Despite ELSPA Denials, British Govt. Gives Ratings Nod to BBFC

Some rather curious developments out of the U.K. yesterday… 

Early on, James Kirkup, political correspondent for The Guardian, wrote a story to the effect that the British government would recommend that the BBFC, which rather famously banned Manhunt 2 last year, should rate games for the UK market. Kirkup predicted the official word would come today.

Later yesterday, ELSPA, which represents UK game publishers, called Kirkup’s report "speculation" and "scaremongering."

Yet Kirkup has proved prescient. As Edge reports this morning:

A report from the UK House of Commons Select Committee on Culture, Media, and Sport has revealed that body’s preference in BBFC ratings over the industry self-regulating PEGI system…

 

the committee maintains that BBFC ratings are more “thorough and rigorous" than the PEGI system, and that the BBFC symbols “command greater confidence”… 

Meanwhile, the CMS committee’s report itself concludes:

There is a distinct issue about labelling of video games to indicate the nature of their content. Two systems currently exist side by side: the industry awards its own ratings, and the British Board of Film Classification awards classifications to a small number of games which feature content unsuitable for children. The dual system is confusing, and Dr [Tanya] Byron recommended that there should instead be a single hybrid system. We believe that Dr Byron’s solution may not command confidence in the games industry and would not provide significantly greater clarity for consumers.

 

While either of the systems operated by the BBFC and by the industry would be workable in principle, we believe that the widespread recognition of the BBFC’s classification categories and their statutory backing offer significant advantages which the industry’s system lacks. We therefore agree that the BBFC should have responsibility for rating games with content appropriate for adults or teenagers, as proposed by Dr Byron, and that these ratings should appear prominently. Distributors would of course be free to continue to use industry ratings in addition.

Gizmodo terms the CMS recommendation "decisive," adding:

The decision will come as a real blow to the pan-European games rating system, PEGI, backed by games software developer organisation, ELSPA as well as big guns like Microsoft, Nintendo and Ubisoft.
 

 

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93 comments

  1. 0
    oto kirlama says:

    I’m all for freedom of ttnet vitamin speech and allowing rent a car game makers to put whatever they want in games, but there’s one thing about this app that has me scratching my head.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but from araç kiralama the previous article araba kiralama on this I gathered that players can use Google maps in-game to find the other (real-life?) dealers in their area.  If this is the case, has travesti anyone considered what’s stopping someone from using this app to actually move drugs between hands for reals?

    But majority araba kiralama of their outrage araç kiralama stems from what it could DO TO children, not the content itself.  Talk to one of these people and you’ll find they don’t think any books kiralık araba should be banned from children.  Mention American Psycho and they talk about kiralık araç the redeeming value of using imagination to construct a story.  Reading, no matter what the content, is largely viewed as a consequenceless activity for people of any age.  The reason why I mention American Psycho is because of the content itself.  Gaming never has and likely never will have any scenes where someone has sex with a severed head.  Not gonna happen.  Yet despite this, they’ll fight tooth and nail to protect their children from two boys kissing in Bully but whatever they read is harmless… yeah.

    The entire arguement is kiralık oto based upon a social normality inflicted by luddites who can’t figure out the controls for Halo so it’s frightening and terrifying and obviously the cause of youth violence on the rise even though, in reality, it’s in decline (which is actually a HUGE suprise given minibüs kiralama the economies status).  In  a perfect world, we would have parents that actually parent.  The idea of sales restrictions on media on oto kiralama any form to accomidate parental unwillingness to get involved with their child’s life is the real problem to me.  Here I am, 32 years old, and being held up at a self-scan rent a car needing to show ID before I can buy a $10 M rated game all because Soccer Momthra can’t be bothered to look at the crap Billy Genericallystupidson does in his free time.  It’s too hard for her, so I have to suffer?

  2. 0
    Jeff says:

    I certainly appreciate your input on the subject good sir.

    I think what a lot of angry Brits fail to realize about the Americans on this thread is that, in our country, we have nutjob politicians. If our rating system, the ESRB, were to ever have the force of law behind its decisions then it would most certainly be abused here. That’s the entire reason I’m against the force of law behind something such as this.

    Then again, you have to remember we have nutty, greedy, power hungry politicians over here who would love to turn this country into a nanny state the first opportunity they got.

  3. 0
    SticKboy says:

    It’s rather tiresome, I agree. Everybody trots out the same old arguements whenever somebody new pops up. I’ve been coming here under different guises for ages now, and it’s the same every time.

    — teh moominz —

  4. 0
    SticKboy says:

    This is the wittiest post I’ve read on here in ages! You, sir, have a fan in me. That said, please don’t knock Zippy too hard. He may be a moron, but he’s our moron and this place would be duller without him.

    — teh moominz —

  5. 0
    Anonymous says:

    Woah woah woah….

    Let me get this straight now…

    So what you’re saying is that actually playing the game in any way or form is unnecessary to the rating of it?

    I think I have you pegged now Zippy. You live in some kind of Lalaland, smoking crack and reminiscing about the golden years.

    Let’s take your logic one step further shall we?

    Hmm…let’s see…oh yes:

    1) We should all buy games based on the pretty picture on the cover, simply because it looks cool. After all, checking to see if the game is good or not is a total waste of time. Of course, my British friend told me that the game wasn’t that good after all, but hey, why should I listen to what others with experience tell me?

    2) When someone is accused of paedophilia, we shouldn’t trial him or check for conclusive evidence. We should string him up and let him dance the hemp fadango because as we all know, every man is innocent until speculated.

