Ex-Classification Board Member Issues Pro R18+ Response

A former member of Australia’s Classification Board has submitted an incredibly well-written and reasoned response to the government issued Discussion Paper, regarding the topic of adding an R18+ rating category for games.

The 17-page response (PDF) was crafted by Paul J Hunt, who served as Deputy Director of the Classification Board and as a senior executive with the Office of Film and Literature Classification. He also lists himself as a “parent of teenagers who play computer games and a child of “Seniors” who play computer games.”

Hunt begins his argument by imparting first-hand knowledge into the current problems with the rating system:

When I made a decision, or participated in a decision, that a computer game was unsuitable for minors, I was forced to refuse classification for that game. It was not because I thought that the game depicted, expressed or otherwise dealt with matters of sex, drug misuse or addiction, crime, cruelty, violence or revolting or abhorrent phenomena in such a way that it would offend against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults. It was simply because the game was not OK for kids.

Not being able to restrict computer games to adults was an impediment to my ability to reflect Australian community standards.

Hunt offers another real example of how the lack of an R18+ rating affects gamers, comparing the rating of the movie Hannibal (rated R18+) and Grand Theft Auto III (which was Refused Classification). Hunt notes that, in the example, “…two products received different results, but both were assessed as suitable for the same adult audience. That the result does not reflect community standards is evident in the massive number of complaints… received by the OFLC regarding both the RC decision.”

A few more choice points from Hunt:

Some parents are irresponsible with the management of their children’s behaviour. If the reason for excluding an R18+ classification for games is to limit the access of the children of incompetent or irresponsible parents, then we should ban R18+ films, restricted publications, alcohol, cigarettes, etc. from our society.

There have been suggestions that an R18+ classification would include “sexual abuse, criminal activity, and extreme violence”. The guidelines do not permit their existence in the R18+ category.

Hunt addressed some of his responses directly to South Australian Attorney General Michael Atkinson’s claims that nobody cares about the R18+ issue, except for gamers:

Of even greater concern is the fact that Mr. Atkinson does not understand that most Australians are gamers, and therefore the majority of the population is familiar with game content.


All responses, including those from gamers, are responses from the Australian community. Whilst Mr. Atkinson may wish to marginalise gamers, and put down the knowledge of all Australians, I trust the Government will accept all submissions at face value as representative of the Australian community’s feelings on this issue.

Hunt concludes by using Atkinson’s own words against him:

There is a need to follow South Australian Attorney General Michael Atkinson’s advice on a recent similar issue regarding the rights and freedoms of Australians – an attempt to restrict political comment on the internet: "When one gets public opinion wrong, as I did, one has to change one’s mind."

Hunt is now Principal Consultant for MLCS Management, a company that offers assistance with "classification services," such as pre-classification advice and help with the management of appeals.

Thanks Ryan!

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  1. sharpshooterbabe says:

    Thank you Mr. Hunt! I can’t thank you enough for defending the gamers of AU. & also the gamers in general all around the world.

    Some parents are irresponsible with the management of their children’s behaviour. If the reason for excluding an R18+ classification for games is to limit the access of the children of incompetent or irresponsible parents, then we should ban R18+ films, restricted publications, alcohol, cigarettes, etc. from our society.

    I do agree w/you here. If gamers should have to suffer w/out playing their games b/c of an R18+ category, then so should non-gamers watching R18+ movies, buying cigarettes, alcohol & so on. It’s only fair.

    Michael Atkinson will eat crow.

    "It’s better to be hated for who you are, then be loved for who you are not." – Montgomery Gentry

  2. Zerodash says:

    Is it just me (and being a non-aussie), or is there more outrage over the lack of an R18 rating for games than outrage over Austrailia’s internet filtering?

  3. DarkSaber says:

    That is so fucking stupid I think it gave me aids.


    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  4. digdug says:

     “sexual abuse, criminal activity, and extreme violence”.

    That still sounds really restrictive even if there was an R18 rating. It seems like a lot of mature games would still not get approved for sale.

  5. mdo7 says:

    I could also probably see Atkinson talking with some police chief to plan an assassination on the guy.  Atkinson is a district attorney, he can probably do anything with the cop.  He can abuse his power to kill the guy and maybe cover up the murder and make it look like a random murder.  History has shown that politicians can abuse power to kill anyone that don’t agree with them.


  6. Arcanagos says:

    Well said, but I think I hear a familiar shredder warming up in South Australia.

    "Go ahead and hate your neighbor, go ahead and cheat a friend. Do it in the name of Heaven, Jack Thompson’ll justify it in the end." – nightwng2000

  7. gellymatos says:

    Hmm. Option 1: R+18 is accepted. Option 2: R+18 is rejected, but Atkinson will look terrible. Both do have their upsides.

  8. Cerabret100 says:

    damn, this train is picking up speed, the question is will atkinson be smart enough to get out of the way and allow a R18+, or stubbornly refuse and show the people of australia they have in office a man who doesn’t give two shits what they think.

    That tends to not bode well with voters. sure gaming issues aren’t big enough to warrent kicking him out, but flat out refusal to acknowledge what the majority of the population wants? that might cause some voters to rethink. In fact that may be a good angle of attack against atkinson in the political arena.

  9. gamegod25 says:

    That second quote shows exactly the kind of hypocrisy and double standards that people like Atkinson demonstate.

  10. Inimical says:

    Now if only this guy was running for the opposition to Atkinson. All of the responses from them that I’ve seen are terrible and just result to ad hominem attacks against Atkinson.

    They need someone more outspoken who can get the message out there without sounding like an idiot.

  11. BearDogg-X says:

    Paul Hunt owned Michael Atkinson’s worthless ass, straight and simple.

    Geaux Saints, Geaux Tigers, Geaux Hornets, Jack Thompson can geaux chase a chupacabra. Hell will stay frozen over for quite a while since the Saints won the Super Bowl.

    Proud supporter of the New Orleans Saints, LSU, 1st Amendment; Real American; Hound of Justice; Even through the darkest days, this fire burns always

    Saints(3-4), LSU(7-0)

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