Legally enforced ratings system for UK?

Legally enforced ratings system for UK?

Dr. Tanya Byron has been commissioned by the government to draft a report on the games industry.

According to The Guardian, the UK Government is looking at ways to introduce a legally enforced rating system for computer and video games in the UK - one that would be legally binding and make it totally illegal to sell games to those below the age limit.

Speculation on such a system has been rife ever since Dr. Tanya Byron was commissioned by the government to head up a report into the games industry under the following brief;

Draw on advice from industry experts and engage a wide range of industry and regulatory bodies. [The report] will be jointly sponsored by the Department for Children, Schools and Families and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

You may remember Dr. Byron from TV's Little Angels and The House of Tiny Tearaways. The Byron report is due out next month.

While publications such as MCV have speculated on the side of melodrama and talked of fears that Gordon Brown will start an aggressive crackdown on games, The Guardian is a little more realistic and discusses legally enforceable ratings as the likely result.

One thing not discussed by the newspaper however is who will actually issue new ratings. The BBFC is an obvious candidate, but that may not go down well with gamers who recall the Manhunt 2 fiasco. Still, a solid and legal ratings system may not be a totally bad thing and should help keep inappropriate content out of the hands of children.

What do you think of ratings system and their place in interactive media? Let us know in the forums.


Discuss in the forums Reply
steveo_mcg 12th February 2008, 09:56 Quote
If they can give out these legal ratings but not out right ban things then i have no issue with the bbfc issuing the certificates as apart from a few decisions they tend to be fair.
Jamie 12th February 2008, 09:59 Quote
I'm all up for more enforcement, screaming kids in CoD4 are so annoying.
badders 12th February 2008, 10:01 Quote
Sounds about right to me, although there will need to be a fair media campaign as in many parent's eyes a game is for children. regardless of what numbers it's got on the front.
Delphium 12th February 2008, 10:25 Quote
Originally Posted by Jamie
I'm all up for more enforcement, screaming kids in CoD4 are so annoying.

Which often translates to, you screamed into my head, now imma put a bullet in yours.
hawky84 12th February 2008, 10:29 Quote
this is only a great idea so that parents can no longer blame games anymore, although it is going to be really annoying showing your ID everytime you go to buy a game at the shops. And as we all know most people buy over the internet so how will this be inforced?

Children that are too young for the kind of content that requires a certificate are more than likely going to get the game bought for them anyway (as there pocket money might not streach to £50) so this leaves the responsibility down to the parents. Even if a child buys a game that they are too young to play surely they are not going to go to the extent to hide the case and only play it at night when mum and dad are asleep. Parents need to spend more time with their kids and pay attention to what games they like / dislike and maybe even start playing the games with them (go on parents have a laugh).

People are to quick to blame everyone else before themselves. Stating that you need the goverment to do the parenting work for you is basically saying YOU ARE NOT FIT TO HAVE CHILDREN. End of story.
Shadow_101 12th February 2008, 10:33 Quote
Call me 'crazy' and 'mad' if you wish, but i always assumed it was illegal to sell rated 18 games to kids anyway? When I was young, I was turned away from game trying to buy Duke 3D.
BioSniper 12th February 2008, 10:35 Quote
Stick BBFC ratings on the cases the same way as you do with DVD's and make the same sales restrictions apply.
Hardly difficult.
Darkedge 12th February 2008, 11:00 Quote
no problem with this at ALL. Of course parents won't play any attention to it and things like Bully will still be evil (with a 15 rating, sheesh). No real difference.
I hope the UK games companies will not jump to attack this like in the US which is just stupid and damages games and gamers more. Oh and I hope that Co*kstar don't get involved as they will screw up up for the own dubious publicity.
MiNiMaL_FuSS 12th February 2008, 11:10 Quote
Enforcin the current age limits is a great its a midleground between the freedom the average gamer wants and the outright ban on violent games some activists want. If this comes about then hopefully the goverment will take the usual line - we've made progress and taken steps in this area, now thats that, we may review the situation in 10years.

One major flaw is of course that half the staff at pcworld/game/currys etc are under 18 themselves so wont be able to sell games with an enforced age limit.
Veles 12th February 2008, 11:24 Quote
Don't we already have a legally enforced rating system for games? At least, that's what my 15 label the BBFC slapped on my copy of the club says.
iwog 12th February 2008, 11:30 Quote
Seems fair, I mean we have certificates for films so why not video games. Especially as many people think video games can be more "damaging" due to interactive action-reward aspect.

They should still maintain the power to ban games however or force major changes if they deem them to be unacceptable, much like they do with films
Bindibadgi 12th February 2008, 11:57 Quote
Originally Posted by Jamie
I'm all up for more enforcement, screaming kids in CoD4 are so annoying.

Amen to that - keep children out of games they shouldn't be playing but allow freedom of choice for us adults.
CardJoe 12th February 2008, 12:09 Quote
Originally Posted by Veles
Don't we already have a legally enforced rating system for games? At least, that's what my 15 label the BBFC slapped on my copy of the club says.

Voluntary IIRC. It's why I'm looking at a desk drawer full of PEGI rated games, a handful of ESRB rated and only one or two BBFC. Usually ones which go for BBFC rating are the really mature ones who don't want to mess around and have to deal with all the screaming parents because they can just say "Check the gorram label."

