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

July 31, 2008 -

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.
 

 


Comments

Re: Despite ELSPA Denials, British Govt. Gives Ratings Nod to

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.

Re: Despite ELSPA Denials, British Govt. Gives Ratings Nod to

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)

 


Copyright infringement is nothing more than civil disobedience to a bad set of laws. Let's renegotiate them.

---

http://zippydsm.deviantart.com/

Re: Despite ELSPA Denials, British Govt. Gives Ratings Nod to

Except that Manhunt 2 got an AO rating originally.

Re: Despite ELSPA Denials, British Govt. Gives Ratings Nod to

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.

Re: Despite ELSPA Denials, British Govt. Gives Ratings Nod to

So basically, Am I right in saying that ELSPA, on behalf of the UK video games industry, lied?

Re: Despite ELSPA Denials, British Govt. Gives Ratings Nod to

There's a world of difference between being in denial, and lying. ELSPA falls under the denial part I'd say.

-Gray17

Re: Despite ELSPA Denials, British Govt. Gives Ratings Nod to

"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.

 

Re: Despite ELSPA Denials, British Govt. Gives Ratings Nod to

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

Re: Despite ELSPA Denials, British Govt. Gives Ratings Nod to

But this doesnt mean it won't happen.  The report is a starting point for discussion, not the end set of rules

Re: Despite ELSPA Denials, British Govt. Gives Ratings Nod to

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?

Re: Despite ELSPA Denials, British Govt. Gives Ratings Nod to

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.'

Re: Despite ELSPA Denials, British Govt. Gives Ratings Nod to

And if it was a gore fest toture mini game it would ahve been baned, poltics by location, gotta love it :P

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

 


Copyright infringement is nothing more than civil disobedience to a bad set of laws. Let's renegotiate them.

---

http://zippydsm.deviantart.com/

Re: Despite ELSPA Denials, British Govt. Gives Ratings Nod to

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 --

-- teh moominz --

Re: Despite ELSPA Denials, British Govt. Gives Ratings Nod to

I rather enjoy the  one with the mannequin and the nails.....

and look, not banned in the UK.

Re: Despite ELSPA Denials, British Govt. Gives Ratings Nod to

Funny that, 'cos no game has ever (permanently) been banned in the UK.

-- teh moominz --

-- teh moominz --

Re: Despite ELSPA Denials, British Govt. Gives Ratings Nod to

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...

Re: Despite ELSPA Denials, British Govt. Gives Ratings Nod to

18 cert

Re: Despite ELSPA Denials, British Govt. Gives Ratings Nod to

oh and yes it was the BBFC that rated it (missed that bit)

Re: Despite ELSPA Denials, British Govt. Gives Ratings Nod to

Well, that sucks.

Re: Despite ELSPA Denials, British Govt. Gives Ratings Nod to

So lumi... are you american or British?

Re: Despite ELSPA Denials, British Govt. Gives Ratings Nod to

Translation "Are you ze hated amerkin or a fellow proper britian who thinks censorship for the masses is a good thing."

:P

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

 


Copyright infringement is nothing more than civil disobedience to a bad set of laws. Let's renegotiate them.

---

http://zippydsm.deviantart.com/

Re: Despite ELSPA Denials, British Govt. Gives Ratings Nod to

It's Briton btw.

And this isn't censorship mate. Please L2PoliticiallyAnalyse

Re: Despite ELSPA Denials, British Govt. Gives Ratings Nod to

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 --

-- teh moominz --

Re: Despite ELSPA Denials, British Govt. Gives Ratings Nod to

*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.

Re: Despite ELSPA Denials, British Govt. Gives Ratings Nod to

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

Re: Despite ELSPA Denials, British Govt. Gives Ratings Nod to

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.

Re: Despite ELSPA Denials, British Govt. Gives Ratings Nod to

 

No that’s way too much it’s more like lint :P

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)

 


Copyright infringement is nothing more than civil disobedience to a bad set of laws. Let's renegotiate them.

---

http://zippydsm.deviantart.com/

Re: Despite ELSPA Denials, British Govt. Gives Ratings Nod to

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? 

Re: Despite ELSPA Denials, British Govt. Gives Ratings Nod to

The people that will be the most affected by it, aka the various game publishers, don't seem to welcome it.

-Gray17

Re: Despite ELSPA Denials, British Govt. Gives Ratings Nod to

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 --

-- teh moominz --

Re: Despite ELSPA Denials, British Govt. Gives Ratings Nod to

I and a lot of my fellow UK posters beg to differ.

Re: Despite ELSPA Denials, British Govt. Gives Ratings Nod to

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.

Re: Despite ELSPA Denials, British Govt. Gives Ratings Nod to

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.

Re: Despite ELSPA Denials, British Govt. Gives Ratings Nod to

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

Re: Despite ELSPA Denials, British Govt. Gives Ratings Nod to

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...

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?

Re: Despite ELSPA Denials, British Govt. Gives Ratings Nod to

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

Re: Despite ELSPA Denials, British Govt. Gives Ratings Nod to

"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.

Re: Despite ELSPA Denials, British Govt. Gives Ratings Nod to

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 --

-- teh moominz --

Re: Despite ELSPA Denials, British Govt. Gives Ratings Nod to

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

Re: Despite ELSPA Denials, British Govt. Gives Ratings Nod to

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 --

-- teh moominz --

Re: Despite ELSPA Denials, British Govt. Gives Ratings Nod to

Suck on that ELSPA :)

You too zippy.

Re: Despite ELSPA Denials, British Govt. Gives Ratings Nod to

Ya let me get a magnifing glass. *rolls eyes*

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

 


Copyright infringement is nothing more than civil disobedience to a bad set of laws. Let's renegotiate them.

---

http://zippydsm.deviantart.com/

Re: Despite ELSPA Denials, British Govt. Gives Ratings Nod to

I guess he really IS fuzzy brained...

 
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