    3) Why bother looking into the facts of anything at all? I mean, I’m not part of a group of brainless sheeple. I’ll just believe whatever the games industry wants me to believe. But hey, I mean, most of them are companies from my country and I’m just so keen on giving them my hard earned cash. But wait! Even better! I can just pirate them, because I refuse to make any form of moral choice regarding the matter. Why worry about it when I can make up facts to justify myself along the way?

    And that is how the "internet sensation" that is Zippy has come to pass.

  6. 0
    Anonymous says:

    I think you’ll find that the very reason why we Brits tend to favour the BBFC isn’t because of the "Old VS New" argument, but that we actually HAVE weighed up the consequences based on the choice of either two systems, and the BBFC would seem to suit Britain better than the PEGI. (The Byron report goes into this in great detail)

    The BBFC isn’t expoited by the Government as a 1984 Dept of Censorship. Additionally, we’re not as sensationalist as some of your more rigid politicians. If it were being abused, trust us, we’d get the system changed.

    What I don’t understand is why some of the GP readers here (read: Zippy) are so intent on cramming a less reliable and misleading system which has greater potential for flaws and isn’t so ready to amend its mistakes down our throats?

    Let me try to put it to you in this way. We often compare the US to the UK in terms of freedom of speech, religious zealotism, our respective health industries etc.

    I on the other hand often compare Japan with the UK, the two being from similar Imperialist island backgrounds.

    In Japan, you can often buy beer or cigarettes in vending machines everywhere. It’s cheap, and if there isn’t on readily available, you can get them from 24 hour convenience stores.

    This system, although brilliant for the Japanese who wouldn’t often abuse this system wouldn’t work for the UK, what with us having an ingrained Chav and LagerLout culture.

    I  mean, try setting up a beer vending machine in Brixton and see how long it’ll last…

    The way that we have our BBFC suits the needs of our populace, and if it doesn’t, then they’ve shown signs that they’re willing to self improve and make the first step to change. PEGI would give us a blanket system which might not necessarily be suitable for British culture when compared to other European countries.

    Just because some believe the US to be the last bastion of freedom doesn’t mean one has the right to force what one might think is suitable (considering your own cultural background) down our throats. That’s infringing on our own liberties to believe in something different. By doing so, you are impeding our ability to choose what is right for us.

  7. 0
    Gus Tav Too says:

    "the trouble is 7-8 out of 10 times palying the "code" is pointless, for msot games your not goign to gain more insight over it from palying it."

    In the vast majority of games there is probably no need to play the game. In those cases they probably don’t do much more than a cursory check. The BBFC will still require a playable version of the final release version to be provided. The BBFC will examine what they feel is necessary to award the appropriate rating, and more importantly give advice to consumers. The textual advice they give is very important, particularly at the lower end of the scale. The advice around the PG, 12A, 12 in films is instructive.

    If the material is clearly inoffensive and falls within a particular rating for clear reason the process will be quick. If it is a more difficult decision it will take longer. It is up to the publisher to give all the information they can to speed up the process; they are paying for it.

    As the BBFC only deals with the top end at the moment the advice is probably less important (some might describe the task as ‘slotting’ but I’m not really sure what that means). As the advice role becomes more important, particularly around the 12A criteria, they are really involved in classification rather than a simple rating task. Context is king when it comes to giving advice on the potential impact of the experience on the player.

     

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

    And as if to prove his point, I haven’t a fucking clue what you are talking about in this sentence.

  9. 0
    SticKboy says:

    The point of ratings isn’t to make life easy for publishers – it’s to inform, and reassure the general public. With that in mind, efficiency plays second fiddle to horoughness and attention to detail. The point being is that you and I as gamers may know that a Crash Bandicoot or Spyro game, for example, are standard kids’ fare that wouldn’t trouble a five year old, however most parents don’t. It’s for this reason even the games that seem to have obvious classifications require scrutiny.

     

    — teh moominz —

  10. 0
    SticKboy says:

    I don’t disagree with that. I think 18R is an underused classification (much like AO) and I am uncomfortable with the idea of banning something outright if it’s possible to restrict its sale in a genuinely effective manner.

    I do think, though, that all games should be played/viewed/experienced in order to determine a rating. I mean, to my mind that’s how you determine a rating.

    See? We almost 100% agreed on something…

    — teh moominz —

  11. 0
    BunchaKneejerks says:

    Well I doubt its down to money, given the multi-dollar development costs the BBFC fees are a drop in the bucket. Oh and you forget that they need to pay PEGI too.

    Effort? Rubbish, by the time it gets to submitting the game is fully developed, all the debug codes are there, all the documentation that the BBFC would require is complete. The amount of effort is tiny when compaired to the effort required for, say, Microsofts testing procedure to get your game digitally signed for distribtion of the 360, go read Jeff Minters blog’s archives about the hastle he had getting Space Giraffe onto Live.

  12. 0
    ZippyDSMlee says:

    "The BBFC already do that. They watch show reels of all the cut-scenes etc, and they also have acess to playable code. That code will usually have a full de-bug mode to allow then to access whatever material they want to see. The importance of playing the game is to understand the context in which the material is seen and the relationship between the player and the action on screen. It helps to undertsand the impact and role of the material within the player’s experience."

    the trouble is 7-8 out of 10 times palying the "code" is pointless, for msot games your not goign to gain more insight over it from palying it.

    I is fuzzy brained mew =^^=
    http://zippydsmlee.wordpress.com/
    (in need of a bad overhaul)

     

  13. 0
    ZippyDSMlee says:

     

    Sorry the fact that they play them in any length in a mandatory fashion makes it just as cumbersome as if they played it normally(and this mindset is stuck in idiots(me) head), it’s not needed for most games save the full review for the more questionable and harder to pin games.

