PEGI age ratings will now become the sole standard for video game content in the UK. The long-fought UK ratings war between the British Board of Film Classification and the Pan-European Game Industry trade group is declared done today, thanks to a decision by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.
The DCMS has been reviewing a series of recommendations on rating reform led by child psychologist Tanya Byron and backed by British prime minster Gordon Brown, calling for a new legally enforced, cinema-style classification system making it illegal to sell games to children below the recommended age.
The BBFC long asserted its intention to be the single ratings body for film and games, arguing that a unified system would be the easiest route for parents
concerned about their children's media consumption.
But much of the European game industry already uses PEGI, and trade bodies like The Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association have argued that the ratings system for films is not well-suited to games, advocating stringently
for its unified adoption in the UK.
ELSPA lauded the DCMS' decision today in a statement from general director Mike Rawlinson: "The Government has made absolutely the right decision for child safety," he says. "By choosing PEGI as the single classification system in the UK, British children will now get the best possible protection when playing video games either on a console or on the internet."
"Parents can be assured that they will have access to clear, uniform ratings on games and an accurate understanding of game content," the statement continued.
"Today’s decision will ensure that games ratings stay relevant and adapt to the changing nature of videogames for many years to come. Retailers will now have clear, legal backing to help them prevent access to unsuitable content by children."
Rawlinson also asserted ELSPA's intention to continue working with both the goverment and the BBFC "to ensure a smooth and rapid transition" to PEGI ratings.
: The existing Video Standards Council board will be enforcing the UK's PEGI age ratings for games, according to a statement from the organization.
Baroness Shephard, president of the VSC, explained of the change: "By making PEGI legally enforceable in the UK, the Government has shown that it is determined to protect children, help parents make informed decisions and deliver consistency in games rating."
As well as ensuring that the games comply with PEGI's ratings before giving them a license, the VSC can ban video games in the UK if there are elements of the title that do not meet PEGI's regulations.
Shephard explained: "VSC will exercise this new power independently of the PEGI system, providing a 'fail-safe' for the UK - protecting children through PEGI and addressing UK-specific sensibilities by refusing classification of any game which falls foul of the Video Recordings Act."]