South Australia Cracks Down on R18+ Movies

January 18, 2010 -

Australia still does not have an R18+ rating category for videogames and now the R18+ category for movies has undergone a severe transformation in South Australia.

South Australia is, of course, home base for anti-game Attorney General Michael Atkinson, so it may not be a total surprise that a new law, which limits how R18+ rated movies can be displayed, exhibited and promoted in South Australia, came into effect on January 10.

A PDF detailing the new law is on the government of South Australia’s website. In it are instructions for handling R18+ rated movies, which applies to any establishment (other than adult-only) that sells, displays or rents movies with ratings below the R18+ threshold. Obviously the idea is to “shield” R18+ movies from those who might be shopping for lower rated films.

Among the law’s provisions:

  • The material for an R18+ film must be displayed in a different area from that in which material for other films is displayed.  The different area must be marked with a prescribed notice displayed in a prominent place near the area. i.e. R 18+ FILMS AREA—THE PUBLIC ARE WARNED THAT MATERIAL DISPLAYED IN THIS AREA MAY CAUSE OFFENCE.
  • The displayed material for an R18+ film may bear no images or markings other than the name of the film in letters of 10 millimetres or less in height and the determined markings relevant to the film’s classification.

Penalties for non-compliance call for a maximum fine of up to $5,000A.

What’s perhaps more disheartening than even the law itself is the reaction from retailers and distributors  who seemed to have no inkling that the law even existed.

Speaking to The Australian, film distributor Mark Spratt of Potential Films said he was “gobsmacked” by news of the law, adding, “It's gone completely under the radar.”


|Via Gizmodo, Thanks Grant!|

25 comments

GOW III Cleared For Australian Release

January 15, 2010 -

Fears over a God of War III banning in Australia can be put to rest as the title has received a MA15+ rating from the Classification Board, effectively clearing it for release.

GameSpot had word on the title’s rating, noting that content descriptors on the game’s packaging will cite “Strong violence, sexual references and nudity” as being part of the game.

In light of Australia’s lack of an R18+ rating, God of War III’s developers had been sweating out whether or not the game would be deemed suitable for release.

Additionally, a God of War III: Ultimate Edition will be offered for sale in Australia for the price of A$248.00.


Thanks Ryan!

30 comments

Latest R18+ Demonstration Hits Sydney

January 11, 2010 -

Australia has seen its second public rally take place—in as many months—in the hopes of growing public support for the addition of an R18+ videogame rating category.

Sydney was home to the latest event on Saturday, January 9th. Organized by R18+ Games Australia head Luke Lawrie, who is also a writer for AustralianGamer.com, the happening took place downtown in the vicinity of the Queen Victoria building, and, from all accounts, drew in excess of 50 people.

Lawrie told Gamespot that he hoped to target older Australians and non-gamers with the group’s message of a need for an adult rating category for games.

A similar rally, put on by Treat Us Like Adults, took place in Brisbane in early December and drew a similar number of attendees.


Thanks Ryan!

5 comments

Try Your Hand at Banning Content Down Under

January 4, 2010 -

A new downloadable game lets players assume the role of Australian politicians and bring the ban hammer down on videogames and websites.

Ban This Game features likenesses of South Australian Attorney General Michael Atkinson and Stephen Conroy, Minister for Broadband and Communication, who is the man championing ISP filtering for Australia. Gameplay consists of images of games and websites crossing a red line. Players must click on an image three times to ban it once it passes over said line. Windows and Mac versions are available.

The game is the work of game developer Conor O’Kane. The embedded video shows the game in action. A Facebook Fan Page for the game has been set up as well.

Thanks Ryan and Michael!

9 comments

Down Under Reversal on Aliens vs. Predator

December 18, 2009 -

Australia’s Classification Review Board has overturned a ban on Sega’s Aliens vs. Predator PC game, granting it an MA15+ classification.

The decision of the three-member Board (PDF) was unanimous and the game will carry the descriptor “Strong Science Fiction Violence.” The Board determined that the fantasy nature of the game reduced the impact of its violent content:

… violent scenes are not prolonged and are interspersed with longer non violent sequences. The violence is fantastical in nature and justified by the context of the game, set in a futuristic science-fiction world, inhabited by aliens and predators. This context serves to lessen its impact. The more contentious violence is randomly generated and is not dependent on player selection of specific moves.


Refused-Classification notes
that this is the first successful appeal since F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin in 2008.

The Classification Board had originally Refused Classification for Aliens vs. Predator, citing violence as a factor.

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Gamers4Croydon Founder Dives into Politics Full-Time

December 17, 2009 -

David Doe, the man behind the Australian political party that hopes to run a candidate against Attorney General Michael Atkinson, has resigned from his full-time job in a bid to focus all his efforts on derailing the incumbent anti-gamer.

