Retailers to be Punished if Sell Video Games to the Underage

Posted on 30 July, 2012 by Rachel Mellor

Retailers that have an alcohol licence know all too well that if they sell alcohol to under 18 year olds they could face prosecution. But now retail commercial properties that sell video games could see themselves in the frame if they do not follow the new rating system.

Currently video games are rated by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) and have the same age ratings as a DVD; U, PG, 12, 15 and 18. But the Government wants to simplify the process for consumers and make playing games safer for children. The Games Ratings Authority (GRA) will be responsible for rating future games, under the Pan-European Game Information (Pegi) criteria.

Under the new system, games will be rated as 12, 16 and 18.

  • Games rated 12 years and older – have non graphic violence, no major nudity or offensive language.
  • Games rated 16 years and older – have moderate violence and sexual activity, similar to what someone that age would see in real life.
  • Games rated 18 years and older – have ‘gross’ levels of violence and sexual content.

As well as age ratings, the game’s packaging will also display diagrams warning consumers if the title includes bad language, discrimination, drugs, fear, gambling, sex, violence or online gaming.

As well as the three compulsory age ratings mentioned above, there are also two non-mandatory age ratings of 3 and 7 – which showcase if the game is suitable for a child of that age bracket.

The new system is designed to help parents buy video games that are suitable for their child’s age. With more and more people playing games, as many as seven out of ten people aged 16-65, something needed to be done to help consumers choose games that were suitable for those playing them.

To help people get to grips with the new rating system, an ‘Ask about Games’ website has been set-up with information and advice about video games.

But if retail commercial properties fail to comply with the new age rating system on video games they could see themselves prosecuted, similar to shops that sell alcohol to under 18 years olds.

Do you take notice of age ratings on video games? Do you think the new system will be successful in stopping young children playing games that are way beyond their years? Or at the end of the day is it up to the parents what they allow their children to play?




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