Problem is, if you apply for BBFC rating and they give you a ban or 18 then it becomes legally enforceable. You can't apply for BBFC rating and then change your mind once you get an 18 cert.
mmorgue 12th February 2008, 12:43 Quote
Originally Posted by Bindibadgi
Amen to that - keep children out of games they shouldn't be playing but allow freedom of choice for us adults.

Double Amen!

A legally enforced rating systems is a *far* better method than an all out ban in the hopes that material and content does not filter down to the underaged.

True, like others have said, the actualy *enforcing* of it will no doubt have the same efficiency as underaged drinking and purchasing fags, but I suppose the main point is that a system is in place that a) allows us adults the freedom to choose while b) ensuring that parents, albeit those with *some* idea of parenting, can be made aware of the ramifications of not doing their job. Again, what exactly those "ramifications" are I have no idea... if it's anything like what happens to groups of yobs getting caught for drinking it simply means pouring the drink away and a, "Roight, off ya go".
TheCherub 12th February 2008, 12:55 Quote
I would struggle to argue why films should get a rating, yet games shouldn't, for what would equate to roughly the same content.
Blademrk 12th February 2008, 13:01 Quote
Originally Posted by CardJoe
"Check the gorram label."

Enforceable ratings sounds good to me.
p3n 12th February 2008, 14:01 Quote
Great idea, although they would probably have to make versions of games with blue blood to avoid lost sales (I think this sorta thing happens in germany?)

Shame it would never be fully upheld in england, just look at all the chavs with fags and booze :p
Redbeaver 12th February 2008, 14:06 Quote
Originally Posted by Jamie
I'm all up for more enforcement, screaming kids in CoD4 are so annoying.

quadruple amen.

liratheal 12th February 2008, 14:18 Quote
I'm all for it. If anything, it's going to take the blame off games and throw it at the parents that're stupid enough to buy the game. I wonder if there would be legal ramifications for a parent buying their underage children 18 rated games?

I know, sadly, that this system doesn't stop parents buying their underage children alcohol (I've seen them try it countless times, and been threatened with legal action, and violence over it), and have doubts as to its ability to stop them buying underage games. But then, if they complained and made a big deal about it - Surely they'd be the ones taken to court and no one else?

Yes, it sucks for you 17 year olds used to playing 18 rated games, but hey. You'll probably con your parents into buying it for you =P
NikTheSHNIK 12th February 2008, 15:09 Quote
DO SOME RESEARCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I currently am employed by Gamestation in the UK.

There exists already a legal framework to prevent underage persons buying games which are classified, monitored by the BBFC.

If i sell an age-rated game to a minor i may face a custodial/fine/community sentence. As well as losing my job and having a criminal record.
The people responsible for minors obtaining age-rated products is the parents. We turn away many each day trying to buy 18 rated products with a combination of sex/violence/swearing and it is the ignorant minority who do not abide by these rules.


steveo_mcg 12th February 2008, 16:58 Quote
But not all games are rated its a voluntary sytem.

completemadness 12th February 2008, 17:35 Quote
Does this just stop you from selling games to underage kids, or stop them from actually playing?

If its the former, this entire thing is pretty null because most shops that sell "optionally enforced" games still demand ID (at least where i live), And then parents will just buy the games for the children, and nothing much changes
Zayfod 12th February 2008, 21:34 Quote
The positive effect of games having a mandatory run past the BBFC is that it would (potentially) move the "these horrible games are being sold to children" outrage away from the games industry and onto the moron parents who buy "Kill Everything: With Guns - XI" for their underage offspring.

Of course the BBFC's game rating methods would have to be improved, like actually playing the game say, instead of merely watching video of it being played.
VictorianBloke 12th February 2008, 22:00 Quote
Originally Posted by Zayfod

Of course the BBFC's game rating methods would have to be improved, like actually playing the game say, instead of merely watching video of it being played.

Fair point, obviously they would need more staff (volunteers if I remember correctly) and how many people here would apply for that position just to play through potentially uncensored pre-release games? I for one would be glad to give up some of my "spare time" that would usually be wasted playing games... errr...:|

from the bbfc website:

[QUOTE=]How can I become an examiner?

The BBFC endeavours to employ examiners from a wide variety of backgrounds. A broad knowledge of film or digital media is required, as well as an ability to grasp classification issues such as violence, imitable behaviour, sexual portrayal and drugs. The Board is also looking for an understanding of child development and an interest in effects and opinion evidence. The BBFC is unable to employ anyone under the age of 18 on account of their possible exposure to age -restricted material while working here. A reasonable balance is kept between men and women, and the Board includes examiners of various ethnic backgrounds, in part to help deal with foreign language films and videos, where a knowledge of the culture of the country is as important as fluency in the language. Recruitment is through advertisement in the national press and on the BBFC website.[/QUOTE]

Bring it on and watch for the employment adds :D:D:D:D:D
HourBeforeDawn 12th February 2008, 23:12 Quote
I agree in that if a rating is set that it should be illegal as a retailer to sell it to someone under that age without a legal guardians to pay for it.
CanadianViking 13th February 2008, 02:25 Quote
Already been done in Canada... the ESRB is nessecary, and every game has a rating put on it before it goes for sale. Work fines to be honest...
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