Memorandum submitted by Electronic Arts
1. What are the benefits of video games to
(a) children and young people, (b) society, (c) the economy? (Please
refer to paragraph 3.2)
Video games are at heart entertainment. They
provide incredible enjoyment and pleasure to many people young
and old. They also contribute to skills development unlike other
passive entertainment media such as film, TV and music. There
are many studies on the benefits of gaming including one authored
by Dr Winston in "Child of Our Time". In that study,
he showed that game playing children demonstrated a number of
development skills such as teamwork, strategic and tactical thinking,
puzzle solving and fine motor skills.
Professor Stephen Heppell refers to the power
of games in children's development and education. As games are
"synonymous" with children, he has studied and believes
that children can learn more quickly and effectively using a video
game style mechanic as the learning aid. In one study, he used
games as a way of allowing children to safely act out actions,
and consequences to those actions, and inter-personal relations
in games such as in The Sims. He also echoes the thoughts of Dr
In addition, video games are increasingly becoming
a family oriented activity, providing family members with a common
interest around which to spend valuable family time. And more
and more people are playing video games with other people around
the world through online services rather than playing alone, illustrating
the continuously growing social aspect of gaming.
While playing video games provides enjoyment,
it's also a safe kind of leisure time activity for kids. As it
happens mostly at home, parents can and should monitor the content
to which their children are exposed. The new consoles and Windows
Vista on the PC have easy to manage parental control systems that
can block inappropriate content. This is not the case of TV where
programming can be viewed by audiences of all ages.
A February 2007 Nielsen research report into
video games found that they are differentiated from other media
options, such as watching movies or television, in terms of their
ability to offer a greater degree of creative and cerebral stimulation:
providing food for the imagination and mental challenges.
When questioned, 55% of respondents agreed that
video games stimulate the imagination (compared to 51% for movies
and 36% for TV), and 47% felt that video games make you think
(compared to 41% for movies and 38% for television).
2. What are the opportunities presented by
video games to (a) children and young people, (b) society, (c)
the economy? (Please refer to paragraph 3.2)
Video games are an interactive media unlike
film and TV. They require participants to actively participate
with the content and therefore play out actions and consequences.
It allows people to experience what it is like to drive an F1
car, be a professional footballer or golfer. It can teach people
the consequences of the decisions they make in these environments
and to enable them to adjust behaviour. A child can act out being
an England football star with a ball in the back garden and then
become that star within the video game.
People simulation games like the Sims can educate
players about social interaction, or the importance of adult responsibility
such as holding down a job. A game like SimCity can help players
learn about city building, planning and environmental issues.
Radio, music CDs, movies and TV fit less and
less into the media leisure time interests of many people. Instead,
consumers are now looking for media opportunities which are challenging
and engaging and which consider their own abilities, interests
and preferences like video games do.
Social gaming now also plays a huge role in
the way people play. Devices like the Wii allow families to play
together when parents aren't familiar with traditional joypad
controls. Many players also like to compete (or cooperate) with
players from other parts of the world online. This opens up a
brand new way of interacting with people from diverse cultures.
60% of PS3 and Xbox 360 owners play via the proprietary online
Games are great fun which shouldn't be ignored.
They provide a degree of escapism as do other forms of leisure
activity and entertainment but in an involving manner. We are
seeing more and more people play games over the years as the awareness
and accessibility increases. The business generates a growing
£2bn a year to the UK economy and employs 30000+ staff.
3. What are the potential and actual risks
to children and young people who engage with video games and how
should the Review approach defining and measuring the risks? (Please
refer to paragraph 3.3)
The perceived risks to children who pay games
are often greater than the actual risks. There are two main areas
where fears have been raised : addiction and increased aggressive
Video game addiction : The great majority of
gamers do not have problems with knowing when to switch off, and
through many studies that have been done in this field, researchers
have found that there is little empirical evidence to support
the notion of true video game addiction.
However, parents should always take care to
ensure that leisure time activities are balanced. As interactive
entertainment isn't addictive itself, it could be a symptom for
other life problems when a gamer has addictive gaming behaviour.
