Having received a number of enquiries from games retailers, industry, press and public alike, the VSC, in an effort to provide greater clarity, can now give some additional information on how their position as the new UK video game regulator will affect the regulation of video games in the future.
The main points to note are:
The Video Standards Council (VSC), which administers the PEGI ratings system in the UK, will become the UK’s sole statutory video games regulator
Video games rated PEGI 3 and 7 remain advisory
Video games rated PEGI 12, 16 and 18 will become mandatory and enforceable under the law. Games rated at these categories must not be supplied to persons below the age-restriction shown on the packaging. Failure to do so may result in heavy fines or, in severe cases, even imprisonment. The law applies to online retailers as well as high street stores.
Mandatory age-ratings for video games are nothing new for UK retailers who have already had to deal with games classified 15 and 18 (and some classified 12) by the BBFC. Mandatory PEGI ratings should place no significant additional burden on retailers; PEGI ratings have essentially been treated as legally enforceable by many retailers for some years.
Neither PEGI nor VSC is an enforcement agency. In the UK, any breaches of the law will be prosecuted by Trading Standards Officials.
A video game containing very explicit sexual material that would normally attain a BBFC R18 (Restricted 18) category will still have to be submitted to the BBFC for classification.
The new regulations will not apply to video games on the market prior to the formal designation of the VSC as statutory regulator. The new regulations are not retrospective.