ELSPA Green Lights New Color-coded Ratings

ELSPA, the trade group which lobbies for game publishers in the U.K., plans to introduce a color-coded rating scheme.

The move comes in the midst of ELSPA’s bitter struggle with the British Board of Film Classification for control of game content ratings in the U.K.

According to Gamasutra, ELSPA’s new system is based on something that’s familiar to everyone – traffic lights.

The new color codes would be layered on to the existing PEGI rating categories. Games with 16 and 18 ratings would get a red light, a yellow for 12s and green for games suitable for young children.

Of course, with three colors and five ratings, not all of the kinks have been worked out.

Gamasutra writes:

The new rating system is in response to the UK government’s upcoming consultation into video game ratings on November 20 and to child psychologist Dr. Tanya Byron’s recommendations in her recently published report on the effects of video games on children.

Not surprisingly, BBFC spokeswoman Sue Clark criticized the ELSPA plan:

There is a system in place already which people know and understand and which in fact uses the traffic light colours, and it’s called the BBFC system.

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43 comments

  1. 0
    State says:

    Once again the Saw and Hostel films aren’t examples of extreme film. To the mainstream people consider these films to be the most graphically violent films going, but they are not, and indeed the BBFC have banned the truly extreme films. Judging by Manhunt’s content, it was much more extreme and graphic than Saw’s.

  2. 0
    JustChris says:

    Some older anime videos had large labels on the boxes saying that it is for mature audiences only. The idea was clear- to tell parents that this was an exception to the common sterotype that all cartoons are for kids.

    This was back from the days when anime wasn’t so mainstream, cartoons were just for kiddies and the only current American cartoon that wasn’t aimed just at kiddies was The Simpsons.

  3. 0
    squigs says:

    "To be honest, if a parent isn’t smart enough to figure out the current ELSPA, PEGI, ESRB, or CERO ratings as they already are, then there really is no way they will understand anything."

    Surely that doesn’t mean we should just give up. 

    I’ve been complaining that the PEGI ratings are virtually unnoticable for ages.  What does the 12+ mean?  Are they the publisher?  These ratings look a bit like the BBFC ratings.  It should give a clue.

    "However, the bigger problem is that many parents ignore the ratings systems entirely because of their belief that all games are for kids."

    True that.  Honestly the only way would be to put a large notice covering half the game saying "This game contains themes of violence, implied sex, and illegal drug use, and really isn’t the sort of thing you want to expose your precious darlings to"and I think even if they did that half the kids would still be able to nag their paarents to buy them GTA. 

  4. 0
    Nocturne says:

    I don’t think parents problem was with the ratings themselves (at leat with BBFC and PEGI which both use ages), 15 or 16+ are both pretty clear, but when both appear on the box, which do you go by? That’s telling you that the UK says a 15 year old can buy it legally but a European company advises they don’t until they are 16.

    But yes most do just ignore them, either through not undersanding the content of a game with that rating, or not caring. I think either is equally likely.

  5. 0
    Zerodash says:

    To be honest, if a parent isn’t smart enough to figure out the current ELSPA, PEGI, ESRB, or CERO ratings as they already are, then there really is no way they will understand anything. 

    However, the bigger problem is that many parents ignore the ratings systems entirely because of their belief that all games are for kids.

  6. 0
    Zerodash says:

    To be honest, if a parent isn’t smart enough to figure out the current ELSPA, PEGI, ESRB, or CERO ratings as they already are, then there really is no way they will understand anything. 

    However, the bigger problem is that many parents ignore the ratings systems entirely because of their belief that all games are for kids.

  7. 0
    Aliasalpha says:

    I enjoy fostering confusion so I’ve just developed my own system which combines rating recommendation and content advisory.

    New Rating Example

    I mocked this up thinking about Gears Of War 2 and how acceptable/offensive the levels of the content I’ve seen thus far is to each age group.

    It’s pretty violent so probably wouldn’t want those under 15 playing it & you’d want those over 15 being aware that it’s going to be chainsawingly awesomely bloody and if they’re wussy little girls at heart, they might want to avoid it.