The question is rather: why are they spending so much time gaming?
Do they have any experiences of success in real life?
Generally speaking, interactive entertainment
is not the only important leisure time activity children and young
people should deal with. Excessive gaming for a period of time
is not problematic (in the same way that excessively reading Harry
Potter or playing football is not problematic) but overall there
should be a balance. This is primarily the responsibility of the
parents. For that reason it is important for them to show an interest
in what their children are doing as this is the best way is to
know what kind of games they are playing and how much time they
are spending doing it.
Links between game playing and violent behaviour
: Although the media have often been known to regularly link aggressive
acts by individuals with video games that they have been known
to play, suggesting that this is the cause of their violent behaviour,
there are innumerable volumes of research that conclude that there
is no evidence of a causal link between video game playing and
real life behaviour.
Many studies have tried to establish a link
between virtual violence and physical aggression, and have found
very little empirical evidence to suggest there is any significant
link between the two. See:
Does viewing violent media really
cause criminal violence? A methodological review. Aggression and
Violent BehaviourDr. Joanne Savage, 2005
Key Finding: Dr Savage concludes
that there is no causal link between media violence and violent
crime, quoting: "The question addressed here is not whether
or not the effect is plausible, but whether the effect has been
demonstrated convincingly in the scientific literature-and the
answer is "not so far".
Review of Research on the Impact
of Violent Computer Games on Young PeopleRaymond Boyle
and Matthew Hibberd, Stirling Media Research Institute, 2005
Key Finding: The research evidence
of a direct link between video games and violent behaviour in
society remains contradictory... /playing violent video games
increases arousal and the possibility of aggression in some players
however this evidence is often disputed and cannot be simply read
as evidence that game playing translates into violent social behaviour
"Playing With Fire? How Do
Computer Games Influence the Player?"the Danish Government
and the Unesco Clearinghouse on Children, Youth and Media, 2004)
Key Finding: It is not possible
to say anything conclusive about the potentially adverse effects
of violent games. The empirical evidence is too limited and the
criticism of the extant research too serious....We can say that
the question of the extent to which computer games in general
have an adverse effect on all or on many gamers is too broad for
a specific answer
Video Games and Real-Life Aggression:
A Review of the Literature"Washington State Department
of Health: Office of Epidemiology, 2000
Key Finding: At present, it may
be concluded that the research evidence is not supportive of a
major public concern that violent video games lead to real-life
Evaluating the Research on Violent
Video GamesDr. Freedman University of Toronto
Key Finding: There is substantial,
though far from overwhelming or definitive evidence that people
who like and play violent video games tend to be more aggressive
than those who like and play them less... /there is not the slightest
evidence that playing violent video games causes any long-term
or lasting increase in aggressiveness or violence
It was reported in 2006 that social
scientific data to demonstrate a causative relationship between
perceived harms associated with violent video games remains unproven
(Source: Chicago University).
A third area of frequent concern is the idea
that children should play only with content that is deemed suitable
for their age. PEGI, the industry age rating system, bases its
ratings on content, not skill. Parents and users have a responsibility
to understand that they shouldn't put a child in front of an 18+
rated game, just as they wouldn't a film.
A simple review of the PEGI rating system shows
the overwhelming minority of games that are published with an
18+ or adult rating. The gaming industry is not an "extreme"
content provider, and the content offered that is deemed for adults
is no different than that offered to adults in films or books.
| Age class
| 3+ ||3,590 ||48%
|7+ ||746 ||10%
|12+ ||1,868 ||25%
|16+ ||939 ||13%
|18+ ||334 ||4%
Equally important to note is that in Europe, the average
age of a gamer is today 28adults who make their own informed
4. What do (a) children and young people and (b) parents
know already about the potential and actual risks of playing video
games? (Please refer to paragraph 3.3)
We are not aware of any negative impact on children, youths
or adults from gaming beyond those associated with other media
such as television. The industry works to advise players that
they shouldn't play for extended periods, and take breaks, and
offers tools such as rating systems to help parents understand
the medium of choice for their kids.
