A plea for common sense. [UPDATED] I got my reply. 18/1/10

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Finally, a reply!

Except it isn't good news. It's a form letter, like that used in a post made in the News Room section of the Escapist. The letter talks about how successful the Wii console has been and how games don't use deprived sex or gore. And I agree, for the most part but there are violent games on the Wii console as well.

I suppose for the time being, we'll have to illegally download the games, or import them from overseas. I hope people from Australia and the world write to Mr. Atkinson in a POLITE AND REASONABLE MANNER (I can't emphasise this enough) to at least put your point on the board. And if the discussion paper is still open, voice your opinions there too.

You can read what I've written here.

UPDATE: I got a reply! The South-Australian Attorney General's office sent me a reply email today saying that someone in the office has read it, a letter has been written and signed and will be sent as soon as possible! The fantastic thing is that they didn't reply with the same topic I'd send the email with, it actually contained "R18 classification" which means someone read it. Horrah!

Add in something about if they ban games, then they'll just have to ban violent films and tv shows, and music with swear words in too. If anything, children are more likely to access that media.

nice work there, write about who parents should be in control of what their children can and can't see.

Doesn't sounds as persuasive as a bat to the face.

Just saying IMO.. Jk

Anyway, nice letter. You should get more people to do it

If these children have access to the internet, they've most likely seen far worse than they'll see in any game. On purpose. Multiple times.

Nice try and I respect you for doing this... but I can see you getting a definite result unfortunately.

good luck anyway

Radelaide:
Dear Michael Atkinson:

As I'm sure, I would not be the first person to mail you about the matter of introducing an R18+ rating into the Australian Games Industry.

It stands to reason that Australia should have a consistent rating system. There are adult-level novels, films, videos, and television shows, all of which have an adult-oriented rating. The video game industry does not. This is because of minors gaining access to the adult-oriented titles without being of the pre-requisite age.

I agree with you on many points about that issue, but the idea of blocking the rating simply because that some underage minors may get their hands on the game is completely ridiculous. Video games are not simply for children in this modern technological age. Many games are enjoyed by people over the age of 18, sensible people who deserve to be treated as adults that becoming 18 classes us as.

Consider another medium of entertainment, the film industry. Studies show that all forms of violent entertainment media (with film being one of the three primarily studied) will increase a child's likelihood of violent behavior. Studies also link alcohol-consumption and operating a motorized vehicle as increased signs of violent behavior, the effects higher for younger participants. From this data, any child that has access to their parent's DVD collection, liquor cabinet, or car keys is at a significantly higher risk of violent crime than one that is not.

Because of that risk, there is a rating system in place for adult-level film media. There are laws in place for operation of a motor vehicle, and a law in place for liquor consumption. There are not laws in place for adult-level video games, nor is there a rating for them. The idea of denying games a classification parallels introducing an alcohol prohibition or banning motor vehicles.

Mister Atkinson, you are the only attorney-general opposed to the matter concerning a great deal of adults in this country.who decide your future. I raise this point not as a threat, but as something to consider. I understand that you want to protect the children from the horrors of video games, but there are greater horrors going on without the inclusion of video games. Ask yourself: Where are the Australian Troops? Where is there great famine? Sir, all we ask is that you reconsider your position, and consider a potential need for sit down with some "gamers" and talk to them about the need for there to be a change to the system.

Made a few edits that are tentative and need some adjustments on. Otherwise, I hope I've helped a bit. The idea really is absurd, and the system is in need of changing. I'm hoping this does some good, and I'm glad I could help in whatever small way. Best of luck, and we'll see how well this goes.

Gilbert Munch:
Add in something about if they ban games, then they'll just have to ban violent films and tv shows, and music with swear words in too. If anything, children are more likely to access that media.

Crimsane:
If these children have access to the internet, they've most likely seen far worse than they'll see in any game. On purpose. Multiple times.

This probably wraps it up already. If he wants to get rid of violent games, he should just abolish violent/vulgar media as a whole (and get rid of the entire country's access to the net just to be safe). There's really nothing else for it. Of course, games have always been used a scapegoats for whatever crime that happened that could be remotely linked to games. This guy just seems to be one of the people convinced that all of our negative publicity is correct.

Radelaide:

NOTE: I'm aware that I'm probably not the first person to do this, but I'm damned if I'm going to sit on my arse while my country is turned into a joke by one man refusing to listen to reason.

It is a nice idea and I think NewClassic's edit has made it a great letter. However, I think he is still unlikely to listen to reason. In fact I think it might be more useful if we write letters to people who have the potential to vote him out. In my opinion this will not be resolved until he leaves or is forced out of office.

