Pan European Game Information
|Formation||April 9, 2003|
|Purpose||Video game classification|
|Europe, Canada (Quebec only), Israel|
|Interactive Software Federation of Europe|
Pan European Game Information (PEGI) is a European video game content rating system established to help European consumers make informed decisions on buying computer games with logos on games' boxes. It was developed by the Interactive Software Federation of Europe (ISFE) and came into use in April 2003; it replaced many national age rating systems with a single European system. The PEGI system is now used in more than thirty countries and is based on a code of conduct, a set of rules to which every publisher using the PEGI system is contractually committed. PEGI self-regulation is composed by five age categories and eight content descriptors that advise the suitability and content of a game for a certain age range based on the games content. The age rating is not intended to indicate the difficulty of the game or the skill required to play it.
PEGI has five age categories.
- 3: Suitable for all ages. May contain very mild violence in an appropriate context for younger children, but neither bad language nor frightening content is allowed.
- 7: Suitable for ages 7 and older. Medium Advisory Category. May contain mild or unrealistic violence (e.g. violence in a cartoon context), or elements that can be frightening to younger children.
- 12: Suitable for ages 12 and older. Low Advisory category. May contain violence in either a fantasy context or a sporting action, profanity, mild sexual references or innuendo, or gambling.
- 16: Suitable for ages 16 and older. Minimal Advisory category. May contain explicit or realistic-looking violence, strong language, sexual references or content, gambling, or encouragement of drug use.
- 18: Unsuitable for persons under 18. Normal Restricted category. May contain extreme or graphic violence, including "violence towards defenceless people" and "multiple, motiveless killing", strong language, strong sexual content, gambling, drug glamorisation, or discrimination ("stereotyping likely to cause hatred").
The current design was introduced at the end of 2009. Black and white icons were used until June 2009, when the colour-coded PEGI icons were announced, with green for 3 and 7, amber for 12 and 16 and red for 18. Plus signs were removed from the icons, and the background text changed from 'ISFE' from the old, black-and-white icons to 'PEGI' from the new, colour-coded PEGI icons. That design was slightly altered at the end of 2009, by removing the watermark and locking the URL bar underneath the age rating icon. Reprinted games from 2009 or before still mostly display the old designs.
In Portugal, two of the PEGI categories were aligned with the age ratings of the film classification system to avoid confusion; 3 was changed to 4 and 7 was changed to 6. Finland also used a modified scale, where 12 became 11 and 16 became 15. Finland fully adopted PEGI on 1 January 2007, and the standard ratings were fully enforced as well.
The eight content descriptors are:
|Icon||Content descriptor||Explanation||Corresponding age ratings|
|Violence||May contain scenes of people getting injured or dying, often by use of weapons, whether realistically or in a fantastical or cartoonish manner. May also contain gore and blood-letting.|
|Bad Language||May contain profanity, sexual innuendo, threats, and all manner of slurs, insults, and epithets. May influence or encorage to children.|
|Fear / Horror||May contain scenes and plot elements too disturbing, overly suspenseful or frightening to younger/sensitive players.|
|Sex||May contain references to and scenes of sexual attraction or sexual intercourse. May also contain nudity (sexualized and otherwise) and characters dressed in suggestive clothing.|
|Drugs||May contain references to illegal drugs or a fictional substance that has parallels to real-life illegal drugs (in use, possession, or sale), may influence or encourage on children.|
|Gambling||May contain elements that encourage or teach gambling.|
|Discrimination||May contain scenes, behavior, or references to cruelty or harassment to a group of specific people such as race, religion, ethnicity, gender, ability, or sexual preferences.|
|Online||it is for all age ranges|
Video games rated PEGI 12, 16 or 18 may contain content that encourages or teaches gambling. In practice, only a small portion of video games contain gambling elements. If a game would offer the option to gamble for real money, it would be subject to specific gambling legislation in every country where it is released. As of now,[when?] none of the video games using the Gambling content descriptor contain gambling for real money.
As of December 2015, PEGI has rated more than 25,300 games. 42.2% of these games were rated 3, 15.8% rated 7, 22.3% rated 12, 12.7% rated 16 and only 7% were rated 18.
Of all the games that were rated in 2015 (1855 games in total):
- 64.7% (1201) have the Violence content descriptor.
- 25.4% (472) have the Online content descriptor.
- 18.4% (341) have the Bad Language content descriptor.
- 7.7% (142) have the Fear content descriptor.
- 4.7% (88) have the Sex content descriptor.
- 1.4% (26) have the Gambling content descriptor.
