Archive for the ‘VSC Games Censor’ Category

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VSC logoThe Video Standards Council (VSC) is the UK games censor in waiting. They have commented on a move by the online games distributor to allow Australian’s to evade the state censorship of Witcher 2.

The VSC said’s recent decision to ditch location controls is symptomatic of global trends and speculated  that all entertainment media could eventually shift toward an advisory rather than a legally-based system.

It seems inevitable that such systems will have an impact on the way national regulators control online content though the more authoritarian regimes won’t have any qualms about shutting down a site if they deem it necessary, the VSC told Edge.

However, the more benign censorship/ratings organisations will probably move away from the mandatory model and replace it with an advisory systems which puts the onus on consumers to make informed buying decisions through the provision of detailed consumer information.

THe VSC added, though, that it doesn’t believe regional ratings body are in danger of becoming irrelevant: We believe the public tends to trust the judgement and advice of the more independent, established and respected ratings organisations and will continue to do so.

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UBI Soft We Dare PS3Due to be released on Nintendo Wii and PlayStation 3 later this year, We Dare features over 35 mini-games that take a distinctly adult approach, with marketing materials encouraging two players to kiss a Wii Remote simultaneously, spank each other to control on-screen avatars, and striptease to a variety of songs.

With its highly suggestive trailer and product description, Cubed3 queried PEGI on the seemingly low 12+ age rating.

PEGI stated that they do not look at the surrounding context of a game, only the in-game content. The suggestive naughtiness by the human actors in the YouTube trailer did not figure in the decision for the game rating:

PEGI does not take into account the context of a game when rating it, we only look at the contents of the game. [We Dare] has been rated as a PEGI 12 because it contains mild swearing, minor assault on a human-like character and words/activities that amount to obvious sexual innuendo, explicit sexual descriptions or images and sexual posturing.

However PEGI:

Do demand that these types of artwork [are] on the same level as the game. In the case of We Dare, the cover and trailer are in correspondence with our guidelines.

It was considered that We Dare might justify a higher rating due to a specific (sexual) atmosphere, but this proposal was rejected by the Video Standards Council, an independent organisation that verifies PEGI ratings for use in the UK:

The game itself is in fact less sexual/offensive than the marketing campaign leads us to believe (for example, you cannot see real spanking in the game. There is a ‘stripping game’ but you don’t have to undress; throwing away keys or anything that reduces your weight is good enough).

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clock graphicIndecision over whether games featuring video content still need a BBFC certificate has temporarily derailed the implementation of PEGI ratings.

The handover from the BBFC to the VSC will not now occur until September at the very earliest.

A new government proposal states that interactive entertainment which features linear content (such as trailers) would require a BBFC rating. That means a game that features a video in it will need to have both a PEGI and BBFC label on the box.

UKIE representing UK games producers condemned the proposal, saying in a statement:

Any dual labelling is contrary to the principles that were established in having PEGI introduced into the Digital Economy Act and if this proposal were implemented we believe it would only cause unnecessary and potentially harmful consumer confusion.

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Ed VaizeyThe rollout of the new PEGI video games classification system will miss its current April 2010 deadline and will not be introduced until July of this year at the earliest.

The Video Standards Council (VSC) will then take over administration of producer assigned games ratings using PEGI symbols and classifications.

The Conservative culture minister Ed Vaizey has admitted that: There’s been some technical delays to iron out a few kinks – nothing fundamental, nothing serious. And we’ll crack on with it as fast as we can. believes that the delay is due to the time it will take to obtain European parliamentary approval.

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VSC logoThe Video Standards Council has confirmed the proposed changes to the age ratings system for games in the UK will not be applied until April 1, 2011.

Delay in PEGI rating being legally enforceable has been blamed on the Digital Economy Act, which while passed, has not been made effective as of yet.

Here’s the official statement from the VSC obtained by MCV:

The BBFC have approached the UK Government expressing concern that games rated PEGI 18 will be released in the UK without BBFC certification.

The Digital Economy Act has been passed in the UK but has not yet been made effective. This means there is no change in the procedure for releasing games in the UK. If a game is rated PEGI 18 it must be submitted to the BBFC for a legal classification. This is irrespective of whether it contains exempt content as it reflects the voluntary agreement made by the games industry to avoid confusion over 18 rated games. Games must also be submitted to the BBFC if the contain any extraneous video which is not part of the game. This includes trailers.

The Government has said the legislative change is likely to be implemented on April 1st 2011. The VSC is involved in the discussions regarding the implementation of the new legislation and will ensure that all coders are made aware of the changes to the procedure in good time to allow submissions to be adjusted. In the mean time please continue with your submissions in the same way that you have always done until the VCS advises differently.

It is important to stress that no games must appear for sale in UK shops with a PEGI 18 logo prior to April 1st 2011.

Enforcement of PEGI ratings was previously to be in effect by October 2010.

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VSC logoThe Video Standards Council, the new games censors in waiting, are expecting to take over the job from the BBFC around September this year.

