With the weekend’s revelation that the Australian Labor Federal Government would now support an R18+ adult rating for video games, all eyes were on South Australia’s new Attorney-General, John Rau.
Rau replaced the man considered by many to be gaming’s “arch nemesis”, Michael Atkinson – a staunch opponent of any change to the classification system, who claimed gamers were “more scary” than motorbike gangs.
When he stepped up to the position in March, many gamers pinned their hopes on Mr. Rau, who continued to remain tight-lipped on the situation. When questioned, Rau explained only that he wasn’t going to support the issue simply because he wasn’t Atkinson – a concept interpreted by many as a stand against the new ratings.
In April, the Australian Christian Lobby claimed that Mr. Rau has “consistently opposed” calls to introduce an R18+ rating. A spokesperson referred to a written promise from the state Labor Party, stating that it would oppose its introduction.
There was no sign of that today, however, as Mr. Rau has come forth to clarify that he “would support the idea”, provided that there are procedures in place to protect minors from having access to the newly-rated adult games.
“I don’t necessarily believe that having an R18+ classification is inconsistent with protecting children, but exactly what formulation could deliver both of those things, I’m not entirely sure yet.”
[img_big]center,2115,2010-11-18/Leip08_ONLINE_bloodymess.JPG,Fallout 3 was originally banned for illicit drug use[/img_big]
“There’s no doubt that these things are available either by mail order or through downloads off the internet, so it’s not as if there’s a complete impossibility of getting hold of these things anyway.
“The issue is about what’s offered for retail sale and who gets access to what.”
Even with the Federal Government backing the idea, any change to the classification system requires the agreement of every Attorney-General across Australia – something that’s not necessarily guaranteed at this point.
“Everyone has to be on the same page so I’m not the only Attorney there and I’m not sure the WA Attorney for example has made his position clear.
“The second thing is that it can’t just simply from my point of view be introduced R18 and leave everything as it is because that would not in my view offer enough protection and security.”
Christian Porter, the Western Australian Attorney-General has today explained that he was “yet to determine his position”. The newly-elected Liberal representative for Victoria, Robert Clark, is also an unknown quantity.
Finally, never one to avoid an opportunity in the limelight, Michael Atkinson as the last word:
“I think some perfectly normal adults could be affected by these games because they are so violent.
“I don’t think [people] who don’t play video games know how gory and horrific some of these games are.”
The Standing Committee of Attorneys-General meets on Friday in Canberra to discuss the matter.