BBFC Head: Spat with PEGI? What Spat with PEGI?

October 8, 2008 -

Unless you've been hibernating for the last few months, it would have been difficult to miss the simmering feud between the BBFC and PEGI.

Both are in contention for the job of rating video games in the U.K., where PEGI enjoys the support of ELSPA, the U.K. game publishing lobby, while the BBFC appears to be favored by the government.

In a guest column for Edge Online, BBFC head David Cooke plays down the rivalry, which has gotten fairly nasty at times:

I have been reading recently that there’s a spat between the BBFC and ESLPA or the BBFC and PEGI. I don’t recognize this so-called spat. I have great respect for ELSPA and for PEGI and for the games industry...

Cooke also discussed the U.K.'s bifurcated game rating system, which currently uses both PEGI and the BBFC:

The conclusion that [Tonya Byron] reached was that we should still have a system in which both the BBFC and PEGI were involved for the UK but the BBFC should have a rather bigger role covering everything from age 12 and older.

 

In parallel, the House of Commons Select Committee on culture media and sports looked at the same kinds of questions as Tanya Byron, and they took a lot of evidence from many experts, including ELSPA.  They reached a similar conclusion to Byron.

Cooke also points out the difference between BBFC's mandate and that of ELSPA:

BBFC isn’t a lobbying organization, like ELSPA. It’s a statutory regulator. Our position is we’ll do what the government wants us to do... The key difference between us and PEGI is that we classify in accordance with guidelines that the British public has been consulted about. PEGI doesn’t do that and can’t really because it involves 27 different countries.


Comments

Re: BBFC Head: Spat with PEGI? What Spat with PEGI?

You really should- if you're going to toot your own horn about classifying- quote- in accordance with guidelines that the British public has been consulted about, then you need to accept that the fuss over your classification of Manhunt 2- or more accurately your refusal to do so despite happily classifying the Saw and Hostel films- is because the ratings you have given certain games gives that impression, or at the very least, are rating them incorrectly. There is, as they say, no smoke without fire.

You need to realise that the Saw and Hostel films are not the most violent, goriest films ever made, there are many many much more extreme films which have been banned by the BBFC.

Re: BBFC Head: Spat with PEGI? What Spat with PEGI?

Full list here for those who are interested (film, video and games).

http://www.bbfc.co.uk/website/Classified.nsf/SearchClassifiedWorks/?SearchView&Query=(REJECTED)%20and%20((%20[TypeOfMedia]%20contains%20Film)%20OR%20(%20[TypeOfMedia]%20contains%20Video)%20OR%20(%20[TypeOfMedia]%20contains%20DigitalMedia))&SearchMax=1000

The Texas Vibrator Massacre from this year stood out for some reason.

It's worth taking a look just for some of the older ones, poor Betty Boop, too filthy for the 30's

Re: BBFC Head: Spat with PEGI? What Spat with PEGI?

There's only really three issues that I have with the Edge article that hasn't been brought up extensively in other threads. The big one is:

>I really reject the notion that the BBFC can’t handle issues of scaleability. Look at the DVD market. In 1997 we had just over 3,000 DVDs to classify. By 2006 that had risen to to over 15,000, an increase of 460%.

This is meaningless unless we get to see the decline of VHS over the same period- if it's the case that in 1997 they had over 15,000 VHS submissions which dropped to 3,000 or less by 2006, then that isn't expansion, just reshuffling- DVD, fundamentally, was the same content as VHS, making it redundant and replacing it wholesale- we will be seeing the same effect, gradually, with Blu-ray. This is not the case with games.

Moving on:

>We’re not in any sense hostile to the gaming world and I don’t recognize the sort of coverage that suggests otherwise.

You really should- if you're going to toot your own horn about classifying- quote- in accordance with guidelines that the British public has been consulted about, then you need to accept that the fuss over your classification of Manhunt 2- or more accurately your refusal to do so despite happily classifying the Saw and Hostel films- is because the ratings you have given certain games gives that impression, or at the very least, are rating them incorrectly. There is, as they say, no smoke without fire.

Lastly:

>It’s not true that we attempt to see every single game element

Funny, that- PEGI do. All 12+ and higher games are seen, in their entirety, by a PEGI official, as detailed in their own guidelines.

/b

Re: BBFC Head: Spat with PEGI? What Spat with PEGI?

double post

 

Re: BBFC Head: Spat with PEGI? What Spat with PEGI?

>I really reject the notion that the BBFC can’t handle issues of scaleability. Look at the DVD market. In 1997 we had just over 3,000 DVDs to classify. By 2006 that had risen to to over 15,000, an increase of 460%.

This is meaningless unless we get to see the decline of VHS over the same period- if it's the case that in 1997 they had over 15,000 VHS submissions which dropped to 3,000 or less by 2006, then that isn't expansion, just reshuffling- DVD, fundamentally, was the same content as VHS, making it redundant and replacing it wholesale- we will be seeing the same effect, gradually, with Blu-ray. This is not the case with games.

