Distribution and Display of Games

Demonstration and exhibition of games at stores contrary to the requirements of the Films and  Publications Act (No 65 of 1996)

The state has taken a keen interest in protecting children against any form of exploitation. South Africa committed to the protection of children in 1995 when it ratified the United Convention on the Rights of Children.

The preamble of the country’s Constitution provides that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity. This means this world belongs to children too. The country’s Bill of Rights also recognises children’s rights as human rights.

The Films and Publications Act has been amended to intensify the efforts to protect children from harmful images within the media, including films, exhibitions, games, the internet and other publications.

The practice of publicly playing “demo” games and DVDs at stores – including games which are played in purpose-made consoles as well as DVD and Blue Ray trailers – amounts to exhibition of the films.

According to the Films and Publications Act:
  • any film – including a game or film trailer – that is publicly demonstrated or played constitutes, for the purpose of Section 26 (1)(a) and (b) of the Act, distribution or exhibition.
  • By virtue of section 26 (1)(f) of the Act, it is an offence to exhibit films including games, to any person contrary to the age restriction imposed by the Film and Publication Board.

 

In other words:
  • It is an offence to exhibit films, including games, to any person contrary to the age restriction imposed by the Film and Publication Board.
  • Only games or films classified as SUITABLE FOR ALL AGES, including those rated “A” and “PG”, may be publicly exhibited by way of trailers or “demos” unless access can be restricted to only people over the stated age restriction.
  • Exhibition of “demo” games classified 10 and above openly at stores is prohibited by the Films and Publications Act and should be discontinued immediately.
  • All games and films must be classified before exhibition, including “demo” platforms or trailers.
  • Displaying consumer advice and age restriction shall not be deemed sufficient to prevent children from accessing classified content.

In this regard we require family and parental participation to be strengthened. Parents have a collective obligation and a non-negotiable responsibility both as parents and as organs of the civil society to educate themselves about the main risks facing children and protect them from harmful material.

No person – especially children – should be inadvertently or unwillingly exposed. By example, if a child walks past a public console or a visible screen, they shall be deemed to have been exposed to the content, even if warnings were present as they could not effectively choose not to watch or hear.

In short, the only real exceptions to the “A” and “PG” rule are separate, access-controlled spaces that are not publicly visible or audible.

Our compliance monitors in all nine provinces regularly inspect and enforce compliance in this regard. All this is done against the harsh reality that the world is not becoming any safer for children. We appeal to our stakeholders especially – distributors of films and parents – to work together with us to protect children by ensuring adherence to the provisions of the law.

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