11 December 2008

And this is why PEGI shouldn't be the rating standard in the UK...

Turns out that a mother was horrified to discover that a version of Scrabble on the DS uses swear words pretty readily. Now the interesting thing here is that the game was rated 3+...... 'by PEGI'.

The story goes that the woman bought the game for her son and played it first to discover words like tits and fuckers (wrongly defined btw). As the article notes:

The worst thing is that there's an age rating of 3+ on the box and no advisory warning about adult language on the packaging at all.

So she wrote off to Nintendo who told her to contact Ubisoft.... who told her to contact PEGI.... who just ignored her and has been doing so for the last three months:

It in turn blamed the game's publisher, Ubisoft, and told her to contact video-games rating system Pan European Game Information.

She emailed them three months ago but has yet to hear whether any action will be taken.

I've mentioned before why PEGI is not a good rating body for rating games for 12+, 15 and 18 in the UK as the industry seems to want but it seems that unless they change the way that they allow games to be rated that these incidents will happen more frequently.

Primarily it's because PEGI allow publishers to do a 'self assessment' from which a rating can be derived. The games are usually not played so any rating ends up less of a function of actual game content and more of a function of some check boxes (i know it's not quite that simple - but who thinks of using swear words in scrabble when you're thinking about how the game works?) on what is considered the gameplay.

Secondly, shame on Nintendo for not dealing with this. It's their console and they have the power to actually get a response from Ubisoft and PEGI. They should be protecting not only their brand but enforcing standards on their consoles. Shame on Ubisoft for not sorting this out themselves - it's their game for god's sake! Shame on the faceless and organisation of PEGI for not rating games thoroughly.

Again, i want to decry PEGI and champion the BBFC who actually play through every game before rating it. ELSPA and publishers can try and get PEGI as the rating standard in the UK all they want but they also need to learn to take responsibility rather than just passing the blame onto the next company who, in the end, don't care.... well.... none of them care as long as the game is out there, being sold.

I contacted PEGI for their comments on this incident and how it will affect the ratings process of future games... so i'll keep you updated on how that goes - if it 'goes' at all. Three months!


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