A fair point, the BBFC has statistics on their website (front page under our statistics). Under type of work: Video (which covers VHS, DVD, Blu-Ray and HD-DVD, doesn't split them down beyond that but the numbers give a fair enough indication of what they are talking about)

1997: 3279 total works

2008: 9268 total works

Their 'over 15000' is  abit of a choice stat from 2006, 15122 total works which is their biggest year but that still a big increase from '97 to '08.

Funny, that- PEGI do. All 12+ and higher games are seen, in their entirety, by a PEGI official, as detailed in their own guidelines.

According to PEGI in their How are games rated? section.

As some games can take several weeks to fully complete, the publisher will highlight in their submission those areas of the game that may affect the rating proposed. It is primarily these areas that are viewed to determine the correct age rating.

 

That's not the same as viewing a 12+ game in it's entirety, the only proper PEGI Guidelines that I came across was the one explaining their ratings so i'm not sure if this is covered elsewhere.

Re: BBFC Head: Spat with PEGI? What Spat with PEGI?

The BBFC and PEGI fighting?  Why do I have an image of someone shadow boxing in my mind?

-Ultimately what will do in mankind is a person's fear of their own freedom-

Re: BBFC Head: Spat with PEGI? What Spat with PEGI?

Also the Daily Mail is nothing but sensationalist trash.

 

I would feel that many in the Videogame Industry have already found that out by now.

 

Unfortunately most of the parents of the UK still don't know about the lies the Daily Mail has told them about videogames over the years.

 

The Byron Review puts it perfectly when she says that we need to stop with all their fear of Videogames and start looking at the way children are participants and not victims when it comes to Videogame Content.

 

TBoneTony

Re: BBFC Head: Spat with PEGI? What Spat with PEGI?

I had  a feeling that all this infighting was started by politicians who wanted BBFC to cover all Videogame content. They just missinterpretated the Byron Review into their own agendas and the PEGI getting a bit worried and they fight back.

Sometimes we just need to all sit down and read the Byron Review again.

 

Plus I don't mind having the BBFC cover the 12 and up, as long as the PEGI still have their own ratings either still at the back or at least next to the BBFC ratings just so people can understand that this is just the recogmended views of two different ratings board and the parents can chose which one to follow or at least make the decision on their own.

 

 

TBoneTony

Re: BBFC Head: Spat with PEGI? What Spat with PEGI?

>this is just the recogmended views of two different ratings board and the parents can chose which one to follow or at least make the decision on their own.

What would the value of that be? At present, the BBFC's ratings have the force of law behind them, and we can logically expect this to continue in all possible situations bar full PEGI implementation. Doesn't this make what any other board thinks more or less irrelevant?

/b

Re: BBFC Head: Spat with PEGI? What Spat with PEGI?

Well, at least he's a darn sight more civil and courteous than that ELSPA chap.

-- teh moominz --

Re: BBFC Head: Spat with PEGI? What Spat with PEGI?

It's easy to appear more civil and courteous when it's clear the government are going to come down on your side.

I say "appear", rather than "be", because you'd be hard-pressed to find a statement from the BBFC on this subject that doesn't include some willy-waving comment along the lines of "Well, the Tanya Byron thinks we're amazing, and so do the government and are obviously going to pick us anyway, so, you know, shut up, ELSPA." Hell, it's even made it as the middle quote in the GP aricle.

/b

Re: BBFC Head: Spat with PEGI? What Spat with PEGI?

Our position is we’ll do what the government wants us to do.

Oh crap. That's so going to be misinterpreted. PRO TIP: It doesn't mean, "If the government wants a game banned, we will do it."

Re: BBFC Head: Spat with PEGI? What Spat with PEGI?

If PEGI was to become the organisation to rate games with legal backing in the UK it would "have to do what the government tells it to do". Many will quickly pick up on these comments as meaning that BBFC is told by the government what to ban (such as an MP calling for a particular game to be banned), but what it actually means is that certain content is illegal in the UK, such as instructional material supporting terrorism, and by law the BBFC have to check for this particular content to prevent it from being released.

Re: BBFC Head: Spat with PEGI? What Spat with PEGI?

"It’s a statutory regulator. Our position is we’ll do what the government wants us to do." Spoken like a true monarchist. 

"We respect PEGI; we're just better than them, and we represent government regulation." And they wonder why the Americans revolted...

Re: BBFC Head: Spat with PEGI? What Spat with PEGI?

They kind of have to. If they didn't do what the UK government wanted the mto do, the ywould be dismissed and replaced by another group that will do what the government wants them to do. It would suicide not to do as told.

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Re: BBFC Head: Spat with PEGI? What Spat with PEGI?

Plus if PEGI took over they'd have to do what the UK Government/European parliment wants anways. The grass is not always greener.

Re: BBFC Head: Spat with PEGI? What Spat with PEGI?

Lets not drag Europe into this - the Daily Mail is getting excited enough!

The EU has no power in this area, and is unlikely ever to do so. That is one of PEGI's problems; this is a very 'national' issue, not a European one.

On another note. I wish he hadn't said Government. While the BBFC has engaged with a Govt commisioned Review, by Byron, the powers the BBFC exercise are not granted or controlled by Govt. The UK is still a Parliamentary democracy. It was Parliament that gave the BBFC the role, not Govt.

That's my constitutional rant for the day.

 
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