Legally Binding: PEGI replaced BBFC as defacto rating in UK

by Andrew Bryant on June 17, 2009

This image rated 16 by PEGI due to: - Discrimination, Violence

After much deliberation (and even mucher tax payers money), the Digital Britain report has been released by the UK government.

In amongst all the kerfuffle about preventing Guybrush & LeChuck funderising their terrorist buddies and stealth taxing the internet-less to subsidise the copper upgrades across the country to finally allow every sheep in Wales to receive their 2MB of 'crucial' broadband (which is now more important than water, air, electricity and, surprisingly, Duck Islands according to the PM), the government has ruled that the PEGI system will take over as the required AND legally enforcable rating system for games.

Historically (well, since 2003), the PEGI (or Pan European Game Information for those scared of acronyms) system was entirely about self-certification, designed solely to 'advise' the public, as it was not legally enforcable or binding - Should a game be felt to be too strong to be adequately covered by the PEGI rating, it could be submitted to the BBFC for a legally binding 12/15/18/18A rating.

The issue at hand stems from the BBFC's antiquated guidelines and certification methods, which are geared towards so called 'linear media' - if someone kills someone in a film or other recorded performance, it is as originally anticipated & certified every time it is viewed.  But, in a computer game, any virtual character could conceivably have their 'skin' modified by a graphics app to make them appear naked, their face kerb stomped repeatedly by a burly caricature of CliffyB then tea bagged by a super-solider with an AI sidekick - hardly easy to anticipate when you consider what vile deviations the members of 4chan come up with almost daily.

As a result, the already-equipped PEGI has been upgraded to THE LAW by the government, relegating the BBFC back to where they belong, bringing in a revised set of age ratings (now with added colour, because tests showed that the majority of clueless parents mistook the black-n-white PEGI ratings of yore for skill raitings - not that the BBFC ratings stopped GTAIV-et-al reaching the paws of little Jimmy and his friends).

So, will PEGI's renewed lawfulness make any difference?  Will people struggle with the concept of efforcable non-BBFC ratings (considering how they struggled with enforcable real-BBFC ratings to begin with)?  Time will tell, no doubt!

PEGI (via EDGE (via Kotaku))

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