Australian Attorney General Vows To Fight Against Mature Video Games

Australian Fight To Include More Mature Game Rating Runs Into Brick Wall

According to an article on the Australian news website, news.com.au, Australian Attorney General Michael Atkinson has stated that he will not support calls to create a mature rating for video games in Australia.

Recent concerns have been raised about the wisdom of Australia’s ratings classification system. The most mature rating available in Australia is an MA15+ that classifies mature games as suitable for ages 15 and older. Many gamers in Australia believe that the ratings system is restrictive and irresponsible. Because the MA15+ rating makes game available to teens as young as 15 years old, many games with mature themes have been censored and banned.

Gaming advocates in Australia feel that the current rating system ignores the growth of video games as a storytelling medium. As gaming technology has become more advanced, the ability for game developers to create emotionally-driven stories that deal with difficult situations and conflicts has grown. Popular games such as Mass Effect and Modern Warfare 2 have dealt with themes such as racism, sex, terrorism, war, and the consequences of reprisal. These mature subjects are either being stamped out by Australia’s ratings system, which Australian gamer groups say is a form of censorship, or, on the other side of the argument, they are being classified as suitable for ages 15 and up when their content warrants a classification geared at 18+. Rated MA15+ in Australia, the massively popular Modern Warfare 2 was classified 17+ in the US and 18+ in the UK, and is a prime example of a game that has been classified as suitable when many feel it’s subject matter is not appropriate for teens.

According to the article , Mr. Atkinson commented on the situation by saying that, “There may be games some people consider too violent for for the MA15+ classification, but the solution is not to create a classification to permit even more violent games.” In addition, Mr. Atkinson challenged any opposition to run against him in the next elections in his country, stating, “I am next up for election in March 2010. The state district I represent is called Croydon. I would welcome advocates of R18+ computer games testing public acceptance of my policy by standing a candidate against me. 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.”

Mr. Atkinson also said that he believes the problem with video gaming is that, regardless of classification, they cannot be restricted once they are in a home. Mr. Atkinson’s comments suggest that adding an R18+ rating would only prevent younger teens from purchasing the games, but not from playing them. In maintaining a MA15+ rating, he believes that Australia is able to restrict the most mature content from reaching any homes at all, saying that the lack of an R18+ rating, “restricts adult liberty to a small degree”, but, “it was worth it to protect children from violent games.”

In response to Mr. Atkinson’s comments as well as to his challenge, the Gamers4Croydon political party has been founded, announcing that they will run a candidate against Mr. Atkinson in the March 2010 election. They settled upon their name after Left4Dead 2 was originally banned in Australia.