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 it’s 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 5 age categories and 8 content descriptors to advise the age suitable to play and to describe the kind of game content.[1]

Age ratings

PEGI has five age categories. In Portugal, because the film classification system has some age ratings that conflict with the PEGI system, two of the PEGI categories were changed to avoid confusion; the categories that were changed are 3+ (changed to 4+) and 7+ (changed to 6+). Another country that changed one of the PEGI age categories is Finland. Before 1 January 2007, in that country 12+ became 11+, and the 16+ classification was changed to 15+. Finland changed its legislation to fully adopt PEGI beginning 1 January 2007, and this also made the 11+ category 12+ again, but the 15+ category remained. When ESRB came out with the E10+ rating, PEGI, however smuged the E10+ and T ratings from ESRB, causing The 12+ rating on PEGI to remain.

Country 3+ 7+ 12+ 16+ 18+
PEGI countries members Pegi3+ Pegi7+ Pegi 12+ Pegi16+ Pegi18+

PEGI is a voluntary system. In the United Kingdom, PEGI articulates with the legal legislation of the British Board of Film Classification, the film rating system, which also gives ratings for some 16+ and all 18+ games. Previously PEGI had no UK legal status, and only BBFC ratings limited who games can be sold to, but as of 16 June 09 PEGI has become a legally enforced body for the rating of all games in the UK. Following this, the age ratings will become colour coded, with green for 3+ and 7+, yellow for 12+ and 16+ and red for 18+.[2]

Here are the ratings for the games:

  • 3+ rating: Suitable for ages 3 and over. Contains very mild violence or suggestive themes. These include edutainment games. Similar to the ESRB's Early Childhood and the Everyone (low end) ratings.
  • 7+ rating: These games are the same as Early Childhood ratings but may include content descriptors like mild violence and in a rare case, very mild action violence. Suitable only for persons of 7 years of age and older and similar to the Everyone (high end) and the Everyone 10+ rating (low end) ratings in the ESRB.
  • 12+ rating: Suitable only for persons of over ages 12 and older. This rating contains mild action violence or suggestive themes and mildly suggestive song lyrics. Similar to the ESRB's Teen (low end) and Everyone 10+ (high end) ratings.
  • 16+ rating: This rating is suitable only for persons of 16 years of age or older. Some situations include strong action violence, mild references to gambling, and rude humor, which makes this rating similar to the Mature (low end) and the Teen (high end) ratings from the ESRB.
  • 18+ rating: This rating is suitable only for persons 18 years of age and older, and is similar to the ESRB's Adults Only and Mature (high end) ratings. Graphic violence, strong sexual content, explicit references to gambling, and vulgar language (spoken and used in song lyrics) are permitted. This rating is fairly rare.

Content descriptions

The eight content descriptors are:

Online: game can be played online (just recently introduced)

Maxpayne2 cover pegi

The 18+ PEGI rating and violence descriptor on the cover of Max Payne 2

Icon Content descriptor Explanation Examples
PEGIbadlanguage Profanity May contain profanity, sexual innuendo, threats, and all manner of slurs and epithets. Grand Theft Auto IV, Fallout 3, Call of Duty: World at War, Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven, Midnight Club: Los Angeles
PEGIdiscrimination Discrimination May contain cruelty or harassment based on race, ethnicity, gender, or sexual preferences. Original War, Postal 2: Apocalypse Weekend, Postal 2: Share the Pain, SWAT: Target Liberty
PEGIdrugs Drugs May contain references to illegal drugs or a fictional substance that has parallels to real-life illegal drugs (in use, possession, or sale). Grand Theft Auto, Fallout 2, Deus Ex: Invisible War, The Warriors, NARC
PEGIfear Fear May contain scenes that are considered too disturbing or frightening to younger or more emotionally vulnerable players. Coraline, NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams, Silent Debuggers, Ico
PEGIsex Sex May contain references to sexual attraction or sexual intercourse. Also may contain nudity and female characters dressed in suggestive clothing. Singles: Flirt Up Your Life, Leisure Suit Larry, Fallout 2, Playboy: The Mansion, BMX XXX, God of War, The Sopranos: Road to Respect
PEGIviolence Violence May contain scenes of people getting hurt or dying, often by use of weapons. Also may contain gore and blood-letting. Grand Theft Auto, Fallout 2, all games in the Doom series (Doom, Doom 2, Final Doom, Doom 3), Resistance: Fall of Man, Max Payne 2, Mortal Kombat, God of War , Counter-Strike: Source, Devil May Cry 4
PEGIgambling Gambling May contain games that are played for money (real or simulated). 42 All-Time Classics, Fallout 2, God Hand, Street Hoops, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Juiced 2: Hot Import Nights, BioShock

The 'Gambling' content descriptor was first used on September 29 2006 with the title 42 All-Time Classics.

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