Page last updated at 12:23 GMT, Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Games ratings row gets colourful

Traffic light ratings

The video games consortium Elspa has proposed a solution to the ongoing games ratings controversy.

Elspa supports a 'traffic-light'-type system as part of its voluntary ratings code that it says is more effective.

The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) dismissed the effort, saying their own colour-coded approach is well-established.

A government consultation on the matter due to finish in November aims to agree a legally enforceable ratings scheme.

The Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is in consultation to decide a standardised ratings system in response to a government-commissioned report earlier in the year by child psychologist Tanya Byron.

The report called on the games industry to help increase parents' understanding of age ratings and put more parental controls into games.

At present, the UK has a two-tier system in place for rating games.

In many European countries, video games currently use the Pan-European Game Information (Pegi) age rating system, a voluntary approach by the industry and administered in the UK by the Video Standards Council.

Pegi tags games with an age-appropriate rating and indicators of the type of content in the game, but its recommendation is not backed up by law.

In the UK, any game rated for ages 12 and above is automatically reviewed by the BBFC. They have the power to impose legally enforceable age limits on games.

The system needs to remove the potential for confusion and this is what we're doing
Michael Rawlinson

If the game's content is too extreme, the BBFC can refuse to classify it, meaning it cannot be sold in the UK. Such a situation arose last year with the game Manhunt 2, although the ban was subsequently lifted on appeal.

Flying colours

A report already released from the DCMS select committee said the same body which gives age ratings to films should be in charge, while the games industry continues to support its own voluntary code.

Elspa's proposal would maintain the Pegi procedure and age limits, but says it has taken a lead from the food industry by adding 'traffic light' colours. Higher age limits would be red, with more general audience titles tagged green.

"We're offering this idea as a direct consequence of the Byron review; the system needs to remove the potential for confusion and this is what we're doing," Elspa deputy director general Michael Rawlinson told the BBC.

"The system provided by Pegi is very robust, but we want to make it clearer that something that's for adults only should have that warning colour with it."

Sue Clark, a spokeswoman for the BBFC, dismissed the effort, saying that colour was not the prevalent issue in the debate.

"Changing the colours of the Pegi symbols is not copying the food industry," Ms Clark said.

"There is a system in place already which people know and understand and which in fact uses the traffic light colours, and it's called the BBFC system."

The government consultation will finish on 20 November, with a final decision expected in the new year.

Print Sponsor

Divide on games industry ratings
08 Jul 08 |  Technology
Row over video games ratings plan
31 Jul 08 |  Technology
Net downloads to get age ratings
21 May 08 |  Technology
Clash on video game ratings
31 Jul 08 |  Technology
Manhunt 2 title wins ban appeal
10 Dec 07 |  Technology

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2020 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific