BYRON REVIEW: The highlights

Dr. Tanya Byron’s long-awaited Review into children’s access to unsuitable digital entertainment has finally been published – and spells some serious changes for the UK industry.

Here, we condense the main points from the Review, entitled Safer Children In a Digital World. Byron recommends:

* ‘A hybrid classification system in which: BBFC logos are on the front of all games (i.e. 18,15,12,PG and U). PEGI will continue to rate all 3+ and 7+ games and their equivalent logos (across – all age ranges) will be on the back of all boxes. There are other perspectives on the different possible approaches, and implementation of change will require full public consultation.’

* ‘The statutory requirement to age classify games be extended to include those receiving 12+ ratings.’

* ‘Government supports a dialogue between the games industry and the education sector to identify opportunities for the benefits of game-based learning to be evaluated in educational environments.’

* ‘Sustained, high profile and targeted efforts by industry to increase parents’ understanding and use of age-ratings and controls on consoles.’

* ‘The retail industry works together to develop and implement a more consistent approach to the sale of video games and better in-store information for parents, children and young people.’

* ‘There should be focused efforts to monitor enforcement of the statutory age ratings at the point of sale.‘

* ‘The advertising and video games industries work together to improve guidance on the appropriate targeting and content of video games adverts in line with age classifications.’

* ‘Console manufacturers work together to raise standards in parental controls on consoles, delivering clear and easy to use prompts and better information for parents on where console controls meet agreed standards.

* ‘The BBFC and PEGI work together to develop a joint approach to rating online games and driving up safety standards for children and young people in the games, under the auspices of the UK Council for Child Internet safety.’

To download the full Byron Review, click under the ‘Safer Children In a Digital World (Full)’ tab here.

The news has been coming thick and fast in the wake of the Review’s publication. First, Government Ministers

Ed Balls and Andy Downham

threw their support behind all of Byron’s recommendations.

This morning saw Balls and Downham stand side-by-side with Byron at a press conference, at which it was revealed that PEGI would still be involved in the classification of 50 per cent of new titles.

IT was also suggested that the industry would be expected to fund education of the public over the new ratings – something which development body TIGA was not happy about.

Elsewhere, UK publishers’ body ELSPA questioned the wisdom of the BBFC being responsible for rating every game, whilst the BBFC itself said it was more than up to the job.

The media reaction has been typically sensational, with The Times reporting that the BBFC ratings would resemble ‘cigarette-style’ warnings.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Dr. Tanya Byron even appeared on the GMTV sofa this morning.

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