Australia's lack of a mature rating for video games -- and the de facto banning of many games from the region as a result -- is a matter of public interest, says the country's Attorney General Michael Atkinson.
"You don’t need to be playing a game in which you impale, decapitate and dismember people," Atkinson tells ABC News
, discussing the recent decision by Australia's classification board to deny a rating
to Sega's Rebellion-developed Aliens vs. Predator
Industry figures such as Tom Crago, head of the Game Developers Association of Australia, have criticized Australia's approach
to ratings as "antiquated" and "a joke" -- and Atkinson now says those in favor of a mature rating for video games are in a minority.
"This is a question of a small number of very zealous gamers trying to impose their will on society -- and, I think, harm society," he says. "It’s the public interest versus the small, vested interest."
Atkinson's primary concern appears to be that audiences will be influenced by the realism of games. "98 percent, 99 percent of gamers will tell the difference between fantasy and reality, but the 1 percent to 2 percent could go on to be motivated by these games to commit horrible acts of violence," he says.
Games without a rating cannot be released in Australia, so titles that would have been classified for mature content simply don't see store shelves in the region without content edits. Aliens vs. Predator
is just one of many games to come up against this roadblock; major titles like Left 4 Dead
and Fallout 3
are other examples.
Atkinson also spoke out similarly
following the decision to deny a rating to Left 4 Dead 2
, conceding that the content regulation "certainly does restrict choice to a small degree," but that "the small sacrifice is worth it."