back to article More videogames to face censor scrutiny

The ongoing Byron Review of the impact of technology on children will recommend a clampdown on violent videogames, it has been reported. Saturday's edition of The Guardian claimed ministers "have a sense" that the probe into videogames and the internet will advise a statutory labelling scheme for all games. At present, only …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    "TV therapist Tanya Byron"

    I think the title says it all, she's hardly going to want to maintain the status quo is she?

    This strikes me as the perfect way to promote and further ones own career down the "TV therapist" route. I expect wide ranging and impossible to implement conclusions.

  2. Mike Crawshaw
    Black Helicopters


    Will be the first to go... with a name like that, it's OBVIOUSLY encouraging anyone who plays to turn into a Sociopathical Jihadi Islamist Fascist Suicide Bombing TERIREST!!!!

    I love how the report is being done by a "TV therapist". Can we please have a day without someone whose main qualification is "LOOKIT ME!! I ON TV!!! HI MUM!!" telling us how to live??

  3. Andy S

    i truly hope

    That this is a clampdown on violent videogames that have been rated as suitable for kids, not just in general (not a chance...i know)

    Not sure how it is in america, but in the UK, games come in a dvd case, with an identical looking rating to a dvd, and can't legally be sold to anyone under the rated age.

    Either they are saying that ratings don't work, in that case, you'd better ban all the violent films too as the rating system is exactly the same. Or they are too stupid to realise that the ratings system even exists and that some games might not actually be aimed at kids.

    We need a simple precedent, the next time a parent starts ranting about their kid playing an adult rated game, arrest the parent for letting them get hold of it and slap them with a big fine. I guarantee parents will start taking an interest in what sort of games their kids are playing after that.

  4. Chris Collins

    Old timey book burning

    It's a pity there's little on the internet that you can burn physically. Perhaps we could hook up some sort of Flash presentation or something with avatars of these idiots waving pitchforks. A Web 2.0 burning. Perhaps with some sort of buttons to click to produce on screen epithets like "death to the paedos" and "Gordon is watching you masturbate".

  5. Rob
    Thumb Down

    It's OK though...

    Because I hear all TV content is going to be rated for viewing by GMTV's Richard Arnold. Expect professional review and non-biased standards to be maintained...

  6. tryrun


    Why not just have a BBFC rating on all games and then put the honus on both the retailers AND more importantly the PARENTS to ensure they don't buy their children games which are not sutible.

    Why can people not realise that the target audience for these games are not actually todays kids, but rather those of us who grew up playing games over the last twenty years or so?

    Yes, we can all agree that censorship on any art form is wrong, video games included; but we do need a way of ensuring that companies are free to make the games they wish and ensure they wont fall foul of a any laws, so mandatory ratings, as with films is the best way to go. It won't stop children playing them, but it will hopefullly better educate parents.

  7. Magnus

    I see another government IT project on the cards...

    That or a re-run of ID cards. More FUD and moral outrage so that government contractors and consultants can earn millions creating a system that no-one wants and will not work in any case. Anyway, so much for the one IT project to rule the web...

    (optimist hat on) As for better/stricter ratings on computer games? Well, if it cuts down on the moral outrage a bit and gets the idea into people skulls that it is adults (gasp, shock, horror, bewilderment by talk show hosts world wide) and not 7 year old Timmy playing these games then I'm all for it (barring the involvement of clueless parents obviously).

    (pessimist hat on) meh, not that it will help too much though. It's not as if all the games people get outraged about aren't marked 18+ already...

  8. Dam

    adult content

    "It's reported it will also recommend adult content be included in separate government moves to make ISPs filter the internet."

    Does that mean we'll be able to get to the porn without all the annoying other stuff that clutters Internet ?

    Hell, that's good news !

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Think of the chiiildren!

    Why split the population into children and non-children and then support a complex sounding architecture which separates content between them? What's so special about children? You could slice and dice the population into any number of arbitrary groups and make arguments for and against splitting the Net for those groups.

    As soon as someone mentions "children" all reasoning goes out the window. I'm surprised ministers can walk properly, the amount of time their knees spend jerking.

  10. Michael Compton

    This sensationlist move is missing one quite obvious and relevant fact

    A sizeable portion of the computer game market are not children. But its so much easier to just use the tired old 'think of the children' line.

    Simple answer is don't allow these games to be sold or bought for children.

    As games have come more and more an accepted form of entertainment instead of some geeky niche and parents consequently are more aware of the content they can contain then hopefully this will happen more.

    But people in power love to prohibit, it feeds their feeling of power, so they will probably push for that until all we can play is tetris.