In a message on his website, Doe wrote that it was time for him to put his money where his mouth is and that, thanks to a “wonderfully understanding and supportive wife, and some good savings strategies,” he was able to resign from his position as Quality Assurance Manager at a Melbourne videogame studio.

Doe continued:

The quality of my work in both spheres was beginning to suffer and I want to make sure I excel at one of these endeavours for the next few months at least.

Doe made clear that any donations made to the Gamers4Croydon party would not “in any way shape or form… be used as a form of income.”

He added:

I want to make it clear that I'm taking a huge and personal financial risk doing this, but if the March 20 election rolled by and I thought that I could have done substantially more if only I'd had more time, I'd regret it as an opportunity lost forever.
 

Here's to working hard on something you love.

10 comments

Aliens vs. Predator to Get Aussie Re-Review

December 14, 2009 -

Sega’s Aliens vs. Predator PC game, originally Refused Classification by Australia’s Classification Board earlier this month for its depictions of violence and gore, will be re-reviewed this Friday, December 18.

Refused-Classification has the media release from Australia's Classification Review Board on the subject, which states:

If an individual or organisation wishes to apply for standing as an interested party to this review, please write to the Convenor of the Review Board. The closing date to lodge your application for standing as an interested party and any submissions is Monday 14 December 2009.

 

Please note that the Review Board can only consider submissions about the computer game Aliens vs Predator itself and not any other matters relating to computer games policy or issues generally.

The appeal was presumably undertake at the behest of Sega.

The game’s developer, Rebellion, has gone on record as stating that it will not modify the title in order to appease the Classification Board.
 

|Thanks Ryan|

9 comments

R18+ Discussion Paper Finally Released

December 14, 2009 -

Australia’s government has finally released the long-awaited Discussion Paper designed to foster public debate on whether or not an R18+ classification should be added for videogames.

Why release the Discussion Paper now? The government cited Interactive Games and Entertainment Association (IGEA) research as indicating that adults are ”increasingly” consumer of videogames, while noting that discussion about adding an R18+ rating category has been ongoing for “some time.” This is the first time the public can weigh in on the topic with their feelings.

If an R18+ rating category was to be enacted, the paper notes that a change to classification categories would require amendments to the Commonwealth Act, the Code and the Guidelines, as well as State and Territory enforcement legislation. Of course, amendments can only be undertaken with the agreement of all Censorship Ministers, which South Australian Attorney General Michael Atkinson, typically identified as the lone holdout in such matters previously, would certainly maintain his stance on.

The paper lists the pros of adding an R18+ classification:

  • The R 18+ classification category sends a clear, unambiguous message to parents that the game material is unsuitable for minors.
  • Consistent classification categories for films and computer games are easier to understand.
  • A new classification will supplement technological controls on minors’ access to age inappropriate computer games.
  • Adults should not be prevented from playing R 18+ level computer games simply because they are unsuitable for minors.
  • Comparable international classification systems have an adult rating for computer games - international parity is desirable.
  • Consumers access games which would be R 18+ illegally – it would be better if they were legally available with appropriate restrictions.

And the cons:

  • Computer games should be treated differently from films given the specific, negative effects of interactivity on players, particularly their participation in violent and aggressive content.
  • It would be difficult for parents to enforce age restrictions for computer games.
  • Minors would be more likely to be exposed to computer games that are unsuitable for them.
  • An R 18+ for computer games would exacerbate problems associated with access to  high level material in Indigenous communities and by other non-English speaking people.
  • There is no demonstrated need to change existing restrictions.

Even the Discussion Paper couldn’t be released without a mention of Rapelay, as it was noted that even if an R18+ rating was approved and introduced, “the RC category would still exist for games with, for example, gratuitous or exploitative depictions of sexual violence, such as the sexual assault simulation game Rapelay."

Submissions are due by February 28, 2010. A PDF that outlines how to make a submission and also contains a questionnaire is available here.
 

|Thanks Ryan|

30 comments

Atkinson on Violent Games: You Don’t Need to Impale People

December 10, 2009 -

In light of Australia’s refusal to classify Sega’s PC game Aliens vs. Predator, the country’s ABC News outlet ran a short video piece on the controversy with comments from everyone’s favorite Attorney General, Michael Atkinson.

The report quickly covers the Aliens vs. Predator story, noting that the game’s developer, Rebellion, will not edit the game in order to appease censors.

Gary Farrow, cast as a typical gamer, was asked about the  lack of an R18+ rating in Australia. The 42-year old offered, “We’re talking about just labeling content, so we have a fairly educated idea as to what to expect [from a game].

Atkinson’s comments on calls for an adult videogame rating:

This is a question of a small number of very zealous gamers trying to impose their will on society. And I think harm society. It’s the public interest versus the small vested interest.

Atkinson on violence in games:

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.

