Memorandum submitted by TIGA
Tiga represents the business and commercial
interests of UK Games independent and publisher owned development
studios. Tiga has 130 members who make all or parts of video games.
The sector employs nearly 9,000 developers in 160 studios up and
down the British Isles.
1.1 Tiga is the trade Association formed
in 2001 to represent the business and commercial interests of
the UK's globally renowned computer and video games studios. The
UK has a reputation for creativity and innovation, having been
responsible for classic and iconic content such as the Lara Croft
Tomb Raider series of adventure games.
1.2 UK games developers have few "home
grown" routes to market and so mostly make content commissioned
from US and Japanese owned publishers.
1.3 The UK industry was worth £3.4bn
at retail (Elspa/Chartrack2007), and there was a surplus of trade
with the rest of the world of some £280m in 2006 ("Playing
for Keeps", UKTI 2007)
1.4 UK has until recently been the third
largest producer of video games in the world, but has recently
fallen back to fourth place, now that market distorting state
aids being offered in Canada (reducing the cost of making game
by 30-50%) have started to bite with much of the growth in production
facilities going there rather than being invested in UK operations
("Playing for Keeps", UKTI 2007).
1.5 A December 2005 report, "Gamers
in the UK", commissioned for the BBC found that 59% of UK
6-65 year-oldssome 26.5million peopleplay electronic
games, with 21.6million of these regularly playing at least once
48% of the UK aged 6-65 plays games at least
once a week (21.6 million people):
100% of 6-10s consider themselves
to be gamers.
A quarter of UK game players are
18% (or 1.7 million gamers) are aged
The average age of UK gamer is approximately
45% of all gamers are female.
1.6 In 2007, 42 games rated "18+"
by PEGI (pan European industry rating system) were sent to the
BBFC for rating under the Video Recordings Act. Of these, 21 games
were given an "18" rating, 19 games were given a "15"
rating and 2 games were given a "12" rating.
1.7 We note that contrary to popular perceptions
held by politicians in the UK, Canada and other countries have
recognised the importance of this industry offering modern high
valued added employment and skills. But if in the UK policy makers
and politicians continue to blame the industry for the ills of
society we will loose yet another great British invention.
1.8 "Games" as a form of entertainment
are a much misunderstood concept by politicians, and policy makers
and regrettably also much maligned. They provide a convenient
"whipping boy" for the ills of society, and Tiga would
respectfully ask committee members to consider whether games content
is really the cause or a symptom of the ways our societies are
rapidly being re-shaped by modern communications and marketing
and not least licentious commercial imperatives.
2. THE BENEFITS
2.1 The potential of benefits of "games"
are recognised by informed forward thinkers, so that the immersiveness
that is invariably created around players of electronic games
has been noted by educationalists and academics as having a massive
potential for engaging large parts of the population. This is
currently the subject of many research projects, such as "FutureLab"
in Bristol, and "Games to Grow" in Walsall. So that
for many of these informed people, they view "games"
not only as a rapidly rising form of entertainment (Games bucked
the "bearish" retail trend this last Xmas), but the
platforms and technologies for conveying them are a potential
new medium for conveying much wider forms of content including
information, education as well as entertainment:
2.2 We would draw the committee's attention
to the part of the industry known as "Serious Games"
which are being applied and researched for use in military, educational,
health and training applications. "Serious games', sometimes
very close to popular entertainment content, are used for treatment
of cancer and post traumatic stress disorder sufferers, for combating
MRSA in hospitals and simulating "Triage" for emergency
services staff and the same games developer (Blitz) of this last
application has used its games technology for the soon to be launched
Westminster historical simulation. Sports simulation games such
as football and Formula One are used by sportspeople to prepare
themselves for the real thing.
3. THE POTENTIAL
3.1 We accept that this has become a contentious
issue, but we do not believe we have seen any concrete evidence
to prove that video games content can harm children if the age
ratings codes are used correctly. However we do note that there
is confusion among some consumers about the ratings systems, and
believe more could be done to implement these codes effectively.
3.2 As with other media such as film, violent
games content is made and sold, but the number of these in proportion
to the overall output of the sector is small. We do not think
there is an issue with pornographic content in the games sector.
3.3 Video games provide great entertainment.
They can be as engrossing and as enjoyable as films. If a player
is forcibly stopped from playing at a crucial moment in a game
then he or she will react as if he or she had been stopped from
watching a film at an equally critical moment. We do not believe
that this therefore means that video games are "opiates"
or that they are "addictive".
4. THE TOOLS
The effectiveness of the existing regulatory regime
in helping to manage the potential risks from harmful content
on the Internet and in video games
4.1 Dedicated video games consoles now have
parental control technology built in, allowing parents to prevent
those consoles from playing games which they do not consider appropriate.
However, parental control technology is no substitute for parental
engagement in the activities of their children.
4.2 On the question of age ratings, we concede
that there is some confusion among members of the public about
what the ratings stand for, eg there can be confusion over whether
the rating number is a difficulty level or a content rating as
in films. Some initiative is called for to better inform the public
by the publishers and retailers. However we believe strongly that
there should be a pan European classification system and that
the PEGI system fulfills this necessity and that it could be perfectly
clear to any parent, who would take the time to understand what
his or her children are doing.