Speaking at a special games industry forum held at Westminster, Jackson compared and contrasted the opposing classification bodies – UK-only BBFC and pan-European PEGI – and said that choosing between the two in the wake of the Byron Review was “the single-most important decision to the UK industry has faced in a generation”, and that the Government must choose PEGI.
“The film ratings board works well for films and linear media – but games are not linear and will be less so in future. The internet means it won’t be possible to rate all games played in the UK from a UK-only standpoint,” said Jackson.
“Moving to BBFC ratings would be a step back – they don’t have the expertise to classify games online and offline,” said Jackson.
He explained that video games were on course to become “endlessly customisable” via online and user-generated content, “the key differentiator between games and film.”
And the BBFC has a shaky track record, Jackson added, pointing out that “the film ratings board continually downgrades games rated by PEGI” which can confuse consumers and pose a child safety threat.
“BBFC ratings, and the UK, would regularly be out of step with our European neighbours.”
He added that the BBFC was also “incapable of coping with extra games”.
“We are not talking about a few extra hundred, we are talking about tens of thousands of games and game add-ons that will have to be reviewed every year. That not only puts kids at risk – but it harms the UK industry. Games will undoubtedly be released later.”
So PEGI, Jackson said, “represents the gold standard, will undoubtedly be the best system for tomorrow, and is the only ratings system that offers strongest protection of children.
“PEGI is designed specifically for software and their infinite variations – that is why it is backed by the vast majority of the computer games industry. Only PEGI has online credibility.
“It is also very easily scalable – it is future proof. When we talk about child protection we talk about PEGI. It is the solution for today and the solution for tomorrow.”
Jackson added: “The UK industry wants to work with Government to provide a strong, detailed PEGI awareness strategy. We want to reach not just children, but parents and the wider games playing community.
“We are playing our part,” said Jackson. “But the Government must play its part too. We call on them to recognise the important of the decision they wish to make, that they avoid the quick fix solution.”