Without a R18+ rating all their really doing is supporting piracy.

Oh, yes. I've been waiting for this moment for a long time, and I had considered writing a huge, researched e-mail to him. Some of that research may be useful if you introduce it into the letter in a proper fashion.

- Every single one of the pioneering researchers into computer games from the 1950s to the 1970s was over the age of eighteen, showing that original interest in computer entertainment was not inspired by children, but in fact, by adults seeing potential in the use of the computer as an entertainment device even at a time when computers were limited and difficult to operate.

- Notably, William A. Higinbotham, the designer of Tennis for Two, was a nuclear physicist who was well into his forties at the time of designing the game. This alone should indicate that video gaming is not just a curiosity for children.

- Spacewar!, a computer game designed throughout 1961 and 1962, was probably the first computer game to inspire other computer game designs; it was designed by a group of university students on a computer which was never intended to reach the hands of children. The PDP-1 cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and despite its use, first and foremost, as a research computer, the computer's designers, DEC, eventually included Spacewar! on their PDP-1 computers as a diagnostic program.

- Both Nolan Bushnell and Ralph Baer, designers of the first commercially-successful arcade game, and the first video game console respectively, were past the age of eighteen when they decided to pursue development of video games.

Essentially, I'm irritated at politicians claiming that computer games are limited to children, because historically, as I hope I've just proven, that isn't true whatsoever. History shows that the first steps into the development of computer games were made by people of a "responsible age", particularly William Higinbotham.

As an incidental note, you could try to include this little snippet of information:

- Australia was the first country in the world to demonstrate digital music. The CSIRAC, designed in November 1949 by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, was the first computer to be constructed in Australia, and was the fourth stored-program computer in the world. In 1950 or 1951, it was the first computer used to demonstrate digital music, playing a rendition of Colonel Bogey. This demonstrates that Australian researchers were ahead of the curve when it came to using computers as a form of entertainment. (The CSIRAC is also the only surviving first-generation computer, being stored in the Melbourne Museum.)

Markness:

Radelaide:

NOTE: I'm aware that I'm probably not the first person to do this, but I'm damned if I'm going to sit on my arse while my country is turned into a joke by one man refusing to listen to reason.

It is a nice idea and I think NewClassic's edit has made it a great letter. However, I think he is still unlikely to listen to reason. In fact I think it might be more useful if we write letters to people who have the potential to vote him out. In my opinion this will not be resolved until he leaves or is forced out of office.

I know that he probably won't listen or take it to heart, but I'm trying to do something to change the system. It's completely ridiculous that we don't have that rating. There is a desperate need for change, and I'm going to give him my two cents. The thought of flying to his offices and giving him the letter in person has crossed my mind but I lack the funds.

Sir, I understand trying to protect children should be a piority, But blocking out anything M
rated is voilating freedom of speech and if this continues we will be thrust back into the dark
ages again.

Radelaide:
Mister Atkinson, you are the only person opposed to the matter concerning a great deal of adults who decide your future. I raise this point, not as a threat, but as something to think about. I understand that you want to protect the children from the horrors of video games, but there are greater horrors going on without the inclusion of video games. Ask yourself: Where are the Australian Troops? Where is there great famine? Sir, all we ask is that you sit down with some "gamers" and talk to them about the need for their to be a change to the system.

I don't agree with this paragraph, it could be better. For starters the man has stated that he believes that others agree with him and the he is not holding the R18+ rating back by himself. I believe he said so on an episode of Good Game, anyway it would be better if you get rid of that line. He might take offense to it and ignore what you have to say because to him it might feel like he is being signaled out.

Saying that there are worse things in the world isn't going to support your argument. Going by most anti-gaming logic, Kids don't watch the news while they do play video games. They also believe that video games feed directly into the mind and hence have a greater influence then TV or movies.

I think that if you want to win him over (an impressive task to say the lest) you need to do more than one paragraph. I think you might need to show that countries such as the U.K and what have you, have R18+ ratings without any problems. You would need to show that there is no scientific proof that video games damage the mind, show demographics and surveys which show that most gamers are adults.

One thing I think you have to realise is that Atkinson is holding back the R rating because he believes that in doing so he is stopping adult games reaching children. He believes that people would ignore the rating and buy adult games for children and their brains will be warped. You have to show that piracy allows for people/children to get the games anyway, but they can do it without their parents knowing. Argue that it is better that parents know what games are good and what are bad for their children rather than having left alone in the dark and have the kids playing the banned games.

