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28 Jan, 2009

Michael Atkinson explains his stance on a R rating for games

PALGN News | He hasn't changed his mind.
South Australia attorney general Michael Atkinson has elaborated on his stance against a R18+ rating for videogames, believing that such a rating would put 'children and vulnerable adults' at risk.

"I don’t support the introduction of an R18+ rating for electronic games, chiefly because it will greatly increase the risk of children and vulnerable adults being exposed to damaging images and messages," said Atkinson in an email statement sent to GameSpot.

"The interactive nature of electronic games means that they have a much greater influence than viewing a movie does. People are participating and 'acting-out' violence and criminal behaviour when they are playing a video game. They are essentially rehearsing harmful behaviour. Children and vulnerable adults (such as those with a mental illness) can be harmed by playing video games with violence, sex, and criminal activity."

Apparently, Atkinson has witnesses the adverse effects that games can have on minors first hand.

"I have three sons who regularly play computer games at home - the eldest is now 22," noted Atkinson. "I see my children become physically and emotionally obsessed with games, and it is difficult to drag them away from the gaming console. The repeated act of killing a computer-generated person or creature desensitises children to violence."

The attorney general also pointed that that, compared to the number of games classified, only a tiny number were actually refused classification.

"Critics sometimes claim that I am ruining the game-development industry. There are very few computer games that are refused classification each year. In 2007/8 just three computer games were refused classification (Soldier of Fortune: Payback, Dark Sector, and Shellshock 2: Blood Trails). This represents a very small proportion of the 961 decisions made last financial year. In fact, only 55 were classified at the top existing rating of MA15+.

"Last year the makers of Grand Theft Auto IV altered the game before submitting it for an MA15+ classification, and Silent Hill: Homecoming is under revision by its makers after being knocked back by the Classification Board. The lack of an R18+ classification is not preventing very many adult-themed video games reaching the shop shelves - but it is ensuring that scenes that don't comply with a MA15+ rating are removed.

Atkinson admits that his stance on a R18+ rating does compromise a person's liberty - but believes it's worth it.

"[Some] may believe that the present system restricts adult liberty. It certainly does restrict choice to a small degree, but that is the price of keeping this material from children and vulnerable adults. In my view, the small sacrifice is worth it. "

You can read the full statement here.

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92 Comments
5 years ago
I just can't wait till this uneducated imbecile drops dead.The world will be a better place without him in it lol.
5 years ago
Although a valid point; if we trade our freedom for protection, we do not deserve that protection in the first place.
5 years ago
"vulnerable adults"? Seriously? If the mental ill are unable to keep their violent gaming from spreading into the real world, then perhaps those people need a decent mental health care system to look after them. Games and movies are different. People continually notice that a movie that has X scene in it gets rating Y, but a game with the same or similar X scene in it gets rating Z or refused. Why? The explanation I hear most often is screen time, a fleeting 30 second scene in a movie is nothing, but a repeated 60 times scene in a game is a totally different thing. Atkinson says that R18+ would have a small effect on the games, but I disagree, I think many games currently classified as MA15+ or possibly even lower would be put in the R18+ rating. At least, if it was done properly they should be. The differences between the banned versions of games and the censored versions we get here in Australia are very small, leading me to suspect that the reviewers make sacrifices to allow the games in. This dilution of the ratings system is the problem, as well as its direct comparrison to the movie ratings. Parents who are not educated in games will allow their children to have games totally not suitable for them, just as there are parents who would let a 6yo watch an R rated Japanese anime, simply because "it's just a cartoon". The problem there isn't the rating system, it is doing its job in providing information about the title that a parent can use to judge its suitability for the child, however when the parent doesn't understand or ignores the information given then problems start occuring.
5 years ago
Quote
The lack of an R18+ classification is not preventing very many adult-themed video games reaching the shop shelves
...isn't that uh... a bad thing?
5 years ago
If he has an opinion about vidiogames, then he should shield his kids from them, not all of australia. i don't like the idea that I cannot play a game because of some guys paranoia, as an adult it's insulting to my maturity.

Also, an R rated game would be illegal for children to by, if you are going to play the "kids will get their hands on it anyway" argument, why not start with alcohol, cigarets and drugs; You know, the things that have actually been proven to be detrimental to an underaged persons health.
5 years ago
Camm wrote
if we trade our freedom for protection, we do not deserve that protection in the first place.
Rubbish - that mis-quote describes anarchy. I don't have the freedom to murder Michael Atkinson and that's good because all people deserve protection from murder.

I do hope he dies of something soon though.
5 years ago
I love being told what i can and can't watch ^^ love it!
5 years ago
"In my view, the small sacrifice is worth it."