    There’s next to no sex in it, only references to Dom wanting to find that woman which MIGHT imply that the end sequence is going to contain full on hardcore digital porn but highly unlikely

    There’s a fuck of a lot of swearing in the cunt of a game but it’s no more than you’d find in any shit teen accessible war movie

    Column 4 is basically just an illustration that there’s no way to please everyone

    Not sure on the drug use, I can’t immediately remember anything in there but there’s probably someone smoking or references to beer.

  8. 0
    beemoh says:

    There was nothing in Manhunt 2 that didn’t get Saw a 18, but that didn’t stop the BBFC rating it differently.

    Less flippantly, all boards are going to disagree on different things, that’s life- an M rating is only one above the equivalent of a PG-13, there’s probably stuff that would get you a R film, but a T game and it balances. To me, this is acceptable.

    That’s not to say they shouldn’t talk- the guy that runs the BBFC is on the PEGI board- but the benefits of having a seperate board dedicated to the form, able to shift with it without affecting the other form(s), tailored to allow for the forms’ similarities and differences, far outweigh the downsides.

    /b

  9. 0
    Nocturne says:

    How is "a dedicated ratings board" special treatment? Considering that film had its own ratings board for so long (albeit kinda by default), surely games should have its own?

    I’m not so sure about that, one of the complaints that developers keep bringing up is that the ratings for the US are complety different between film and games. There was an interview recently on What They Play where they talked to several developers like Molyneux and Jaffe and one made the point that there are things that you can show in a PG-13 movie that would make a game M rated, so perhaps some crossover at least is a good idea.

  10. 0
    GoodRobotUs says:

    Special Treatment is because the rating board used by the Movies is not affiliated to the Movie Industry. It might be unusual for Europe, but that doesn’t make it ‘wrong’, and comparing the UK to Australia is pointless, they do things their way, we do things ours, just because the systems are similar doesn’t mean the rules they work to are.

    Seriously, they ban one game, and, when push comes to shove, they accept the ruling of the panel. Frankly, I’d rather a system that worked that way than something that has dubious neutrality, especially when it expects to work that way whilst the Movie industry cannot, because next thing you know, there are going to be cries from the Movie industry that they should be allowed to rate their own movies in the UK, and, quite frankly, I’d prefer that not to happen as well.

  11. 0
    beemoh says:

    How is “a dedicated ratings board” special treatment? Considering that film had its own ratings board for so long (albeit kinda by default), surely games should have its own?

    In fact, the UK is the only country in Europe not to have game ratings handled by a specialist board- even Germany have seen the value in a dedicated board- and the only other country in the world of any significance to the retail games industry to not have a dedicated games board is Australia- and we can all see how well that’s turned out.

    /b

  12. 0
    GoodRobotUs says:

    Nope, because of common sense, a graphic text description or even vocal description of a violent act is still purely in the mind of the person experiencing it, you can say ‘someone’s head exploded like a ripe watermelon’, and whilst it is certainly graphical, it is most certainly not the same as actually depicting someones’ head exploding using a great deal of special effects. Whilst it’s true all depictions are fake, there is a significant difference between visual and textual/audio depictions of these acts. The amount of detail is dependent on the experience of the person reading a book, whereas in Video-based representation, there’s nothing left to the imagination.

    If you want to be pedantic about it, then, yes, I should have used the term ‘visually depicted media’, but then I just know someone on here would have said, ‘but a book is visual!’, so there’s no real winning from that standpoint.

     

    It also doesn’t touch on the point of why Video Games should get special treatment with regards to rating.

  13. 0
    beemoh says:

    This is the right solution to the wrong problem.

    The addition of colour does add something (as does getting rid of that stupid plus), but the problem Byron pointed out in her review was not that the design of the PEGI icons weren’t adequate, but that people just didn’t know what the PEGI ratings were for, which is something only time, and not redesigned logos, will solve.

