For years games in the UK have been using the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) ratings to specify what games are appropriate for what ages, but because the BBC ratings are more for films the age restrictions weren’t really taken that seriously and only really had laws for 15 and 18 rated games.
The Pan European Game Information (PEGI) game rating system has been in force across the pond in Europe for a while now and as of Monday (3oth) it’s now been adopted by the UK and along with that comes stricter laws for retailers. Any game retailer that sells an under aged person a game with a PEGI rating can face prosecution and may face hefty fines and prison sentences for up to six years.
The Video Standards Council will be applying either 3, 7, 12, 16, or 18 age restrictions based on PEGIs different criteria such as violence, sexual content, and drug use.
The only down side to this decision is that the Games Rating Authority – a department of the Video Standards Council – has the ability to ban certain games if they’re considered too violent or show too much drug use for example.
My hope with all of this is that this actually stops retailers selling 18 rated games to the 12 year olds we often come across screaming profanities down the mic while we’re trying to play Call of Duty. I must also note that according to Dr Richard Wilson, chief executive of the TIGA states that the PEGI rating and the laws that come with it don’t apply to online stores and digital game downloads “As both of these methods typically require a credit or debit card, parents can ensure their children play age appropriate games.” Hmm… I remember having my own debit card when I was about 14 and my statements were never looked at so I can’t see how that applies to everyone..