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‘Don’t ditch PEGI ratings’

‘Don’t ditch PEGI ratings’
We know that Dr. Tanya Byron doesn’t think badly of PEGI, but she’s made it very clear that the UK public is confused by dual ratings. To tell you the truth, the Nielsen survey we run every year shows the opposite.

The UK public comes out first all the time in terms of recognition. We don’t have this impression of confusion, but we have to trust the Review. I understand Dr. Byron is working on a single system of ratings and we believe that PEGI has everything needed to deliver this kind of service for the UK. But it’s not our call. It’s up to Dr. Byron and your Government to determine which system is best.

The Guardian report [which detailed the new ‘cinema-style’ ratings] just proves the point that this issue is very important – not only for MCV but for the national press. It’s almost flattering. It says a lot about this industry going mainstream.

PEGI is imperfect, that’s for sure, but it’s still the best way we have found of protecting minors. We average out our ratings to very different cultures, so it’s not easy. Letting national experts have a say is obviously sensible – but that’s what we’ve been doing since the start. We have national experts on the PEGI Advisory Board.

The UK Government could choose to entrust the BBFC with game ratings across the board, as they have for film. It is a possibility. The main difference between us is that BBFC is about protecting the UK public and we’re about protecting minors all over Europe. If BBFC has to take charge, so be it, but we believe that we have done good things. We do think we have a good system that is games specific, which is much stricter in terms of protection of violence than film classification, in France and Germany certainly.

The film industry doesn’t ban films anymore – it’s not very tough.
In terms of online, we have anticipated where the industry’s going. In other words if we have to lose the argument that PEGI is doing the best job for the UK public, we will not have lost pride. I’m a European citizen, not British, so it’s hard to say if Gordon Brown is doing this to score political points. Whether it’s a matter for the current Government in the UK to score points, I don’t know. If this is the result, it will have dealt a blow to PEGI – we’re a pan-European system and we don’t need to tell you how important the UK is in that. With all due respect, it’s not like you do that in Slovenia.

The UK is a leader in terms of games. If your Government goes for a national solution over a pan-European one, I would take it as a blow to PEGI and not a reflection of the industry being global. For me, it is a step backward, but it is the priority of your Government to say what’s important for British citizens.

Our questionnaire, our methodology, leads to objective ratings. It’s not the same as a bunch of people watching a movie – that makes it very binary for digital content. PEGI has worked well. In terms of methodology, I would resent that idea of equating games to movies – that’s not something we do. That equates the same experience. Which is wrong. That’s why it’s a step backwards.

We have spent a lot of time stressing the difference. Games aren’t just a new wave of content – they’re not television. We are different. And if it were to see this move to have a movie-like classification, that is not movie like, I would take it as a mistake. But I cannot speak for the UK public.

We think the PEGI system is the right thing for a global industry.

The UK is usually well in advance in terms of new media, but I don’t think the UK Government would close off gamers to the internet. It’s not fitting to have a national system of game classification if you are current with the internet and if you are supportive of it.

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