UK switches to legally enforceable PEGI ratings system

Video games in the United Kingdom will now be rated by Pan European Game Information (PEGI) instead of both PEGI and the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), and PEGI ratings are now law.

Video games in the United Kingdom will now be rated by Pan European Game Information (PEGI) instead of both PEGI and the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), and PEGI ratings are now law.

PEGI's descriptors for content will also appear on video game packaging.

Previously, PEGI ratings were only advisory, whereas BBFC ratings, as classifications issued by a government agency, were legally binding.

Going forward, the UK's Video Standards Council, which will operate as the Games Ratings Authority, will be the only agency conferring game ratings using PEGI; the system has been "effectively incorporated into UK law." PEGI's 12, 16, and 18 ratings are mandatory in the UK, and carry penalties for retailers who sell games to minors under the respective ages; the penalties include fines and prison terms of up to six years. According to Dr. Jo Twist, CEO of the Association for UK Interactive Entertainment, the new arrangement is "strict in the same regard as [rules on] alcohol or cigarettes."

Dr. Twist added, "We very much believe that the sole adoption of PEGI will provide clear and consistent direction on age ratings for parents."

Dr. Richard Wilson, CEO of the UK trade association TIGA, noted that "only bricks and mortar stores are affected by the new law"; because digital games "typically require a credit or debit card" to purchase, the responsibility for monitoring those titles falls to parents.

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