Rating Systems

2 05 2008

PEGI ratings

The BBFC intend to launch a rating system for online games and films in just a few months, much faster than the two years or so stated to implement the full recommendations of the Byron review. It seems the BBFC are going to work with PEGI, and this TechRadar interview with BBFC chairman David Cook goes into some detail on it (warning, site has popups):

Tanya Byron has recommended pretty much the same thing online as she has recommended for physical product, which is that games to be rated 12 and up should come to the BBFC. So there are two routes we could go here. We could either set up something which we are already doing – called BBFC Online – as a competitor to PEGI Online or we could feed into PEGI Online, given that PEGI Online already recognises BBFC symbols.

In early April the same site interviewed Patrice Chazerand from IFSI (the body in charge of PEGI), who also seems to be a pragmatist:

“The UK public probably couldn’t care less about the competition of two game ratings agencies – they care about getting the right information,” he added.

Maddeningly, just when it seems all the sulking could end, DSGi have announced that they’ll be rolling out their own in store game ratings system. Why? It seems utterly pointless and confusing for a retailer to expend resources on a third rating system when they could put more oomph into raising awareness of BBFC and PEGI ratings.

It gets worse. Here’s how the rating panel will be selected:

The Currys panel will be selected from the winners of in-store competition, the retailer has said.

and what the system will feature:

The sticky labels will feature a “squabble-ometer” and a laughter scale.

Not only is this going to be cringeworthy, but by the sounds of it, despite their line on games expanding into a family activity, the way they’re pitching it is all wrong. It’s crazily simplistic to reference the “games are for teenagers” meme as dying then imply that they’re for kids. A patronising, proprietary ratings system that regards games as “family fun” instead of entertainment for all ages, including adult only titles, is going to do absolutely nothing for games or anything else.

On reflection, DSGi’s system sounds like it might be exactly the kind of crashingly irrelevant rubbish that people just ignore. Here’s hoping.

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