    I know the nuances in the law and how things work are different, but I can’t help but feel if they made it so that slotting would be banned games to 18R(yes I know they can’t do it now but if they could mind you) if they slotted them to 18R it would say to the public you can have your media in a restricted fashion it would say to the pubs theres no middle ground or back door(if they make all imported  versions of it 18R highly unlikely I would think, a case could be made in court that a censored version is not the same but the point is to control the content if just a bit without the appearance of full on censorship).

    Would also really like the bann system to be focused to if it’s not rated then its18, I think that would make for a boon in the used and retail markets, if things get sold thigns get taxed, it’s all win IMO.

     

     

    I is fuzzy brained mew =^^=
    http://zippydsmlee.wordpress.com/
    (in need of a bad overhaul)

     

  14. 0
    SticKboy says:

    Zippy, you have not fully grasped exactly how the BBFC rate games. They do not play them as you or I would play them. The utilise any number of means, from cheats and shortcuts to utilsing teams of people each focussing on a particular segment if game. I agree it would be a long, laborious, cumbersome task if the BBFC evaluated a game in the same way a videogames journalist, but they don’t. I’m sorry, I thought you were aware of that already.

    — teh moominz —

  15. 0
    Gus Tav Too says:

    "1) It’s only more widely recognized because it’s been around longer. Bad ideas do not get better with age – I don’t think it’s fair to ignore the BBFC’s problems simply because it’s an old system."

    The length of time the BBFC has been operating doesn’t make it any better or worse, but it does mean that it is trusted by the public. When it comes to classification, whcih is largely seen in the UK as a public protection role, trust is vital. The BBFC already have it, PEGI hasn’t built it up yet.

    Listening to the radio interviews across different media today in the UK the BBFC put their case very well, ELPSA sounded very shrill and didn’t do themelves any favours by using easily demonstrable falsehoods on air, PEGI didn’t even put a rep. If you want to look as if you are at arms length from the industry you are regulating, try having a presence.

    "2) Many people aren’t convinced that playing the games makes the rating more accurate than the ESRB’s system of viewing representative footage of the game."

    The BBFC already do that. They watch show reels of all the cut-scenes etc, and they also have acess to playable code. That code will usually have a full de-bug mode to allow then to access whatever material they want to see. The importance of playing the game is to understand the context in which the material is seen and the relationship between the player and the action on screen. It helps to undertsand the impact and role of the material within the player’s experience.

  16. 0
    ZippyDSMlee says:

    The problem is you see no problem and thats the crux of the argument you guys refuse to see the flaws in the BBFC, when tis jsut as screwed up as the ESRB.

    The nuances of child,teen and mature levels differ from populace to populace, but in the end  banning does not work, full reviews make for a cumbersome process NO MATTER THE POPUALCE.

    I wish we had media age laws here in eh states to shut our polis up, I wish we were less thoroughly immature over nudity, the BBFC dose things well enough but it can be better for the populace as a whole not the moralists or the government but for the populace who does not need moralists protecting adults from adult things..

    I is fuzzy brained mew =^^=
    http://zippydsmlee.wordpress.com/
    (in need of a bad overhaul)

     

  17. 0
    SticKboy says:

    The point I am trying to make is that if you want to start holding forth with opinions on a foreign culture, it helps if you at least try and see things from their point of view.

    — teh moominz —

  18. 0
    ZippyDSMlee says:

     

    Not quite, although having a worldwide ESRB with branches to do localized work like pegi dose is not a bad idea, altho it’s better to let the larger countries have their own system but this does not mean stupid ideas and themes will be ignored, you have masses of people living under the BBFC that know nothing of how it works and yet get a couple outsiders who might have some information about it and you some people get overtly anal retentive and they really have to grow up and take criticism as it coems and try and make reasonable counter points not “ZOMG uuu outsider uu suck”, “zomg amerikcans sucks” “ZOMG our system works better because its…. ours…”.

    Ballocks I say!

     

     

    Both the ESRB and trhe BBFC are flawed one can be fixed more easily while the other is hopelessly stuck in amerikan politics and heres a hint it can’t be fixed so easily and it’s not British.

    I is fuzzy brained mew =^^=
    http://zippydsmlee.wordpress.com/
    (in need of a bad overhaul)

     

  19. 0
    SticKboy says:

    Benji, it’s not my place to comment on the US system, which is why I didn’t directly refer to the ESRB. In fact, it’s this Americanocentric viewpoint that continues to get my goat. I’ve yet to hear a single, solitary British pundit suggest that actually playing the games is unnecessary; even so PEGI’s system doesn’t even factor in viewing representative footage. If it did, perhaps I’d feel differently. But it doesn’t. PEGI certainly isn’t independent of the videogames industry, as it’s maintained by the major publishers themselves. So out of the two choices that are available to us – BBFC and PEGI – I choose the former principally because it has a more thorough methodology.

    Now, if you suggest that the UK should adopt the ESRB, i’ll really blow my lid, for the reason that those age ratings are determined by and for the US market, not the UK’s.

    — teh moominz —

  20. 0
    ZippyDSMlee says:

     

    Good points to the ESRB I mean we can count 2 maybe 3 cockups one was because it has no middle ground for teen games making something that for all accounts should be teen class adult (Oblivoin), and GTA:SA which by all account is a bunch of nothing, were talking deleted/disabled content magically appearing with “outside” code that makes the game still no worse than a PG13 film.. and on the BBFC side we have manhunt 2 and some gaffs over other games which barely makes for 2, I don’t see one being inherently better here, unless you are a blind patriot and then well logic and reason is a loss for uuuuuuu*lick*.