The PEGI system supports informed adult choice. It provides
European parents with age rating recommendations intended to inform
their buying decisions regarding content that is suitable to their
Research by Nielsen (February 2007) shows that awareness
of the PEGI system is high amongst video game consumers. Findings
from this study include:
Six in ten European gamers claim to be aware of
a European age ratings system for video games, and when prompted
with the PEGI age rating symbols, recognition is near universal
(94% of respondents indicated that the visual marks of the PEGI
system are well known).
A third of European respondents claim they find
the symbols useful when deciding whether to purchase a video game.
Awareness is highest in the UK, standing at 81%
in comparison to other European countries.
Demographically, awareness is driven by males
(62% vs. 47% among females), and also skewed towards handheld
owners (65% vs. 60%-61% among PC and console owners).
Parents in particular appear to place an additional
premium on the system, with half claiming to find it helpful
Three in ten adults in Europe feel the symbols
are a useful tool when purchasing a game for a child
Six in ten (59%) respondents claim to be aware
of a European age ratings system for video games.
Recall (unaided memory) by responders of the symbols,
reaches in excess of nine out of ten (93%-98%) in the majority
of European countries, with recall peaks among respondents in
the UK at 58%. Recall among parents reaches 40%.
On a five point scale, a third of respondents
(34%) feel the PEGI symbols are of more value ("extremely
useful" or "very useful")
Further analysis of the data reveals that some
subgroups place an additional premium on the age ratings system:
the system appears to be of particular help to parents (49% "extremely
useful" plus "very useful"), females (47%), and
respondents aged 25+ (44%).
The UK trade body, ELSPA, proactively promotes www.askaboutgames.com.
As a company, EA support these education efforts with a very visible
link from its UK home page: http://www.electronicarts.co.uk/.
EA also works elsewhere in Europe to ensure that parents
and children have accessible, understandable information to help
them make infirmed choices about gaming. One example is the website
: www.aprendeyjuegaconea.com, operated by EA Spain since 2004
to proactively educate parents about what to expect from each
game offering, the type of experience they'll find inside the
game and the age appropriateness.
5. What do (a) children and young people and (b) parents
think and feel about the potential and actual risks of playing
video games? (Please refer to paragraph 3.3)
With an easy to use, easy to understand age rating system
that can be enforced, there is very little risk associated with
playing video games.
The risk will lie in the adult society's understanding of
PEGI as an aid for consumers to make appropriate content choices
for game play. Many adults are not game players, and as a result,
harbour misperceptions about video games. Exaggerated media reports,
often authored by those with little or no hands on experience
with gaming, contribute to parents" fears and doubts about
interactive entertainment. People under 30 generally understand
that games are safe and fun.
Some of the misunderstanding about the risks associated with
video games stems back to the age rating system and a potential
lack of awareness that it is content, and not skill, driven.
Away from the risks, research shows that there are educational
benefits to be had from video gaming, and that academia is largely
in favour of using video games as part of the learning process
This view was demonstrated in a survey conducted by EA and
NESTA Futurelab (2006) which found that more than 60 percent of
educators in the UK support using video games in education, a
stark contrast to the perpetual media frenzy over the potential
negative effects of videogames on the developing minds of minors.
Further to this, 91% of respondents in the survey of 1000
primary and secondary school teachers in the UK, believed that
playing games developed children's motor-cognitive skills, while
over 60% thought that players would develop their higher order
thinking skills and could also acquire topic-specific knowledge.
This attitude towards the positive use of video gaming in
a child's upbringing is not limited to the UK. In 2007, the University
of Alcalá & UNED in Spain conducted research into the
educational benefits of video games which drew the following conclusions:
"Multiple media and platforms need to converge
"In collaboration with teachers, certain
specific educational uses of games were progressively discovered".
"A big attitudinal change took place in teachers
and families as they learnt to appreciate digital games or other
media as educational agents".
"Digital games play a meaningful and natural
role in the everyday life of children and young people".
"The worlds of games provide them with new
experiences, interesting stories, social events, fun, challenges,
excitement and also many moments of learning".
