United Kingdom Legalizes PEGI Ratings

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United Kingdom Legalizes PEGI Ratings

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PEGI will become the sole ratings agency for British videogames.

Regardless of whether videogames can inspire real-world violence, it's fairly unambiguous to state that certain games are not for children. To this end, the United Kingdom has long employed the Pan European Game Information (PEGI) ratings system to inform consumers of a given game's content. On July 30, 2012, PEGI will gain some legal weight in Great Britain, eliminating the secondary British Board of Film Classification rating and making it possible to sanction retailers for selling inappropriate games to minors.

"We very much believe that the sole adoption of PEGI will provide clear and consistent direction on age ratings for parents," says Jo Twist, CEO of the Association for UK Interactive Entertainment (UKIE). "[It] will be a vital tool in helping them to understand the types of games that their children should be playing." Up until now, games depicting graphic sex and/or violence would receive a secondary rating from the BBFC in addition to PEGI's. The decision to give PEGI sole ratings responsibility also means that its ratings will become legally binding: shopkeepers who sell mature games to underage customers could face charges for their noncompliance.

Twist reiterates that Parliament works on its own schedule, and that the July 30 date is "technically still subject to Parliamentary scrutiny and therefore open to possible small delays." The PEGI turnover may not drastically change the way British videogame sales work, as the BBFC rating on mature games was technically legally binding as well. However, it's sure to bring about a new round of "retailer responsibility vs. governmental oversight" questions for the island nation. If nothing else, this development demonstrates that PEGI has proven its worth in the eyes of Parliament, and will hopefully do so for investigative parents and caretakers, too.

Source: MCVUK

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Better PEGI than the euro eh?

Yet they completely ignore the fact that most 'Timmy bought this evil game!' yelling is from parents or friends of parents buying the high rated games for the children. At least it's the gaming classification that's gotten the legal authority, and not a newly created political committee that understands nothing about games.

Wasn't there a huge uproar about America trying to push through a law similar to this a few years back? That one in California?

This looks very similar to me, but maybe I'm just misreading the situation.

This won't really change anything. Retailers (HMV, at least) have given PEGI ratings equal weighting to that of the BBFC for years, regardless of the fact that failure to uphold them wasn't a criminal offense.
There'll be less clutter on British game cases now, what with one less rating logo. That's nice, I suppose.

It's definitely a step in the right direction, good show.

in the end, parents are responsible for their 15 year olds buying r rated games. That is what I think anyway.

WaysideMaze:
Wasn't there a huge uproar about America trying to push through a law similar to this a few years back?

It's a very similar law, but in the UK this isn't new. All that's happening that the BBFC is going to stop rating video games, and PEGI's rating will become the legally enforceable one. The only real difference should be that shop assistants will now be pointing at a different rating logo when asking kids for ID to buy a game.

LordOfInsanity:
Yet they completely ignore the fact that most 'Timmy bought this evil game!' yelling is from parents or friends of parents buying the high rated games for the children.

Yeah, that doesn't happen here often. Don't get me wrong, you hear about it from time to time, but usually the people making the fuss are ignored. See: Keith Vaz. Keeping reactionary idiots out of the public eye is something we do surprisingly well in the UK (most of the time, at least). What's more likely to happen is the parent will simply return the game, then chastise the child for not being honest with them.

I suppose I don't have to worry about this, I'll be turning 18 next year... but I've never really agreed with age ratings. I've played 'inappropriate' games ever since I was 3, and it hasn't ever affected me one bit. If anything they made me more mature.
Seriously, what harm is it going to do for a kid to hear people say bad words a few times in a game? And when's the last time you heard of a kid going clinically depressed after seeing a pair of tits on-screen?

JasonKaotic:
I suppose I don't have to worry about this, I'll be turning 18 next year... but I've never really agreed with age ratings. I've played 'inappropriate' games ever since I was 3, and it hasn't ever affected me one bit. If anything they made me more mature.
Seriously, what harm is it going to do for a kid to hear people say bad words a few times in a game? And when's the last time you heard of a kid going clinically depressed after seeing a pair of tits on-screen?

