Pan European Game Information
|Formation||April 9, 2003|
|Purpose||Video game classification|
|Interactive Software Federation of Europe|
Pan European Game Information (PEGI, IPA: // or "Peggy") is a European video game content rating system established to help European consumers make informed decisions when buying video games or apps through the use of age recommendations and content descriptors. 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.
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 often still display the old designs.
In Portugal, the PEGI 6 category is used instead of PEGI 7, to align it with the official Portuguese age rating scheme for all media. Originally, PEGI 3 was also changed into PEGI 4, but this stopped when a new decree was announced in June 2017, taking 3 as the official lower age category . 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||Depending on the age category, the game may contain scenes of people getting injured or dying, often by use of weapons, whether realistically or not, in a fantastical or cartoonish manner. May also contain gore, injury detail, and blood-letting.|
|Bad Language||May contain profanity and all manner of slurs, insults, and epithets.|
|Fear / Horror||May contain scenes and plot elements too disturbing, overly suspenseful, or frightening to younger/sensitive players at PEGI 7 or horrifying content in the absence of violence at PEGI 12.|
|Sex||Depending on the age category, the game may contain scenes or references to nudity (sexual or otherwise), sexual posturing, characters wearing suggestive clothing, or sexual intercourse.|
|Drugs||Depending on the age category, the game may contain references to or consumption of alcohol, tobacco or illegal drugs (or a fictional substance similar in effect to real-life illegal drugs)|
|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 based on race, religion, ethnicity, gender, ability, or sexual identity/preferences. As of yet, no games have received this descriptor.|
|Online||Descriptor was discontinued by PEGI in 2015, with the majority of present-day games and all consoles allowing for online interactions. Still appears for games classified before July 2015.|
Video games rated PEGI 12, 16 or 18 may contain content that encourages or teaches gambling. 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. Until today, none of the video games using the Gambling content descriptor have contained gambling with cash payouts.
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."
To obtain the ratings for any piece of interactive 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.
Global cooperation in IARC
In 2013, PEGI co-founded the International Age Rating Coalition with USK and the ESRB. IARC aims to streamline the rating of digitally distributed games and apps 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 a number of committees to ensure the system keeps functioning properly.
- Experts Group: The PEGI Experts Group is made up of academics working in the fields of psychology and sociology, and representatives from NICAM, VSC, and the games 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 PEGI Council 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 PEGI s.a. 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 PEGI Council and, more generally, of ensuring the enforcement of the provisions of the PEGI Code of Conduct, including conclusion of the Complaints Board.
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 website 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 and the United Arab Emirates, Spanish or Portuguese versions in Latin America). 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||Officially supports PEGI, 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||Officially supports PEGI, 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||Officially supports PEGI, but there is no specific legislative basis.|
|Russia||No legislative support or de facto usage|
|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.|
|South Africa||No legislative support or de facto usage, PEGI ratings are found on games distributed there for the British and Dutch markets|
|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 Arab Emirates||Despite no legislative support or de facto usage, PEGI ratings are found on games distributed there, due to regional licencing of most publishers from the European market. The practise can vary, however many major retailers will not sell non-European copies of game titles.
Nintendo in particular is a special case: Nintendo's official local distributor releases North American copies with ESRB ratings on the game covers, and said major retailers often rely on third-party distributors to import European copies of Nintendo games.
|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.||BBFC|
||This section has an unclear citation style. Learn how and when to remove this template message) (August 2010) (|
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- Toine Manders, Report of the European Parliament on the protection of the consumers, in particular minors, in respect of the use of video games, 2009, p.6. article 24
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- "PEGI Online Website". Pegionline.eu. Retrieved 29 June 2011.
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- "Article detailing legal requirement to use PEGI in Israel".
- "Legislative text specifying PEGI as the labelling system for video games in Lithuania".
- "Penal code text specifying enforcement of sales restriction of certain media content to minors".
- "Government document outlining the role of PEGI in legal context" (PDF).
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- "BBC News: UK enforces PEGI video game ratings system".