"In informal situations the power of video-games
to generate creative ways of thing and writing is much more clearly
"If the twenty-first century needs to look
for innovation, videogames are turning out to be one of the most
powerful cultural tools which populate our real everyday lives".
6. What are the range of mechanisms that exist to help
children, young people and parents manage the potential or actual
risks of playing (a) hard copy video games, (b) games downloaded
from the internet, (c) games played on line? (Please refer to
There are a number of robust mechanisms already in place
to protect children and assist parents when purchasing video games
including BBFC ratings and the PEGI rating system. However, while
the former is a recognised and trusted guide to parents and children,
it does not provide a comprehensive guideline as it only applies
to video games which meet certain criteria:
Games which will have an 18+ rating.
Games that contain clips / trailers from other
Games that contain real movie clips.
The PEGI (Pan-European Game Information) system is the first
ever pan-European system of harmonised age ratings. PEGI affords
parents and other gatekeepers independently checked, reliable
and easy-to-read recommendations to make informed buying decisions
pertaining to interactive software, whatever the platform. It
offers clear, visible and easy to understand on-product information:
age rating, visual icon and written descriptor.
PEGI operates under stringent measuresin 2007, 42
games were rated 18+ by PEGI and also referred to the BBFC. Of
The BBFC gave 21 of them a lower rating (50%).
19 of the games received a 15 rating.
2 games received a 12 rating.
The record of PEGI complaints speaks to the efficiency of
the system : 2 complaints from consumers between April 2003 and
March 2007; 8 since then, 7 of which from publishers, all of them
aimed at getting lower ratings.
PEGI Online : In addition to the consumer information provided
for hard copy games, PEGI has effectively scaled users of online
games through PEGI Online and the PEGI Online Safety Code.
EA is a signatory of both PEGI and PEGI Online.
The PEGI Online Safety Code, referred here as the POSC, applies
to all online gaming providers who are signatories of the POSC.
The term "online gaming providers" refers to all publishers
or website operators to the extent they provide online services
through which interactive software products allowing on-line game
play, including videogames, computer games, and education/reference
works on CD Roms. The POSC also applies to all associated advertising
and promotion of such online services.
The POSC is based on a Code of Conduct that reflects the
interactive software industry's commitment and concern that information
be provided to the public in a responsible manner with regards
to the content of interactive software products. The industry's
contribution is intended to complement existing national laws,
regulations and enforcement mechanisms.
The POSC provides parents and educators with an assurance
that online gaming services displaying the PEGI Online Label (POL)
are operated by publishers who have committed to abide by its
provisions. Equally, the POSC reflects the interactive software
industry's commitment not to produce, advertise, distribute or
promote any product in breach of human decency.
PEGI Online and its signatories address the main concerns
related to online game play:
The online service will only include game content
which has been appropriately rated under the PEGI system or under
other recognised European systems such asbut not limited
tothose operated by the BBFC in the UK and the USK in Germany.
The PEGI Online label (POL) provides a direct
hyperlink to a dedicated website where appropriate information
is given regarding the risks arising from the fact that content
created in the course of game play may be unknown to the original
publisher. Alternatively and where appropriate, signatories display
the url associated with the said dedicated website in a prominent
position visible to users of online services.
The POL is displayed in a size that permits the
message to be clearly visible to, and perfectly legible by, the
public, in accordance with templates provided by ISFE. The same
principles will apply to any making available of interactive software
to the public through other means apart from sale, such as rental
Licence holders ensure that the POL is used only
in accordance with national legal requirements and that, in particular,
it is not used in countries where the products carried on the
online services concerned are prohibited or subject to compulsory
Should products available on online services carrying
the POL be subject to such classification in any country or countries,
the use of the POL is accompanied by a conspicuous reference to
any consequent conditions covering game play on the said services.
Licence holders use their best endeavours to ensure
that online services under their control are kept free of content
which is illegal, offensive, racist, degrading, corrupting, threatening,
obscene or might permanently impair the development of minors.
When online services under the control of the license holders
also contain user generated content, the license holders use their
best endeavours to immediately take down user generated content
which is illegal, offensive, racist, degrading, corrupting, threatening,
Where possible, removal of undesirable links or
"hyperlinks" is also actioned.
