back to article World+Dog tosses orb in public on Byron Review

The Byron Review into the effects of videogames and the internet on children was months in the making. But it’s only taken one day for everyone from government ministers to quangos to voice their opinions on the Review’s recommendations. Yesterday, psychologist Dr Tanya Byron’s review proposed a legally binding system of age …


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  1. Kevin Peacock

    The BBFC is not up to it

    As the debacle over Manhunt 2 shows, the BBFC is not a suitable body for reviewing games. They showed that they were unable to stand up to the media pressure following the furore over the original Manhunt.

    With free movement of goods and digital distribution, I would have to say that a European wide rating system makes much more sense than for the UK to stick with its own parochial and flawed classification body.

  2. Fenwar
    Thumb Up

    Well I'll toss my own orb then

    A lot of games have movie-like content - both in-game and in cutscenes - so there's a strong case for closing the loophole and classifying them like movies.

    Its a lot more work for the BBFC though - there's a big difference between watching a 2 hour film or playing through 20+ hours of gaming (and ensuring any "hidden" content is checked too?) Perhaps they don't have the expertise right now but if they're going to do the job, it'd be easy enough to get it in.

    Parents taking responsibility for what their kids play is what it's all about, but as a parent myself I want to be able to make an informed choice.

    Then again, it's rarely the case that you can't tell what to expect from a game just by checking the screenshots on the box or a few reviews.

    Or playing the whole game through myself first... just to check it, of course... you understand...?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I find the idea of the BBFC nannys playing 60+ hours of Final Fantasy and other long RPG or FPS's to get a real idea of what's going on quite amusing.

    Any age rating from those jokers would just be based on deranged media propaganda not actual content.

  4. This post has been deleted by its author

  5. Alex
    Paris Hilton

    Just wondering

    Initially, I was thinking the games industry must be feeling cautious towards the possibility of a greater role for the BBFC, particularly after they banned Manhunt 2.

    Thing is, if I understand the current PEGI/BBFC system correctly, the BBFC only rates a game when a developer chooses not to use PEGI, in which case, why didn't Take Two do the obvious thing and get it released with a PEGI rating in the first place?

    Is there already some kind of dependance on the BBFC?

  6. Dazzer

    Sorry if I haven't been paying attention but...

    What the hell is going to happen on April 29? You've got me worried now, is it the day the revolution is due to start?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I thought you already faced criminal prosecution if you sold an BBFC rated game someone underage. I work in retail, and I am constantly reminded to check the customer's age when necessary, with the threat of a £5000 fine and/or a criminal record if I, say, sold an 18 rated game to a 15 year old. So how is that part of the report recommending anything different?

  8. Graham Marsden
    Thumb Down


    The credibility (or lack thereof) of Dr Byron's review can been judged by the fact that she says the following about the Home Office's "Rapid Evidence Assessment" which they had cobbled together to back up their draconian plans to outlaw what they call "extreme pornography":

    "[...] a recent study looking at pornography and its effects on adults did find evidence of effects, including on attitudes, beliefs, fantasies, desires and behaviour of those who use it (Itzin, Taket and Kelly, 2007)"

    What she doesn't mention (or doesn't know) is that Itzin et al are feminist anti-pornography campaigners and Itzin herself said "pornography plays an important part in contributing to sexual violence against women and to sex discrimination and sexual inequality", so it seems unlikely that any report authored by here was impartial or unbiased!

    Neither does she mention that all the above study really says is a statement of the bleeding obvious, ie that people who are inclined to violence tend to look at violent material, but offers *no* proof that there is a causal link.

    Do you know the expression "Post hoc ergo propter hoc" Doctor Byron??

    PS She also claims that "Some material on the internet, such as [...] extreme pornography is clearly illegal in the UK."

    The hell it is, Doctor Byron! The House of Lords are currently kicking the Government's backsides about this one and anyone who agrees that Big Brother shouldn't try to tell us that "if you look at this you'll do nasty things" should visit the Backlash site at and write to the Lords and their MP before we see Thought Crime enter British Law.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How ridiculous can one get?

    precise and independant ratings -yes (though the Bunch of Bad Fscking Clowns might not be able to provide that).

    Prison for the resellers? Ho great. But in this case, let's not forget to execute the retailers who later sell the guns, knives, bats, crowbars or whatever can be used to commit an offence. And the car seller each time a retard is caught doing stupid things behind the wheel.

    We clearly need more patronizing and less responsability. As, you know, we (parents, kids, and everyone) are clearly unable to think and make decisions by ourselves. Baaaaaaaaaah. Thank you, Ho Mighty Sheppherd.

  10. SteveMD

    Good in parts.

    Dr. Byrons report talks a great deal of common sense in the face of some daft ideas about the material in question and a clear desire by the government to bring in legislation to 'control the internet'.

    Worryingly she agrees with extending the blacklisting already in place for child abuse site, to other sites which show 'inappropriate material'. so now we must have another public space defined by what is 'safe' for children, simply because parents will not take responsibility?

    Any parent who leaves their child unattended to surf the internet is committing neglect, it is that simple. The education of parents should simply be about stating what is obvious; the internet is not an electronic nanny and is not 'safe'.

    Dr. Byron admits that it is almost impossible to regulate the internet and even goes as far as to say banning some sites may just drive vulnerable users to more obscure and harder to monitor sites. Attempts to restrict internet use for all do not harm those who are hardcore 'offenders', they simply move to another site or private mail group or switch to encryption. It is everyone else who has their freedoms chipped away yet again.