Speaking to Eurogamer TV,  Laurie Hall, VSC director general said: The Secretary of State has to be satisfied that everything has been put in place before he presses the green button. There are various arrangements that have to be put in place: a statutory instrument for dealing with packaging regulations; the Secretary of State has to be happy that the arrangements that the VSC itself has put in place to carry out its statutory duties are in order before he designates us. When exactly will all this happen? We don’t know. Our best guess is the early autumn, possibly September.

Speaking to Eurogamer TV earlier in the year, the BBFC’s senior policy advisor, David Austin, said: We’ve been talking to them pretty much constantly since the decision as to how it’s all going to happen. We’ll be working in parallel forever, as long as there’s a VSC and PEGI, because we will still retain responsibility for certain types of game and because game and film content are moving closer.

While the details are still being thrashed out, it is understood the BBFC will retain responsibility for rating the small number of pornographic games requiring an R18 rating.

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House of Commons logoThe government forced through the controversial digital economy bill with the aid of the Conservative party last night, attaining a crucial third reading – which means it will get royal assent and become law – after just two hours of debate in the Commons.

But despite opposition from the Liberal Democrats and a number of Labour MPs who spoke up against measures contained in the bill and put down a number of proposed amendments, the government easily won two votes to determine the content of the bill and its passage through the committee stage without making any changes it had not already agreed.

Tom Watson, the former Cabinet Office minister who resigned in mid-2009, voted against the government for the first time in the final vote to take the bill to a third reading. However the vote was overwhelmingly in the government’s favour, which it won by 189 votes to 47.

Earlier the government removed its proposed clause 18, which could have given it sweeping powers to block sites, but replaced it with an amendment to clause 8 of the bill. The new clause allows the secretary of state for business to order the blocking of a location on the internet which the court is satisfied has been, is being or is likely to be used for or in connection with an activity that infringes copyright.

The Labour MP John Hemming protested that this could mean the blocking of the whistleblower site Wikileaks, which carries only copyrighted work. Stephen Timms for the government said that it would not want to see the clause used to restrict freedom of speech – but gave no assurance that sites like Wikileaks would not be blocked.

Don Foster, the Liberal Democrats’ spokesman for culture, media and sport, protested that the clause was too wide-ranging: it could apply to Google, he complained, adding that its inclusion of the phrase about likely to be used meant that a site could be blocked on its assumed intentions rather than its actions.

Video game censorship is now set to migrate from the BBFC to the Video Standards Council (VSC) using European-wide PEGI ratings.

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House of Lords logoThe Digital Economy Bill has started its progress in Parliament starting in the House of Lords. It has already been discussed in committee and will next be heard at the Report Stage in the Lords on the 1st March 2010.

There are several sections of interest to Melon Farmers:

  • Online infringement of copyright

    This includes open ended and general powers for the government to censor the internet in the name of copyright protection

  • Powers in relation to internet domain registries
    Setting up another tool for the government censorship of the internet
  • Video recordings Act

The Government are making the following basic changes

  • This section separates out video censorship into two sections, video games censorship (PEGI ratings will be implemented by the Video Standards Council) and video works censorship (as implemented by the BBFC).
  • The current exemptions from mandatory games classification will be reduced so that anything that would be rated 12 or upwards will now be subject to mandatory vetting by the games censors.
  • The government seem to be adding a new power for the censors to revoke as well issue certificates
  • People submitting video works are to be forced to agree to a ‘code of practice’ re the labelling of their products.
  • There’s also added complex wording targeting more complex mixtures of media
  • And of course the government have added the power to change the Video Recordings Act at any time in the future via an order of the secretary of state
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Tanya ByronAs the UK moves to adopt the PEGI system as a sole means for rating videogames, the Video Standards Council (VSC), which will enforce and assign actual ratings, has added additional personnel to its ranks.

One new addition to the VSC is an Expert Advisory Panel reports, which will feature media violence expert Guy Cumberbatch, author Geoffrey Robertson and Dr. Tanya Byron, author of the Byron Report.

VSC Chair Baroness Shephard commented:

The newly established VSC Expert Advisory Panel will play a key role. The VSC will have the ability to effectively ban a videogame from supply in the UK if it infringes the limits set out in the law. Any such decision will not be taken lightly and will involve a number of legal, clinical and psychological issues.

A trio of board members was also added to the VSC, ex-Chief Constable Tony Lake, retired Director of the Family and Parenting Institute Mary MacLeod and Chris Atkinson of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.

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VSC logoThree men in Borehamwood will become solely responsible for rating computer games in the UK.

Digital Britain, the communications White Paper, concluded last week that game publishers could keep their self rating system.

Under the PEGI system, games makers fill in a tick-box questionaire. Their answers are checked by a body called the Video Standards Council, which is based in Borehamwood and until recently consisted of a former policeman and a music industry lawyer. A third staff member has been added recently.

Mike Rawlinson, the director-general of ELSPA, the trade body that represents the computer games industry, said that standards had been toughened up. He said that the three people in the Video Standards Council were very skilled in their work.