Presentation on theme: "The PEGI family of self-regulation. Interactive software : Off line Off line : stable content susceptible to classification Online Online : ever changing."— Presentation transcript:
Interactive software : Off line Off line : stable content susceptible to classification Online Online : ever changing content makes classification almost irrelevant
Meet the PEGI family The Pan-European Game Information (PEGI) system was born in May 2002 and launched formally in April 2003 In 2005, the fast uptake of online gaming made it imperative to take on the challenge of continuing to help parenst with meaningful guidance beyond the self-contained, predictable off-line environment PEGI Online started in June 2007 In June 2008, Commissioner Viviane Reding launched PEGI Plus.
The PEGI story (1) February 2001 : Swedish presidency suggests harmonized protection of minors from unsuitable content. May 2001 : government-industry meeting sets out to build upon this goal through self-regulation. May 2002 : Ad-hoc working group proclaims project feasible. April 2003 : the first ever pan-European system for harmonized ratings of digital content is launched : voluntary, i.e. not government enforced, flexible, i.e. open to continuing improvement.
The PEGI story (2): How does it look to consumers in 30 European countries ? 5 logos : 7 descriptors documenting logos, if needed : ViolenceBad Language Fear Sexual Content DrugsDiscriminationGambling
Number of ratings in each different age category The PEGI story (3) : How is PEGI faring with consumers ? 12050 games rated Age ClassTotalPercentage 3+5 93449% 7+1 32711% 12+2 61622% 16+1 59713% 18+5765% Total12 050100
The PEGI story (5) : The main engines behind PEGI NICAM, founded in 2000, running Kijkwijzer since February 2001. VSC, established in 1989 to promote high standards within the UK video industry, expanded in 1993 to computer games. Advisory, Complaints Boards.
PEGI Boards are intended to : Secure PEGI’s independence Allow for PEGI’s continuing adjustment to the broader environment Reflect European diversity
The PEGI story (6) : A publisher’s perspective PEGI participants: sign a binding agreement including a Code of conduct with ISFE Register with NICAM Complete online product assessment form via a user-friendly Internet application featuring central data storage The checking piece reflects the risk assessment made by the ad-hoc working group of 2001: all assessment forms are controlled all products are thoroughly screened Independent dispute resolution via PCB.
The PEGI story (7): The carrot vs stick debate Publishers participating in the PEGI system liable for mistaken ratings. Government-run systems tend to take full responsibility for possible missteps. By giving full responsibility to those who know a game inside out and whose revenues depend on it, self-regulation makes mistakes more costly and less likely.
Why PEGI Online ? Online gaming is a rapidly growing phenomenon.
Edward Castronova : “Synthetic worlds (online games) are not games at all but rather forums for communications” what he calls “avatar-mediated communication”.
The content of online games breaks down into two main components : 1)Original “core” may fit a PEGI classification 2)Content added by (2.1) the original publisher (add-ons) or by (2.2) users as they play does not lend itself to practicable PEGI classification. Item # 2.1. eludes classification as NICAM would be swamped by hundreds of mini-applications daily. Item # 2.2. cannot possibly be rated, only “contained” within a certain “bandwidth” as regards the protection of minors.
The PEGI Online approach : (2.1) class content : publishers of the original content are already committed by the PEGI code to apply for another PEGI rating as soon as the additional content would send the original content into a different PEGI age class. (2.2) class content : while impossible to rate “as it goes”, this content may nonetheless be contained within a limited “bandwidth” which makes it appropriate for minors at all times. On checking with consumers, we realized that this combination, however imperfect, was nonetheless likely to address the needs of European parents.
How does this work ? By way of a combination of committed providers of online games on the one hand and vigilant consumers on the other hand : PO label holders make a binding pledge to protect minors, whatever the means contemplated to uphold their commitments. The PEGI Online safety Code (POSC) fleshes out these commitments, thereby providing consumers with a tool to take PO label holders to their word. Independent administration checks applicants’ ability to live up to POSC standards. Sophisticated complaints mechanism adds independent resolution of disputes to procedures enforced by applicants. For the PO system to work effectively, consumers have to act as ruthless watchdogs.
Consumers as watchdogs : Consumers have to come to terms with this major difference between PO labeling and PEGI rating: a PEGI rating results from a filing deliberately made by a publisher and the subsequent screening and granting of a license by the PEGI Administrator. Whether parents would take this recommendation or decide to ignore it, they are not expected to play an active role in making PEGI sustainable. In contrast, a PO label results from a license granted by the PO Administrator for one year - with no continuing check within the next 12 months – to an operator thereby held to a set of binding commitments.
This defining difference actually poses a steep challenge to PEGI’s communication with consumers : PEGI says : trust this logo; it certifies that the content concerned is suitable to minors in excess of X years of age. PO says : this quality seal reflects commitments made by holders to make their best efforts to maintain the content concerned within a « bandwidth » that is suitable for minors at all times.
Education holds the key to effective consumer empowerment PEGI misses its goal if 18-rated games end up in the hands of 12-year olds. Parental control is worthless until activated Most carefully crafted recommendations and most sophisticated control tools alike will prove pointless until consumers come to terms with the risks and rewards of content accessible online. Governments around the world would fail in their duty if they would not take their share of addressing this public policy challenge.
Room for improvement The uptake of PO has been slow Commissioner Reding on June 2008: « The speed of development of online gaming is not accompanied by a speedy development of PO. 17 signatories for PO vs 230 for PEGI: this is not satisfactory! »
Room for improvement EC Communication of 22 April 2008 « calls upon the videogames and consoles industry to further improve the PEGI and PO systems and in particular …increase the list of signatories » What is the critical mass upon which to build consumer trust in PO? How do you catch UGC in this net?
PEGI’s friendly godfather Recommendation 4 « recognizes that online videogames bring new challenges such as effective age verification systems and possible dangers for young consumers related to chat rooms associated with the games and calls upon MS and stakeholders to work together on innovative solutions
PEGI’s friendly godfather Recommendation 8 advocates cross- media rating system. « The Commission intends in particular to organize meetings of classification bodies to exchange best practices in this field »
Monitoring, compliance PO leaves it up to users to monitor how PO license holders will behave This does not cut ice with consumers or policy makers, hence the « red button » uproar
Exclusive and global don’t mix PO is made contingent upon established regional systems See POSC Article 7.2.1: « …include only game content rated under the regular PEGI system or other recognized European systems » The ideal global system would be pegged to existing systems, not contingent on a particular one.
Other pointers given by EU policy makers Item 33 in EP Resolution of 12.03.09 on VG »calls on the EC and MS to work with authorities in other parts of the world to encourage the adoption of international guidelines, labelling systems and codes of conduct to promote global classification systems for videogames and online games »
Additional pointers Item (ae) in EP Recommendation of 26.03.09 on strengthening security and fundamental freedoms on the internet calls for EC and MS to take the initiative for the drawing up of standards for data protection, security and freedom of speech welcomes the Resolution on the urgent need for protecting privacy in a borderless world.
And from beyond the EU CoE working on a Recommendation on « measures to protect children against harmful content and behaviour and to promote their active participation in the new information and communications environment » Neutral labelling to enable both children and adults to make their own value judgments
CoE Reco Promoting the further development and voluntary use of labels and trustmarks …to contribute to the development of safe and secure spaces for childre To be effective, labelling systems must hold their operators accountable To be trustworthy, they must be interoperable.
Conclusion European policymakers have spelt out their dream loud and clear It will take coalitions of government- industry-civil society around the world to make this dream come true Not out of reach: isn’t PEGI the tale of EU policymakers’ dreams of 2001 made true in 2003?