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...


Comments

Re: Australian Attorney General Shouted Down Over R18+ Rating

First of all a lot of games Australia rates as M15 are classified as R18 in some other countrys that have an R rating Second its the parents job to make sure there children dont play games they think are inappropriate not MR government  with a big R18 on the front cover parents will know that its not for children Aron Shick above has the perfect solution and finally if the adults are stupid enough to let there children play a game with ADULTS ONLY stamped on the cover then they have no excuse to bitch and moan about how there shouldnt be games like this there child can play

So are Australian AG's appointed or are they elected? If they are elected, the people directly affected by the lack of an 18+ rating have some sway over this point. The threat of being voted out of office is a strong influence on policy decisions.

If they are appointed, threaten the politician doing the appointing. Threaten them with being voted out of office unless they appoint a better AG.

That is what I like about politics, if you don't like it, there is a way to change things.

Hooray for puritanism!

@ some guy: You hit the nail on the head, squire. Here are your complimentary 10 points.

Hmm, pwned?

once again a political talking head forgets the rights and RESPONSIBILITIES of parents and adults...

good to see him pwned

so Australia should be denied a R18+ rating because parents can't be bothered to find out about how to set parental controls?

Idiot

"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…"

For the umpteenth time, this is the parent's responsibility!

@ everyone else

don't bother pointing it out, if you try to burst their bubble they will attack our culture at large for it...

DANMNIT

Now we'll NEVER get the R18 rating. NEVER

Good job Ausfailia.

So in Australia, children are too stupid to distinguish reality and fantasy, but they're smart enough to work around technology and parental locks?

Rrrrrright.....

Just a little typo correction, the highest current rating for games is MA15+. Oh, and speaking for all 18+ Australian gamers, we want the R rating. Seriously.

Fortunately for us, the MA-15 rating is the same as ESRB's M rating.

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

Fixed.

I really wish we could find out exactly why he was shouted down...

It could be a very good sign indeed, if he was shouted down because the people doing so disagreed with him.

Unfortunately, it could also be because they just don't consider it important at all.

He has a point about the parental locks on consoles (they are basically useless), but what he needs to realize that video games, like ALL other entertainment media, have many different demographics, and by restricting content to only what is appropriate for children they are doing a serious disservice to those gamers who are 18 and up. How would he like to turn on the tv and only have children's programming available to watch? Or walk into a movie theater and the only movie available is Hannah Montana? It's basically the same thing here.

I for one hate the argument that we have to be extra-aggressive in keeping mature games from kids because the system parental controls are bypassable.
I'll use the PS2 controls as an example, as it's the only control I'm familiar with. For those who don't know, it works by the parent setting a rating level; playing a disc with a level higher than the set level requires putting in a 4-digit PIN.
1) Breaking a 4-digit number isn't trivial. Your kid could of course watch you put it in, but then you're an idiot for not guarding your number. Kids can also use a universal bypass, but they may not think of looking for such a thing. Plus...
2) It's not easy to bypass the code without leaving evidence somewhere. The universal bypass makes you change the code, something the parent will notice next time they try to enter it.
3) You can't make un-bypassable controls, just like there is no unbreakable security system. Both simply make it much harder to get restricted access. Weighed against the risks of attempting bypass, a lot of people would sooner not try it in the first place.

I am really puzzled as to why someone would EVER successfully argue that an 18+ rating is bad for the children.

18-year-olds are in most jurisdictions considered adults after all.

Can't we all get what we want?

When it comes to Parental Controls...

I AM THE PARENTAL CONTROL BECAUSE I AM AN ADULT GAMER WHO KNOWS ABOUT THIS...

Sorry for blurting that one out,

It is good to have parental controls, sadly my dad still had trouble with technology and it is only useful for parents who are gamers themselves to hook up the parental controls for their kids...

Also this guy is from the state government from South Australia...btw...

Just another clueless idiot.

