PEGI Celebrates Safer Internet Day: Together For A Better Internet
VIDEO GAMES INDUSTRY SHARES BEST PRACTICE IN PROTECTION OF MINORS
The industry statistics for the European video games industry are eye-watering: the sector is worth a whopping €20bn - that’s more than all the other creative industries put together. Video games are played by 54% of the EU population aged 6-64, amounting to 250 million video gamers, and – surprising fact - 46% of them are female. It provides entertainment, innovation, employment, education, nurtures creative, artistic and technological talent, inspires new ways of understanding and interacting with the world around us and pushes the boundaries to deliver technologies with wide-ranging cross-over potential. Europe’s video games industry is undoubtedly an economic success story – but with this success and with 75% of 6-15 year olds in the key markets of Germany, Italy France, Spain and UK playing video games, there comes responsibility, a responsibility the industry takes extremely seriously.
As we celebrate Safer Internet Day, we believe the video games industry has a valuable case study in the protection of minors and in the use and management of effective, adaptive self-regulatory tools to share with the wider creative and technology sector.
Tools for responsible game-playing
PEGI was founded in 2003 by ISFE (Europe’s video games industry association) as a self-regulatory age rating system for video games. Prior to PEGI, there were a few budding initiatives to help parents ensure their children played video games with appropriate content. These were brought together and harmonised in PEGI, a system that could be rolled out across all of Europe with immediate effect.
The PEGI System is based on a Code of Conduct - a set of rules to which every publisher using the PEGI system is contractually committed. The Code deals with age labelling, promotion and marketing, privacy, community behaviour standards for subscribers that prohibits subscribers from introducing content or indulging in online behaviour which is illegal, offensive, racist, degrading, corrupting, threatening obscene or which might permanently impair the development of young people, and the removal of inappropriate content.
Nearly all major game platforms have the PEGI ratings as an integral part of their parental control tool systems. It was created with physical video games in mind, before video game playing became largely digital and players were able to download games and interact with other players in real-time. It might have been ahead of its time when it was created but it has proved to be a constantly reviewed and adapted best-practice tool to protect minors, to help parents and to build trust with consumers by ensuring that reliable information about video game content is provided in a responsible manner -including information on age labelling and content descriptors that alert parents to in-game purchases, bad language, violence, frightening content, drugs, sex or discrimination, for example.
PEGI is used and recognised throughout Europe – PEGI-rated products are marketed in more than 38 countries today – and it has the enthusiastic support of the European Commission. It is considered as a model of European harmonisation in the field of minor protection and consumer transparency and is governed by a range of experts including:
•parent and consumer organisation representatives
•child psychology experts
•age rating experts
•representatives from national authorities
•academic experts in video games
•lawyers expert in European minor protection laws
•video game industry experts
The importance of the parent/child dialogue
While parental control tools are important, the industry also encourages parents to show an interest in the games their children like to play, to play with them and to talk with them about responsible gaming and their online behaviour. Today’s digital environment is an integral part of the modern society and parents need to engage with their children in their digital activities just as they would do in their children’s artistic, musical and physical activities. The video game industry, often in partnership with parent organisations, and other bodies such as media literacy organisations, has forums and websites at national levels in place for this specific purpose which are continuously updated to keep parents and carers informed.
Video games provide major consumer benefits and are undeniably an integral part of 21st century entertainment, education and interaction. PEGI works with the industry to ensure that video game players everywhere - and children in particular - continue to enjoy great experiences. That is our raison d’être and we will continue to work tirelessly to deliver an enjoyable, safe, responsible and transparent environment for Europe’s video game playing community. It takes an industry to accept responsibility towards minors and to resource and respect the likes of PEGI, but it can be done.
Chair, PEGI Council