Don't bother linking this to the movie rating system. No doubt he has heard that argument 100 times and has a well thought out response to that argument. Rather, you have to go for the core which is essentially protecting the kids. Show to him that withholding an R rating isn't going to help.

Don't be afraid to put in more length. This guy probably reads letters all day, remember, and I'm sure that a five page letter isn't going to scare him. He might enjoy it.

Don't forget that Atkinson isn't a stupid man. Don't treat him like an idiot, no matter what you do.

pimppeter2:
Doesn't sounds as persuasive as a bat to the face.

Just saying IMO.. Jk

Anyway, nice letter. You should get more people to do it

See now, this is the kind of thing that feeds that man's arguments. You play video games, & you want to smash someone's face in with a bat.

Having said that, given the chance I would utterly rape Michael Atkinson's skull from here to New Zealand, the little prick.

Fire Daemon:
Don't be afraid to put in more length. This guy probably reads letters all day, remember, and I'm sure that a five page letter isn't going to scare him. He might enjoy it.

Don't forget that Atkinson isn't a stupid man. Don't treat him like an idiot, no matter what you do.

The problem is that appealing to emotion isn't going to work, and that the most powerful tool in that circumstance is to basically overload the letter with cold, hard facts. I'd include as many citations as possible, including this report from the British Board of Film Classification (http://www.bbfc.co.uk/downloads/pub/Policy%20and%20Research/BBFC%20Video%20Games%20Report.pdf).

But he's probably heard that angle before, which is why I suggested references to computer games that he'd be utterly unfamiliar with, from an age of computers where he wouldn't even know how to turn the machines on, let alone use them. All of these games were designed by adults, suggesting very strongly that computerised entertainment did not involve children or immaturity for a very long time.

He may not be an idiot, but frankly, if he's even heard of the CSIRAC or Spacewar!, or anything along those lines, I'd be very surprised. He doesn't strike me as any sort of computer specialist, and that's an angle which I'm not sure anybody's tried before.

Someone should do a survey on gamers and violent crime. Would i not be making an understandable assumption that gamers commit less violent crime than the national average?

Nickolai77:
Someone should do a survey on gamers and violent crime. Would i not be making an understandable assumption that gamers commit less violent crime than the national average?

I was hoping to find some research that shows that games improve social skills (LANs and stuff like that) and something like you've mentioned; something that shows that gamers have an outlet with violent games to work out frustrations and are less likely to commit violent acts.

Any research you could find would be a blessing <3

very good letter... do try and mention some possible alternatives to outright banning of videogames as well, such as selling 18+ rated games behind the counter (not displaying them on shelves), and enforcing the need of ID for buying such games.

Gilbert Munch:
Add in something about if they ban games, then they'll just have to ban violent films and tv shows, and music with swear words in too. If anything, children are more likely to access that media.

Don't forget to ban the internet as well...

Radelaide:

Nickolai77:
Someone should do a survey on gamers and violent crime. Would i not be making an understandable assumption that gamers commit less violent crime than the national average?

I was hoping to find some research that shows that games improve social skills (LANs and stuff like that) and something like you've mentioned; something that shows that gamers have an outlet with violent games to work out frustrations and are less likely to commit violent acts.

Any research you could find would be a blessing <3

Exactly this, like my friend let me join his LAN group (Dawn of War ftw) and I'm now friends with majority of the people in the group.

Gaming also lets you take out your frustrations on things like you said. Like after a shit day instead of sitting around all pissed off, I just load up Red Faction: Guerrilla or Grand Theft Auto 4 and just cause mayhem. It calms you down and you start having fun after a while, instead of being tempted to go kill shit in real life.

Michael Atkinson talks about video games

I came upon this from a Steam group. It seems as though Atkinson attacks his own argument and is questioning himself.

He also says that research done by Bond University is "bogas" because it wasn't done by the Australian Government.

Think I could add any of this to my letter?

I just love that australia is meant to be a democracy right? Yet one man can veto the decision and decide how things will be for everyone. That sure as fuck aint democracy.

Zeeky_Santos:
nice work there, write about who parents should be in control of what their children can and can't see.

Yes, though the pity of all of this is that the whole reason these laws get passed is because some parents are too lazy to pay attention to what a game is rated and WHY it got that rating.

Radelaide:
snipped

Could you raise the point that not having an 18+ rating means that teenagers are getting access to content that is only truly meant for adults, making the problem worse?

