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VSC: Half of games released in UK are family friendly

Only 11 per cent of PEGI rated games receive 18 rating, but depictions of sex are of greater concern than violence

More than half of all games released in the UK are suitable for the entire family.

According to a report published by the Video Standards Council (VSC) - the regulatory body responsible for assigning PEGI ratings in the UK - 53.3 per cent of the 298 games submitted in the period between July 30 and December 31, 2012 were classified for children aged 7-years or under. More than 33 per cent were deemed suitable for children aged 3-years of under.

This runs contrary to gaming's apparent fascination with violence and mayhem - a frequent preoccupation of prominent industry figures and the press. Indeed, only 11.7 per cent of games submitted during that period were given an 18 classification, with a further 15.5 per cent awarded a 16 rating.

Give that the period between July and December is season for the industry's blockbusters, which are generally base on more adult subject matter, PEGI anticipates that a full-year report would have seen the 16 and 18 ratings come in, "two or three percentage points lower."

However, analysis of the VSC's ratings criteria shows a relatively severe stance on depictions of sex and nudity.

In terms of violence, the PEGI 16 classification is awarded for, " realistic violence and sustained depictions of death or injury to human characters." Furthermore, a PEGI 18 classification is awarded for, "Gross violence and such things as torture, sadism, horrific depictions of death or injury, motiveless killing and violence towards vulnerable people."

By contrast, a game will receive a PEGI 16 rating for showing the, "the sex act...in a non-explicit manner" or "erotic or sexual nudity." If sex is depicted explicitly then that rating would increase to PEGI 18. Theoretically, the, a game that featured sustained, sadistic violence would receive the same rating as a game that frankly depicted consensual sex on one occasion.

This could prove prohibitive for developers interested in exploring sex and sexuality in games - one of the few de facto taboos that remain for the medium - as the VSC "does not take context into account" when handing out ratings. Once a game depicts an act that falls under the PEGI 18 rating, it cannot be awarded anything less.

The VSC was declared the UK's official PEGI body in July 2012.

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Matthew Handrahan


Matthew Handrahan joined GamesIndustry in 2011, bringing long-form feature-writing experience to the team as well as a deep understanding of the video game development business. He previously spent more than five years at award-winning magazine gamesTM.