Tuesday, 18 March 2008

An Open Letter to Michael Atkinson

Hon. Michael Atkinson
488 Port Rd
Welland SA 5077

Dear Sir,

I respectfully add my voice to the growing chorus asking you to reconsider your stance opposing an R-rating for video games in Australia.

Your opposition means that many fine games available overseas are simply banned here in Australia, as they do not meet the requirements of the MA15+ classification.

You know that the median age of Australian gamers is 28. You know, for you have been told repeatedly, that video games are not just for children.

Despite knowing all of this, you seem have missed the main point. The point is that video games are not even primarily for children.

I don’t think you fully understand this.

I think that when you envision a group of video gamers, the image in your mind is one of 10-year-olds, not 30-year-olds. If this is the case, it must be a major stumbling-block to your analysis of the issue.

There are, of course, video games designed for children. But there are far, far more designed specifically for adults.

The complexity of storytelling and character development in modern video games like Bioshock, Halo and Mass Effect easily rivals the best Hollywood has to offer.

More to the point, these games require a level of reasoning and patience that, while not beyond children, is much less interesting to a child than it is to an adult.

In your speech to State Parliament on March 6, you made specific mention of the game Reservoir Dogs, banned in Australia in 2006, but which would become available under an R classification.

The game is based on the 1992 film of the same name. The film is readily available in Australia with an R-rating.

Because of this R-rating, there is no concern in the community that children might be adversely affected by this film. The classification system gives parents the information they need to make informed choices for their children.

This classification system works very well, and would work just as well if applied to video games. Were the game to be available with an R-rating, there would be no concern in the community for precisely the same reason.

In closing, we the people of Australia thank you for your concern, Mr. Atkinson.

But we want you to understand that we can look after ourselves and our children. We believe that the responsibility for monitoring a child’s entertainment choices lies with the child's parents. It does not lie with the government, and it does not lie with you.

That, Mr. Atkinson, is not your job. Your job, as an elected representative of the people, is simply that. To represent the people.

The people of Australia are saying clearly that they support an R-rating for games.

Your colleagues in the parliament agree.

Every other developed nation on Earth has an R-rating for video games.

Your views are out of step with the views of your colleagues, the views of the Australian public and the views of the international community.

Mr. Atkinson, I ask you to please consider your position.

Yours Sincerely,