iGEA CEO Responds to Atkinson’s Form Letter on R18+


iGEA CEO Responds to Atkinson’s Form Letter on R18+

Dec 3, 2009

I’ve been pondering over whether to reply to South Australia’s Attorney-General Michael Atkinson’s form letter on the R18+ classification for computer and video games.  What’s been stopping me is that to do so requires an enormous amount of effort (which is fine), frustration and also a great deal of patience for reasons indicated below.

To reply in some glib way wouldn’t do any justice to the debate and a superficial response would offer little constructive input.  However, the debate is important and one that has been largely hijacked by Atkinson whose invective, in my view, is full of moral panic, misinformation and factual inaccuracies.

So, at the outset I warn you about the length of this analysis of Atkinson’s letter. I also resign myself to the fact that only the ‘converted’ will probably take the time to read it in its entirety.  For ease I have included extracts of Atkinson’s letter, which I hope will give context to his argument.  I will leave selective paraphrasing to the political experts.

Thank you for your correspondence showing your interest in the classification of computer games. I note you support the introduction of an R.18+ classification for games.

You may be aware that there was talk of the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General releasing a discussion paper about this matter. I have been awaiting the release of this paper so I could bring it to your attention should you wish to make a submission. Your views on this issue would be better directed to that discussion than to me. Alas, the paper has not yet been released and, despite my inquiring, I do not know when it will be available. If you are interested in this paper, then I suggest you keep watch of these websites for its possible release:

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

At the April 2008 SCAG meeting, Ministers asked officers to draft a discussion paper for public consultation on the R18+ issue.  They did so, however at the November 2008 meeting, Ministers agreed to further consider the content of the discussion paper apparently in response to Atkinson’s objections to the draft.  Subsequent media comments from Atkinson, such as, “I want the discussion paper to include depictions of actual games, including the types of games that are currently above the MA15+ rating” are the only indication I could see as to why Ministers were not happy to release the discussion paper.

One of the fundamental requirements of the Guidelines for the Classification of Films and Computer Games is that of considering context.  Including “depictions of games” in the discussion paper presumably means including still images, or film clips of game play, captured from games.  These images or clips would be then viewed out of the context of the entire work, which would clearly be contrary to the objectives of the national classification scheme.

Including the types of games “currently above the MA15+ rating” would mean including extracts from RC material for public consumption – a notion that raises some concerns.  If the material is refused classification then I would guess it should not be distributed to the public by censorship ministers.

  

The framework for the Australian classification system is established in Commonwealth legislation and the relevant Federal Government body is the Office of Film and Literature Classification (O.F.L.C.).  

I would have thought that as the Minister responsible for classification in South Australia, Atkinson would be aware that the OFLC ceased to exist in mid 2007. Understandably he’s a busy man and may not have had time to update his information.  However, it might be easier to take him a little more seriously if he provided some basic accurate information in his correspondence.

 

Under the Federal legislation, one minister can veto changes to our classification system in Australia. Since I became Attorney-General in 2002, I have been opposed to introducing an R.18+ classification for computer games. To this point, I have been the one minister and member on SCAG who has stood against changes to our classification code – especially on the issue of the introduction of an R.18+ classification for computer games.

As tedious as it was, I ploughed through the federal legislation to find out just where it says that one minister can have that staggering ability to veto what, conceivably, the rest of the Commonwealth desires. Unfortunately it seems like I was on a wild goose chase. From further reading it appears that it’s not actually federal legislation that gives the so-called “veto power”.

When the commonwealth, states and territories got together to agree to a national classification scheme each agreed to amend or introduce respective legislation.  Their agreement, together with principles on how the scheme would work was detailed in the “Agreement between the Commonwealth of Australia, the State of New South Wales, the State of Victoria, the State of Queensland, the State of Western Australia, the State of South Australia, the State of Tasmania, the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory relating to revised co-operative legislative scheme for censorship in Australia” (generally referred to as the Intergovernmental Agreement on Censorship).

Under Part IV of the Intergovernmental Agreement it states the Guidelines or Classification Code may not be amended unless all Ministers agree.

In Australia there is merit in a national classification scheme that requires unanimity between jurisdictions. State and Territory borders are incapable of restricting media to jurisdictions: once games classified R.18+ are available in one State they will be readily available in others. It will be no different from visitors to the Australian Capital Territory taking home explicit pornography, which they could not purchase in their own State. With people travelling so readily between States and Territories, a State-based classification coding system would be unworkable and useless. If Victoria introduced an R.18+ classification and South Australia did not, we could not prevent R.18+ games coming into this State.

Great point and I guess it’s only a matter of time then until South Australia abolishes its Classification Council that can make classification decisions that apply only in South Australia and override national decisions.

I have considered the statistics. I am well aware that many game players are adults. Indeed, a whole generation has now grown-up with computer games. It is not surprising that those who enjoyed gaming as children go on playing into adult life and, indeed, play electronic games with their own children. Added to this, games grow ever more sophisticated, challenging and entertaining, and, accordingly, more attractive to adult players. My three sons are always playing computer games at home and one of them is now 22.

OK, so we agree on something.

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. I understand the Wii console has been phenomenally successful for Nintendo and that system provides many games to challenge and develop skill, physically and intellectually, without depraved sex, gore and cruelty.

And some that contain blood and gore! Let’s be clear, ALL consoles and PC platforms offer a wide range of games with and without classifiable elements from very mild to strong.

 

Depending on tastes and interests, adult gainers will find something challenging to play in all of the categories of games now available. 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 baffled and worried about why proponents of R.18+ games are putting up their hands and saying ‘Give us more cruel sex and extreme violence!’

I’m not really clear who (apart from Atkinson’s own personal preference) has claimed that games are more interesting to an adult simply because they contain extreme violence, explicit sexual material or highly offensive language. More so, who is calling for more cruel sex?

This assertion is patronising in the extreme, deciding what is good for all adults and is dripping with moral panic.

 

Some of the kinds of games that I expect would be available on the Australian market under an R.18+ classification include Blitz the League, an American football game where illegal performance enhancing drugs can be dispensed by the gamer to the football players and fake urine samples can be used so players avoid positive drug tests. Another is Narc – as in narcotics – which allows a gamer to choose that his game character take illegal drugs, including heroin, speed, L.S.D., marijuana and ecstasy. The gamer can have his character take ecstasy so it is immune to attack and the character can escape. Further, when given speed, the character can run faster and catch opponents. These are all activities that are illegal for individuals in the real world so why ask governments to give people the right to do them virtually?

The classification guidelines state “material that contains drug use … related to incentives or rewards is Refused Classification”.  Introducing an R18+ will not change this.