     

     

    PEGI  would still be bound by law I do not see how they could avoid it I mean if they were made “IT” things would be adjusted as so they can do a reasonable job, so the only things that would change are the inability to slot a game and full reviews.

     

    I still think the BBFC could be the best if they just re structure a bit.

    I is fuzzy brained mew =^^=
    http://zippydsmlee.wordpress.com/
    (in need of a bad overhaul)

     

  21. 0
    ZippyDSMlee says:

    Time, money, effort, sanity, it’s silly to think a “normal” mature game or child’s game is going to magically become less or more by playing it all the way through like a retard on crack looking for divine intervention(in a similar fashion as to how zippy tries to write hoping he will improve if just lil by lil :P).

     

    Is that good enough for you MR.Anonytroll?

    I is fuzzy brained mew =^^=
    http://zippydsmlee.wordpress.com/
    (in need of a bad overhaul)

     

  22. 0
    Benji says:

    1) It’s only more widely recognized because it’s been around longer. Bad ideas do not get better with age – I don’t think it’s fair to ignore the BBFC’s problems simply because it’s an old system.

    2) Many people aren’t convinced that playing the games makes the rating more accurate than the ESRB’s system of viewing representative footage of the game.

    3) My understanding is that the ESRB is fundamentally independent from the industry. It is a separate entity which provides a service to game companies (rating games) and receives payment for that service. If the ESRB were giving inaccurate ratings then the industry would stop paying them to rate the games.

    Just giving a different perspective on the BBFC – PEGI may still be far inferior. I’m just not convinced, based on those statements, that the BBFC is definitely better.

  23. 0
    ZippyDSMlee says:

    As much money as they take from the indutry with the gun called law theya re as much a part of the problem.

    Pegi is alil better because they slot without a moralist creed, if the BBFC would refocus away from full reviews and bans alil more it would be the best rating system in the world. 

     

    I is fuzzy brained mew =^^=
    http://zippydsmlee.wordpress.com/
    (in need of a bad overhaul)

     

  24. 0
    SticKboy says:

    The BBFC’s symbols are more widely recognised than PEGIs. Furthermore, the BBFC play the games they rate. Finally, the BBFC is independent of the industries whose products it rates. It’s for those three reasons the UK GPers have a stated preference for the BBFC.

    IMHO, if PEGI wasn’t merely a check-box system and exercised some due diligence (at least as much as the ESRB would be a start), then it might have more British supporters.

    — teh moominz —

  25. 0
    ZippyDSMlee says:

     

    Again well said, it needs to be tweaked and pruned and made better before it becomes such a bureaucracy that the only way to change it is to kill it.

    The BBFC has more going for it than the ESRB but is held back to much.

    I is fuzzy brained mew =^^=
    http://zippydsmlee.wordpress.com/
    (in need of a bad overhaul)

     

  26. 0
    Benji says:

    The difference is that UK GPers don’t mind it because it isn’t used as the government’s censorship tool. US GPers don’t like it because the potential exists for it to be used as the government’s censorship tool, even if it won’t necessarily be used so.

    I’d also argue that the situation is made worse by the fact that the US seems to have a lot more people that would like to see games censored. The BBFC model may work for you across the pond, but I think it’d be more readily abused here.

  27. 0
    Benji says:

    If it were definitely better, I’d be all for it, but the justification for favoring the BBFC seems not to extend beyond ‘it was here first, and more people are aware of it.’  The geocentric model of the solar system was there first, too, but it was phased out in favor of a better system.

    Not that I’m saying the BBFC is definitely inferior – I don’t know the relative merits of the two enough to pass judgment. But lots of good ideas are beaten to the market by competitive but bad ideas, so saying something was there first isn’t much of a justification at all.

    Besides, if change is needed, better to do it sooner rather than later before it becomes enough of an institution that change becomes even more complicated. The MPAA ratings system has been active long enough that if they completely changed the ratings system then lots of people would be wildly confused.

  28. 0
    Anonymous says:

    There seems to be a lot of ill-feeling about the BBFC from the US GP-ers.

    Are there any UK GP-ers who feel the same fear for the BBFC? I expect not. The fact that the BBFC has been operating for a hundred years means we Brits are used to to the concept that it not a governmental tool to oppress the masses.

    It works, and the Byron Report recognises that fact. PEGI will need to be used for online (i.e. international/European) content, but BBFC ratings will be used for everything else.

    Still think the UK is a hotbed of totalitarianism? Bare in mind that this system has already been in place in this country for years already, and you seemed okay with it before.

  29. 0
    Anonymous says:

    But then it’s important to realise that nutjob politicians get ridiculed in this country, so they can’t get away with it as much.

    Every word by our PM is scrutinised by not only an army of journalists, but also the opposition parties. Any stupid comment can bring embarrassment to the party in the House of Commons.

    Although our politicians aren’t perfect, it’s just that it’s harder to get away with megalomaniacal antics than in the US.

    As such, different political systems + different culture means that what works in UK won’t always work in US and vice versa. It’s not as if we’ve given up our freedom or anything. To think so is crazy. To believe that the US is the only place that hasn’t, despite all the evidence to the contrary is also crazy.

    Again, just my 2p.

  30. 0
    Anonymous says:

    I wish you would run your posts the spelling and grammer checker in Word or OpenOffice before you put them on the website, but hey, its just not gonna happen either.

