Games ratings row

A proposed games rating system has sparked a massive row between the games industry and the UK censor.

UK games industry body ELSPA has called on the government to replace the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) role's in assessing video games.

ELSPA is calling for the wide use of its system, PEGI.

But the BBFC has retorted that PEGI, as a voluntary scheme, does not have the force of the British legal system behind it, while the BBFC does.

The BBFC's Peter Johnson told the BBC that PEGI was a "box ticking exercise" based on "no consultation with parents".

Johnson, who is head of policy and business development, said the BBFC system was superior to PEGI "because games were more thoroughly examined and decisions were made in the light of both the context of the game and the content".

However, the games industry hit back arguing that PEGI is "designed specifically for interactive software".

Paul Jackson, director general of ELSPA, responded to the BBFC's comments arguing that PEGI "fully assessed" all games' content, and speaking to MPs and the media at the Westminster Media Forum insisted that PEGI is the "gold standard" for classification.

He stated: "PEGI is the solution for today, and the solution for tomorrow".

Dr Tanya Byron, who was commissioned by the government to produce a report on the impact of games on children, had argued that both systems could be used in tandem.

She recommended that BBFC symbols should be used on the front of game boxes in shops and PEGI classifications on the back.

But the two sides seemed to be at loggerheads at the consultation meetings, despite government encouragement from Margaret Hodge, minister for culture, creative industries and tourism, for them to work together.

"Please try and prevent this from becoming a battle between two regulatory frameworks", she said.

But it's already getting tit-for-tat.

BBFC's Johnson said it had tried to engage ELSPA in dialogue ahead of government consultation so that any new system could "hit the ground running".

He added: "Unfortunately, ELSPA have said they don't want to talk to us about that until after consultation.

"They have also encouraged some of their members not to talk to us."

Looks like we're in for a long battle.


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