Age Ratings on Online Games: What Parents Need to Know

As you have probably seen in the media recently, our team at Zeeko released results of research we conducted that found that 1 in 3 boys aged 8 are playing over 18’s online games. It’s certainly a scary statistic. In light of these findings here is some useful information on age ratings on games.

Age ratings are present to ensure that the entertainment content is suitable for the age of the person who will be using the product. The age rating is the minimum age that the content is suitable for. Age rating are meant to offer guidance to those purchasing, for example a game.

Since 2012, PEGI has been the sole system used in Europe for new console and PC games. Thousands of games have been PEGI rated since the scheme was introduced in early 2003. It is important to note that in Europe, PEGI 12, 16 and 18 ratings are legally enforceable, meaning that they cannot be supplied to persons below those respective age bars. However, this only applies to the retailer. It doesn’t stop an adult from buying such games for a child. Such rated games may seem harmless on the surface, “it’s only a game”, but don’t be fooled by first impressions. Many games may appear benign, but they can feature isolated moments of strong, gory violence, horror, illegal drug use and even sexual violence on occasion.

Essentially, the PEGI rating on a game confirms that it contains content suitable for a certain age group and above.  For example, an 8 age rated game is suitable for everyone who is 8 years or older, while an 18 rated game is deemed suitable for adults only, because it’s quite possible that there may be content within the game which could potentially be harmful, frightening or worrying to developing children. Next to the age rating there are also pictograms to explain why the rating was awarded. When buying a game for anyone under the age of 18, always look at the age rating to check it is suitable for the intended end-user. Adult games contain adult only content, so you should treat them just like any other 18 rated medium like a film.