Why the BBFC gaming survey is hokum

The BBFC survey is nonsense

The BBFC is already in a mighty strong position when it comes to the question of future games ratings. The film certification body has been pushed to the fore by Tanya Byron's investigation, has made all the right noises and, by and large, seems to have the right attitude to the shifting market of gaming.

Which makes it even more difficult to understand why they would feel the need to hire YouGov to conduct a survey asking ridiculous questions that only serves to give the mainstream media emotive headlines.

In fact usual suspect the Daily Mail's 'Worried parents call for cinema-style age ratings on 'dangerous' videogames' isn't even the worse. 'Sex, Violence and videogames' screams PA's headline. 'British parents want games regulated' screams another. But the thing is THEY ALREADY ARE.

Leading questions

From my perspective, it beggars belief that the BBFC would feel the need to ask some questions that I would suggest are quite frankly leading – when they are already in a position of strength.

Let's start with the number polled – an eternal problem with polls of this type. Do you believe that 1,329 is a representative sample of the UK population?

Now let's look at the statements that people were asked to agree or disagree with.

'Videogames in the UK should reflect the concerns of UK parents?'

This is a question that is so generic that it is rendered utterly meaningless. What concerns? Their concerns over seeing graphic sexual content in games? Can't be that, because the BBFC already sets 18 certificate games. Their concern over internet predators? Violence? Drugs? All of the above?

In isolation this question means nothing. A parent would not want their child to see adult content – this is pretty much a given – but, and I reiterate, games are already rated.

'Games should be regulated by an independent regulator.'

Well let's start by pointing out that it is an independent regulator asking this question – which is fairly self serving. If we were answering this poll we'd strongly agree, but the question should be 'Which independent regulator?' If you ask someone if pen ink should be moderated by an independent regulator they would probably say yes, because to say no would either mean we don't want regulation or that we want to be regulated by a non-independent body. It's a leading question.

'There is no need to consult UK parents when developing the standards used for video game classification.'

Oh come on! Who has EVER suggested that it should be arbitrary? Nonsense.

But the best is saved until last with this statement.

'The Government is currently thinking about changing the way in which videogames are regulated. Some people argue that there is a "trade off" when regulating videogames between protecting children and reducing costs to the games industry. Thinking about this, which one of these do you think the Government should be MOST concerned with when reaching its decision?'

'Some people'? And has anyone said that they think children should be put at risk to save on costs? This is a leading question from the very top draw of nonsense. Who would say that the costs to the game industry is more important to the protection of children?

So come on BBFC. You will no doubt do a fine job of classifying games – but why on earth do you sink to these horrifying depths and what are you trying to prove beyond the old adage of 'lies, damn lies, and statistics'.

Patrick Goss

Patrick Goss is the ex-Editor in Chief of TechRadar. Patrick was a passionate and experienced journalist, and he has been lucky enough to work on some of the finest online properties on the planet, building audiences everywhere and establishing himself at the forefront of digital content.  After a long stint as the boss at TechRadar, Patrick has now moved on to a role with Apple, where he is the Managing Editor for the App Store in the UK.