You don’t need to be playing a game in which you impale, decapitate and dismember people.

Australia’s Interactive Games and Entertainment Association (IGEA) CEO Ron Curry was also interviewed in order to counter some of Atkinson’s remarks. He stated:

It doesn’t seem democratic that a single attorney general should be able to dictate what the vast Australian population can interact with.

The government trusts us to be adults with films, but they only want us to be children with games.

Thanks Ryan!

55 comments

Aussie R18+ Rating Rally Roundup

December 7, 2009 -

A previously mentioned rally planned to show the support of gamers for an R18+ rating in Australia drew about 50 people.

The event, promoted by the website Treat Us Like Adults, took place on Saturday, December 5 in Brisbane. Speeches were given by Ethan Watson from Treat Us Like Adults and Nicolas Suzor, CEO of Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA).

Suzor documented the proceedings on the EFA website, and four YouTube videos (1, 2, 3, 4) have been uploaded, capturing the two speakers.

The next step in pressuring the government, according to Suzor, is to pressure the Commonwealth Minister for Home Affairs, Brendan O’Connor, to release the long-awaited R18+ discussion paper. A form letter and directions are now featured on the EFA wiki.


Thanks Ryan!

14 comments

Aliens vs. Predator vs. Classification Board

December 4, 2009 -

Looks like 2009 will go down as a record year for games Refused Classification (RC) in Australia.

Sega’s PC game Aliens vs. Predator is the latest game to be deemed unfit for release by the country’s Office of Film Literature Classification (OFLC) board. Games.On.net got their hands on a copy of the Classification report, which labeled the game too violent to receive a classification:

The Predator collects "trophies" by explicitly ripping off human heads, their spinal columns dangling from severed necks. Heads can be twisted completely around in order to break a character's neck. Eyes can be stabbed through or gouged, leaving empty, bloodied eye sockets. It is noted that a player is able to combine manoeuvres together in quick succession, which further increases impact; for example, a Predator can stab a character through both eyes with its wrist blade, and then rip off their head, with spinal column still attached. Extensive post mortem damage, including decapitation and dismemberment, is also possible.

 

Depictions of violence such as the above are accompanied by copious amounts of blood and gore, include ample wound detail and visible skeleton.

As the Refused-Classification site notes, this brings the total to six games effectively banned this year by the Classification Board, a new, and dubious, record high for a single year. Aliens vs. Predator joins CrimeCraft, Necrovision, Sexy Poker, Left 4 Dead 2 and Risen as games tagged with an RC classification.

Sega told GameSpot that they may appeal the decision:

SEGA Australia can today confirm that the initial submission of Aliens vs. Predator has been refused classification by the Classification Operations Board of Australia. We will continue to investigate all options available to us, including the possibility of appeal," the company said in an e-mailed statement.


Thanks to Ryan, Steven and Michael for sending this in!

36 comments

Game Industry Head Debates Atkinson Form Letter

December 3, 2009 -

The CEO of an Australian and New Zealand videogame industry group has taken to his blog for a lengthy part-by-part answer to a form letter received from South Australia Attorney General Michael Atkinson (pictured left) in response to an inquiry calling for the addition of an R18+ rating category.

Ron Curry is CEO of the Interactive Games & Electronic Association (IGEA) and received the same form letter others have when attempting to contact the notorious anti-game advocate. Curry begins by noting that he believes Atkinson’s stance is full of “moral panic, misinformation and factual inaccuracies.”

Curry’s response to an Atkinson paragraph that claims that videogames in the home “cannot be policied:”

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.


Curry on Atkinson acknowledging “that others have different opinions” from his and that he will continue to campaign against an R18+ rating:

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.

Atkinson: "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!’"

Curry responds:

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.

35 comments

Atkinson and Gamers4Croydon's Doe Debate (Sort of) R18+ Rating

November 23, 2009 -

South Australian Attorney General Michael Atkinson and Gamers4Croydon political party creator David Doe were both interviewed on Australian radio about that country’s lack of an adult ratings category for videogames.

The two appeared on ABC Radio National’s show National Interest, but unfortunately were not in a position to joust on the subject, as Atkinson’s bit was pre-recorded. Doe appeared in the studio with host Peter Mares.

Atkinson, again, on why he opposes an R18+ rating:

I’m opposed to extreme and cruel violence being dissipated in interactive games. The decision on this game [Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2], to give it an MA15+ classification is a matter for the Commonwealth Classification Board. I‘ll be appealing against that classification. It doesn’t surprise me because the Classification Board in Australia does everything to try to get games in under the radar, and films generally. Just because the system is not being applied properly, does not mean that the principles of the system are wrong.

