ELSPA (European Leisure Software Association) is the slightlyÂ self aggrandizing name for the UK’s game publisher’s club. They work hard at scratching the surface of game counterfeiting, but their main function is the glad handing and mutual back slapping that some people see as an essential part of business. They have the potential to present a unified voice that represents the industry and just now they have found a reason toÂ do this.
The British government, in their normal Pavlovian reaction to the gutter press, commissioned a TV celebrity psychologist, Tanya Byron,Â to review the effectÂ the internet and video games on children.Â From a games point of view this was a pure waste of tax payers money (no changeÂ here from this awful Labour government) because there was no problem that needed addressing, other than the continued existence of the Daily Mail.
Amazingly there was no call for aÂ simultaneous review of the effect of “books” onÂ young and impressionable minds.Â These “books” containÂ vastly more, highly graphic, sordid and perverted sex than games. They also contain the worst violence than man can imagine. Yet they have no age rating, none, zilch, nada. The failure of this government to address this shocking situation will go down in history as one of their greatest failures.
The Byron Review was overshadowed in the real world by the publishing of the book Grand Theft Childhood. This contained extensive originalÂ academic research on the subject. Something that eluded the Byron Review. Anyone reading Grand Theft Childhood will know Â just how stupid the gutter press and the government were being over this whole issue. And reading this book is something everybody involved in this issue should do before opening their mouths to speak.
So when the totally unnecessary (from a gaming point of view) Byron Review came out it said that there wasn’t a problem other than stupid parents not being able to read the massive age rating logo plastered on the front of every game (but show me the age ratings on books). Fair enough, but this isn’t the most stupid thing that parents do with their children. Many poison their children by smoking in the same room or car. Or even permanently damage their child by smoking whilst pregnant. Alongside these sorts of issues the issue of gamesÂ is insignificant.
But there was a nasty, evil ticking time bomb within the Byron review. Tanya had come up with the patently absurd idea that game age rating should be handled by the bureaucratic film industry QUANGO known as BBFC. This despite the fact that there is a far better, proven, working,Â Europe wide gameÂ rating organisation called PEGI. The mind, quite frankly, boggles at the stupidity here and you have to wonder how Tanya came up with putting such a ridiculous idea to the government. Didn’t she realise that they might actually do what she suggested? Especially when this awful Labour regime are looking for scapegoats to cover their gross, inept incompetence.
Imagine, for a moment,Â a most graphic and prolonged portrayal of testicular torture on film. What age rating would you give this? The Spanish thought 18 was right. Yet the BBFC in the UK thought that 12 was a good age for seeing Casino Royale.
Other than their judgement there are a lot of other things wrong with using the BBFC. It will introduce considerable and unnecessaryÂ costs, delays and bureaucracy to the industry. And for a global industry like game publishing to go from a Europe wide standard to a purely national one is just silly in the extreme.
So it is refreshing to see Peter Jackson from ELSPA standing up at a Labour conference fringe meeting to tell them that the BBFC is unfit for purpose. Even if he is stating the obvious, our socialist brothers aren’t the brightest of people and need it spelling out for them. Whether he will be heard over the clamour for places in the queue to stab the inept Gordon Brown in the back is another matter.
So, now that ELSPA seem to have grown some on this issue, why don’t they do something about all the manyÂ video game university courses that are not fit for purpose? These do far more damage to young people than any game censorship issue. Quite frankly I hope that this is one scandal the Daily Mail get hold of.