I know I’ve banged on about this before, but it remains deeply frustrating that a fair proportion of the population still think that it’s okay for younger folk – adolescents and below – to play with adult rated video games; often without realising that there is likely to be something in there wholly unsuitable for them.
I can understand the attraction of many ‘18’ rated games – many will remember attempts to sneak into a cinema in order to watch an ‘18’ rated film when they were fourteen/fifteen/sixteen – and it is much easier to get your hands on a game that it is sneaking into the cinema. Adults will frequently buy an ‘18’ rated game for someone much younger; justifying the purchase with a “it’s only a video game” argument whilst failing to understand that games are no longer the simple, 2D blocky affairs they were back in the eighties.
Perhaps then, it is time to take the message to the kids rather than the adults and to this end, we have now embarked on an attempt to engage schools on the issue through the provision of an online educational programme which can be incorporated into the school day.
Ostensibly aimed at KS2/KS3 students (though there is also a version for those over 18), the course comprises an interactive video detailing what PEGI does, how games are rated and what the ratings mean. Coupled with this is our ‘Gamewise’ magazine which features a number of related articles, information on setting console controls and some follow-up exercises and other resources. All this comes for a mere £50 per year!
We are currently trialling the package and undertaking a few demos at assorted educational establishments. In this way, we hope to spread the message about the importance of adhering to the ratings – they’re not just there to decorate the game packaging, but to warn that some content really isn’t suitable for younger players.
If you are a UK based educational establishment, or simply just curious, the details are available on our website (www.videostandards.org.uk). In the meantime, we continue trying to get the PEGI message across to young people in the hope that they come to understand what the ratings are intended to do. A little education often goes a long way in enabling people to make informed rather than uneducated choices in their game playing.