Michael Atkinson wants to protect youSouth Australian Attorney-General Michael Atkinson is what most people consider a dickhead (and that’s by folks who vote for him). Gamers and anyone opposed to censorship aren’t so kind. They know he’s been blocking an R18+ classification for video games for years.

Why? Atkinson swears blue children will be harmed by the introduction of an adult games rating. Extreme sex, violence and illegal acts will be thrust upon us through our Playstations and Wiis (imagine Ron Jeremy: Pornstar on the Wii! Beat that Wii Fit).

In his recent response to a concerned citizen’s letter, Atkinson makes it clear that not all parents would stop their children from playing games classified R18+ and that a restriction on adult liberties is a small price to pay in order to protect them:

‘I do not think your right R18+ games should outweigh society’s interest in protecting children and vulnerable adults. What the present law does is keep most of the extreme material off the shelves. It is true this restricts adult liberty to a small degree. This is the price of keeping this material from children and vulnerable adults. In my view, it is worth it.’

Atkinson’s long argued that children will want to play R18+ games more than they’d want to watch an R18+ film, and that probably holds some truth. But because the possibility for substandard parenting exists, is compromising the freedom of Australian adults (as flimsy as it is) really the best way to protect children? If Atkinson can’t trust parents to monitor game use, why does he see them fit to decide on their children’s film and TV viewing habits, the toys they play with, or the food they eat.

Wouldn’t better education on the importance of good parenting when it comes to classification be a better solution? A long term campaign to inform parents about healthy entertainment practices for their children?

Banning video games to protect children is equivalent to saying the only way to combat childhood obesity is by banning junk food for kids and adults both. The key is making parents aware of what’s good for their family so they can make the right choice.

Atkinson’s goal of keeping games that don’t agree with his tastes out of the hands of children and adults has become all too reminiscent of the stern fifty’s father who refuses to let his kids go to the Friday night dance. Partly because of genuine concern, but primarily because they just don’t like it or understand it. It’s time Michael realised he’s not our dad.

More reading:

Logan over at Kotaku reponds to a number of Atkinson’s objections. Take a look.