Game Over for Gamers4Croydon

June 29, 2010 -

The Australian pro-videogame political party Gamers4Croydon is disbanding.

Founded by David Doe, a former videogame tester, the party was created in order to champion the addition of an R18+, adult videogame rating category in the land of Oz and to assist with the removal of anti-game South Australian Attorney General Michael Atkinson.

On the Gamers4Croydon website, Doe wrote that the party would not be competing in the upcoming federal elections as “all good things come to an end, and it’s time to pass the torch on to people with the resources and experience necessary to bring the change to bear politically.”

Doe encouraged backers to “look closely” at the Australian Sex Party and the Australian Greens as possible replacements for support.

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Ruh-Rau: New SA AG Doesn’t Back R18+ After All

April 12, 2010 -

Despite previous inferences to the contrary, new South Australian Attorney General John Rau (pictured) is denying that he is for the addition of an R18+ videogame rating category.

Rau’s implied backing of an adult videogame rating Down Under came via a Tweet from Gamers4Croydon President Chris Prior, who said Rau was “a supporter” of R18+. Speaking to GameSpot however, Rau stated that, “I have no preconceptions about this issue and intend to listen to the arguments.”

Rau added, “I can neither support nor wisely argue against a position if I am not aware of the relevant factors.”

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AU Pol: Liberty Doesn’t Include R18+ Rating Category

April 7, 2010 -

An Australian Politician has come out against Internet filtering in the country, while simultaneously indicating he is against the addition of an R18+ rating category for videogames.

Shadow Treasurer and Liberal Party member Joe Hockey (pictured) let his opinions be known in a speech entitled “In Defence of Liberty,” which he gave to the Grattan Institute, an Australian public policy think tank.

Hockey called Australia's plans for Internet censorship an over-reach, reports IT Wire, and then added:

What we have in the government's Internet filtering proposals is a scheme that is likely to be unworkable in practice. But more perniciously it is a scheme that will create the infrastructure for government censorship on a broader scale.

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AU Gamer: Time to Make Peace with Atkinson

April 5, 2010 -

While Michael Atkinson can now be described as the ex-South Australian Attorney General, an Australian gamer has penned a column arguing that now is the perfect time to for gamers to act mature and make amends with the anti-game politician.

In a piece appearing in the videogame-themed Screen Play column that runs in the Brisbane Times, Leigh Martin of Darwin, Australia wrote that gamers and politicians have actually been on the same page all along, as both groups wished for “the careful regulation of content potentially harmful to minors.” He chalks up the basis of unrest between the two parties to “posturing and politicking.”

Martin continues:

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R18+ AU March March Draws 500+ Zombie Participants

March 30, 2010 -

A public demonstration against the lack of an R18+ rating in Australia, which featured marchers dressed as zombies, went off without a hitch—but with plenty of lurching—in Sydney over the weekend.

Rhys Wilson, head of the group Aus Gamers Limited which organized the protest, wrote on Facebook, “I want to thank each and every one of you guys for making yesterday easily one of the best days of my life. I haven't heard any complaints from anyone, and I'm more than happy to do this again later in the year, assuming I'm not killed in a freak manure truck accident.”

IT Wire estimated the crowd of gathered ghouls at between 500 and 600 strong, easily surpassing a November 2009 similarly-themed march, which drew around 175 participants.

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Atkinson’s Replacement Announced

March 24, 2010 -

While it was originally thought that it might take up to two weeks for a replacement to be named for departing South Australian Attorney General Michael Atkinson, it's only taken a handful of days.

South Australian Premier Mike Rann has named fellow Labor Party member John Rau (pictured) as South Australian Attorney General. A lawyer by training, Rau has served in government since 2002 and was just re-elected as a candidate for Enfield, garnering 53.0 percent of the vote. In his profile page on the ALP site, Rau is described as “married with three children,” and a “keen gardener, cook and avid reader of non-fiction.”

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Atkinson Wins, Then Resigns

March 22, 2010 -

Belying the old adage that says quitters never win and winners never quit, Australia is coming off quite the weekend in which incumbent anti-game South Australian Attorney General Michael Atkinson won re-election then resigned his front bench seat.