If time is taken to actually review recent Classification Board RC decisions on games, most state very clearly that the game is RC only because it exceeds the MA15+ classification, not because it meets the RC requirements of the Code and Guidelines.

However, in the case of both examples cited by Atkinson, Narc and Blitz the League, an analysis of the Board reports clearly shows that even with and R18+ the games would still be RC.

You may recall earlier this year media reports that Amazon decided it would not allow a `third-party merchant’ to sell Rapelay, a Japanese video game, on its site. It was reported that the gamer could simulate rape in the game. It was also reported that the game manufacturer had other game-titles including Battle Raper and Artificial Girl. These kinds of depraved and sickening games are well protected from sale in Australia under our current classification regime. Although I expect this game studio would never seek an Australian classification, there have been other studios that have tried their luck with titles that have been restricted for sexual references and nudity. Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude was Refused Classification in September, 2004 and was reported to include ‘implied sexual activity’, nudity and sexual references.

Again, there’s that spurious argument that any changes to the classification scheme will result in games containing sexual violence being available in the Australian market.  This is simply untrue and to me seems completely disingenuous.  Unless the RC guideline is significantly altered (and all AG’s have to agree to that!), there is no way that games such as Rapeplay will be allowed in Australia.  Suggesting that they would indicates that Atkinson is ignoring the vast majority of supporters for an R18+ classification who unequivocally reject the inclusion of this sort of material in our system.

Many films and other forms of entertainment include implied sexual activity, nudity and sexual references and they are included in different degrees at most classification levels.  Most reasonable Australians recognise the fact that sex is a natural part of life and is often included in entertainment products.  They also appreciate that systems such as the national classification scheme provide advice regarding suitable audiences and even legally restrict access or ban some products.

 The Board’s Decision (not a unanimous decision) on Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude indicates that the sex and nudity in the game was not so detailed or offensive that it should be banned from distribution to all Australians, but that it was only suitable for adults.  As there is no R18+ classification, it was banned.

 

In the case of the more violent games refused classification, reading through game descriptions set out in the decisions can be Iike reading through a virtual living hell – one that I imagine is all the more disturbing as it plays out before a gamer. The 2003 Classification Board Report of The Getaway gives details about electric-shock torture to a person suspended from a roof. The description paints sadistic imagery of the body swaying and crying.

Just like the issue of sex, violence occurs in a lot of entertainment product.  The Getaway decision was another split decision.  Some of the Board thought the violence was OK at a restricted MA15+ classification.  Reading the report may dismay Atkinson, but actually playing the game (or similar games) may provide a better context than reading a few words that justify a decision to ban a game.

A look through all Board decisions will show that they are very concerned about images of torture – in films, games and publications.  This rightly reflects community standards.  One would assume that unless community standards regarding torture change, the Board will continue to take a cautious approach to this type of content – irrespective of whether or not there is an R18+ classification.

And by the way, the Board report doesn’t say the person was “crying” but “crying out in pain”.

From the Grand Theft Auto series, the Classification Board’s 2001 decision about the series’ third game says that after engagement with a prostitute the player can chase the prostitute on foot or with vehicle and strike the character with the vehicle or another weapon. That attack can include blood sprays and may leave the body in a pool of its blood. The Classification Board’s decision about Dark Sector, which resulted in R.C., describes that the violence in the game “includes decapitation, dismemberment of limbs accompanied by large blood spurts, neck breaking twists and exploded bodies with post-action twitching body parts.” The Report explains that when a circular, three-bladed weapon is used to cut-off limbs, blood spray and screams accompany.

Linking sex and violence (even only by visual suggestions of the activity) is RC content under the guidelines.  Inserting an R18+ classification will not change this. (I hear a recurring theme here.)

Violence in entertainment media, such as the game Dark Sector, is often contentious.  Some products are assessed as OK for teens, some only for adults and some not for anyone.  Cherry-picking parts of the Board Report for a decision will not express the true content of a game.  Perhaps Dark Sector would be classified R18+ if there was that opportunity – perhaps not.

 

The Classification Board’s decision to refuse classification for Soldier of Fortune: Payback states:

Successfully shooting an opponent results in the depiction of blood spray. When the enemy is shot from close range, the blood spray is substantial, especially when a high- calibre weapon is used, and blood splatters onto the ground and walls in the environment. The player may target various limbs of the opponents and this can result in the limb being dismembered. Large amounts of blood spray forth from the stump with the opponent sometimes remaining alive before eventually dying from the wounds.

 Blood remains on the ground as do the dead bodies. Dead bodies on the ground may be repeatedly attacked The limbs may be shot off; resulting in large amounts of blood spray and the depiction of torn flesh and protruding bone from the dismembered limb. Shooting the head of a body will cause it to explode in a large spray of blood, leaving a bloody stump above the shoulders. Bodies will eventually disappear from the environment.”

 SoF: Payback doesn’t sound like a game for minors.  But it does sound a lot like the content we see in many R18+ movies.  That doesn’t mean it should be banned through the simple expedience of not having an R18+ classification for games.

`Interactive Australia 2007′, a report prepared by Bond University for the Interactive Entertainment Association, 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 R.18+ 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 garners are so keen to have R.18+ games, I expect children would be just as keen.

If Atkinson can’t fathom it, he should perhaps ask someone who does?  Australian government research over the last 15 years has consistently returned results that show most Australian parents are comfortable with managing their children’s access to media content in the home – including games.  It is a given that kids will want to get stuff that they aren’t allowed to have.  Our society has been comfortable with thousands of R18+ films available in the home for 25 years.  Adding a few games isn’t going to make it any more of an issue for parents to manage.

Given his lack of trust in parents, perhaps we should prohibit alcohol, cigarettes, R18+ films and prescription drugs from entering households as well?

By the way, Bond University has now released follow up research – Interactive Australia 09, which gives more recent information about the same issues.  I’d be happy to forward another copy if needed.

Classification of electronic games is very different from the classification of film. In cinemas, the age of movie-goers can be regulated. An article from the Sydney Morning Herald website early this year reported that “Australians spent nearly $2 billion on video games and consoles in 2008…” and that “[m]ore money was spent on gaming than cinema or D.V.D. videos” (Jason Hill, 29 January, 2009). 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. If adults think they can devise a lock-out system to defeat children, tell ‘em they’re dreaming.

This is just a ridiculous comment regarding games being somehow magically different from films in the home.

And where is the conversation about console devices to lock out children.  Industry has parental control systems to assist parents, but at the end of the day it is a matter of real parental control in the home.  The systems can help parents, and no one would be so naive to think they would replace supervision.

