They are changing the law so that every game needs to be classified by the BBFC, just like films are. Here are a few reasons why this is stupid:
- Television is more violent and has more sex than video games. Even an early evening soap opera like Eastenders has a lot more of both than the vast majority of games. So why don't all television programmes require a BBFC rating?
- This will apply to boxed cardboard and plastic games at retail. Everyone reading this knows that this is a dying business model. The industry is moving online and it is impossible to implement BBFC ratings online. The government are wasting their time. However the decline in high street retail will be speeded up.
- There is no problem here to be fixed. As games have been increasing in popularity child crime rates have been going down. The Government are only acting to try and look good politically.
- All the parents I know let their children play games from much higher age ratings, even parents who work in the industry. Because as parents they know that no harm is caused, otherwise they wouldn't allow it. That the government knows better than parents is patently ridiculous.
- No matter what the Government do they will not stop the youth of this country playing GTA IV. They are seriously wasting their time even trying.
- The BBFC can't do the job. There are a lot more games than films and many games have 20 or 30 hours content. And if they just cherry pick the bad” bits out of games then they are not seeing them in context so will come to wrong decisions. The BBFC will need to be at least 100 times bigger than it is now to do the job properly. Do the government realise this?
- There is a thriving independent, homebrew and mod development scene. Some of which grows to be mainstream and which adds enormously to the art that gaming is. This will be crushed by the BBFC bureaucracy.
- Other governments, especially in Europe, have now recognised video games as the art form that they are and are putting effort and money into encouraging the industry. The British Government, by doing the opposite, is damaging the country economically and culturally.
- This puts an extra burden and extra time pressure on games publishers. In an industry where most games make a loss this extra burden is unacceptable.
- It also puts shopkeepers in the unfortunate position of having to police this stupid policy with the threat of big fines if they make a mistake. This is inevitably going to cause a lot of problems for them.
- The kids will continue to buy from Amazon using their parent's credit card. The Government is powerless to stop this.
- This is the nanny state saying that they know better and imposing their will on the people. This is always a bad thing.
Most disappointing to me is the way that much of the industry has rolled over and accepted this. Presumably they think it is OK to suffer some pain to get the matter over and done with. They are wrong. Once the Government see that they have a soft target to kick they will keep on kicking it. This is the thin edge of the wedge.
Read more from Bruce at his blog bruceongames.com