Amid Australia's continuing dispute and deliberation over whether to introduce an R18+ classification for adult games, new data shows overwhelming public support for the measure.
The Australian government announced at the end of 2009 that it would begin collecting public responses. At the time, controversial Attorney-General Michael Atkinson -- who has since stepped down -- said he expected "only a small amount of very zealous gamers" to support the R18+ rating.
But now that the Federal Home Affairs group has released a preliminary official report, it would seem Atkinson is proven incorrect, with 98.2 percent of Australians declaring they support the rating.
There were a total 59,678 submissions to the poll, and more than 50 percent of them were driven by an in-store promotion by EB Games. A group called Grow Up Australia, which in the past gained 16,000 signatures with its government petitition for the rating, drummed up 16,056 submissions.
Groups were also able to submit responses, and those that responded were highly polarized -- the Australian Christian Lobby and the Australian Council on Children and the Media, for example, opposed the rating, while Australian industry trade body iGEA, and the Australian Interctive Media Industry Association were examples of groups in favor. About 53 percent of the groups supported the rating, while 47 percent opposed.
In order for the rating to actually be introduced, however, Australian officials throughout the country must all agree, and no decision has yet been made.
The debate is key to the release of certain future mature-themed video games in the region. Australia's video game ratings system only goes as high as ages 15 and up, meaning that any game intended for an adult 18 and over does not get a content rating, and is de facto banned in the country.
Attorney-General Atkinson's replacement, John Rau, appeared to have a more measured approach to the rating issue; speaking at the time of his appointment he said he wanted to educate himself fully on the facets of the issue before making any final decision on it.