ELSPA: We'll continue fight if government passes ratings law
Game publishers' association will not stop backing PEGI even if politicians continue to support BBFC
ELSPA's Paul Jackson has told GamesIndustry.biz that the trade body will continue to fight the ratings battle in the UK, even if the government brings in a new act of Parliament to enforce videogame ratings.
The government is currently in a consultation period, gathering evidence from ELSPA, European board PEGI and movie classification experts the BBFC, on how best to protect children from adult videogame content.
So far, UK MPs back Dr Tanya Byron's report that the BBFC should rate videogames aimed at adults in the UK, while ELSPA has put all its weight behind PEGI.
"Let me be clear - we will argue coherently our case," stated Jackson. "Nobody is saying for a second that if government brings in a regulation for a videogames act of parliament that our members won't fight it. Of course they will.
"At the end of the day we're a very law-abiding industry and we'll fight our corner right the way through. If there's a legislative process we'll fight that as well," he said.
Jackson believes he's helping to turn government on to the idea of PEGI taking control of game ratings, after meeting with MPs at the Labour Party Conference, including Shaun Woodward, Anne Keen and Michael Cashman.
"I think they're listening now. I have a real sense that the arguments we're making are so well-founded in fact that they're impossible to not listen to," said Jackson.
"We won't know until the consultation period is done. But the fact is that we are, and have all along, had a thoughtful hearing. Dr Byron was very clear in her report that she wanted a full consultation and she certainly quite clear that the consultation might well modify here detailed recommendation significantly. That's all we're asking for."
Despite the recommendation that PEGI and BBFC should work together, Jackson has reiterated ELSPA's belief that such a collaboration is impossible.
"This is not a fight about boring things, this is a fight about how we really deliver child protection in the future. We can't see any other way of doing good, solid, future-proof child protection other than the recommendations we're making."
The widely recognised BBFC symbols - first introduced in the 80s and upgraded in the earlier 90s - are no use either, says Jackson, as ratings need to be understood across Europe.
"This isn't about labels, this is about methodology. It's about educating consumers - parents buying games for children don't care about methodology, they care about the end result," offered Jackson.
"They might not care about the nuts and bolts, but they want to know the methodology is actually delivering child protection. I think all this thing about labels is completely misapplied."
As ELSPA continues to rubbish the credibility of the BBFC - as witnessed last month by telling the Labour government the movie board is not fit for purpose - Jackson insists the spat won't harm the the public's perception of the industry.
"Our house is very much in order. I think we are completely coherent in what we're trying to do, the industry is completely behind what we're trying to do.
"Fifteen years ago when we set up our own age ratings without anybody asking us to, we did it entirely off our own backs to make sure there was child protection," continued Jackson. "I don't think there is the slightest doubt that this industry isn't serious, coherent and of one mind of where we're going.
"The issue is are we prepared to stand up and fight our corner and fight for what we believe is the right way of protecting children. I would like to think that both in the industry and in the wider community they can see we're being open and honest about what we're trying to do, and that we're doing this on the basis of how best to protect children going forward."