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Australia R18+ Opponent Atkinson Steps Aside

South Australian Attorney General Michael Atkinson, a staunch opponent to the country's adoption of an R18+ video game content rating, resigned from cabinet last weekend, according to local reports.
South Australian Attorney General Michael Atkinson, a staunch opponent to the country's adoption of an R18+ video game content rating, resigned last weekend from the government's front bench, according to local reports including News.com.au. With Atkinson on the sidelines, Australian gamers and game businesses now have greater hope that the country will adopt an R18+ rating for consumers age 18 and over, which would allow more mature-themed video games to release in the country without government-mandated edits. Atkinson was the most outspoken opponent against an R18+ rating in Australia, where the strictest video game content rating is MA15+. He said he will remain in Parliament until 2014, although he'll be less influential on the back bench. Any video game that the government-run Office of Film and Literature Classification sees as inappropriate for people over the age of 15 either gets de facto banned in the country due to a rating refusal or is sent back to the developer for content edits, and resubmitted. Video games that ran into R18+ problems include Bethesdsa's Fallout 3, Valve's Left 4 Dead 2 and Sega's Aliens Vs. Predator, among others. The politician recently said that he "won't surrender" in the fight against an R18+ rating. That presented a significant roadblock to adopting the rating, as any change to the rating system requires the unanimous consent of federal- and state-level attorneys general. Late last year, he further drew the ire of gamers saying, "[Adopting an R18+ rating] is a question of a small number of very zealous gamers trying to impose their will on society -- and, I think, harm society. It’s the public interest versus the small, vested interest." Also last year, video gamers in Australia partnered with major specialty retailer EB Games to start a petition in support of an R18+ rating. The petition garnered over 16,000 signatures and was sent to the attorney general's office. State and federal attorneys-general are scheduled to meet in April to discuss the R18+ rating.

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