TechRadar: The BBFC interview

And then of course we benefit from the fact that our classification has statutory backing, so you get the question of enforcement in the shops. This is where Tanya Byron’s recommendation comes in – taking that down to the 12-level.

TechRadar: And how would that be enforced - at the shop level - if Tanya Byron’s recommendations to have BBFC age-ratings of 12, 15 and 18 on games?

David Cooke: Through Trading Standards Officers actually checking out that people in the shops are doing what they are supposed to be doing.

TechRadar: There have been some reports suggesting that games retailers are largely in favour of Tanya Byron’s recommendations.

David Cooke: Yes, they are. There is an organisation called the ERA - run by a lady called Kim Bailey, who was speaking at an ELSPA event last week. She made it very clear that the ERA was in favour of Tanya Byron’s recommendations.

TechRadar: Another recommendation in the Byron Review was that the BBFC and PEGI will have to work together and collaborate in new ways. How do you foresee that working?

David Cooke: Well, it’s not going to be difficult as we know all of the people at PEGI anyway and we’re well used to operating with them. Partly because of how we currently decide which titles come to us at the moment. But it’s also more than that.

We do regular joint training sessions with them, so every six months we get together with PEGI people and also with people from games publishers – the coders who fill in the questionnaire for PEGI. Mark here is one of the usual presenters at these meetings, which are half or full-day events, where we get together and discuss the practical, procedural and legal issues.

Mark: Yes, I used to be a lawyer, in a previous incarnation!

David Cooke: So basically we’ve got bags of experience of actually working with these people, lots of mutual respect and I’m sure we can work together with PEGI to put these [the Byron Review’s] recommendations into effect.

TechRadar: One interesting thing that also came out of that recent ELSPA meeting was that David Reeves from Sony [MD of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe] was talking about some other similar research to the Byron review which Sony apparently commissioned a German Consultancy to undertake a few years ago.

David Cooke: Yeah, I was there when David was talking about that, I think I’ve seen that research. But I think the Byron Review is pretty comprehensive and must have now overtaken that. Don’t forget that she is a distinguished psychologist herself and she also had a number of other experts feeding into the review – David Buckingham, for instance, who is the man on media effects - so her review is surely the state of the art.

TechRadar: David Reeves went on to suggest, citing this German research he mentioned, that he would like to see PEGI ‘given teeth’ – which also seems to be ELSPA’s position. What does this mean, wanting PEGI to have ‘teeth’?

David Cooke: Well, they have to accept that they are not going to get it, because the government has accepted Tanya Byron’s review's recommendations in full. So they [ELSPA] are going to need to start to work with us. I do think that if you take a broad view of Byron’s recommendations, what she is recommending is potentially very positive for the games industry. They will undoubtedly get some lower ratings from us for games than they currently get under the PEGI system, because we are able to do a more thorough and contextualised job.

Adam Hartley