The host then asked Atkinson, in light of the apparent failings of the Classification Board; wouldn’t it be better to have an R18+ rating? Atkinson’s answer:

No, no… What I want the Classification Board to do is to apply the guidelines properly. I don’t want the extremely violent, sexually depraved and drug use games in Australia at all. We can’t stop these interactive games getting into the home and getting into the hands of children. Interactive games are, I think, a greater risk than films because they are interactive.

Atkinson then referenced Rapelay, saying, “I wouldn’t put it past the Classification Board to make that an R rated game frankly. “

Atkinson accused the host of being a bond company stooge/game industry apologist in favor of an R18+ rating, before claiming that Australians just don’t care about the lack of an adult videogame rating category:

The vast majority of Australians have not turned their mind to the question of an R18+ classification for interactive games. It’s just not an issue out there in the electorate. Most Australians don’t think about it. Like me, many of them enjoy playing games such as the Wii.

Atkinson again indicated he was aware of the Gamers4Croydon party that plans to run a candidate against him in the coming election, though he’s doesn’t give them much of a chance, “I rather doubt that they will get even 1% of the vote, so much for the claim of 90% of Australians favoring what the games industry wants (an R18+ rating).”

David Doe, the Aussie game developer and man behind Gamers4Croydon also appeared on the show. Doe used Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 as a lynchpin in his argument for an adult videogame classification, calling the game “just not suitable for 15 year olds.”

Does this indicate that Atkinson is right and the Classification Board is not doing its job the host queried?

Doe responded:

I think the Classification Board is doing the best it can. There’s obviously a huge commercial interest in the videogame industry, and even though Australia is a small market, they are going to try and provide Australians with the type of content they would like to engage with. I think if we gave them the option of having an R18+ rating, they would classify more games as R18+ because they have that ability and then that way people would be more informed as to the type of content that’s readily available in those types of games.

He added:

If you’re over 18 years old, you should be able to decide for yourself what you think is appropriate.

Doe said of Atkinson, “He has made it clear that he is immune to popular public support, scientific research and reasoned argument.”

The whole show can be downloaded in MP3 format from the National Interest website.
 

Thanks Ryan!

31 comments

Atkinson: Real Life Issues More Important Than "Imaginary Worlds"

November 16, 2009 -

Responding to an inquiry from a gamer about the lack of an R18+ rating for videogames in Australia, Attorney General Michael Atkinson put down his feelings in a long letter.

The Attorney General apparently has little or no plan to change his stance anytime soon.

Among his choicest replies:

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.

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.

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 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 gamers are so keen to have R.18+ games, I expect children would be just as keen.


Atkinson ends the letter with a bit of a diss at those who think this is an important issue:

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.


The full letter can be read on the GrowUpAustralia.com website, a relatively new website designed to champion the introduction of an R18+ rating category.

Gamers4Croydon, the fledgling political party that hopes to run a candidate against Atkinson has posted a rebuttal to the letter from one its founding members, Chris Prior. Among his responses:

Mr Atkinson suggests that if you ask "an adult" how they feel about playing video games, they will "give you ... opinion only." Putting aside that the asked question was in fact about opinion, the implied meaning is that gamers are incapable of examining how games affect them. I, as "an adult" have a range of experiences with games of varied genres. The violent games Mr Atkinson so reviles help me reduce stress and express frustration, just as some people hit a boxing bag or go for a run.


Thanks Michael, Matthew and Ryan

38 comments

Blogger Challenges Aussie AG to Debate

October 2, 2009 -

Using his Edge-Online blog, Alex Walker has penned an open letter to South Australian Attorney General Michael Atkinson about the lack of an R18+ rating classification in that country.

Walker notes that “the Classification Board has refused classification to twice as many games as the British Board of Film Classification has in the 23 years since it first rated a video game.” He calls out Atkinson on some of his recent statements and uses comments from David Cook, Director of the British Board of Film Classification to aid his case.

Walker finishes with a challenge:

I’m not sure how, given the weight of evidence, you can stand by the inconsistencies in the Australian approach to classifying film and video games. I call on you to stand aside, and allow for a debate on the classification system, a debate which you have so far stifled.

Walker adds that he did email a copy of the letter to Atkinson, but he does not expect a response.

14 comments

Aussie Game Rating System is a Joke, Says Head of Developers Group

August 11, 2009 -

Yesterday, GamePolitics reported on Risen, the latest game to fall victim to Australia's outdated content rating system. The RPG, currently in development by Piranha Bytes, was refused classification for the Australian market, largely because Down Under lacks the equivalent of the ESRB's M (17+) rating.

The situation frustrates Tom Crago, who heads the Game Developers Association of Australia. Crago spoke to itwire about his concerns:

Well it’s a joke isn’t it?  We are once again caught in this awful, ridiculous web of the antiquated classification system...  Here in Australia the sooner that changes, the better; it is obviously a battle to ensure common sense prevails.  We will get there eventually, but in the meantime as gamers in Australia we suffer, and to be honest we are embarrassed at how backward our government is...