Look at it this way; they're an insurance policy for the developers and publishers, stores like HMV and GAME, and gamers like you and me when the "somebody think of the children" brigade come running into town with torches and pitchforks.

Also, and I'm sorry to play this card on you, but you may appreciate age ratings a little more if/when you ever become a parent. Not every child is the same; what you may have been able to handle at the age of three, may become the source of a month's worth of bedwetting for another three-year-old.

WaysideMaze:
Wasn't there a huge uproar about America trying to push through a law similar to this a few years back? That one in California?

This looks very similar to me, but maybe I'm just misreading the situation.

this one seems less dickish in nature then the one California tried, this one actually sounds appealing, the other, if i recall, was trying to treat 'Mature games' (the oxymoron of that makes me giggle every time) like porn. which is not the way to go

I think mandatory rating systems are a bad thing. Then again, I also dislike mandatory disabled parking, so I guess I'm an outlier.

Kmadden2004:

JasonKaotic:
I suppose I don't have to worry about this, I'll be turning 18 next year... but I've never really agreed with age ratings. I've played 'inappropriate' games ever since I was 3, and it hasn't ever affected me one bit. If anything they made me more mature.
Seriously, what harm is it going to do for a kid to hear people say bad words a few times in a game? And when's the last time you heard of a kid going clinically depressed after seeing a pair of tits on-screen?

Look at it this way; they're an insurance policy for the developers and publishers, stores like HMV and GAME, and gamers like you and me when the "somebody think of the children" brigade come running into town with torches and pitchforks.

Also, and I'm sorry to play this card on you, but you may appreciate age ratings a little more if/when you ever become a parent. Not every child is the same; what you may have been able to handle at the age of three, may become the source of a month's worth of bedwetting for another three-year-old.

Eh, its not an insurance policy. They'll cry "MY CHILD GOT AN M RATED GAME. NOW HE'S GONNA BE A SERIAL KILLER!" to which we will calmly reply "It's M rated, why did you buy it for him? It's clearly labeled that it isn't suited for your 3yr old." and Mrs. Lovejoy will respond "WELL HOW DID I KNOW M HAD THIS AND THIS IN IT. THE LABELS NEED TO BE AS BIG AS THE BOX AND THEY NEED TO BE HIDDEN BEHIND THE COUNTER AND ANYONE WHO SELLS THIS STUFF RAPES BABIES!"

That's what they do. There's never any logical reasoning with those people. Jesus told them this is bad, thus it is, regardless of what publishers/developers/retailers/etc do to try and get the point across that little Timmy probably shouldn't be playing this game and the parents should be reading the labels. They will make up any excuse, regardless of how stupid it is and how stupid it makes them look, to get this stuff banned and it'll slowly work since stupid people run the world.

For everyone except the fundamentalist christians and negligent parents, this is a no-win situation. All it does is make things harder for the retailer and the non-retarded consumers. The religious right/stupid parents aren't going to be happy until every video game is gone and anyone who ever played one is behind bars and/or burning in Hell.

WaysideMaze:
Wasn't there a huge uproar about America trying to push through a law similar to this a few years back? That one in California?

This looks very similar to me, but maybe I'm just misreading the situation.

Yep. It was a good idea last time and will be a good idea this time. Asking a retail outlet not to sell something because you asked nicely isn't particularly effective. Making it an actual law is.

The important thing about these regulations means that the blame of buying inappropriate games falls entirely on the kids' parents, which is exactly where it should be.

I hope this has some public impact that retailers and publisher aren't doing enough to "protect the children" and parents have to become more responsible

SL33TBL1ND:

WaysideMaze:
Wasn't there a huge uproar about America trying to push through a law similar to this a few years back? That one in California?

This looks very similar to me, but maybe I'm just misreading the situation.

Yep. It was a good idea last time and will be a good idea this time. Asking a retail outlet not to sell something because you asked nicely isn't particularly effective. Making it an actual law is.

The important thing about these regulations means that the blame of buying inappropriate games falls entirely on the kids' parents, which is exactly where it should be.

There was actually a reason it was a bad idea last time. Last time they were trying to make it so that 18 rated games would be treated pretty much like porn, which is crap.

