Supplementary memorandum submitted by
the Video Standards Council
Please find attached details of the games rated
for UK release during 2007. These details give figures and percentages
I would make the following comments which I
hope answer your various questions:
As you can see 101 games went to the BBFC for
classification (8.2%). Of these 101 games 50 (4.06%) went to the
BBFC because of adult content (sometimes for sexual content but
usually for gross violence content) and because they had been
rated 18+ under the PEGI system. In 2004 the industry agreed with
the DCMS that all games with a PEGI 18+ would be submitted to
the BBFC regardless of whether they had to be submitted by law.
The remaining 51 games (4.14%) went to the BBFC
not because they contained adult content (they were not controversial
games) but because they contained video footage that was not an
integral part of the game (the law requires such games to go to
As regards the 50 games that went to the BBFC
because of adult content (rated PEGI 18+ for the rest of Europe)
the BBFC classified 29 with an 18 classification, 19 with a 15
classification and 2 with a 12 classification.
As regards games for children it depends on
what definition you use for "children".You will see
that 604 games (49.1%) had a 3+ rating which is the PEGI equivalent
of being suitable for all ages. However if you take "children"
to mean those aged 12 and under you will see that 1029 games (83.6%)
were rated 12 or less.
A hybrid system will rely upon one regulator
or the other being able to freely use the logos of the other without
the need for two separate rating processes. PEGI cannot put a
PEGI rating on a UK product which is different to that being used
in the other 27 countries to which it applies. At the moment if
a game receives a BBFC classification all the other packaging
around Europe should bear the words "not for supply in the
UK". This is possible as it warns suppliers that it is a
criminal offence to supply in the UK without the BBFC logo.
For this to done the opposite way round could
not be justified as it would be legal to supply it in France for
example, as there is no law preventing it. To prevent the package
with the lower rating being sold outside the UK may be constraint
of lawful trade. Therefore the only way that we can see a hybrid
system being able to operate is that PEGI carries out the rating
and that for a period of time for education of the consumer, described
as desirable by Dr Byron, the BBFC and the PEGI labels are seen
on the box. The BBFC symbol would be the one that matches the
PEGI age rating and it would be there purely to avoid any misunderstanding
Hopefully over a short number of years consumer
awareness will be sufficiently high as to allow PEGI only symbols
which is what will be seen on the Internet in relation to downloadable
or online games. The consultation period built in by Dr Byron
would be made good use of in determining placement and sizes etc,
the period of time required for public assimilation of the PEGI
labels and of course an appropriate course to follow for the BBFC
to legally verify those games that may require scrutiny because
of national sensitivities (those given a PEGI 18+).
The VSC has had a close working relationship
with the BBFC for a number of years and the BBFC have made it
perfectly clear that they will not allow their logos to be used
without them having carried out a classification process. This
means that any system using two logos will result in confusion
as there will be two different age ratings on some products. It
should be remembered that it was the industry that agreed to increase
the size of the BBFC logos to match the size of the PEGI logos
and it was the industry that agreed with the BBFC that it would
not carry two logos on the packaging. This was all done in order
to reduce confusion showing that PEGI and the industry are both
very concerned about the protection of minors.
Regulation of online gaming has two elements.
The first element is the rating of the game itself which is done
by using the classic PEGI rating system whereby, the publisher,
who knows most about the game, fills in a questionnaire. This
system is very transparent and the publisher is given a provisonal
rating allowing him to continue with anticipated marketing. This
questionnaire is then examined by the PEGI administrator along
with supplied video material of relevant elements of the game.
The publisher then provides either a copy of the game or, if it
is playable on line only, access to the game with the ability
to have one of the developers available to play against if necessary.
This allows a more thorough examination of each of the elements
as the presence of a developer allows play to develop along lines
asked for by the examiner. Having examined all of this the administrator
either agrees the provisional rating previously allocated by the
questionnaire or tells the publisher what the correct rating should
be and changes the answers on the questionnaire. Misleading the
administrator at this stage can lead to serious monetary sanctions
against the publisher, generally much higher than most legal fine
levels (maximum 500,000).
The second element is checking the website that
is going to host the game. The website operator, usually the publisher,
must first sign a contract agreeing to abide by the PEGI Online
Safety Code. This code is the backbone of the PEGI Online system
as it contains details of the elements that must be on the website
to be able to offer a minimum safety standard for users of the
site. These elements include, amongst other, the presence of a
most important aspects is that the site must not host any game
that has not been subject to a proper rating or classification.
Once the publisher has signed the agreement to the code they can
submit details of the sites that they wish to register to PEGI
administrators. A sample of these are checked by the administrator
to verify compliance with the code and if all appears in order
a personalised PEGI Online label is issued to the publisher but
only for use on the sites registered. This must be renewed annually.
Other sites are randomly checked throughout that year. Any breaches
of the code are also subject to large financial sanctions and
removal of the label. The PEGI Online label contains a hyperlink
to the PEGI Online website where general information regarding
the hazards of online gaming are outlined.
One of the companies looking at filtering sofware
is Net Nanny. At the moment their system is a blunt instrument
that blocks out all gaming sites if this is the parental input.
The work is revolving around PEGI opening its database to the
filtering companies such that the software is able to check the
PEGI Online discreet label number and verify the site is contained
in the PEGI Online database. If the site is listed access to the
site is allowed but the software would then be able to interrogate
the database containing the age ratings of the games contained
on the site and only allow access to those that fit into the age
categories input by the parent into the filtering software.
There are still many teething problems, such
as dealing with the many thousands of "small casual games"
that are put onto most of the online gaming sites as "teasers"
but are not charged for and are too small to warrant the cost
of a classification. A solution to this particular problem is
currently being discussed by the administrators and the owners
of the system and a solution is anticipated within a few weeks.
PEGI Online is not perfect but because it is self-regulation with
teeth it is most certainly the best there is at the moment to
offer any form of safety for minors online.
It is fully endorsed by the EC Commissioner
Vivian Reding and is currently being used by the Council of Europe
and the UNHCR on sites they have developed that use games to put
their message across.
GAMES RATES FOR UK RELEASE ON EPGI SYSTEM
FROM 1 JANUARY 2007 TO 31 DECEMBER 2007
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