Adult Rated Video Games Bound For Australia?

No, not yet, but the possibility of Australia getting games rated 18 and older has increased quite a bit with the chief opponent to the move, trouble-plagued South Australian Attorney General Michael Atkinson, stepping down from office this weekend.

Atkinson, who was elected to Parliament in 1989, made public his decision to step down from his position Sunday morning in Australia, saying he wants to be there to watch his son grow up and attend the boy's soccer games.

The decision comes on the heel of a string of embarrassments and the increasingly loud call by gamers for the politician to step down.

The reason Atkinson is so hated by gamers in Australia is because he has blocked a change in the nation's rating system that would allow the inclusion of a 18+ rating for games. The result has been a number of violent games being banned in the country.

I'll let Luke explain:

The actual cause of Australia's current situation can be traced back decades, to the time ratings for video games were first introduced. Because at the time games were so simple, childish and crude (they were, after all, still considered "toys"), it was decided that the maximum rating they'd need was MA15+. A mistake, then but an innocent one.

Fast forward to this decade, and suddenly games are incredibly realistic. The Xbox 360, PS3 and PC can depict scenes of shocking violence, and a maturing development scene means sex and drugs now feature prominently in video games as well. Games aren't just meeting the MA15+ rating, they're often exceeding it.

So, it's time for a law change, then! Should be simple enough. Australia has a number of international developers lobbying the government, it's a billion-dollar market, it's a free country. Except...to amend the classification laws, all six of Australia's state Attorneys-General need to unanimously agree to the change.

Five of them do, and have been for some time now. They're reasonable people, who realise that adults should be free to choose their own adult forms of entertainment. But one - South Australia's Michael Atkinson - does not.

With Atkinson retiring to the back benches of Parliament through the end of his seat in 2014, the key will be to make sure that his replacement isn't as extremely conservative as the Atkinson. Hopefully the voters and the lobbyists will make sure of that.

Fingers crossed for sensible game ratings in Australia soon!

Update: I've tweaked the lede of the story to reflect what appears to be Atkinson's decision to immediately step down from his role of Attorney General for the state, while maintaining his position in Parliament till 2014. It is not clear when the position will be filled in any of the current news covering Atkinson's decision.

Attorney General Michael Atkinson to Quit Front Bench Adelaide Now [Thanks everyone]