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New rules to protect children from inappropriate video games

From 30th July, it is a criminal offence to sell video games with a “12” rating to those younger than that age, in the latest move by Government to ensure children are protected from unsuitable material.

The new rules are part of a transformation in the way in which video games are regulated. A new system simplifying the ratings system came into effect after Parliament passed the Video Recordings (Labelling) Regulations 2012. Video games will now be classified by a single authority and anyone convicted of selling restricted games to under-age children could face hefty fines or a prison sentence.

All games will now be age-rated by the Video Standards Council (VSC) under the Pan-European Games Information (PEGI) system. The clearly displayed PEGI age rating on the packaging will be accompanied by information about the type of content that led to the game receiving its classification.

Many consumers will be familiar with the PEGI age ratings that have already been applied voluntarily by publishers to many video games but some video games have had to be additionally rated by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC). The new law ends the dual system, gives legal backing to PEGI 12, 16 and 18 ratings and will result in clearer, unambiguous guidance about the suitability of games content for specific age groups.