This is good, because all it's doing is going "here you go parents, its your problem". The other one wasn't doing that.

So we give some assholes who think they know whats suitable legal power now? I guess Sieg Heil is in order, well played.

I prefer the little BBFC logos though....

Strazdas:
So we give some assholes who think they know whats suitable legal power now? I guess Sieg Heil is in order, well played.

Its been done with films for decades and I've yet to see fascists marching down the high street thanks to that so applying it to games just makes things equal for both industries.

Sylveria:
Eh, its not an insurance policy. They'll cry "MY CHILD GOT AN M RATED GAME. NOW HE'S GONNA BE A SERIAL KILLER!" to which we will calmly reply "It's M rated, why did you buy it for him? It's clearly labeled that it isn't suited for your 3yr old." and Mrs. Lovejoy will respond "WELL HOW DID I KNOW M HAD THIS AND THIS IN IT. THE LABELS NEED TO BE AS BIG AS THE BOX AND THEY NEED TO BE HIDDEN BEHIND THE COUNTER AND ANYONE WHO SELLS THIS STUFF RAPES BABIES!"

That's what they do. There's never any logical reasoning with those people. Jesus told them this is bad, thus it is, regardless of what publishers/developers/retailers/etc do to try and get the point across that little Timmy probably shouldn't be playing this game and the parents should be reading the labels. They will make up any excuse, regardless of how stupid it is and how stupid it makes them look, to get this stuff banned and it'll slowly work since stupid people run the world.

For everyone except the fundamentalist christians and negligent parents, this is a no-win situation. All it does is make things harder for the retailer and the non-retarded consumers. The religious right/stupid parents aren't going to be happy until every video game is gone and anyone who ever played one is behind bars and/or burning in Hell.

Thankfully in the UK we see the sort of people you're talking about as either entertainment or just ignored because you just don't do that sort of thing. They may get a spot on the local news or on something like Loose Women *spit*, but after a couple of weeks everyone will have forgotten about them. Someone will no doubt remind me of a recent incident, but rarely does anything get banned or anything really serious come from a kid seeing something they shouldn't precisely because the age ratings are legally enforced.

Edit:

JokerboyJordan:
I prefer the little BBFC logos though....

Same, but a separate ratings board is understandable as they should be looked at differently.

This is a good thing. Parents can not watch their children ALL the time. And if the children are pc gamers it's easy to play the wrong games behind their backs (I know because I played doom and duke nukem without my parents knowing. When they found out they were pissed). This helps parents from having their 12 year old play a game like left4dead or splatterhouse.

I'm not a fan of the idea that violent videogames create psychopaths. But little children should not be decapitating people with a chainsaw (for obvious reasons). Even if it is a videogame. Especially with today's graphics. I'm not one of those people who would forbid his kid to play mass effect or dragon age because there is 12 seconds of 'bare' animated ass in it. Or because there is the option of a gay relationship. But they won't be playing the extreme violence games either.

For me it serves a second purpose also. I want my kid to know that he is a kid in my eyes. He will not get whatever he wants no matter what his friends get. This is important for me. I will keep certain things from him (like a cellphone, my kids ain't getting one until they are 15. And I will be damned before they get a friggin' smart phone). Yes he/she will be pissed of but in the end they will thank me for it (like I thank my parents now). All those little shits who got whatever they wanted are deadbeats now.

But I digress, back OT: This is a good thing and I hope they invoke this in my country as well.

What about the ESRB then? The vast majority of games I see here are ESRB rated, not PEGI and I can't think of any BBFC rated ones.

Does this mean that there is now a legal requirement for games released here in the UK to carry a PEGI rating? Does it make it a criminal offence to sell a game to an underage player (because at the moment, AFAIK it's just a "recommendation" rather than a legal obligation)?

To the OP, the UK doesn't "legalize" anything. We "legalise" it, baby.

And I don't want the UK to use the same thing as Germany. They censor their s**t quite a lot. (Also we totally won the war).

JasonKaotic:
I suppose I don't have to worry about this, I'll be turning 18 next year... but I've never really agreed with age ratings. I've played 'inappropriate' games ever since I was 3, and it hasn't ever affected me one bit. If anything they made me more mature.
Seriously, what harm is it going to do for a kid to hear people say bad words a few times in a game? And when's the last time you heard of a kid going clinically depressed after seeing a pair of tits on-screen?