    The flame as yet another sign of any personal liberty and freedom going up in smoke, seems to be order of the day this century. We will all be living in pseudo facist states within 20 years. Or already if ur in America, hehe only joking, honestly :)

  11. Anonymous Coward

    for fucks sake

    I take it that the PM will be implementing "newspeak" any day and I will be waiting to be summoned to room 101 for playing graphically violent games...

    Mine's the blood spattered black overcoat, just like the dude in postal 2

  12. Senor Beavis

    Will have the opposite effect (on kids at least)

    So essentially more games will be reviewed and as a result more will be classified 15 or 18. So what? The comparable action on films hasn't exactly stifled the film industry.

    Given that games are increasingly photo-realistic (ignoring the cut-scenes), what is the objection to classifying ultra-violence in the same way as films?

    However, it's not going to stop under 15s/18s getting hold of games they're not meant to be sold in the first place. If anything, an 18 certificate may encourage them to buy something they otherwise wouldn't have bothered to simply on the basis that they're not meant to.

    Quick straw poll, how many people when they were under-18s successfully got into an 18-rated film (possibly through cunning use of bumfluff) and derived some kind of faint thrill from beating the system?

    And on a final note, purely to ditch any vestiges of credibility, Tanya Byron can put me on the naughty step any time she wants. Coat and taxi, ta

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bloody Channel 4

    We've got Channel 4's favourite therapist, Tanya Byron, telling Labour what we can play - if she has her way things won't get more exciting than Tetris. Meanwhile on the other side of the non-existent ideological divide, Channel 4's favourite grasping property magnate, Kirstie Allsopp, is guiding the Tories' housing policy (bet it won't involve building council houses).

    So the only question is when do the Lib Dems team up with Gillian McKeith (not a doctor however much she likes to say otherwise) and tell us to love our poo?

  14. Anonymous Coward

    I am backing this

    Going to get shouted at on here but wow, this sin't rocket science is it?

    I welcome extending the film ratings to video games. Kids spend more time playing video games than watching movies and it's about time we got up to speed.

    Has anyone ever heard of a government review or report that says, "Everythings great don't touch it". I mean ever? The people who are paid to do it would never get another gig and they have to justify the money they are paid.

    There should be more protection on what my kids view. At the moment I have to play many of their games to decide whether or not they are suitable. It's a real drag.

  15. Anonymous Coward

    Leave DR Tanya out of this

    Listen numpties. Firstly Dr Tanya Byron MSc PsychD, yes the one with the doctorate in Psycology before she ever went near broadcasting is running the review.

    At least do some research before having a pop and thinking its the equivalent of Jerry Springer doing a review on Divorce Laws.

    I would like to wager she is eminently more qualified than any judge or politician we normally have running reviews for no real reason other than to waste my tax money.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture


    it is really a sad day when anyone but a tv zombie takes these tv therapists sriously.

    just off hand i wonder what had hppened to i can think for myself attitude people used to have?

  17. Anonymous Coward

    BBFC - R18

    What i don't get it that the BBFC have an R18 rating that they use on porngraphic material and as such can only be sold by licensed premises.

    Whilst video game retailers have to be licensed anyway, whats stopping the BBFC creating a new classification for the violent games and as such creating a license for premises to sell jsut those games?

    A porn shop for the video gamer if you like!

  18. Andrew

    Sexual content?

    I'm still looking for some sexual content in my games, can anyone point me at some please?

    Lara Croft just doesn't push my buttons any more, I blame Channel 5...

  19. Ace McDunk

    Maybe good will come of this?

    A large part of the problem is that parents do not understand / know about / care about games so they'll buy anything for their little 'uns. A clearly explained, unified ratings system similar to those governing video, could potentially help them to understand. Then, if a kid is still playing GTA, then responsibility can be directly attributed to the parent.

    And I think it will cease to be an issue in a few years. Games are a big thing now and those of us who have grown up alongside them do understand them.

  20. Barry
    Thumb Down

    I'm removing her...

    from my "I would" list.

  21. David Austin


    I see no problem with requiring all games to get a legally binding age certificate, the same as film - In fact, I'd support that.

    As long as, as an adult, If I wish to play serial rapist revenge killer III (Which I don't: Rez, Lumines, and Mario Galaxy all the way), then I can go grab a copy.

    As a sidenote, perhaps introducing a rule similar to alcohol and cigarettes: If the retailer suspects the game/cd/video is being purchased on behalf of the minor, they have the right to refuse sale.

    Let's stop people who shouldn't be playing these games getting them, and leave the rest of us to have our inner psychopath run wild in a harmless environment for a while.

