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.