The biggest problem we have here in Australia is that we don’t have an R classification for video games...  It’s ridiculous because it assumes that games are fundamentally different to film and outrageous in that it assumes that adults shouldn’t be allowed to access adult content in video games... 

We are the butt of a lot of jokes; I travel, obviously a lot, talking to other developers and publishers and people cannot believe it that we still have this ridiculous system here in Australia, designed twenty or thirty years ago, and hasn’t changed since...

[South Australian Attorney General Michael Atkinson] is of course the problem... clearly this is a guy that doesn’t get it, and to be honest, I don’t think, ever will get it...

35 comments

Australian A.G. Explains His Opposition to R18+

March 16, 2009 -

South Australian Attorney-General Michael Atkinson, who has to date single-handedly blocked the implementation of an R18+ video game rating in the Down Under market, explains his opposition in a letter to Kotaku.

For starters, Atkinson writes that he does not trust the Classification Board to do the right thing. He claims that the group stretches the current MA15+ category to accomodate games that should be refused classification. He fears that the same thing will happen with R18+ titles.

Although he is portrayed as a lone wolf on the ratings topic, Atkinson claims that there are other A.G.'s who agree with his stance. He complained, too, that he receives a great deal of hate mail on the subject. On this point, Atkinson writes:

It confuses and baffles me why I am being harangued, threatened and abused by people who want the right to play a handful of games. It confuses my why so many gamers are arguing that they should have the right to play games that enable them on-screen to bash, torture, slay, slaughter, rape and take drugs.

 

I am concerned about the state of mind of an individual who thinks he should have the right to do this in a computer game and then wants to tell me about it. Add to that the threats to me and I feel more certain about my stance that I should do what I can to minimise the number of these games in Australian homes.

Atkinson points out that only three (out of 903) games considered in 2007-2008 were refused classification (i.e., banned). He cites the 2008 murder of a Bangkok cab driver whose killer - according to Thai authorities - claimed to be re-enacting a scene from Grand Theft Auto. In addition, Atkinson calls into question a video game industry sponsored poll which maintains that most Australians favor an R18+ rating.

Meanwhile, Aussie game journalist Jason Hill calls upon gamers to respond maturely to Atkinson:

As tempting as it is to also indulge in name calling and silly stunts, Australian gamers must continue to provide eloquent, intelligent and reasoned arguments about why they would like Mr Atkinson to change his long-held opposition to changes to our broken classification regime.

Demonising or attacking Mr Atkinson in the same manner that so many Americans targeted anti-games crusader Jack Thompson is not helpful. It is actually damaging the cause, no doubt helping to justify his stance.

Disappointingly, Mr Atkinson told Kotaku that he has received "more abuse and threats over my stand against R18+ interactive games than any other topic of public debate", including anonymous threats posted under his front door in the middle of the night...

Please write to your state Attorney-General or Mr Atkinson... But please don't descend into name calling or threats.

 

112 comments

Australia's Atkinson Chides "R18+ Nerds" in Letter to Newspaper

March 11, 2009 -

As GamePolitics readers know, South Australian Attorney-General Michael Atkinson has been blocking the adoption of an R18+ video game rating for some time.

That's despite the fact that an R18+ for movies has been in existence for years Down Under.

But it appears that Atkinson may be feeling the heat a bit. A letter written by the AG and published in the Adelaide Advertiser is a bit, well, over the top:

A Queensland letter writer... claims that democracy is at an end because I, as Attorney-General, will not agree to an R18+ category for interactive computer games... It is true that I am opposed to an R18+ category for interactive games, but I am one of at least four Attorneys so opposed.

 

I welcome [an election] challenge... on this issue. Among my constituents are hundreds of refugees who are trying to find lodgings for the family, gain employment and sponsor relatives from the old country.

 

Their vote is hardly likely to hinge on the "right" to score gamer points... by running down and killing pedestrians on the pavement, raping a mother and her two daughters, blowing oneself up in a market, cutting people in half with large calibre shells, injecting drugs to win an athletics event or killing a prostitute to recover the fee one just paid her (Welcome to the world of R18+ computer games).

 

Those of my constituents who are refugees have been subjected to the practical instead of the virtual suffering that R18+ nerds seek to inflict for their gratification on the computer screen.

Via: Kotaku

86 comments

Australia's Atkinson Still Blocking R18+ Rating

March 4, 2009 -

Is this guy stubborn, or what?

South Australian Attorney General Michael Atkinson continues to be the sole roadblock to the introduction of an R18+ classification for video games Down Under. Movies already enjoy such a rating.

Oh sure, things seemed to be looking up last November when he welcomed a public debate on the merits of an R18+ rating pending “some minor changes” to a discussion paper introduced by the Standing Committee of Attorneys General (SCAG). But four months later, Atkinson has yet to make those changes.