Motti:

Radelaide:
snipped

Could you raise the point that not having an 18+ rating means that teenagers are getting access to content that is only truly meant for adults, making the problem worse?

I sure can. I plan on getting back into writing the letter tomorrow. I've had a busy few days and it's had to slip down the list of things to do.

TheDoctor455:

Zeeky_Santos:
nice work there, write about who parents should be in control of what their children can and can't see.

Yes, though the pity of all of this is that the whole reason these laws get passed is because some parents are too lazy to pay attention to what a game is rated and WHY it got that rating.

I was thinking something like that, too. Lack of education is a huge reason why children are getting these games. I think perhaps putting posters up around the store you're buying the game from explaining what the ratings mean. Like they used to put in VHS videos. I can remember a family being at a video store deciding what they wanted and it explained in detail what the ratings meant and gave examples.

Radelaide:

Motti:

Radelaide:
snipped

Could you raise the point that not having an 18+ rating means that teenagers are getting access to content that is only truly meant for adults, making the problem worse?

I sure can. I plan on getting back into writing the letter tomorrow. I've had a busy few days and it's had to slip down the list of things to do.

TheDoctor455:

Zeeky_Santos:
nice work there, write about who parents should be in control of what their children can and can't see.

Yes, though the pity of all of this is that the whole reason these laws get passed is because some parents are too lazy to pay attention to what a game is rated and WHY it got that rating.

I was thinking something like that, too. Lack of education is a huge reason why children are getting these games. I think perhaps putting posters up around the store you're buying the game from explaining what the ratings mean. Like they used to put in VHS videos. I can remember a family being at a video store deciding what they wanted and it explained in detail what the ratings meant and gave examples.

Yeah, but there's no real guarantee these same lazy-ass parents will actually READ the fucking posters.

tell his assistant who will burn the letter that not being able to get the games will result in downloading the stuff online or importing it so it only hurts the austrailian economy. and that buddist monks approve of this shit now so why dont they?

Pararaptor:

pimppeter2:
Doesn't sounds as persuasive as a bat to the face.

Just saying IMO.. Jk

Anyway, nice letter. You should get more people to do it

See now, this is the kind of thing that feeds that man's arguments. You play video games, & you want to smash someone's face in with a bat.

Having said that, given the chance I would utterly rape Michael Atkinson's skull from here to New Zealand, the little prick.

I pplay cricket, and occasionally want to brain someone with a bat.

Perhaps we should ban that too.

as i am a proficiant gamer i suppose my opinion might be slightly biased. however i do wish to say that withholding an +18 rating as absurd! while i do not mean to insult you dear sir, i do wish to interject my thoughts that this makes no sense at all. if you are doing this to "protect the children" i do say this is doing quite the contrary. i am quite sure that if a child were to hear of a game such as left 4 dead. or say manhunt. (i will admit that game made even ME squeam)that if the child wanted that game he would reasearch it. in that event i must say that would lead to bittorrent. (if you dont know what that is i dare say that you have to right to object to this issue) and if there was, say an +18 rating that child would know that there are certain restrictions. while this would not stop EVERY kid from playing these kind of games, need i remind you that the avarage gamers age is around 30! and last i checked 18 < 30.

though if you really are dead set on stopping anything with an M rating here in canada. why stop there? why not ban anything you deem vulgar or objectionable? heck. why not just ban the internet? you know... just to be safe?

it seems that under jack Thompson's ideals (an idiot from Florida)anyone who looks at violent video games becomes a blood spewing chainsaw massacring un-athecticized neutering atila the hun scare-er...

well... im fourteen and nothing has happened to me! or anyone else for that matter.

It may also be nice to try going over the guy's head. He seems to hold a lot of positions according to Wikipedia. Which one gives him this utterly stupid power, and who is responsible for giving the position to him?

Radelaide:
Dear Mister Atkinson,
As I'm sure, I would not be the first person to email you about the matter concerning introducing an R 18+ rating into the Australian Games Industry.
I agree with you on many points about the issue, but the idea of blocking the rating simply because that some under age minors may get their hands on the game is completely ridiculous. Video games are not simply for children in this modern technological age. Many are enjoyed by people over the age of 18, sensible people who deserve to be treated like the adults that becoming 18 classes us as.

Mister Atkinson, you are the only person opposed to the matter concerning a great deal of adults who decide your future. I raise this point, not as a threat, but as something to think about. I understand that you want to protect the children from the horrors of video games, but there are greater horrors going on without the inclusion of video games. Ask yourself: Where are the Australian Troops? Where is there great famine? Sir, all we ask is that you sit down with some "gamers" and talk to them about the need for their to be a change to the system.

