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Byron report suggests film-style ratings for games

Byron report suggests film-style ratings for games

Dr. Byron may have offered some good advice in her government report, but she still has her watch on backwards.

It has been revealed that the Byron report will suggest that a film-style ratings system is the best way to regulate computer games in the UK.The report, which was written by TV-psychologist Dr. Tanya Byron, was commissioned by the UK government to explore issues surrounding the games industry.

According to early reports the primary recommendation of the report is that a single, clearly outlined age based rating system needs to be introduced in the UK - one which would function similar to the way that films are rated. The report lends support to the BBFCs rating system, rather than the European PEGI rating systems preferred by some industry experts.

The report also suggests that games made for children over the age of 12 should be required to go through the rating system and that new guidelines need to be introduced regarding how games are advertised.

Dr. Byron also uses the report to suggest that game developers and publishers need to focus more resources on increasing parent awareness of the content included in their games and to make parental controls more accessible.

While we haven't yet looked over the report in full and in depth, other reports indicate that cigarette-style health warnings have been suggested too and that heftier fines and five-year prison sentences need to be considered for retailers selling inappropriate games to minors.

The report puts forward this advice on the belief that excessive exposure to some video games can desensitize children to violence and harm the development of their value systems. The suggestions aren't limited to just the games industry either and are intended to raise parental awareness about a number of online issues, such as pornography.

“Parents are afraid to let their children out,” Dr. Byron said. “So they keep them at home, but allow them to take risks online...You would not send your child to the pool without teaching them to swim, so why would you let them online without teaching them to manage the risks?”

How do you feel about the Byron report? Is the advice remarkably sensible and non-inflammatory or is it banal and utterly pointless? Let us know in the forums.

24 Comments

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VipersGratitude 27th March 2008, 11:17 Quote
Wait...I payed how much tax to let some sleazy politicians perv over her in a meeting? Because I certainly didn't pay anything for her to come up with original or insighttful conclusions.
samkiller42 27th March 2008, 11:32 Quote
I would so love to see a PG sticker on the box for Monopoly, because we all know 4 year olds are gonna be buying huge amounts of real estate etc. Or what about a 12 on Scrable, because you can make some funny/rude words on it (or try to at least)

Ok, so its aimed at computer/console games, but a games a game, and it wont take long for it to spread onto other game types, although, the current PEGI standard is easy to understand, i think it may actually be better if it was all one standard like the BBFC's standard. My thoughts on it though.

Sam
Paradigm Shifter 27th March 2008, 11:51 Quote
Why was a TV-psychologist heading up the report? Ah well, makes about as much sense as anything else this Government does...

I'm not bothered about a film-style rating system, as long as the ratings office doesn't decide to ban something in game format, when it allows something just as bad (or worse) in a film. We just need a system that is enforceable, so a game rated 18 doesn't get into the hands of a 10-year-old... oh, wait, parents will buy those for their kids anyway.
LeMaltor 27th March 2008, 12:06 Quote
Wow she is fit, more pics of her please :D
Phil Rhodes 27th March 2008, 12:13 Quote
> I certainly didn't pay anything for her to come up with original or insightful conclusions.

Neither did I.

Hey, why don't we use a ratings system that's similar to films to rate computer games!? Hang on, don't we do almost exactly that already?

Exactly how many billions of pounds did that smirking airhead siphon off to do this? I'm reminded of a memorable screen in Scrubs wherein the estimable John C. McGinley, as acerbic doctor Perry Cox, inserts clearly audible quotation marks around the professional title of "Doctor" Molly Clock (Heather Graham) who is, but for the fair hair, playing an almost exact charicature of "Doctor" Tanya Byron.
yakyb 27th March 2008, 12:21 Quote
I actually Agree with this (being 24) so long as films like saw, hostel, the hills have eyes are released to general public and even the more obscure Irreversible and I spit on your grave and Men Behind the Sun are availible then stuff like Manhunt will be availible to buy is fine by me

at the end of the day people need to wise up and realise that at no matter what age i play manhunt i would never stab someone where as some people will (scally layabout sh!ts)

will it make a difference at the end of the day no.
steveo_mcg 27th March 2008, 12:23 Quote
Why did it have to be someone famous.. Well because were dealing with a celebrity obsessed culture of parents too dumb to read the box the only parenting advice they take is from hello or ok or some other bloody rag. Now it has come from the mouth of "her off the telly" they might even take notice for an hour, at least until the after the break on jerry springer or jeramy kyle or some other **** program.
oddius 27th March 2008, 13:08 Quote
Did you notice the article on BBC TV News, the people actually responsible for the kids the PARENTS were letting a couple of 11-12 year old's play a 15 rated :( game wonder if they let them watch 18 rated films as well. Hmm.. well how do you legislate for responsible parenting.:|
Jamie 27th March 2008, 13:15 Quote
I thought games already had ratings? Am I missing something?
mmorgue 27th March 2008, 13:28 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by LeMaltor
Wow she is fit, more pics of her please :D

+1 !!!;)
Andy Mc 27th March 2008, 13:51 Quote
Mmmmmm Dr. Byron is hot. Her TV show was bad, but it was worth watching as she was in it.
LeMaltor 27th March 2008, 14:58 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamie
I thought games already had ratings? Am I missing something?

I thought that too, my copy of GTA:SA has an 18 in a circle, the writing on back of box says not to be supplied to any person under that age limit :?
MrMonroe 27th March 2008, 15:02 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamie
I thought games already had ratings? Am I missing something?