Pre-election, Atkinson claimed that no one cared about the lack of an R18+ rating in Australia other than gamers and also predicted that the Gamer4Croydon party would “struggle” to receive one percent of the votes.

Well, in Croydon, according to election data, Gamers4Croydon’s candidate against Atkinson, Kat Nicholson, managed to achieve 3.7 percent of the vote, assisting in eating away at 14.4 percent of Atkinson’s vote from the previous election. Despite that erosion, Atkinson still won rather easily however, garnering 52.7 percent of the vote. Nicholson came in fifth out of seven candidates in the Croydon suburb, besting candidates from the Family First Party and Australian Democratic Party.

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G4C Constitution Hinges Around “Don’t be a Dick”

March 15, 2010 -

As time winds down before Australia's March 20th elections, Gamers4Croydon continues to up its presence.

The group issued a call to arms announcement via its Steam Community presence, in which it outlines its policies, candidates and how to vote for the group’s candidates. G4C urged people to forward the posting to as many of their friends and acquaintances as possible.

A section from the communiqué:

It's time to engage in the political process and send a strong message about the type of politician you want to see in parliament. It's time to hold government accountable. It's time to change the face of Australian gaming by changing the face of Australian politics.

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Gamers4Croydon Fills Out Slate of Candidates

March 9, 2010 -

Gamers4Croydon, the Australian political party formed with the goal of knocking incumbent South Australian Attorney General Michael Atkinson out of office, recently revealed a handful of new candidates.

Kat Nicholson, the group’s candidate for Croydon, and Gamers4Croydon President Chris Prior, who is running for Legislative Council, were the first two candidates to emerge from the group, back in January of this year.

The latest political hopefuls to be unveiled include:

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Atkinson Funds Group That Made Absurd Game Cancer Claim

March 5, 2010 -

The talking head from the Council on Children and the Media, who claimed in an Australian TV report that videogames are to violence like cigarettes are to lung cancer, is just a sock puppet of South Australian Attorney General Michael Atkinson.

Dr. Wayne Warburton made the claim in a piece that aired on Australia’s Ten network earlier this week. reports that the Council on Children and Media, also known as Young Media Australia, has received tens of thousands of dollars in funding from Atkinson.

A spokesperson for Atkinson verified the link, which sees the group receive a grant annually in order to fund its Know Before You Go project, which is designed to provide information to parents on what films are suitable for children.

While Atkinson’s office would not reveal the amount of money that changed hands, a Labor MP talking in parliament in 2006 put the figure at $33,000.

Council on Children and the Media CEO Barbara Biggins said that Atkinson has no influence on the group’s view on videogames, “It's the only project that's funded by him and it's been funded for years now. And I think good on him for helping parents to understand the classification system better. That doesn't mean that we owe him anything in terms of what we do with campaigns.”

Update: Wow, Jack Thompson actually made a great point in relation to this story. In between urging me to pay attention and calling Hal Halpin my puppet master, JT notes that Dr. Craig Anderson made a similar reference to cancer in a 2003 paper on violent games:

Myth 9. The effects of violent video games are trivially small.

Facts: Meta-analyses reveal that violent video game effect sizes are larger than the effect of second hand tobacco smoke on lung cancer, the effect of lead exposure to I.Q. scores in children, and calcium intake on bone mass. Furthermore, the fact that so many youths are exposed to such high levels of video game violence further increases the societal costs of this risk factor (Rosenthal, 1986).

Update 2: Texas A&M Texas A&M International University researcher, and nemesis of Dr. Anderson, Christopher Ferguson also wrote in to point us towards a research paper of his (PDF) that goes to great lengths to debunk Anderson’s claims which JT referenced above.

Thanks to everyone who sent this story in!


Atkinson Seeks $20,000 for Being Called a Crook

March 4, 2010 -

South Australian Attorney General Michael Atkinson, who has no problem casting verbal stones at his political opponents, is apparently unable to weather similar volleys lobbed at himself.

Atkinson is up in arms over a December 8, 2009 story that appeared on the website AdelaideNow which reported on a gathering of motorcycle club members.  In a resulting user comment on the story, someone referred to the South Australian AG as a “crook.” The comment (#86) was quickly removed from the story and two apologies were issued.

