Computer Games Industry Tells Margaret Hodge There Is Consensus On Age Ratings

Friday 5th September/... The computer games industry has today responded to calls from Culture Minister, Margaret Hodge, for the need to work together to find the best solution to computer games age ratings. While discussing the findings of the Byron report during an interview in the latest issue of In Stock Magazine, the Minister, said:“What I would love to get to is a consensus from the industry as to how best we protect the interests of children.” The Minister continued in the interview, stating: “We have said that we accept her recommendations in full and it is really, really important that the games industry should understand the principles that underpinned her recommendations around classification and if, at the end of the day, they are not happy with her actual proposals around what system would meet those principles, they’ve got to be true to the principles in suggesting alternatives.”

In response, a number of leading computer games publishers have called for the minister to adopt the Pan-European Games Information (PEGI) ratings system:

David Yarnton, UK general manager of Nintendo, said:“The PEGI age ratings system is favoured by Nintendo. It has the ability to assess and rate all game content and does not rely on a sample of game play to form its decisions. The fact that there is also an EC proposal for member states to adopt PEGI only adds further weight to the solid arguments and facts for its UK adoption as the sole system of choice for games ratings.”

Rob Cooper, managing director UK for Ubisoft, said:“We agree with the Culture Minister that there is a need for a consensus in rating games. That is why we have pledged our support for the pan-European PEGI games rating system which understands the nature of gameplaying on and offline with a focus on child protection."

David Solari, vice president and general manager of Codemasters online, said:“Online and persistent gaming is the future and we need a ratings system which can keep up and flex with this rapidly growing and evolving entertainment medium. I believe PEGI is the system to do this.”

Andy Payne, chairman of Mastertonic, said:“Mastertronic feels that the games industry needs a pan-European rating system which understands the intrinsic nuances of our entertainment medium with specific reference to child protection. But such a system must be legally enforceable. To that end, PEGI fits the bill in terms of its approach and delivery, it just needs some legal teeth in the UK to make it the obvious choice over and above all other options.”

Mike Rawlinson, managing director, ELSPA, said:“The computer games industry takes its responsibility to protect children and educate parents very seriously and we hope that the Minister will recognise this and agree to support PEGI as the primary ratings system in the UK.”

PEGI is the most effective way to protect children from unsuitable content for the following reasons:

• PEGI offers the only ratings system that can fully assess all game content (currently rating 97% of content vs just 3% by BBFC)

• PEGI is the only rating system that has the power to prevent games publishers distributing unsuitable content to children– it can ban a publisher’s entire output across Europe rather than just a game

• PEGI understands and operates in the online world already– it has the highest levels of customer and parental understanding and confidence, both on and offline, in 25 countries

• The major growth area for games is online, where gamers are increasingly playing each other - not only with others in their own country but those across the continent and even the other side of the world. The UK Gaming industry has already adopted the PEGI Online system to help keep children safe regardless of how and where they are playing games.

Ends

For interviews with Mike Rawlinson or more information about ELSPA, please contact Will Brown (020 3003 6471) or Cathy Dunkley (020 3003 6355) at Freud Communications. Email: firstname.surname@freud.com

For video games-related media enquiries, please contact Tom Sargent at Barrington Harvey: +44 (0) 1462 456780 or email tom.sargent@bhpr.co.uk

About ELSPA:

The Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association Ltd was founded in 1989 to establish a specific and collective identity for the interactive leisure software industry. Membership includes almost all companies concerned with the publishing and distribution of interactive leisure software in the UK.

As a gateway to Europe, ELSPA works to protect, promote and provide for the interests of all its members, as well as addressing issues that affect the industry as a whole.


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