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back to article Minister urges end to videogame rating feud

The government has called on the UK’s two videogame classification bodies to stop their slanging match over which of their age-suitability rating systems is best. Speaking at a game industry conference in London this morning, Margaret Hodge, Minister for Culture, Creative Industries and Tourism, said that arguments between the …

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Anonymous Coward

Huh.

Seems a bit pointless to me. The people who need to pay most attention to them will still ignore them, and stores won't bother to enforce them.

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Anonymous Coward

it's

it's all bull----, just get your games on download. I buy all my games online now, just becouse it's convenient.

Junk like this just pushes up piracy, why? Becouse it's convenient, no retarded teenagers to badger you or ID you, if you've got a fast connection you can have games in a few hours without leaving the house, you don't need to worry about a game being in stock. Easy easy easy.

They're about 6 years behind the times with this shite.

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jai
Silver badge

pictograms?

so what pictograms will PEGI use to classify GTA4 so that parents will get it through their thick skulls that the game is only suitable for adults and not for their little Johnny who's only 12 but he's a good lad really?

do they have a pictogram for driving cars far too fast and wrecklessly? for beating people to death with a baseball bat? for picking up and gettin it on with a prostitute before letting her out the car and running her over to get your money back?

how many pictograms can they fit on the back of a video game box?

whereas the BBFC has a very clear and easy to understand 18 on the box. it matches the same system used for movies, so it's easy to get an idea of what the content will be like

and it shouldn't necessarily be the stores that are prosecutable

they should change the law so that if your offspring suddenly goes on a Rampage around town and then claims "the computer games made me do it" then you get to go to jail with them

then maybe parents would start to take some responcibility and do their frikken job!

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Why bother

It's all middle class hand-wringing anyway. Any ratings system assumes a level of parental control, meaning those most at risk get the least protection.

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Ash
Joke

Blame the Government

There's too much responsibility being left to the parents to bring up children in the correct way. We shouldn't expect them to do so much.

After all, they're only the biological requirements for procreation. Once we have cloning and genetic engineering perfected, we can start plans on the Anti-Sex League.

Then the Clone Army will be complete, and we can fight off Lurgh on Planet Omicron Percii 8.

ALL HAIL THE MORALITY POLICE.

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Flame

Simple answer

PEGI is open to abuse by the industry, and their symbol system is pretty valueless.

If we need a ratings system ( and I think we do) then the BBFC is the obvious choice. They have shown that they are liberal and fair in their ratings (yes, even during the manhunt 2 nonsense) and quite capable of taking on the extra work. Moreover, their ratings are legally enforceable.

But this is the argument that's been going on for years. Regardless of whether there's a ratings system or not, it's the responsibility of the parents to see that their children don't buy inappropriate content (games, films, whatever). *This* is where the whole edifice crumbles.

There were huge numbers of times that I refused to sell a game to a child, when I worked in a games shop, only for the parent to come in a few minutes later, angry and demanding to know why I didn't give little Wayne his copy of GTA or Manhunt.

When I explained that the game was inappropriate, and why, and that I legally was unable to sell it to the child, the only - only - response I ever got was "Yeah, but you can sell it to me though?"

Parent then takes the cash out of the child's grubby hand, slaps it down on the counter and walks out of the shop, giving the bag with the 18 game in it to the 12-year-old child.

Without the parents giving a toss about what their kids do, the only way the age rating can be enforced is with a law similar to alcohol or cigarettes - illegal to buy with the intent to supply children.

Parents - take some fecking responsibility for your kids!

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Paris Hilton

Its hardly rocket science

Since most games contain both ratings systems, or they did last time I picked one up, I see no issue. The problem isn't in the ratings system, its with people who go about panicing about something that is, for all intents and purposes a none issue.

Most game stores enforce the content rating to some degree, so if a game is rated as being older than the person buying, they can't buy it. The problem is most kids parents see games as just that, games, they forget that their are a lot of games that are dealing with some pretty heavy handed things like violence, murder, sex, horror and whatnot. People just need to pay attention to the info on the side of the box, instead of just picking up what little timmy wants for christmas.

