Let's face it, most gamers outside of Great Britain couldn't pick the British Board of Film Classification out of a lineup before their recent, controversial decision to deny classification to Manhunt 2. IGN decided to help us non-Brits out with a nice, in-depth interview with BBFC Press Office Manager Susan Clark.
While the BBFC officially uses the same set of guidelines in evaluating both games and movies, Clark acknowledged that the board takes repetition and interactivity into account when making decisions about games. "We might say 'Okay, if that had been a film, it would be okay in a linear format but with the element of interactivity in games, with the ability to do it over and over again, we might bump the rating up to a higher category,'" Clark said. Clark also admitted that, by law, the board has to "bear in mind the fact that these games will be potentially accessed by younger viewers ... We know that games are very, very attractive to under-aged players, particularly the 18 rated games." What, and violent movies aren't?
Despite the double standards, there's a lot to be praised about the BBFC system. Unlike the ESRB, the BBFC actually plays every game they review for about five hours, and they are the only regulator in the world not controlled politically or by the industry, according to Clark. All in all, if there's going to be occasional censorship, we can't think of a better group of people to be doing it.