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Video game content rating system

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A video game content rating system is a system used for the classification of video games into suitability-related groups. Most of these systems are associated with and/or sponsored by a government, and are sometimes part of the local motion picture rating system. The utility of such ratings has been called into question by studies that publish findings such as 90% of teenagers claim that their parents "never" check the ratings before allowing them to rent or buy video games,[1] and as such calls have been made to "fix" the existing rating systems.[2] Video game content rating systems can be used as the basis for laws that cover the sales of video games to minors, such as in Australia. Rating checking and approval is part of the game localization when they are being prepared for their distribution in other countries or locales. These rating systems have also been used to voluntarily restrict sales of certain video games by stores, such as the German retailer Galeria Kaufhof's removal of all video games rated 18+ by the USK following the Winnenden school shooting.[3]

Rating systems

Regional and national


Pan European Game Information (PEGI) is a European video game content rating system established to help European parents 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.[4] The age rating does not indicate the difficulty of the game or the skill required to play it.[5]


The Ethics Organization of Computer Software (EOCS) is an organization that rates PC games in Japan. It was primarily formed by members of the Japanese adult game industry, and aims to promote a sense of ethical responsibility with respect to the production, distribution, and use of computer software. Founded in 1992, the EOCS was the world's first major video game ratings organization, predating the ESRB in North America.

Computer Entertainment Rating Organization (特定非営利活動法人コンピュータエンターテインメントレーティング機構 Tokutei Hieiri Katsudō Hōjin Konpyūta Entāteinmento Rētingu Kikō?) (CERO) is an organization that rates console games in Japan with levels of rating that informs the customer of the nature of the product and for what age group it is suitable. It was established on July 2002 as a branch of Computer Entertainment Supplier's Association, and became an officially recognized non-profit organization in 2003.

North America

The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) is a self-regulatory organization that assigns age and content ratings, enforces industry-adopted advertising guidelines, and ensures responsible online privacy principles for computer and video games and other entertainment software in Canada and the United States.[6]

United Kingdom

The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), originally British Board of Film Censors, is a non-governmental organisation, funded by the film industry and responsible for the national classification of films within the United Kingdom.[7] It has a statutory requirement to classify videos and DVDs. It no longer has responsibility for rating video games in the UK. This role has been passed to the Video Standards Council using its games rating arm the Games Rating Authority (GRA).[8]

In July 2012, the Video Standards Council (VSC) became the sole UK statutory video games regulator for the UK. The VSC uses the PEGI ratings system to rate games. Games released in the UK are rated by the VSC's games rating arm, the Games Rating Authority (GRA). This role was previously undertaken by the BBFC. Games featuring strong pornographic content or ancillary mini-games to be included with a DVD feature will still be rated by the BBFC.

See also


  1. Dr. David Walsh (2000-03-21). The Impact of Interactive Violence on Children: Testimony submitted to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, United States Senate (PDF). Retrieved on 2008-07-13.[dead link]
  2. Jerry Bonner (April 2008). "How to Fix the Ratings System: A former game rater lists six ways to bolster the Entertainment Software Rating Board," Electronic Gaming Monthly 227, 30-32.
  3. Kaufhof schafft Filme und Spiele für Erwachsene ab (German). Der Spiegel (18 March 2009). Retrieved on 18 March 2009.
  4. PEGI Website
  5. PEGI Pan European Game Information - What do the labels mean?..
  7. Nelmes, Jill (2003). An introduction to film studies. Routledge. pp. 41. ISBN 0-415-26268-2. 
  8. The Video Standards Council. bbfc. Retrieved on 2010-02-06.

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