Today the UK government has announced that the PEGI ratings system is to become the standard form of classification for computer games. The Video Standards Council (VSC) will oversee the implementation of the system for all titles released in the region. The BBFC, who had control of the previous ratings system, will no longer be involved in the classification of games but will continue rating content such as DVD and Blu-ray releases.
This is what Siôn Simon (Creative Industries Minister) had to say on the matter:
“Protecting children and giving parents a clear and robust new system has always been our starting point. The new system of classification follows the essential criteria set out by Professor Tanya Byron, who recommended a trustworthy, uniform and clear set of symbols that is flexible and future proof. We will now work with PEGI and the VSC to agree exactly what the new symbols will look like and how they will work in the UK market, to ensure they provide the clarity and safeguards that are needed. The UK already has a robust system of classification for films and DVDs run by the BBFC. The new system of games classification will match those high standards as this important market continues to evolve.”
Now the implementation of this new rating sounds fine in theory but speaking from personal experience (don’t ask!) I don’t see it working as well as the UK government thinks it will. Parents hardly pay attention to the current ratings system as it is, they just end up buying the game for their children no matter what the rating is. These are the same parents who then blame the staff at the shop for not telling them the content of the game, even though they probably did! There are a minority of parents out there who actively pay attention to the games they buy their children but it is not enough really. You can plaster “18 ADULT CONTENT” over the front of a box all you want but the fact is the majority of consumers won’t even notice it or care about it when they end up buying the game for themselves or their children.