I had to laugh at the fact that in the ?games and education? talk at London Games Week, they chose to use (Tory MP, and prospective mayor of London) Boris Johnson?s anti-gaming rant from last year as an example of how games are mis-understood. It was a rant that caused quite a stir in the industry, I?m sure you remember.
Yeah, I mean, I?ve had so many conversations with mainstream media and the same old themes of questioning comes up. And it?s interesting that many people, I believe, who are critical of gaming just haven?t tried to interact or tried to understand what it?s all about. If people don?t understand something then their immediate reaction is that it must be bad? ?Kill it off, it?s clearly bad!?
I do think that, as time is going by, we will have more events such as the London Games Festival that allow us to get the message over to the general public that actually, games aren?t evil in any way, shape or form. They have a lot of benefits and people like Professor Heppell are showing that.
You mentioned that it couldn?t be better timing for the government?s Byron Review to be launching at the same time as the London Games Festival. I think there is some concern amongst some adult gamers that the review might be ?tokenism? on behalf of the government.
Yeah, I know what you mean. When Dr Byron spoke to a small group of us at ELSPA earlier this week, she was actually asked that question directly by one member of the (games) industry. And her answer was, ?Well if I thought that was the case then I wouldn?t be wasting my time on it.?
She absolutely believes that the government are serious about the review. And I think having (Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport) James Purnell here with Tanya to present the review is further evidence of this.
So, I don?t think any of us in the industry are feeling this. I don?t think many of us are scared about the Byron review. I think most of us are feeling very positive about it. One of the problems that we have with this industry is this general, broad public acceptance from people who don?t play games. If the Byron Review comes out and talks about the positive aspects of games, then we can only benefit.
Fundamentally, the questions that need to be asked are about appropriate material getting in front of children ? these are essential questions that need to be addressed. I think we have a robust age-classification system for games. I think we need to find out if we need to make changes to that. And I think as an industry we?ll be accepting of what findings Tanya Byron makes.
The second part is about censorship. Should mature content be created? Absolutely it should. And it should have an 18-certificate and it should not be sold to people younger than eighteen. And that system needs to be robust. The BBFC currently has the right to ban games, as they?ve recently proven. There shouldn?t be a ?censor? overall, but if something is unclassifiable then they shouldn?t classify it. We?re not asking for censorship, we?re just asking for appropriate use of the age-rating system.