During the recent London Games Conference (LGC) it emerged that PEGI are helping to launch the International Age Ratings System Coalition. This new internationally recognised system will see a singular age ratings system being used across key gaming territories such as the UK, USA, South America, Brazil, Australia and New Zealand. Talks with Japan and south Korea to join are currently underway.
MCV reports that publishers and developers will only have to fill out a single online form answering pre-determined questions, which will then generate an appropriate age rating for the game. Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo are reportedly interested already.
It's worth noting that there's no mention of support from mainland Europe, meaning German gamers could continue to face heavy censorship of violent games. Australians may benefit though, as traditionally they see quite a few games get the ban hammer or heavy editing.
Getting age ratings right is an important part of gaming, but is another change absolutely necessary? Admittedly, some parents (usually the type you'd see in Jeremy Kyle's holding pen) think the existing PEGI system is more of a difficulty rating than a content warning, but let's be honest, many of them just don't care.
PEGI have gone to great lengths to make it simple for parents already, by adding images indicating sexual content, violence, swearing and drug use and have even tried colour-coding the the ratings. Perhaps reverting back to the BBFC (or the local equivalent) logo ratings would be the simplest method to unify games with movies.
The new system sounds an awful lot like it will allow publishers to effectively self-regulate the age ratings, which could allow some instances of more explicit content to slip through. After all, they're not experts at applying ratings like the bods at PEGI or the BBFC. To be honest, we'd really like to get a look at one of these forms they'd be filling in to see how in-depth they go.
What do you think readers? Are you already happy with PEGI? Should we go back to the BBFC? Or is this change needed?