Archive for the ‘BBFC Computer Games’ Category

Based on press release from culture.gov.uk
See also Digital Britain Final Report [pdf]
Read more about BBFC News on MelonFarmers.co.uk

Video Standards CouncilAn overhaul of video games classification rules will make selling a video game rated 12 or over to an underage person illegal for the first time, Creative Industries Minister Siôn Simon has announced.

The PEGI (Pan European Game Information) system, currently used in most European countries, will become the sole method of classifying video games in the UK. It will replace the current hybrid system that has BBFC & PEGI ratings, either of which can appear on video games, and is sufficiently adaptable to work in the rapidly expanding online games market.

There is a new role for the Video Standards Council (VSC), an organisation which is independent from the games industry and will take a statutory role as the designated authority for videogames classification in the UK. It will have a mandate to implement the PEGI classification system for all video games.

This new system will work alongside the robust regulation of Films and DVDs carried out by the British Board of Film Classification, to ensure that consumers have the strongest possible protection across these media. There is no intention to disturb BBFC’s jurisdiction in respect of linear material. The BBFC will continue to provide Blu Ray distributors with a one-stop service as at present. It is important that the BBFC and the VSC work together to share best practice in a rapidly changing and demanding media landscape.

The Government will now work closely with PEGI and the VSC on the development of a single, clear set of age-rating symbols to give parents the information they need to ensure that children are protected from unsuitable content, and help retailers to avoid breaking the law by selling games to people below the appropriate age. The new system will consist of five age categories and a series of pictorial boxes, describing content such as bad language or violence.

Professor Tanya Byron said: The PEGI system has been strengthened since my review and the Government has consulted widely on each of my suggested criteria. I support the Government’s decision to combine the PEGI system with UK statutory oversight.

The new system:

  • mirrors the way games are classified in much of Europe, which is increasingly important as more games are played online and across international borders
  • is designed with child-safety as its main priority
  • is highly adaptable and works well for games distributed both on and offline
  • includes tough sanctions for manufactures who flout the rules, for example by making a false declaration about a game’s content. These include fines of up to 500,000 Euros and a refusal to classify.

The new system will extend PEGI’s remit so that all games are classified using its symbols. Information on the content of each game will be submitted to PEGI administrators including the Video Standards Council, which will then review each game to ensure it complies with the law. Following this evaluation, the manufacturer receives a licence to use the PEGI rating logos. The VSC, as statutory authority, will take account of UK sensibilities, and will have the power to ban games that are inappropriate for release in the UK.

PEGI’s code of conduct determines which age rating is appropriate for different types of content. The PEGI Advisory Board, which includes representatives of parent and consumer groups, child psychologists, media experts and lawyers, maintains the code and recommends adjustments in line with social, technological or legal developments.

Comment: BBFC Director David Cooke Responds

See article from bbfc.co.uk

We have argued consistently that any games classification system needs to put child protection at its heart. It must involve consultation with the British public, command their trust, and reflect their sensibilities. It must take account of tone and context and be carried out by skilled and knowledgeable examiners. It needs to involve the provision of full, helpful and carefully weighed information to parents and the public more generally. It must have the power and will to reject or intervene in relation to unacceptable games or game elements. It should make a substantial contribution to media education, for example through dedicated websites and through work with pupils, students and teachers. It must be speedy and cost effective. It must have the capabilities to monitor online gameplay and to attract new members to online classification schemes. And it must be independent in substance as well as appearance, reaching its decisions and providing information on the basis of its own detailed assessments.

The BBFC has always supported PEGI and wished it well, but it continues to believe that it satisfies these requirements better than PEGI. However, it will cooperate fully in the detailed work needed to give effect to the Government’s decision.

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Resident Evil 5The BBFC has dismissed suggestions that a particular scene in Resident Evil 5 is racist.

A scene was reported where a white blonde woman being dragged off, screaming, by black men, as our preview put it. Then: When you attempt to rescue her, she’s been turned and must be killed.

The BBFC’s Sue Clark responded:

In the version [of the scene] submitted to the BBFC there is only one man pulling the blonde woman in from the balcony, and I can’t say the skimpiness of her dress impressed itself on me. The single man is not black either.

As the whole game is set in Africa it is hardly surprising that some of the characters are black, just like the fact that some of the characters in an earlier version were Spanish as the game was set in Spain.

We do take racism very seriously, but in this case there is no issue around racism. Even there was an issue: the BBFC would not automatically cut a work for racism.

We would normally give a work a higher rating to take it away from younger consumers who might not understand the issues surrounding racist remarks or attitudes. In this case the game is already rated 18 by us, so we would be unlikely to intervene further.

The BBFC have also explained their uncut 18 decision:

Resident Evil 5 is the latest game in Capcom’s survival horror series. This time Chris Redfield investigates a possible biohazard outbreak in Africa. It is the first game in the series to be released on the next generation Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 consoles.

The game was classified ’18’ for strong bloody violence and gore. As with previous games in the series we see blood spurts from the infected enemies’ bodies as they are shot, and their heads being blown off by gunfire. The player’s character also bleeds when shot, and can be decapitated if killed by a chainsaw-wielding enemy. In this instance we see the chainsaw blade cutting into the player’s neck with blood spurting from the wound, although the actual decapitation is masked by the camera angle. When killed, bodies disappear within seconds, usually with a bubbling mass of liquid signifying their death. Some of the human enemies spout tentacles if their head has been blown off, with the organism controlling the person forcing them to stagger towards the player in a last-ditch attack. The player is also able to stomp on enemies as they lie on the ground, sometimes resulting in a large spray of blood. During some ‘cut scenes’, we also see a character put their fist through an enemy’s chest with sight of spraying blood as a result.

At ’15’, the BBFC’s Guidelines state that ‘violence may be strong but may not dwell on the infliction of pain or injury’, and that ‘the strongest gory images are unlikely to be acceptable’. In the case of Resident Evil 5, there is frequent violence that dwells on such detail, and some strong gory images that go beyond a level that would be suitable for a game classified ’15’. Therefore the game was given an ’18’ certificate.

The game also contains one use of strong language.