Michael Atkinson, the notorious attorney general of South Australia, has spoken out about his reasons for blocking the creation of an "R" videogame rating in Australia, and also expressed his opinions about the "swine" who think such ratings are a good idea.
In a recent segment by the Australian show Stateline that examined the country's lack of a mature videogame rating, Atkinson said the absence of high-level game ratings helps keep those videogames out of Australian homes, where some people - particularly children - would be adversely affected by their content. "I'm sure most people can distinguish the fantasy of the computer game from the reality, but it's the small number we know can't that leads to mass murder in American high schools, and in Thailand last year, linked to a gamer last year playing out the fantasy of hijacking a taxicab and murdering the driver," he said. "It happened."
Many gamers and other functional human beings in Australia and around the world are firmly against Atkinson's stance, but he does have the support of Young Media Australia, a company "committed to promoting better choices and providing stronger voices in children's media." Young Media Australia Vice President Elizabeth Handsley shares Atkinson's opinion that violent entertainment leads to violent behavior. "It can increase a person's tendency to be violent, or to want to resolve conflict with violence," she said. "Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, it can increase people's acceptance of violence, and make them more tolerant of violence, or desensitize children to violence. And again, the interactive aspect of videogames just heightens that effect."
And while the demand for a higher videogame rating in Australia continues to rise, anyone hoping the attorney general can be persuaded to engage in serious debate on the matter is likely to be sorely disappointed. Atkinson, who implied he had been threatened with "elimination" by gamers, described his true feelings toward gamers in no uncertain terms. "I think the Western industrialized countries that allow R-rating-plus computer games and the extreme violence that goes with them are just so many gathering swine going over the cliff, and I'm pleased that Australia has a principled, sensible stand against this extreme violence," he said. "I'm happy for Australia to stand alone, and international gamers can laugh at us all they like."