Because small children don't know when it's 'okay' to use the word fuck. A 3 year old won't even know what fuck means. So it's quite strange when you have guests coming over and your little boy/girl walks in saying: 'mommy, daddy, the neighbour boy just fucked me!'

Also, giving a 6 year old a game like god of war is a bad idea for way to many reasons. Kratos likes to rip of peoples heads and use them as flash lights... Yea that's some good story telling for a little kid. And ofcourse there is the mandatory love fest with 2 scarcely clothed girls.

There is a time and place for everything. And 6 years old is not the time to be animating threesomes and mass murder. Call me old fashioned but that's my opinion. It's probably going to be okay when your kid hits puberty. But that is something every parent should decide for themselves. When my kids show 'some maturity' I will let them have more privileges.

Plinglebob:

JokerboyJordan:
I prefer the little BBFC logos though....

Same, but a separate ratings board is understandable as they should be looked at differently.

Except that the PEGI ratings are pretty much meaningless as a guide to a game's content. For example, Silent Hill HD Collection is considered an adults-only game because it's Violent, yet Professor Layton and the Spectre's Call is absolutely fine for seven year olds despite being not only Violent, but also Scary. How does that make sense? Well they don't publish their guidelines, so it's anyone's guess.

I'm sure the former is more violent than the latter, but the labels certainly don't tell me that. Compare the BBFC guidance which tells me that the former contains 'Strong Violence and Horror' and their website which provides not only full guidelines for each category, but extensive reports on why the examiners classified the game in the category they did.

iseko:
This is a good thing. Parents can not watch their children ALL the time. And if the children are pc gamers it's easy to play the wrong games behind their backs (I know because I played doom and duke nukem without my parents knowing. When they found out they were pissed). This helps parents from having their 12 year old play a game like left4dead or splatterhouse.

Its not like we've never had Age ratings before in this country.

The only difference is instead of those games having a little red circle with 18 inside it, it'll be a little red square with 18 inside it. The only major difference between the two systems is that there is no 15 rating its 16.

iseko:
I'm not a fan of the idea that violent videogames create psychopaths. But little children should not be decapitating people with a chainsaw (for obvious reasons). Even if it is a videogame. Especially with today's graphics. I'm not one of those people who would forbid his kid to play mass effect or dragon age because there is 12 seconds of 'bare' animated ass in it. Or because there is the option of a gay relationship. But they won't be playing the extreme violence games either.

For me it serves a second purpose also. I want my kid to know that he is a kid in my eyes. He will not get whatever he wants no matter what his friends get. This is important for me. I will keep certain things from him (like a cellphone, my kids ain't getting one until they are 15. And I will be damned before they get a friggin' smart phone). Yes he/she will be pissed of but in the end they will thank me for it (like I thank my parents now). All those little shits who got whatever they wanted are deadbeats now.

I will agree with you on this however. It nice to see a parent/potenial parent not spout the usual 'but they're very mature for their age' BS. Kudos to you.

Burnhardt:

iseko:
This is a good thing. Snip

Its not like we've never had Age ratings before in this country.

The only difference is instead of those games having a little red circle with 18 inside it, it'll be a little red square with 18 inside it. The only major difference between the two systems is that there is no 15 rating its 16.

iseko:
I'm not a fan of the idea that violent videogames create psychopaths. But little children should not be decapitating people with a chainsaw (for obvious reasons). Snip

I want my kid to know that he is a kid in my eyes. He will not get whatever he wants no matter what his friends get. snip

I will agree with you on this however. It nice to see a parent/potenial parent not spout the usual 'but they're very mature for their age' BS. Kudos to you.

To your first comment: Doesn't this new system forbid the sale of a game rated 16/18 to under age persons? Instead of the old system where it is just a recommendation, but kids can still buy them behind their parents backs. Or is that just a possible future implementation? If I misunderstood then yes, you are are right.

