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ELSPA plans measures to improve ratings awareness

British videogame publisher association ELSPA has confirmed that it is developing a number of proposals to improve consumer awareness and understanding of the games rating system, following a meeting with the UK government.

British videogame publisher association ELSPA has confirmed that it is developing a number of proposals to improve consumer awareness and understanding of the games rating system, following a meeting with the UK government.

The meeting was held last Friday and included representatives of the government, publisher body ELSPA, developer group TIGA, the Video Standards Council (VSC), British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) and British Association of Record Dealers (BARD).

"We are delighted with the very positive discussions held with Government and are pleased to embrace a collective approach to this issue," ELSPA director general Roger Bennett said in a statement following the meeting. "We all realise that it is important that we work together to look at ways in which the industry can do more to help parents make informed decisions."

"A number of initiatives were discussed at the meeting and they will be formulated to create specific proposals to promote greater understanding, recognition and awareness of the games rating system, ensuring that young people are not exposed to inappropriate content."

"Our goal is and has always been co-operation, action and results," he concluded.

The meeting came as videogame ratings came under increased scrutiny in the media once more, with several TV programmes dedicating time last week to coverage of adult content in videogames - although most focused, somewhat disingenuously, on the parents of young children who should not legally be playing games which are 18-rated in Britain, such as the often-featured Grand Theft Auto San Andreas.

The UK government has been largely supportive of the videogames industry through the recent media furore, disregarding calls from the right-wing press to ban violent games and preferring to explore ways of educating parents about videogame content and prevent violent titles from falling into the hands of children.

"Industry agreed with Government that we needed to make sure that the 18 classification system is understood and enforced," UK culture secretary Tessa Jowell said after the meeting on Friday, which she described as "very positive".

"Adults can make informed choices about what games to play," she explained. "Children can't and they deserve to be protected. Industry will consider how to make sure parents know what games their children should and shouldn't play. Their responsible attitude is very welcome."

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Rob Fahey: Rob Fahey is a former editor of GamesIndustry.biz who spent several years living in Japan and probably still has a mint condition Dreamcast Samba de Amigo set.