- 1.2% (23) have the Drugs content descriptor.
- No games have the Discrimination content descriptor.
PEGI and the European Union
A consumer survey commissioned by ISFE in 2012 demonstrated that the PEGI age rating labels are recognised on average by 51% of respondents in 16 different countries (highest: France - 72%; lowest: Czech Republic - 28%), while 86% of all respondents found them to be clear and 89% found them useful.
PEGI is an example of a European harmonisation. The European Commission supports the PEGI self-regulation: "PEGI appears to have achieved good results and PEGI On-line is also a promising initiative, making of PEGI a good example of self-regulation in line with the better regulation agenda." Moreover, the European Parliament in its last report on protection of consumers "takes the view that the PEGI system for rating games is an important tool which has improved transparency for consumers, especially parents, when buying games by enabling them to make a considered choice as to whether a game is suitable for children."
Rating process and boards
To obtain the ratings for any piece of software, the applicant submits the game with other supporting materials and completes a content declaration, all of which is evaluated by an independent administrator called the Netherlands Institute for the Classification of Audiovisual Media (NICAM). It is based on the Dutch Kijkwijzer system as well. Following the evaluation the applicant will receive a license to use the rating logos. If the applicant disagrees with the rating, they can ask for an explanation or make a complaint to the complaints board. Consumers may also make complaints to this board.
Although PEGI was established by an industry body (ISFE) the ratings are given by a body independent of the industry and the whole system is overseen by a number of different Boards and Committees. There is the PEGI Council, composed mainly by national representatives for PEGI, that recommends adjustments to the code in light of social, legal and technological developments. Members of the PEGI Council are recruited for their skill and experience from among parent/consumer body representatives, child psychologists, media specialists, civil servants, academics and legal advisers versed in the protection of minors in Europe.
There is also a Complaints Board with experts from various European countries. They deal with complaints related to breaches of requirements of the code of conduct or to age rating recommendations. Should a complaint be received from a consumer or publisher regarding a rating given to a game and no satisfactory settlement can be reached by the PEGI administrator through discussion, explanation or negotiation the complainant may formally request the Complaints Board to mediate. Three board members will then convene, hear the complaint and decide on a ruling. Publishers using the PEGI system are bound by the decision of the Complaints Board. Consequently, they are obliged to carry out any corrective actions required and, in cases of non-compliance, are subject to sanctions as laid out by the code.
In 2013, PEGI introduced the International Age Rating Coalition at the 2013 London Games Conference. IARC is a cooperation of rating boards on all continents and it aims to streamline the rating of digitally distributed games by providing a single online system that produces age ratings for all participating regions. By filling out one questionnaire, a publisher instantaneously receives ratings from PEGI, USK, ESRB, ACB and others.
There are three committees; a criteria committee, a legal committee and an enforcement committee.
- Criteria Committee: The Criteria Committee is made up of representatives from ISFE, NICAM, VSC and the industry. It works on adapting and modifying the PEGI questionnaire and the underlying criteria to take account of technological and content developments and recommendations made by the Advisory Board or circumstances brought to light by the complaints procedure.
- Legal Committee: Since PEGI is a voluntary system it runs in conjunction with, and is subordinate to, existing national laws, whether they prohibit certain content or establish mandatory rating systems. The Legal Committee's role is to advise ISFE of any changes to national legislation within participating countries that could affect the voluntary age rating system.
- Enforcement Committee: The Enforcement Committee is charged with implementing the recommendations of the Advisory Board and, more generally, of ensuring the enforcement of the provisions of the PEGI Code of Conduct, including conclusion of the Complaints Board. The Enforcement Committee is made up of ten members, five of which are publishers, and five of which are chosen from the PEGI Council.
In 2007, the PEGI Online division of PEGI was formed as an addition to the PEGI system for online games. Goals include giving young people in Europe improved protection against unsuitable online gaming content and educating parents on how to ensure safe online play. This project is supported directly by the European Commission:
PEGI On-line, which was launched in June 2007 and co-funded by the Safer Internet Programme, is the logical development of the PEGI system, designed to better protect young people against unsuitable gaming content and to help parents to understand the risks and potential for harm within this environment.
PEGI Online is based on four principles:
- the PEGI Online Safety Code and Framework Contract which is signed by all participants
- the PEGI Online Logo which will be displayed by holders of a licence
- the web site for applicants and for the general public
- an independent administration, advice, and dispute settlement process
The licence to display the PEGI Online Logo is granted by the PEGI Online Administrator to any online gameplay service provider that meets the requirements set out in the PEGI Online Safety Code (POSC).
