Today's the day! PEGI officially takes over as the legally-enforceable standard of video game ratings and classification here in the UK today.
The rectangles of PEGI have become far more ubiquitous in recent years than the BBFC's circular stamps of age classification in our industry, and today will see the BBFC's 15 rating rise to 16 under PEGI.
The new age ratings are 12, 16, and 18, and selling age rated games to ineligible minors will carry a maximum punishment of up to six months in prison and a £5000 fine.
Announced in a digital report by the Labour government back in back in 2009, it's taken a little while for the row over dual classifications to be ironed out. That report noted that "having a dual classification system and two sets of symbols often made things confusing for the consumer", suggesting that it was "vital" for a move to be made towards a single classification standard.
Under the new system, titles will be rated using the PEGI template by the Games Ratings Authority (GRA) - a division of the Video Standards Council - as follows:
- 12: Games are rated for 12-years and over if they include non-graphic violence to human or animal characters, a slightly higher threshold of violence to fantasy characters or significant nudity or bad language.
- 16: Games are rated 16-years and over if the depiction of violence or sexual activity looks the same as it would do in normal life. Drug and tobacco references also trigger the age limit.
- 18: Games are rated 18-years and over if there is a "gross" level of violence likely to make the viewer feel a sense of revulsion.
The GRA will have the power to ban games - only two (Carmageddon and Manhunt 2) have ever been banned in the UK, that was by the BBFC and they were later overturned - but it's expected that this will happen "very rarely".
In response to today's move, UKIE have relaunched their Ask About Games website,which aims to give parents better information when it comes to making informed decision about buying games for their children.
According to the BBC,Prof. Tanya Byron - the author of the 2008 report which has led to this change - has stressed that parents should take an active interest in their children's gaming habits.
"Video games can be a great educational resource that can also fuel children's creativity," she said.
"It would be great to see parents taking an interest in their children's video game playing. This can involve taking direct control of what games their children play at home, how they play them and for how long, through taking note of the Pegi ratings."