  31. 0
    ChumaStillWaitingForUserAccountConfirmationEmailFromGP... ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Sorry Zippy, but just because I defend the BBFC doesn’t make me mindless.  Infact I have pretty much torn apart every argument you’ve thrown at me on the subject, you just choose to ignore the points that have been made.

    Now you are trying to compared the BBFC to Slavery?  Do you ever actually think anything through or do you just spout crap as it comes to you? 

  32. 0
    ZippyDSMlee says:

     

    No that’s way too much it’s more like lint 😛

    But really when you mindlessly defend the BBFC you might as well be supporting slavery(more like servitude) in a modern scene, you claim the good points forgetting it removes the individuals basic rights from the table, although if properly regulated I guess it could work too….mmmmm  

    I is fuzzy brained mew =^^=
    http://zippydsmlee.wordpress.com/
    (in need of a bad overhaul)

     

  33. 0
    SticKboy says:

    Of course not, but as I say below, the role of ratings isnlt to make life easy for the publishers, it’s to inform and reassure the general public. In this particular case, the British public.

    — teh moominz —

  34. 0
    ChumaStillWaitingForUserAccountConfirmationEmailFromGP... ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    And if you bothered to read any of the articles on the BBFC you’d see my more than coherant argument.  Fact is that most of the people on this site that bang on that the "BBFC is part of government" or "PEGI is more thorough" or any other comment from utter ignorance of the UK laws and way of life… MOST of these people tend to be AMERICAN.  Further more, Zippy’s two cents are more like a couple of ha’pennies.

  35. 0
    Krono says:

    While I’m not particularly impressed by Zippy’s displayed IQ in this thread, I must say that I’d call his translation more accurate. Particularly as your comment runs off the assumption that the one poster must be either American or British. As opposed to say, Canadian or Austrailian, or pretty much any other place in the world that might have it’s own two cents to throw in.

    In short, Zippy’s right that you’re just looking for confirmation of your bias so you can attack like a rabid dog; rather than field an actual logical argument like a man.

    -Gray17

  36. 0
    ChumaStillWaitingForUserAccountConfirmationEmailFromGP... ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    *pats head*  You win a prize.  In this case the prize is having an IQ larger than Zippy’s.  It’s not much, but hey, it’s better than a cookie.

  37. 0
    SticKboy says:

    Actual translation: why would you say something sucks if a) you’re unaffected by it and b) the people who are affected, welcome it?

    — teh moominz —

  38. 0
    SticKboy says:

    Not one bit, I have the utmost respect for the ESRB. It chastised Take 2 over ‘Hot Coffee’ and raised the rating for Oblivion – whether or not you agree with these decision, it demonstrates that the ESRB are prepared to stand up to the big publishers. Personally, I don’t agree 100% agree with these decisions, but as I said that’s by the by.

    Furthemore, the ESRB’s ratings methodology is demonstrably sound – people outside of a game’s creative team/IP owner assess and evaluate the product independently using video and other materials to determine a rating. SOme North American commentators have argued this this is even better than actually playing the game. However, nobody has argued that this is inferior to PEGI’s check-box ratings system.

    So yes, I do support the ESRB for use in the USA. At the same time, I support a hybrid BBFC/PEGI system for the UK, with the BBFC in the driving seat.

    — teh moominz —

  39. 0
    BunchaKneejerks says:

    "Afterall, how often do the two disagree? It seems to me that if they disagreed often, we’d have heard that as an argument by now."

    I can’t comment on the frequency of this occurance but it does happen. As an example Mass Effect was given a PEGI rating of 18+ whereas the BBFC rated it a 12. Alone in the Dark was given an 18+ the BBFC gave it a 15. Metal Gear Solid 4 18+ vs 15. Note: those were the first three random games I found that had differing ratings, I wouldn’t use them to paint a trend. The reason this hasn’t come up before is that UK punters don’t really pay attention to PEGI ratings. They take heed of the universaly known and understtod BBFC ratings.

    "Which kinda calls the need for the BBFC’s thoroughness into question. If you get the same results from either strictly scrutinizing someone, or trusting them to be honest, of how much benefit is it to keep strictly scrutinizing them just to keep an honest man honest?"

    I believe its a matter of public confidence and accountability. This is possibly going to seem like a poor analogy but I feel its applicable. Would you trust a game review in a magazine that didn’t play the game that took the publishers word for it? Hell no! I would put more faith in a review in Edge magazine over that of the Official Xbox Magazine. The fact is that a body independant of the developer is in a better position to give a fair unbiased assessment.

    "My thought would certainly be that any legislation to give PEGI the force of law would replace the relevant portions of the Video Ratings Act, rather than add to them."

    Thats not how it works, the act would stay the same only a different regulator would be chosen. The BBFC are not mentioned at all in the act. The jist of it is the act states the criteria that a certification should not be issued. PEGI would be mandated to refuse classification in certain situations.

    "other than the opinion that an independant ratings board wouldn’t be so quick to ban as the government run one was."

    Oh now this is where it gets interesting, the BBFC is independant of the Government it recieves no funding from public money and its staff are hired as per a private company IIRC no positons in the company are governmnent appointed, and it is independant of the games industry.

  40. 0
    Krono says:

    So do you think that the ESRB is a phony system as well? It’s set up and maintained by the publishers and it’s received plenty of accusations of being lax.

    -Gray17

  41. 0
    Krono says:

    Because I don’t think PEGI works fine and I don’t think its the correct choice for the UK. This is what I think is weird, the bulk of people arguing for PEGI are Americans on the contrary those advocating the BBFC are my fellow Brits.

