Notorious South Australia Attorney General Michael Atkinson has responded angrily to criticism that his refusal to allow an R18+ videogame rating in Australia is undemocratic, saying he has more important things to do than worry about "nerds."
Atkinson wrote a letter to the Adelaide Advertiser in response to a reader who suggested his refusal to even consider an R18+ rating for videogames, despite the large number of people who want to see a mature rating for games put into place, is undemocratic. The comment may have touched a nerve because the AG's response was heated to say the least, with name-calling, wild and unfounded accusations about videogames and a repeat of his earlier claim that he is not alone among Attorneys General who oppose an R18+ rating for games.
Atkinson's letter in full:
A Queensland letter writer claims that democracy is at an end because I, as Attorney-General, will not agree to an R18+ category for interactive computer games; that "every other state AG is against him"; and the only way to bring back democracy is to vote me out at the next election. It is true that I am opposed to an R18+ category for interactive games, but I am one of at least four Attorneys so opposed.
I welcome a challenge in my electorate of Croydon at the next general election on this issue. Among my constituents are hundreds of refugees who are trying to find lodgings for the family, gain employment and sponsor relatives from the old country.
Their vote is hardly likely to hinge on the "right" to score gamer points on the computer screen by running down and killing pedestrians on the pavement, raping a mother and her two daughters, blowing oneself up in a market, cutting people in half with large calibre shells, injecting drugs to win an athletics event or killing a prostitute to recover the fee one just paid her (Welcome to the world of R18+ computer games).
Those of my constituents who are refugees have been subjected to the practical instead of the virtual suffering that R18+ nerds seek to inflict for their gratification on the computer screen.
You have to give Atkinson a perverse sort of credit. Despite being at the center of the most visible and enduring videogame controversy in Australia, and indeed in the entire world, his commitment to remaining mired in ignorance is absolutely unwavering. No matter what else you may think of the man, his deep and unwavering commitment to his own personal beliefs is admirable. It's just a pity it happens to affect so many other people who may not share them.
It's quite clear by now that despite earlier rumblings, Atkinson isn't going to budge on the matter of an R18+ rating, leaving his removal - via the democratic process, to be clear on the matter - as the only way around his intransigence. But how does he fare on other matters? Is he a competent Attorney General beyond this particular hang-up? Do non-gamers hold him in any kind of esteem? Objectively speaking and taking into account the full range of voters and issues, does he have a realistic chance of re-election?