Press release

Parents to be helped by better video game age-rating system

A simpler and stronger age-rating system for video games will soon be law after proposals were today laid in Parliament

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The new system will stop inappropriate video games being sold direct to young children while providing industry with a simpler system for having games age rated.

Currently in the UK all games are regulated under the Europe-wide PEGI scheme while some additionally have to be rated by the British Board of Film Classification. The new law will end the dual system.

Today the Government began the Parliamentary process to have all games in the UK age-rated by the Video Standards Council (VSC) under the Europe-wide PEGI system.

The PEGI system is specifically designed for video games and the age rating on the packaging will be accompanied by information about the type of content that led to the rating.

The VSC will have the power to refuse to grant an age-rating for a video game if it includes extreme content, meaning it would not be allowed to be sold in the UK.

The Government is making the age-12 rating legally enforceable for the first time, which means anyone selling an age-12 game to someone under that age could be jailed.

Creative Industries Minister Ed Vaizey said:

“The new system will benefit both parents and industry by creating a stronger, simpler age-rating system.

“It will give parents greater confidence that their children can only get suitable games while we are creating a simpler system for industry having their games age-rated.”

Jo Twist, CEO of games and interactive entertainment trade body Ukie, said:

“We are pleased to hear that the PEGI regulations are another step closer to becoming the UK’s sole age rating system for video games, giving much needed clarity for consumers.

“We are also in the planning stages of a major awareness campaign to help the public understand the system and other aspects of responsible gaming as soon as PEGI become law in the UK.”

VSC Chair Baroness Shephard said:

“This news is very welcome and finally gives us the mandate to undertake the role of statutory video games regulator in the UK.  The VSC is fully prepared and ready to carry out the vital role of providing consumers with a single, straightforward games rating system whilst ensuring that child-safety remains our first priority.”

Notes to Editors

1. The Parliamentary process of designating the Video Standards Council and enacting the Video Recordings (Labelling) Regulations 2012 is currently expected to be completed in time for the new system to come into effect in July.

2. The maximum punishment for selling a non-exempt video game to someone who does not meet the age classification is up to six months in prison and a fine of up to £5,000.  Supplying a non-exempt game without an age-rating will be punishable by up to two years in prison and an unlimited fine.

3. Parliament passed legislation to introduce a single age-rating system for video games in the Digital Economy Act 2010.

4. Currently most video games sold in the UK are age rated under the Europe-wide PEGI system.  Under UK law any game with certain content, such as gross violence or human sexual material, must be classified by the British Board of Film Classification.  In future all video games will be rated under the PEGI system by the Video Standards Council unless they contain explicit sexual content that warrants a R18 rating.  In such circumstances the BBFC would classify the game.  Until the Parliamentary process is completed, any video game featuring adult content will still need to age-rated by the British Board of Film Classification.

5. Further information on PEGI (Pan European Game Information).

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Published 10 May 2012