PEGI is the standard age rating system for video games in 39 European countries, but products with PEGI labels can be found across the globe alongside other rating systems as a result of import for linguistic reasons (e.g.: English versions in South Africa, Spanish or Portuguese versions in Latin America, French versions in Quebec). The official status of PEGI ratings varies from country to country, depending on the way national legislation deals with age classification and the protection of minors. In some countries, PEGI is the de facto standard without specific regulation, other countries have officially acknowledged PEGI as the sole system for age ratings, while yet another number of countries have incorporated the PEGI rating system into laws governing the age classification of media, making the labels enforceable in retail.
|Albania||De facto use of the PEGI labels, no specific legislative basis or official support.|
|Austria||PEGI is legally adopted and enforceable in the regions of Vienna and Kärnten. In the latter region, USK labels are also allowed. Represented in the PEGI Council|
|Belgium||Officially supports PEGI, but there is no specific legislative basis.|
|Bosnia/Herzegovina||De facto use of the PEGI labels, no specific legislative basis or official support.|
|Bulgaria||Officially supports PEGI and is represented in the PEGI Council, but there is no specific legislative basis.|
|Croatia||De facto use of the PEGI labels, no specific legislative basis or official support.|
|Cyprus||Officially supports PEGI, but there is no specific legislative basis.|
|Czech Republic||Officially supports PEGI, but there is no specific legislative basis.|
|Denmark||Officially supports PEGI and is represented in the PEGI Council, but there is no specific legislative basis.|
|Estonia||Officially supports PEGI and is represented in the PEGI Council, but there is no specific legislative basis.|
|Finland||In Finland, games with PEGI ratings are exempt from mandatory classification with national age symbols. Both classifications are enforced by the penal code. Represented in the PEGI Council.||KAVI|
|France||France is adopting legislation to make classification of video games with age labels mandatory. Represented in the PEGI Council.|
|Germany||USK system is adopted and enforced. PEGI is not formally recognised, although PEGI labelling can be found on games along with the USK rating. Not represented on the PEGI Council.||USK|
|Hungary||De facto use of the PEGI labels, no specific legislative basis or official support.|
|Iceland||PEGI is officially supported and age classifications are mandatory for video games by law.|
|Ireland||PEGI ratings are exempt from mandatory classification by IFCO, which adopts PEGI. IFCO is still legally empowered to ban certain video game content from the market. Represented in the PEGI Council.|
|Israel||PEGI has been adopted by law as the mandatory classification system for video games in Israel.|
|Kosovo||De facto use of the PEGI labels, no specific legislative basis or official support.|
|Latvia||De facto use of the PEGI labels, no specific legislative basis or official support.|
|Lithuania||Lithuanian legislation has adopted PEGI which is exempt from mandatory classification with national age symbols. Both classifications are enforced by the penal code as of Nov 2010.|
|Macedonia||De facto use of the PEGI labels, no specific legislative basis or official support.|
|Malta||Officially supports PEGI and is represented in the PEGI Council, PEGI is the legally enforceable system for game classification in Malta since January 2016.|
|Moldova||De facto use of the PEGI labels, no specific legislative basis or official support.|
|Montenegro||De facto use of the PEGI labels, no specific legislative basis or official support.|
|Netherlands||PEGI is officially adopted and legislation is in place to enforce age classification in shops where video games are sold.|
|Poland||Officially supports PEGI and is represented in the PEGI Council, and there are intentions to support PEGI as a self-regulatory system.|
|Portugal||PEGI has officially been adopted by the Portuguese Classification Board IGAC.||IGAC|
|Romania||De facto use of the PEGI labels, no specific legislative basis or official support.|
|Serbia||De facto use of the PEGI labels, no specific legislative basis or official support.|
|Slovakia||Slovak media law obliges distributors to add national age labels to products (generally using stickers).|
|Slovenia||Officially supports PEGI, but there is no specific legislative basis.|
|Switzerland||Switzerland is preparing national legislation to make classification of video games with age labels legally binding.|
|Turkey||De facto use of the PEGI labels, no specific legislative basis or official support.|
|United Kingdom||PEGI is the legally enforceable system for game classification in the UK since 30 July 2012. Has official support for PEGI, and is represented in the PEGI Council.|
||This section has an unclear citation style. Learn how and when to remove this template message) (August 2010) (|
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- "Swiss federal government announcement".
- "MCV: PEGI ratings come into force today".
- "BBC News: UK enforces PEGI video game ratings system".