It has been suggested that video game ratings – and also film and DVD ratings, come to that – are pretty pointless. The argument goes that, these days, most of us (including young people and children) can access virtually anything, anywhere, anytime, courtesy of the internet, and without official hindrance.
While this may be true to a certain extent, the problem is that, while we welcome the freedom the internet offers us, that freedom brings with it
a certain amount of responsibility – particularly for content providers.
This is where organisations such as the Games Rating Authority (GRA) and ratings systems such as the Pan European Game Information (PEGI) can be used to help parents and young people make informed choices.
In the UK, all physical games are regulated by the GRA, which uses the PEGI rating system to ensure that they are suitable for the specified age group.
While PEGI 3 and 7 ratings are not legally binding, PEGI 12, 16 and 18 are. It’s illegal to sell a game to someone younger than the specified age. Anyone who does so can be prosecuted.
The GRA also has active input into the International Age Rating Coalition (IARC), an organisation incorporating worldwide regulators to oversee online content such as apps and games. This enables online stores such as Google Play and Microsoft to display recognised PEGI ratings.
The GRA strongly believes in providing as much information as possible, so as well as the PEGI rating and content descriptor, it also provides Additional Consumer Information (ACI) – a detailed breakdown of why a game has the rating it does by describing the degree to which content issues such as violence, sex and bad language appear. This information is readily available via the GRA’s website: gamesratingauthority.org.
Through the PEGI system, the GRA is committed to providing independent, clear information, which is why we’ve launched a campaign to get schools to join us in providing appropriate knowledge and information to parents and children alike.
In a world of modern and often complex entertainment media and systems, games ratings DO matter. Not only do they remove a lot of the guesswork and uncertainty involved in choosing the appropriate game, but they also ensure that the widest range of games are available for all to play safely without the risk of something frightening, worrying or unpleasant suddenly appearing on screen.
We hope you agree, and if you require further information about video game ratings then contact us at videostandards.org.uk.