World+Dog tosses orb in public on Byron Review
Supporters to the left, protagonists to the right
The Byron Review into the effects of videogames and the internet on children was months in the making. But it’s only taken one day for everyone from government ministers to quangos to voice their opinions on the Review’s recommendations.
Yesterday, psychologist Dr Tanya Byron’s review proposed a legally binding system of age ratings for videogames to be adopted. She also called for fines or imprisonment for retailers selling games illegally, and for games consoles to include parental controls.
The European Leisure Software Publishers Association (ELSPA), a body of games developers that monitor industry issues, such as piracy, was one of the first to condemn Byron’s Review.
ELSPA hinted that the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), which would be responsible for assessing and awarding age ratings to games in the UK if Byron’s recommendations are implemented, might not be up to the job.
Paul Jackson, director general of ELSPA, said: “The games industry would need to be reassured that the BBFC would be capable of delivering against any new remit, or whether PEGI may be more appropriate”.
PEGI is the Pan-European Game Information system, a voluntary code followed by many game manufacturers. It uses age recommendations as well as specific warnings for violence, fear, bad language, drug references, sexual content, or gambling.
Jackson must not have read the BBFC’s own response to the Byron Review. If he had, he’d have known that that the BBFC claimed that it’s "ready and able to take on the extra work envisaged by Dr Byron". It also welcomes "film-style classification system and greater role for the BBFC". Well, it would, wouldn't it?
After the Review’s publication, Andy Burnham, MP, a minister at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport stated the bleedin' obvious, that retailers could face criminal prosecution if Byron’s proposed changes to the law are implemented.
Tiga, a trade association representing the interests of games software developers, supports the idea of better information about videogame content. But a spokesman claimed developers could be saddled with the costs.
"The last thing the games industry needs is for the UK Government to impose additional costs on it," said the spokesman. This is despite the fact that the games industry is one of the most profitable businesses in Britain.
Communications regulator Ofcom chipped in with: "At a time of sweeping change in content delivery, and in the type of content that is available, the overall goals of content regulation persist. These are to ensure that people have the information and skills they need to take responsibility for their media choices."
Nice to see a regulator making the case for further regulation in an area it's not currently regulating. Got to stick together, us regulators...
And now for Register Hardware’s own two cents. No decision has yet been made to change the way videogames are sold and it’s likely to be months, even years, before Byron's review affects game sales – if at all.
But, if one thing’s for sure, 29 April is going to provoke even more debate...
Read it first...!
To all those rubbishing the report, saying violent games create violent children, try actually reading the report first!
This happens to be very well-thought-out, mature, open-minded and considerate to the gaming industry. At no point does she blame games or scream the usual "blame this sick filth...", it simply reinforces that certificates are there for a reason and should be followed by retailers and PARENTS! She even makes a point of saying there is NO EVIDENCE that violent media creates violent people, but violence and adult-themed material should simply be kept away from kids... A lot of the comments made in newspapers this weekend took the report completely out of context and did their best to further sensationalise the story (no surprises there Daily Mail, ahem...)
This is now a prime opportunity for the gaming industry to scream back to the general public, "Yes we are a mainstream form of entertainment, yes we have adult-themed games, yes they are rated as such and no, we are not responsible when a parent knowingly buys their kids adult rated products..."
Ignore all ratings
I reckon all media ratings should be ignored. A 13 year old watching a 15 rated movie is not only going to enjoy it more as they "shouldn't really be watching it", but they're going to go to school and tell all their mates about it, thus making themselves more popular than the kids who don't get to watch these movies. This will build self-esteem, social placement and allow the kid to succeed in later life.
Kids prevented from doing so will simultaneously feel like they are missing out, will not be able to join in conversations about these movies and it will only serve to generate self-loathing lack of confidence in later life.
yes murder is illegal - but then not many folk get murdered making films... The essential tennent is that you should know reality from fantasy. Things that happen in films and TV shows arn't real there is no pause button, no rewind, no second chances in life. As long as you understand that then you can enjoy any fantasy quite safely, and I more or less had that concept down by the time I was 7.
However at the time I was too busy climbing trees and playing army to be interested in slice and dice movies.
As to pronz well I didn't want my mother renting/buying me porn anyway so I had no qualms about her not getting me such things.
@load of old tosh
"All my kids have watched films of any age, the only restriction I place is no sexually explicit films, they can have all the high speed car chases and violence/horror they want"
I've never quite understood this mentality in the mainstream world - you get it from parents as well as from censors on the television.
No-one seems to have an issue with people breaking the law, be it murder, mutilation, blood and gore flying everywhere, pain and suffering caused to (fictional) people in some of the most hideous ways possible - yet as soon as 2 people start fscking (which with a few exceptions, is only about pleasure to both/all three/or more? parties) or saying a naughty swear word (the classic "get the flip outta here" type dubbing prevalent on ITV for many years) then everyone gets up in arms.
Do you not feel hypocritical that you ban your kids from watching two people fsck (people over the age of 16 having sex = legal), yet have no problem letting them watch Arnie, Stallone, etc rip hundreds of people to shreds with guns, knives, etc (murder = illegal).
Not long now...
"In news today the government has announced that it has solved all of our prison space issues. They are now, no longer locking up gamers who wanted a bit of excitement from their games. People who are no longer happy with the Government funded 'Games for Kids' scheme can go to the Isle Of Wight which the Government has sanctioned as a gamers paradise. On the Isle (which was happily donated by the Island's populace) gamers can play games developed outside of the Government's own games labs. Some people have complained that relatives are not coming back from Gamers Paradise, but the Government states that it is simply in the gamers intention to stay and that if they're not contacting their own families then they were probably scum anyway.
In other news, the African food crisis has been resolved entirely today after the British Government sent a shipment of food to the continent. The new product called Soylent Green will help ease starvation..."