Saturday, 9 February 2008

UK Government reviews age rating legislation

Well, it had to happen sometime. Parliament is currently considering a review of the way the censors rate video games, which is hardly surprising in light of the Manhunt 2 fiasco, or so said the front page of lefty British newspaper the Guardian.

Whilst it doesn't take a genius to realise that the BBFC has been ineffective in the way it handles video game censorship, as it stands there is no one willing to develop a better alternative. Adult content in videogames is more often than not puerile and awkward, but in some cases (like Bioshock) it can elevate a game to true 'art' status. Sadly, this is only in the minority of cases, but it is a strong possibility that the media's constant misinterpretation and witch hunting of games that try to push boundaries is responsible for this; if they tell the public that videogames are infantile and not to be taken seriously, it leaves the door open for the likes of Leisure Suit Larry and Postal to ruin any attempt at establishing a mature, adult videogame market. The bbc measures video games mostly along the same lines as it does Film, which is obviously entirely inappropriate. There's a difference between watching and doing, and in cases such as Manhunt it's easy to sympathise with the BBFC's point. However, it is also clear that they just don't understand, and it's easy to draw comparisons with those conservatives in the 60's who were convinced Rock and Roll was a phase, and that we'd all grow out of it. Until we get a generation of Politicians and legal executives who grew up with videogames and have a degree of understanding, it's going to be very difficult for developers to express themselves as artists.

The whole point of this seems to be to create a body separate from the BBFC that can appeal against it's decisions, similar to the way VAC do now. Will this be good or bad? Depends on whether they put pitchfork wielders in charge.

Source: Kotaku

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