With or without an R18+ children will always try to access material that they are denied, it’s always been that way.  If someone says that not having an R18+ is magically stopping them from doing so, tell ‘em they’re dreaming.

Moreover, by not having an R18+ we may be pushing legitimate and regulated distribution of content underground where children may seek to access it in potentially unsafe ways, for example from peer-to-peer or other underground networks.

What the present law does is to 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.

He is happy to accept it even though it is against one of the fundamental principles of the National Classification Scheme. And to labour the point, thankfully an R18+ would simply not allow “the most extreme material” onto our shelves.

In practical terms, this infringement stops very few games from being refused classification in Australia. A search of the O.F.L.C. on-line database shows that in 2009 four games were refused classification: Necrovision in April, Sexy Poker in May, Risen in July and recently, in September, the zombie-killing game Left 4 Dead 2. A search of 2008 shows five R.C. games: Dark Sector, Shellshock 2: Bloodtrails, Fallout 3, Silent Hill: Homecoming and F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin. Further, a search of 2007 produces only two R.C. games. The Classification Board and Classification Review Board Annual Reports 2007-2008 states that the Classification Board made 961 classification decisions about computer games. In that year, the Report says the Classification Board received 969 applications for computer game classification and shows how many games were allocated to each classification.

Did I mention that the OFLC no longer exists?

Apart from small data errors (one needs to check the decisions more carefully and realise the RC decision on one of those games was overturned by the Classification Review Board) Atkinson is right.  There aren’t many games that get an RC decision.  And as discussed above, some of them would still be RC even if we had an R18+.  So I’m not too clear on his point.

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. On balance, the rejection of less than a handful of games each year has a trifling impact on the choices available to Australian  adult garners, compared with the impact extremely violent and sexually explicit games would  have on at-risk adults and minors.

Unless Atkinson can get his Censorship Minister colleagues to agree to additional changes that no one else wants, it is not possible that the introduction of an R18+ classification will result in “extremely violent and sexually explicit games”.  If he is truly concerned about “the widespread acceptance of simulated violence as a form of entertainment” he would be doing more than having an attack on one sector of the entertainment market and one small element of our media content regulation system.

 

Children are the most computer literate and computer savvy group in our society and the interactive nature of electronic games has a high impact. I watch my own children become obsessed with games and I can find it difficult to drag them away from the gaming console.

In a panel of the International Ratings Conference (hosted by the then OFLC) held in Sydney in 2003, a 3-1 majority concluded that many of the claims made about research on aggression and the media were unfounded. The panel included international media scholars including Professor Guy Cumberbatch, Professor Kevin Durkin and Dr. Jeff Brand as well as Professor Craig Anderson.

When my children seem to be spending too much time watching TV, on the internet or playing video games I tell them to stop and, failing that, push the little button on the machine that turns it off. But, if that is too difficult, there is advice on our website for responsible gaming which I’m sure will assist the Attorney in better managing his children’s media consumption.

 

I believe the repeated act of killing a computer-generated person or creature desensitises them to violence. Moreover, this makes violence part of their everyday lives and what is especially worrying is that it is their recreation. 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 in depraved sex and extreme violence in a computer game is worse.

These are personal opinions.  While one can respect Mr Atkinson’s right to his own personal opinion, it’s simply that – an opinion; it is not supported by research into the effects of media violence nor would I think it is a reasonable claim for the chief legal officer in a state to make carelessly.

Again and again he has chosen to use misleading and inflammatory comments.  No-one wants a child to be exposed to depraved sex and extreme violence in a movie or a game, or anywhere else for that matter.  That is why the guidelines don’t allow extreme violence or depraved sex in any films or games.  Adding an R18+ for games won’t change that.

 

Game-houses are always free to adapt games that would otherwise be R.C. and modify the game content to be in line with the M.A.15+ classification. Decisions of the Classification Board show that in February, 2008 Dark Sector was refused classification and a revised version was classified M.A.15+ in July that year. I understand Grand Theft Auto IV is another game modified by the game’s producer to meet the Australian classification code. The modification of the original Grand Theft Auto IV game shows that the game can be played in an M.A.15+ format and can still be popular without the R.18+ content. I do not accept that this destroys the artistic integrity of the game – excusing gore and depraved sex as art is an immature argument.

The irony here is that suggesting that the industry or consumers are “excusing gore and depraved sex as art is an immature argument” is an immature argument.  There will always be debates about the artistic merit in our entertainment products. The Classification Act provides for that debate in its requirement that classification decisions take such matters into account.  Many people will dismiss the creator’s using artistic merit as a reason to include stronger content in films and games (or photography for that matter).  Many will not.  This is an ongoing debate in our society.

As Atkinson says, some games are modified (by removing content) to fit into the MA15+ classification.  The question arises: “Is it better to have them modified for an adolescent audience, or have them restricted to an adult audience?”

 

Contrarily, it has been suggested that games that would otherwise be classified R.18+ are instead slipping through as M.A.15+ and becoming accessible to children. This argument does not support an R.18+ classification for games. There may be games some people consider too violent for the M.A.15+ classification but the solution is not to create a classification to 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 R.18+ 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 deliberations of elected officials in a democratic rule-of-law society.

Absolutely correct.  Games that don’t meet the requirements for MA15+ should not be squeezed into that category.  However, Government research indicates the community is satisfied that the Classification Board gets it right nearly all the time.  Atkinson is also correct that it is up to parents and adults to restrict inappropriate access by minors to MA15+ or R18+ content.  Fortunately, Australian Government research indicates parents are confident to do this.

 It is a little unfair to suggest that members of the Board try to defeat the guidelines because they disagree with the outcome of the deliberations of elected officials – even if the outcomes of their deliberations are the result of poorly informed vetoes from one or two individuals.

Earlier this year I was fortunate to meet with American researcher and Professor of Psychology Craig Anderson who has produced studies about the impact of violence in the media. I was interested to hear his views about how the interactivity of computer games increases the impact of the graphics. I understood his argument to be that interaction in violent activities on-screen can heighten the player’s aggression.

Professor Anderson raised a good point about research in this area, which caused me to think- about the contribution to this debate of reports about how garners feel about playing games, especially violent games. Asking an adult how he or she feels about playing violent games gives you his or her opinion only – it does not look at how the game affects them, physically and emotionally. Of course, if a gamer thinks it is fun to play violent games, it is probable that he will say it is not harmful; and if he wants to play even more violent games, he will tell you that is what he wants, that is how he feels. This is a very different and inferior angle from those studies that look at changes in his behaviour and his brain and neurological function when he plays violent games.