Second comment: thanks :)

KingsGambit:
What about the ESRB then? The vast majority of games I see here are ESRB rated, not PEGI and I can't think of any BBFC rated ones.

Does this mean that there is now a legal requirement for games released here in the UK to carry a PEGI rating? Does it make it a criminal offence to sell a game to an underage player (because at the moment, AFAIK it's just a "recommendation" rather than a legal obligation)?

To the OP, the UK doesn't "legalize" anything. We "legalise" it, baby.

And I don't want the UK to use the same thing as Germany. They censor their s**t quite a lot. (Also we totally won the war).

You sure about that?

ESRB is an American board, having them oversee game classification in the UK would be the same as calling for the MPAA to classify our films too. I don't think I've ever seen an ESRB rating over here.

And there are plenty of games with BBFC ratings; Mass Effect, Dragon Age, GTA, Assassin's Creed, Dead Island, Snipe Elite, and Call of Duty all have BBFC ratings.

And, yeah, basically it now means it's a criminal offense to sell a PEGI-rated 18 game to an underage customer. Though whilst it was merely a recommendation previously, many stores have actually been treating the PEGI ratings as law for a while, so it's not exactly a massive change.

And these UK boards don't necessarily "censor" content the way Germany does. They can refuse classification to a product that they feel goes too far, making it illegal to sell in stores, but that happens very rarely (the last time that happened was with the BBFC over The Human Centipede 2 last year), and often in those times they will actually work with the content's creators to find some kind of compromise that works well for everyone.

The benefits of having PEGI take over from the BBFC is that the former is dedicated solely to games, and will perhaps have a more nuanced perspective on the medium. That being said, the only time I ever had a problem with the BBFC's ratings was when Perfect Dark was released on the N64 (seriously, why was that game an 18?).

WaysideMaze:
Wasn't there a huge uproar about America trying to push through a law similar to this a few years back? That one in California?

This looks very similar to me, but maybe I'm just misreading the situation.

Its identical and the law has been enforce for about a year. Most democratic countries have something similar, only a few activity censor games (Germany and Australia). In much the same way there are law restricting the sale of booze and tobacco. It somewhat puts pay the alarmist claims that Amazon, Steam and Walmart would all stop selling games. All 3 continue to sell games in the UK, Wallmart trough its UK arm ASDA.

The main point of adopting Pegi rather the previous BBFC rating is to save money. The people at BBFC who used to rate games will be out of a job and reduce the cost to the tax payer. The Games industry also gains because they will have one less rating to pay for.

iseko:

To your first comment: Doesn't this new system forbid the sale of a game rated 16/18 to under age persons? Instead of the old system where it is just a recommendation, but kids can still buy them behind their parents backs. Or is that just a possible future implementation? If I misunderstood then yes, you are are right.

It has already been implemented, its already illegal to sell games to the underaged, just like DVDS, Booze and cigarettes. This change is about who rates not if the rating is in force. The change will almost to certainly go through as an order in council and won't effect the law on the ground.

WaysideMaze:
Wasn't there a huge uproar about America trying to push through a law similar to this a few years back? That one in California?

This looks very similar to me, but maybe I'm just misreading the situation.

What's different is in the UK ratings have always had with them a legal obligation Films, video/dvd etc.

Oddly I would have thought that Eliminating the PEGI rating would have been the way to go since the BBFC logos are so familiar and ingrained from Cinema.

dogstile:

SL33TBL1ND:

WaysideMaze:
Wasn't there a huge uproar about America trying to push through a law similar to this a few years back? That one in California?

This looks very similar to me, but maybe I'm just misreading the situation.

Yep. It was a good idea last time and will be a good idea this time. Asking a retail outlet not to sell something because you asked nicely isn't particularly effective. Making it an actual law is.

The important thing about these regulations means that the blame of buying inappropriate games falls entirely on the kids' parents, which is exactly where it should be.

There was actually a reason it was a bad idea last time. Last time they were trying to make it so that 18 rated games would be treated pretty much like porn, which is crap.

This is good, because all it's doing is going "here you go parents, its your problem". The other one wasn't doing that.

Sorry, misinformed then. I'll defer to you.

