Online gamen, het is wat. Nu de vakantie definitief is aangebroken en de zon uitblijft, begeven kinderen en tieners, pubers en studenten en een massa volwassen zich op het internet om er online spelletjes te spelen: runescape, second life, wow... Eén voor één sluiten ze virtuele vriendschappen, praten met mensen die ze enkel via het net kennen, leren er samenwerken, dagen elkaar uit, beleven virtuele avonturen, ontdekken hun virtuele vaardigheden, hun virtuele identiteit, hun virtuele seksualiteit... Maar niet alleen op internet, ook via consoles, mobieltjes of peer-to-peer netwerken wordt er massaal interactief gegamed. Via de Xbox360 spreek je via een koptelefoon met anderen. Met PS2, de draagbare DS (Nintendo) en PSP speel je met meerderen tegelijk. PS3 en Wii bieden internetmogelijkheden. Viviane Reding, Europees Commissaris voor Informatiemaatschappij en Media had het in die context onlangs over ‘Self regulation applied to interactive games: success and challenges.’ Haar probleemstelling luidt als volgt. “In the case of online-games, a player easily interacts with several other players that he or she knows little or nothing about. The players can create their own characters as the game goes along and no one will know what person is really behind a character. This creates special challenges for protecting young players.”
Haar lezing is welberedeneerd en getuigt van inzicht. Opmerkelijk is deze uitspraak. “I believe that Europe needs a strong interactive games industry. Indeed, interactive games now sell more, in terms of value, than films in Europe’s cinemas. The European interactive games industry is also very much a cultural industry; it is often mentioned that games scenarios originating in Europe display a distinctly European flavour, in the way that European films, TV and music do as well. Hence, this industry can also be an opportunity for cultural diversity.”
Even verder komt zij tot de kern van de zaak van haar lezing. “Personally, I was appalled when I was first confronted as mother of three sons with ultra violent or with sadistic video games, even if I am well aware that video games are not just geared towards children and teenagers and that there are also books and films which I might find similarly shocking. As demonstrated by cases around two games in the last few months, there are growing concerns in Europe and in the US, especially among policy makers, about the effects upon minors of violent video games. Although such games generally receive an 18+ rating under the PEGI age rating system, digitally illiterate parents often do not realise the harmful effect such a game may have on minors. Freedom of expression is one the foundations of our society. So how do we ensure that minors are protected from unsuitable or even harmful content, while making it possible for adults to see, read and play what they want?” Uiteindelijk besluit Reding met een antwoord. “Therefore, I find the response given by PEGI Online promising, with in particular: - a safety code, which lays down rules to be followed by the providers who have signed up- a logo, which can be used by providers to show that they have signed the safety code- a Web site, where users will go at a click to the logo, and which will give them a whole range of information about PEGI Online and about playing games online safely.”
“The system is aimed at ensuring input not only by industry but also by all other stakeholders including regulators, child welfare NGOs and child psychology experts who were consulted in the design of the system and are represented in the structure set up to run PEGI and PEGI Online. This is a good example of an industry initiative developed in co-operation with other stakeholders which allows a rapid and flexible solution to the problems of new technologies and greater safety for our children and I ask you to report regularly to the Commission and to the public about the take-up of PEGI Online.”
Lees de volledige bijdrage van Viviane Reding op www.pegionline.eu/nl/index/id/84/nid/9 of verken pegi-online via www.pegionline.eu/nl/index/id/78.