Legally enforceable unified age ratings applied to all video games in the UK from 30th July 2012
PEGI has today become the single video games age ratings system, under which it is illegal for a retailer to sell a video game with a PEGI age rating of 12, 16 or 18 to someone below that age. Up until today, the UK had two age ratings systems for video games, BBFC and PEGI, but from now on, PEGI (which stands for Pan-European Game Information) will become the single age rating system for all video games in the UK. The change is aimed at helping consumers, and especially parents, to make informed decisions about which video games to choose for their families, by clearly giving the suggested minimum age that you must be to play a game due to the suitability of its content.
These changes have been introduced by the Government as part of its commitment to better protect children from exposure to inappropriate video game content. Tanya Byron’s “Safer Children in a Digital World” and Reg Bailey’s “Letting Children be Children” reviews for Government have been instrumental in identifying ways in which industry, Government and retailers can work together to ensure children only access material that is suitable for their age.
The announcement comes as Ukie (The Association of UK Interactive Entertainment) reveals results of a poll of over 1,000 parents of children under 18, highlighting that:
- Nearly all parents (92%) recognise the benefits that playing video games can have on their children, including educational benefits (58%), that they allow children to be creative (53%) and that they provide entertainment (77%).
- Other benefits cited include increased co-ordination, strategic thinking and team-work.
- Parents would benefit from guidance on which video games are suitable for their families. Over 1 in 3 parents (34%) admit to having given in and bought a video game that was unsuitable for their child, with 86% saying that the new PEGI system is required and almost a third already believing the PEGI ratings will help them choose which games are suitable for their children.
- The survey also found that over a quarter of parents (26%) never play video games with their children, with mums and dads both equally unlikely to join in with the potential for family fun.
Professor Tanya Byron, consultant clinical psychologist, independent government advisor on children, young people and digital media, as well as mother of two, said of the findings: “It’s great to see that parents recognise that playing video games can form a positive part of their children’s activities. Video games can be a great educational resource that can also fuel children’s creativity. It would be great to see parents taking an interest in their children’s video game playing. This can involve taking direct control of what games their children play at home, how they play them and for how long through taking note of the PEGI ratings, as well as using parental controls which are in-built on all modern video games consoles. What’s more, it would be great to see more parents joining in the fun of playing video games together as a family.”
To mark the change in legislation, Ukie has launched the Control.Collaborate.Create. campaign, which includes the re-launch of the www.askaboutgames.com website, a resource for parents and the industry providing further information about video games ratings. It also offers real family stories and suggestions on how video games can be a creative and collaborative experience for all the family.
Dr Jo Twist, CEO of Ukie, added: “As we mark the start of PEGI as the single video game age rating system, we’re delighted to use the opportunity to help parents to make informed decisions about which video games to choose for their family. A key way we’re doing this is through the re-launch of www.askaboutgames.com. We’d urge parents to use this really helpful tool to ensure that playing video games has the biggest positive impact on their children and family as a whole.
“We very much believe that the sole adoption of PEGI will provide clear and consistent direction on age ratings for parents and will be a vital tool in helping them to understand the types of games that their children should be playing.”
As part of the campaign, a video for parents has been created, presented by TV and radio presenter, and mother of four, Jo Whiley. The video features information about the PEGI rating system and what the ratings mean. It aims to help empower parents to take direct control over what games their children play at home and how long they play them for, through checking the PEGI rating and making use of controls on video games systems.
Jo Whiley says: “My family and I love playing video games together, but as a parent I know it can sometimes be hard to know the best games to choose. That’s why I’m pleased to be supporting the Control.Collaborate.Create. campaign. This campaign, and the implementation of PEGI as the single age rating system for video games in the UK, will make it easier than ever for parents to make the best video games choices for their whole family.”
Today also marks the start of the role of the Games Ratings Authority (GRA) as the operating name of The Video Standards Council. The GRA will be responsible for rating games to PEGI’s specifications and the VSC will use this name in dealing with all matters concerning the age rating of video games.
Laurie Hall, Director-General of the VSC says: “Although the VSC has been rating games using the PEGI system since 2003, our role as the UK statutory video games regulator provides a new and challenging dimension to our work which, as always, places child-protection and parental information at the forefront of what we do. We look forward to our new role with relish using a proven games ratings information system.”
Retailers also welcomed the announcement of the implementation of PEGI as the single video game age rating system today:
Kim Bayley, Director General of the Entertainment Retailers Association, said: "Entertainment retailers are well used to administering ratings schemes, having worked for many years with the Video Standards Council on age rated video and games products. We are delighted that the new PEGI games ratings regime has come into effect today.
"Retailers have worked hard with their suppliers to ensure a successful introduction of the new system, which we believe will provide greater clarity for consumers and in particular reassurance to parents that the games their children play are appropriate to their age."
Anna-Marie Mason, Marketing Director at GAME Retail Ltd added: "GAME and gamestation apply rigorous training and audit standards to make sure that PEGI is understood by colleagues and customers alike. The framework is very clear and ensures that we guide customers correctly and responsibly. We're hugely supportive of PEGI in this new era."
For more information about the PEGI ratings and the benefits of gaming, visit www.askaboutgames.com, www.pegi.info and http://www.videostandards.org.uk/GRA