BBFC: We CAN rate online games and movies

The BBFC are ready to tackle the extra workload of rating games

The BBFC has informed TechRadar of plans for a new ratings system for movies that are distributed over the internet. The organization feels this will also be easily extendable to rating games that are bought, distributed and played online.

Following the much-publicised Byron Review into games ratings, one of the concerns raised by the games industry was over online content. The BBFC insisted that it is already looking at new delivery systems for media though.

“We are fully able to take on the extra workload of rating around 500 extra games over the course of a year,” said the BBFC’s Sue Clarke, referring to the ratings board's potential increase in workload should the recommendations from last week's review be put into practice.

The BBFC rep added: "The BBFC is self-funded so funding [this extra work] is not going to be an issue."

The BBFC is currently in talks with a number of online movie distributors about plans to introduce a voluntary ratings system, to give UK consumers more confidence when purchasing downloadable movies online. The ratings board feels that its new online movie ratings system could easy be used to rate online games.

PEGI and BBFC make friends

Patrice Chazerand, managing director of ISFE (the European body that runs PEGI) told

"I don't know if I'm being too visionary, but I think we should stop thinking in terms of competition [with the BBFC], and start thinking more in terms of cooperation.

The BBFC in turn responded to Chazerand’s remarks, telling TechRadar that they were eager and willing to cooperate with the industry.

Realistic cooperation

PEGI’s Chazerand was clear about his own preference for how he would like to see the ratings system for games work, noting: "You've heard me say that if asked what my preference is, and what the industry has said, that PEGI would be the single ratings system. But as long as the government takes on board the Byron recommendations, you're confronted with a situation where you have to cooperate.

"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.

Rating online games

Chazerand goes on to discuss the thorny issue of rating online games, something which the UK games industry’s trade body ELSPA doesn’t feel the BBFC is capable of doing.

"PEGI Online was born out of vision – this industry has a sense of responsibility and a vision, and we think that the uptake of online gaming will continue to grow, that the usefulness to provide the right information and assurances to parents will also keep growing,” Chazerand said.

BBFC all set for online

TechRadar will be hearing more about the BBFC's new voluntary ratings system for classifying films distributed online in the coming weeks.

ELSPA, PEGI and BBFC reps are set to meet at ELSPA’s central London HQ on 3 April, to discuss these and other issues thrown up by Tanya Byron’s recent review.

TechRadar will bring you the news in full from that meeting, as well as all the latest on the forthcoming new BBFC rating system for movies distributed online.

In the meantime, it seems that the Byron Review has had the effect of stirring up something of a hornet's nest, with the old-guard getting itself into an anti-videogaming lather in The Telegraph and The Times this week. Gaming, it seems, is nothing less than a cultural and socially destructive moral scourge, and is on a par with heroin and teenage pregnancy...

Adam Hartley