Why new PEGI age guidance is a good thing for videogames
How the latest PEGI rating system might just be the tonic the gaming industry needs to start being taken seriously.
Michael Plant is chief editor and writer of gaming ezine and blog GamesCatalyst.com, as well as editor of 'The Independent'’s games review printed in the Saturday supplement 'Information'. Established in February 2011, Games Catalyst endeavours to bring its unique brand of fact and satire to the videogaming community and, in tandem with 'The Independent', hopefully turn a few non-believers on to gaming while we’re at it.
Thursday 02 August 2012
In the last few days of July the PEGI rating system for videogames passed into law. That means that selling a game that bears a PEGI age rating of 12 or over to anyone younger than that is now a crime, punishable by a fine of £5000 and up to six years in prison. It also means that the BBFC ratings, those familiar circular icons that appear on films as well, will disappear from our box art.
This is a move that’s been far too long in coming, and one that will hopefully act as a final nail in the coffin to the confusion surrounding videogame content and its suitability for younger children. It is not censorship, rather it’s common sense, and it’s rare that we get to celebrate feats of common sense in this industry.
The PEGI system enables a parent or a guardian to make an informed choice about the games their children get to play, and it also gives retailers a stronger reason to refuse to sell products to people who aren’t mature enough to deal with the content they contain. But at the same time a stronger enforcement means a stronger defence when games come under fire.
In other words, there’s now recourse when a child is found playing something unsuitable, there’s a way to make sure that everyone involved in the purchase chain understands the consequence of providing a minor with a game they’re not ready for.
For too long some parents have equated the age ratings on games with the challenge level that they present. The ‘My Johnny’s playing this and it’s meant for much older people’ effect. The use of the BBFC symbols was supposed to act as a counter to that, but it largely failed, mainly down to a lack of enforcement on both sides of the counter.
With the new PEGI guidance that’s all set to change, but this is a move that’s not just about legal ramifications. Responsibility is going to have to play a large part in creating and sustaining a workable model of videogame distribution. Responsibility on the part of the retailer to make sure they challenge and question where necessary, and responsibility on the part of the parent or guardian to make sure they stay informed.
The danger with rating systems is they can deflect that responsibility, passing the buck from parent to retailer and back again. That’s why we need to encourage a system that doesn’t just point the finger when something goes wrong, but engages with both sides of the debate, creating a dialogue that others can learn from.
Videogames aren’t just for children any more, and never really have been (as any gamer will tell you). The PEGI decision will hopefully be the first step in a long journey towards the mainstream accepting that.
Yes, there are games that are designed for younger players, but this is a multi-billion selling industry with experiences aimed at everyone from your pet cat to pensioners, and we need a system that understands that.
More than that though, we need a system that encourages people to stay informed, and hopefully that’s something PEGI can do.
Life & Style blogs
Revolutionary genetic drug trial will herald 'new era' in the fight against cancer
Peak District National Park celebrates 63rd birthday (and its stunning views) with a Google Doodle
Babies cry at night to stop mothers procreating, scientists claim
Naked yoga: the bare truth - it's already big in the US, and has now landed here
Kim Jong-un's haircut: The Independent heads to Ealing to try out the dictator's do
The food poverty scandal that shames Britain: Nearly 1m people rely on handouts to eat – and benefit reforms may be to blame
US Navy christens huge $3 billion destroyer ship USS Zumwalt that appears as a fishing boat on enemy radar
Scottish independence: It is the English who should be on their knees, begging the Scots to vote ‘No’
Nigel Farage fatigue? Half of voters ‘immune’ to Ukip’s appeal
Nigel Farage on Have I Got News For You: Ukip leader ridiculed over expenses and party 'fruitcakes'
Nigel Farage: I’m taking on the status quo, and the Establishment’s fighting back
- 1 Poveglia: 'World's most haunted island' up for sale...is anyone brave enough to buy it?
- 2 Big Bang Theory to get special Star Wars episode with help from Lucasfilm
- 3 Babies cry at night to stop mothers procreating, scientists claim
- 4 Pharrell Williams 'Happy': British Muslims dance to song in video
- 5 24 people applied for the 'world's toughest job', here are their interviews
iJobs Gadgets & Tech
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...
£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We provide business administration softw...