Licence holders ensure the incorporation in their
terms of business, with online subscribers of certain provisions
usually included under the heading of so called "community
standards'. These provisions will contain prohibitions against
those subscribers introducing content or indulging in online behaviour
which is illegal, offensive, racist, degrading, corrupting, threatening,
obscene or might permanently impair the development of minors.
Any licence holder engaging in the online collection
of personal information from subscribers will also maintain an
all applicable European Union and national Data Protection laws.
distribution, correction, and security of the personal details
of subscribers who shall be given full details of the licence
to an online service.
Subscribers are also be given the opportunity
to comment on any perceived misuse of their personal details and
therefore be fully advised as to ways, for example, of avoiding
unsolicited or unwanted email contact.
In keeping with one of the main objectives of
the POSC, licence holders adhere to stringent standards ensuring
the protection of children from any unsuitable content and behaviour
associated with any website aimed at children. These standards
include, where appropriate;
the publication of warnings about the supply
or display online of private email addresses.
the promotion of responsible purchasing practices
where minors are concerned.
POSC signatories ensure that online services comply with
existing and future laws and regulations at EU and national level.
The European interactive software industry has put in place
five different instruments to fulfil its objectives, four of which
are common to the POSC and the PEGI Codes and so maintain the
consistency of both systems.
These instruments are:
The PEGI Advisory Board (PAB), established to
interpret the provisions of the PEGI Code of Conduct and to suggest
appropriate implementation tools. This body ensures that the POSC
responds to ongoing social, legal and technological developments.
The PAB is made up of :
child psychology experts.
lawyers expert in European minor protection
a representative of the PEC.
a representative of ISF.E
The independent PEGI Complaints Board (PCB) which
again includes representatives from key stakeholders, and is entrusted
with management of the following three matters:
conflicts between applicants and the PO Administrator.
complaints about the consistency of advertising,
marketing and promotional activities of any POSC signatory with
the provisions of the POSC.
disputes about the implementation of POSC
The PEGI Enforcement Committee (PEC) charged with
implementing the recommendations of the PAB Board and, more generally,
of ensuring the enforcement of the provisions of the POSC, including
decisions of the PCB.
A Legal Committee, also common to the PEGI system,
which will ensure the ongoing coherence and consistency of the
POSC Licensing System with national legal frameworks.
A Licensing System operated by ISFE with the assistance
of an Administrator, for issue of licenses to use the PEGI Online
Label (POL), whereby assurance is given to the public that the
licensee has committed to abide by all provisions of the POSC.
26 EU member states + non EU countries such as Iceland, Switzerland
and Liechtenstein adhere to the PEGI rating system.
We refer to the Electronic Software Ratings Board (ESRB)
in the United States as an example of a similar system in place
to help manage the risks of gaming, and recommend that the Byron
Review team consult with that organization as a means to gather
additional evidence of age rating systems, online protections
and retail enforcement mechanisms.
7. To what extent do (a) children and young people and
(b) parents understand and use the video games age classification
system and/or other descriptions of content? (Please refer to
The Nielsen research results referenced above point to the
conclusion that the PEGI rating system is generally well recognized.
However, the understanding of the system and its icons must be
further addressed for full effectiveness.
While heavy gamers are familiar with the descriptive symbols,
the PEGI website and the process that consumers can use to file
complaints to PEGI about inappropriate behavior, many less frequent
gamers have lower awareness of the PEGI symbols, complaints process
or website existence.
Further consumer education could greatly improve the understanding
of the rating system, most notably that the ratings are based
on suitability of content as opposed to the level of skill required
to play the game.
8. In what other ways do a) children and young people
and b) parents seek to manage perceived risks of video gaming
and how do they feel about their ability to do so? (Please refer
to paragraph 3.4)
As said above, there are a number of measures in place. In
the UK, Ask About Games.com is a good existing source for parental
and consumer information in the UK.