  22. Spleen

    Dr Tanya Byron to the rescue

    Re 13:43: I'm sure Tanya Byron is a very intelligent, very knowledgable shrink, but if you think that the Government chose her because she was the best person to head the report, rather than because she was a celebrity, you need your head examined by someone with as many letters after their name as you can find.

    Wasn't this celebrity-politics stuff supposed to have gone out with Tony Blair? I can see Private Eye's "Prime Ministerial Decree" already. "Our Glorious Leader has decreed that the Age of Change will bring an end to the discredited celebrity politics of Mandelsonian-Blairism. Instead the Government will now seek the advice of experts based purely on their qualifications, i.e. who has the most Google hits.

  23. Anonymous Coward

    Well, censoring media by age has been SO effective in other media...

    But personally I'd rather they just told parents to accept some fucking responsibility for their kids growing up into sociopathic retards rather than blaming every environmental factor they can think of other than themselves.

  24. Mike Crawshaw

    @ AC "Leave DR Tanya out of this"

    I don't give a toss if she's a PhD or has an accreditation in Certified Ethical Hacking. She's not qualified to decide what games I play, or what I look at on the net.

    Controlling what children do in terms of games, films, or the internet is up to the parents - not to be surrendered to outside control lightly, or indeed at all, IMO.

  25. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    TV Terrorist

    She (Dr. Byron) terrifies me much more that other terror threats, say from the seekers of sexual refuge with 70 virgins in Heaven No.7. I've just upgraded her threat level from SEVERE to CRITICAL.

    "It's reported it will also recommend adult content be included in separate government moves to make ISPs filter the internet."

    That's what they really want, isn't it?

    I don't understand one thing - why has this friggin Govt not yet been deported to China? They can satisfy their internet-blocking fetish so much more easily there...

  26. David Hancock


    Surely this is just a bright spark at BBFC who has spotted all that potential for lost revenue. Publishers have to fork out for every title they want to have classified, and I'm pretty sure you have to cough up multiple times for multiple platforms (PC, PS3, XBox360, Wii, PSP, DS... that's a lot more than film distributors who will usually just have to stump up for a 35mm print and a DVD)

    As has been pointed out above, most of the titles that need to be classified already are. This just means that the BBFC will spend more time, and pull in more revenue, giving U certificates to "Catz 3: The Cutening"

    Note the large "18" in this image

  27. Michael

    @David Austin

    "If the retailer suspects the game/cd/video is being purchased on behalf of the minor, they have the right to refuse sale"

    They already can. As far as I'm aware, nothing in the law says you HAVE to sell someone something. The whole point of the voluntary rating system currently used is that the shops can choose to refuse sale and if asked why point out that it's not age appropriate. It's just that at the minute, a lot of shops don't bother, and a lot of parents will happily buy whatever little Jimmy wants with only a glance at the box.

  28. Simon Ball

    @Ace McDunk

    There already IS one. What part of the "15" or "18" ratings on the side of games are people missing? It's the exact same damn symbol used for films and DVDs. It even says on the back that it's a BBFC rating.

    A conscientious parent shouldn't NEED educating about these things - he/she should be on the lookout for such rating systems; should research the games he/she is buying, to judge their suitability. Be pro-active about supervising their children. At this point it is simply impossible for me to believe that parents are not aware that some games contain material which may not be suitable for young children. Which leads me to the inevitable conclusion that either they just don't care, or, more positively, that they have more faith in their children's ability to separate fantasy from reality than the hysterical lobyists.

    Bottom line, this will not change a thing, and I remain to be convinced that there is even a problem.

  29. The Other Steve

    Parents - EOF

    If you feel that some video game has harmed your child, guess what ? It's your own stupid fault for letting them play it, or in many cases, buying it for them in the first fucking place.

    I just don't think the "parents don't understand the system" argument holds water. Games that are not suitable for your little ones have a great big red circle on them with the number 18 in the middle and further content warnings on the box. As far as I can see, the only change that needs to be made is is to include these in braille in case the parent/guardian in question actually /is/ blind. *

    Parents need to stop bleating and start taking responsibility for the effect of their actions (or lack thereof) on their own children.

    So yes, won't /somebody/ please think of the children. How about their parents for a change ?

    * OK, OK, I missed out stupid people, I suppose we have to cater for them as well, so fine. Move all the rated games into a single section in the shops, train the cashiers to spew some line every time someone buys one. You can program this into the EPOS just like age checks for certain items at supermarkets :

    "Since this game is rated 18, it may contain scenes of swearing, arse raping, stabbing, mutilation, ho slapping, theft, terrorism, murder, or genocide.

