Byron report will recommend film-style ratings, cigarette-like warnings and minimum 12 age for UK

Thursday, 27th March 2008 07:00 GMT By Patrick Garratt


Two reports are claiming that the Byron Report will today recommend a film-style ratings system with recognisable symbols for the UK, as well as lowering the statutory requirement for game ratings to 12.

According to the newly relaunched, ex-TV presenter Tanya Byron will also recommend that the British games industry should also make sustained and high profile efforts to increase parents’ understanding of age ratings, and improve parental controls to enable better policing of game-playing in the home.

The Times is claiming that Byron will also recommend cigarette-style warnings for certain games. For those of you outside the UK, cigarettes here have a large portion of the packet taken up with a white, block warning.

According to the Times report, retailers that sell rated games to minors are to face up to five years in prison.

PEGI, the current voluntary system for rating games in Europe, is out, from the sound of that report.

“The alternative Pan-European Game Information system is considered to be ineffective because it uses symbols that are confusing and distributors effectively chose their own ratings by filling in a form about their product,” said the Time. “Dr Byron wants a single statutory classification system.”

It’s as yet unknown if the BBFC will be rating games in the UK or a new body is to be set up.

The Byron Report was commissioned by UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown to look into better regulating games and internet use among the young in the UK.

The final paper is expected to be deliver at 9am GMT this morning.



  1. morriss

    I’d be all for that, tbh. Takes the pressure off the development companies and puts the onus back onto parents and the individual.

    However, I do believe it’s a two-way street.

    #1 7 years ago
  2. patlike

    It needed doing, in my opinion. Games are unique in that there’s a big natural “kids” audience and there’s a lot of ignorance about what is and isn’t appropriate for children. Hopefully this should shut the press up.

    #2 7 years ago
  3. morriss

    Now America just needs to follow suit…

    #3 7 years ago
  4. Tonka

    I think it’s unbalanced if you compare it to books and movies. Punish an industry for the stupidity of the populace also feel unfair to me.

    That movie VAZ getting funding and Manhunt 2 being held back by the same government. Great work guys.

    They should just turn Grand Theft Childhood into a documentary and pack it with every game.

    #4 7 years ago
  5. patlike

    I dunno. I don’t really see the problem. Manhunt was a stupid decision and it was overturned in the end, which left the BBFC very embarrassed. Like I said earlier, there’s definitely a case for this style of rating, imo, because there’s so little education on games in the general public. It still means you can play whatever you want: it just means children are less likely to be exposed to very violent games. I think you’ll see a lot of countries follow suit after this.

    #5 7 years ago
  6. morriss

    Yeah, it can’t really be a bad idea, can it? It’ll protect the industry too. Although I doubt the huge warning on the box will stop little Timmy getting a copy of GTA IV for his birthday and his parents screaming blue murder about it somewhere along the line.

    #6 7 years ago
  7. Tonka

    Why would this succeed where PEGI failed? Why jump on games? I’m not saying it should be a free for all like with books. I’m just saying they are trying to solve a problem the same way twice. And that games are being treated unfairly.

    Reading Millers rants about the (self)censoring of comics in the US and the effect it has on that industry has made wary of rating systems.

    Look at the blood/no blood shambles in No More Heroes for a recent example.

    #7 7 years ago
  8. Hero of Canton

    I actually think that if something like this was put in place and properly enforced, then publishers could be less likely to self-censor, as in No More Heroes.

    Either way, I think Tanya Byron has approached this in a very mature and sensible way, understanding that there are problems but that games aren’t some kind of ultimate evil.

    #8 7 years ago
  9. morriss

    Well cigarette warnings have gone through several make overs over the last few years.

    As long as the measure protects the games industry and keeps the media furore quiet, then I welcome our new clearly labelled warning overlords.

    #9 7 years ago
  10. patlike

    I just don’t see the problem. Games have legally-enforced warnings on the front: so what? They do need them, because at the moment anyone can buy them, and there are some very violent games out there. Films have ratings on the front, and they’re legally enforced: why should games be any different? As far as books go, there’s not really a need to rate them ion the same way because the content’s only accessible to adults anyway: a 10 year-old can’t read Marquis de Sade.

    #10 7 years ago
  11. Tonka

    I misunderstood. Are they saying that the age rating will be enforced by law now? Will it become a crime to sell games to underaged?

    My point is that games are rated already and it doesn’t work. Rating them with a different symbol won’t change this. It still won’t work.

    No More Heroes could have been released under a 18 rating but who in their right mind would do that? Limit the market for a niche game would be stupid. Much like putting human blood in Lord of The Rings would have been stupid.

    #11 7 years ago
  12. Blerk

    I don’t mind cigarette-style warnings as long as they’re on the BACK of the box, not on the front. I likes my artwork, I don’t want half of the front cover taken up with a huge “WARNING: CONTAINS CARTOON ANGSTY TEENAGE METROSEXUALS” sign.

    As for the ratings thing, I’m with Tonka. We already have a ratings system that’s clear as day but they’re saying plain doesn’t work. Different ratings will just confuse the matter more. They should’ve rallied behind PEGI and made the ratings legally binding rather than guidelines.

    #12 7 years ago
  13. TJ

    I think the crux is that these ratings will be legally enforceable, whereas PEGI is voluntary.

    It’s ridiculous that age ratings aren’t currently required by law for games, and this will be a step closer to interactive entertainment becoming the mature and respectable medium it deserves to be.

    #13 7 years ago
  14. Blerk

    Legally binding ratings should be a no-brainer, really. And it would help to have a single body rating all titles too.

    But ratings still seem to be fairly inconsistent to me anyway. Take, for example, Final Fantasy XII – it’s rated 16+. I have no idea why – there’s no blood, no nudity, a (very) little mild sweariness, but that’s it. Yet it gains a 16+ rating.

    Then we have Persona 3, a game which features high school students who regularly shoot themselves in the head with handguns in order to “release their inner demons”. This apparently warrants a 12+ rating. I’m having a little logic trouble here. :-)

    #14 7 years ago
  15. Tonka

    How? Is being deemed un-child-friendly a sign of respectability and maturity? Is the fact that games are blamed for some vague “failed generation” scare a good thing?

    #15 7 years ago
  16. grandmaster

    Byron: MILF.


    #16 7 years ago
  17. patlike

    I so would. Sorry if you’re reading this, Tanya.

    #17 7 years ago
  18. AMG

    Seconded. She’s hot, and thatt’s the real discussion here. Strict too. I like that.

    #18 7 years ago
  19. grandmaster

    As far as I can see, this is a dodgy dossier that government should be congratulated for ‘sexing up.’

    #19 7 years ago
  20. patlike

    She wrote the dossier and sealed it with hot wax and spit. You know she’s wearing stockings. And those necklaces are attached to nipple clamps. Fuck yeah. I bet she knows a thing or two about being “commissioned by Brown.”

    #20 7 years ago

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