UK Game Raters: What They Earn, What They Do

Among gamers, the British Board of Film Classification is best known for issuing a controversial ban on Manhunt 2 last summer.

In the wake of the Byron Review, however, the organization’s game rating future is up in the air as the UK video game industry has expressed a preference for using the PEGI rating system. With that backdrop, Spong takes a look at the BBFC and how games get rated there. Press officer Sue Clark told Spong:

[Examiners] have to be good at playing games. There are no ‘formal’ qualifications… but you do have to have a good level of education and a good grasp of English as you are required to produce well argued written reports… Most games are played by at least two examiners and if necessary several may play the game.

Clark said that the average BBFC examiner is in his or her mid-thirties. Of the 32 employed, 19 are men and 13 are women. They are well-paid, earning from  £33.950 to £45,758 [US $66,036 – $89,003].

You also have to have an interest in film because games examiners don’t just classify games. It also helps if you have an understanding of child development because the majority of the works classified are for people under the age of 18.

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on RedditEmail this to someone


  1. 0
    Gift ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Actually a human assessment without some level of box ticking quantitation could easily be more subjective. I’d prefer a hybrid myself, the BBFC seem to go part way there with swear words but don’t give much detail on how the rest of the content is assessed. There must be guidelines describing what levels of violence/sex fit in which rating, it can’t be as free form as this interview would suggest.


  2. 0
    Freyar says:

    You are probably right, but this kind of system is just begging to be abused by biased people with ulterior agendas.

    There is a limit for both politicians against video games, and video games against politicians.

  3. 0
    X201 says:

    The BBFC (human) system is far better than the PEGI box ticking approach. A human can weigh up the cumulative effect of events in a game where as PEGI relies on which boxes have been ticked by the games own publisher.

  4. 0
    Monolith says:

    They get paid that much? I wonder how much an ESRB rater gets paid.

    Oh sure, when a monkey does it, that’s fine. But whenever I throw barrels at an Italian plumber, then its a hate crime! – Stephen Colbert

  5. 0
    GusTavToo says:

    A friend of mine is a part-time examiner with the BBFC. He’s in his 30s and has always been a gamer, but has also had a career in the law and media. He was involved in the rating of Gears of War and many other gamesas well as films. Watching porn for a living isn’t as glamerous as you might think.

    They are all pretty experienced people who have varied media interests. I’m pretty happy that they do a good job within the contrainsts in which they work.

  6. 0
    Shay Guy ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I’ll grant that it’s been years since my days at the GameFAQs forums, but…isn’t Spong notoriously unreliable?

  7. 0
    MSchmahl says:

    I am sure they have guidelines, but I am sceptical that completely objective standards would accomplish anything useful.  Where a 1.5-3 hour movie might succumb to objective age-ratings (such as, a certain quota of swear words, certain types of nudity, or a certain level of gore), a game that is designed for 50-100 hours or more of play might have deeper hard-to-quantify issues.  Such as, are moral decisions handled well?  If the player wants to choose a path of evil, does the game allow/condone/encourage/discourage it?

    I think, for example, a game that is morally grey, rather than black and white, would be more suited to a mature audience.

    In any case, movie-type ratings cannot directly translate into game ratings, and anyone that doesn’t play and enjoy games should not be rating them.

  8. 0
    Freyar ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Wouldn’t it be better to have a guideline as to what is and isn’t appropriate for certain age groups (on a classification front?) I mean, if you end up with people making an opinion instead of basing it against a checklist, you end up with a bit (or in the worst case scenario, a lot) of bias in terms of the person’s personal values.

    The system is “fail” on the count that now, you have developers having to scratch their heads and wonder “Who’s gonna review my game over there today?”

Leave a Reply