JasonKaotic:
I suppose I don't have to worry about this, I'll be turning 18 next year... but I've never really agreed with age ratings. I've played 'inappropriate' games ever since I was 3, and it hasn't ever affected me one bit. If anything they made me more mature.
Seriously, what harm is it going to do for a kid to hear people say bad words a few times in a game? And when's the last time you heard of a kid going clinically depressed after seeing a pair of tits on-screen?

I agree that society is fairly arbitrary about which media needs age consent. A 9 year old might not be able to buy American Psycho or Clockwork Orange from a DVD store, but not only could he walk into a book store and buy the substantially more violent novels, but people would commend the kid for his "mature reading list".

Same goes for plays. In a showing of The Fall of Sejanus, I watched as two naked men ass-fucked one another on stage (whilst soliloquising, no less). No guidance, or age ratings or any child restrictions were in place. I could have brought a 3 year old in to see the disemboweling and onanism on display (if I wanted).

I guess as long as its old, established and "cultural", anything goes.

Woo! It's about damn time game ratings were legally enforceable. Now parents have no ground from which to claim videogames are fucking their children up, not like they ever did before, but now we can empirically prove it. This change does make me wonder if a parent buying an -M- rated game for a minor would be held to account in the same way an adult is if they buy cigarettes or alcohol for a minor, I can only hope so.

Wait! politicians understanding the everyday person? Ha! Bunch of high class snobs.

As long as it's the sane PEGI rating and not the completely fucked up German FSK...

JokerboyJordan:
I prefer the little BBFC logos though....

Me too :(

I think they're different too. BBFC has a 15 rating but I think the PEGI equivalent is 16. Oh well, it doesn't matter for me anymore. I don't really agree with it being illegal to sell to people under the age rating but next year it will be completely irrelevant anyway.

Hoplon:

WaysideMaze:
Wasn't there a huge uproar about America trying to push through a law similar to this a few years back? That one in California?

This looks very similar to me, but maybe I'm just misreading the situation.

What's different is in the UK ratings have always had with them a legal obligation Films, video/dvd etc.

Oddly I would have thought that Eliminating the PEGI rating would have been the way to go since the BBFC logos are so familiar and ingrained from Cinema.

This too^^

Especially since the government seem so intent on separating themselves from EU legislation.

iseko:

To your first comment: Doesn't this new system forbid the sale of a game rated 16/18 to under age persons? Instead of the old system where it is just a recommendation, but kids can still buy them behind their parents backs. Or is that just a possible future implementation? If I misunderstood then yes, you are are right.

Pretty sure it was illegal anyway. I can't think of a time when it wasn't...

KingsGambit:
What about the ESRB then? The vast majority of games I see here are ESRB rated, not PEGI and I can't think of any BBFC rated ones.

Are you sure? I've just checked my games and about 90% of them are BBFC rated and barely any are ESRB rated.

ScruffyMcBalls:
Woo! It's about damn time game ratings were legally enforceable. Now parents have no ground from which to claim videogames are fucking their children up, not like they ever did before, but now we can empirically prove it. This change does make me wonder if a parent buying an -M- rated game for a minor would be held to account in the same way an adult is if they buy cigarettes or alcohol for a minor, I can only hope so.

It was legally enforceable before though, and it's rare for parents to make a big deal out of it. If anything it's the tabloids but it never adds up to much.

OT: Don't really understand the headline either. They weren't illegal, just not primarily used.

WaysideMaze:
Wasn't there a huge uproar about America trying to push through a law similar to this a few years back? That one in California?

This looks very similar to me, but maybe I'm just misreading the situation.

The difference being, us Brits aren't into the whole "yee-haw rugged individualism gummint gunna dun terk ma guns!" shtick, on the whole, to anywhere near the same degree as yanks.

Regardless, functionally, there will be no difference, retailers of games were already monitored over this, and staff would already get fired for flogging age-rated games to minors without ID, so about all this will do is cause game retailers to send round an email to store managers telling them to reiterate the age policy to the staff, and perhaps cut down on the amount of stupid-ass questions staff have to deal with from parents who get confused just attempting to purchase a "computer game thingamajigger" let alone when they experience the horror of seeing two very slightly different age rating logos on the box.

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