I’m not going to pretend I understand the whole UK ratings debacle. It’s a backward country where soccer is called football, they drive on the wrong side of the street and drink their beer at, uggg, room temperature. Besides, Thom lives there, he can figure this stuff out. However, I do understand the concept of repeatedly saying something and getting little to know response from the people you’re talking to. The ELSPA and a plethora of gaming companies have been doing this with the PEGI ratings system for a good while now and the UK government seems to be ignoring them, or at least Culture Minister Margaret Hodge is.
In a recent interview she commented that the industry and government really need to get it together and act on the Byron report. “What I would love to get to is a consensus from the industry as to how best we protect the interests of children,” she said in the interview. The gaming industry has responded with, “What the hell do you think we’ve been telling you all this time? We’re in bloody consensus! PEGI is the answer.” I have of course paraphrased this as the real quotes from multiple companies like Nintendo and Codemasters are longer, polite and don’t use the word bloody.
In all fairness, this is probably more complicated than it sounds and it would take someone far more involved with British politics than myself to dissect it, but if all these gaming companies are behind PEGI and it’ll make game rating and developing easier across the European continent then why not go forward with it? Lord knows that not many people are happy with the way the BBFC handles game ratings, and if another Manhunt 2 debacle pops up it will just be more embarrassing news for the UK and gaming in general. For the full quotes from developers and a bit more info on PEGI itself, read on.
In response, a number of leading computer games publishers have called for the minister to adopt the Pan-European Games Information (PEGI) ratings 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. The fact that there is also an EC proposal for member states to adopt PEGI only adds further weight to the solid arguments and facts for its UK adoption as the sole system of choice for games ratings.”
David Solari, vice president and general manager of Codemasters online, said: “Online and persistent gaming is the future and we need a ratings system which can keep up and flex with this rapidly growing and evolving entertainment medium. I believe PEGI is the system to do this.”
Andy Payne, chairman of Mastertonic, said: “Mastertronic feels that the games industry needs a pan-European rating system which understands the intrinsic nuances of our entertainment medium with specific reference to child protection. But such a system must be legally enforceable. To that end, PEGI fits the bill in terms of its approach and delivery, it just needs some legal teeth in the UK to make it the obvious choice over and above all other options.”
Mike Rawlinson, managing director, ELSPA, said: “The computer games industry takes its responsibility to protect children and educate parents very seriously and we hope that the Minister will recognise this and agree to support PEGI as the primary ratings system in the UK.”
PEGI is the most effective way to protect children from unsuitable content for the following reasons:
PEGI offers the only ratings system that can fully assess all game content (currently rating 97% of content vs just 3% by BBFC)
PEGI is the only rating system that has the power to prevent games publishers distributing unsuitable content to children – it can ban a publisher’s entire output across Europe rather than just a game
PEGI understands and operates in the online world already – it has the highest levels of customer and parental understanding and confidence, both on and offline, in 25 countries
The major growth area for games is online, where gamers are increasingly playing each other – not only with others in their own country but those across the continent and even the other side of the world. The UK Gaming industry has already adopted the PEGI Online system to help keep children safe regardless of how and where they are playing games.