The UK is expected to introduce new legislation this summer requiring that all video games sold in the UK be age-rated by the Video Standards Council under the PEGI system (except in circumstances where the British Board of Film Classification system must be used). The Pan European Game Information (PEGI) is an age rating system used throughout Europe which provides an indication of the suitability of the content of the game for different age groups.
The new legislation will make the age 12 rating legally enforceable for the first time. A retailer who sells an age restricted video game to someone who does not meet the particular age classification will risk facing a substantial fine (up to £5,000 stg) and up to six months in prison.
There are currently two systems of video game classification in the UK. Video games containing certain explicit or violent content must by law be rated by the British Board of Film Classification. Other video games are subject to voluntary classification by industry using the PEGI system. The new system will strengthen and enhance the classification system and will make classification of all video games mandatory.
Video game classification in Ireland follows a similar system. Games are rated using the PEGI system , unless the game in question contains content prohibited by the Video Games Act 1989, in which case it must be classified by the Irish Film Classification Office. A simplification of this system along the lines adopted in the UK would certainly be welcome.
Contributed by Brian McElligott