In February, GameSpot Australia polled the nation's attorneys general and found that, indeed, Atkinson is currently the only A.G. still opposed to the introduction of an R18+ rating. His colleagues support a public consultation on the matter but are stuck waiting on Atkinson.  Said Victorian Attorney General Rob Hulls:

I fully support there being consultation on this issue, but ultimately the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General (SCAG) is waiting for the South Australian Attorney to agree to consult on the matter.

GameSpot AU recently contacted Atkinson’s office to inquire about the holdup and see if there was an ETA on the revisions.

Discussions are continuing between the [South Australian] attorney general's office and the SCAG Secretariat about amendments to the discussion paper.

In other words, Australian gamer friends: Don’t hold your breath.

If Atkinson ever stops dragging his feet, the finalized discussion paper will be released online and survey the public’s opinion on the introduction of an R18+ classification for Australian games.

-Reporting from San Diego, GamePolitics Correspondent Andrew Eisen.

37 comments

GU Comics Weighs in on Australian Cosplay Protest

February 27, 2009 -

GU Comics asks a very legitimate question concerning some Australian gamers' plan to march on Parliament in costume to protest the lack of an R18+ rating Down Under.

As GamePolitics reported yesterday, the "Cosplay for a Cause" rally has been scrubbed. A new event in which gamer protesters will wear everyday clothing is being planned.

GP: Thanks to GamePolitics correspondent Andrew Eisen for catching this one...

3 comments

Australian Cosplayers Plan to "Storm" Parliament Over R18+ Rating

February 19, 2009 -

In Australia, gamers continue to petition their government for an R18+ rating.

As GamePolitics has reported, one man - South Australian Attorney General Michael Atkinson - has so far successully blocked the R18+.

That being the case, gamers Down Under plan to take their protest directly to Atkinson on March 4th - and in costume as well.

According to R18games:

Gametraders is organising a rally to support an R18+ rating for video games in South Australia. The rally will take place at 1pm on the 4th of March, on the steps of the Adelaide Parliament House. As you all know, Adelaide is the home of the South Australian Attorney-General, Michael Atkinson, chief opponent of an R18+ rating for games in Australia.

However, it appears that some gamers are concerned that protesting in costume will make their position seem frivolous; that aspect of the protest is under review:

It’s clear from the feedback... that a lot of people have some concerns about the cosplay nature of the rally. Gametraders has contacted [R18games] to say they will be issuing a further statement shortly...

35 comments

Australian Pol Explains Why He's Blocking R18+ Rating

January 27, 2009 -

As GamePolitics readers know, South Australian Attorney General Michael Atkinson (left) is viewed by many gamers Down Under as being the roadblock to the implementation of an R18+ video game rating. Australian films already have such a rating, so why not video games?

Atkinson spoke at length with GameSpot about his opposition to the R18+, which to date has proven insurmountable:

The interactive nature of electronic games means that they have a much greater influence than viewing a movie does. People are... essentially rehearsing harmful behaviour...

I have three sons who regularly play computer games at home... 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...

Extreme violence, perverted sex and criminal activity are not essential for adults to enjoy playing electronic games. There are plenty of sophisticated games that are of interest to adults... Some of the most popular and highly recommended games for adults would not be R18+ rated.

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... This represents avery small proportion of the 961 [rating] decisions made last financial year...

Some of your readers 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...

71 comments

Australian Pol Explains Objection to R18+ Rating on TV News Program

November 7, 2008 -

In this segment from Australia's Stateline program, South Australian Attorney General Michael Atkinson explains his objection to the introduction of an R18+ rating.

GP: Thanks to GP reader Ryan O'Meara for the link!

72 comments

Australian Attorney General Backs Off... R18+ Rating Study Will Go Forward

November 7, 2008 -

While Australia's grownup gamer population has been clamoring for an R18+ rating that would avert the video game censorship which has plagued the country in recent years, South Australian Attorney General Michael Atkinson (left) has been blocking consideration of such a change.

Something, apparently, has changed Atkinson's mind.

GameSpot Australia reports that a discussion paper as well as public commentary on the R18+ are back on the table. According to Atkinson, a compromise was reached on the content of the discussion paper:

I believe the draft discussion paper did not adequately represent both sides of the argument. I voiced my concerns to other Attorneys-General and we reached agreement that some minor changes will be made to the discussion paper.

 

I am not opposed to a public debate on the merits of introducing a R18+ classification for electronic games--in fact, I welcome it. But it’s unhelpful to commence that debate with what I believe is a biased discussion paper. There is little point in seeking public comment on an unfirm footing that neglects one side of the argument. I look forward to contributing to the development of a fairer discussion paper.

The Age has more.

Thanks to: GP reader Cheater87 for  the link!