"I do not want children to be able to get their hands on R18+ games easily."

Won't happen if parents actually do their job. And jsut breeding doesn't make one a parent.

" 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…"

SO perfectly responsible adults should be denied a right to choose because some little kid might, MIGHT do this? Oh sir, you under estimate how responsible people can be given the chance.

I don't approve of shouting people down but wth is this guy talking about.

If protecting children is so important then by his rational plenty of films should also be banned for their adult content. After all it's just as easy, if not easier, for a child to pick up and watch an 18 cert film found in the house... and what about the internet? Should Australia ban home use of the web because children might access adult material on it?

Gift.

So the kids are tech wizards capable of replacing all adults in the tech industry, but are too dumb to see the difference between reality and a high tech fairy tale???

Right.....

Question for Austrailian gamers here:

Are the anti-game people in your country largely motivated by religion like they are in the USA?

OK, hang on. He thinks that kids can just "hack past" the Parental Controls on something like the Xbox 360?!?

While there are many, many ways of doing it, every single method leaves a trail that any parent who cared could follow easily.

And besides, if my kid haxored his 360 I'd be impressed :)

If I get a kid, and he tries to hack through the parental controls.. I'll beat him. I'm a supporter of corporal punishment.

If (and when) my husband and I decide to have kids, we're going to give the kid and allowance, and if the kid wants a game, (s)he has to pay for it themselves, unless it's something we wanted.

Ratings only tell you what to expect if you're conservative and unable to factor in that kids are a hell of a lot more intelligent than you give them credit for.

Perhaps sex should be regulated as well. Children could walk in on their parents while having sex.

I actually emailed Labor during the election period to ask what their position on this would be, after they complained about the Liberals censoring Channel 9 because of The Worm.
Never got an answer, but it's nice to see that they are actually going to do something about this. Would also like to know if they are going to end the ban on adult shops selling porn outside of the ACT.

DEATH TO ALL FORMS OF CENSORSHIP IN AUSTRALIA!

"Are the anti-game people in your country largely motivated by religion like they are in the USA?"

That's just it - we don't really have any anti-game people outside of the government. While they may be out there they certainly aren't as vocal as the ones in the States. People here are pretty reasonable when it comes to matters like this. I still contend the majority of opponents aren't motivated by religion but rather by a lack of social understanding and absolutely no way to cope realistically with new things (ie technology). My pastor plays Halo religiously (pun intended) and I make a living developing games. If something was awry with that we'd be the first to know. The beauty of our parliament is that occasionally somebody will say something stupid, as is the case here, and they'll pretty much get called a wanker. Don't expect this objection to do anything but bolster the case FOR the new rating. When we can drop f-bombs at anytime of the day on national television any case for protecting the children Lovejoy style gets the boot...

Clever

PS: I'm so sure we have Bulletproof here because I saw it in the "50-Cent" bin at JBHi-Fi and quite literally lol'd....

I love when people say things like, "keeping it out of children's hands is more important than adults getting to enjoy it". So by this same logic we should burn all our cigarettes, shut down the beer companies, destroy all our cars, etc.

Face facts, adults shouldn't be penalized for other people's inept parenting. Suck it up and learn how to protect your kids, and every politician in every government should back off.

@ E. Zachary Knight
"So are Australian AG’s appointed or are they elected?"
The AG is like the Minister for Law. They're a member of parliament in the Gov't party who is appointed to that position by the party leadership.
It isn't an independent position like the US AG is (or supposed to be). Just another front bencher who gets their talking points from the party/PM.


@ Zerodash
"Are the anti-game people in your country largely motivated by religion like they are in the USA?"
We don't have anything like Jack Thompson over here, but there is one Federal Senator from the 'Family First' who is the kind that would scream "Won't somebody think of the children?!" who would be against this issue, against porn and generally right-wing..
Not sure about the State Gov'ts.