The commenter in question, Dean McQuillan, used his real name in his post and has subsequently received a letter from Atkinson’s lawyers alleging that the comment was “highly defamatory” towards Atkinson. The AG’s lawyers requested $20,000 as compensation and the “publication of a full retraction and apology.”

McQuillan told ABC’s MediaWatch that he is bankrupt and replied to Atkinson’s lawyers with a “robust response,” but has heard nothing since.

MediaWatch offered its own take on the situation:

The state's chief law officer is prepared to threaten an ordinary citizen with ruin for posting rude remarks on the net, even when they were taken down within a couple of hours.

Again, this is a man (Atkinson) who said that he expected his political opposition from the  Gamers4Croydon party to utilize ”criminal activities and dirty tricks” in their campaign against him.

Atkinson also tried to suppress online comments earlier this year in advance of the coming elections by introducing a law that would force users to publish their real name and post code alongside their comments.  A civil outcry forced  him to repeal the measure.


Thanks SeanB and PHC Corp


R18+ Discussion Scheduled for April

March 3, 2010 -

As reported by Adelaide Now, the discussion over whether to add an R18+ ratings category for videogames in Australia has been scheduled for an undisclosed date in April.

The timing of the discussion means that it will take place after state elections in South Australia and Tasmania on March 20. South Australia is, of course, home base for anti-game Attorney General Michael Atkinson, often fingered as the lone holdout among his fellow AGs when it comes to backing an R18+ rating category.

In related R18+ news, the Australian website GoldCoast penned an editorial backing the addition of an adult videogame rating category, stating that it should be up to parents to decide what their children view.

The editorial offered:

…banning a game does not in any real terms restrict its availability -- long gone are the days of being able to keep something out of the public's hands simply by keeping it off the shelves.

Banned games can be downloaded over the internet and shared -- circumventing the classification system. What is concerning is that if children are downloading these games, parents may not be aware of the content.

An R18+ category would at least allow them to be aware of the content of a game and its rating, and make an informed decision on whether their children should be exposed to it or not.

We do, after all, give parents that responsibility when it comes to DVDs and books.

Lastly, Gamers4Croydon posted a recent image that shows off the unbelievably fortuitous placement of one of their ads on the cover of the Adelaide Independent Weekly.

Thanks HarmlessBunny!


Ex-Classification Board Member Issues Pro R18+ Response

February 26, 2010 -

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!


Unofficial Scorecard: Only One AU AG in Favor of R18+

February 23, 2010 -

As the window closes for public responses to the Australian government’s Discussion Paper on the subject of an R18+ rating category for games, where does each territory’s Attorney General stand on the issue?

GameSpot, which has been all over the subject, offers up just such a recount for us, noting that as of a year ago, two Attorney Generals were publically in favor of adding the rating category. That number has now dwindled to one, Australian Capital Territory AG Simon Corbell, who states:

The ACT Government supports the introduction of an R18+ classification for video games, similar to that of films and television. This position has been conveyed at meetings of commonwealth, state and territory ministers on a number of occasions.

Victorian AG Rob Hulls previously supported the measure, but has recanted, saying that he would not “pre-empt the consultation by announcing a position on this issue.”

Outside of South Australia AG Michael Atkinson, whose position on the matter is not exactly a secret, and Northern Territory AG Delia Lawrie, who declined to comment, the remaining AG’s buried their take on the matter in rhetoric:

New South Wales AG John Hatzistergos, through a spokesperson:

The position of Censorship Ministers on this issue should therefore be informed by views of the broader community. The consultation process now under way is an important step in achieving this.

Tasmanian AG Lara Giddings, through a spokesperson:

We are currently working through the discussion paper, weighing up the arguments for and against the classification, and intend to lodge a submission before the closing date of 28 February 2010.

Queensland AG Cameron Dick:

We are currently finalising our position in relation to the issues raised in the discussion paper.

Western Australian AG Christian Porter:

Ministers will make a decision on this matter after they have had time to consider the discussion paper and any submissions.

Again, submissions to the Discussion Paper are due by February 28.

