This piece originally featured in issue 5 of Digital Parenting magazine.
Just like films and DVDs, many games have age ratings – and you can use parental controls to make sure your kids only play age-appropriate games. Gianni Zamo from the Games Rating Authority explains why ratings matter.
Is there any point to ratings?
It has been suggested that video game ratings – and also film and DVD ratings, come to that – are pretty pointless. The argument goes that, these days, most of us (including young people and children) can access virtually anything, anywhere, anytime thanks to the internet, and without any serious repercussions. While this may be true to a certain extent, the problem is that, while we welcome the freedom the internet offers us, that freedom brings with it a certain amount of responsibility – particularly for content providers. This is where organisations such as the Games Rating Authority (GRA) and ratings systems such as the Pan European Game Information (PEGI) can be used to help parents and kids make safe, informed choices.
What is the PEGI rating system?
In the UK, all physical games are regulated by the GRA, which uses the PEGI rating system to ensure they’re suitable for the specified age group. While PEGI 3 and 7 ratings are not legally binding, PEGI 12, 16 and 18 are. It’s illegal to sell a game to someone younger than the specified age. Anyone who does so can be prosecuted. The GRA also has active input into the International Age Rating Coalition (IARC), an organisation incorporating worldwide regulators to oversee online content such as apps and games. This enables online stores, such as Google Play and Microsoft, to display recognised PEGI ratings.
What is ACI?
The GRA strongly believes in providing as much information as possible, so as well as the PEGI rating and content descriptor, it also provides Additional Consumer Information (ACI) – a detailed breakdown of why an online game has the rating it does by describing the degree to which content issues such as violence, sex and bad language appear. This information is readily available via the GRA’s website
So do games ratings really matter, then?
Through the PEGI system, the GRA is committed to providing independent, clear information. In a world of modern and often complex entertainment media and systems, games ratings DO matter. Not only do they remove a lot of the guesswork and uncertainty involved in choosing the appropriate game, they also ensure the widest range of games are available for all to play safely without the risk of something frightening, worrying or unpleasant suddenly appearing on screen.
This article was originally written in partnership with Parent Zone