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Thread: Video games ratings face overhaul

  1. #1
    Nightmaren Shrygue's Avatar
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    General games Video games ratings face overhaul

    via The BBC News

    Video game ratings need to be overhauled to make them easier for parents and children to understand, a UK government-backed review has said.

    Carried out by psychologist Dr Tanya Byron, it says more games need to be rated by official bodies.

    It calls for the creation of a UK body to draw up and oversee a national strategy to keep children safe online.

    It also recommends that new PCs be sold with software that will help prevent children seeing harmful online content.

    Greater scrutiny

    "I challenge government and industry to step up to make the digital world safer for children and young people," said Dr Byron at a press event launching the review.

    One key recommendation is lowering the statutory age at which games have to go before the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) to 12.

    At the moment video games only get a mandatory review by classifiers if they have "human sexual activity" or "gross violence"

    Each year the industry submits about 250 games for review by the BBFC.

    The introduction of a statutory requirement to classify games for children aged 12 plus will see the workload of the BBFC increase dramatically.

    Dr Byron said her review had led her to conclude that parents' general lack of confidence and awareness was "leaving children vulnerable to risks within their digital worlds". The review also recommends that the ratings system be extended so that familiar BBFC logos seen on DVDs appear on all games sold in stores.

    "I want parents to be empowered," said Dr Byron, "I want clear logos on all games so parents can make an informed choice."

    "Kids are the digital natives, she said, "parents are the digital immigrants." While BBFC logos will adorn the front of game boxes, the "equivalent" ratings from Pegi will appear on the back of boxes. Pegi is a voluntary ratings system set up by the games industry.

    "The European Pegi system works for the industry," said Dr Byron, "but the BBFC works for parents and children."

    A consultation period will be held about the proposed changes to the recommendation system to which the games industry will be invited to contribute.

    Before now the games industry has favoured a single system and has expressed a preference for Pegi.

    The wide-ranging review also calls for more support for retailers so staff feel confident refusing to sell a game to anyone who is too young to play it.

    Dr Byron also wants the government to set up a UK Council for Child Internet Safety that will report to the Prime Minister and be charged with drawing up a national strategy for online safety.

    The council will co-ordinate the work of existing bodies who oversee net safety and implement a comprehensive programme that will educate parents about the benefits and dangers of using the net.

    Work should also be done to see if there are technical means that can oversee where people go online and warn them about illegal or harmful sites they may visit.

    It also called for the creation of kitemarked filtering software that is installed on all new PCs sold for use in the home and which is given away with all new net contracts.

    The review said the online industry had to take greater responsibility when policing content posted to websites, such as video sites and social networks.

    Sites where users can post their own images and videos should commit to specific time-lines for removing harmful content, recommended the report.

    Search engines should also take steps to help parents limit what their children can look at and display links on their home pages to sites that can provide advice.

    has recommended codes of practice for the industry, including social networking sites and video sharing sites, which should be independently monitored.

    "We accept all the recommendations in the report," said schools secretary Ed Balls at the launch event.

    He said the government would legislate where necessary to bring some of the recommendations into force.

    Download the enitre report in PDF format from Computer and Video Games here

  2. #2
    DCEmu Newbie
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    bull****, use the darn pegi system like everyone else and educate the parents

  3. #3
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    Classic! As a parent who has been playing videogames for about 34 years I find it a tad amusing to be classed as a naive "digital immigrant".

    Anyway, my kids never play anything above their age rating (and evey game I have bought has some kind of rating, mostly 3+, so not sure where her evidence comes from) but I know from personal experience in games shops that there are many (perhaps most, but I have no proof of that) parents who happily buy 18-rated games for their pre-teens, even if the games shop says, "Er, this is for adults. You really shouldn't give it to your kids."

    When I was a kid, there was, I think, 1 or 2 games in existence that were 18 rated. And they were crap. Really bad. Nowadays if I was perhaps 12-13 I would do anything in my power to access the most gory, gruesome blood-fest in existence. A rating on a box wouldn't stop me. Admittedly my parents wouldn't have bought it for me though.

    Anyway, to wrap up my waffle, most games I have ever seen have a very clear rating on them. Parents, like me, who care what their kids see/play already use the very clear rating system. Parents who don't care will buy them anyway, so long as it keeps their kids happy.

    Ok, those without a sense of humour stop reading now.

    Rather than a rating system, games should have a way to test if you are 18. For example it could use a camera to analyse your hair style or fashion sense :-). If you look smart and clean-cut, you're obviously not a late-teen yet. (Flameproof suit on). Or it could restrict play-time to after mid-day. If you're up before mid-day then again you are not 18 yet. Anyone got any other useful ways of proving age?

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