The Government has heralded a new future for UK video games classification – with PEGI becoming the sole age ratings model in the region.
The news came as part of Labour’s Digital Britain report this afternoon, amd upheld the hopes of UK publishers who wished for the Pan-European PEGI ratings to be given a role as the single industry-standard classification – reducing the BBFC’s influence.
The new, single-classification system will replace the current hybrid model that has two separate sets of symbols – PEGI's alongside the BBFC's.
The Video Standards Council (VSC), has also been handed a new role. The independent organisation will take a statutory role, with a mandate to implement the PEGI classification system for all video games in the UK.
The Government will now work closely with PEGI and the VSC on the development of a single, clear set of age-rating symbols to give parents the information they need to ensure that children are protected from unsuitable content, and help retailers to avoid breaking the law by selling games to people below the appropriate age. The new system will consist of five age categories and a series of pictorial boxes, describing content such as bad language or violence.
“In my review to Government I identified the need to improve the video games classification system. I identified some fundamental criteria including making games suitable for 12-year-olds and above subject to statutory control. I also said the system had to have child safety at its heart and have the ability to adapt to future challenges. All these criteria are important for ensuring that parents have the tools they need to make informed choices and keep their children safe.
“The PEGI system has been strengthened since my review and the Government has consulted widely on each of my suggested criteria. I support the Government’s decision to combine the PEGI system with UK statutory oversight.”
BBFC director David Cooke added:
“The BBFC has always supported PEGI and wished it well, but it continues to believe that it satisfies these requirements better than PEGI. However, it will cooperate fully in the detailed work needed to give effect to the Government’s decision. And it must be independent in substance as well as appearance, reaching its decisions and providing information on the basis of its own detailed assessments.”
The results go against the recommendations put forward by Dr. Tanya Byron in her Review of the industry l2 months ago.
The industry has been in consultation with the Government since that report – with publishers attempting to convince Ministers to gift PEGI more power in reaching their final decision.
The Digital Britain report, headed up by Lord Stephen Carter, aimed to ‘secure the UK’s digital future’, and maximise the country’s economic online potential.
The report had previously 'disappointed' some industry members for appearing to ignore video games altogether.