New video games classification to protect childrenThe government overhauls the system for UK games

16 June 2009

Child at a computer

An overhaul of video games classification rules will make selling a video game rated 12 or over to an underage person illegal for the first time. 

The PEGI (Pan European Game Information) system, currently used in most European countries, will become the sole method of classifying video games in the UK, replacing the current hybrid system that has two separate sets of symbols.

A single, clear set of age-rating symbols will give parents the information they need to ensure that children are protected from unsuitable content, and help retailers to avoid breaking the law by selling games to people below the appropriate age. 

Age-restricted games sold

Which? Computing exposed how a teenager was allowed to buy 18-rated violent video games in the magazine's snap shot investigation last year. Branches of Woolworths, Game, and Maplin in Harrow town centre all allowed the sale of an 18-rated game to a 15-year-old girl.

Announcing today’s decision as part of the Digital Britain report, Siôn Simon said: 'Protecting children and giving parents a clear and robust new system has always been our starting point. The new system of classification follows the essential criteria set out by Professor Tanya Byron, who recommended a trustworthy, uniform and clear set of symbols that is flexible and future proof.

'The UK already has a robust system of classification for films and DVDs run by the BBFC. The new system of games classification will match those high standards as this important market continues to evolve.'

Today’s announcement follows a period of consultation by government that started with Professor Tanya Byron’s landmark report Safer Children In A Digital World, published in March 2008.

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