Monday 22nd September/... Paul Jackson, director general of ELSPA, the Entertainment&Leisure Software Publishers Association, has told the government that the BBFC is‘not fit for purpose’ as a ratings system for computer games. Speaking at a fringe event at the Labour Party conference today, Mr Jackson called on the audience to support the Pan-European Game Information (PEGI) system, which he said is the only ratings classification that has the power to prevent game publishers distributing unsuitable content to children. Mr Jackson explained to the audience that there is currently a two-tier system in the UK for rating computer games which everyone finds confusing. Under this system, games are rated under PEGI, which has been adopted across Europe. It is based on standards developed by child safety and games experts who understand games, their impact, their playability and their individuality.
However, there is also, uniquely in the UK, a second rating system run by BBFC, the film classification board who have limited jurisdiction over games ratings via the Video Recordings Act.
According to Mr Jackson:“A linear ratings system like the one the BBFC uses is designed for films with a beginning, middle and end where the outcome is always the same. It just can’t cope with the infinite variety and complexity of modern video games, and the interaction between players.
“There is a simple proof of this already available. The film ratings board continually downgrades games classified 18 by PEGI. They go to BBFC 15 or even BBFC 12. History shows us that BBFC ratings– and the UK– would regularly be out of step with our European neighbours.”
Mr Jackson also explained that the PEGI ratings system would be the most suitable to handle the increase in online gaming. With more and more children playing computer games online against peers all over the world, it is more important than ever to ensure that they are safe while they do so.
Mr Jackson argues that PEGI is the only system with online credibility:“As well as being quick and simple to follow as a ratings system, it is very easily scalable to cope with the rapid growth in online games and add-ons.”
PEGI is supported by the majority of the computer games industry, which argues that it is the right tool for the job, as opposed to the BBFC system, which was developed to rate film, rather than game, content.
The industry believes that PEGI is the ideal system for protecting children from unsuitable content both today and in the future.
For interviews with Paul Jackson or for more information about ELSPA, please contact Will Brown (020 3003 6471) or Cathy Dunkley (020 3003 6355) at Freud Communications. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
The Pan-European Game Information (PEGI) age rating system was established in 2003 to help European parents make informed decisions on buying interactive games. Designed to ensure that minors are not exposed to games that are unsuitable for their particular age group, the system is supported by the major console manufacturers, including PlayStation, Xbox and Nintendo, as well as by publishers and developers of interactive games throughout Europe. The age rating systemhas been developed by the Interactive Software Federation of Europe (ISFE) and has the enthusiastic support of the European Commission, who considers the new system to be a model of European harmonisation in the field of protection of children.
PEGI applies to products distributed in the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom