The British Goverment is stupid


It really beggars belief, when the world economy is coming off the rails and we are involved in two wars, that the Government is putting time and energy into suppressing video games. When there isn’t any problem.

They are changing the law so that every game needs to be classified by the BBFC, just like films are. Here are a few reasons why this is stupid:

  • Television is more violent and has more sex than video games. Even an early evening soap opera like Eastenders has a lot more of both than the vast majority of games. So why don’t all television programmes require a BBFC rating?
  • This will apply to boxed cardboard and plastic games at retail. Everyone reading this knows that this is a dying business model. The industry is moving online and it is impossible to implement BBFC ratings online. The government are wasting their time. However the decline in high street retail will be speeded up.
  • There is no problem here to be fixed. As games have been increasing in popularity child crime rates have been going down. The Government are only acting to try and look good politically.
  • All the parents I know let their children play games from much higher age ratings, even parents who work in the industry. Because as parents they know that no harm is caused, otherwise they wouldn’t allow it. That the government knows better than parents is patently ridiculous.
  • No matter what the Government do they will not stop the youth of this country playing GTA IV. They are seriously wasting their time even trying.
  • The BBFC can’t do the job. There are a lot more games than films and many games have 20 or 30 hours content. And if they just cherry pick the “bad” bits out of games then they are not seeing them in context so will come to wrong decisions. The BBFC will need to be at least 100 times bigger than it is now to do the job properly. Do the government realise this?
  • There is a thriving independent, homebrew and mod development scene. Some of which grows to be mainstream and which adds enormously to the art that gaming is. This will be crushed by the BBFC bureaucracy.
  • Other governments, especially in Europe, have now recognised video games as the art form that they are and are putting effort and money into encouraging the industry. The British Government, by doing the opposite, is damaging the country economically and culturally.
  • This puts an extra burden and extra time pressure on games publishers. In an industry where most games make a loss this extra burden is unacceptable.
  • It also puts shopkeepers in the unfortunate position of having to police this stupid policy with the threat of big fines if they make a mistake. This is inevitably going to cause a lot of problems for them.
  • The kids will continue to buy from Amazon using their parent’s credit card. The Government is powerless to stop this.
  • This is the nanny state saying that they know better and imposing their will on the people. This is always a bad thing.

Most disappointing to me is the way that much of the industry has rolled over and accepted this. Presumably they think it is OK to suffer some pain to get the matter over and done with. They are wrong. Once the Government see that they have a soft target to kick they will keep on kicking it. This is the thin edge of the wedge.


  1. You wrote an article a while back (I forget which, unfortunately) in which you mentioned the generational shift in terms of attitudes to gaming. Is this the last stand from an older generation that just don’t understand video gaming? Both Brown and Hilary Clinton seem be making huge political statements regarding video games as an effort to appease themselves to the 50-plus, middle class audience. Given the immense and trans-generation popularity of the Wii, has no advisors told them that this might not be a good idea?

  2. Ooshka that is spot on.
    The old politicians are just out of touch with the majority because they missed out on video gaming and don’t understand it.
    In 20 years time the stupidity that we are currently seeing will be unthinkable.
    As for Wii, doesn’t Gordon realise that the Queen is a keen player?

  3. Perhaps our esteemed (and un-elected) leader could point out why on one hand he seems insistent on crippling the video game industry whilst at the same time complaining about how his four year old son beats him at Wii Tennis.

    Actually, I think I’ve just answered my own question. Gordon Brown is a competitive dad, clearly.

  4. He probably doesn’t think of Wii tennis as being a video game. He probably thinks of it as a toy on the television, like a lot of Wii owners do.

  5. And but of course this shift in the British government will also affect Ireland. Since our government is to spineless to have their own stance when it comes to video games. An example being how Manhunt 2 was banned here when it was banned in Britain.

    Surely the Government has bigger fish to fry than games.

  6. As a DVD distributor I can vouch that the BBFC has upped its game in recent years. They have gone from classifying a few thousand to 15000 DVDs a year and reduced turnaround from 8 weeks to around 2 – which proves they can respond to increased workload. I think the games industry might be pleasently surprised that this once shadowy secret organisation is now very open and responsive to customers.

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