hardly shoot civilians in MW2 Atkinson, you over-exagerating prick let the Australian gaming community decide if they want to play an R18+ game, I mean, if they don't think that particular R18 game would suit them, then they can put right back on those shelves and pick another game! Jeez.

Fusion_Master
Fusion_Master

this man's opinion is completely clouded. he is wanting the papers to display more graphic images of what sort of content would appear in games classified r18+. are you as thick as to think that r18+ just means 'for games that are extremely violent'? the rating also covers things such as adult topics which arent appropriate for younger children which might be acted out or conversed by game characters. just because this isnt appropriate for a young age group, doesnt mean that the content is unsuitable for all persons. by displaying highly graphic images on the paper, it just promotes a biased opinion on the topic, by saying to anyone who reads the paper, if you see a game rated r18+, this is what will be in it - which will not be the case at all. that is why these images you keep pushing for arent included you stupid prick atikinson. furthermore, all the paper says for the opposing view to an r18 rating is: the children, the children, the children. did i miss something? r18 rating means CHILDREN CANNOT BUY THESE GAMES. urgh. get a brain you 'child protecting' fools.

bendall01
bendall01

The point of the R18+ category is purely for adult viewing , who cares if our "mind's eye" can or cannot imagine how explicit the violence or the sexual material is, because then we have a choice, a choice whether or not to play them, we currently in Australia have no choice but to play watered down versions of games or not play them at all. They are just games after all. Its not like I am handing a gun to a 10yo kid and then he goes and wipes his school mates. Grow up Michael Atkinson.

Semperfi_89
Semperfi_89

"It's unlikely I’ll change my stance [on R18+ for games] anytime soon, considering the last death threat I received was pushed under my door at 2am, presumably by someone who doesn’t like my stance on R18+," This comment made by Atkinson right here proves what a fu%$wit he is. Its obvious this is now more of a personal vendetta for him and that hes just abusing his power for his own satisfaction of screwing us over.

crossaxe
crossaxe

@Gavonier ok fair enough but i wasnt thinking about writing to atkinson

rockatanski
rockatanski

Has anyone got "Mario game"? I've never heard of it.

wenisman
wenisman

I have sent the submission to many of my friends who are non gamers and asked them to take 5 minutes to fill it in and email it. however it is a sad fact that australia has adopted the nanny state mentality where parents will refuse to be responsible for the very basic fundamentals of raising their own children. a non R18+ hurts everyone, in light more games (dollar value) were sold in australia than dvd's it is taking a large portion of revenue from local retailers which hurts the economy. but laxed MA ratings let more graphic content into younger hands... If there are people sending death threats then I would encourage them to stop as its not helping any one (as well as being an offense). but I would also encourage Mr Atkinson to make them public and take them to the police. Phone calls can be traced, letters sent by mail can be traced and any thing hand delivered (ie slipped under his door) is by someone in the local area...

shaunismaname
shaunismaname

this guy is doing good i hope he makes 18+ games come to australia because people who dont trust buying on the internet dont want to see a really good game coming out then boom it isnt released in australia

Gavonier
Gavonier

@crossaxe Yeah, I know. But using proper English in an argument will help you, a lot. Especially if you're considering writing to Mr. Atkinson.

crossaxe
crossaxe

@Gavonier this is a comment section and considering the majority of people who read this are gamers who im sure can understand it just fine i don't think theres a problem.

johnnyauau
johnnyauau

"Michael Atkinson believes Gamers will be the majority in the discussion paper. Whilst that goes without saying, as we are the ones it effects, there are some things we can do to put a few non gamers in the mix as balance. I'm sure we all have collegues or family who don't play games. Encourage them to read the discussion paper and submit there thoughts. So if even my parents agree and are willing to submit there opinions, I hope others can encourage non gamers they know to also submit. I do however suggest people don't pretend to be a non gamer or say things that aren't true in the paper, push your own point of view. Opinions close to heart mean the most. The 2nd thing we can do is discuss it in public forums (not limited to online) that DON'T relate to games. Obviously games sites are full of discussion, but other sites like news.com.au and msn news sites are a good idea. Get non gamers involved in the discussion. news.com.au had a poll regarding this subject, and over 95% of voters said they were in favour of 18+ rating. I can garuntee that there isn't 95% of news.com.au readers that are gamers. Also write to local papers and get the discussion out there. Last thing, threats WON'T work. He wants civilised discussion, give it to him. Stupidity is the easiest thing to argue with, wisdom is impossible". This is from stray2615.

minimme
minimme

As long as the game gets to australia, I'm happy. Although what they did to L4D2 was just wrong.