I'm sure it's such a sacrifice for him. icon_rolleyes.gif Wonder if he'd actually make a small "sacrifice" of his own?
5 years ago
AAARGH every time I see a Michael Atkinson article I get angry. Now I'm going to be pissed off for the rest of the day.
5 years ago
PALGN wrote
"I see my children become physically and emotionally obsessed with games, and it is difficult to drag them away from the gaming console. The repeated act of killing a computer-generated person or creature desensitises children to violence."
I really want to know where he's going with this point. Perhaps his son committed a violent crime that he's hiding from the public. icon_smile.gif
5 years ago
I agree that it desensitises the act of killing a computer-generated person however in no way does it desensitise real violence. If I see an act of violence it still impacts the same way even if I never played video games
5 years ago
Quote
"The interactive nature of electronic games means that they have a much greater influence than viewing a movie does."
I'd like to see definitive, peer-reviewed scientific proof that this is true before you start spouting it as fact, Michael.
5 years ago
When is this guy retiring again? Maybe in another 5-10 years ladies and gentlemen we will finally see our R18+ rating. Has anyone explained to Atkinson the fact that this isnt anything new? It's simply Australia keeping up with the rest of the world? Everyone else has it; so why is Atkinson the lone-defender when clearly theres no proof of his claims?
5 years ago
Let's face it, he is too far gone on this little bit of power he holds and most of his statements carry no factual evidence to back it up making it all down to his personal opinion, a very worrying way to hold something over a country.

"In my view, the small sacrifice is worth it."
wow. This guy is really grinding my shit.

But hey nothing like breaking down the majority for the perceived minority.
I love that, i deem a minority of you as tards so therefore you are all tards, thank you and get stuffed.
5 years ago
In games, it's not as though there's a button to NOT shoot. So the only real way to get out of the violence is to quit, a la leaving a cinema. So when you're watching the movie, you're effectively in control. You can make it all end, just by walking out of the cinema. Sure, it might still be playing for other others, but thats the same when you stop playing the game. Other people around the world will still be playing it.
5 years ago
He really takes the fun out of games, also, he has YET to respond to my letter from 5 months ago. Here's a follow up one I just sent:

Quote
Dear Mr Atkinson,

I am following up on a letter I sent you last year in reguards to the lack of a R18+ rating.

As a person who is concerned about is freedom of choice, it would be of small comfort to recieve a personal response from the one peson who is restricting my freedoms.

Also, I am concerned to the responses made by yourself in recent intervies, stating, "The interactive nature of electronic games means that they have a much greater influence than viewing a movie does." Before you make such claims, please have unquestionable evidence to support such claims.

Again, as a adult concerned about his rights and freedoms, please respond soon.

Signing off,

James Harris


"Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain and most fools do." ~ Benjamin Franklin
Lets see if he gets the Benjamin quote.
5 years ago
Also, I spelled check before I sent it, lol
5 years ago
PALGN wrote
Apparently, Atkinson has witnesses the adverse effects that games can have on minors first hand.

"I have three sons who regularly play computer games at home - the eldest is now 22," noted Atkinson. "I see my children become physically and emotionally obsessed with games, and it is difficult to drag them away from the gaming console. The repeated act of killing a computer-generated person or creature desensitises children to violence."
Maybe you should limit the amount of time they play games or just remove them altogether. There is no way I am going to believe that kids can simply afford to buy their own games and it is the parents who allow or encourage the obsessive nature of gaming by purchasing games for them.

Now why are you letting your children play these violent games? There are plenty of family friendly games out there -

Wii Play/Sports/Fit
Animal Crossing
Mario Games
Singstar
DDR
Buzz
Pokemon

If a parent thinks their children play too many video games then why not encourage sports? I've heard that's still a popular activity. Or maybe, you could spend more time with your kids interacting in healthy family activities like board games, or reading, or disney movies.

Yeah, I thought so - Shut up.
5 years ago
Agree or not, at least he's good enough to give his side of the story and not hide from the questions.

While I don't agree with the lack of an R rating, I do agree that very few games are getting knocked back in Australia because of it, with most of those getting passed with minor changes - Silent Hill and Dark Sector for example.
5 years ago
South Australia: what the ****? Why do you guys keep voting for this idiot?
5 years ago
He can't control his kids so what makes him think that he can make an educated decision and not to mention the fact that parents like himself that dont take an intrest in their kids gaming behavior really need a more complete rating systems to make beter buying decisions...to tell the truth an 18+ rating would stop parents buying these 15+ games that are border line...
5 years ago
1. Old People love voting
2. Gather Old People
3. Tell old people games are corrupting youth
4.???
5. win.
5 years ago
Most of the time, he normally has a good idea under under all the crap he's shoveling.

This time he's just lost the plot.
5 years ago
I think a lot of people here also forget that Attorney generals do more than worry about video games and ratings. I doubt video game violence is the number 1 reason people want him in the job or not.

Seems like there are more important issues in the world...
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