Paris, because if she bothered to look at the rating system, she's probably the only one who would get confused.

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2 thoughts:

1. Yes, parents should take responsibility. This ratings "controversy" isn't going to mean a damn thing if parents ignore them anyway.

2. What are they talking about by "online games"? If it's things like Counterstrike or WoW, the ratings cover the boxed version anyway (and would probably be put onto Steam, etc.). If they're talking about things like flash games, they're insane if they think it's possible to rate them - even if they did manage to rate the games, there's no guarantee that people will visit the site with the EU rating in the first place...

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Stop

Sheesh....

The UK uses the BBFC for film, and it's already a legally enforcible classification that almost all parents in the UK should recognise. I say dump the PEGI ratings and let the BBFC do their thing (no reason why that can't involve incorporating ideas from PEGI though).

OFC, as with films, if parents wish to ignore those ratings and let their kids watch/play that title then they will, so it really doesn't matter which badge you put on it does it?

At the end of the day, whoever gets to use their official stamp on the product, the ultimate responsibility lies with the parent/legal guardian of the child/young adult in question.

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Dead Vulture

heres an idea :P

How about the really unique idea of parents and video game retailers taking responsibilty for their own actions.

Many a time i've been in a branch of game/gamestation or some local video game retailer and seen games with bbfc ratings on them been sold to children under that age rating, usually with their parents in some other part of the shop waiting for them after giving them the cash for the game.

We dont more ratings, what we need is people to step up and admit when they have done something wrong or made a mistake both by parents and retailers.

Having said that tho, how your brought up counts as well. My parents always took an interest in what i was doing and playing as a child and took great pains to highlight the differences when i was too young to know them, now if i get annoyed at someone or something winds me up i fire up a copy of doom2 and plough through 10 or so levels to calm me down and it goes no further, much cheaper and more effective than any kind of counselling etc etc. Of course parents today dont take such an interest anymore (on the whole) so todays kids cant see why its wrong to kill a real person and why they dont just get right back up again after they've been shot.

Personal responsibility, its something alien to this world.

/note to all aliens watching this world, can i have one ticket off this rock please??

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Parenting first

first and foremost parents should be responsible about what games (and films) they let their children play. Ultimately it's their decision and all the blame should rest on them if they bring their kids up to be ASBO wielding cop killers.

The PEGI ratings are a lot more practical as far as helping parents decide what to buy for their kids as they actually show the type of content, not just what age the censors think should be allowed to view it.

BBFC is a censorship board for non interactive content, so even if they hire lots of new censors with all the money they force out of what's left of the UK games industry they'll still not have the experience of rating games that PEGI does.

Forcing BBFC ratings on UK games doesn't hurt the big potentially 18 rated games as much as it could the children friendly casual games too. Casual games have to work to tight margins, so slapping extra charges on them for releasing in the UK (as well as UK VAT, overvalued Sterling and higher cost of production here) means publishers may have to consider whether or not it's worth releasing their game in the UK.

Take away the last little incentive of seeing the games you make on shelves in your own country could be the last straw for dev studios eyeing the huge tax breaks they could get for moving to the US, Canada, France or pretty much anywhere except the UK.

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Neither is the best - ESRB is

PEGI ratings have cryptic pictures that are hard enough to figure out if you play games regurlary. I can only imagine what someones granny would make of the pictures on the back of this case.

PEGI: http://www.ihavegames.com/Call%20of%20Duty%204%20Modern%20Warfare%20PS3%20cover%20video%20games.jpg

BBFC is slightly better but the descriptions are wordy and not always clear.

BBFC: http://www.woolworths.co.uk/web/jsp/product/large_image.jsp?product=50994334&image=IMGBC

ESRB appear to have very clear ratings and very clear 2 or 3 word explanations of the content.

ESRB: http://www.playerzblog.com/wp-content/bloodrayne_2_cover.jpg

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Anonymous Coward

FFS

The last sentence sums it up. It's the parents' responsibility.

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Flame

No brainer......