A recent study co-authored by Professor Anderson causes me concern as a parent. This study looked at the impact of violent media on people’s capacity to help others in need. The research, ‘Comfortably Numb: Desensitizing Effects of Violent Media on Helping Others’, observed how 320 tertiary students reacted to a posed violent event after playing a computer game. Some subjects played a violent game and others played a non-violent game. After gaming they answered questions in a room. During this time a recorded mock-fight, which resulted in injury, was played outside. Interestingly, the researchers observed a difference between how the two groups responded: the students engaged in the violent game thought the fight was less serious than those who played the non-violent game; the violent-game players took longer to provide assistance to the victim and were less likely to pay attention to the incident.

If you are interested in Professor Anderson’s research, you can find information on the Young Media Website – www.youngmedia.org.au.

I wasn’t sure on who Prof Anderson is, so I thought I’d do some of my own research and speak to others in academia to get a sense of his research and share it around.

Anderson began his research interested in social psychology and aggression. He is a scholar who publishes with colleagues and has consistently focussed on factors that affect aggressive behaviour including hot temperatures, competition and more recently video games. In the mid-1990s, he discovered video games in a study on hot temperatures, hostility and video game playing. The focus of that research was on temperature effects on aggressive behaviour (which he was exploring in the 1980s).

Since then, Anderson has increasingly focussed on video games and aggression and has developed the GAAM (General Affective Aggression Model). It is not a simple model and he has been criticised by some academics for it mainly because they believe that he has not demonstrated GAAM with his empirical research (that is, the evidence from his research does not demonstrate the model).

His big push into games came in 1999 and 2000 when he and Brad Bushman and he and Karen Dill published their studies on video games and aggressive thoughts, feelings, and behaviour.

According to University of Toronto psychologist Jonathan Freedman, author of Media Violence and Its Effect on Aggression, the major criticism of effects research is that it explores artificial stimuli in artificial lab settings on university students (mainly) using the stimulus-response model of psychological research. Furthermore, Karen Sternheimer from the University of Southern California and author of Connecting Popular Culture and Social Problems, opines research like that of Anderson and his colleagues lacks external validity.

There has been a strong attachment by Barbara Biggins and Michael Atkinson to Anderson. He is all they can draw upon in their arguments which, in themselves, are convoluted. Their dependence on this single source demonstrates there is not a widespread scientific support for their position.

 

I acknowledge that others have opinions different from mine. However, I will maintain my reasoned and considered position on this issue and continue to campaign against the introduction of an R.18+ classification for computer games.

I think most people are willing to accept that Atkinson has an opinion that differs from the majority of people in our community.  It is unfortunate, however, that an individual with such a narrow and misinformed view can shape national policy from such an incredible position of power.

I am next up for election in March, 2010. The State District I represent is called Croydon. I would welcome advocates of R.18+ computer games testing public acceptance of my policy by standing a candidate against me in that general election. 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.

I think Mr Atkinson is just being a bit of tongue in cheek with this comment.  He knows it is very difficult for a single issue candidate to successfully beat an incumbent government minister.  Though I doubt this will stop him claiming victory over R18+ issue if he is returned at the next election.

But I have to ask: if this is such a non-issue with his constituents, why does he get so worked up and spend so much effort on it?

It seems the only hope for rational national policy on media classification rests not in whether Atkinson loses an election, but in whether his State colleagues think he remains suitable to serve as Censorship Minister.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

21 comments

  1. goood write up, has it been e-mailed to Michael Atkinson? would like to see what crap he replys to it with

  2. Thanks Nick. I haven’t bothered sending it to Atkinson as I believe it would be a pointless exercise and I don’t really need the added frustration of his reply.

  3. Excellent responses but regretfully we all know that arguing with Mister Atkinson is like flogging a dead horse. He will never change his mind but he is very successful in turning his personal views into great propaganda and scare mongering backed up by handpicking the biased research that feeds his arguments.

    The only solution is deconstructing this governmental system that potentially leaves the final decision as to what content adults are allowed to consume in the hands of one individual which in turn is allowed to base his decision on whatever argument he sees fit. As mainstream as games are perceived to be nowadays the moral voice of society which are usually non gamers still frowns upon them as the cause of the violence and crime in society.

    In the 1300’s the Church tried to ban soccer as that was what they saw as the thing that would corrupt people’s minds and values, and there have been examples like that throughout society and today it’s video games.

    It will eventually change but it’s going to take another generation in Australia, bring on that republic, change the system, get rid of these antiquated bureaucratic political institutions and let adults make their own educated choices.

  4. Thank you for that Ron, very informative and interesting to see where Mr Atkinson is getting some of his references from.

    keep up the good work.

  5. Well done mate,

    But there is one thing you CAN do, make your voice heard at a news station or even on radio or even go as far as ACA or Today Tonight.

    I know it is scary since those people will only focus on things that sell news, but if you word it the right way then we might catch Mr Atkinson out and they can portray him to be a really insane person like we know he is.

    Besides, if it is all about protecting kids, then the ESRB and PEGI in their seperate parts of the world are doing it better than Australia.

  6. Very interesting read.

    I feel for you guys in Australia I really do. Perhaps one day Atkinson will actually pay attention to common sense and realise that “personal opinion” does not equal “fact”

  7. Atkinson has also gone on and said in a video interview with Gamespot that gamers are not part of the wider community.

    So I guess that shows that he thinks his beliefs are community standard.

    To be honest, we have no hope in hell having a reasoned debate with him with his comments discriminating and demonizing gamers.

    Plus using examples of videogames that have nothing to do with the R18+ rating is examples of what politicians like him will use in his scare campaigns.

    So we need to expect that even Mr Atkinson will not fight fair on this issue.

  8. Nevertheless, Ron, you end the article with “It seems the only hope for rational national policy on media classification rests not in whether Atkinson loses an election, but in whether his State colleagues think he remains suitable to serve as Censorship Minister.”

    Ok, so send a copy of this counterargument to those state collegues as well as to the local press and CHALLENGE his arguments publically. Let his constituants see his lies and deceit and intentional misinformation.

    He claims the issue is unimportant, especially to his constituants. This specific issue is just one aspect of the overall issue of Freedom of Speech. If ANY part of Freedom of Speech is denied, then ANY OTHER aspect of Freedom of Speech may be denied. Freedom of Speech IS, and SHOULD BE, important to all individuals.

