Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/04/30/bbfc_elspa_online_game_spat/

Game rating to confound censor, trade body chief claims

ELSPA and BBFC tough it out

By James Sherwood

Posted in Bootnotes, 30th April 2008 15:54 GMT

The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) has rubbished reiterated claims from a games industry trade body that it won’t be able to cope with online videogame classification.

Paul Jackson, director general of the European Leisure Software Publishers Association (ELSPA), yesterday told MPs on the Culture Select Committee that extending cinema-style classification to online games could see censor lumbered with an additional 100,000 titles each year. The sheer numbers of titles, Jackson claimed, would require “a tower block [filled] with censors”.

It's not the first time Jackson has made this allegation. Last month, in response to the Byron Report, he said that the BBFC, which would be responsible for assessing and awarding age ratings to online games if UK legislation is changed, wouldn’t be able to cope with the increased workload.

Jackson wants the government to adopt the voluntary Pan-European Game Information (Pegi) system rather than force games developers to seek BBFC certification of all titles.

A BBFC spokeswoman bit back at Jackson’s comments to MPs. She told Register Hardware that the organisation isn't worried about the extra workload.

“If the BBFC has to classify lots more games then we’ll hire more people to do that and deal with the extra workload. Classification of online games isn’t something the BBFC has concerns about,” she said.

The BBFC told us that it doesn’t play all of a videogame, such as the notorious Manhunt 2, in order to award it a classification. Publishers are required to highlight material within a game that might warrant certification.

The Byron Review last month called for cinema-style age labels to be adopted alongside elements of Pegi.