We have a Classification system, when that is proved to be the inadequate part, rather than the reprensible conduct of parents ("My little Johnny can watch/do what he likes, until someone gets hurt... then;s it's everyone else's fault!!"), THEN we should be looking at integrating/abusing PEGI/BBFC.

Although.. here's a radical notion.. how about we putting a sodding classification on Parenting? When they breach the rules of their "classification" fine 'em.

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Stop

Plain english....

I bought a copy of GTA 4 when it came out. On the front is a big red circle with the number 18 in it, the back says "Contains strong violence, very strong language, sex and drugs references". I waited in a large queue consisting mostly of mothers, each with one or more kids* in two, all clutching a copy of the same game.

Arguments between the various classification bodies about who gets to decide the labels that go on games seems ultimately pointless when they are roundly ignored by the majority of parents.

* I'll concede that it may have a group of vertcially challenged adults, perhaps out on a group date with their full-sized wives/girlfriends, in which case I apologise profusely for confusing their gf with their mother.

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Coat

Common Sense

The BBFC's rating is instantly recognisable as it resembles the film rating. The Pegi system is just a load of numbers to most people and lets face it, Britain hates numbers; especially reading some EU document pertaining to what the numbers mean. Those parents will let their kids play the 18 rated, adult themed games as well as watch the video nasties.

There are some truly terrible kids-games out there - they might as well play with some quality s/w like Call of Duty 4 or GTAIV.

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Lets just get this sorted

Make it the same as films. It might stop some of the “ban computer games they are corrupting my kids” people from whining. Computer games have moved beyond toys and should be treated like any other form of entertainment.

If you wouldn’t get your kid an 18 cert dvd, don’t get them 18 cert games either. Easy.

Kids will still go off and play these games and watch these films anyway. But they always have done and always will.

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Gates Halo

Do some damn parenting

There should be a rating system, yes. I'd go with something more universally understood like the BBFC, which blends well with the North American ratings so we're all on the same page. Pegi just seems daft. Really dim. "Hrm, this game has a trillobyte on it. What does that mean? Hello store employee. Do you have a handy chart showing what this little picture means?" versus "Oh, this game says 18+, so no Timmy, you can't have it since you're 12."

And of course it ALL comes down to the parents getting off their asses and doing some damn parenting. "You want this game rated 18+ that's called SimPimp and includes the bonus HookerButcher 5000 game? Sure, just shut up okay."

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Thumb Up

The book with the pictures and the big letters please..

So what they seem to be saying is that numbers and letters are too complicated for kids and the adults they look after, so we should use pictures instead.

So no age classifications, no complicated '18' to signify you ought to be 18 to play this game. What we need instead is a picture of a spider, cos spiders are, like, quite scary, and this way the numerically challenged understand that the game is also quite scary.

Given the average checkout assistant's aptitude in handing over change, I would have to say they're probably right and today's kids are too stupid to understand numbers or letters.

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Coat

Just not the BBFC

I don't care who gets to run the damn thing as long as it's not that bunch of "moral" idiots at the BBFC. These people need their wings clipping, not more power.

Whatever we end up with will make no difference to good parents who would read the back of the box and decide whether the game is suitable just as it will make no difference to bad parents like the one I know that bought GTA San Andreas for her 6 year old then tutted at him, asking why he always killed the policemen and where he got that language from. She still didn't stop him playing it.

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Anonymous Coward

There is a recession coming

can we even afford things like the BBFC, seems like an extravagance we can all do without. Let's start to trim the fat now.

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BBFC all the way

Ive worked in a game shop 8 years I often talk to parents on this issue. The answer is obvious to me, BBFC is the right choice, PEGI is clearly designed by a committee of do gooders and a waste of time.

PEGI is just not noticed by parents. The pictograms are useless. Parents don't see a small black and white picture of a syringe or gender logos and know that means drugs content or sexual content, it really just doesn't happen ever. Even if they did there is no indication of the strength of the "bad" content. What parents really want is simple age guidance. PEGI does offer this but parents just assume the 3+ PEGI logo means its aimed at 3 year olds and get confused when I suggest simtrain might be to difficult for their 3 year old, they then point at the logo...