    It’s clear that Atkinson feels that his constituants, as well as others, should be of the attitude “Don’t think for yourself, don’t worry about other’s opinions, I’LL do the thinking FOR you, and make the decisions FOR you as to what is or is not appropriate for you or your children. -I- know better than you. And you should ALL think like me. If you don’t, you are irrelevant and unimportant.” These are, of course, the thoughts of a tin-pot-dictator-wannabe.

    Atkinson has said that “virtual worlds” are of no importance. Yet, while necessity is the mother of invention, imagination is the father of invention. The ability to imagine, to be creative, allows one to actually invent what has not been created before. Inspiration, through fiction, whether in books, movies, TV, games, and more, give spark to that imagination. But Atkinson thinks such is unimportant. He also feels that exposure to the darker side of imagination is without value. But it serves a greater purpose.

    No matter what the form of media, no matter whether it is fiction or non-fiction, there are always three results of exposure, at varying degrees: Entertainment, Education, Expression. Not only does the creator have an intent to produce a product (intentionally or otherwise) with varying degrees in each (or nothing in any one or more), but the recipient also may have a different preception of any one or more of those exposures.

    Atkinson would have us believe that Expression plays NO part in games. Yet, the truth is, that, depending on the individual, one can find Expression in a number of games, even in a small way.

    GTA IV is one of the games that exposes the player to a “darker side”. While Atkinson attempts to focus solely on the sex and violence as stand alone and without value, I could easily argue that, actually having listened to and wacthed the story of Miko, I get a great deal of Expressive views of Miko’s life and what led him to where he is in the game. Even a bit of Education as to the effects of war such as the war Miko had gone through before coming to the US and then being led to come to America through false claims of fame, glory, and wealth by his cousin shows how so many have been led to believe that coming to America will lead one to a greater lifestyle. Only to find out once they arrive, that they may be worse off than what they were, or many just barely a little better off.

    And when Atkinson argues about doing the horrible things on the “darker side”, does he point out to his contituants how playing the “bad” side in various games the past thousand years has NOT led the person playing that “bad” side to be “bad”? Examples include children playing Cops and Robbers in the park (someone HAS to be the Robber, having done something bad, and the Robber HAS to win from time to time, else why bother playing the Robber), or Cowboys and Indians. Or even fashioning wooden swords a thousand or more years ago playing soldiers of two nations where one side is “good” and the other “bad”. Again, the “bad” has to win from time to time, lest why play? How many children have picked up sticks or branches, pretending they were clubs, swords, pistols, rifles, etc?

    Atkinson is of the limited comprehension that fiction directs reality. But, in fact, fiction builds from reality and proceeds from there. If there is no foundation to build from, then the experience is entirely unique. And there is very little that is left to be wholly unique. Stories, no matter what medium is used to tell the story, would not contain as much sex and violence if sex and violence was not prevelant in real society. And so long as we have people promoting violence through bigotry and hate, or justifying acts of violence, or sexual crimes being justified, fiction will always have a platform from which to copy from.

    Atkinson doesn’t care about “Protecting the children!”. He cares about dictating to others what is or is not appropriate for others or their children based on HIS, and HIS ALONE, beliefs, whether those beliefs are personal, religious, and/or political in nature.

    For years, he’s blocked opposing views or few have truly stood up to him. If you want change, you’ll have actually DO something, not sit back, mumble, and complain.

    In the US, at the least, there is an oath that is taken when an individual takes the stand in a trial. It should also be an oath that politicians, as well as journalists, should also be required to take and be held accountable for if they violate it:

    I swear to tell the Truth, The WHOLE Truth, and Nothing But The Truth.

    Atkinson would have long since been criminally charged for multiple violations of such an oath if he had been required to take it upon taking office.

    ———-
    Post edited by author at Moderator’s request. I don’t feel the paragraph I edited out was unprovable. Frankly, it’s very easily proven. Be that as it may, this is Ron’s “house”, and since removing the paragraph won’t neuter the post, but only leave out a very blunt accusation by myself against Atkinson, I can concede its removal. The full post, with the edited paragraph, is available elsewhere.

    Even Ron recognized the irony in the request to edit, though. It, more than anything, is a sign of the power of those (such as Atkinson) has over Freedom of Speech in general, not just “virtual world” fictional media. But over opposing voices against those such as Atkinson.

    We’ve seen in recent times just the mere suspicion and paranoia of being sued. Such fear keeps the opposing voices in check, while people like Atkinson are free to make any and all forms of accusations against a whole community. And then, when challenged that it isn’t the whole community that is the problem, he’ll just wave it off as protecting the rest of society from the few by depriving the whole of their Rights.

    After all, as Tony pointed out, “gamers” are not, in Atkinson’s view, a part of the wider community. So he has no problem with expressing HIS view, but allowing the opposing view to be heard, that’s another story.

    Andrew

  9. Nigel Percy /

    Excellet work, great write up, I felt much the same way when I was reading the letter for the first time. I felt that like a lot of people out there he did not understand the guidelines and the position the classifers were pushed into.

    I’ll be forwarding this link onto a few people who I have argued with about the R rating when they claim that it would be a free for all with this classification (I only want the R rating so that some of the border line titles can be moved into it, as a gaming Dad).

    I have a feeling in a decade we will look back at this debate and realise how bad one side looks, just like Alston did when he commented broadband was only for porn and gamers. Hopefully it will be resolved quicker than the ubquitious competitve broadband problem has been (still waiting on competitive broadband!)

  10. I love that I can’t have access to R18+ games being a 28yo Male with no children, none of my friends have children, but my brother has a child that lives 3 hrs away from me…. Maybe that child in my life is the reason to keep all children safe from my game collection?

  11. Robert /

    Excellent write-up Nick; it’s great to see the counter-research you’ve conducted here.

    I agree with your point; sending this to Mr Atkinson directly would achieve very little, and only increase all our frustrations.

    The question is; what can we do to REMOVE him from his position of authority? If it means moving to Adelaide and voting against him, I believe many of us would be pleased to do so! Any thoughts on this?

  12. Chris Hoyle /

    This is just one hill battle with this guy. I’m from South Australia, but there’s nothing that can be done to change his mind, change his position, or change his chance of election.

    His opinions are his own, and he’s entitled to them no matter how misinformed they are. Nothing I say, or you say will change them. Mike Rann controls his position as Attorney General, changing that position brings into question not only the strength of the party, but also harms the chances of a re-election of Michael Atkinson in Croydon. Every seat counts in elections. The voters in Croydon don’t care about an R18+ arguement, nor would he bring the issue to their attention in a public debate. You know, just incase they started to care.

    So the only chance of changing the situation at a state level is a change in government, which I would not bank on. As I see it, the Attorney Generals of other states that support this motion need to make this a more public debate, bring it to the media, and point at Michael Atkinson and say “it’s because of him”. With so many state’s on the fence though, not wanting to give their position publicly, I don’t see it happening.

