Australian Attorney-General Atkinson Resigns, Opening Door for End to Video Game 'Bans'

Australian attorney-general and violent video games opponent Michael Atkinson has resigned, the Sydney Morning Herald reports, potentially opening the path for an adults-only video games rating and an end to 'bans' and censorship down under.

Australia currently has no equivalent of the adults-only 'R18+' rating available to films for video games, which meant that games deemed by too mature for the highest rating of MA15+ could not legally be sold, rented or demonstrated--effectively banning them.

Atkinson has become a villainous figure as the only of Australia's attorneys-general to publicly oppose the creation of an R18+ rating--which requires a unanimous decision--and reportedly receiving a torrent of abuse and threats for his decisions.

Numerous high-profile titles have been affected by the lack of an adults-only rating. Valve Software's zombie bloodbath Left 4 Dead 2 was famously deemed too gory for MA15+ and when its appeal failed, the developer released a de-gored version.

Fallout 3 had to tweak its representation of drugs before it was classified MA15+ and appeal by publisher Sega was necessary for Aliens vs. Predator to receive its rating.

While Atkinson will still hold his seat in Parliament until 2014, he will be replaced as attorney-general for South Australia immediately--though of course there's no guarantee that his replacement will be any more fond of violent video games and legislation changes could take time.

In December 2009, the Australian government solicited the public for their opinions on an R18+ classification for video games. A report based on the feedback is in the works.

Atkinson will be spending his new-found free time with his family.

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