Australian gamers have been wanting an R-Rating category for games for quite some time now. Unfortunately this takes a unanimous approval from each of the state Attorney-Generals, and while nearly every state was for such a rating category, the South Australian Attorney-General, Michael Atkinson has been the lone hold-out preventing the implementation of an R rating for games.
This has risen to a head over the last year or so. Atkinsons refusal prompted the formation of a new political party called Gamers4Croydon which put forward a candidate in Atkinson’s seat of Croydon. Croydon however is a fairly safe Labor seat requiring a massive swing against Labor for it to fall to the Liberal party. A petition was also collected and presented to a Federal hearing on the R issue with over 50,000 signatures. A number I’m lead to believe is fairly hard to achieve.
Just a note for international readers: While it’s not entirely accurate, you can think of the Labor party as the Australian equivalent to The US Democrats and the Liberal party as the conservatives or Republicans.
Now the South Australian state election was held over the weekend (Aussies always vote on Saturday) and there was a massive swing against the government, something like seven percent. Unfortunately, noone yet knows who has won. It appears that the winner will be decided by postal votes, and that will take a few more days to find out. Still, the predictions are that Labor will retain government by the slimmest of margins.
It also looks like Gamers4Croydon did pretty well in Croydon. They picked up 587 votes at the polling booths. Out of over 16000 ballots cast, that’s 3.7% of the vote, and isn’t too bad for an independant party, especially one formed only a few months ago and running on a single issue.
So why the title of the post, New Hope For R-Rating For Games In Australia, if Labor will be returned?
Well, the reason for the big swing against the government was predominantly a sex scandal involving the state Premier, but there has also been widespread disatisfaction with the government especially Atkinson. So while Michael Atkinson was returned to parliament with 64%, he has decided to stand down as state Attorney-General.
This means that the single greatest obstacle to the implementation of an R-Rating for games is no longer an obstacle.
This doesn’t mean of course that the new rating will be automatic. There’s going to be all sorts of political processes that will have to happen first. And we also don’t know which way Atkinson’s successor will lean on the issue. It’s possible that it will remain blocked.
Still, things are looking a bit brighter for Australian gamer choice.