South Australian Attorney-General Michael Atkinson, foremost Australian proponent of videogame censorship, has delivered an exclusive statement to Gamespot, which you can read here.
Before we get into ripping it to shreds, it should be acknowledged that this is progress. Atkinson has provided, for the first time, a detailed, reasoned statement on his position on censorship. He is still, of course, deeply wrong, but the first step in creating change is bringing the relevant parties to the debate.
Atkinson's position is founded on four fundamental misapprehensions, none of which are supported by research. The first is that there exist such a thing as "damaging images and messages". The second is that these images and messages are found in videogames to a greater extent than they are in government public service announcements and the nightly news. The third is that the interactive nature of video games makes content more inherently mature or threatening. And the fourth is that parents are unable or dangerously unwilling to monitor the media use of their children, to a greater extent than is true for DVD content.
It's also a bit worrying that the South Australian Attorney-General, in a statement presumably parsed by his advisors, is unable to get the name of our classification authority right. He refers to the Office of Film and Literature Classification, which has been officially known as the Classification Board for close to a year now.
Also, Atkinson's reference to his children suggests that this is his only direct experience of videogames. Surely we deserve better than a stance dictated largely by the man's relationship with his sons?
It's telling that Atkinson delivers a statement rather than an interview; it's suggestive that the fine detail comes not from Atkinson but from his advisors. It reveals that, even briefed in advance, the South Australian Attorney-General would not be able to intelligently discuss the key issues in the area he's legislating.
Anyway - check out the statement for yourself.