An Open letter about video game ratings in Australia from the CEO of an Australian games company

Dear Mr Atkinson,

I am writing to express my thoughts on the current situation of video game ratings in Australia. As the CEO and Creative Director of an Australia based video games company (currently situated in Sydney) I am somewhat saddened by the fact that Australia does not allow adults to purchase games which are available elsewhere in the world at a rating suitable for adult content. IE an R 18+ or similar rating.

It appears, to me, to be somewhat contradictory to allow both Television and Film to be rated against a wider range of ratings than Video Games are. As far as I am aware only people over the age of 18 are allowed to purchase R 18+ films and television products (DVD, Blue Ray etc) so why can this not be the same for games? We have a very robust video games retail service in Australia who already currently use the rating system to sell games to a wide range of people based on their age. Furthermore everyone in Australia is already familiar with this ratings system so providing a new R 18+ rating for games would not result in children or people under the age of 18 obtaining said products unless an adult purchased it for them (as adults can do currently with both Film and TV products).

Also worth considering is that if you ban a product inside Australia it can still, currently, be imported from abroad without the importer being penalised. This has a negative effect on the income of Australia as Australian business then loses out on: shipping costs (of transporting it from ship to warehouse to store), on the retail income (shops selling the product), GST (tax for selling the game) and marketing (TV advertising, Print advertising, Billboard advertising and Web advertising). Given that the Video Games industry is now one of the largest entertainment industries in the world and that Australia has several major studios and a burgeoning development scene means that not only are Australian retailers, shipping companies and media companies missing out on revenue but it could also mean that Australian games developers are marginalised by International publishers who consider Australia a backwater with 1970’s attitudes.

As someone who makes Video Games for a living I would encourage you to rethink your position on this matter as:

  1. Video Games are becoming a bigger and bigger part of everyones lives
    • They are no longer just about driving, shooting or chasing ghosts
    • They now provide entertainment and interactions for people of all walks of live and all age groups
      • Brain training for adults
      • Virtual pets to help children get the feel of looking after a dog before the family takes the plunge on a real one
      • And now artists, like ourselves, are exploring telling a wide range of stories, themes and settings for video games.
    • As the market grows there will become more and more demand from adults for adult content.
    • We currently show Dexter, The Sopranos and Californication (amongst others) on TV in Australia how would interactive versions of these be rated using the current system? They probably wouldn’t and yet there is growing demand for these sorts of experiences.
  2. Video Games are interactive which as the medium gets more and more technological adroit means that we can express a more diverse range of situations and settings
    • This means that Video Games are growing up
    • No longer are we a medium just for ‘kids’
    • We are becoming an art form which allows people to indulge in sensations and experiences they may never normally be party to
      • Drive a formula one car (there are is series of F1 games and many, many different racing and driving games)
      • Venture across the terrains of other planets and interact with different races, species and religions (Mass Effect, Star Wars, Star Trek and many more)
      • Fight dragons in ancient kingdoms (The legend of Zelda, World of Warcraft, Ico, Shadow of the Collosus amongst many)
      • Become a Mafia don and try grasp and hold onto power in your part of the city (Grand Theft Auto, Mafia, The Godfather, Mafia Wars and so forth)
      • Fight Aliens and Predators (Aliens VS Predator)
  3. Video Games is becoming as big, if not bigger, than Film and TV
    • We are currently catering for such a diverse range of people and age groups we are bound to need to create content which is as diverse as TV and Film
    • As you can appreciate we already have Films and TV which show people/characters:
      • Driving a formula one car (F1 is broadcast live on TV)
      • Venturing across the terrains of other planets and interacting with different races, species and religions (Star Wars, Star Trek etc)
      • Fighting dragons in ancient kingdoms (Dungeons and Dragons movie, Shrek and so forth)
      • Becoming a Mafia don and try grasp and hold onto power in your part of the city (The Sopranos, Donnie Brasco, The Godfather)
      • Fighting Aliens and Predators (The various Aliens and Predator films)

So the question really is why can FIlm and TV be allowed to cater for a wider audience but yet Video Games cannot? As someone running their own Video Games company it seems somewhat anti-competative of the Australian Government to restrict one form of media from a section of society that other forms of media are allowed to address.

I would really like you to reconsider your stance not only in light of the above but also in light of the fact that your 5 colleagues are all in agreement that Australia needs such a rating. You have said recently that it is not fair that gamers are acting like bullies trying to get your to change your mind. However as a public figure and elected official how does it look if you are exerting your will against that of the majority, which in your case is your fellow Attorney Generals?

I would love to discuss any of the above and even show you the broad range of experiences and types of games now available to every Australian. If you would like to talk or meet to take this discussion further please do not hesitate to contact me.

Please note I will be publishing this on our website as an open letter (you will be able to read it here)

If you would like to contact the Hon Michael Atkinson MP you can visit the South Australian government website here or you can email him at:

You can also take part in direct discussion with the Australian Government by going here and downloading the word or pdf document to submit your opinion. If you care about this issue (one way or the other) I suggest that you use your voice and complete the form :)


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