The last report of the handover of video game censorship from the BBFC to the Video Standards Council (VSC) suggested that this would occur by Christmas.
Now the handover date is being talked about in terms of sometime early 2012.
However the video game trade group UKIE has confirmed that plans are still on course for PEGI, which is currently awaiting final EU sign offs before UK Government grants the on-pack marks as the only ratings standard for video games.
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has admitted that complex technical points are behind the ongoing delay to legal implementation of PEGI age-ratings for video games in the UK.
Negotiations between the Government, overseen personally by Culture Minister Ed Vaizey, the Video Standards Council, and the BBFC, are understood to be at a delicate stage. But sources familiar with the matter said there was optimism that
the system could still be passed into law by Christmas .
As revealed by GI.biz in January, a complicated debate over packaging regulations had thrown a spanner in the works, with the BBFC's role in particular requiring definitive clarification. The main sticking point remains the issue of linear
(i.e. trailer) content, which regulations require is rated by the BBFC.
The Video Standards Council (VSC) is the UK games censor in waiting. They have commented on a move by the online games distributor to allow Australian's to evade the state censorship of Witcher 2 .
The VSC said GOG.com's recent decision to ditch location controls is symptomatic of global trends and speculated that all entertainment media could eventually shift toward an advisory rather than a legally-based system.
It seems inevitable that such systems will have an impact on the way national regulators control online content though the more authoritarian regimes won't have any qualms about shutting down a site if they deem it necessary, the VSC told
However, the more benign censorship/ratings organisations will probably move away from the mandatory model and replace it with an advisory systems which puts the onus on consumers to make informed buying decisions through the provision of
detailed consumer information.
THe VSC added, though, that it doesn't believe regional ratings body are in danger of becoming irrelevant: We believe the public tends to trust the judgement and advice of the more independent, established and respected ratings organisations
and will continue to do so.
In a further twist, PEGI has now asked Ubisoft to remove the original We Dare advert from the web. It seems that PEGI were not impressed with being falsely accused of a too low rating.
Eurogamer received the following statement:
The Committee concludes that the advertisement does NOT accurately reflect the nature and content of the product and it MISLEADS consumers as to its true nature.
Consequently, the Committee considers imperative as a first measure that the advertisement for the game which was made available online should be taken down immediately. If this is not done within three working days of this
decision this Committee will consider further immediate sanctions against the publisher.
Due to be released on Nintendo Wii and PlayStation 3 later this year, We Dare features over 35 mini-games that take a distinctly adult approach, with marketing materials encouraging two players to kiss a Wii Remote simultaneously,
spank each other to control on-screen avatars, and striptease to a variety of songs.
With its highly suggestive trailer and product description, Cubed3 queried PEGI on the seemingly low 12+ age rating.
PEGI stated that they do not look at the surrounding context of a game, only the in-game content. The suggestive naughtiness by the human actors in the YouTube trailer did not figure in the decision for the game rating:
PEGI does not take into account the context of a game when rating it, we only look at the contents of the game. [We Dare] has been rated as a PEGI 12 because it contains mild swearing, minor assault on a human-like
character and words/activities that amount to obvious sexual innuendo, explicit sexual descriptions or images and sexual posturing.
Do demand that these types of artwork [are] on the same level as the game. In the case of We Dare, the cover and trailer are in correspondence with our guidelines.
It was considered that We Dare might justify a higher rating due to a specific (sexual) atmosphere , but this proposal was rejected by the Video Standards Council, an independent organisation that verifies PEGI ratings for use in the UK:
The game itself is in fact less sexual/offensive than the marketing campaign leads us to believe (for example, you cannot see real spanking in the game. There is a 'stripping game' but you don't have to undress; throwing
away keys or anything that reduces your weight is good enough).
A new sexy party computer game has 'outraged' parents with lurid adult content which they claim will encourage orgies and under-age sex.
The Nintendo Wii game We Dare has styled itself sexy but has only been given a 12+ rating.
Many parents insist it is not suitable for a console which is popular with families and teenagers.
In an 'explicit' trailer, two girls can be seen virtually kissing, the couples stripping to their underwear and spanking each other. And other parts of the two-minute video, viewed over 150,000 times on the Internet site You Tube, are suggestive
of orgies, pole-dancing and wife-swapping.
The game is to be released on the Wii and Playstation 3 next month, with the promotion line The more friends you invite to party, the spicier the play! It is described as a sexy, quirky party game that offers a large variety of
hilarious, innovative and physical, sometimes kinky, challenges .
Parents have described the 12+ certificate as appalling and unbelievable . Laura Pearson from Birmingham, said: I have a 13-year-old daughter and if I knew she was playing such a highly charged sexual game with boys, I would be
appalled. It is encouraging under-age sex. The video pretty much shows them swapping partners, girl-on-girl kissing. That kind of thing is not something that young teenagers should be exposed to.
George Hardy, a 46-year-old father, said: No wonder we have problems in society with unsafe sex and under-age sex when kids can get hold of games like this. This sort of computer game will only serve to fuel sexual tensions and, in a
worse-case scenario, sexual touching or assault. Imagine a room of testerone-fuelled teenagers playing this, something could get out of hand. It sounds drastic but I could see it.
The body responsible for classifying computer games in Britain yesterday defended the 12+ certificate.
Laurie Hall, director general of the Video Standards Council, said: The average 16-year-old would think everything in We Dare was beneath them -- although the game contains innuendo and suggestion, if it showed anything sexual it would be have
received a 16 rating . Hall added that a part of the game which included characters stripping did not show anything more revealing than cartoon characters in bras and pants and said that it was in the context of a game about characters
He said that a YouTube trailer for the game was more extreme than anything in the game itself. There is no sexual activity, he said. There is suggestion and innuendo if you're that way inclined but you don't actually see anything
Labour MP Keith Vaz, a long-time critic of aspects of the video games industry, said: The new 'We Dare' game has clearly been wrongly marked as a 12 plus. As a family friendly console, Wii must ensure that there are proper checks and a full
consultation before games are graded for use by children. This game should not be released until these checks are made.
Meanwhile, the upcoming Nintendo Wii and PS3 game We Dare is due for release in Australia on March 3 and has been rated PG by the Classification Board. The box promises flirty fun for all , above an image of a plush pink chair
draped in lingerie and padded handcuffs.
The game has caused an uproar amongst British tabloids which quoted parents accusing it of promoting orgies and lesbian sex to kids as young as 12.
Indecision over whether games featuring video content still need a BBFC certificate has temporarily derailed the implementation of PEGI ratings.
The handover from the BBFC to the VSC will not now occur until September at the very earliest.
A new government proposal states that interactive entertainment which features linear content (such as trailers) would require a BBFC rating. That means a game that features a video in it will need to have both a PEGI and BBFC label on the box.
UKIE representing UK games producers condemned the proposal, saying in a statement:
Any dual labelling is contrary to the principles that were established in having PEGI introduced into the Digital Economy Act and if this proposal were implemented we believe it would only cause unnecessary and potentially
harmful consumer confusion.
The rollout of the new PEGI video games classification system will miss its current April 2010 deadline and will not be introduced until July of this year at the earliest.
The Video Standards Council (VSC) will then take over administration of producer assigned games ratings using PEGI symbols and classifications.
The Conservative culture minister Ed Vaizey has admitted that: There's been some technical delays to iron out a few kinks – nothing fundamental, nothing serious. And we'll crack on with it as fast as we can.
mcvuk.com believes that the delay is due to the time it will take to obtain European parliamentary approval.