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PEGI better than BBFC - Microsoft man

Games approach versus films approach.

Giving evidence to a Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee this week, Matt Lambert, Microsoft's head of corporate affairs in the UK, stated his belief that the PEGI ratings system was better than the BBFC version, GamesIndustry.biz reports.

When committee chairman John Whittingdale asked Lambert about the apparent confusion for parents over age ratings for videogames - particularly the belief that they represented skill levels instead - Lambert replied that he hadn't seen any evidence of such confusion, and that internal research indicated that 96 per cent of parents were in fact aware of the presence of age ratings.

Instead he pointed to anecdotal evidence which led him to believe parents instead weren't concerned about applying those ratings.

And on the question of which of the two ratings systems that exist in the UK was preferable, Lambert indicated that he believed PEGI was more effective.

"If there's going to be one ratings system, it should be PEGI," he said. "With PEGI, they think very carefully about age appropriacy...but the BBFC is set up to rate films, and it takes that approach for games when a different approach is required.

"PEGI breaks it down to a different level. If there's bad language it will give you a specific symbol, if there's gambling there's another symbol, and some games will have a whole raft of symbols on the back. It's a different depth, it's more sensible, and it also has a European aspect to it."

The chairman then responded to the answer by pointing out that the BBFC itself would contradict such a view - that it believes the PEGI methodology to be inferior, and employs specialists who look at hours of gameplay when coming to a decision.

Lambert replied: "I'm not saying that's wrong, and I apologise if I gave the impression that that's not what they do - though they would say that they are the best.

"But I do believe that the BBFC's thinking clearly comes from the world of film [and not games], that's definitely true."

The CMS Select Committee is examining the effect of violence in videogames and on the Internet, running parallel to the Byron Report, and Lambert was one of a number of industry experts called to give evidence.

GamesIndustry.biz didn't even know the CMS Select Committee thing was about games - it was just there for a day out.