Tuesday 17th March/...ELSPA, the trade body of UK games publishers, has welcomed the European Parliament's decision on games classification detailed in its recent“Report on the Protection of Consumers in respect of Videogames.“
The report is essentially the formalising of a draft document submitted by Dutch EP, Mr Toine Manders, in late January. It strongly supports the PEGI and PEGI Online rating systems, which the industry has adopted to ensure gold-standard protection for children when playing games on and offline, as well as the positive entertainment and educational impact game playing can have.
Michael Rawlinson, director general of ELSPA, said:
“We welcome the decision of the European Parliament on games classification which understands the changing nature of game playing as it moves increasingly online and advocates the PEGI system to ensure adequate protection of minors.
“In line with the EP report, the industry is also committed to raising public awareness of the content of games, parental controls and the PEGI system, and continues to work to improve awareness and provide safer gaming environments for British children.
“Parental controls are only effective if they are turned on by parents. By raising awareness of how these work, we can help protect child safety by guiding parents how to set age-appropriate settings, amongst others.”
A number of changes to further develop and improve these systems are being prepared and implemented. These include a 'traffic light' system and updated descriptors that make the PEGI ratings easier to recognise and understand.
Almost all gaming consoles and PC operating systems are now equipped with parental control systems that enable parents to block or restrict access to content that is unsuitable for their children. These control systems also take into account the different age classification system for video games and some even restrict games using the PEGI descriptors.
The games industry is also working with all relevant stakeholders, such as retailers, who can help to educate consumers on a one-to-one basis. In fact, the industry is currently engaged in discussions with retailers, which it hopes will lead to a European Retailers Code of Conduct that will ensure strict adherence to age rating rules and enhance communication of the PEGI system at retail.
As part of its commitment to improving understanding, the European Game Industry Federation ISFE has also entered into a three year agreement with the European Schools Network EUN. This will enable the industry to work with schools and educational authorities to communicate the beneficial educational aspects of video games and the essential role of the PEGI systems in ensuring game content is enjoyed by the age groupings for which it was designed.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
The Pan-European Game Information (PEGI) age rating system was established in 2003 to help European parents make informed decisions on buying interactive games. Designed to ensure that minors cannot purchase - and are not exposed to - games that are unsuitable for their particular age group, the system is supported by the major console manufacturers, including Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony, as well as by publishers and developers of interactive games available throughout Europe. The age rating system has been developed by the Interactive Software Federation of Europe (ISFE) and has the enthusiastic support of the European Commission, which considers the new system to be a model of European harmonisation in the field of protection of children.
Both PEGI and PEGI Online are systems of self regulation which means they are able to respond in the quickest possible way to changes in the technology and consumer behaviour associated with the rapidly growing videogame industry. However both systems are run by a fully independent Administrator and supervised by an Advisory Board comprised of independent experts in content classification, child protection and psychology as well as family and educational groups. PEGI Codes of Conduct provide for strong, automatic and compulsory sanctions in cases found to be breaching the Codes - with fines of up to€500,000. The PEGI Enforcement Committee also contains independent non-industry members.
The PEGI rating scheme applies to games published in the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom.
The Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association was founded in 1989 to establish a specific and collective identity for the country's interactive leisure software industry. Membership includes almost all companies concerned with the publishing and distribution of interactive leisure software in the UK. As a gateway to Europe, ELSPA works to protect, promote and provide for the interests of all its members, as well as addressing issues that affect the industry as a whole.