The world is full of idiots, and someone needs to point it out to them or they will never know.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Michael Atkinson needs to be left 4 dead

I love Australia. Granted, I haven't lived in any other countries, but I feel that our country is certainly one of the best in the world. We've got great climate, a small population, lots of space and there's very little poverty. There is one area, though, that Australia sucks rooster at: censorship. We all know about the proposed Internet filter that the government wants to introduce, but a topic much closer to my heart is the lack of an R18+ rating for video games.

The latest victim of Australia's outdated stance on video games is Left 4 Dead 2, a zombie shooter by Valve, makers of the critically renowned Half Life series. Left 4 Dead 2 has failed to meet the standards for an MA15+ rating and has been refused classification by the Office of Film and Literature classification (OFLC), effectively banning it from sale in Australia. So, unless Valve edits the game for re-submission, we aren't going to get the game in Australia.

The lack of an 18+ (Adults Only) rating for games continues to baffle me. First off, pretty much every western country in the world has one, so why not Australia? The answer is as obvious as it is silly: our government views video games as toys for children, and not the sophisticated art form that they have become. Where did this label come from, anyway? Video games have never been exclusively marketed towards young children, and they certainly aren't now.

People against the R18+ rating like to point out, "Alright, they're not just for kids, but why can't they make games that are fun for all ages?" Well, first of all, they do. Heard of Wii Sports? But there are games out there that would completely lose impact if they were forced to become G-rated - Bioshock to give one recent example. Plus, this is a double standard anyway. Films, books and movies can have violence, nudity and swearing but games can't? Bullshit. And let's not forget that most of the violence in games is far less graphic than the violence in movies (Saw, anyone?); and that the nudity and sex in games is almost on a PG level (the infamous Hot Coffee mod for Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas featured clothed characters having sex, and yet it was banned. WTF?).
Next, I want you to tell me what the following games all have in common:

The answer is twofold:
  • I own all of these games
  • All of these games received an 18+ rating in other countries, but were awarded an MA15+ rating in Australia without any modifications whatsoever (with the exception of Grand Theft Auto IV, but even then, very little was changed in the Australian version)
They way I see it, the OFLC has to stretch what could fit into an MA15+ category, or else consumers would resort to pirating or importing the games (hurting the local economy). I'm actually of the opinion that the ratings board wants an 18+ rating, but can't because of one man.

Michael Atkinson.

This man is, by far, the biggest douche in Australia. Why? Well, he's the Attorney-General for South Australia. For there to be any changes in Australia's classification system, (like introducing an R18+ rating) there has to be unanimous approval from all of the Attorney Generals. Michael Atkinson, though, seems to think that giving adults the right to play whatever they want is a stupid idea, and has voted against every single proposal for an 18+ rating.

I had hope, last year, when the ABC TV show Good Game reported that a discussion paper was going to be commissioned, to determine whether the public wanted an R18+ rating. However, as soon as Atkinson saw a study done by Bond University showing a whopping 91% of the population (gamers and non-games) want an R18+ rating, he withdrew his support for the discussion paper, stalling the issue.

What. A. Prick. You can't just dismiss something because you don't like the results! Plus, it's just undemocratic for 91% of the population to want something, but the government to say "no."

Depressingly, though, it doesn't look like Atkinson will change his mind (I suppose it's difficult when you have an IQ lower than 3). Atkinson has told the press that he gets hundreds of letters and emails a day, begging for the R18+ rating, but he remains resolute. He may think this makes him a man of integrity, but I think it makes him a stubborn old fool. If received hundreds of letters a day demanding I take down my stupid Peggle Reel, I would consider it (UPDATE: I have removed it, it really was that stupid). I would not stick my head in the sand and pretend that I'm a strong man who knows what's right for everyone.

So, how do we get an R18+ rating? I see three options:
  • Atkinson loses his seat in the next South Australian election (not likely, as he sits in one of the safest seats in the county - not only is he an idiot, but he's a coward)
  • The Labor party loses the next state election, and the Liberals appoint a new Attorney General (not likely, the Liberals down there are pretty hopeless)
  • Atkinson dies (it may take a while, but this will eventually happen)
Someone once asked Yahtzee, "What do you think of people who believe video games are just for kids?", and Yahtzee replied, "Well, it's generally old people who say that, and they're going to die before me."

Exactly right, Yahtzee. Atkinson will die before us, so maybe the next Attorney General will have a functioning brain.

(Also, if anyone's interested, there's a nice article on Kotaku criticising Atkinson and a great video on YouTube that discusses the R18+ rating in Australia).

1 comment:

  1. He's a douche and has bad teeth. That's my say.