High on the ELSPA agenda is a review of the additional resource
required to broaden public awareness of video games and their
9. How well do these different approaches and mechanisms
work? (Please refer to paragraph 3.4)
The general age rating systems in place to protect children
from inappropriate content are working well for consumers, as
evidenced in questions 4 and 6.
There is inherent benefit in the existing PEGI system :
Since its inception, the PEGI system of age classification
has worked to the satisfaction of European consumers, as evidenced
by the Nielsen survey results referenced above. There is broad
consumer awareness of PEGI, and in particular among UK consumers
who score highest in terms of recognizing the PEGI symbols and
acknowledging the usefulness of the system in making purchase
Across Europe, PEGI has the unique ability to
address the distinct interactive characteristics of a game, and
rate them according to the specificities of interactive entertainment
that are not found in film or TV.
An independent, self-regulated operation has proven
to be efficient. The questionnaire based methodology allows for
the inclusion of cultural context in the rating criteria, while
offering flexibility to adapt rating needs as the needs of industry
and society evolve.
PEGI has been effectively scaled to online gaming
with the launch of PEGI Online, done in partnership with, and
with support from, the European Commission.
A single European rating system eases pan-regional
commitment and compliance for companies in the gaming industry,
the majority of which operate on a European or global scale. The
ease of working within one known and unified scheme encourages
game developers" fulfilment of the stated requirements. Adhering
to multiple systems would incur extra cost and resource for companies,
and would likely also impact parental controls in hardware as
these would need to be Europe (or PAL) wide initiatives.
We encourage the Review team to consider these benefits along
with the consequences of a potential shift to single-nation systems
that would be challenged to meet the requirements a global, fast
paced and evolving industry.
10. What roles do the retail and advertising sectors play
in supporting children, young people and parents to manage potential
and actual risks in playing video games? (Please refer to paragraph
Retailers can and should have a large part to play. They
should be called upon to assist in the education of the age rating
system, and should have robust compliance measures in place when
selling to children under the classified age.
In the UK, ELSPA has been actively engaged with a major representative
of the gaming specialist sector. Further enquiry with ELSPA on
this activity is recommended.
As an example from the United States, the ESRB has established
the ESRB Retail Council (ERC) http://www.esrb.org/retailers/retailcouncil.jsp
which, among other goals, ensures that ERC retail member companies
support ratings education and enforcement. The Code commits ERC
members to using their best efforts to:
Enforce store policies not to sell or rent M (Mature)
rated computer and video games to customers under the age of 17
without permission from a parent or guardian;
Not sell or rent AO (Adults Only) games to customers
under the age of 18;.
Display signage in stores describing the ESRB
rating system and retailer's policy regarding sale and rental
of M- and AO-rated games;
Train store associates about ESRB ratings and
game sales procedures/policies;.
Member companies also participate in at least two "mystery
shopper" audits each year to measure and track the level
of sales policy enforcement. Results are posted in aggregate on
the ESRB website http://www.esrb.org/retailers/retailcouncil.jsp£piechart.
Each of these biannual audits includes a minimum of 100 retail
stores for each ERC member. The audits involve a consumer under
the age of 17 attempting to purchase or rent a computer or video
game rated M (Mature) by the ESRB, and measures whether the customer
was able to complete the transaction. The audit also measures
if the store displays signage explaining the ESRB rating system
and the store's policy with regard to the sale of M-rated games.
The overall and store level results are provided to ERC member
retailers for performance improvement purposes. The results charted
on their site demonstrate increasing improvement since ERC was
created in 2005.
In advertising, the industry adheres to the rules regarding
watersheds and appropriate targeting without any noticeable issues.
Age ratings are adhered to for demo disks and the anticipated
age rating for the full game to which the demo disk relates.
When mainstream children's programming refers to video games
or promotes games, it is done in a responsible manner, and takes
into account the need for suitable content for the target group.
Games specialist magazines should also follow age related
guidelines. It is important that a magazine with a younger demographic
not write about or review games of a mature nature.
11. What opportunities exist for children, young people
and parents to learn about safe, responsible and fulfilling video
game playingand do they help? (Please refer to paragraph
Video game safety is an extremely pertinent issue. There
is not just one organisation solely responsible for regulation,
rather it is the joint responsibility of games companies, ISPs,
manufacturers and parents to ensure that children are not exposed
to unsuitable material or people whilst playing games both offline
EA itself works to ensure safety for its users through a
number of measures.
