Lawrence Abramson is a Managing Partner at lawyers Harbottle & Lewis LLP - a company that represents Take Two Interactive and Rockstar. He has revealed his understanding that the forthcoming Byron Review into violence in video games is expected to, "...recommend that the regulation of games is taken outside of the BBFC/VAC procedure altogether and that instead the role of PEGI should be enhanced.?
The "BBFC/VAC procedure" he mentions is the same one that saw the British Board of Film Classification's decision not to classify Rockstar's Manhunt 2
; and then saw the Video Appeals Committee
bounce that back demanding the BBFC should certify... only to see the BBFC appeal that to the High Court... only to see the High Court bat it back to the VAC
... only to see the VAC hand-pass it back to the BBFC... which now has to rate the game
Looking at it that way, maybe one system would make sense.
Speaking in an interview today±
, Abramson stated, "I understand that Tanya Byron is expected to recommend that the regulation of games is taken outside of the BBFC/VAC procedure altogether and that instead the role of PEGI should be enhanced".
In a strange decision - bearing in mind that the VAC has just ensured his client's game will go on sale - he then proceeded to slam the VAC, saying, "The problem as I see it with the current system of classification is that the members of the Video Appeals Committee do not as a general rule play games.
?And so we find ourselves in the position on appeals that the body charged with determining the appeal are incapable of replicating the experience on which they are supposed to be sitting in judgement.?
The fact that Abramson has voiced his understanding that PEGI - the Pan European Games Information rating system - should be 'enhanced' according to Byron, comes as no surprise; this opinion has already been expressed by Microsoft's Xbox boss in the UK, Neil Thompson.
Back in February, Thompson stated±±
, "If there?s going to be one ratings system, it should be PEGI. With PEGI, they think very carefully about age appropriacy?but the BBFC is set up to rate films, and it takes that approach for games when a different approach is required".
Whether a total reliance on a pan-European system would get through the relevant parliamentary procedures, however, is far from clear in a country that still refuses to opt for a single currency. Working in favour of PEGI is the fact that a UK government would not have to pretend to understand the video gaming industry or consumer, and could simply 'blame Europe' for difficult or contentious game rating decisions.Sources: ±Techradar