For the first time in a while I've seen a story in the main stream media that's about video games and doesn't make me rather angry at the sheer ignorance of aforementioned media. The PEGI (Pan-European Game Information) system will now be legally enforceable in the UK, meaning retailers can now be prosecuted for selling titles to those under age.
A similar system run by the BFFC (British Board of Film Classification) will be dropped, giving the UK a unified set of legislation regarding games rating. Ratings will be set at 12, 16 and 18 giving games similar restrictions to films and television programmes.
"Fantastic!" I say. To me, this legislation is brilliant news. How often do parents go and buy their children video games? How many underage children have asked for an 18-rated game for Christmas? And how many parents have blindly bought it? Too often I've see crime dramas featuring teenagers addicted to violent video games and becoming murderers. Not films though. It's never violent films that get all of the stick that games receive.
Yes, children are easily influenced. Through films, television, their parents and so many other factors. That's why we keep them away from violent, sexual scenes in films. Why has it taken so long to acknowledge that games can have the same effect? I'm not saying that games can influence violent behaviour, certainly no more than a film can but that doesn't mean I want my metaphorical 12 year old experiencing gaming gore any more than theatrical gore.
We need to remind ourselves of the large part games play in the entertainment world. Games can be for children OR adults just like films can. Age ratings simply make sense and this unified system has the potential to do wonders for the game industry.
Suzy Maggie Aldridge