Video games have been present in almost everyone’s life since the 1980s. They are an extraordinary way to have fun solo or together. And can captivate and enchant their audience – regardless of age. But this glittering coin has two sides!

Although they bring delightful memories and many exciting adventures, video games can harm if not tailored to the recipient. It is especially true for children whose parents do not necessarily control what the kid plays. Overly terrifying or violent titles can scare younger recipients, so it’s vital to familiarize yourself with the content of your dream game before purchasing.

This topic also applies to adults who may be too sensitive or do not want to witness certain scenes while having fun with their new video game. Fortunately, we live in a world where various associations try to develop an effective system to inform all recipients about the possible harmful content of a chosen title.

In Europe, PEGI is already known everywhere as such an organization, and today we will tell you more about its impressive work. If you want to learn what is PEGI, continue reading this guide.

What does PEGI stand for?

Pan European Game Information (PEGI) is a European video game rating system created by the Interactive Software Federation of Europe in 2003. It replaced individual national arrangements and is currently valid in 38 European countries.

The exception is Germany, which uses its own USK system. PEGI evaluates and decides the acceptability of video games for different age groups. The rating is visible on the box, but you can also find it in the advertisement or official website. Such ratings are excellent guidelines — especially for parents — that help you make an age-appropriate purchase. But they do not inform about the difficulty level. The European Union appreciates the work of PEGI as an excellent example of European harmonization.

PEGI ratings

PEGI uses clear markings featuring the recommended age of the recipient in a specific color. On the video game box, we can also find icons indicating the content, the knowledge of which proves priceless when learning about the specific gameplay features. The age ratings divide into five categories.

PEGI 3 – This title is perfect for any age group that can use a device to play a video game. It cannot contain bad language and scenes that may scare a child. It may include mild violence presented in a friendly or comical context. Titles rated with this label include games like Flower, Cookie Ride, and Football Manager 2023.

GameReleaseGenreDeveloper
Flower 2019-02-14 Adventure Thatgamecompany
Football Manager 2023 (EU) 2022-11-08 Sport Sports Interactive
Dirt Rally 2015-12-07 Simulation Feral Interactive (Linux)
American Truck Simulator 2016-02-02 Adventure SCS Software
Rush 2010-12-03 Indie Two Tribes
Human Fall Flat 2016-07-22 Adventure No Brakes Games
Planet Coaster 2016-11-17 Strategy Frontier Developments
Animal Crossing New Horizons (Nintendo) (US) 2020-03-20 Social simulation Nintendo EPD
Farming Simulator 22 2021-11-22 Simulation Giants Software
140 2013-10-16 Action & Shooter Carlsen Games

PEGI 7 – The title is for everyone from the age of seven. It contains the same content as PEGI 3, but mild, non-detailed, and unrealistic forms of violence are allowed. It may also provide sounds and images that may be frightening to a younger audience and nudity in a non-sexual context. Games with this designation include LEGO Harry Potter Collection, Ratchet and Clank, and more.

PEGI 7
GameReleaseGenreDeveloper
Lego Harry Potter Collection (Xbox) (EU) 2018-11-02 Action, Adventure Traveller's Tales
Minecraft Java Edition 2013-11-19 Action Mojang
Among Us 2018-11-16 Cooperation Innersloth
Souldiers 2022-06-02 Metroidvania Retro Forge
Lego Harry Potter Collection (Nintendo) (EU) 2018-10-30 Action, Adventure Traveller's Tales
The Outbound Ghost 2022-09-20 RPG, Adventure Conradical Games
Pokemon Violet (Nintendo) (US) 2022-11-18 RPG Game Freak
Asterix & Obelix XXL 2 2018-11-28 Adventure OSome Studio

PEGI 12 – Titles that show violence in a slightly more realistic form, directed at fictional characters. It may also contain unrealistic violence towards human or animal-like characters. Mild language, nudity, and indirect sexual content are acceptable. In games with this designation, you can also find gambling scenes that can encourage players to try it in real life. Video games with this label include The Sims 4, World of Warcraft, and more.

