Now the dust has settled lets take a look at how things stand.
- The review covered the wild west that is the internet (where, realistically the only answer is parent education) and the already very well governed area of video games. It is very strange that these two areas were bundled together in this way.
- This has attracted an enormous amount of publicity, mainly on the gaming side of the review. This publicity will have done the game industry a lot of good and will have done a huge amount to bring the whole age ratings issue to a massive audience. The average parent will now be far more aware. This is all excellent.
- The review had nothing bad to say about video gaming or the video game industry. Now when Gordon Brown spouts on about games causing knife crime or when Keith Vaz stands up in parliament and comes out with misinformed rubbish they can be refuted with their own report. They have been hoisted on their own petard. This is good as it gives sensible people ammunition to bang the anti game idiots over the head with. We should hear a lot less nonsense about video games now. (But don’t hold your breath for the Mail to ever see sense.)
- The review wants game age ratings to be harmonised with film ratings (BBFC). Mainly so the logos look the same on the boxes. And also so the ratings have the power of law. This is silly on many levels. The game industry already has an excellent working rating system called PEGI, why fix something that isn’t broken? Also if games are to be harmonised with films then why not also books, popular music and television? Why throw this huge administrative and cost burden on the games industry, when it isn’t needed? And finally it is moving from PEGI, which is highly respected to BBFC which is somewhat less so, especially after the Manhunt 2 debacle.
- Of course the ratings issue only applies to boxed games. When and if these proposals come into force in two years time how much boxed game industry will be left? Already it is almost certainly smaller than online gaming with the balance shifting further with every passing month. So the gaming age rating proposals in this report will be increasingly less relevant to the real world.
- We wait the imminent publication of Grand Theft Chidhood which will have a far more significant effect on video gaming in society worldwide than the Byron Review.