    As such, by buying the game you hearby agree to waive the right to whine about it's effect on Timmys fragile little mind if, at a later date, as seems likely with a parent as stupid as you, he does something irredeemably stupid or vicious and attempts, following your shining example, to avoid taking any responsibility for his own actions by blaming it on said game.

    Do you still wish to proceed with the purchase ?"

  30. Damian Gabriel Moran

    what next

    Government to ban sticks because children with an imagination might pick one up and go "pow pow pow" in mimicry of a gun? ***i know most children do not say pow pow pow but you try typing that eh-huh-huh-huh-huh-huh sound they do make and not look like a script for beavis and butt-head***

    Perhaps I should dig out my old yo-yo and use it for its invented purpose, will they ban them then? I bit my tongue once when chewing gum, will that be next on the list?

    I remember the hoo-hah about video nasties back in the late 70's / 80's and as a youngster back then I was of the opinion that it is not the images that are seen but the person watching them that is the problem and I think the same now with video games (amongst other things)

    In an attempt to finish on a lighter note, I think issues like this should be settled with a good old fashioned Counter Strike match, us against the namby-pambies and the winner gets to decide policy

    my coat because i wish to leave

  31. bambi

    Kids Vs MP's

    Who could find an illegal song/game/pron on the internet the fastest?

    a) A 7 year old

    b) Your local MP

    c) Some TV slut

  32. Spleen

    On the box

    The idea of a rating system assumes a large amount of stupidity on the behalf of the purchaser in any case. If a) the game takes its name from the judicial jargon for "car theft" in the United States, b) the front cover features a large amount of criminal types wielding assault rifles and c) the back cover features blurb along the lines of "work your way up through Los Santos' criminal gangs", then it's probably not a game where you try to create the cuddliest bunny in the world.

    Think about it for more than a second and it gets even more ridiculous. How many pints of blood per minute will get a game a 15 ceritificate, and what is the equivalent in boobs seen/naughty words used/heroin needles injected? Is this really the number which will have no effect on a lonely and disturbed 15 year old boy but will cause irrepairable damage to a happy and well-balanced girl of 14 and a half?

    Imagine basing all your game-playing decisions entirely on a label system with only three categories: "Action", "Puzzle" and "Strategy" - and not taking into account any other information on the box whatsoever. You'd end up buying a lot of games in a genre you had no interest in and missing a lot of games you would love. Classifying games for age suitability makes no more sense, but it's "for the children" so glaring gaps in logic go ignored.

    @The Other Steve: "Since this game is rated 18, it may contain scenes of swearing, arse raping, stabbing, mutilation, ho slapping, theft, terrorism, murder, or genocide."

    That sounds like a pretty good game. Where can I buy it?

  33. Edward Noad

    I remember...

    ...when I was in Game a few years ago, paying for something at the counter (can't remember what) when a mother with a small child sans-front teeth asked the next sales-droid if they had the game "Blood" in stock. Said sales-droid doesn't bat an eyelid in telling her that it is currently not out on budget, being an older game, but will shortly be released and she should come back in a few weeks time.

    1) Despite such an obvious title, she didn't think that it might have been unsuitable for little Jimmy. And I happened to know that the game included the ability to shoot people with a flare gun, watch them fall over, then get back up just in time to burst into flames and run towards screaming "Ahh! Ahh! It burns! Ahh!" before collapsing and continuing to burn/smoulder for a while.

    2) Sales-droid didn't know / didn't care that the game was 18 rated and didn't think "Ooh, that game might get passed on to that lil kid down there and that would be illegal" but just told Mummy-dearest when to come back to buy it.

    3) I remember thinking at the time that Mummy didn't know/care what her son was playing, son was possibly pulling a fast one on her, and the sales-droid was either completely ignorant of the regulations concerning supply of 18-rated games to minors or didn't want to get involved and was quite happy to let this uninformed woman commit a crime.

    Oh what a wonderful world, and it doesn't seem to have got any better in the intervening 5/10ish years.

  34. Michael

    @ Spleen

    Sounds like a game of Civilization to me.

    Swearing - me

    Arse raping - what you do to the other leaders

    Stabbing - Combat for the first half of the game

    Mutilation - Got to punish those slaves somehow

    Ho slapping - Civil disorder

    Theft - "diplomacy"

    Terrorism - "less subtle diplomacy"

    Murder - "Raze the city!"

    Genocide - Victory!

    See, even a 12 rated game can be fun if you put some imagination into it!

  35. Gordon

    Call me old-fashioned....

    But surely the parents need to take some responsibility for the upbrinding of their kids? Surely the parents need to prevent the kids getting the games in the first place, let along playing them??