I don’t approve of shouting people down but wth is this guy talking about.

If protecting children is so important then by his rational plenty of films should also be banned for their adult content. After all it’s just as easy, if not easier, for a child to pick up and watch an 18 cert film found in the house… and what about the internet? Should Australia ban home use of the web because children might access adult material on it?


THIS.

Is he suggesting a normal 7-13 year old can hack their console to get around the parental control lock?

Just because one can use a computer does not give them an MIT degree (no matter what radio or tv commercial one might have seen).

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

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

Oh Australian stingrays. Why couldn't you have gnoe after Atkinson and not Steve Irwin.......

SOO, they are smart enough to hack past parental controls but they are still going to be scarred 4 life when they play the game?

Australia is funkled up....

I'm not sure how this would go down in Canada, our gov't relecently proposed a morality law that would give the goverment the right to cut funding to canadian flims that they deemed "imoral/smut/BAD!"... EVERYONE was against it, especially our famous media figures who report the news...

um, there are no ways around the parental locks unless you know the pass word, with a 4 number combination, there's 9,999 possible codes, chances are parents could be home by the time the kid figures out the code.

Uhg. I like how he pulls the classic "IT'S FOR THE CHILDREN!"card. Those kids are gonna want to have those rights when they're older.If you really care, you should protect those rights.

@ MonkeyPeaches

Actually that is 10,000 combinations. 0000 to 9999. Start at base zero.

@E. Zachary Knight

My Mistake.

Wait wait wait wait wait.

How do games NOT pass MA15+? There's a plus sign on the end, that means 15 (#) and up (+). Does Oz having a different idea about how a plus sign works?

Dear Attorney-General Michael Atkinson,

Screw you.
Parents that care DO exist and parents that care AND are tech-savvy DO exist.

From a 13-year old Australian gamer,
Harry Miste.

@ Velkrin

Because a game rated 15+ can still be played by 15 year olds. The plus sign is just there to say that the game is suitable for persons aged 15 and over. Which is retarded. It's not like they're going to make a rating that's okay for 40 year olds but not okay for 50 year olds. But yeah, a game fails to pass 15+ when it is deemed not suitable for 15 year olds.

It's literally one guy representing an extremely small minority.

For example, the government's free internet filter (for protecting ze children) released last year was initially downloaded by ~60,000 iirc but the number of people still updating it has dropped to just under 7,000. Out of a population of 22 odd million.

This guy is the only AG blocking this move. At best he represents the residents of the state he was elected in (South Australia) while 5 other states and 2 territories are arguing for an R18+ rating.

@ Asmo :
"It’s literally one guy representing an extremely small minority.

For example, the government’s free internet filter (for protecting ze children) released last year was initially downloaded by ~60,000 iirc but the number of people still updating it has dropped to just under 7,000. Out of a population of 22 odd million.

This guy is the only AG blocking this move. At best he represents the residents of the state he was elected in (South Australia) while 5 other states and 2 territories are arguing for an R18+ rating. "

It should be noticed that when I was trying to find a way to bypass it for a friend, I noticed that this site was blocked.

No points for guessing why nobody updates it.

This just in: the world is not designed for and should not be designed for children. What about adults who ahve no children what about parents whose children AREN'T as techno savy as he suggests. By the way I think you'd have to be pretty techno savy to crack the consoles. And if not there is ALWAYS the option of hiding the games or taking them with you. If the children can't get to the games because they are hidden or locked in a case or with his parents (who aren't home), problem solved.

Mark Twain said it best.

"Censorship is like saying a man can't eat a steak because a baby can't chew it."

I hardly think that the average minor knows how to crack these controls unless they have been studying very hard.


BTW, Is there parental controls for the PS2? If so, I've never noticed.

@Father Time

Slap it on a T-shirt! That's the best quote ever!

It's official, Australia is running a children-ocracy.

Atkinson was in Canberra and nobody told me?
 
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