Thanks Ryan!


R18+ Petition 16K+ Strong

February 22, 2010 -

The partnering of advocacy group Grow Up Australia and retailer EB Games has resulted in strong backing for the addition of an R18+ rating category for videogames in Australia.

GameSpot reports that the pair’s initiative has resulted in 16,055 signatures on their pro R18+ petition, which will now be sent to the Attorney General’s department. EB Games had called attention to the movement via in-store signage and with links and images on its website.

South Australian Attorney General Michael Atkinson, often identified as the lone holdout against adding an R18+ category for games among Australian Attorney Generals, has said repeatedly that the R18+ issue is one that only gamers care about.

Public responses to the Discussion Paper are due by February 28. Following the submission period, responses will be compiled into a report for Minister of Home Affairs Brendan O’Connor and other state and territory Attorney Generals.

Thanks Ryan and Magic!


Atkinson Reiterates Threats Against Him

February 16, 2010 -

South Australian Attorney General Michael Atkinson is digging into his old bag of tricks, dredging up claims of personal threats, slamming gamers and insinuating that his political opposition might be behind the threats.

Speaking to ABC, Atkinson once again claimed to have had a threatening letter slipped under his door at 2AM “from a gamer” and said that his electronic email is constantly spammed.

Atkinson then went a step further, comparing gamers to another group:

I feel that my family and I are more at risk from gamers than we are from the outlaw motorcycle gangs who also hate me and are running a candidate against me. The outlaw motorcycle gangs haven’t been hanging around outside my door at 2AM, a gamer has.

Atkinson added, “I have no evidence to say that it [the threatening material] is being circulated by members of Gamers4Croydon. I don’t know who sends me this awful material.”

A short video segment from the interview is available here.

Atkinson has often been identified as the lone holdout among Australian Attorney Generals when it comes to the issue of adding an R18+ rating category for videogames.

Update: Gamers4Croydon President Chris Prior addressed Atkinson’s latest attack, saying, “It’s really quite absurd and it trivialises the lives that have been ruined by cruel motorcycle gangs.”

“We are a party formed to challenge Mr Atkinson publicly, civilly, and within the rules of South Australia's democracy,” he added, denying any link to the harassment of Atkinson.

Thanks Andrew, Ryan and iheartassassinmaids!


AU Retailers Discuss Their Readiness for R18+

February 11, 2010 -

While it should be no surprise that Australian videogame retailers support the addition of an R18+ videogame rating category, as it would help to fill their coffers, some merchants have gone a step further and offered to display R18+ rated games in whatever fashion suits the government.

If an R18+ category was enacted for videogames, both GAME and Gametraders expressed to GameSpot their willingness to setup a separate section in stores for the adult-rated games. The pair also said that, if need be, they would follow the path of how R18+ movies are now merchandised in South Australia—housed in plain, generic covers.

Gametraders’ Marketing Director Chad Polley:

If it has to be done we will do it, but it would be our preference to place them in their appropriate platform section, up high, out of the view of minors. This is, of course, providing that the cover art is not deemed inappropriate for general public viewing.

A GAME spokesperson agreed, saying that although the plain wrappers would not be an “ideal solution,” they would acquiesce to any new legislation that the government enacted.

EBGames, who has shown their support of the addition of an R18+ rating category by plastering their stores with signage and inviting customers to sign a petition, was a little more reserved when it came to discussing how they would display adult titles if the time came, saying that the focus first should be on getting R18+ introduced before divulging any future plans.

Gametraders has since joined EBGames and also added a section to its website that urges people to voice their opinion to the government over the R18+ matter.

Thanks Ryan!


Discussion Paper Responses Heavily in Favor of R18+

February 10, 2010 -

Responses to the Australian Discussion Paper—designed to foster public conversation on whether or not an R18+ rating category for games should be created—have been overwhelmingly in favor of adding the new category.

A Copyright and Classification Policy Branch member, as reported by GameSpot, claimed that as of February 1, 2010, 6,239 responses to the Discussion Paper had been received. While only 1,084 of those had been processed so far, just 11 responses out of the 1,084 were against adding an R18+ category.