EA standalone product websites have a date of birth request
at the point of entry to discourage under age visitors. The same
mechanism applies for all videos on electronicarts.co.uk for 18+
games available for viewing
All EA product web pages have clear PEGI rating at the top
of the page.
A number of guidelines are available on EA's website which
all online gamers are advised to follow at all times. These guidelines
are as follows:
1. Be discreet. The information you provide is often public,
for all to see. Do not share information or images that you do
not want the world to know about or see. Thinkyour information
could be passed on.
2. Be anonymous. Do not share private or very personal information.
Never post or send anything that can be used to locate you or
another person offline, such as a full name, email or home address
or phone number.
3. Be distant. Do not arrange to meet in person anyone you've
met online. If you must, only meet somewhere that is safe and
public, tell someone your plans and then bring a friend along.
If you aren't an adult, get your parent or guardian's permission
first and take them with you.
4. Be honest. You may be tempted to pretend to be someone
you are not. The other person may also do the same thing. They
may not be who they say they are.
5. Be nice. Don't take on bullies or cyber-bully anyone else.
If someone taunts you, walk away from the computer. Report the
person or behaviour to an adult or administrator. It's supposed
to be fun, right?.
6. Be clean. Do not open, respond to or forward an email
or IM unless you know the person who sent it to you and you've
checked it for viruses. The content could contain damaging software
(such as spyware or viruses) or it might be offensive.
7. Be secure. Use security software (such as virus scanners).
Ensure your system is up-to-date and protected in case an email
from someone unintentionally infects your computer.
8. Be private. Never share your password or password hints
9. Be inventive. Ensure the online IDs you create do not
reveal your personal information. Be creative and unique!.
10. Beware. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably
is! Check the facts if you aren't sure about something. And rememberyou're
in control. You decide which activities to participate in and
what information you provide.
From an online community perspective, EA imposes a number
of regulations to discourage inappropriate participation of minors.
To post in EA UK forums, users must be over 13 year of age and
register as such, and content is monitored by administrators.
Any users found to be posting material which is unsuitable in
accordance with the rules of operation or found to be underage,
will be notified and banned from the forum.
EA also has rules in operation on all forum boards to which
community members have to adhere. These are detailed as:
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In addition to the work done by EA to ensure member security
throughout official sites and forums, it should be noted that
a great deal of positive self regulation also takes place within
online communities. Community members regularly report fellow
users for posting inappropriate material or abusive remarks. Many
online communities are very close knit and protective of members,
meaning those individuals who join with malicious intent seldom
With regards to the online purchase of games through EA UK
Store, games rated 18+ by the BBFC are accompanied by the following
notice, in bold, on the product description page :
WARNING: This product has been awarded an 18 classification
by the British Board of Film Classification (www.bbfc.co.uk).
If you order this product you are confirming that you are 18 years
of age or over and that this product is being purchased for your
own use and not for the use of someone under 18 years of age.
Given this product's age classification you further agree that
(i) any purchase of this product is limited to credit card payment;
and (ii) you are the holder of any credit card used to purchase
A similar warning is given for games rated 15+.
Additional measures are in progress at EA to further enhance
protection mechanisms around the purchase of 15+ and 18+ rated
games by underage audiences.
12. What, if anything, could be changed in order to help
children, young people and parents manage the potential or actual
risks of playing a) hard copy video games b) games downloaded
from the internet c) games played on line, and what are the pros
and cons of different approaches? (Please refer to paragraph 3.5)
The best approach is the reinforcement and communication
of a single age rating system for videogames. This would allow
for technology adjustments to be made pan-Europe wide and give
consistent rules to development houses which would ensure content
compliance. A pan-European system would also benefit multi-country
retailers, and facilitate the implementation of an education campaign
The adoption of a UK specific rating system such as the BBFC
would present a challenge to video game companies which operate,
for the majority, on a worldwide or European scale. In addition,
the BBFC is a film classifier under the Video Recordings Act which
by the BBFC's own view, is inappropriate for games.
