UK legally enforces PEGI video games rating system

From today (July 30th), retailers can be prosecuted should they sell an 18, 16, or even a 12 PEGI rated video game to anyone who is underage. If they do, it can result in a fine of £5,000 and a jail sentence of up to six months. In an effort to protect young children from playing games they shouldn’t be, video games will now drop the BBFC certificate, for they will now be classified by the Pan European Game Information (PEGI).

So what does this mean for you? Well if you’re under 18, or you’re a parent to a child who is under 18 that plays games, you’ll probably be looking at the PEGI rating a lot more closely now.

This move has come about following recommendations raised by Tanya Byron’s report, Safer Children in a Digital World, to make sure that children only play what’s suitable for their age. According to Byron’s report, “having a dual classification system and two sets of symbols often made things confusing for the consumer, especially for parents and children.” It also cited how the current classification systems had not been effective in relation to “consumer awareness, understanding and use of the ratings information.”

On Sky News today, Byron said, “This is about what is appropriate for children to play. I recommended it should be illegal from 12 and under for children to be sold these games.”

The worry is that despite the advanced storylines and mature themes tackled in video games, they are often still seen by some parents as children’s play things. Many will still purchase another instalment of Call of Duty for their children in an effort to keep them quiet.

It’s worth noting that in Byron’s report, she does highlight that better information and support is needed, given the lack of responsibility when it comes to parents buying video games for their children. It stated that, “There is a general misconception that parents don’t need to worry about ‘games’. This is reinforced by a generational divide which means that most parents wont play the game themselves or be aware of the huge developments that there have been in game technology and realism. The information that does exist is generally on websites, which relies on parents seeking it out in the first place.”

To help with this, the website Ask About Games has been relaunched to help parents make informed decisions about the games they buy for their children. As well as detailing the age rating system it also enlightens parents on how video games can be a fun collaborative experience for the whole family.

A tougher stance on preventing children playing inappropriate games is welcome, yet with PEGI now in charge, having a look at the age ratings they’ve given to some of the latest games released this year, a few of which are quite unexpected, is where there might be some contention. For example, a 15-year-old cannot purchase Activision’s latest tie-in of The Amazing Spider-Man for the PS3 or Xbox 360, given that it’s rated 16. Nor can they purchase The Last Story for the Nintendo Wii, which is also rated 16. Should an 11-year-old happen to have an extra amount of pocket money, they cannot take games such as Kingdom Hearts 3D or Kid Icarus: Uprising for the 3DS over to the counter, given that these two games are rated 12.

What do you think on the legislation of the PEGI rating system? Do you think children will always find a way to play what they want? Are you a parent that will give the rating more thought before buying?



  1. Shinikami9969 says:

    Read about this in the paper yesterday, I agree that some games do need to be monitored but what is to stop the parents buying the games and giving them to the kids? Nothing really.. it’s the same with the age protection in shops that sell energy drinks – parents buy the energy drinks and hands them to the kids…
    With video games, I can see where they are coming from, to try and protect the children from the “mindless violence” that is contained in games but violence is everywhere – this ruling came across too late in my mind.
    Children will find a way to play what they want, like how about the demos the stores have? They have to think really carefully what they put in their machines – or they’ll be breaking the law by that… even if it is in store, the kids will be underaged to play most of the games put in there.

    • Matthew Old says:

      Education. Educating parents on the games, their contents and the meanings behind the rating systems is what will stop them buying games and giving them to their kids. Though I also know some parents who know what the content is and are okay with their children being exposed to it if they feel they’re mature enough. The legal backing behind this will help greatly to stop children from simply walking in, picking up a Call of Duty game and walking out.

      I don’t disagree that those determined enough will still find a way and that this is by FAR too late, but for the majority, it’s a big barrier to surmount now and I’m all for it. Even if this stops one impressionable little kid from running around and talking utter nonsense about K/D spreads, 360 no scopes and n00bs, this was TOTALLY worth it.

      On the plus side, imagine the impact this will have to online gaming. The population of 12 year olds shouting at you in your favourite shooter will no longer grow as rampantly as it has. To me, that’s better news than finding a £50 on the floor. All hail the hopefully eventual decline of immature gamers.

  2. Dawn Gamer says:

    Look I play games and stuff, as a gamer I would buy games such as: Call of duty, Killzone shadow fall for kids age 11+ . But some of my friends kids have gta 5 which pisses me of cuz it is a shit game but has a lot of rude stuff in for kids. A get that PEGI is for childs safety and all that, but the other day I bought a game, TMNT, and it said PEGI 12, I asked the guy there why its PEGI 12 and he said its because its got awords and stuff like that but whaen I played it, it was like a PEGI 3 game, so these´people got to make theire choices better because when I was a kid I was a huge fan of TMNT and I still kinda am. So im kinda in the middle so aginst and for.

  3. Anonymous says:

    PEGI can go fuck itself

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