South Australian Attorney General Michael Atkinson has been vocal in his position that only gamers care about this specific issue, perhaps setting himself up for a win-win situation as he can now say he saw this coming and that all the pro-R18+ responses were from the gaming population.

Responses to the Discussion Paper are being accepted until February 28.

Adding the R18+ rating category would require a unanimous vote in favor of the action by all Australia’s Attorney Generals.


The Man Behind Ban This Game Talks About Pushing Buttons

February 9, 2010 -

Conor O’Kane (pictured) is the developer of Ban This Game, which mocks the ongoing censorship in Australia, and in a recent interview with the Sydney Morning Herald he expressed some of his personal views on the state of gaming in Australia.

O’Kane is originally from Ireland, but has resided in Australia for eight years. In addition to creating his own games he teaches game development at RMIT University in Melbourne. O’Kane said he created Ban This Game to spread awareness of censorship in Australia and hoped that the humorous aspect of the game would make its players “more receptive to a serious message.”

O’Kane on the release of the Discussion Paper meant to stimulate conversation over the possibility of adding an R18+ videogame rating category in Australia:

…I'm not optimistic that it will lead to significant change. In order to introduce a change to the censorship legislation all Attorneys-General must be in agreement, and at present the South Australian Attorney-General, Michael Atkinson, is opposed to the change.

No amount of evidence or reason is going to change his mind, and so I believe the only solution to this problem is to remove him from office…

O’Kane was asked whether he thought Australian publishers and distributors were doing enough to campaign for change in the Classification system:

Until now I think campaigning has been largely pointless, as campaigning or media coverage is not going to change the mind of Mr Atkinson. However now that we have the Gamers4Croydon party running against Mr Atkinson, I think the Australian game developers and publishers should get behind this party and announce their support for them publicly.

O’Kane’s next game will be squarely aimed at a newly implemented law in homeland of Ireland, which states that anyone who “utters blasphemous matter” can be fined up to 100,000 Euros. He said, “If I can get fined for blasphemy for making the game then I think it will have been a success.”

O’Kane is not a stranger to activism; an older game of his called Harpooned, took on Japanese whaling “research.”

Thanks Ryan!


AU Christian Lobby Head: Games Similar to SAS Training

February 8, 2010 -

As noted here a few weeks ago, the Australian Christian Lobby publically came out against the addition of an R18+ rating for videogames in Oz. The group’s head, Managing Director Jim Wallace (pictured), recently subjected himself to a handful of questions on the matter at GameSpot.

Wallace was asked why he was against adding the additional rating category. He began his answer by recounting his command of an SAS regiment, and how in training, the key was to break a “very natural reluctance to kill someone else.” Wallace sees videogames serving as a similar kind of training simulator for the general public:

I think you’d agree that for SAS personnel involved in counter terrorism to do that is a necessary evil so to speak. But for us to be condoning games that did that for the general person out in the community, particularly when we’re going to get some of those people who have a predisposition to violence simply doesn’t make sense, and it’s not in the individual’s interest, and it’s not in the community’s interest.

Wallace admitted that he was not “overly familiar” with the classification system for games and was then asked why his group supported an R18+ category for movies but not for games:

You’ve got a completely different situation with games because games are interactive; increasingly interactive, and have high levels of simulation. It’s simulation and interactivity and repetition all of which are ascribed to games that make them a particularly dangerous form of medium to be flooding the community with. We’re not talking about movies that are a one off viewing or you might see a piece of violence in a 90 minute session.

Wallace agreed with South Australian Attorney General Michael Atkinson that the R18+ topic would hold little sway over the coming elections:

The only people who are going to be into this are the games people, so I don’t think the outcome of this particular study will represent anyone’s view but the games industry. I can’t see a whole lot of other people becoming motivated on it because they won’t realise it’s on, because it’s the gamers and games industry sending in all the responses.

More over at GameSpot.

Thanks Ryan!


After Discussion Paper Responses Are Received, What Next?

February 5, 2010 -

Public responses to Australia’s R18+ Discussion Paper are due on February 28. As that day nears, GameSpot takes a look at what might happen following that date.

