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Age ratings could become voluntary

While age ratings and the enforcement thereof remains one of the hottest topics in the modern games industry, the Video Standards Council has suggested that all entertainment media could eventually shift toward an advisory rather than a legally-based system.

The statement comes in the wake of the news that digital downloads portal GOG.com is to loosen its regional controls, allowing users from any country to download its titles.

This is timed ahead of the release of The Witcher 2, which is banned in Australia. But Aussie customers will be free to buy the game from GOG.

"It seems inevitable that such systems will have an impact on the way national regulators control online content though the more authoritarian regimes won’t have any qualms about shutting down a site if they deem it necessary," the VSC told Edge.

"However, the more benign censorship/ratings organisations will probably move away from the mandatory model and replace it with an advisory systems which puts the onus on consumers to make informed buying decisions through the provision of detailed consumer information."

THe VSC added, though, that it doesn’t believe regional ratings body are in danger of becoming irrelevant.

"We believe [local certification bodies] remain very relevant even in this age of global distribution," it added. "As stated previously, it may be that the nature of censorship and ratings will change to a more advisory-centred system, but ratings systems continue to provide consumers – particularly parents of children – with very useful content information which we know they find very helpful indeed.

"We believe the public tends to trust the judgement and advice of the more independent, established and respected ratings organisations and will continue to do so."

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