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So I was chatting with my Mum(Hi Soraya) about this blog and about what was important to focus on and also what was important to think about in the long run. She mentioned that a lot of people, parents mainly, find it difficult to discern what is and isn’t okay to buy for their children in regards to gaming. It got me thinking about the age ratings themselves.
I do also hope this article will help anyone who wants to buy games for younger relations and so on.
There are two rating systems currently accepted in the gaming world; the ESRB and PEGI. I’ll be focusing on PEGI as it is what we use in Ireland(though it is not legally enforced, it is what you see on any game’s box).
PEGI(Pan European Game Information) are the people responsible for the little age we see at the bottom corner of each game’s box. These range from suitable for those 3 and older, 7 and older, 12 and older, 16 and older, and 18 and older. These are simple to understand, but there are content descriptions for each one and each game has these included on the back of the game’s box.
Simply put, depending on what the game contains it will be given a corresponding rating. One content descriptor which almost every game has these days is ‘Violence’ indicated by a fist backed by a jagged line. Now it is easy to be confused, Grand Theft Auto V has a violence indicator but so does Tom and Jerry. What sets them apart is the age rating itself.
When buying a game for any person under the age of 18, if you are concerned as to whether it is appropriate or not simply look at the age rating. If it is wildly higher than the person you are buying for, then it is probably unsuitable. However, it is always a good idea to just check it what the age rating entails. Many of these descriptors are widely encompassing in what they contain. This allows for only a handful of these symbols on the back. One that causes a lot of panic when it is seen is the ‘Sex’ symbol, which is the male and female symbol interlocked.
This in itself does not give context, but the level of sexual content will be expressed in some form of writing. The symbol itself does not mean nudity or a full-blown sex scene, it simply is displayed to say something of this context is in the game. This could be something as simple as ‘sexual attraction'(which couldn’t try to be more vague) or even someone dressed in suggestive clothing.
What I’m trying to get across is that the age ratings are there more as a guideline, some games are given higher ratings because of one or two small elements which force the game to be bumped up to 18+ rather than 16+. So the easiest thing is to just look at the age rating itself, turn the box over and look for those symbols and just read what it has to say
And if you find yourself still confused or unsure, usually those at the desk of a game’s store are more than willing to help. And failing that, simply try YouTube. Search for the name of the game followed by the words ‘gameplay’, or ‘trailer’ to get some insight into the game itself.
For continuity and for the sake of easy access, I’ll be including some tips on age ratings in any future reviews.