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ZippyDSMlee's picture
Joined: 2006-09-30

[QUOTE]EC wants better game ratings system, faces uphill battle

By Ben Kuchera | Published: April 22, 2008 - 06:53PM CT

In 2007, a Finnish 18-year-old named Pekka-Eric Auvinen killed eight people and then himself at Jokela High School in Tuusula, Finland. While Auvinen had only cursory ties to video games—they were mentioned in his video blogs on YouTube— the savage attack may have contributed to the debate over whether to ban certain violent video games. Now, the European Commission is looking to strengthen and update systems designed to educate parents about video games, and to help with the creation of a single, unified ratings system. The strongest ratings system won't do much good without retailer support, so the EC is also hoping to create a Code of Conduct for retailers to be put in place within the next two years. This is a much larger challenge than it may at first seem, although the rewards, for both gamers and the industry, could be great.
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Currently, the EU is a quagmire of different approaches for rating games. "According to the Commission survey, the PEGI system is currently applied by 20 Member States. Two countries (Germany and Lithuania) have specific binding legislation while Malta relies on general legislation. However, four Member States (Cyprus, Luxembourg, Romania and Slovenia) have no system in place," notes the Commission. "15 Member States have legislation concerning the sale of video games with harmful content to minors in shops, although the scope of laws varies between Member States. Until now, four countries (Germany, Ireland, Italy, UK) have banned certain violent video games"

It's clear that the EC understands the economic benefit the industry brings to Europe. "Video games have become a strong pillar of Europe's content industry and are experiencing booming sales across Europe," said Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for the Information Society and Media. "This is welcome, but implies greater responsibility for the industry to ensure that parents know what kind of games their children play."

The issue is that while most European countries use PEGI, the Pan-European Game Information system, seven EU member states still do not use these ratings. The Commission wants the industry to take a more active role in changing the PEGI system for use across the continent.

Examples of PEGI-rated games

The PEGI ratings can seem overly complicated to those used to the ESRB's system; each game is assigned an age rating, and different icons representing sexual content or harsh language are then added. There are other, more nebulous descriptors, such as discrimination. "Game contains depictions of, or material which may encourage, discrimination," the PEGI site explains, showing an icon of two white figures towering menacingly over a black figure. Even more subject is the "fear" descriptor, shown by an outline of a spider. "Game may be frightening or scary for young children."

The PEGI page hints at some of the complexity inherent in rating games across the European Union, noting that it has to deal with multiple cultures across the member states, as well as having to deal with "the majority of relevant Member State Government Agencies and all interactive leisure software trade organizations in Europe." With those goals and challenges in front of any ratings system, coming up with something cohesive borders on the impossible.

The Commission has several sweeping and ambitious ideas to improve the situation: regular improvement and better advertising of PEGI by the video games industry, the integration of the PEGI system into the classification systems of countries that don't yet use the PEGI ratings, "cooperation on innovative age verification solutions between Member States, classification bodies and other stakeholders," and a Code of Conduct for the sale of games to minors within two years, and agreed to by all stakeholders. While the ESRB has a strong presence in the United States and has many programs in place to increase education among citizens and retailers, the logistics of putting a similar system in place across 27 countries—even with the backing of the video game industry—is a truly mammoth undertaking.

The upside is huge: a strong ratings systems, coupled with a high level of retail awareness and acceptance, could lead to a stronger gaming industry with less censorship. The ability to control what content gets in the hands of which consumers could make outright bans less common. Even if that doesn't happen, more knowledge in the hands of parents and consumers is never a bad thing. We wish the EC luck in this endeavor—it's going to need it.

The ESRB need to add a 15/16 level and put all the not quite T not quite M games into it, I believe they would help make M a more mature level as well, AO is dead until the console makers pull their consoles out of their arses....

Pegi has a 5 point ratings level some of the countries it covers have older and different age ranges


PEGI currently uses 3,7,12,16,18,
Portugal uses 4,6,12,16,18 and the UK uses the moronic BBFC system.

IMO PEGI needs to polish the age ranges a bit and add just slot stuff that questions authority into its own slot because lets face it they dislike authority being questioned :P

But seriously learning age range from 2-5 is good,,6+ is where your cartoon violence based stuff start in, around 10 is when the cartoon violence can question society and the world(IE more mature than 6) it seems euro land likes a 12 age level for both mature kid titles and teen titles,its reasonable IMO, 15 for what I would call middle teen titles and teen level games that are to...mature or questionable for the 12 year old range, leaving 18 for the rest of titles.

Now Looking at the Germany's ratings system they do something interesting for games they mark as to hot for normal consumption they do not bad it as much as hide it from the populace IE no display/ads, and since I am of the mindset censorship=fascism I loath censorship and see it as a pointless way to nanny adults
let us have a 18RE level this level depending on region will be not displayed in underage settings and may not be advertised depending on the rules of the region, instead they games can be imported and found behind the counter.

This way all your basses are covered and you are not being too authoritarian on your populace.


Ah modern gaming its like modern film only the watering down of fiction and characters is replaced with shallow and watered down mechanics, gimmicks and shiny-er "people".
Incoherence is my friend and grammar my bane, which is the fulcrum of suffering I place upon others!:ZippyDSMlee

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