Yes. But they need to continue making it an issue so now they're going to tell you the ratings they originally imposed were obtuse and hard to understand (Mature? Well, he's got armpit hair...) and foist an entirely new and probably more obfuscating system of ratings onto the industry so they can appear to be doing something about violence in videogames.

For the parents: it's your responsibility. Do some damn research before you hand your kid $50 to go down to EB.
DXR_13KE 27th March 2008, 16:48 Quote
"cigarette-style health warnings have been suggested"

WTH?
sotu1 27th March 2008, 17:36 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by LeMaltor
Wow she is fit, more pics of her please :D

aye, more pics please.
Bauul 27th March 2008, 18:01 Quote
Currently the BBFC applies legal ratings to games it feels needs them (e.g. GTA), the report is suggesting that they get applied to all of them.
Shadowed_fury 27th March 2008, 18:26 Quote
All that is needed is game ratings to actually be enforced. (I'm so evil at work with IDing people lol)
Just it never works with games cos mummy and daddy help out!
CardJoe 27th March 2008, 18:40 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bauul
Currently the BBFC applies legal ratings to games it feels needs them (e.g. GTA), the report is suggesting that they get applied to all of them.

Exactly - ratings are not obligatory in the UK. The BBFC just selects the OTT games and rates them.
Joeymac 27th March 2008, 19:01 Quote
It would be completely impractical for the BBFC to rate and control games like they do movies. If this came about then all games which have no ratings.. (of which there is like a million)... would be illegal to sell. If they don't make it illegal to sell those older, unrated games, then it's an utterly pointless exercise. (.. I know, we know it is anyway)

Then there's online sales. Steam; will the UK ISPs be forced into banning access to Steam if they don't comply with some ridiculous UK rules?
XBLA and all smaller games.... Are games like N+ going to need to be put through the BBFC rating process???? Hell no they aren't, the BBFC charge a lot, for a small game that'll cut heftily into profits. That'll mean Microsoft will be forced into not selling those games in the UK.

Basically, stupid pretty woman "Dr"..... **** off. You have no idea what you are talking about.
steveo_mcg 27th March 2008, 19:10 Quote
You forget that it would be very simple to force operators like steam to make sure people pay with a PROPER credit card, thus stopping minors from buying a game with out their parents. Also i suspect that this will apply much more to boxed sales than online since, lets face it, this is about appearing to do something and its the over the counter sales which get the most media attention. I'm not sure what some are whining about it seems like a win for gamers, games we like to play aren't banned ala Germany which was on the cards the way things were going.
Anakha 27th March 2008, 19:44 Quote
But 9/10 games that are rated Mature or higher that are in the hands of 10-year-olds are bought for them BY THEIR PARENTS! So the game was indeed bought by an adult. And generally shop assistants will point out (If the kids are with them and it's obvious the game is being bought for them) that the game isn't suitable for the child. Generally, they'll get a face of abuse for their trouble ("It's my kid, I'll buy what I damned well please, and there's not a thing you can do about it, so get the hell out of my face"), which would make them disinclined to help again. The same applies to movies being bought/rented and shown to minors and the like, which makes it difficult to enforce.
chrisuk 27th March 2008, 20:36 Quote
I'm for it in all honesty. The PEGI system is confusing at best, and is not the unified system everyone seems to think it is - the age ratings have already been split into 3 sets. Plus, its down to the developer to classify their own game - which doesn't exactly give you confidence that the ratings will be consistent. The BBFC logos are recognisable and simple, and, the game has actually been viewed by people who don't have a vested interest in getting it to the maximal audience. The condition is that the ratings are consistent with films, a concern that has been raised before - but I see no reason why the BBFC wouldn't modify how they rate, in fact, it sounds like they want to know how we want it done.

The recent eventual 18 classification of "that game" shows the appeal system works as well, which is good for consumers, publishers and developers. It won't be easy to implement it to the recommended scale quickly, but I see no reason why they can't. And to be honest - if you don't like it (and the only people who seem to make a fuss are the young ones who can't buy an 18) then you have two options - get your parents to buy it (which should also be made illegal if it isn't) or take solace in the fact that the content isn't suitable for you or, a third actually, go somewhere else - you live in this country so you abide by its laws.
steveo_mcg 27th March 2008, 20:36 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Anakha
But 9/10 games that are rated Mature or higher that are in the hands of 10-year-olds are bought for them BY THEIR PARENTS! So the game was indeed bought by an adult. And generally shop assistants will point out (If the kids are with them and it's obvious the game is being bought for them) that the game isn't suitable for the child. Generally, they'll get a face of abuse for their trouble ("It's my kid, I'll buy what I damned well please, and there's not a thing you can do about it, so get the hell out of my face"), which would make them disinclined to help again. The same applies to movies being bought/rented and shown to minors and the like, which makes it difficult to enforce.

In this case, the parents have no one to blame but them selves if little timmy turns out to be mass murdering psychopath. The point of this exercise, imo, is raising awareness that rating exist and the reason for them, thus the TV personality and not a lord or some other government appointed body. Recent history has shown that the useless parents of this country are always looking for excuses, this removes one potential.
DougEdey 27th March 2008, 20:41 Quote
What I find absolutely hideous is when parents buy games for kids. I've seen kids walk upto gamestation clerks and try to buy an 18 game, they get told "They have to have a parent with them to buy the game" but when the parent comes up they don't check simple things like "You know this is rated as an 18?" or refuse to sell as they know it's going to an underage person.

With all other age rated products you cannot sell if you know it's going to someone underage.
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