Home Entertainment Has the FPB made itself redundant?

Has the FPB made itself redundant?

4 min read
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Quick lesson: The FPB AKA the Films and Publication Board in South Africa is responsible for handing out age restrictions on media that is locally consumed. The organisation is the equivalent of PEGI in Europe or the ESRB in America, but with an added god complex and a lust for more power.

When I was a young boy… side track, this is a great song.

As I was saying, when I was young I remember the movies and games that came out had simple age restrictions. V meant violent content, S implied sexual content, and L was for language of a salty and cursed nature.

Then at some point in life they added the very exciting (for a young boy) N for Nudity classification. So if we could find an 18SN movie, our teen hormones were in for a treat. But more importantly, this was extremely easy for parents to monitor. If you were a European parent then you very often didn’t care if your kid was watching movies with sex and nudity but the over the top American violence was something you’d specifically avoid exposing young Tommy to.

That really is the core raison d’être for rating agencies. They exist so as to educate parents as to what the media they’re viewing contains so that they can make an informed decision on whether to purchase a movie or a game for their kids.

Over the years more and more categories were added in the name of granularity and accuracy, and while that in itself is not a problem and should be applauded, the way that the FPB has insisted that they all be displayed at the same time has led to this garbage crime against graphic design. If you’re reading this article after our own Watch Dogs Legion advertising has expired, you’ll have missed out on this word salad:

The FPB has rated Watch Dogs Legion as 18 (CT)DHLPSV(CI)… I would bet real money on the fact that not only does 99% of the population not know what those all mean but that also any parent buying this game would simply ignore that and not even see that it’s rated 18. It looks like a bar code.

For the 99% of you who don’t know what that jumbled alphabet means, here you go:

  • (CT) – Criminal Techniques
  • D – Drugs
  • H – Horror
  • L – Language
  • P – Prejudice
  • S – Sex
  • V – Violence (Not to be confused with SV which is a rating for Sexual Violence)
  • (CI) – Criminal Intensity

So don’t feel bad if you didn’t score 100% there, if it helps (it doesn’t) there is a document that you can check which explains what each of the letters mean and can be accessed here

I ranted about this on Twitter and Herono piped up that it’s not actually a problem with the granularity but rather the design. I kid you not, Herono created a better mock up in a few minutes that solved this problem instantly:

And there you go, a massive 18 that you can’t miss and a quick breakdown of the reasons why. The reference number is clearly visible but not important for the majority of people, and you can check the FPBs website if you need more info.

The FPB not existing at all and South Africa just adopting PEGI is still my preferred option but if they are going to continue to steal people’s money then at least do the job properly.

As an example here are the Watch Dog Legion ratings from PEGI and the US of A’s ESRB:

PEGI uses sub-images for detail and Watch Dogs: Legion received:

ESRB on the other hand, went with this:

So what do you think, are the FPB still useful and just need someone with half a brain to sort its incompetence out or should they be dissolved and allow for South Africa to make use of ESRB and PEGI ratings instead? Or are age restrictions just a leftover from the days before the internet, because let’s face it, a game can entirely change with a simple patch downloaded on day one anyway? Sound off below.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Critical Hit as an organisation.

Last Updated: November 3, 2020

9 Comments

  1. For the Emperor!

    November 3, 2020 at 13:17

    I would prefer not to have other countries decide what we can or cannot watch based on their morality (or lack thereof). But then again I am also old enough, childless and child despising enough to not care about ratings.

    Though…perhaps I should infiltrate them and make sure games with lootboxes are appropriately labelled as all being R18 for gambling?

    Reply

  2. Ben Kelly

    November 3, 2020 at 11:35

    Step 1: Find a global ratings body who’s views roughly align with yours
    Step 2: Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V.
    Step 3: Have a review panel for appeals against said ratings from locals
    Step 4: Rate ZA original content in a way that your global partner can Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V themselves

    Reply

    • Gavin Mannion

      November 3, 2020 at 11:58

      There is also nothing wrong with allowing companies to self rate their own products WITH the knowledge that lying will result in a massive fine

      Reply

  3. For the Emperor!

    November 3, 2020 at 13:17

    I would prefer not to have other countries decide what we can or cannot watch based on their morality (or lack thereof). But then again I am also old enough, childless and child despising enough to not care about ratings.

    Though…perhaps I should infiltrate them and make sure games with lootboxes are appropriately labelled as all being R18 for gambling?

    Reply

    • Gavin Mannion

      November 3, 2020 at 13:32

      other countries aren’t deciding for you, they are simply putting a rating on it. You get to decide for yourself. So people who are panicky about the lack of morals of this current generation can continue being overly conservative

      Reply

      • For the Emperor!

        November 3, 2020 at 14:26

        Guess I should have put the word “deciding” in inverted commas, as obviously they are not “deciding” but “guiding” and seems the rest of the words did not elucidate my meaning. But my comment was nothing to do with conservatism, thinking more with SA government fondness of China having them latch on to a place as draconian as that would not suite anyone here. I mean can you imagine skulls being removed from our games? Where would Khorne get materials to build his Skull Throne? But yea, at the same time I would not want libtards “guiding” anyone.

        Reply

      • HvR

        November 3, 2020 at 14:41

        In South Africa FPB technically decides for you; as in it is a criminal offence to “expose” minors to material rated above their age level. Although cinemas do enforce it as such I do not think anybody has been ever prosecuted.

        As for ratings I found that they got way more conservative over the last 2 decades. Used to be a titty here or there and some non-gore gun violence would get away with a PG-13 or 13 at worst are now all classified as 16+

        Reply

  4. Guild

    November 3, 2020 at 14:47

    That mock up is pretty cool (more informative and well designed). Only reason the current one looks like a barcode is the fpb insisting on their logo taking up 50% of the design which adds zero value to the info you want

    Reply

  5. Laurie

    November 5, 2020 at 08:27

    @BenKelly which international ratings agency would you “advise” FPB looks at?. With which guidelines associated? In effect you saying its ok to have a ratings agency just not one that is South African?

    Reply

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