    Games already have clear age certification. Who buys games the games certified for 18 years and older, that so many under 18s play? Can't parents read? do they never check what their children are doing?

    Though there is some sense talked in this report the authors referral to contested and, far from proven, evidence as reason to move in certain areas is dismaying and an indicator of the same old knee-jerk responses. Much better is the call for more research in these areas, though I have no doubt the government will stack the deck and make sure any research gives them the answer they want, as this seems to be their way of working nowadays.

    On the whole not a bad report, but too much room for Government to spin it into anything they want, which is bound to be more infringements of our rights.

    "Tell the people that what you are doing is for the sake of the children and they will accept anything."

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I had wondered how long it would e until someone took the "extreme pornography makes men rape and murder woman" notion which is fundamental to the extreme pornography law that has properly been kicked into touch by the lords. Would be applied to other areas of media. I didn't know she was using that particular study to support her arguments.

    Just another sign of the governments crusade against thought crime.

    You will be a good consumer.

    You will eat government sanctioned food.

    You will enjoy government sanctioned media.

    You will enjoy government sanctioned fantasies.

    You will be content.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    load of old tosh

    films and video games dont make kids into monsters!

    bad parenting, social conditioning and total lack of discipline creates hoody little yobs!

    All my kids have watched films of any age, the only restriction I place is no sexually explicit films, they can have all the high speed car chases and violence/horror they want, and the proof is I now have 2 twenty+ kids in jobs, two others in top forms at school, and a five year old who needs bumping up a year, and we live on a druggy ridden council estate, my kids some of the only ones working with working (married) parents who can call they father dad and mean it

    so wheres the damage caused by letting them watch films?

    Damage is the lack of discipline in schools and the home.

    Rubbish study, rubbish conclusion

    Anon posting so the thought police dont come in the social services black helicopter.

  13. Rob

    Not long now...

    "In news today the government has announced that it has solved all of our prison space issues. They are now, no longer locking up gamers who wanted a bit of excitement from their games. People who are no longer happy with the Government funded 'Games for Kids' scheme can go to the Isle Of Wight which the Government has sanctioned as a gamers paradise. On the Isle (which was happily donated by the Island's populace) gamers can play games developed outside of the Government's own games labs. Some people have complained that relatives are not coming back from Gamers Paradise, but the Government states that it is simply in the gamers intention to stay and that if they're not contacting their own families then they were probably scum anyway.

    In other news, the African food crisis has been resolved entirely today after the British Government sent a shipment of food to the continent. The new product called Soylent Green will help ease starvation..."

  14. Mike

    @load of old tosh

    "All my kids have watched films of any age, the only restriction I place is no sexually explicit films, they can have all the high speed car chases and violence/horror they want"

    I've never quite understood this mentality in the mainstream world - you get it from parents as well as from censors on the television.

    No-one seems to have an issue with people breaking the law, be it murder, mutilation, blood and gore flying everywhere, pain and suffering caused to (fictional) people in some of the most hideous ways possible - yet as soon as 2 people start fscking (which with a few exceptions, is only about pleasure to both/all three/or more? parties) or saying a naughty swear word (the classic "get the flip outta here" type dubbing prevalent on ITV for many years) then everyone gets up in arms.

    Do you not feel hypocritical that you ban your kids from watching two people fsck (people over the age of 16 having sex = legal), yet have no problem letting them watch Arnie, Stallone, etc rip hundreds of people to shreds with guns, knives, etc (murder = illegal).

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    yes murder is illegal - but then not many folk get murdered making films... The essential tennent is that you should know reality from fantasy. Things that happen in films and TV shows arn't real there is no pause button, no rewind, no second chances in life. As long as you understand that then you can enjoy any fantasy quite safely, and I more or less had that concept down by the time I was 7.

    However at the time I was too busy climbing trees and playing army to be interested in slice and dice movies.

    As to pronz well I didn't want my mother renting/buying me porn anyway so I had no qualms about her not getting me such things.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ignore all ratings

    I reckon all media ratings should be ignored. A 13 year old watching a 15 rated movie is not only going to enjoy it more as they "shouldn't really be watching it", but they're going to go to school and tell all their mates about it, thus making themselves more popular than the kids who don't get to watch these movies. This will build self-esteem, social placement and allow the kid to succeed in later life.

    Kids prevented from doing so will simultaneously feel like they are missing out, will not be able to join in conversations about these movies and it will only serve to generate self-loathing lack of confidence in later life.

  17. matty
    Thumb Up

    Read it first...!

    To all those rubbishing the report, saying violent games create violent children, try actually reading the report first!

    This happens to be very well-thought-out, mature, open-minded and considerate to the gaming industry. At no point does she blame games or scream the usual "blame this sick filth...", it simply reinforces that certificates are there for a reason and should be followed by retailers and PARENTS! She even makes a point of saying there is NO EVIDENCE that violent media creates violent people, but violence and adult-themed material should simply be kept away from kids... A lot of the comments made in newspapers this weekend took the report completely out of context and did their best to further sensationalise the story (no surprises there Daily Mail, ahem...)

    This is now a prime opportunity for the gaming industry to scream back to the general public, "Yes we are a mainstream form of entertainment, yes we have adult-themed games, yes they are rated as such and no, we are not responsible when a parent knowingly buys their kids adult rated products..."

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