PEGI or BBFC? U.K. to Announce Ratings Choice Next Week

Who will be in charge of video game ratings in the U.K.?

That long-awaited answer will come next Tuesday, according to MCVUK. As GamePolitics readers know, a pair of entities have been competing for the assignment ever since Dr. Tanya Byron completed her review of the effects of video games and the Internet on British youth in early 2008.

The U.K. game industry has voiced a strong preference for the Pan-European Game Information rating system, better known as PEGI. Some in government, however, are believed to favor the British Board of Film Classification. The BBFC is best known to gamers for banning Rockstar’s bloody Manhunt 2 in 2007. That decision was later overruled by the British High Court.

MCVUK reports that industry group ELSPA planned to do some last-ditch lobbying on PEGI’s behalf new Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw. ELSPA boss Michael Rawlinson told MCV:

We are encouraged that Ben’s previous work as a BBC news correspondent will mean he has first-hand knowledge, experience and understanding of the problems facing the creative industries sector.

We look forward to meeting with Ben soon and discussing how our industry can continue to work with the Government to ensure games retain their place as a world leader in the sector.

We will, of course, also be explaining the significance and importance of PEGI becoming the single classification system for games in the UK. We wish him well in the post.

Thanks to: GamePolitics correspondent Mark "Beemoh" Kelly

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  1. 0
    DeeJay says:

    Personally, I’d rather have the BBFC. Their ratings are much more realistic, and they have a lot more experience than PEGI. Their rating symbols are also much more easily recognised as everyone is familiar with them from films. They just seem to be a better organisation, and a better choice to me.

  2. 0
    DarkSaber says:

    No, the BBFC were right. 15+ for what? There was nothing, NOTHING in that game that would have warranted. The BBFC aren’t as prudish as PEGI, despite what’s PEGIs supporter would like you to believe.


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

  3. 0
    ZippyDSMlee says:

    Mass effect should be rated in the 15+ brakect anything lower is a breach of intelligence…


    I am a criminal because I purchase media,I am a criminal because I use media, I am a criminal because I chose to own media..We shall remain criminals until Corporate stay’s outside our bedrooms..

  4. 0
    IsoNeko says:

    Personally, I’m sticking with the BBFC. I don’t know, as a consumer, I find them much more friendly and approachable than a company that chooses to adorn my Call of Duty 4 case with 5 assorted symbols. An "Action" symbol (If that wasn’t deemable from the game case having multiple guns on it, and having the word Warfare in it. I would be shocked). A language warning. a "PEGI ONLINE" Warning (What, can they govern what happens online too?). And 2 16+ warnings. Why we need 2, on both sides of the case I do not know.


    Compared with my Far Cry 2 case. An 18 on the front, an 18 on the back, and in 9 short words and small font words. "Contains very strong language and strong violence".


    I know both games offer the same thing, but Aesthetically I prefer BBFC’s standards. Oh, and as for fairness. Definetly BBFC all the way. PEGI seem way to over-reactive.

  5. 0
    ZippyDSMlee says:

    I would be surprised if the BBFC is shot down from games since tis so monolithic..but preahps that is a good thing at the end of the day…"mono’it’isim"(or monotheism if you want to be very harsh) and a moral mandate to screw with the intelligence of the masses dose not mix well….


    I am a criminal because I purchase media,I am a criminal because I use media, I am a criminal because I chose to own media..We shall remain criminals until Corporate stay’s outside our bedrooms..

  6. 0
    State says:

    The pan-nation element of PEGI is simply the worst part of it due to the fact that it has to cater towards multiple cultures. As seen in Europe every nation has a different opinion on gaming and content with Germany in particular willing to ban every violent game going, how are you supposed to come up with a rating that accommodates all countries? And the solution comes down to giving a game the highest possible rating. Each country has a different culture so it is hard to draw a consensus internationally.

    PEGI gave Mass Effect an 18, BBFC gave it a 12. Now looking at the content of the game nothing in it would be out of place in a 12 rated film, but PEGI gave it an 18 over the concern of a very mild sex scene. And it’s a shame that it’s another organisation that cannot handle sex in games maturely. I always tend to find myself agreeing with the BBFC ratings over the PEGI ratings as they tend to be in line with content found in similar rated films, as opposed to the PEGI ratings which do tend to be too harsh.

  7. 0
    beemoh says:

    I also like how I’m still a correspondent despite not writing anything for over a year and a half. Easiest job ever!

    TBH, we’re better off with PEGI. As games sales move online, both in terms of boxed discs through the post and digital distribution, and as a result independent developers become an increasingly important force in the marketplace, holding onto imperialistic, single-nation ratings boards for media is an outdated notion that will only harm culture and commerce in the long run.