According to the Federal Attorney General’s Department, once February 28th comes and goes, they will compile the responses into a report for the Minister of Home Affairs Brendan O’Connor and other state and territory Attorney Generals (including Michael Atkinson).

GameSpot reports that “A spokesperson for the Federal Attorney-General’s Department would not be drawn on what effect an overwhelmingly positive or negative public response would have, stating that O'Connor and the Attorneys-General would merely use the report to ‘inform their decision whether Australia should have an R18+ classification for computer games.’”

O’Connor himself told GameSpot that he had not yet formed a final opinion on the R18+ discussion.

If a R18+ category was to be added, it would require amendments to three federal classifications. The changes would require the unanimous consent of all state, territory, and federal Attorneys Generals, including Atkinson.

Thanks Ryan!


EBGames Joins Pro R18+ Rating Fight

February 3, 2010 -

Australia’s largest videogame retailer has joined the movement to add an R18+ rating category for interactive entertainment Down Under.

EBGames is promoting its pro R18+ stance in all 350 of its Australian storefronts, where it will display signage (picture at Kotaku) and offer shoppers the ability to sign a petition. The retailer is also promoting the cause on its website and linking to a virtual petition for those in favor of adding the adult rating category to sign online.

Kotaku reports that EBGames did its due diligence in advance of publically supporting the issue; the company polled its customers on the issue and found that 84% were in favor of the addition of an R18+ rating category.

EB Managing Director Steve Wilson offered:

With the release of the Government’s discussion paper, we knew as a company that we needed to act on this issue as it continues to cripple our industry and cost local jobs. We did however want to be sure that our customers were as passionate about the matter as we are.

He continued:

This is not a call for violent video games, but rather a call for a better classification system that brings Australia in line with the rest of the world and other Australian entertainment industries, such as films.


Thanks Andrew!


South Australia Suppresses Online Comments, Repents

February 2, 2010 -

A Draconian South Australian law aimed at limiting online comments about the upcoming elections inflamed much of the population, resulting in an apparent repeal of the law.

The law in question came into effect on January 6 and sought to require any online user commenting on the March 20th state elections in South Australia to publish their real name and post code alongside their comments. According to Adelaide Now, a definite target of South Australian Attorney General Michael Atkinson, the law would have applied to comments posted to online news stories, as well any comment made on the election on social sites such as Twitter and Facebook.

The law was not scheduled to be enforced until writs for the March 20th election were issued. The writs could be issued anytime between now and 25 days before the election. The law was to expire at 6:00 PM on election day. An additional aspect of the law would have forced media companies to store commenter’s names and post codes for six months. They could have faced fines of $5,000AU if the information collected was not handed over to the Electoral Commissioner.

Atkinson said the law was all about “honesty,” adding that, “There is no impinging on freedom of speech, people are free to say what they wish as themselves, not as somebody else.” 

Specifically Atkinson also labeled the Adelaide Now website, “…a sewer of criminal defamation, it is a sewer of identity theft and fraud.”

It appears that an outraged populace has forced Atkinson’s hands for once, as new information coming out of South Australia indicates that Atkinson will repeal the law.

Adelaide Now reports that Atkinson stated, “I will immediately after the election move to repeal the law retrospectively.” 

He added, “It may be humiliating for me, but that's politics in a democracy and I'll take my lumps.”
While repealing the law after the elections would indicate that the law is still in place, Atkinson said it would not be enforced.

It’s important to note, and a little frightening, that the soon-to-be-repealed law was also supported by the Liberal Party, the main opposition to Atkinson’s Labor Party.

Thanks to readers iheartassassinmaid, Ryan and Anders for sending this story in.


Gamers4Croydon Candidates Answer Questions

February 1, 2010 -

With time continuing to wind down in advance of the 2010 South Australian state elections (scheduled for March 20), candidates from the Gamers4Croydon party took time out to answer questions from Kotaku Australia readers.

Participants included Kat Nicholson, who is taking on current South Australian Attorney General Michael Atkinson directly, and Chris Prior, who is running for the Legislative Council.

Nicholson was asked if she thought the name of the G4C party was alienating:

… the name was chosen back when the G4C founder was still running around getting enough people to sign up. I don’t think it will alienate voters – we’re visibly more than just a one-policy party. Although our name might give that initial impression, our actions during the campaign will prove otherwise.

