A year and a half ago I wrote a blog post called What Parents Need To Know About Videogames. If you’ve not read it and aren’t up to speed with the world of gaming, much of it is still relevant so you should probably have a look.
Yesterday though saw a big change in the ratings system for videogames. Up until 30 July, we had a dual classification system in place, BBFC and the voluntary pan European PEGI system. From yesterday onwards, we just have PEGI and it’s enshrined in law now. If a retailer sells an age restricted game to an underage person, they can face a £5,000 fine and potentially 6 years in prison.
|there are addition logos that show
various themes in age restricted game
In reality though, if a kid wants to play an unsuitable game they’ll often dupe their parents into queuing up and buying it for them. Whilst some more discerning retailers might quibble who the game is being purchased for, I know from friends in retail experience, this can often result in a torrent of abuse, and more often than not, the bottom line is the driving concern on the high street nowadays.
PEGI has several different age ratings, the important ones are:
Games are rated for 12-years and over if they include non-graphic violence to human or animal characters, a slightly higher threshold of violence to fantasy characters or significant nudity or bad language.
Games are rated 16-years and over if the depiction of violence or sexual activity looks the same as it would do in normal life. Drug and tobacco references also trigger the age limit.
Games are rated 18-years and over if there is a “gross” level of violence likely to make the viewer feel a sense of revulsion.
You can read about it on the Ask About Games website.
It’s well worth looking at the context icons on the box to see why the game has a particular rating. These include, racism, drug use, gambling, violence, sexual content and bad language. It’s not surprising that there are a lot of adult themes in games, after all, survey after survey shows that the majority of gamers are over 25 years old.
I’m all in favour of freedom of choice but I still think parents need to be aware of what games may contain. Otherwise you might buy your kid a game containing latex bondage assassin nuns, and we wouldn’t want that would we?