Video game rating system to be reviewed Page: 1

The video game ratings system to be revamped?

18The Beeb have been reporting today that a UK Government-backed review has called for the video game rating system to be revamped to make it easier for parents and children to understand.

The review was carried out by psychologist Dr Tanya Byron, who has recommended a new rating for games aimed at children aged 12 plus. 

Currently games only get a mandatory review by classifiers if the games contain "human sexual activity" or "gross violence".  Each year the industry submits about 100 games for review by the British Board of Film Classification.  The introduction of a statutory requirement to classify games for children aged 12 plus will see the workload of the BBFC increase dramatically.

Voluntary system

The games industry also adheres to a voluntary European ratings system called Pegi. It means some games can have two differing ratings from the two bodies. Dr Byron has said games should have just one set of symbols from the BBFC on the front of all boxes, which are the same as those for films. Pegi ratings will now appear on the back of boxes.

Many people in the games industry had been hoping the review would favour the Pegi self-regulatory system over the BBFC system.

Keith Ramsdale of giant games publisher Electronic Arts said:

"We're very happy with the proposals but feel it could have gone a bit further."

"We were very clear, unanimously clear as an industry, that we want a single system and using Pegi as that single system will make that much clearer to the consumer.

"We don't believe it needs to be legislative; we believe it could be self-regulatory, with some very sharp teeth."


Internet Safety

On another subject Dr Byron has also called for a UK body to oversee children's Internet safety.

Dr Byron's report has said the online industry needs to take greater responsibility when it comes to policing content posted to websites, such as video sites and social networks.  She has recommended codes of practice for the industry, which should be independently monitored.

Schools secretary Ed Balls told the BBC that the government was going to implement all of the proposed recommendations in full and commented “It’s a ground breaking report”.

He said the government would ensure that websites and hardware manufacturers gave better guidance to parents about safety features and controls.


Some of the points the review has recommended are:

• The creation of a website for parents where they can find our more information about online safety
• A comprehensive public information and awareness campaign on child internet safety
• Clear and consistent guidance for industry on how games should be advertised
• High profile efforts to increase parents understanding of age ratings and improved parental controls

 

Do you think there really needs to be any changes to the way games are rated?  Or is it just a futile exercise due to children being able to get their hands on the games one way or another regardless of age rating.

 

Discuss in our forum.