As predicted in this week’s MCV, Labour appears to have settled on a new ‘cinema style’ classification system for all new titles in the wake of Tanya Byron’s Review of the industry – a move that has been backed by the trade's top brass.
But it’s the rhetoric of the Guardian report that will unsettle the industry – most notaby a sensational headline of, ‘Ministers plan clampdown on “unsuitable” video games'.
The new proposals would make it illegal for shops to sell any game carrying the new ratings to underage consumers, says the newspaper – suggesting that BBFC classification will be brought in for every new release.
Carrying an intimidating picture of Rockstar’s Manhunt 2, The Guardian reports:
‘A legally enforceable cinema-style classification system is to be introduced for video games in an effort to keep children from playing damaging games unsuitable for their age. Under the proposals, it would be illegal for shops to sell classified games to a child below the recommended age.’
The article also says that Ministers are also expected to advise parents to keep computers and games consoles away from children’s bedrooms as much as possible.
It continues: ‘A new British Standards Institution specification is expected to allow the developers of filtering products to test them against the [new] standard. Companies that pass the test will be able to display a child safety online kitemark.’
However, despite the sensational headline and lead image, there is a slight nod to the industry’s involvement in the new ratings in a later paragraph, in which The Guardian adds:
‘Ministers hope the Byron review [sic] will act as a way of calming the debate about video games which has become increasingly polarised and based on prejudice.’
Click here to read MCV’s latest editorial comment on the likely media reaction to Gordon Browns plans.