The most vocal opponent of adults-only games, South Australian Attorney-General, Michael Atkinson, has relinquished his title, but industry bodies say this is by no means an unequivocal victory for Australian gamers.
Atkinson has spent the last decade quashing the introduction of an R18+ rating for video games. He has long argued that the interactive nature of games makes them more influential than films.
According to Atkinson, an R18+ games classification will make violent and sexually explicit games more accessible to minors.
While he is stepping down from the front bench, Atkinson will remain in Parliament until 2014.
Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA) has been a major lobbying group for an adult classification for games.
Chairman, Nicolas Suzor, said this was a step forward for the mature gaming community but would not guarantee an R18+ rating for Australia.
“We are cautiously optimistic we will see more evidence-based decisions and some on classification in the future rather than the reactionary policies we have seen in the past,” he said. “Having said that, Atkinson has always said he is not the only Attorney-General to oppose an R18+ rating, he is just the most vocal.”
What that in mind, the EFA is looking to call upon other state and territory Attorney-Generals to ascertain their stance on an R18+ classification. This will occur after the Federal Government’s R18+ public consultation report is released.
“We are somewhat encouraged to see Atkinson will no longer hold the Australian public to ransom over [games R18+ classification] but it is certainly not a ‘sure-win’ for gamers at this stage,” Suzor said.
Australia’s biggest gaming community, AusGamers, was still digesting the news this morning but was heartened by the progress for an adults-only classification for games.
AusGamers founding member, David Harrison, was also cautiously optimistic.
He said with Atkinson poised to stay in parliament for another four years, it is unclear whether the former SA Attorney-General will be completely out of the picture in the R18+ rating debate.
“We hope to see an R18+ rating to be considered by cooler heads,” Harrison said. “Atkinson has been a big roadblock for us and hopefully this will clear the road for some progress so we can see some more rationality in the debate.”
Public consultation for the Federal Government’s R18+ discussion paper is now closed.
Australia remains one of the few developed countries without an adult rating for games.