Now, my preference is to go the second route, which is more consistent with what Tanya Byron has recommended. That would then enable us to classify the 12s and up for the UK, within PEGI online, but with BBFC symbols for the UK. But there is also the possibility that we could offer greater resource to PEGI Online, so actually help that system as well.
BBFC Online is something that we are setting up for DVD producers who want to distribute direct to download. So BBFC Online has much more of a DVD world starting point. But one of the things we have been able to do with BBFC Online is talk to some very major aggregators – who we cannot currently name as negotiations are currently still ongoing – but I know that PEGI Online would like to capture some of these aggregators and there may well be some synergy there. We may well be able to help PEGI Online bring in these aggregators as well as the publishers of games – so we’re talking here who are selling books, CDs, DVDs, films, games… the lot really.
TechRadar: What about rating downloadable add-ons for games? Say, for example, when the GTAIV downloadable episodes are released later this year for Xbox 360 – how do you go about rating those?
David Cooke: Well, it’s governed for the rest of Europe by the PEGI Online safety code. One of Tanya Byron’s recommendations was that she wants the BBFC to work with PEGI to beef up this safety code. As I currently understand it, there is a sort of agreement under the PEGI Online safety code that if a publisher produces add-ons that would actually change the rating of the original product, that the publisher will bring the original product back to be re-rated. This is all quite fiddly – as this is not quite what PEGI Online actually says, but this is what they have agreed to do. This is kind of pending any further work to beef up the online safety code that we and PEGI will do together.
TechRadar: One of the other main recommendations from Tanya Byron was a call for a public education and information campaign to educate parents and consumers about games ratings. How do you think this might best work?
David Cooke: Well the first thing to say is that I think it is right, as it seems quite clear that parents understand games classifications less well than they understand film or DVD classifications. And that’s not getting at PEGI. That’s true whether or not you are talking about PEGI or BBFC ratings, I think.
Parents are more familiar with our symbols than they are with the PEGI ones, but their overall awareness levels about games ratings are lower. So the overall objective has to be to get these awareness levels up to the kinds of awareness levels that we have for film and for DVD.
In terms of how you go about doing it, this is something that we, Paul [Jackson] at ELSPA and the PEGI people and the government will all now have to get together and discuss, because there are loads of issues there about who pays for what, what is the most cost effective way of going about it and so on.
On the film side, for instance, we have done paid advertising, but we have found that some of the best kind of vehicles for getting messages across have been the really big titles – so Harry Potter, Casino Royale, Spiderman, War Of The Worlds, to name but a few…So maybe there is a comparable sort of thing that can be done off the back of very high profile games.