Age ratings ensure that entertainment content, such as films, videos, DVDs, and computer and video games, is clearly labelled for the minimum age group for which it is suitable. Age ratings provide guidance to consumers to help them decide whether or not to buy a particular product.
Previously, in the UK, age ratings for computer and video games sold in shops or online retailers for consoles and PCs came under two complementary systems: the voluntary European PEGI system, which stands for Pan-European Games Information, and the mandatory BBFC system, which stands for British Board of Film Classification.
Now, PEGI is the sole system used for new console and PC games. PEGI is used and recognised throughout Europe and is supported by the European Commission. Many thousands of games have been PEGI-rated since the scheme was devised and introduced in early 2003. It is important to note that in the UK, PEGI 12, 16 and 18 ratings are legally enforceable meaning that they cannot be supplied to persons below those respective age bars. The body responsible for applying UK PEGI ratings is the Games Rating Authority (GRA).
Essentially, the PEGI rating on a game confirms that it contains content suitable for a certain age group and above. So, a 7 game is suitable for everyone who is seven or older while an 18-rated game is deemed suitable only for adults. It is not, however, a measure of who will enjoy the game or how difficult that game is.
There are also age ratings systems operating for games played on phones and tablets or played directly over the internet via a PC. These systems broadly operate in similar ways to PEGI but have slightly different age levels and/or content descriptors.
When buying a game for anyone under the age of 18, always look at the age rating to check it is suitable for the intended end-user.
Smartphones and Tablets
With tablets and smart phones becoming ever more powerful it is no surprise that video games are as at home on these multifaceted gadgets as they are on dedicated handheld consoles. Because of this it is important to understand Age Rating systems for iOS, Windows Phone, Android and Blackberry phones as well as the broader PEGI ratings applied to console and handheld games. In addition to our links for Parental Controls on these devices, here is more information about how the different systems work:
- Age ratings on smartphones and tablets.