Prior on the chances of a live debate with Atkinson happening:

Obviously, we’d love to have Mr Atkinson out from behind his media minders and be able to confront him live. Given that he’s demonstrated he wants to play dirty, and would rather demonise us than engage with us, we don’t like the chances of that happening. That doesn’t mean we won’t try our hardest though.

Next, Prior was asked, if Gamers4Croydon fails, as Atkinson predicts, would such a loss further empower Atkinson and the anti-R18+ movement?

He has said he expects we’ll not get more than 1% of the vote. We will, and that will haunt him. In the event that he retains his seat, it is almost certain it will be despite a (significant) swing against him, something that will put him on unsteady ground when it comes to ‘the people have spoken’ type rhetoric.

Many more questions are answered by the pair over at Kotaku.


Expert Gives Gamers4Croydon Little Chance vs. Atkinson

January 29, 2010 -

An ABC election analyst believes that the Gamers4Croydon party will not have much of an impact in the upcoming South Australian elections.

Gamers4Croydon is, of course, trying to unseat anti-game Attorney General Michael Atkinson in the Croydon region with its just-announced candidate, Kat Nicholson. ABC’s Antony Green spoke to GameSpot on the subject, opining that the crux of the matter is that not many people over the age of 30 care about the R18+ rating issue:

The best thing they can do at this stage is invest their money in something else. I'm just not convinced people either know or care about this issue, which is why their campaign will have little impact.

Green did acknowledge that, while there might be some discontent in Croydon, any such sentiment would not be enough to unseat Atkinson.

Interestingly, Green believes that, in general, the populace is in favor of suppression:

When push comes to shove, a significant portion of the electorate will reject lifting censorship on this sort of thing because most people tend to be rather pro-censorship as a gut instinct.

Gamers4Croydon head David Doe responded to Green’s insights:

All we can do is continue to raise awareness and have a presence in the electorate. We’ll really need to work hard in the next eight weeks to get our message across and get as many votes as we can.

Thanks Ryan!


Atkinson Gains Ally in Battle Against R18+

January 29, 2010 -

The campaign to add an R18+ videogame rating category in Australia has gained an additional foe—the Australian Christian Lobby.

The group’s policy website features a section on the game ratings debate, in which the idea that an adult videogame rating category is needed Down Under is sharply rebuked:

The potential for violent and sexually explicit interactive games to cause harm has only increased in recent years as these games have become even more sophisticated, graphic and interactive. It is also naive to think that R18+ games could be restricted to adult users. If these games are allowed to go on sale in Australia they will inevitably find their way into the hands of younger players through older siblings or friends.

If anything, the current system should be tightened, the group writes:

If any changes are to be made to the classification system it should only be to resolve to tighten up the MA15+ rating to ensure that games aren’t wrongly getting through in this category.

The group encourages website visitors to attempt to stop the introduction of an R18+ category by writing a submission to the government in advance of the February 28th deadline for responses to the Discussion Paper.


Gamers4Croydon Candidates Revealed

January 22, 2010 -

Gamers4Croydon, the political party squarely aimed at taking down South Australian Attorney General Michael Atkinson, has announced its candidates.

The organization’s Croydon candidate, who will take on Atkinson directly, is Kat Nicholson, who will be running for House of Assembly notes GameSpot. Nicholson is described as having a “lifelong love of both gaming and politics.” She is currently working towards a Masters degree in Journalism at the University of South Australia and also previously served as an intern at an Adelaide animation studio.

She also “strongly believes that parents - not the government - can and should be trusted to raise their children with adequate supervision, judgement and discipline.”

Nicholson will need at least 13,000 votes to usurp Atkinson in Croydon.

Additionally, Chris Prior, also the President of Gamers4Croydon, will serve as the group’s candidate for Legislative Council. A “self-taught software engineer,” Prior “believes strongly in adult civil liberties, self-determination, and transparency and accountability in government.”

Additional candidates will “be announced in the future.”

Thanks Ryan!


