The UK is set to simplify its video game ratings and bring in the parental warnings in line with rest of Europe. The move means that retailers will need to adopt new age ratings and face legal penalties if they fail to adhere to the new rules.
The rating of video games in the UK has, for many years, fallen under the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC). The BBFC is the same body which rates films shown at movie theaters. This has led to video games having different age cut-offs in the UK when compared with other European countries. It has also led to a series of complex tiers.
The UK government have decided that a new body will be set-up for this purpose. This is body called the Video Standards Council (VSC), and game ratings will now be aligned with those across the rest of the European Union.
The BBFC, however, will retain a role in assessing games with a 'high level' of violence or sexual content.
The VSC will use a system called the Pan European Game Information system (Pegi). Pegi gives games an age rating as well as other details, such as violent content and bad language.
The Pegi system will mean stiffer penalties for retailers who break the law. This means that any retailer who sells a 12-rated game to a child under that age could face jail.
The issue has led to considerable debate on the PlayStation forums.
The BBC notes that the VSC / Pegi system will begin operational from July 2012.