Byron report suggests film-style ratings for games

Written by Joe Martin

March 27, 2008 // 9:49 a.m.

Tags: #bbfc #blair #brown #byron #esrb #government #pegi #rating #report

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.
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