    It may seem like I have a defeatist attitude, but I’m just tired of slamming my head against a brick wall, like no doubt the iGEA are. Things like this post is, as admitted, just preaching to the choir. What we need is media coverage and advertisement. Maybe now that iGEA members are starting to get their games banned, like Sega and EA, we might start seeing publishers standing up and putting their hand into this debate.

  13. Thanks for the well reasoned logical argument. I agree 100% with pretty much everything you’ve said. One thing that I’ve been saying all along is that the introduction of an R18 rating will not see RCed games introduced, if anything it offers another layer of protection – Parents are more likely to take an R18 rating more seriously when they consider buying games for their kids. I don’t want more sex or violence in my games, if anything games like fallout 3 and GTA 4 that are currently MA15+ should be R18.

    It is quite clear from Mr Atkinson’s letters that all of his arguments are aimed at garnering the support of individuals, who this issue does not really effect, through fear.

    And the whole “interactive violence leads to aggression and crime” argument is pretty thin. Violence and crime have been around since cokcy was an egg, long before interactive games, and the vast majority of people who play games don’t actually want to assault other people or run around comitting other crimes. The majority of people that do this are “criminals” (for lack of a better lable) anyway with games having no influence over their behaviour anyway.

    Its just a shame that in a democratic society the restricted and narrow minded views of people of influence can have such a negative influence. Bring on a resoned and logical public discussion.

  14. Nice work.
    It disgusts me to see how narrow minded and ignorant he is. The lack of an R rating basically decreases the protection of young people as if they are interested in the game they will just purchase it of eBay and will not have to worry about age limits. This also causes a decrease in Australian game retailer sales with people preferring the uncensored version to a heavily censored version. Look at Left 4 Dead 2. It was butchered due to the classification board and I was forced to purchase a copy from overseas. This will happen with the upcoming SEGA title Alien vs. Predator if something isn’t done.

    I believe that you will be able to defeat him in an election if your message out there. Like Tony said, do some PA events like ACA or Today Tonight.
    Good Luck.

  15. Good work. As a 17 year old gamer who constantly wishes for an R18+ rating, it is good to see that there is a paper form deconstructing Michael Atkinson’s ignorance and propaganda.

    Hopefully one day Australia will catch up to the rest of the western world.

  16. Anthony /

    i used to work in a game store and i still sell games in my current job. Where atkinson says that kids can still get there hands on games MA15+ and the like is true. but every when a kid came up with a MA15+ game in there hands we would always ask how old they where (and this was before the recall of the getway and gta3) and say that they couldnt buy it if they wheren’t of age. now i get to my point the problem that the ratings have is not that kids can buy it is that 10 minutes after telling a kid i couldnt sell him the game a parent would be dragged in with said kid to buy it for them no questions asked or with a “who are you to tell my kid he cant have this game”.but without a dout that parent would be back to complain about the game being too violent or some such and ask for there money back.

    I have noticed recently with this debate becoming more wide spread in the mainstream that parents are becoming more ratings consious. i still get a few complaints about some games though. games such as fallout that was edited to MA and parents coming in and saying that there 15 year old souldnt have been able to by this why wasnt it rated R18+ and so on, all i could tell them was that there is no R rating on games so 15 year old can buy what was intended as an adult game with no problems. Where as the 18+ would have made the parent think twice.
    what im getting at is that no matter how much he’s against it in the end if its not there his “protecting” kids is putting adult intended games in the 15 year olds hands regardless of the editing to the MA15+ rating. the truth is that most ( no real facts here just observasions) people who would buy a 18+ game ether dont have kids or wouldnt buy it so there kids cant get to it. and that is there choise.

    The real problem with games is that most non gamers see games for kids or just dont care what its rated and that is the real REAL reason we need the R18+. they are the ones who go out and buy a game for there kids or grandkids because they asked for it without looking to see what it was rated cause if it was there im sure they would stop and think “hey i guess this isnt for my 7 to 15 year old” yes i have seen it grandparent coming in and buying gta4 for there grandkid whos 12 even after i have pointed it out only to say “its just a game”.

    I have been an advocate for the R18+ for this reason since i started selling games back in 2001. the fact that we have been fighting the same guy for all this time means that we will continue till he retires( most likely)

    on a side note i think that if you do go to the press be sure to add Segas comments on there recently RC’ed alien vs Predator game and there refusal to “dumb down” there game directed for an adult audiance as the franchises always has. no im not just bitter about the game being banned i like that sega took this stance. its about time someone did. but the AVP franchise being so popular and the marketing already anoucing the game only to be RC should get even the casual games ears to prick, even the non gamers too. if they can put predator on tv with all its killing even the trophy collecting scenes ( which is one of the reasons the game was RC’ed) why cant they have it in a game based on the same movie?

    thanks.

  17. I wish Atkinson would stop saying you score ‘points’ in these games. It shows that he hasn’t even reviewed the content he wants to ban in like ten years but it’s not by mistake. He is trying to give the impression to non gamers that the medium is still in its early days where story and theme are not present to justify what’s going on, to make out like you press the on button to your console, start killing and that’s it. I’ve wrote to him a few times, get the auto reply. He cost his state two hundred grand because he shot his mouth off, I still don’t see why taxpayers had to pay for that, and now he is in another scandal of corruption, but if you read into his other actions on other matters it’s not just the R rating he applys this piggish thick skulled approach. I would highlight other points but this letter worded really well in openly for people we should be put out there more to non gamers. Why can’t the issue come down to a vote? Like daylight savings in queensland, they just keep bringing it back up, if he is so smug about the issue, release the discussion paper, shut the hell up and just listen instead of telling us what the public think. The irony of it grinds my nerves to no end, he speaks on behalf of the public, then stops the public from even voicing themselves on the matter. The liberal party in south australia are just as bad, what needs to be done is pressure put on the labor party to do something about it. Write letters to other ministers, just keep flooding them until they listen to reason just to shut us up!

    —————-
    Post edited by Moderator
    Dean, I had to kill a few sentences from your post. I did this so I can spend less time defending libel claims and more time focussing on the R18 issue, but tried to make sure it didnt impact the essence and tone of your post. If you’re not cool with the couple of adjustments I made, please drop me a email and let me know. Cheers, Ron

  18. I would love to be in the Australian Games Industry but even if the R18+ rating is still not there, I will just have to make games for people aged 5 to 15 and older people who are easily offended by violence.

