Tuesday, 10 October 2017


Since the previous blog things have moved on apace here at the VSC.  You will probably recall that when we were originally mandated to be the ‘designated authority’ for rating video games, we had to create a separate arm to carry out this side of our work.  Thus was created the Games Rating Authority (GRA).  However, we soon came to realise that this had the potential to cause some confusion due to the fact that we are also the Video Standards Council (VSC) which uses the PEGI rating system to actually rate games with.

This had the effect of making it look as if we were three separate organisations which was pretty confusing all round.  Finally, however, we have come to a resolution and after much discussion, it has been decided that we will now become the VSC Rating Board and the dear old GRA bit will be consigned to history.

This, we hope, will make life much clearer and easier for all concerned. It also reflects the fact that the majority of our work centres around video game ratings; which also includes the rating of apps via IARC – that’s the International Age Rating Coalition if you didn’t know.

Talking of changes, we now have a new editor on the Askaboutgames website.  If you don’t know it then take a look at www.askaboutgames.com   The new editor is Will Freeman, a well-established journalist and critic in the field of video games.  Askaboutgames provides oodles of information and advice about contemporary video games and is particularly useful for families.  Check it out and you might just be pleasantly surprised.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017


It’s been a busy couple of months here at the VSC as we wrestle with games needing a rating, but also combining that with work outside of our usual remit.  In addition, we’ve acquired a brand-new Director General in the form of Ian Rice.  Ian has been with us for quite a while, gradually working his way up the career ladder and landing the top job.

Having joined us from a multinational networking company, Ian is well versed in all matters digital and has served a full apprenticeship as a video games examiner before moving on to help develop things like the PEGI ratings criteria and helping to establish IARC (International Age Rating Coalition) with other regulators around the globe.

Our information and training package for schools – which I touched on last time – is currently being trialled by several schools in the UK, so we hope this proves to be a good indicator for future take-up.

On top of this, you’ve probably seen recent press reports criticising certain social networking sites – I’m sure you can guess who they are – for their apparent inability to prevent the more extreme material from being published.  Indirectly, we have been asked by a major UK children’s charity to help promote safe internet use and are currently putting together some relevant info for them.

The controversy that shop bought, physical video games once used to generate appears to have moved online well and truly.  While we have no control over what people may say to one another when engaged in multi-player online games, we can at least try to ensure that players – younger children in particular – are at least aware of what potential problems may arise when chatting to complete strangers, and what steps they can take to reduce the risks.

It's rather depressing that we feel it necessary to do this, but until the online community learn to be rather more polite and respectful in their interactions with one another, we must take what limited measures we have to combat a seemingly growing problem.  It would, of course, also help if those who manage sites were a little more pro-active and robust in their response to abusive or bullying behaviour, but until they get their act together it is likely that organisations such as major children’s charities will have to provide the necessary help and information.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

The Three R’s (Reading, Riting, Rating)

I know I’ve banged on about this before, but it remains deeply frustrating that a fair proportion of the population still think that it’s okay for younger folk – adolescents and below – to play with adult rated video games; often without realising that there is likely to be something in there wholly unsuitable for them.

I can understand the attraction of many ‘18’ rated games – many will remember attempts to sneak into a cinema in order to watch an ‘18’ rated film when they were fourteen/fifteen/sixteen – and it is much easier to get your hands on a game that it is sneaking into the cinema.  Adults will frequently buy an ‘18’ rated game for someone much younger; justifying the purchase with a “it’s only a video game” argument whilst failing to understand that games are no longer the simple, 2D blocky affairs they were back in the eighties.

Perhaps then, it is time to take the message to the kids rather than the adults and to this end, we have now embarked on an attempt to engage schools on the issue through the provision of an online educational programme which can be incorporated into the school day.

Ostensibly aimed at KS2/KS3 students (though there is also a version for those over 18), the course comprises an interactive video detailing what PEGI does, how games are rated and what the ratings mean.  Coupled with this is our ‘Gamewise’ magazine which features a number of related articles, information on setting console controls and some follow-up exercises and other resources.  All this comes for a mere £50 per year!

We are currently trialling the package and undertaking a few demos at assorted educational establishments.   In this way, we hope to spread the message about the importance of adhering to the ratings – they’re not just there to decorate the game packaging, but to warn that some content really isn’t suitable for younger players.

If you are a UK based educational establishment, or simply just curious, the details are available on our website (www.videostandards.org.uk).  In the meantime, we continue trying to get the PEGI message across to young people in the hope that they come to understand what the ratings are intended to do.  A little education often goes a long way in enabling people to make informed rather than uneducated choices in their game playing.