He's going to read your point as this: Children however do not watch the news and so are not exposed to the war. Children in fact play video games as it is targeted at them.

Just sayen' is all.

Good editing work.
I think that some constructive ideas would also benefit the argument - ways to address the issue that has prevented the establishment of such a rating system. (Children being exposed to things deemed unsuitable)

NewClassic:

Radelaide:
Dear Michael Atkinson:

As I'm sure, I would not be the first person to mail you about the matter of introducing an R18+ rating into the Australian Games Industry.

It stands to reason that Australia should have a consistent rating system. There are adult-level novels, films, videos, and television shows, all of which have an adult-oriented rating. The video game industry does not. This is because of minors gaining access to the adult-oriented titles without being of the pre-requisite age.

I agree with you on many points about that issue, but the idea of blocking the rating simply because that some underage minors may get their hands on the game is completely ridiculous. Video games are not simply for children in this modern technological age. Many games are enjoyed by people over the age of 18, sensible people who deserve to be treated as adults that becoming 18 classes us as.

Consider another medium of entertainment, the film industry. Studies show that all forms of violent entertainment media (with film being one of the three primarily studied) will increase a child's likelihood of violent behavior. Studies also link alcohol-consumption and operating a motorized vehicle as increased signs of violent behavior, the effects higher for younger participants. From this data, any child that has access to their parent's DVD collection, liquor cabinet, or car keys is at a significantly higher risk of violent crime than one that is not.

Because of that risk, there is a rating system in place for adult-level film media. There are laws in place for operation of a motor vehicle, and a law in place for liquor consumption. There are not laws in place for adult-level video games, nor is there a rating for them. The idea of denying games a classification parallels introducing an alcohol prohibition or banning motor vehicles.

Minors can only gain access to other prohibited media or materials through an adult and therefore adults should be informed of the risks posed by such things. For the majority of other restricted materials, significant warnings are in place to discourage adults from supplying minors with that which they are not authorised - the Australian Games Industry has no such luxury. Instead, adults are denied this mature content, despite their obvious seniority. What I propose is a campaign not unlike those undertaken for alcohol and cigarettes, with gratuitous warnings against those who decide to bypass the rigorous rating system. Surely then the risk of children being exposed to mature content will lay on the irresponsible parents of these children; allowing those who do not ignore the guidelines to enjoy the content that is suitable for them individually.

Mister Atkinson, you are the only attorney-general opposed to the matter concerning a great deal of adults in this country.who decide your future. I raise this point not as a threat, but as something to consider. I understand that you want to protect the children from the horrors of video games, but there are greater horrors going on without the inclusion of video games. Ask yourself: Where are the Australian Troops? Where is there great famine? Sir, all we ask is that you reconsider your position, and consider a potential need for sit down with some "gamers" and talk to them about the need for there to be a change to the system.

Made a few edits that are tentative and need some adjustments on. Otherwise, I hope I've helped a bit. The idea really is absurd, and the system is in need of changing. I'm hoping this does some good, and I'm glad I could help in whatever small way. Best of luck, and we'll see how well this goes.

I'm sick of the ratings system as well. Hopefully an intelligent, constructive letter will make some alteration to his antiquated attitude.

The problem with Atkinson is he's intimately familiar with all of the logical arguments explaining why having an R rating is good, and why not having one is actually worse for kids (games designed for adults get tiny adjustments and then are released in a different classification, often with no change to core, disturbing material), but he doesn't care. He really doesn't. It's his opinion that games make people violent, and he will not rest until everyone either shares his opinion or suffers for failing to.

He's not "stupid," but there's certainly something wrong with him. I've linked multiple times to the GS interview that perfectly illustrates his insanity (anything he says illustrates this, but whatever), so I won't, but check that out if you honestly think Atkinson isn't a manipulative narcissistic hypocrite (what else do you call someone who tells everyone what they can't play while admitting he doesn't know what his OWN KIDS are playing?) who's impervious to reason and common sense.

Letters, petitions, debates... Nothing is going to convince Atkinson. Impeachment is the course of action we should be pursuing, on the grounds that this is discrimination (movies and books don't have this kind of censorship in Australia) and restriction of the freedom of adults to enjoy the mature hobbies they choose. Why can't each person decide for themselves what's appropriate for them to play? Why does Atkinson get to decide that (well, him and the review board, but they just do their jobs. Atkinson is responsible for all this.)?

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