|Services||Video game ratings|
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|Approved without age restriction in accordance with Art. 14 German Children and Young Persons Protection Act (JuSchG).
|Approved for children aged 6 and above in accordance with Art. 14 German Children and Young Persons Protection Act (JuSchG).
|Approved for children aged 12 and above in accordance with Art. 14 German Children and Young Persons Protection Act (JuSchG).
|Approved for children aged 16 and above in accordance with Art. 14 German Children and Young Persons Protection Act (JuSchG).
|Not approved for anyone under 18 in accordance with Art. 14 German Children and Young Persons Protection Act (JuSchG).
These are ratings used from 2003 until 2009–2010.
According to the USK itself, the state uses the age rating symbol to regulate whether a computer game may be publicly supplied to children and young persons. Retailers are obliged to comply with the restrictions indicated by the rating. A game approved for children aged 12 and above may not be sold to a 10-year old. Outside of business relations (e.g. parents or adult friends giving the game a child or youth) there is no such restriction.
Advertisement of games rated USK 16 or below is not restricted only if the advertisement itself has no content that is harmful to minors. Games without a USK rating are treated like a USK 18 game.
Additionally the BPjM maintains a List of media harmful to young people (colloquially known as the “Index”). Titles that are on this list may only be sold on request to adults 18 or older, are not to be advertised in any media or put on display in retail stores. German retail stores, mail order and internet vendors tend to sell only games, that do have a USK rating, due to the massive restrictions. These games are still sold from vendors outside Germany into the German market, however numbers are low.
Only games that are not rated harmful to young people by the BPjM may get a USK rating. Many non-German publishers and developers create special German version of their games to try to prevent an 18+ rating either fearing the same negative sales impact an AO rating would have in the US, or out of fear that an 18+ title might be indexed by the BPjM.
In 2006 Microsoft chose not to release Gears of War on the German market, because the USK refused to give the game a USK 16 rating (despite the existence of the 18+ rating, with which the third game did get classified). Since the game was imported to the German market nonetheless (without any age limit), the BPjM became involved and put the game on the index list. The same applied to the second instalment. Afterwards the rating procedure was revised, and imported games without a USK rating are automatically considered 18+ regardless of content.
- USK. Protecting Children and Young People. . URL:http://www.usk.de/fileadmin/documents/USK_Broschuere_ENG.pdf. Accessed: 2015-08-14. (Archived by WebCite® at http://www.webcitation.org/6ampnB5Jn)