It’s a grey, wet and cold January day as I sit and read the webmail enquiries we’ve accumulated over the Christmas period. As I read them I am struck by the fact that some folk still don’t seem to understand the ratings and what they are for. One correspondent has gone as far as to claim that they are too complicated and confusing. Really? Maybe, I’m not seeing it from their perspective precisely, but I always thought the ratings were very straightforward and easy to understand.
The PEGI ratings have been in operation since 2002 and have been regularly refined and honed since then to ensure that they do exactly what they say on the tin, but it’s clear that they still aren’t quite hitting the mark for some people. We’ve made considerable efforts to publicise the ratings more via an assortment of media. We make presentations to school, colleges and, indeed, anyone who’s interested in knowing how the system operates, but I think there remains a critical group of people for whom the ratings remain something of a mystery.
It’s also the case that over the years a certain mythology about PEGI and the ratings has arisen, mostly through social media and assorted blogs, to the point where the facts have been buried by the fiction. In attempt to illuminate the dark places, I thought it would be worth attempting to bust some of the myths surrounding PEGI ratings and the system generally.
PEGI ratings just tell you how hard a game is to play, right? No, nein, nada, non! This is one of the worst myths we come across. The ratings have nothing to do with how easy or difficult a game is to play. The numbers, running from 3 to 18, basically state that you should not be playing the game if your age is lower than the number displayed on the packaging – yes, it really is that simple!
PEGI ratings are basically like serving suggestions on an instant meal box, aren’t they? Wrong again! In the UK, the PEGI 12, 16 and 18 ratings are legally enforceable. The PEGI 3 and 7 ratings are, however, unrestricted though PEGI 7 games could feature content that a younger child might find worrying or frightening.
PEGI ratings really don’t apply to anyone over 15. I’m afraid they do. See above!
But video games are basically cartoonish and don’t have the same impact as a real, live-action film. Check out games such as Until Dawn, Fallout 4 and Mortal Kombat X and then tell me they have no impact. This myth comes from the days when video games tended to consist of simplistic, blocky or, indeed, cartoony characters which leads some people to still believe that, in essence, all video games are childish in appearance and tone.
PEGI is just another censorship body set-up by governments to do their dirty work for them. Actually, PEGI is wholly independent of governments and takes no money from the tax payer. It self-finances from the fees it charges game publishers to have their games rated. In addition, it has no powers to censor a game since it is essentially a ratings tool. That ability rests solely within the national laws of each member country.
So there you have a few of the more popular myths well and truly busted! If there are others you want clarification on then let us know and we’ll try to put you straight. Until next time...