Atkinson Slams Opposition Party, Gamers

January 21, 2010 -

South Australian Attorney General Michael Atkinson expects “dirty tricks” and “criminal activities” from the Gamers4Croydon campaign as the political battle for his seat heats up Down Under.

Speaking once again to GameSpot, Atkinson said he assumes that the opposition party will result to such tactics because that is, “What I’ve come to expect from gamers.”

He continued:

Regardless, I think they will struggle to get even 1 percent of the votes, and their campaign will actually discredit the public campaign in support for R18+ rather than enhance its chances.

Atkinson further slammed Gamers4Croydon for not having announced a candidate yet and said that he sees no evidence of local support for the party, though he did add that the existence of Gamers4Croydon has inspired him to begin campaigning earlier than normal.

Gamers4Croydon’s head David Doe again inferred that his party has “several candidates” in the pipeline, but refused to reveal further details. He did answer Atkinson’s accusations however:

As for Atkinson, it's not surprising he'd say something like that. It's a completely ridiculous statement. This is a serious issue and we're running a serious campaign. We don't need to use dirty tricks. What's more, I know the party is picking up momentum because more and more people have heard about us when we approach them.

Gamers4Croydon will need to receive 1.0% of the vote to receive a seat in Parliament, which Doe indicated would not pose a problem.

|Thanks Ryan and Adrian!|


Atkinson on Discussion Paper, Threats

January 19, 2010 -

While South Australian Attorney General Michael Atkinson does believe that public reaction to a recently released discussion paper will be overwhelmingly in favor of the addition of an R18+ videogame rating category, he does not intend to change his stance on the topic anytime soon.

Atkinson, speaking to GameSpot, thinks that responses to the discussion paper will be overwhelmingly positive because only gamers are weighing in on the subject, not the public at large.

The Attorney General is also not pleased that images from mature videogames were not inserted into the discussion paper as exhibits per his request:

I don't think the discussion paper presents a fair and balanced view of the issue without pictures of the games that would be rated R18+. I think the majority of the population are unfamiliar with these games and without images, they won’t be able to imagine them in their mind's eye. They’ll have no idea how violent or sexually depraved they are, and what kind of torture, drug use, and blood spatter they include.

Atkinson has also been the target of a steady stream of attacks. He describes the latest occurrence:

It's unlikely I’ll change my stance [on R18+ for games] anytime soon, considering the last death threat I received was pushed under my door at 2am, presumably by someone who doesn’t like my stance on R18+. It was like something out of a Hollywood film--letters cut from magazine headlines arranged together on a page. I receive abusive emails from anonymous senders on a daily basis.

Atkinson also indicated that the threats will not move him:

I'll consider changing my mind about all this when the gaming community decide to behave in a civil fashion and apologise for the theats to me and my family. But I don't plan to back down from the fight. I started my mission and I plan to finish it.

Responses to the discussion paper are due by February 28.


Gamers 4 Croydon Duo Discuss State of Campaign

January 18, 2010 -

Gamers 4 Croydon, the political party formed with the express purpose of ousting Michael Atkinson, is just about ready to unveil the candidate it will run against the South Australian Attorney General incumbent.

IGN Australia recently interviewed the party’s founder David Doe (pictured), and its registered officer Chris Prior.

Doe responding to the question of whether or not his party has a candidate:

Like the major candidates, we have a caucus vote in place – if we have more applicants for candidacy, then we've got more electorates we're applying for. We've been through our candidate selection process this week, and we'll be announcing all of our candidates in all of our electorates in the following weeks.

Prior in response to a question about what policies Gamers 4 Croydon will be advocating (outside of pushing for an R18+ videogames rating):

Well, we've got on a more federal scale, the mandatory filtering of the internet in Australia. We have to have a policy on that, because it's basically the same thing – it's about censorship, it's about people over-stretching the bounds, and basically trying to enforce their beliefs and put them on other people.

Doe and Prior were also queried on their thoughts about new laws affecting how R18+ rated DVDs are displayed:

Doe: I haven't read them line by line, but they seem like a bit of a knee-jerk reaction.

Prior: Yes, it's definitely a knee-jerk reaction. The intent is reasonable but the implementation has gone a bit too far.

|Image from IGN|


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