You're currently viewing the old version of the GameGrin site as this article hasn't yet been moved to our new site.

Visit the new site at www.gamegrin.com

What Is A Pegi Rating? Why Should You Care?

pegi logo
PEGI, what does it mean?

PEGI simply stands for Pan European Game Information (www.pegi.info). Why have we written this article? Well from 30th July, PEGI will take over all official classification duties from the BBFC in the United Kingdom in regards to games, and will be fully enforceable by law for any retailer caught selling PEGI rated games to those under the specified age. 

This article is here to explain the different classifications this board has as they go into more depth than the BBFC's simple U/PG/12a/12/15/18 age rating system. Hopefully we put this in simple terms for everyone to understand and learn the system of classification on games.

Now we've all heard in the media about how little Timmy was given Grand Theft Auto and now he's mentally scarred and how its the industry's fault for producing this kind of filth, and how these games have been scientifically proven to be a link to aggressive and unsociable behaviour. Essentially the view of your standard Daily Mail reader. Now of course it's never the parents fault for not having the common sense to realise that games have ratings on them and that they are classified with these ratings for a reason. 

The rating on a game confirms that it is suitable for players over a certain age. Accordingly, a PEGI 7 game is only suitable for those aged seven and above and an PEGI 18 game is only suitable for adults aged eighteen and above. The PEGI rating considers the age suitability of a game, not the level of difficulty.

PEGI is used and recognised throughout Europe and has the enthusiastic support of the European Commission. It is considered to be a model of European harmonisation in the field of the protection of children. 
So what are the PEGI ratings and the more indepth descriptors? Well below we'll go over these for you in the hopes that it clears any confusion.

Pegi 3
The lowest of the five age ratings and the one used for titles which are deemed to be suitable for all ages.The content of games given this rating is considered suitable for all age groups. Some violence in a comical context (typically Bugs Bunny or Tom & Jerry cartoon-like forms of violence) is acceptable. The child should not be able to associate the character on the screen with real life characters, they should be totally fantasy. The game should not contain any sounds or pictures that are likely to scare or frighten young children. No bad language should be heard and there should be no scenes containing nudity nor any reference to sexual activity.

Pegi 7
Any game that would normally be rated at 3 but contains some possibly frightening scenes or sounds may be considered suitable in this category. Some scenes of partial nudity may be permitted but never in a sexual context.

Pegi 12
Videogames that show violence of a slightly more graphic nature towards fantasy character and/or non graphic violence towards human-looking characters or recognisable animals, as well as videogames that show nudity of a slightly more graphic nature would fall in this age category. Any bad language in this category must be mild and fall short of sexual expletives.

Pegi 16
This rating is applied once the depiction of violence (or sexual activity) reaches a stage that looks the same as would be expected in real life. More extreme bad language, the concept of the use of tobacco and drugs and the depiction of criminal activities can be content of games that are rated 16.

Pegi 18

The last of the age classifications and this is the one that is usually on the games which worms it's way into the wrong light of the tabloid press. The adult classification is applied when the level of violence reaches a stage where it becomes a depiction of gross violence and/or includes elements of specific types of violence. Gross violence is the most difficult to define since it can be very subjective in many cases, but in general terms it can be classed as the depictions of violence that would make the viewer feel a sense of revulsion.

Now along side these simple age classifications are game descriptors. These will give you more of an insight to the games actual content, so for example a PEGI 7 rated title may have a FEAR and VIOLENCE descriptor on it, as the game may be a bit scary and also depicts violence, say hitting a ghost with a hammer. Now there are eight separate descriptive labels in total which are. 

pegi bad language

This one is pretty self explanatory, it contains language which is bad. you muddy foggers!

 pegi discrimination
Game contains depictions of, or material which may encourage, discrimination. So for example Grand Theft Auto 4 uses slang and terminology to reference the races of the city, so that would be seen as racial discrimination.

pegi drugs
Drugs are bad, M'kay? This is used the the game depicts the use, referencing or sale of narcotics, again I'm using Grand Theft Auto as the example as in Vice City the game starts out with a drugs meet which goes horribly wrong.

pegi fear
The game may be frightening or scary for young children. So you'll generally see this slapped on survival horror games such as Resident Evil or Silent Hill.

pegi gambling
Games that encourage or teach gambling. So casino games will generally see this label, additionally Red Dead Redemption will show this as you are able to play poker with the townsfolk. 

pegi sex

Pretty obvious this one really. The game depicts nudity and/or sexual behaviour or sexual references.

pegi violence
Again, a pretty obvious one, the game will have violence.
pegi online
Ok, Online Gameplay. Due to the nature of online gaming, no governing body is able to rate the online content of games down to the fact that they cannot classify what you would encounter in a multiplayer environment. Yes you may get some annoying pleb shouting his mouth off down the voice communications of the game, swearing like a trooper and generally disrupting your enjoyment of the title. So if your game has online capabilities it would be recommended to supervise your child during this time so that you may 'pull the plug' if things become too much for your loved one.

So there you have it, the PEGI rating system which replaces the good old BBFC ratings on games, very easy to follow and we hope this helps you in your game purchases in the future. If you have any comments or concerns over this article then please do contact us via our forums.

Wedgeh | 12th July, 2012
Kaostic's picture
I have wondered occasionally why some games are rated so high for something that seems like it should be lower.

Good read, cheers Wedge
Cronos's picture
Can't say I've ever paid any attention to PEGI.
Wedgeh's picture
Well with the official switch happening at the end of the month it's time to take notice, especially if you work in a high street retailer like Game or HMV.

They put the fear of god into you to make sure you don't mess up with these ratings as the penalties for selling something to an underage customer are unreal. I remember the talk when I used to work for HMV like 11 - 12 years ago, I just asked everyone back then as it's easier to knock someone back for not having ID than take the risk of them possibly being underage.
Kaostic's picture
My mate went into Asda without ID. He's 19 and a med student (He had his med student card). Went to buy Mass Effect 3 (a 15) and they wouldn't sell it to him even though he had a medical student card which you have to be 18 to get because it's not official stuff.

He's now banned from Asda for raging.
Cronos's picture
Originally Posted by Wedgeh View Post
Well with the official switch happening at the end of the month it's time to take notice, especially if you work in a high street retailer like Game or HMV.
Maybe I shouldn't have skipped straight to the PEGI breakdown , had no idea this was taking over from BBFC classifications.
Wedgeh's picture
A lot of people are in the same boat Hopefully I've laid this out easy enough for parents to take on board what to look out for when buying games in the future.
Platinum's picture
Originally Posted by Kaostic View Post
He's now banned from Asda for raging.
, been a while since I got ID'd for gaming, last time I remember the guy at the till being a right ****, so went down the road, bought the game from Dixons and trolled the other shop on the way past.

Best ID (Not gaming related) incdent with me was way back when I was about 24, at checkout, 6 pack of Redbull, get asked for ID, I'm like WTF, Got told you had to be 16 to buy it, sounded like bull **** to me, Pulled out my car keys, told him, "I drove here mate, does that count", got Redbull
Angelfromabove's picture
Im always id'd...literally always with everything Worst was a pack of fag papers...I didint have ID...I didnt get them.
Platinum's picture
Rare I get ID'd now but still take ID when I want to buy booze, Morrisons can be proper *****, it was them that refused to serve a 70+ year old bloke because he had no ID.

Kaostic's picture
I still get ID'd for alcohol mosta the time but I'm only 19 to be fair. For games, I remember trying to buy a 15+ game when I was 16. I was like "I'm 16... Since when does a 16 year old have ID?!"

We had an argument and I managed to blag my Oyster card as ID.

Other items from around the web