Respondents to the Australian government survey debating whether to institute a R18+ rating are overwhelmingly in favor of the idea. And I do mean overwhelmingly.
When the Australian government sought public input on the idea of R18+ game ratings, many beleaguered Aussie gamers heralded it as a step in the right direction. The Australian public would vote against censorship, they believed, and vote against giving the government heavy-handed power to determine what they could and could not view as entertainment.
As it turns out, the numbers may be reflecting that. According to a representative from the Copyright and Classification Policy Branch, the government had received 6,239 submissions for the R18+ public consultation - 5,465 by email, 447 by fax, and 327 by snail-mail - and had processed 1,084 thus far. Of those 1,084, only 11 had been against the idea of a R18+ rating: about 1%.
If the next five thousand respondents continue on the same pattern as the first thousand, then the Aussie government may have proof that a good many people support the R18+ rating.
But before we all rejoice - and I hate to be a Debbie Downer here - I think we need to face a sobering reality: As much as we might dislike the guy, Michael Atkinson may have a point. The Attorney General of South Australia predicted that the response would show overwhelming support because the only people who would care enough to get involved would be gamers - and that the rest of the public couldn't give a damn one way or the other.
Maybe Atkinson is wrong and these numbers represent a wide swath of the Australian people, sick of government censorship. But then again, maybe he's not wrong - just because the guy represents everything we stand against doesn't mean he can't have a point.
But on the other hand, does it matter? If the Aussie government finds that their survey supports the R18+ rating 99:1, will it actually matter who the respondents were? I guess we'll have to wait and see.