PEGI ratings could be legal standard by 2010

THE GOVERNMENT could be on the cusp of throwing out BBFC games ratings to make PEGI a legally-enforced standard, should it follow recommendations made by ELSPA this week.
 
The Byron Review’s consultation period closed yesterday (Thursday, November 20th), with ELSPA handing over a detailed document to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.

The report details why the Government should favour PEGI in the response to the proposal that new classifications for video games be introduced.

“The correct solution is for the Government to accept the PEGI system is the best way for games to be rated and classified – and empower it with legal status in the UK, establishing a means in which some games, if necessary, can be banned,” ELSPA MD Michael Rawlinson told MCV.

The 30-page written response outlines not only the advantages of the PEGI system and the recently-unveiled ‘traffic light’-style ratings, but how, according to ELSPA, an extension of film censor the BBFC’s role would create “a heavy burden to the industry, including logistical and compliance issues plus more operational costs”.

Rawlinson has been encouraged that authorities will back ELSPA after key ministers acknowledged PEGI as a strong option during a Westminster Forum debate last week.

Added Rawlinson: “We’ve had a strong dialogue with the Government and it understands that the games industry wants to sell its products in a sensible and appropriate manner.”

But the BBFC is confident as well, with director David Cooke telling us: “After the consultation we would like to see greater collaborative working by all, as envisaged by Dr Byron in the interests of the public, between all the parts of this important and creative sector of the economy and gamers themselves.

“The issues have been fully aired over the last 18 months. The BBFC is confident that the Government fully understands them, and is able to distinguish good from bad arguments.”

The DCMS has now promised the industry a full and swift verdict, telling MCV: “We will now look at the evidence and announce the result in due course. It has been a full and thorough consultation.

“The Government is keen to move as quickly as possible.”
A formal response from the Government is expected by early next year.

OPINION

Keith Ramsdale
VP of UK, Ireland and Nordic Territories, Electronic Arts

“We firmly believe that PEGI is the only viable rating system for the UK. PEGI is designed to be easy to understand and has the flexibility to scale and keep pace with industry growth, particularly in online gaming. We trust that the Government will do a thoughtful review of the issues.”

Ray Maguire,
Senior VP and Managing Director, Sony Computer Entertainment UK

“A lot of effort has been spent communicating the new system to the Government. We now believe they have all the information and tools in order to make the right decision which will benefit consumers, and the industry as a whole.”

Neil Thompson
Senior Regional Director, Northern Europe, Microsoft Entertainment & Devices Division

“The whole industry would like to see a solution that effectively protects children. I’d like to see the Government embrace the extensive work the industry has done in recent months and quickly back the PEGI standard.”

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Tags: pegi , elspa , bbfc , traffic light ratings

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