PEGI is scaleable to meet evolving requirement of the industry
and society. Already, since 2003, the questionnaire tick box has
evolved to incorporate the notion of contextual violence to better
assign an appropriate rating in line with common understanding
of accepted materials or scenes.
PEGI could equally evolve to meet any concerns raised as
a result of this review.
The final piece would be an education programme as referenced
above. Within such a campaign, consideration should be given to
Internet games that are accessed without buying a hard copy of
the game, and be subject to the same rating system.
13. What are the emerging opportunities for developing
other ways of supporting children, young people and parents? (Please
refer to paragraph 3.5)
There are possible changes available through parental controls
on gaming hardware to establish the age of the player at the start
of the play period.
One measure touted by many groups for regulating the video
game industry is age verification to monitor both games sales
and content. While systems such as BBFC, PEGI and ESRB can assist
with regulation of games sales and US Regulations such as COPPA
exist to protect young children, regulation of content through
the same system is not so straightforward.
The key question to address on this issue is "At what
point does age verification start to conflict with privacy?"
This issue becomes even more central when considered in light
of young children.
In our efforts to protect children from exposure to potentially
harmful or inappropriate material on the internet and in video
games, the age verification solution can compete with efforts
to preserve personal privacy as dictated by law or our accepted
social perceptions. As such it is not widely viewed as a viable
solution to the problem at hand.
A certain degree of responsibility lies with the consumer.
EA will always take every step to ensure that the online environments
it builds are as safe as possible, with proper monitoring mechanisms
in place. On top of this, there is an expectation for the consumer
to play their part, be vigilant and report any suspicious content
or behaviour breaches through the official channels to allow action
to be taken.
As this report lays out, education is the key. If users play
their part and are fully informed of the systems in place to deal
with inappropriate content, they can work with games developers,
ISPs and official bodies such as PEGI to regulate content without
the need for over intrusive age verification systems that breach
Children today are extremely internet savvy and the many
are keenly aware not to give out identifiable personal information
into a public domain. Similarly, as mentioned earlier, internet
communities are very good at self regulation and reporting suspicious
This does not suggest lax approach from the industry in the
effort to provide a comprehensive lasting solution to the question.
Education, awareness and responsible commitment from industry
are key opportunities for the future.
One illustration of the industry's intention to participate
in establishing beneficial rules and regulations on the Internet
is the Online Safety Group of the AeA, the largest association
of high-tech companies in the United States, of which Electronic
Arts is a member:
27. What impact will new ways of accessing media have
on the questions being considered in this review? (Please refer
to paragraph 3.10)
Games are now made for and played on a host of devices including
handheld consoles, ipods and mobile phones. Consistency for age
ratings and proper protection levels across games being made available
for all of these deviceswhether hard copy purchase or downloadis
the best avenue for consumers and for the industry.
The interactive entertainment industry is evolving quickly
with the fast and ongoing leaps in technology. Companies who create
and supply digital media are already taking self-imposed steps
to ensure child safety. For example, in addition to the games
industry, many mobile carriers have set their own guidelines for
delivering appropriate content to children.
The industry itself is well equipped to keep pace with the
speed of technology change and evolving requirements for content
delivery. As a whole, this responsibility is taken seriously by
industry players who are working to establish, and work within,
28. Do you have any further comments?
As an ELSPA Board member, and representing the world's leading
interactive entertainment software company, we can state that
we and our trade bodies have engaged completely with this review.
We are open to discuss all routes that may come to light, and
I, Keith Ramsdale, Vice President and General Manager of EA in
the UK, and father of two young daughters, am happy to be personally
involved to whatever degree is deemed appropriate.
Chairman: We now move on to electronic games. I welcome
Paul Jackson, director general of Entertainment and Leisure Software
Providers Association (ELSPA), Keith Ramsdale, vice president
of EA Games, Dr Wilson, chief executive of Tiga which is the Independent
Games Developers Association, and Jason Kingsley, chief executive
officer of the Rebellion Group.