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Friday, March 03, 2006

ELSPA boss blasts MP's "utter nonsense" violent games speech

Keith Vaz' proposed amendments to rating laws are labelled as "Nanny Stateism"
Roger Bennett, director general of UK videogames publisher trade body ELSPA, has labelled as "complete and utter nonsense" a speech made in parliament yesterday by Labour MP Keith Vaz proposing new laws relating to videogame ratings.
"The fact of the matter is that it was complete and utter nonsense," Bennett told GamesIndustry.biz today. "His whole thrust with this proposed bill was about labelling, which he got utterly and completely wrong, in that he hasn't got up to speed with what has happened over the last three or four years."
Vaz was proposing an amendment to the Video Recordings Act 1984, which would make it mandatory for videogames to receive content ratings in the same way that films do - a role currently fulfilled by the voluntary PEGI ratings system.
He argued in Parliament that the current system, which sees the PEGI ratings being complemented by a rating from the British Board of Film Classification for the small number of titles which are rated 18, is "very confusing", and used a quote from Bennett in his speech to back up this point.
However, the quote in question was from an article in Readers Digest magazine in 2002 - four years ago - and pre-dates the introduction of the PEGI ratings system across Europe in 2003, which brought a standardised system with large, clear ratings on game boxes and advertising to the industry.
"There's a perfectly well-established and robust system of ratings which appear on both the front and the back of the boxes, which he was totally confused about, clearly," Bennett commented. "Not only that, but they appear in all advertising."
"The fact of the matter is that we're one of only two countries in the whole of the 27 states of the European Union who have mandatory ratings," Bennett explained. "Everywhere else in Europe , the ratings are on the boxes - the PEGI ratings - and they make informed decisions for their kids. The more you take the responsibility away from parents, the less responsibility they'll take. As soon as you take responsibility away from people, then they rely on others to do it for them."
Bennett is adamant that the proposed amendment represents little threat to the industry.

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