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The Byron report - a roundup

All the most interesting bits in one place.

As you maybe, just maybe have heard, Tanya Byron of televisual psychology fame was commissioned by the Prime Minister to look into the effects of violence in videogames and on the Internet on children.

Her report was delivered on Wednesday and called for a single age rating system for games, among other things.

It was later explained the BBFC will rate all titles for those aged 12 or over, using the familiar '12', '15', and '18' symbols it applies to films.

Meanwhile, the pan-European PEGI system will be used to rate all other games for children, with its '3+' and '7+' symbols on the backs of boxes.

PEGI and the BBFC will work together to regulate the online space until a new collaborative system can be agreed upon and put into place, which should occur in 2010.

The role of parents and what they let their children play was a recurring theme in Byron's report. She singled out a "huge generational divide" as the biggest challenge currently facing the industry.

For her, the utmost importance should be placed on educating parents and helping them to understand the ratings on game boxes.

To get the message across parental awareness campaigns will be put in place, and look likely to be funded by the games industry rather than the government.

But The Independent Games Developers Association (TIGA) said that heaping extra costs on the UK games industry is the last thing it needs, but is backing the call for the provision of better information about the content of games.

Retailers will also be under pressure to ensure the age ratings system is enforced and games do not make their way into underage hands. DCMS Ministor Andy Burnham told GamesIndustry.biz that retailers could face criminal sanctions for selling to minors, as they do with films.

UK retailer GAME is open to these improvements and is happy to support them; its staff already undergo rigorous and regular training on how to enforce game classifications, GAME bigwig Robert Quinn explained to GamesIndustry.biz.

If Byron's recommendations are taken up, a great deal of added responsibility will fall on the shoulders of the BBFC.

The organisation claims it is "ready and able to take on the extra work", but bodies such as ELSPA are concerned there will be a "struggle to keep up with the public's increasing desire to buy and play online".

Head over to GamesIndustry.biz for a timetable of the proposed changes.

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Robert Purchese

Associate Editor

Bertie is a synonym for Eurogamer. Writes, podcasts, looks after the Supporter Programme. Talks a lot.