BBFC on the other hand gives nice big colour logos that parents instantly recognize. Normally on the back it will give a concise explanation of why that rating has been given. eg contains strong and bloody violence. BBFC is also legally enforceable giving gamers a defense against those who seek to censor games.

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Silver badge
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Of course...

... All of this is irrelevant BS based on the idea that, somehow, if people don't see nasty things, they won't *do* nasty things!

Ever since Socrates was forced to drink Hemlock for "corrupting the youth of Athens" Governments have been trying to control or ban anything that they don't like because we, the weak minded public, cannot be trusted to behave like sensible, reasonable, rational beings.

Of course our Great Leaders are such paragons of Moral Virtue that they can make these decisions *for* us...

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Coat

@jai

"...do they have a pictogram for driving cars far too fast and wrecklessly?"

Well... if you're driving wrecklessly, I'd say you're at least learning something about car control...

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@jonathan keith

Legally you are required to refuse to sell the game to the parent as well as you know or at least suspect that they are buying it for a minor. If you sell it to them knowing they are buying it for a minor you are still liable as if you'd sold it to the child directly.

Its the same principle as Tobacco and Alcohol laws.

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PEGI.

But, not everyone's scared of spiders?

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@BBFC all the way

As a parent mainly agree ... film classifications are familiar and easy to understand so having similar system to that for video games should be an obvious choice. The PEGI system sounds rather like ideas for TV/video classification from around a decade ago which, I seem to recall, were believed to be designed to (i) satisfy US legislators demanding a classification system be used and (ii) be so complicated to understand that no-one would actually use them to control access!

From my point of view "18" is a clear indication that a game is not suitable of my children (12 & 8!) .... however for "12" and possibly "15" now I have some issues ... Rome Total War is a "12" yet both my sons have enjoyed this for a couple of years ... yes it involves killing but it also has introduced them to a lot of info about the ancient world. Looks like its the usual "protect the kiddies for killing" mantra at work (and if there's dead bodies you can have blood until they are 15). My older son also greatly enjoys the "Roman Mysteries" books and has been watching the version on BBC ... however same rules apply - first series was abruptly cut in mid series in case a storyline about a child being abducted was "inappropriate" just after the McCann "disappearance" and latest series seems to have skipped a book where several people died and had no-one being eaten by crocodiles int eh Colosseum!

BTW, son also got DVD of "The Longest Day" recently as had seen parts of it on school trip to Normandy battlefields ... BBFC warn that it contains "scenes of battle violence" :-)

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aaargh

It's so frustrating being an anonymous till monkey for a medium sized chain knowing full well that the copy of Devil May Cry 4 or Jericho mummy just bought is going straight into the hands of little "psycho-in-training" just to keep the little reprobate quiet for a couple of hours.

The BBFC classifications are fine, and when we enforce them that's great... but if you end up selling some 18 title to someone and then before they even get out of the store they hand it off to their kid who yells "cool! you can cut off heads!" you just wish you were allowed to walk up take it back and refund the cash saying "you're a moron".

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MrT
Bronze badge

@ "not everyone's scared of spiders"

"not everyone's scared of spiders"

True - not least my 20-month old daughter. She spots a box with one of her favourite animals on it, points her finger and starts on a five-minute recital of "Pidah!" overandoverandoverandover...

andoverandoverandoverandover...

until she than spots one with a sheep on it, at which point the word swaps for "Bahbah!", or a Finding Nemo game etc etc

PEGI is a cartoon, BBFC is clear as day.

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@aaargh

lots of my staff also get very frustrated when parents buy 18 games for kids.

I think its because they have been filled with all sorts of dark warnings of what will happen if they sell an 18 game to someone underage.

It actually doesn't bother me if a parent buy an 18 game for a kid. the BBFC is clear and they are making an informed decision. all kids are different and at the end of the day parents should have a choice. If they are "bad " parents we cant really legislate for that directly.

If little Jhonny is pulling the wool over their parents eyes then retailers should bring it to their attention, but we should not have an opinion on their decision.

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