BBFC hits back at criticism

The British Board of Film Classification says it doesn't need "a building the size of Milton Keynes" to take on the extra work outlined in the Byron Review.

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At the end of March, Tanya Byron published her six-month-long government-commissioned review into the effects of games and the Internet on youngsters. In her review, she recommended that the two ratings systems that are currently in use in the UK--those from the British Board of Film Classification and the Pan European Game Information--be combined and that the BBFC start rating all games in the country aimed at gamers from the age of 12 upwards.

PEGI ratings would continue to be applied to games deemed suitable for children, using the 3+ and 7+ age ratings. However, some members of the industry expressed dismay that the BBFC's ratings had been recommended over the PEGI ratings. The president of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, David Reeves, and Electronic Arts' UK general manager, Keith Ramsdale, both went on the record to say that they personally had hoped that the system would be unified in favour of PEGI.

While some games publishers were quiet on their preference, others have been quite vocal with their views. The BBFC chose today to issue a statement slamming the criticism it has received. Director David Cooke said, "We are disappointed and concerned about attempts by one or two video games publishers to preempt, through recent press statements, the forthcoming public consultation on video games classification. Their statements are misleading in several respects."

Cooke went on to state that the average turnaround time for game classification is eight days. He also stated that "classifications are already cheaper for many games than those under the PEGI system" and that costs would fall if the organisation took on all games. These comments appear to have been in response to a letter from Gamecock's Euro office, published in trade magazine MCV, blasting the time and expense it took to get a recent game certified by the BBFC.

Cooke also added, "It is absurd to imply that the BBFC could not cope, or would need 'a building the size of Milton Keynes.' The BBFC is a larger and better-resourced organisation than PEGI and is well used to gearing up and to providing fast-track services where appropriate."

He concluded that the industry had nothing to be afraid of from the BBFC. He added, "The games industry really does have nothing to fear from a set of proposals which would provide more robust, and fully independent, decisions, and detailed content advice, for the British public, and especially parents."

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