Video Standards Council to Play Enforcer Role In New UK Game Ratings Scheme

Although our initial coverage of today’s Digital Britain report focused on the long-awaited decision regarding ownership of U.K. video game ratings, there is much more to the story.

In relation to PEGI’s big win over BBFC, reports that Britain’s Video Standards Council will be given tough enforcement powers to ensure that game publishers and retailers conform to content rating guidelines. The VSC will be empowered to fine companies which do not adhere to the PEGI system and, in extreme cases, may even ban titles from being sold in the U.K.

Of the VCS’s role in enforcing the new system, EA’s Keith Ramsdale told

The VSC will be an independent body, as is the PEGI system, and while I’m sure there’s some joining up to do, it’s a tough system.

We’ve gone further than the recommendations and PEGI will impose fines for non-compliance and possible exclusion from the PEGI system for non compliance…

Of course there will be checks on what content people put in, and there will be highly punitive measures should publishers not comply.

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  1. 0
    State says:

    What concerns me most is that it seems like this power was set up to deal with Hot Coffee scenarios more than it is to deal with banning games.

    It seems like they will happily fine companies for hidden content even though it would potentially have no effect on the overall classification. The ESRB went wild over a moderate sex scene because it was hidden content (yet only revealed by a hack to the source code), no doubt the VSC could have the attitude.

  2. 0
    State says:

    The decision to give the VSC additional powers shows that the government does not trust PEGI and believes that as PEGI is an European wide classification agency that it will not take British culture into account and may be too liberal (although in fact PEGI are a much more prudish organisation than the BBFC). It never saw the need for these additional powers when the BBFC was in control.

  3. 0
    DarkSaber says:

    Incidentally, why is GP quoting an EA suit instead of anyone actually INVOLVED IN THIS DECISION?

    (OK, he’s quoting a website that quoted the suit, so I guess he’s off the hook, but still…..why did they go with him?)


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

  4. 0
    DarkSaber says:

    Works for me. Where’s me pitchfork?


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

  5. 0
    DarkSaber says:

    Well, them and beemoh. He’s about the only UK person who was smearing the BBFC.


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

  6. 0
    DarkSaber says:

    It’s actually, at least on paper, WORSE than what we had before. I was happy to support PEGI’s choice despite favouring the BBFC, but all these strings attached to the change do not bode well in my eyes.


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

  7. 0
    DarkSaber says:

    Not if it offends ‘uk-specific sensibilities’ it won’t. The VSC have the ability to ban a game even if it got a rating now. And it was the VSC that set the standards that enabled the BBFC to ban Manhunt 2.


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

  8. 0
    Nocturne says:

    Can’t help but notice it was those who wouldn’t be affected at all by the outcome which were so quick to say the BBFC is terrible and PEGI is wonderful. 24 hours makes a lot of difference.

  9. 0
    DarkSaber says:

    *Reads the comments to the story*

    Tolds you so.


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

  10. 0
    mr_mlk says:

    Really? Why?

    This was always going to be just a change in pictures on the box and the name people cry when a game gets a "refused classification" or "AO" sticker slapped on (or what ever other default ban you care to mention).

    I am MORE worried now that I was before, the BBFC had a method of banning games, but they have been crippled with the overturning of Manhunt 2. A clear system of overturning the BBFC decisions had been tested and proved working. Now we have an unknown quantity (the VSC) and the PEGI. Has PEGI has been challenged on a rating?

    A house is not a home unless it contains food and fire for the mind as well as the body. Benjamin Franklin

  11. 0
    Nocturne says:

    The second the Government took an interest in the ratings system it was most likely going to end badly unless they left things exactly as they were.

  12. 0
    Arell says:

    Yeah, this hardly seems like the "victory" I was expecting.  If the government is going to stick their fingers in the pie anyway, it hardly matters which ratings system they use.

  13. 0
    TBoneTony says:

    Nothing changes, I felt that the Byron Review was more of Politics wanting to control Videogames rather than Professor Byron trying to tell politicians that they should not worry too much about Videogames and allow the Videogame Industry to be itself.

    I think that Tanya Byron will be sorely dissapointed with the way her hard work is now being treated as another way for the Government to control the industry.


  14. 0
    Adrian Lopez says:

    Coungratulations UK, for you guys now have the worst of both words: government mandated ratings administered by an organization that is less accountable to the public than a government body.

  15. 0
    Nocturne says:

    I’d be surprised if there’s many games scheduled for release over the next 12 months that will be affected. If the government is involved, any change is unlikely to be quick.

    I don’t recall there being a date attached to it but some of the other things had dates like ‘by 2012’ on them.

  16. 0
    Nocturne says:

    If you think it means that the games developer could possibly face legal problems for non-compliance with a ratings board decision over content they put in a game, then yes, I think it means exactly what your thinking.

    This is turning out to be the worst possible outcome.

  17. 0
    Andrew Eisen says:

    "Of course there will be checks on what content people put in, and there will be highly punitive measures should publishers not comply."

    Absolutely unacceptable and completely against everything a content rating system should be.

    (Assuming, of course, that means what I think it means.)


    Andrew Eisen

  18. 0
    Roh02 says:

    if a game has some really nasty stuff in it just slap "21 adult only" on it and publish it anyway

    its fine so long as it doesnt have rape , child porn or beastiality in it

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