    Fair enough. Being one of those Americans, I’m operating from the standpoint of "the rest of Europe seems to be fine with it, so it must be working ok." Therefore since the UK already uses it in conjuction with the BBFC ratings, it just seems more logical to me to grant PEGI official status rather than try to expand the scope of the BBFC. Afterall, how often do the two disagree? It seems to me that if they disagreed often, we’d have heard that as an argument by now.

    Granted the BBFC is much more thorough, but as I said, how often does it actually disagree with PEGI? It’s floridly against developers best interests for the rating on one of their games to be inaccurate, so I can’t imagine any developers/publishers deliberately lying about content. Which kinda calls the need for the BBFC’s thoroughness into question. If you get the same results from either strictly scrutinizing someone, or trusting them to be honest, of how much benefit is it to keep strictly scrutinizing them just to keep an honest man honest?

    The matter of the clarity of the ratings makes for a much better argument. I agree that the BBFC ones do sound much more clear than the PEGI ones. I suppose I could argue that it’s matter of education, but I do think it sounds like PEGI could stand some improvment. The ESRB and the BBFC make use of words rather than pictograms to good effect, with little impact on the space taken up on the box. To tell the truth it’s always sounded odd to me that PEGI used pictograms, but as I said, I seems to work ok for most of Europe; so I just shruged it off as a cultural difference.

    Its a misconception that if PEGI were to be made the games classifier for the UK then it would not ban games. Any company acting in this role will be required to operate under the Video Ratings Act and therefore be mandated to refuse classification to any media meeting the criteria denoted in that act.

    That is an interesting point there. I suppose it’s a matter of thinking that giving PEGI ratings the force of law would be just that – giving them the force of law. Given that as far as I know, neither PEGI nor the ESRB are set up to refuse classification, the logical thought is that if their ratings are simply legally enforced, nothing would be outright banned as the case of classification being refused. My thought would certainly be that any legislation to give PEGI the force of law would replace the relevant portions of the Video Ratings Act, rather than add to them.

    Still, given that the criteria is apparently rather nebulous given the whole Manhunt 2 debacle, I’d say it wouldn’t matter that much, other than the opinion that an independant ratings board wouldn’t be so quick to ban as the government run one was.

    -Gray17

  42. 0
    BunchaKneejerks says:

    Because I don’t think PEGI works fine and I don’t think its the correct choice for the UK. This is what I think is weird, the bulk of people arguing for PEGI are Americans on the contrary those advocating the BBFC are my fellow Brits.

    To quickly summerise, the primary differences between the BBFC and PEGI are the pictograms they use and the methodology they employ. The BBFC symbols are common knowledge in the UK, they typically consist of U, PG 12, 12A, 15, 18, R18 which is often accompanyed by a box on the rear of the packaging with a small description of explaining stronger content "Contains frequent action violence and one use of strong language" "Contains very strong bloody and sadistic violence" "Contains very mild threat and violence." PEGI comprises of 3+, 7+, 12+, 16+, 18+ (note: some countries use different age groups iirc) followed by a graphical pictogram expressing the content of the game. A common critque of the content icons is that they can often be mistaken when not acompannyed by text explaining what they mean. An example raised in the Byron report is that the icon for Discrimination was mistaken for multiplayer.

    If we assess the methodologies, When submitting to the BBFC a developer submits a working copy of the game, a showreel of ingame cinematics/cutscenes, scripts, access to saved games, cheats, debug menus and other salient points, a reviewer then spents time playing the game and reviewing the provided media which is then used to generate a classification decision by the reviewer.

    I suggest viewing this document used for submissions to the BBFC http://www.bbfc.co.uk/downloads/pub/Submitting%20Companies/Video%20Games%20Submission%20Form%202.2.pdf

    Now, onto PEGI. A developer logs onto the PEGI website, fills out a digital version of this form http://www.pegi.info/media/doc/172.doc and gets an instant classification decision.

    Its a misconception that if PEGI were to be made the games classifier for the UK then it would not ban games. Any company acting in this role will be required to operate under the Video Ratings Act and therefore be mandated to refuse classification to any media meeting the criteria denoted in that act.

    Hold on a second, did I say quickly summerise?

  43. 0
    SticKboy says:

    For me, because PEGI seems like a phony system. It’s set up and maintained by the publishers and has the most lax ratings methodology going. It also takes a very one-size-fits-all approach to the individual countries’ tastes and cultural background. It is, however, very effective at rating online games, which the Byron report supports and suggests PEGI retains its role in rating online games. 

    — teh moominz —

  44. 0
    Krono says:

    Ohh speaking of which, according to Dennis who runs this site the UK is Ground Zero in the games debate. Guess hes another American PEGI fan then.

    No, it’s not that he’s an American PEGI fan, it’s that the UK’s actually got a bunch of back and forth debate going on. We don’t really have that at the moment here in American, or down in Australia. Stuff runs pretty one sided and predictable.

    Though speaking for myself, I’m not sure why you feel compelled to bash PEGI there. It seems to work just fine, so why the insistance that anyone that says it should be used rather than the BBFC system is wrong?

    -Gray17

  45. 0
    Anonymous says:

    Ahhh, memories. My personal favourites were during the Manhunt fiasco I remember several posters saying to the effect of "Mark my words, GTA 4 will get banned in the UK" oh and someone else saying that a game like GTA "could never be made in the UK."

    Ohh speaking of which, according to Dennis who runs this site the UK is Ground Zero in the games debate. Guess hes another American PEGI fan then.

