PEGI's traffic light system to get Europe launch in spring

The new traffic light rating system from PEGI is to be introduced into mainland Europe this spring.

Age rating symbols are yet to be finalised, but the current imagery that includes a spider, fist and syringe, is to be expanded on to include descriptive text. This follows suggestions from the Byron report that the symbols were previously too confusing for consumers.

When settled upon, age ratings will be coloured red, orange and green, rather than the current black and white. However, they are currently being reworked from the first design to avoid copyright issues with the UK's BBFC colour-coded ratings.

"PEGI has agreed those changes and they will be implemented as part of the PEGI system in the new year, probably in the spring by the time the information has been transmitted to all publishers and incorporated as part of the approvals process for the format holders," said Michael Rawlinson, managing director of ELSPA.

It's still unclear if the traffic light system will be used in the UK as the government is currently looking through information submitted following the Byron review before it decides on the way games should be rated.

"Whether they will appear on boxes in the UK will depend on the outcome of this consultation period and the decision made by the UK government in the new year," confirmed Rawlinson.

"The introduction of traffic light colours and changes to the descriptors have been approved, they are now being worked through with lawyers to ensure they do not infringe any existing trademarks and can be adopted smoothly."

The BBFC, who already rates games using a colour-coded system in the UK. is certainly keeping its eyes peeled for any sort of copyright violation - from PEGI or anyone else.

"We have challenged a number of organisations who have come up with symbols that look very close to BBFC symbols," said David Cooke, director of the BBFC.

"There are legal restraints on what's called 'passing off', so we'll have to see what they look like. It's about making sure our protections are honoured and partly a matter of making sure that things aren't made more confusing for the public."

Since the Byron report, the debate over who should handle the rating of video games has been a fiery one, with ELSPA and PEGI publicly attacking the BBFC as incapable.

All three organisations have prepared its evidence and research for what it believes is best, and the government's consultation period on the subject ends today.

However, the government has refused to be pulled into a timescale on the matter, but it's thought the future of games ratings in the UK will be announced in Q1 2009.


>