It's a discussion that cuts to the core of what the Australian Law Reform Commission is having to deal with right now: how do we classify content in a world where the definition of content, and platforms, is becoming increasingly blurry. EA's CEO John Riccitiello has claimed that we need something broader and more universal, in order to better inform consumers of the kind of content they can expect when purchasing video games. John Riccitiello wants a global system, across countries, across platforms.
"With great freedom, comes great responsibility," he said, as reported by Polygon. "To live up to that responsibility, we need to do a better job informing the consumer, no matter the channel, the platform or the geography. We must adopt a self-regulated, global rating system across every format games are played on."
According to Riccitiello — multiple different classification systems, across different gaming platforms, have the potential to confuse consumers, making informed choices exponentially more difficult.
"Consumers are finding many new places to get their games," he continued, "Facebook, Google, Apple, as well as services like Steam and Origin. Most have a rating system, but none are consistent. Consequently, we are confusing the consumer.
"We must move beyond the alphabet soup of game ratings and consolidate behind a single standard that consumers will recognize and, ultimately, demand."
Locally, in Australia, the ALRC has provided multiple different recommendations for an overhaul of the current classification scheme. Among those recommendations was a more platform neutral system — not just for video games, but across all media content. It's in the realm of common sense — modern content defies traditional definitions of media, and the methods of delivery are broader than ever.
Some have suggested that Australia simply allow a regulatory body, much like the ESRB in Canada and the US, to classify content. Maybe we would benefit from allowing some sort of global body to classify our content?