10 comments

In Australian Govt., One Guy is Blocking Badly-needed R18+ Rating

October 30, 2008 -

With a number of high-profile games facing bans or near-bans, gamers in Australia are literally begging for the addition of an R18+ classification.

But, as The Age reports, one guy is screwing it up for everyone.

GamePolitics has reported in the past on the anti-game antics of Michael Atkinson, the South Australian Attorney General. The Age has the latest:

Censorship ministers in March agreed "in principle" to canvas public opinion on the proposed introduction of a R18+ classification for games and release a discussion paper on the issue, but Mr Atkinson has refused to agree to make the report public, effectively shelving it...

"Games may pose a far greater problem than other media - particularly films - because their interactive nature could exacerbate their impact," Mr Atkinson said. "The risk of interactivity on players of computer games with highly violent content is increased aggressive behaviour."

Australia is the only developed country without an R18+ classification for games... Ron Curry, CEO of the Interactive Entertainment Association of Australia, [said] "You could be forgiven for taking a view that the South Australian Attorney-General has now actively censored the debate on censorship. What's next?"

GP: It's amazing that one guy can stand in the way of a nation of gamers.

Big thanks to: GP reader Jarrod from Australia for the tip!

And did we mention that... The Australian government is moving toward implementation of mandatory Internet censorship? Just like China!

Now that's progress...

60 comments

In Wake of Fallout 3 Ban, Australian Pol Tries to Justify His Position

July 14, 2008 -

Following last week's disturbing news that the highly-anticipated Fallout 3 would be banned in Australia, website Australian Gamer has remarks attributed to the man blamed by many for the ban.

Australian Gamer has posted a scan of what appears to be a letter from Michael Atkinson (left), Attorney General of South Australia, to an unnamed constituent. Atkinson's continued opposition to the introduction of an R18+ rating for the Australian games market has meant that games judged unsuitable for 15-year-olds are routinely refused classification. The country's highest rating is currently MA15+.

From the Atkinson letter:

I am aware that statistics show 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... play electronic games with their own children... 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 R18+ 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 gamers are so keen to have R18+ games, I expect children would be just as keen. I have publically argued that because electronic games are interactive, the violence and other adult content in games have a strong impact. I am particularly concerned about the impact these games have on children, who can spend a lot of their unsupervised leisure time gaming.

 

68 comments

Report: Australia's Fallout 3 Ban Prompted by In-game Drug Use

July 10, 2008 -

As most GamePolitics readers know, Bethesda's highly-anticipated RPG Fallout 3 became the latest victim of Australian censors when it was refused classification (i.e., a rating) this week.

news.com.au now has more info on the Fallout 3 situation. The site is reporting that in-game drug use led to the game's ban Down Under and quotes from a report by Australia's Office of Film & Literature Classification:

In the Board's view these realistic visual representations of drugs and their delivery method bring the 'science-fiction' drugs in line with 'real-world' drugs... The player can also select and use 'Morphine' (a proscribed drug) which has the positive effect of enabling the character to ignore limb pain when the character's extremities are targeted by the enemy.

news.com.au notes that disappounted Aussies have reacted badly to the news about Fallout 3. In an online posting, one gamer asked, "What are the syringes in Bioshock filled with – magic fairy dust?"

Australia's lack of a rating that scales beyond the 15-year-old level is apparently at fault. As GamePolitics has previously reported, South Australian Attorney General Michael Atkinson has been a major force opposing the addition of an R18+ rating.

36 comments

Columnist: Australian Govt. Caving to Game Biz Pressure for R-rating

April 6, 2008 -

As GamePolitics has previously reported, elected officials in Australia are considering the addition of an R18+ rating for video games. Currently, any title that doesn't meet the content standard for Australia's MA15+ is effectively banned.

Writing in The Australian, columnist Ross Fitzgerald maintains that the move to an R18+ is being motivated by game industry lobbying:

The whisper is that... Attorney-General Robert McClelland (left) and his junior, Home Affairs Minister Bob Debus, have had a stream of lobbyists representing Nintendo and Microsoft in their ears about creating this new R-rating for violent video games.

Labor appears to be moving away from its stated policy of clamping down on violence as... members gang up on South Australia's hapless, evangelical Christian Attorney-General, Michael Atkinson, over his veto on a new R-rating for computer games.

 

I'm no supporter of Atkinson's deep social conservatism. I suspect that he rejects the R-rated computer game rating more for the sex in the R category than the violence... the rest of Australia's state and federal attorneys should hang their heads in shame for trying to foist a category of computer games on us that will contain mostly mind-numbing violence.

Australian Attorney General Shouted Down Over R18+ Rating Issue

March 10, 2008 -

Recently GamePolitics reported on a move to create an R18+ rating for video games in Australia.