    There will be nothing I can do to accommodate to an adult audience if the rating is not there to see it.

    so instead I will be forced to make games to be marketed in Australia that suit within the MA15+ rating and lower, or else I will be making an adult orientated game that will not be sold in Australia period.

    Then I will have to encourage Australian Gamers who buy my games online just so they can play my adult theme games, and in the end while it might be easy to avoid the problem by just focusing on games aimed at kids, it is not if you intend to make a game for adults.

    And in the end, I will have to make games for teenagers that include adult ‘tonge in cheek’ humor or references that are still possible for a MA15+ game.

    So yeah, I am a long way from working in the industry, I still need to go to University and get trained first.

    But if I do happen to make it into the Industry and this issue does not change, then at least I have to resort to backup plans, and try to land a job in Canada instead while I also start a career in Australia and move up in the job prospect ladder.

  19. Hi just written a letter to my states Attorney General Rob Hulls (Victorian Attorney General)

    Although I am not confident that I would get a reply, I did put my best efforts into it.

    Although I should have mentioned about Parental Controls to back up what there is for parents to use, but I decided not to get into anything too technical.

    Dear Honorable Rob Hulls

    I come to you via email to talk about the R18+ rating for Computer Games issue.
    I know from recent issues that you have had a tough year, especially with the issues of the Jumps Racing that had gone on for all year.

    You may also know well that within every debate, there are two sides of every story. There are extreme factors of each group who are trying to have a voice in this nation of Australia. And sometimes as much as some government people have tried to make decisions in the best interest of the people who represent them, there will always be those who will never be pleased no matter how much you try to please everyone with your best judgement.

    What I come here with links to various websites is the plight that Australian Gamers who the majority of them are adults and are old enough to view/watch/play what ever they want when it comes to R18+ Movies and DVDs. But we are still treated like Children by just one man in South Australia.

    I am sure you have run into that man in South Australia many times in the Meetings of Attorney Generals especially since last years plan to develop a public discussion paper on the R18+ rating for Computer Games issue.

    So far, we are still waiting for the R18+ discussion paper and it is being held up by that one man, Michael Atkinson, all because the discussion paper did not include the things he wanted in there.

    So it is either that he is still holding up the release of the public discussion paper, or maybe it is because his demands for changes are not relevant to the discussion paper at all.

    It must be understood that when writing such a Discussion Paper, allot of thought must be put into it, it must contain all the facts without any miss-information or any form of evidence being misrepresented by scare tactics.

    While we are waiting, us Australian Gamers have had to put up with the ranting of just one single person who does not agree with the majority of people who are affected by the current classification system that there is no R18+ rating for Australia.

    Michael Atkinson, the Attorney General of South Australia, has even gone on into saying insulting things about gamers and videogames, quoting research from a person called Craig Anderson who’s research in Violence in Videogames and youth has been based on their opinion that Violent Videogames negatively Affect young people but in reality his research methods have been proven by the Psychologists of the United States as heavily flawed research driven by opinion and nothing on concrete facts.

    (Link below is a letter that responds to Michael Atkinson’s opinions that also mentions that the research that Mr Atkinson quotes have been proven to have fundamental weaknesses.)

    http://igea.wpengine.com/2009/12/igea-ceo-responds-to-atkinsons-form-letter-on-r18/

    But yet Michael Atkinson, still holds the research from Craig Anderson as his point of not allowing an R18+ rating for videogames and even worse in Mr Atkinson’s point of view he wants to also ban the MA15+ rating for Videogames and not only that, but if Mr Atkinson had his way he would also want to go after R18+ and MA15+ movies because of his belief that the Classification Board needs to be changed by people of his choosing.

    To be honest, from the way I see it, the Classification Board is allot like an Umpire in a Football match.

    We have the Gamers, the Game Industry, the people who want an R18+ rating for videogames that can be best described as “Team Freedom of Speech for Videogames”

    And then we have Mr Atkinson, and parental groups and other people who can be best described as “Team Protect the Chrildren”

    The Classification Board is the Umpire of this football game, and what ever their decision is, it is made from their best judgement from the abilities that they have to grant every Videogame a classification between G to MA 15+.

    Mr Atkinson has gone on to say that he does not trust the Classification Board to do their job, because the Classification Board has let in Videogames and Computer Games within the MA15+ bracket when they were released as M17+ or 18 rating in North America and across Europe.

    At the same time, the Classification Board has banned games that were not suitable for MA15+ classification and instead developers and Publishers have had to waste allot of money re-developing the game with edits for just the Australian Market and even if those edits are minor, it has created a huge waste of money for many Videogame Developers and a loss in release time for many Publishers who are affected by the lack of an R18+ classification in Australia.

    By the Classification Board’s standards, they are the ones who have the final say because they have viewed the game and they have given each game a rating within the best of their ability and in how they see each of the content of every Videogame.

    When big releases, such as Fallout 3, Modern Warfare 2, Alien Vs Predator and every one of the Grand Theft Auto games have been affected by the lack of an R18+ classification for Computer Games and that has left the Classification Board in an unfortunate position to recommend certain edits to some games in order for them to fit within the Classification guidelines for an MA15+ rating when in reality all that wasted time and money could have been spared with a simple introduction of an R18+ rating.

    And in the end, if that is meant to protect Children from (based on opinion) harmful content in Computer Games, then the ESRB in America and the PEGI in Europe do a far more better job when they classify these games as M17+ or 18+ in their respected countries.

    The Classification Board has also been under fire by parents who have brought their kids MA15+ games with content that they believe that they would never allow their kids to see. And this confusion of the MA15+ rating of “Not suitable for person’s under 15. Person’s under 15 must be accompanied by a parent or adult guardian while viewing”

    In all reasons, the Classification board is being stretched into trying to do two things at once with very limited resources.
    The Classification Board’s first rule is to allow Adults the right to view what ever they want, the second rule is that all children deserve to be protected from harmful content.

    When there is a lack of an Adults Rating of an R18+ for Videogames, the two rules of allowing adults to view what ever they want and for children to be protected from things that are believed to be harmful for them are being stretched to the limit in various scenarios and the Classification Board are working really hard to please both sides and make decisions but they end up pleasing nobody.

    Lets replace that rating with an R18+ rating for Computer Games, so this scenario can be altered so the Classification Board can do their job to the best of their ability.

    But to do that, we need your help Rob Hulls. We also need the help of the ACT Attorney General and the Queensland Attorney General to have their say on this issue, not on the internet where you are preaching to the people who already know about this, but to the people of Australia in General and most importantly the people of South Australia who they have the final decision early next year in the South Australian State Election.