  46. 0
    Colonel Finn ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Indeed. 

    The noticable change to the UK gamer will be…… nil.  Except kids games will now feature little PG or U symbols in the bottom corners.

    Although I’m quite certain there is about to be a deluge of posts from some of our fellow posters in the US who will tell us that our civil liberties are about to be infringed as the fascist Government run BBFC is about to ban all of our games and dictate what we ought to play.

  47. 0
    Anonymous says:

    Lol…I call bullshit on this one.

    Come on Zippy…lets see your sources for this one now.

    Oh wait….hehehe…I see what you did there. Very clever.

    "And somehow you fail to realize that banned media is still confiscated by the UK parcel system, no it does not affect you lil sheeple because it has never effected "YOU", you self righteous pompoms ass that’s not the  point, the point is it effects the people even in its current randomly enforced state."

    By the by, how is this in any way relevant to our current discussion of the BBFC VS PEGI?

    Sheeple indeed. Please take a look at your own political clime before you slate ours. Faux News anyone?

  48. 0
    ChumaStillWaitingForUserAccountConfirmationEmailFromGP... ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    "And somehow you fail to realize that banned media is still confiscated by the UK parcel system"

    LIES!  Give ONE example of this… go on!  We’re all waiting…

  49. 0
    SticKboy says:

    The point I was trying to make is that ratings only affect people who purchase games, not self-confessed pirates such as yourself who steal them.

    Please understand where I’m coming from. I don’t think pirates (or hackers for that matter) necessarily deserve censorship (or jail time). I just wish you’d pay for the stuff you use.

    — teh moominz —

  50. 0
    ChumaStillWaitingForUserAccountConfirmationEmailFromGP... ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    If the age breaks are no good then that makes the whole system of the ESRB flawed to begin with regardless of the game it is rating, which means that those suggesting that the ESRB is in some way superior to the BBFC are laughably wrong.

    Also, the re-rating ONLY came about from the poltical pressure and the news stories about external content.  Now think about this a moment…. external content is like me taking a comic that I bought, drawing a penis on it for my own amusement, and then expecting the place that sold the comic to ban the sale of the original comic to anyone below the age of 18.  Isn’t.. I dunno… FUCKING STUPID?!?  But the political giants got their teeth into it, and the ESRB changed the rating anyway… but according to the more vocal americans on this site, the BBFC is more likely to be influenced by the government?!?

    Hypocrites.

  51. 0
    ZippyDSMlee says:

    Looking at how midly mature games like castlevina get a "teen" rating in the UK and euro land, a jump from 13+ to 17+ is to much, the ESRB needs a 15+ level and probly a 18+ level for a real NC17 rating, AO can be elft for porn and thus enver never used.

    I is fuzzy brained mew =^^=
    http://zippydsmlee.wordpress.com/
    (in need of a bad overhaul)

     

  52. 0
    Benji says:

    Part of Oblivion’s re-rate may be due to the age breaks in ESRB ratings. A lot of people thought the original game WAS violent enough to warrant more than a T rating and thought Oblivion was generally too violent and too dark to warrant a T. If the ESRB had a 15+ rating, Oblivion would have probably got it. But, the ESRB only has 13+ and 17+, and Oblivion proved to be a problem case because it feel very neatly between the two. I suspect Halo may also be in the same boat (from what I hear, at least) – it’s intense action with guns and explosions but with little blood and gore and no sex or gratituous swearing, and I’ve heard from many people that it’s unfair for Halo to share the same rating as GTA.

  53. 0
    SticKboy says:

    The BBFC would state that it would depend entirely on the context.

    I, for one, would not be upset if "gore-fest torture mini-games" weren’t available at retail. However, I recognise it’s not up to me to say what other people can and cannot play.

    — teh moominz —

  54. 0
    Chuma ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Aye, pretty much. If the full release had fake sex in it without showing any genitals, rather than it requiring a patch to view, it would still have got an 18 cert.

    It amuses me that most US posters seem to think that the US is the last bastian of free speech and zero censorship.  As I said elsewhere, before you point the finger, remember that Oblivion was rerated from Teen to Mature on the back of political pressure in the US.  In the UK, still a 15.  And yet they accuse the BBFC of being prone to political capitulation…

  55. 0
    ZippyDSMlee says:

    Let’s go over where the BBFC fails, so you all can bash me more.

     

    Banning post review.

    Full re review of ported games.

    Full review for all games regardless of need.

    These issues make the system cumbersome and antiquated at best; The BBFC has the means to be one of the best ratings systems but is held down by cumbersome processes, first off change focus from banning to labeling unrated media to a automatic 18 this removes 80% of problems in importation, mail order and sale of items because all this goes on anyway with it being randomly enforced wasting parcel employees time playing censorbot, because most media is not 18 they will happily go to the BBFC for better slotting, because of the age laws in the UK you don’t need to have a redundant ban law when the age law protects children because protecting adults from adult material is sadly immaturely anal retentive.

     Make the review process faster for common media, this media dose not push the edges and is what it is, however if need be a full review can be done to fully grade the media in question, at worse slap a 18R on it this will be almost worse than ban, much more restrictive in terms of sale and with profits in danger they will either reroll the game or let it stand.

     Re reviewing stuff that has already been reviewed is kind a dumb you already have rated it take the new content if any and level up eh rating if need be , a few games like dream fall the longest journey won’t be coming to the UK XBL branch because of time/cost issues, the process does not need to be so anally cumbersome.