The idea is popular among Aussie gamers since adding the new classification would offer grownup consumers additional gaming choices. A number of titles which qualified for sale in the U.S. market, for example, were banned Down Under because they failed to meet the mark for Australia's current highest rating, M15+. These include Marc Ecko's Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure50 cent: Bulletproof and Blitz: The League.

Predictably, not everyone in Australian politics agrees with the proposed change. But, as reported by news.com.au, South Australian Attorney-General Michael Atkinson (left) was shouted down in Parliament last week while arguing against adoption of the R18+ rating:

Mr Atkinson is the most vocal opponent to a R18+ classification for games... During the speech, Mr Atkinson began to describe five games that had been banned in Australia. As he was describing drug use in the game Narc, he was cut off by raucous interjections and returned to his seat.


The text of Atkinson's speech explains his objections (it's about the children!), and includes the following:

I do not want children to be able to get their hands on R18+ games easily. I understand that the lack of an R18+ classification denies some adults the chance to play some games, however, the need to keep potentially harmful material away from children is far more important...

 

Proponents for the classification say the latest technology allows gaming platforms and computers to be programmed to allow parental locks. Today’s children are far more technologically savvy than their parents. It’s laughable to suggest that they couldn’t find ways around parental locks if R18+ games were in the home...

 

I contest any idea that it is necessary for games to include material of this kind and that a game is more interesting to an adult because it contains extreme violence, explicit sexual material, instruction in crime or characters using illicit drugs...


GP: Unfortunately, we don't have any news on which members of Parliament interrupted Atkinson's speech or why they did so...

 
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Wonderkarpif I had the money, I'd buy one of those expensive proton pack replicas11/22/2014 - 11:25pm
Wonderkarpthats the wii version though. the PS3/360 version is far superior.11/22/2014 - 11:19pm
Andrew EisenOdd that there was no hose connecting the thrower to the backpack. Was there just no more horsepower left in the Wii to animate it? And did seriously no one on the dev or QA team notice the Ghostbusters patch on the player's sleeve was backwards?11/22/2014 - 11:17pm
Andrew EisenI played it one the Wii and rather liked it.11/22/2014 - 11:15pm
Neo_DrKefkaGhostbusters on the PS3 and Xbox is Ghostbusters III for me. It was a short but wonderful experience.11/22/2014 - 11:13pm
Andrew EisenGhostbusters is my number one but the other films in my top 5 are Blues Brothers, Nightmare Before Christmas, Little Shop of Horrors (the Frank Oz one) and Jaws.11/22/2014 - 11:05pm
Wonderkarpso interesting info about that blocklist I'm on https://pbs.twimg.com/media/B3GOLniCUAAnHbP.png11/22/2014 - 10:54pm
Wonderkarpspeaking of game swag, went to a GTAV midnight release at a gamestop. I was getting WWE2k15. First in line so I got 2 free posters and a free Los Santos Sherrif hat that doesnt fit my head. Still sits proudly on a shelf11/22/2014 - 10:34pm
Wonderkarpno pics though cause I'm going to be moving soon hopefully so I'm not too keen on working on it, other than buying some stuff.11/22/2014 - 10:33pm
WonderkarpGhostbusters, Alien, and Aliens make up my top 3 favorite films. Its not a Coincidence that Sigourney Weaver is my favorite Actress11/22/2014 - 10:31pm
Andrew EisenIf you do build a game room you're proud of, do post pics.11/22/2014 - 10:31pm
Andrew EisenGhostbusters! My favorite movie.11/22/2014 - 10:21pm
Wonderkarpthough not strictly games. I have Lightsabers mounted on the wall, and on a shelf you'll see the Infinity Gauntlet, the Ocarina of Time, a Sith Holocron, and some of my Ghostbusters Props11/22/2014 - 8:57pm
Wonderkarpswag of all kinds, Andrew. I'm trying to build a game room as impressive as AVGNs nerd room. I'm also trying to build a coffee table/storage space shaped like a NES Controller11/22/2014 - 8:55pm
E. Zachary KnightI need new controllers for my Gamecube. Its not everyday you can get brand new 1st party controllers.11/22/2014 - 8:51pm
Andrew EisenPredominately figurines or swag of all kinds?11/22/2014 - 8:37pm
WonderkarpI would like a new gamecube controller....but I also just like gaming swag....11/22/2014 - 8:32pm
Andrew EisenI'm just waiting to buy a new Gamecube controller for my Gamecube.11/22/2014 - 7:15pm
Wonderkarphttp://kotaku.com/smash-bros-gamecube-adapters-sold-out-online-prices-g-1662162871 Smash Bros Gamecube adapter sold out, online prices go nuts11/22/2014 - 6:50pm
Andrew EisenI bet there's a lovely comedy of errors surrounding that list's journey to the IGDA's page!11/22/2014 - 6:49pm
 

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