We asked Andy Robertson, editor of FamilyGamerTV, to explain the PEGI ratings system for us
Video games bring a lot of benefits with them. Alongside entertainment and enjoyment, they enable players to visit other worlds, create ambitious constructions, discover new sports and hobbies and interact with people all over the planet.
However, distinguishing what different games present in terms of benefits or dangers in the family can be a challenge. Unlike films and books, you can’t quickly skim through to assess what your children will be experiencing.
The PEGI ratings are the mandatory way all UK video-games helpfully disclose this information for consumers. Each publisher completes a questionnaire and submits game footage to the Games Rating Authority about its game then determines the age rating it gets.
The PEGI ratings offer a traffic light system of age ratings. Games suitable for over 3s and over 7s are flagged with a green age icon on the box. Games only suitable for those over 12 or 16 are flagged with an orange age icon, and games only suitable for the over 18s have a red age badge.
On the back of the box are another set of icons that depict why the game got a certain age rating. This may be for ‘Language’, ‘Violence’, ‘Drugs’, ‘Fear’ or other reasons. Further information is then available on the PEGI website and Games Rating Authority website.
Websites like Ask About Games make things easier by presenting this information in Quick Guide videos that describe what benefits and dangers the game has, along with footage of game-play depicting the experience. This is a really useful resource for parents who want to investigate game content.
Understanding the PEGI ratings enables you to make informed choices about the games you purchase. This not only avoids unexpected negative aspects of unsuitable games, but helps connect you with games that your family will get the most from.
What the age ratings mean
Read Parent Info's handy guide
Games given this rating are considered suitable for all age groups. They may contain some violence in a comical context or child-friendly setting. There may be nudity if shown in a completely natural and non-sexual manner, such as breast feeding.
Games may contain some possibly frightening scenes or sounds. Games can show violence as long as it's unrealistic and directed towards fantasy characters. There may be some non-realistic violence towards people or violent actions (eg: bombing of cities or non-human targets.)
You could see more graphic and realistic looking violence towards fantasy characters. Violence towards humans mustn't look real unless it's showing trivial injury. Horror, including dread, strong threat and graphic injuries, is allowed.
Sexual innuendo, sexual posturing, references to gambling and some bad language can also be shown, although the latter must be mild.
The game can feature death and injury to humans, including gory and bloody violence if the game is ‘arcade style’ (ie: not too realistic.) Smoking, drinking alcohol, the use of illegal drugs, glamourised representation of crime and strong bad language can be shown.
It can contain erotic nudity and sexual activity, excluding the showing of genitals.
These games can show ‘gross’ violence. This includes graphic methods of death or severe injury, including torture, decapitation and dismemberment, violence against vulnerable characters (including children), sexual violence and threat.
It may also include ‘criminal techniques’, glamourise illegal drug taking and show sexual activity featuring visible genitals.
As well as the age rating, there are content labels, known as ‘descriptors’, to explain why the game was given its rating. These black and white images are displayed on the packaging of the game to indicate the kind of content featured.
The advice published on Parent Info is provided by independent experts in their field and not necessarily the views of Parent Zone or CEOP.
First published: November 2015
Updated: May 2018