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Game rating system needs legal backing, claims supporter

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Exclusive The Pan European Game Information videogame classification system needs a legal framework, but it's still best placed to protect children from disturbing games, according to the code’s primary backer.

The code was recently criticised by a government report into UK videogame classification, which said that the British Board of Film Classification’s (BBFC) existing and legally backed system “should continue to rate games with adult content”.

However, Tim Wapshott, director of public affairs at the European Leisure Software Publishers Association, backers of the Pan European Game Information (Pegi) system, has bitten back at the report and told Register Hardware that the government’s preliminary decision isn’t the beginning of the end for Pegi.

“Pegi is a voluntary code and we’d like to see that changed to give it legal backing,” said Wapshott.

The report – Harmful Content on the Internet and in Video Games - is part an ongoing government analysis into the way videogames are classified for sale in the UK. It also said that the BBFC is better known than Pegi, and so best placed to provide ratings that parents will understand.

“If this issue comes down to the protection of children [from videogames], then it shouldn’t be about which organisation is better known, it should be about which is better at regulation,” said Wapshott. “Pegi is by far the better system,” he added.

The BBFC has also admitted to Register Hardware that the videogame classification war is far from over, despite the report’s findings. But, a spokeswoman for the film body said that “the government has conceded that our systems are better than Pegi”.

The report’s pro-BBFC stance isn’t a final decision though. A final decision on the future of UK videogame classification and which body – Pegi, the BBFC or both – will control it, isn’t expect until 2009.

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