    This doesn’t change PEGI still being the better ratings board, nor both ratings boards being outdated, unworkable and obsolete, but still.

    /b

  14. 0
    Nekowolf says:

    I don’t think there was meant to be a different. There’s not with the Green either. It’s like, as was said, a traffic light: green is safe, yellow is mild, and red is extreme.

  15. 0
    GoodRobotUs says:

    It’s a blatant rip-off of the BBFC system. ELSPA are just going to have to get used to the fact that they have to go through the same rating system as all the other media.

    Just as I’m against the victimisation of Computer Software, I’m also against ‘special treatment’ for it, it’s media, just like all other forms of Media, and deserves to be treated exactly the same.

  16. 0
    Father Time says:

    Can anyone tell the difference between the background of 16 and 18?

    —————————————————-

    "What for you bury me in the cold cold ground?" – Tasmanian devil

  17. 0
    squigs says:

    Subtle difference.  The BBFC uses a roadsigns metaphor.   Triangles for advisory (U and PG ratings) and circles for orders (age based ratings backed by law). 

    So strictly speaking all of these should be triangles since there’s no law relating to selling PEGI ratings to unserage kids. 

  18. 0
    darkenchanter says:

    Uh, wrong. Take how they rated Manhunt 2 for example.

    ELSPA: 18

    BBFC: R (ie. banned)

    ——————–

    Joining the Manhunt 2 rush on the 31st!

  19. 0
    DarkSaber says:

    This system is no better or worse then the one the BBFC uses now because it is EXACTLY the same.

    ————————————————–

    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  20. 0
    DeepThorn says:

    Don’t underestimate bad parents…  Wait was was Einstein’s words…

    "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former."  Research is starting to prove he may be right, the former may not be infinite, if string theory is correct, but human stupidity…

  21. 0
    chipsugar says:

    Unfortunately NOT easy to understand in the UK for the simple reason that they look nearly exactly like the BBFC badges. I know that the ELSPA wants to replace the BBFC for rating games but the ELSPA ratings currently have no legal backing in the UK. On any game where the ratings from the two groups don’t match (BBFC has a 15 rating but no 16, vice versa for ELSPA) this will increase confusion even further.

  22. 0
    Loudspeaker says:

    Well they could always just make the box one huge red dot with an 18 in the middle of it.  OOooooo!  Then it could be a surprise at what game is inside

    "Volume helps to get a point across but sharp teeth are better."

  23. 0
    SticKboy says:

    Well, the symbols are certainly a VAST improvement over PEGI’s current ratings…

    hang on a fucking second! ELSPA are doing ratings now, too? WTF? How many fucking rating systems do we need? JESUS!

  24. 0
    State says:

    A move in the right direction from ELSPA (or are these PEGI ratings) and it seems like that they are now backtracking on previous comments that there was nothing wrong with their current ratings and accepting that the BBFC ratings are better. Not keen on 16 and 18 having the same colour though 16 should be more of an intermediate colour between orange and red, as you are essentially saying that 16 and 18 rated games are both for adults or extreme games.

  25. 0
    beemoh says:

    >but the ELSPA ratings currently have no legal backing in the UK.

    The law deciding who gets to do the ratings and the law that states that you can’t sell games with certain ratings to certain people are two different laws, (or two different parts of the same law, whatever). If the government see sense and hand game ratings to PEGI, (or ELSPA, or the ESRB, or anyone), then the force of law would auto-apply to their ratings.

    /b

  26. 0
    Neo_DrKefka says:

    It’s kind of like Obama is our Lord and Savior this we know as video games should be played as the savior has said but as we all know video games are for children and only children play them and we must extent the Democratic War on Video games to extend states laws to censor these games

  27. 0
    Icehawk says:

    So for those that never learned to read or at least understand, (but still insist on breeding and driving, ie this is nothing but a glorified traffic light scheme,  we bring you colors.   Methinks it would be difficult to aim much lower on the IQ chart.  Somewhere around the level of houseplants. 

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