UK Report Suggests Movie-like Game Ratings

In a report commissioned by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, study author and clinical psychologist Tanya Byron has suggested a number of changes to increase the effectiveness of video game violence classifications in Britain, including a more film-like rating system.

"We need to improve on the systems already in place to help parents restrict children's access to games which are not suitable for their age," she wrote.

Chief among Byron's recommendations is that the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) introduce a new 12+ rating for games. Currently, games in the UK are only required to be rated if they contain gross violence. According to Byron, "the threshold for statutory classification [of video games] is quite high and is inconsistent with that for film and DVDs."

While the BBFC would only be required to rate games 12+ or higher, Byron suggested that the Pan European Game Information (PEGI), which voluntarily rates games, focus on titles that would earn a 3+ or 7+ rating, which she claimed is "where the evidence of potential harm is weakest."

To prevent consumer confusion between BBFC and PEGI ratings, Byron recommended that BBFC logos appear on the front of game packages, while PEGI logos appear on the back of the boxes. Amidst the 220-page report, she also noted her desire to increase the awareness and understanding of game ratings in the public eye.

In response, both the BBFC and Entertainment and Leisure Software Publisher Association (ELSPA) expressed support of Byron's proposal.

"We all need to work hard to bring understanding up to the same level, and help parents and children make informed choices," said BBFC director David Cooke. "I welcome the film-style classification system and greater role for the BBFC which she recommends in paragraph 7.47 of her report."

"We fully support Dr Byron's advice to parents on the use of technology in the home and parental awareness of their children's activities, including the need for wider awareness of age ratings on video games," noted ELSPA director Paul Jackson.

"However, we are concerned that the proposals as they stand may struggle to keep up with the public's increasing desire to buy and play online," Jackson continued. "The games industry would need to be re-assured that the BBFC would be capable of delivering against any new remit, or whether PEGI may be more appropriate.

"We look forward to working very closely with Government over the next few months to address these concerns as the implications of the review are fully understood," he concluded.

Chris Faylor was previously a games journalist creating content at Shacknews.

From The Chatty
  • reply
    March 27, 2008 10:33 AM


    Government going to make ratings more obvious for shitty parents.

    • reply
      March 27, 2008 10:52 AM

      Indeed. Although this approach is far more sensible to the childish "publish bashings" of violent video games by politicians in recent times. If this goes through and it brings games more in line with movies then the only people left to blame in relation to violent games are the people that purchase them or their guardians.

    • reply
      March 27, 2008 11:37 AM

      the more the obvious the ratings the less people can bitch about certain games getting into the hands of children. They can slap a giant rating covering the entire cover for all I care, then everyone will know that game is or isn't for children.

Hello, Meet Lola