Today four major publishers — Nintendo, EA, Ubisoft and SEGA — have come out in favour of the PEGI classification system and called for it to be adopted as the sole system for rating games in the United Kingdom. This announcement is just the latest act in a long drama between the industry backed pan-european PEGI system and the country’s home grown body, the BBFC.
The Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association (ELSPA) Director General Paul Jackson said that the adoption of the PEGI system was the “single most important decision the UK industry has faced in a generation.”
Speaking to MPs, Civil servants and the press Jackson declared, “For the games industry, when we talk about child protection, we talk about PEGI. PEGI is the solution for today, and the solution for tomorrow. PEGI is clearly the only ratings system which has the power to prevent game publishers distributing unsuitable content to children, online and offline.”
Currently only games without strong violence are rated by PEGI, with the rest being fowarded to the BBFC. If the recomendations from the recent Byron Report, which studied the state of game classification, were put into effect it would see all games (around 300 extra a year) looked at by the BBFC, along with its usual business of film and DVD releases.
“Only PEGI fully assesses all games content. It is designed specifically for interactive software. It understands games and their potential for infinite variations. That’s why it is backed by the vast majority of the computer games industry. “
And backed it is! With each of the four publishers agreeing with the words of Jackson and delcaring their own support for the PEGI system. David Yarnton, UK General Manager of Nintendo, said: “The PEGI age ratings system is favoured by Nintendo. It has the ability to assess and rate all game content and does not rely on a sample of game play to form its decisions.”
Rob Cooper, Managing Director of Ubisoft UK, added that “The PEGI system is future proof. It’s as simple as that. It is a self-regulation system that is operated by experts that are best qualified and experienced to do the job.”
This the first time the industry has really rallied the troops and lobbied government to this extent. Whether those in power actually take heed and choose to act and pull the UK out of this classification limbo, however, is a different matter entirely.