A touch of classification

As a platform holder, does having PEGI as the UK’s single classification make you more confident that less games will reach an inappropriate audience?
The beauty of having one standard that has cross industry support is that it will make it easier for publishers and retailers to help educate parents on the nature of the content they are producing and selling. That encourages parents to ensure the content their children are interacting with is appropriate.
As we explained many times to members of the Byron team and subsequently the Government, we need a tri-party approach to child safety, where the industry works effectively with retail and Government to educate parents on the appropriate use of interactive content.

Do parents still need to be educated about consoles such as Xbox 360 being an entertainment machine for all – rather than just a kids’ toy? What can ELSPA do to help achieve this if so?

The simple answer is yes. As a platform holder we take our responsibility of enabling parents to make the right decisions for their children very seriously. This is why we build technologies into the platform that allow parents to switch content on or off as well as allowing them to control the amount of time the products can be used.
The key for us is to make the setting of these controls very easy and ensure we’re also playing a leading role in publicising age ratings and their importance to parents and retailers alike. Every responsible member of the video games industry needs to step up and play as active a role as we can to keep this education process front of mind. It’s ELSPA’s job to corral the industry around this agenda and ensure we’re all doing everything we can reasonably do.

How do Microsoft’s developers and marketing guys feel about the changeover? Does it make their job easier?
We simply view the new PEGI classification decision as a way to make it easier for us to help protect children from unsuitable content, be it online or offline. We work in an incredibly dynamic industry and having one standard across a wide range of countries will certainly help in our desire to be a responsible industry that creates content for all.

Will the new ratings act as a useful shield against the misunderstood press allegations the industry has suffered in the past?

When certain elements of the media choose to take a less than balanced approach to issues that arise, a rating system in itself is unlikely to have a major impact on the headline they will lead on.

In the search for controversial stories it sometimes feels like balance and reason are quickly put aside. One of ELSPA’s key roles during these times is to bring balance and objective viewpoints so that over time the story becomes more of an educated debate rather than just hysterical hyperbole. Our actions as an industry are the things that will define people’s view of us and we need to continue to build on the good work to date and keep focused on enabling parents to make the right decisions for their children.

What would you say to a retailer who is uneducated in the PEGI debate – so who doesn’t read MCV! – and is concerned about the amount of work or explanation the new ratings will require?
Firstly, I’d say I can’t believe you don’t read MCV… then I’d say the industry is here to help you. All the platform holders and major publishers are committed to ensure this system is effectively communicated both to retail staff and to consumers.

We will listen to any concern retail has and collectively focus hard on ensuring we overcome those.
From a retail perspective, the feedback we’ve had is that the new system and symbols are clear and understandable and although the transition from today’s world to the new system will inevitably create some work, we are confident the intuitive nature of the new approach will help retailers and their consumers clearly understand the content being sold.

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