    Or is this another thing that the state intends to sieze control over, then look amazed when the public loose the ability and inclination to do it themselves? Parents have lost interest in education, controlling their kids, raising their kids and selecting their diets and all SORTS of things because the state has got itself into the position of assuming responsibility for things that are, frankly, none of it's damned business.

  36. Tawakalna

    But what if she's right?

    I now regret exposing my kids to the horrors of video games. My 19yr old daughter who's an undergraduate at Cambridge and got 12 GCSEs and 4 A levels (all top grades) has clearly been held back by those games of Diablo II: LoD and Severance, Blade of Darkness that she used to play, and all that WoW and LoTR:BfME she was playing last year during her final year at school. What can I say, Tanya, I'm obviously a failure as a parent. I wish somebody had thought of the children earlier, to protect them from foul uncaring monsters like me.

    (yes teenage girls do play violent bloodthirsty rpg-style games, but I can't get mine to play F.E.A.R. cos there ain't no Elves in it!)

  37. DavCrav

    "Dr" Tanya yada yada whatever, bored...

    Ooh, look at her, she has a doctorate from some university, and although I tried to find out which one, I couldn't. (Got bored.) Having a doctorate does not make you all-knowing. I know, because I have one. (I have a proper one though, from one of the (El-Reg saying approaching) hard-sums departments...)

    Doesn't stop her from only being chosen because she's on the telly. Crap reason to choose a report writer.

    On the other hand, clearly there's no problem with putting certificates on all games. Toy Story needed a certificate, so why shouldn't Generic Sims Game #37?

  38. Lyndon Barry
    Paris Hilton

    Video Nasties take 2

    Doesn't all this smack of the video nasty debates that went on a few years back?

    Yes, games should be rated the same as videos. Why? Because Granny Smith when she goes into a computer shop to buy a game for her darling little grandson Jonny isn't going to know if the game he wants is suitable for him. She could ask the staff behind the counter, but they're probably completely unintelligible to poor Granny Smith (her actually speaking English, and them just speaking L33t). So she buys what she's been told to buy.

    On the other hand, if there's a nice 18 symbol on the cover, similar to videos/dvds she's got a chance of thinking "hang on, little Johhny is only 11, I'd better buy him Fluffy goes to Disneyworld which has a PG certifiicate"

    I've been a games player for 20 years or more, and I wish that the government would keep it's nose out of what I'm playing. I'm fully capable of distinguishing between graphics being shot in Hitman and people being shot in Iraq. Despite how much I love GTA, I've no intention of carjacking a sports car and rampaging through my local neighbourhood doing drive bys.

    Just the same way as watching The Exorcist, Rambo or Texas Chainsaw Massacre didn't disturb my genetic makeup the way people said it would.

    Let's just get this over with, bite the bullet as far as the BBFC goes and let the politicians and Florida Lawyers find another subject with which to get their names in the paper.. Although there's not much left now.

    PH because maybe, just maybe, she should be the next target of the censorship row. Ban airheads from being famous for being stupid.

  39. Anonymous Coward

    Adults grow up

    Firstly all the "I have been playing games for 20 years and wish the government would butt out" types. You miss the point. You are an adult. It is not targeted at you. You can play what you like. YOU ARE AN ADULT.

    Secondly, anyone with kids knows they pop to town with their friends spending their pocket money on games to play at night. I used to do it. Whilst as a parent it is ultimately my responsibility, there is also an element of responsibility on the shop not to sell my 14 year old son Hitman or Grand Theft Auto. These games do have a rating but it is never enforced. He comes home and I take it off him.

    WOW and LotR ??? Please do yourself a favour. You are comparing your Cambridge undergraduate daughter playing PEGI rated 12 games WHEN SHE WAS 17. Not really the point is it. She didn't get the brains from you I see.

    Maybe the report should simply say, "enforce the existing laws regrading selling games to minors or face a fine of 10% of turnover".

    Lets face it if we as parents deem it's not inappropriate we override any rating anyway.

  40. Tawakalna

    @the Anonymous Coward who had a go..

    "WOW and LotR ??? Please do yourself a favour. You are comparing your Cambridge undergraduate daughter playing PEGI rated 12 games WHEN SHE WAS 17. Not really the point is it. She didn't get the brains from you I see."

    Plain to see you're parents didn't teach you patience and some manners. FYI, although I really have no pressing need to tell you, my daughter has been playing RPGs in one form or another since she was 11. So capitalise away when you write your apology for being so rude, offensive, and judgemental, and of course, WRONG, which of course is easy to do when you're posting behind anonymity. No need to get all nasty and personal, is there?

    Courage - that's inherited too, as is cowardice :)

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