     I have dished on the ESRB in the GP forums a lot besides the AO fiasco the slotting ranges are pathetic you have 2 or 3 sub 6,6,10,13,17 and a unused AO, like E10 amid point between 6 and 13 I think a T15 is needed for the teen level it would help move less than mature M17 titles out of the M line and make M17 a more solid rating, even so I think adding a M18 level for NC17 gore and leaving AO for porn is one of the better things the ESRB can do to make the ESRB that much better as a rating board, but like the BBFC they concern themselves with politics a bit too much and cannot evolve to become a better ratings board.   

     In the end here’s a question you have to ask yourself do you want government having so much power over media it can ban on a whim whatever it dislikes and then bipolarly enforce it to have a random admin enact a law or precedent one day that closes whatever “but I can still get it loophole”  you have today, are you so sure you want government to have that much power when they cock up so much?

     Full reviewing is debatable it works for harder content but not so much for “normal” content, banning is just a fake moralistic gimmick that makes the moralist feel better while wasting time, money and effort.

    ———————–

    And for those bashing me because I refuse to be a good lil sheeple and lap up what big media is shating out for the masses well I don’t care much for consuming poo like the masses …doo….*lick*

    Besides in a commissioned driven media industry all the “small folk” get paid it’s the CP owners and conglomerates that might lose pennies on the dollar if that.

     I is fuzzy brained mew =^^=
    http://zippydsmlee.wordpress.com/
    (in need of a bad overhaul)

     

  56. 0
    ZippyDSMlee says:

    So you wish to censor my rights to comment becuse you think less of me, how flamingly nice of you. *lick*

    And somehow you fail to realize that banned media is still confiscated by the UK parcel system, no it does not affect you lil sheeple because it has never effected "YOU", you self righteous pompoms ass that’s not the  point, the point is it effects the people even in its current randomly enforced state.

    I is fuzzy brained mew =^^=
    http://zippydsmlee.wordpress.com/
    (in need of a bad overhaul)

     

  57. 0
    SticKboy says:

    I’m afraid to say Dennis has reported this inaccurately. Nothing has been decided yet, Hodge has just opened up another period of consultation.

    To be honest, I will be almo as miffed about a BBFC-only ratings system as I would be for a PEGI-only ratings syetm. Dr Byron hit the nail on the head – why canlt people listen to the woman?

    I will say one other thing, though – the BBFC’s spokespeople conduct themsleves much better in interviews than ELSPA’s.

    Also, have you considered that some North American commenters miught simply be posting flame-bait? Just a thought…

    Lastly, Zippy has no right to weigh on this debate as this ruling only affects people who buy games at retail; theives will remain unaffected.

    — teh moominz —

  58. 0
    ZippyDSMlee says:

     

    Just get in the right set of people and welcome to a system that’s akin to Newzeland where the 18 level is used infrequently at best, although with 2 or 3 tweaks the BBFC would probly be the best rating system in the world.

    I is fuzzy brained mew =^^=
    http://zippydsmlee.wordpress.com/
    (in need of a bad overhaul)

     

  59. 0
    davc4 says:

    Im sure i heard Tanya Byron state that she preffered bbfc over pegi but an amalgamation of the 2 would be best.  (this was around the time of the report coming out but my memory could well be failing me as well).

    Me personally i feel that in all honesty that the bbfc are the best candidate for the job here,  although there is nothing wrong with PEGI the British public are used to bbfc ratings and in the most part trust the bbfc to get it’s job done correctly.
    I have no issue with the bbfc having legal backing and have no fear that the Goverment steping in (there isnt really any reason for them too either.)

  60. 0
    Chuma ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Rather than me typing it a 3rd time, read up about Oblivion being rerated due to political pressure in the US and not in the UK… ho hum.

  61. 0
    Anonymous says:

    PEGI? thorough? Mate, whatever if it is you’ve been inhaling I strongly suggest laying off the stuff. The BBFC has nothing, I repeat that, nothing to do on the current political leaders beliefs.

  62. 0
    shady8x says:

    So a system which sets arbitary moral lines based on current political leadership’s beliefs is chosen over a much more thorough better system?

    Wow what surprise….

  63. 0
    BunchaKneejerks says:

    The report states that the director of the BBFC was hesitant to allow another company to use BBFC logos without assessing that companys methodology.

  64. 0
    Pug says:

    "Row over video games ratings plan" thats how the BBC is reporting this today… but its a very british row, one where one set of people recommend something and then there is a consultation period…. its hardly a Row, but a Row gets more attention.

    To be honest, which ever way this comes out the impact on the average gamer will be nothing… we just end up with a standardised rating symbol on the front of the box, which is the one people have seen on films for years.

    I personally favoured a system where the PEGI continued to rate the games and that rating mapped onto a BBFC symbol in the UK.  This seemed like less hassle than anything else. 

    We shall see what comes out at the end, but this certainly isn’t the big topic think it is… its just got games and age ratings in the story… so can then have violent games and various crimes they aren’t associated mentioned in the same article, which ofcourse will sell papers.  nuff said.

     

  65. 0
    BunchaKneejerks says:

    All the main stream GTA games since the very first have had an 18 cert (not too sure about the handheld versions.) Extra fun fact, when US politicans and the ESRB were in melt down over "Hot Coffee" the UK went ‘Meh, its already an 18.’

  66. 0
    SinisterInfant ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    This site needs an acronym FAQ.  Seriously there’s so much abbreviation going on I have no idea what part of this article is talking about.

    Also ELSPA sounds like a FF character. (FF = Final Fantasy, now you can add it to the new acronym FAQ!)

    A question for you boisterous UK folks.  What rating did GTA 4 get and did the BBFC rate it?

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