What do you consider to be ISFE's most important role within the European video games market?
ISFE is an important voice on matters of public policy that impact our industry in Brussels and across Member States. ISFE helps drive industry focus on key issues and areas of debate that require information and dialogue between business and regulators. The goal is to guarantee conditions that are most favourable for companies doing business in the region, and for the consumers who interact with our offerings.
It's dedicated to keeping open dialogue with policy makers on issues that affect our business and our consumers. Our job is to inform, educate, and work with Government to sustain beneficial market conditions and commercial viability of our industry in Europe. ISFE works together with national trade associations to address both pan-European matters as well as national ones.
What have been ISFE's greatest achievements to date?
ISFE has done much good work since its creation. One important achievement is without doubt the formation of PEGI. We are very fortunate to have PEGI – a really good, easy to understand system for games ratings.
Self regulation works and retailers, parents and consumers understand the system to help make the right choices for appropriate content for given age groups. Two weeks ago, ISFE launched PEGI Online, an extension to PEGI that will offer similar tools and information to help Europeans make informed choices for appropriate content for consumers of all ages.
Why the requirement for a pan-European body representing the video games market when most individual territories have strong local organisations?
National trade associations play an important role in their respective countries. Similarly, they engage with national Governments on key issues of public policy that impact our industry. As a pan-European body, ISFE can help to garner attention around the common issues that will affect our industry across the region.
Creating awareness of the European video games industry is listed as one of ISFE's key roles. How are you doing that? What more do you think can be done?
Games are the fastest growing segment of media, a fact which is increasingly being recognised by policy makers. The industry has done good work in terms of creating forums around Europe like the Leipzig Games Convention or London Games Festival as a way to bring attention to our sector. Our aim at ISFE is to try and create even more of those throughout the calendar in major markets like the UK and France to help build recognition and promotion of the gaming industry.
We still have work to do as an industry to have policy makers and opinion formers hear our voice. Often opinions are formed by regulators who don't always understand our medium. It's our job to further the dialogue and inform and educate those audiences who are not close to the reality of our business. The goal is to work with governments to help sustain beneficial market conditions and commercial viability of our industry in Europe.
How many European territories have now adopted the PEGI ratings system? Are there any that have resisted – and if so, why?
PEGI today is adopted by 29 countries in Europe. Others, notably in Eastern Europe, are working towards adopting the system in their country to be part of a recognised scheme to appropriately rate game content for consumers.
Do you think it is right that there is one pan-European ratings system when individual territories often have certain ‘quirks'?
Again, we're fortunate to have a self regulated, regional system that's proven to work. Cultural sensitivities are accounted for in PEGI. Germany is the only major market currently not part of PEGI, and we aspire to them becoming part of PEGI in the long term.
What are your personal goals as the new chairman of the board at ISFE?
Our first step is to agree on a blueprint for the way forward, with clear goals and activity. We'll be able to share more in the coming months. Personally, I'm excited and privileged to be ISFE Chairman. This comes at a time where games are being recognised as mainstream entertainment and we have lots of opportunity ahead.