    A small developer working out of Poland, too small to afford to deal with a ratings board for each nation, can easily operate all across Europe with a PEGI rating, bar Germany, and it is foolish to exclude them from yet another country, to prevent British gamers from purchasing their title, and it is even more foolish to add additional barriers for British developers, making it harder for them to operate on their own turf than it is abroad.

    Of course, this is only relevant for as long as people still believe formal ratings boards are worthwhile, but still.


  8. 0
    State says:


    "The British Board of Film Classification is an independent, non-governmental body, which has classified cinema films since it was set up in 1912, and videos since the passing of the Video Recordings Act in 1984."

    The Government didn’t even ask for the organisation to be set up, instead it got set up to help fight the censorship powers that the government had. So to say that it is a government organisation is false and misleading, anyway by your logic giving PEGI power by the government would then make that a government organisation too. There seems to be a lot of (perhaps deliberate) confusion over the status of the BBFC with almost anyone against it stating that it is a government organisation, associating it with the likes of the Office of Film and Literature Classification in Australia. Indeed many MPs (Keith Vaz included) have tried to lobby the BBFC unsuccessfully to get decisions overturned.

  9. 0
    beemoh says:

    The BBFC was formed at the behest of, and is given its power by (and is the exclusive holder of said power by order of), the government. It’s a government organisation in all but name.


  10. 0
    beemoh says:

    >PEGI’s behaviour over trying to become the main ratings agency has simply been appalling

    How so? All they’ve done is defend themselves, and point out where the other party has gone wrong- it’s not like the BBFC who can just sit back smugly and say "they’re going to give it to us anyway".

    >the fact that they are not independent from the games industry is worrying as their policies are dictated to them (from the games industry) not by them.

    The BBFC is not independent of the film industry, by their own admission.


  11. 0
    State says:

    The article seems to be a bit biased and leads you onto believing that the government want to support it because it has banned a game, this is simply not the case.

    PEGI’s behaviour over trying to become the main ratings agency has simply been appalling, and the fact that they are not independent from the games industry is worrying as their policies are dictated to them (from the games industry) not by them. They are not publically accountable, something that cannot be said about the BBFC (as evidenced by the court decisions as well as how they handle film classification), I fear that PEGI will pay no attention to the consumer at all. Some of PEGI’s ratings have been ridiculous (Mass Effect 18+ !?!), they tend to be too harsh with ratings and questions have to be asked about how much say conservative countries such as Germany have in the process. PEGI like ESRB get all too concerned over the slightest sight of sexual content and slap silly certificates on the games, the BBFC tends to be more balanced on the subject ratings the games sexual content as it would with films.

    The BBFC is currently too small to handle all of the games that come into it. I don’t see much need to rate every single piece of downloadable content for a game (only content that would likely to change gameplay and which would cause the game to receive a higher certificate should be rated).

    Yes there are issues with the BBFC too, but on balance I would embrace the BBFC rather than PEGI.

  12. 0
    beemoh says:

    The BBFC has no backing of law on its own- there are laws pertaining to media classification along the lines of "there will be ratings for all media, chosen by some organisation of our choosing, which will be enforced by law", and there is a separate statement along the lines of "the organisation we choose is…".

    It’s the second one that this whole issue is about- the government can change that to be "the organisation we choose is the BBFC for films and PEGI for videogames" or even write both groups out and replace it with another.

    PEGI can decline classification, but it doesn’t mean anything- the BBFC declining something on its own doesn’t mean anything, it’s the law that says all media must be classified that makes it banned. If the Government were to sign PEGI into law, PEGI refusing classification would result in a ban.


  13. 0
    State says:

    The BBFC is not a government organisation. This is a common myth but is simply not true.

    PEGI likes to pride itself on the ability that it too could ban a game if it wanted by throwing a games company out of all the games trade groups (although this situation is unlikely ever to occur). Also PEGI is much stricter (too much in reality) with its ratings.

  14. 0
    Azhrarn says:

    BBFC is a government organisation, and as such has the backing of law, which PEGI lacks.
    Which is why the politicians prefer the BBFC, it can decline classification, resulting in a ban. Where the PEGI can do no such thing.

  15. 0
    beemoh says:

    PEGI have the power to refuse classification.

    EDIT: More helpfully, what doing so actually /means/ is up to the individual government- it’s the British government (ie: the law) that means an unclassified game is ‘banned’.


  16. 0
    Father Time says:

    So does PEGI have the power to refuse classification or is that just the BBC?


    Debates are like merry go rounds. Two people take their positions then they go through the same points over and over and over again. Then when it’s over they have the same positions they started in.

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