David Cooke, director of the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), has said that his organisation is key to the games ratings system in the UK because it's British.
He sums up his position in a piece of editorial for Edge in which he writes, "The key difference between us and PEGI is that we classify in accordance with guidelines that the British public has been consulted about. PEGI doesn't do that and can't really because it involves 27 different countries.
"In our view it is extremely important to be able to take context into account if you're going to achieve a solid and a fair classification. And to provide full, context-based information to the public about the reasons for the classification. And to have the websites, the education resources and the monitoring capability to back that up!"
Elsewhere in the piece, Cooke writes, "There's nothing wrong with a multi-national approach like PEGI, but you can see the problems involved in trying to regulate and enforce across dozens of countries."
He also feels the need to tell us, "It's often forgotten that some of the biggest games countries in the world are not in PEGI but do their own games classification: for instance, the USA, Japan, Australia, and, within Europe, Germany." Why that has any bearing on the issue is puzzling, especially when the BBFC has no more input in those countries than PEGI.
Cooke also addresses another issue that has been raised - can the BBFC handle the extra workload? "I really reject the notion that the BBFC can't handle issues of scaleability", he said. "Look at the DVD market. In 1997 we had just over 3,000 DVDs to classify. By 2006 that had risen to to over 15,000, an increase of 460%."
He states that the BBFC currently has 12 dedicated games examiners who typically spend around five hours with a title, adding, "It can end up being more. With Manhunt 2 we spent many, many hours on that game, for obvious reasons."
The Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association (ELSPA) has been very clear in its preference for PEGI following the Byron Review, which looked into the UK's ratings system for the government, calling into question the BBFC's attitude toward content
. For an in-depth account of ELSPA's arguments, see SPOnG's recent interview with ELSPA's director general, Mike Rawlinson.
You can see David Cooke's full piece here