Page last updated at 16:09 GMT, Friday, 19 June 2009 17:09 UK

PEGI ratings 'need improvement'

By Daniel Emery
Technology reporter, BBC News

PEGI ratings
The PEGI system is now used in more than 30 nations.

The videogame trade association, Tiga, say the Pan European Game Information (PEGI) rating systems has "room for improvement".

Tiga's chief, Dr Richard Wilson, said changes were needed to make the logos "instinctively recognisable".

"There needs to be an advertising campaign and publicity as to what these pictograms actually mean," he said.

The government backed the PEGI system as part of the Digital Britain report, removing responsibility from the BBFC.

Speaking to the BBC, Dr Wilson broadly welcomed the system but said more could be done.

"Game developers will welcome the new PEGI system, as it makes classification easier, especially those who export to the European market.

"While the age ratings are fairly clear, there needs to be improvement to the system - especially the pictograms - because they are not instinctively recognisable," he said.

Laurie Hall - the director general of the Video Standards Council, which administers the PEGI system in the UK - agreed with Dr Wilson and told the BBC that more work needed to be done.

"I think people need to be made more aware," he said.

"Take the spider logo: that means 'fear'. In other words, people might find the game scary, but you might not immediately jump to that conclusion looking at the box.

"Our plan is to have a big awareness campaign and also put consumer information about the game on the packaging, in English, which will help."

The decision to go with PEGI, rather than the BBFC, goes against the recommendations of Dr Tanya Byron's review into protecting children from harmful content in the digital age, where she advocated the BBFC system.

Bill Olner MP
Bill Olner at the launch of the video games all party parliamentary group

Games focus

The announcement was one of a number of measures brought in as part of the Digital Britain report.

The government also said it would consider tax relief on video game production.

That news came in the same week that an all party Parliamentary group for the video games industry was set up, chaired by Bill Olner MP with Lord Puttnam filling in as vice chair.

At the event, Dr Wilson said that without tax breaks the games industry stood to lose more than 1600 jobs over the next five years.

John Whittingdale, the Conservative MP who chairs the all party committee on culture, media and sport, said the UK games industry was "under assault" from other countries.

"We were third largest game developer, behind the United States and Japan.

"Now we are the fourth, overtaken by Canada because they have offered substantive tax breaks."

Experts at the launch of the all party group stressed that there was a skills shortage in the UK which, coupled with high recruitment costs and a lack of relevant university courses, meant that games firms had to invest considerable money and effort into getting graduate recruits up to speed.

"Tax relief would level the playing field somewhat," said Dr Wilson.

It is thought video games development contributed more than £1bn to the UK's GDP in 2008.

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