    We have a group there in Croydon called Gamers4Croydon and to be honest they could use a little bit of a helping hand from the right people.

    Here is their site and their policies.

    http://www.gamers4croydon.org/policies

    I am not asking for allot in return, all I ask of you as your role of Attorney General of Victoria as well as the Attorney Generals of ACT and Queensland is to make your political voice heard in South Australia on various news stations like State Line in SA and also on Australia’s A Current Affair.

    You people have the ability to make your voices heard because you are politicians and us gamers have shouted all we can only without much success because nobody ever really helps us.

    Us Australian Gamers have been treated like kids and all we ask for is to be treated like adults in return.

    Every time Mr Atkinson opens his mouth, all we get is his opinions and no facts to back up his opinion.

    We have got good resources and facts, the research we have gathered is that contry to popular belief, Videogames are no more harmful than movies or books or music.

    Back when you were a child, Rock and Roll music was being blamed for allot of youth violence and other things that were in reality completely false information driven by opinions of people who never understood music.

    The same thing has been happening to Videogames since when Videogames were blamed for the Columbine High School Massacre of 1999 but with all the opinions and news reports, there has been no scientific proof that Videogames were the cause of it and most of the accurate research has said the complete opposite that videogames whether they were violent or not have got no negative affects on children and adults who play videogames.

    If any, Videogames have been, like the movies, the books and rock music before them were nothing more than easy scapegoats by people who use scare tactics for their own personal agendas against products that they don’t really understand all because those things were not around when they were kids.

    For more information about the research, please read the Byron Review that was made in the UK early last year. This was written by a person who was on even ground on the issue of videogames and violence and from her short basic points she has highlighted that we need to move from the topic of how one medium could cause harm to children into what this new medium is about and looking at the adults who embrace this medium as first hand examples that violent videogames will never turn anyone into a murderer or criminal.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Byron_Review

    If you have time over Christmas, please read the full PDF files from this link about more information about the Byron Review.

    http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/byronreview/

    Most importantly, use this information to counter Mr Atkinson’s views and beliefs and also break though his own research from Craig Anderson to highlight the faults in his research that is more likely to be driven by personal opinion and not on scientific facts.

    But you have the power to make your voice heard Rob Hulls as well as the other Attorney Generals of ACT and Queensland.

    You only just need to make your voices heard in South Australia in the seat of Croydon as well as all over South Australia.

    Please don’t chuck this email away, instead use the links I have provided by back up the information that you can use to talk about the R18+ classification rating for Computer Games, but not only that, encourage members of the Classification Board to stand up for their rights and not be dictated by the opinions of Michael Atkinson.

    As I have researched, the OFLC used to classify Videogames and Movies, but the OFLC people lost their jobs all because of Michael Atkinson wanting to change the board and still the same problems are continuing. These people from the OFLC did not have to lose their jobs and become unemployed all because of what one person’s opinions. Instead use all of your views together and try to reach a balanced solution.

    My realistic suggestion is that the Attorney Generals who want an R18+ classification for Computer Games in Australia should be able to go though with it without relying on the opinions of one man, So in that way Victoria, ACT and Queensland will have an R18+ rating for Computer Games in their commercial shops while South Australia won’t because of Mr Atkinson’s views

    All of the other states and territories can make up their own minds and therefore Computer Games that need an R18+ classification won’t have to be edited to be shoehorned into an MA15+ rating while the states around Australia who don’t want an R18+ rating for Computer Games will not have games like that on their commercial shelves and everyone will be far more better off with this balanced solution.

    You can’t please both extreme sides of both parties but much like the Umpire of a Football Game, the Classification Board is only making decisions on their best judgement. So please consider this idea as the last resort if things don’t change in South Australia after the State Election.

    Australia is a free country, but yet Adult Gamers are being treated like children all because of the opinions of one man. Please don’t let this go on any longer and enforce that what ever opinion is talked about is backed up by reliable information in the South Australian State Election.

    from Tony

    PS, you can edit this any way you can to make it shorter, but in my view, we need other attorney generals to speak out about the R18+ rating for Computer Games issue. And we need to do it when it matters the most at next years South Australian State Election.

    Atkinson may still get his seat, but if his votes are swinging the other way on him that forces the South Australian Premier to move the position of Attorney General to someone else, or if the Liberals win power in South Australia, this is perhaps the most logical goal we can aim for.

  20. Atkinson continues to make false claims:

    http://www.gamepolitics.com/2009/12/10/atkinson-violent-games-you-don%E2%80%99t-need-impale-people

    An example of false claim is that he states that individuals who are interested in such explicit content are “…trying to impose their will on society. And I think harm society.”

    The claim is false because the request to have the new rating does not REQUIRE those not interested in such material to play, observe, or even like such content. Therefore, “imposing their will” is a clearly FALSE claim. A claim he KNOWS is false, because it is, in fact, HE who imposes HIS will on society by depriving Freedom fo Speech Rights to those who do not agree with his interests. In addition, he has no actual FACTS to back up his claim that those who have an interest in such material are out to harm society.

    Additionally, his claim “I accept that 98%, 99% of gamers will tell the difference between fantasy and reality, but the 1% to 2% could go on to be motivated by these games to commit horrible acts of violence.” negates all claims by others that exposures to other things, such as religion, can be harmful to others, including children. By HIS logic, because there is evidence that there are individuals who use religion to justify verbal, mental, physical, and/or sexual abuse of others, including children, and because some use religion to actively and directly teach others that bigotry, hate, and even violent acts are justifiable to commit, then he should “Protect the Children!” from religion in general. Based on HIS OWN claims, religion HAS been used in such a manner, he even has referred to such victims when justifying blocking Freedom of Speech in the case of video games. And since he has openly stated that even a few “bad” individuals out of a majority of “good” individuals are justification for blocking the Freedom of Speech Rights to ALL, then he should have the same attitude in the case of religion. Using “the majority are good people, only a few are bad” has already been invalidated by him by the previously mentioned quote from him.

    Yet, where has his efforts been to block the WHOLE religious community in an effort to “Protect the Children!” from the few “bad” people? We already have a great deal of evidence of horrid acts committed in the name of religion. So where is he in “Protecting the Children!”?

    He has been caught, once again, in another lie and deceit. This has nothing whatsoever to do with “Protect the Children!”. It has to do with HIS imposing HIS will, beliefs, and “morals” (which are questionable considering his “morals” include lying and deception) on others. And he uses those lies and deceit to gain and/or retain power for the purpose of depriving various segments of society of their Freedom of Speech Rights.

  21. I really don’t understand how in a democracy, one man can wield so much power with his particular opinion.

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