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Hodge calls for ‘grown up’ ratings debate

Michael French
Margaret Hodge, the UK minister for culture, creative industries and tourism, has called on the BBFC and the games industry to sensibly address the issue over the future classification of video games in a ‘grown up way’.

Senior industry executives and the Government are currently discussing how games should best be given age ratings in the wake of the Byron Review.

But Hodge said that the BBFC and the games industry must not get caught up in the politics of the discussion and lose sight of the issue at hand.

“Please avoid this become a battle between two regulatory bodies,” she said. “Let’s have a shared solution that everyone can buy into.”

She added: “Child safety is very, very important – I get more letters as a minister about this issue than I do about anything else. So your customers – my voters – are demanding we act.”

Successfully communicating and managing which people play content that is right for them is “not a job for the industry alone,” she added, saying teachers and parents had a part to play as well. “But the industry must do what it can to aid the issue.”

Hodge said that there were good arguments for and against both BBFC and PEGI.

“Both BBFC and PEGI have their merit, and I’m not going to come down on one side or the other. We do need a system that can reassure parents and teachers that the content is safe,” she said.

“You must accept that most people in the UK know and trust the BBFC ratings. But I do understand that PEGI is much newer and was designed specifically for video games.”

Ultimately, the BBFC and the games industry need to address the issue with sense and clarity, she said.

Hodge added: “What we’ve got to make sure, at the end of the day, is that we meet the essential criteria that Tanya Byron set out in her comprehensive review.

“My challenge to you, the industry, is to respond to that consultation appropriately, but approach it not in a way that it is a battle to be won against government, but a problem we ought to be able to resolve in a grown up way to meet the requirements of all our stakeholders.”

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Tags: pegi , elspa , bbfc , westminster , byron review

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