The age restrictions for computer games, downloads or consoles are managedby the Games Rating Agency - a division of the Video Standards Council. From July 2012, video games ratings by the Pan-European Games (PEGI) classification
were brought under the remit of the Video Recordings Act 1984.
The Pan-European Games Information (PEGI) classification is used to provide guidance to parents on the suitability of games. These classifications are not linked to any offences for supplying the games below that classification UNLESS the game is also considered a video work and is thus also classified by the BBFC. For information about video classification click here.
The PEGI labels appear on front and back of the packaging indicating one of the following age levels: 3, 7, 12, 16 and 18. They provide a reliable indication of the suitability of the game content in terms of protection of minors. The age rating does not take into account the difficulty level or skills required to play a game.
The Video Standards Council have produced a guide for retailers on the age restrictions.
The content of games given this rating is considered suitable for all age groups. Some violence in a comical context (typically Bugs Bunny or Tom & Jerry cartoon-like forms of violence) is acceptable. The child should not be able to associate the character on the screen with real life characters, they should be totally fantasy. The game should not contain any sounds or pictures that are likely to scare or frighten young children. No bad language should be heard.
Any game that would normally be rated at 3 but contains some possibly frightening scenes or sounds may be considered suitable in this category.
Videogames that show violence of a slightly more graphic nature towards fantasy character and/or non graphic violence towards human-looking characters or recognisable animals, as well as videogames that show nudity of a slightly more graphic nature would fall in this age category. Any bad language in this category must be mild and fall short of sexual expletives.
This rating is applied once the depiction of violence (or sexual activity) reaches a stage that looks the same as would be expected in real life. More extreme bad language, the concept of the use of tobacco and drugs and the depiction of criminal activities can be content of games that are rated 16.
The adult classification is applied when the level of violence reaches a stage where it becomes a depiction of gross violence and/or includes elements of specific types of violence. Gross violence is the most difficult to define since it can be very subjective in many cases, but in general terms it can be classed as the depictions of violence that would make the viewer feel a sense of revulsion.
Descriptors shown on the back of the packaging indicate the main reasons why a game has received a particular age rating. There are eight such descriptors: violence, bad language, fear, drugs, sexual, discrimination, gambling and online gameplay with other people.
Games that contain Bad Language
Game contains depictions of, or material which may encourage, discrimination
Game refers to or depicts the use of drugs
Game may be frightening or scary for young children
Games that encourage or teach gambling
Game depicts nudity and/or sexual behaviour or sexual references
Game contains depictions of violence
Game can be played online
For information about games ratings in the United States, visit the Entertainment Software Ratings Board.
PEGI Symbols © Interactive Software Federation of Europe and reproduced with kind permission.