PEGI shows age limits in games
All computer games released in Europe are marked with recommended age limits from PEGI. What do the different PEGI icons mean? Who is behind PEGI? How are the age limits determined? Read here:
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All games released in Europe are marked with age recommendations from PEGI. The system is used by, for example, the online store Google Play, but not by the App Store, which has its own system.
PEGI does not say anything about how difficult the game is, you only get to know whether the game contains violence, sex, crude language, discrimination and the like. A game approved by PEGI for three-year-olds can thus be far too difficult for a three-year-old to play. But in any case, there will be nothing in the game that may scare three-year-olds.
PEGI sets recommended age limits for computer games that can be purchased physically in stores as well as games that can be downloaded.
PEGI is used by most of the major game consoles, including Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo.
Parents do not turn criminals if they break the age limits, but the Barnevakten recommends that for the benefit of the child, the limits should be observed.
Let us first show what the symbols mean (simplified by Barnevakten):
PEGI age marking for games
Suitable for all age groups. No sounds or images that could scare young children. Very mild comic book violence in a comic context. No rough language. The child should not be able to relate the figures on the screen to the figures from real life, they should only be fantasy figures.
Any game that would normally have the age rating of 3, but contains scenes or sounds that can be scary, should fit into this category. Mild cartoon violence.
Violence that is somewhat more realistic, the characters may resemble humans. Sexual allusions. Slightly rude language, but not sexual insults. The story may include gambling. Somewhat more detailed description of nudity falls into this category.
Violence or sex is shown as it would have been in real life. Lots of rough language. The story may include gambling, drug use or depictions of crime.
«Unmotivated» killings, violence against the defenceless or a positive view of drug use, as well as graphics close to reality.
PEGI content labelling
In addition to the age limits, PEGI equips the games with various warnings:
The game contains depiction of violence.
The game contains foul language.
The game may seem intimidating to young children.
The game depicts nudity and / or sexual behaviour or sexual references.
The game refers to or depicts drug use.
The game contains descriptions of or elements that may encourage discrimination.
Games that encourage or train gambling.
It is possible to spend real money in the game.
Feel free to read the original texts that tell what the PEGI symbols mean.
Who is behind PEGI age marking?
The system of age marking in The Pan European Game Information (PEGI), was created to provide European parents with information that would make it easier for them to make decisions when purchasing computer games.
PEGI was launched in the spring of 2003, and several national age marking systems were thus replaced by a single system across almost all of Europe (35 countries in 2018). PEGI is run in a collaboration between the gaming industry itself and representatives from the authorities.
How are the age limits for computer games set?
All games released in Europe are marked according to PEGI’s labelling scheme. The age limits were developed by the Interactive Software Federation of Europe ( ISFE ).
PEGI uses two methods to set an age limit. One method applies to games for game consoles:
- all games on disc for Microsoft Xbox consoles
- all games (downloadable or in box) for Sony PlayStation consoles and Sony PlayStation VITA
- all games for Nintendo Wii U and Nintendo 3DS
- most PC games (downloadable or in box)
Before launching the game, game developers fill out a screen form and sent that to PEGI. The content of the game is described there. The system then responds automatically with an age limit.
PEGI later receives the game and can check if the information from the game developer is correct. NICAM processes games rated from 3 to 7, while the VSC Rating Board checks games rated with 12, 16, or 18. Those who examine the games may override the preliminary automatic marking. Finally, they send a message to the game developer about what the marking they have come with.
This manual check becomes too expensive as thousands of new games are developed. Therefore, there is also an even more automatic and streamlined solution called IARC . Here too, the developers must fill in forms about the game contents on gross violence and so on. But with IARC, only random samples are taken afterwards. IARC can also be used for non-gaming apps.
IARC is a system that automatically calculates age limits for different countries, based on the information provided by the developers. Different countries in the world have different perceptions of what children should see. But in Europe, all countries have the same age limit. If you sit at a computer outside Europe and visit an online store for computer games, you may experience a whole different age limit than what you will see if you visit the same online store with a computer at home in Norway.
IARC is used here:
- all games and apps in Google Play (for Android devices)
- all games and apps in the Microsoft Windows Store (for Windows PCs, Windows Phones and Windows Tablets)
- all games and apps in the Nintendo eShop
- all games and apps in the Oculus VR Store
IARC is a collaboration among various organizations that deal with age marking in Europe, Australia, Brazil, North America and South Korea. Developers can thus concentrate on filling out a form for all the countries in which the game will be sold.
When you see PEGI age marking on Google Play online store, the developer has entered the information in the form to IARC, then IARC has automatically calculated what PEGI marking it should be.
You do not always see the PEGI label
- If you download a game directly from the game manufacturer’s website, PEGI may not be displayed, the manufacturer may display an age rating from the ESRB. This may vary.
- An American looking at the same game on Google Play as you that are living in Norway, will probably not see the PEGI label, but an ESRB label that may differ slightly from PEGI.
- The App Store does not use PEGI.
Not only games but also apps
PG! (Parental Guidance)
PEGI has another icon in use. The exclamation mark applies to apps that are not games, and which at the same time contain functions that parents should be aware of . There may be apps that contain inappropriate content or that have features that may lead to inappropriate content via links or possibility to play videos.
Examples of justifications for exclamation marks:
- Content that is controlled by other users and that is not moderated.
- Rough language.
- References to sex, violence or intoxication.
- Pictures / movies of sex, nudity, violence or intoxication.
Exclamation marks are also used when the app is like a portal with various contents, such as Netflix, which has both children’s movies and movies with an age limit of 18 years. Then it is almost impossible to classify the app. If you set 18 years, children will miss many children’s films. If you set 3 years, children can be intimidated by movies that do not suit them. Therefore, the app receives an exclamation point so that parents can become aware that they must be provided with some verbal guidance or go through the parent settings.
The exclamation point icon is determined via the IARC .
You can complain about the age limit
On PEGI’s website www.pegi.info, it is also possible to complain if you believe that a game should have a different age or content marking than it has received.
Here you can search for games, apps and age recommendations:
You can search for games and their age limits here: www.pegi.info. Click on the search result to get more information, among other things, to see the reasons for the age recommendation.
Press «Extended Search» to sort by:
- Year of release of the game
- Age of the child
- Platforms (such as Nintendo Switch, various types of Xbox, PlayStation, mobile phone, PC and so on).
- Icons (such as violence, foul language, and so on).
You can also search for age recommendations and reasons here . You will get the same information as in the PEGI link above, but the design is different. In addition, you can sort by the online stores Google Play and Microsoft Windows Store.
Feel free to also use the Barnevakten’s search function, since we post reviews (in Norwegian) and explain more about the game / app. Enter the name of the game or app in the search field. In each review, we also show the current age recommendation from PEGI.
(A translated version from Norwegian. Main Article.)