Playing video games is something that is part of most people's childhood. The first video game I remember playing was Prince of Persia. How old was I? 6 or 7 I guess. Was it appropriate? I thought so. My parents, not knowing any better didn't look too closely every time that poor prince fell into a pit of spikes and exploded in a shower of pixelated blood droplets.
Unless they're gamers themselves, chances are parents these days are either outlawing all games completely or just not looking at what is appropriate for their little gamers.
Too many times has a parent overheard terrible language coming from the living room when they thought the children were "just playing games".
Well, here's the thing, all games come with ratings. And as a parent you should be checking every game your child plays. It's easy to take one look at Grand Theft Auto and realise it's not for kids. At all. In fact, it comes with a PEGI18 rating.
What is a PEGI Rating?
The Pan European Gaming Information (PEGI) is an age-rating system that makes sure that content such as films, videos, DVDs and games are clearly labelled by age according to the content they contain. This provides guidance to parents so they can decide whether it is appropriate for their kids or not. The PEGI rating considers the age suitability of a game, not the level of difficulty.
What are the different PEGI ratings?
The content of games given this rating is considered suitable for all age groups. Some violence in a comical context (typically Bugs Bunny or Tom & Jerry cartoon-like forms of violence) is acceptable. The child should not be able to associate the character on the screen with real-life characters, it should all be fantasy. The game should not contain any sounds or pictures that are likely to scare or frighten young children. No bad language should be heard.
Any game that would normally be rated 3 but contains some possibly frightening scenes or sounds that may still be considered suitable for this category.
Video games that show violence of a slightly more graphic nature towards a fantasy character and/or non-graphic violence towards human-looking characters or recognisable animals, as well as video games that show nudity of a slightly more graphic nature would fall in this age category. Any bad language in this category must be mild and fall short of sexual expletives.
This rating is applied once the depiction of violence or sexual activity reaches a stage that looks the same as would be expected in real life. More extreme bad language, the concept of the use of tobacco and drugs and the depiction of criminal activities can be content of games that are rated 16.
The adult classification is applied when the level of violence reaches a stage where it becomes a depiction of gross violence and/or includes elements of specific types of violence. "Gross violence" is the most difficult to define since it can be very subjective in many cases, but in general terms it can be classed as the depictions of violence that would make the viewer feel a sense of revulsion.
In addition to age restrictions, games are further rated by eight descriptors: violence, bad language, fear, drugs, sexual, discrimination, gambling and online gameplay with other people.
Game contains bad language.
Game contains depictions of, or material which may encourage, discrimination.
Game refers to or depicts the use of drugs.
Game may be frightening or scary for young children.
Games that encourage or teach gambling.
Game depicts nudity and/or sexual behaviour or sexual references.
Game contains depictions of violence.
Game can be played online.