PEGI 12
GameReleaseGenreDeveloper
The Sims 4: City Living 2016-11-03 Simulation Maxis
Fortnite X Marvel - Spider-Man Zero Outfit 2022-06-08 Action, Shooter Epic Games
The Crew 2 Gold Edition 2018-06-29 MMO Ivory Tower
Overwatch 2: Watchpoint Pack (Xbox Series X/S) 2022-10-04 Action, Shooter Blizzard Entertainment
Need for Speed Unbound 2022-12-02 Racing Criterion Games
Outer Wilds - Echoes of the Eye 2021-09-28 Action, Adventure Mobius Digital
Hooked on You: A Dead by Daylight Dating Sim 2022-08-03 Adventure Psyop
Asterigos: Curse of the Stars 2022-10-11 Action RPG Acme Gamestudio
Psychonauts 2 2021-08-25 Adventure Double Fine
The Shopkeeper 2014-10-23 Adventure Tom De Roeck

PEGI 16 – This title may contain realistic violence and sexual activity without showing private parts. There are also more brutal language and scenes showing the use of various drugs or crimes that may encourage one to try similar activities in real life. Examples of video games with this rating include the WWE franchise, Sniper Elite, and more.

PEGI 16
GameReleaseGenreDeveloper
Sniper Elite 4 2017-02-13 Adventure Rebellion
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag - Freedom Cry 2014-02-25 Adventure Ubisoft Montreal
EA Sports UFC 4 (Xbox One) 2020-08-14 Fighting Electronic Arts
Star Wars Battlefront 2 (2017) | Celebration Edition 2017-10-17 Adventure EA DICE
Little Nightmares 2017-04-27 Adventure Tarsier Studios
Prison Architect 2015-10-06 Indie Introversion Software
>observer_ 2017-08-15 Adventure Bloober Team SA
Stranded: Alien Dawn 2022-10-12 Simulation, Strategy Haemimont Games

PEGI 18 – This title may contain and promote hardcore violence – even against innocent people or animals. It also glorifies the use of drugs and other stimulants and shows realistic sexual activity. Gore, often horrific violence like mass murder and torture is acceptable. It may also contain frightening scenes, not suitable for more sensitive people. Games with this rating include DOOM, Call of Duty, and more.

PEGI 18
GameReleaseGenreDeveloper
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II | Cross-Gen Bundle (Xbox Series X/S) 2022-10-28 Shooter Infinity Ward
DOOM 2016-05-12 Action & Shooter id Software
Grand Theft Auto V: Premium Online Edition 2015-04-14 Adventure Rockstar North
Battlefield V 2018-11-20 First-Person DICE
Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege Deluxe Edition 2015-12-01 Action Ubisoft Montreal
BioShock: The Collection 2016-09-15 Adventure 2K Australia
Batman: Arkham Knight 2015-06-23 Adventure Rocksteady Studios
2Dark 2017-03-10 Adventure Gloomywood
Warhammer 40,000: Darktide 2022-11-30 Action, FPS Fatshark
A Plague Tale: Requiem 2022-10-18 Action-adventure, stealth Asobo Studio

Content descriptions

In addition to the standard labels, PEGI also uses additional content descriptions that can tremendously help when purchasing a product. These are especially important for audiences who want to avoid watching specific themes or scenes.

The age recommendations are a broad topic – some subjects may merge or appear in titles with a rating that does not necessarily indicate it. While PEGI is strict about its rating and labeling policies, it’s always worth learning more or even checking out a review of your dream title on a trusted site.

Bad Language – The title contains mild or extremely violent swearing. This designation appears on video games rated PEGI 12, PEGI 18, and PEGI 18.

Discrimination – The game promotes or contains content that may encourage racial, cultural, religious, or other hatred. You can find this label only in descriptions of 18-rated games.

Violence – The game contains scenes of violence with a realism level acceptable for the designated age group. This symbol appears in all title descriptions rated PEGI 7 and above.

Fear – In games with the PEGI 7 label, the fear mark indicates that the gameplay may be frightening to younger children. The spider symbol on PEGI 12 or PEGI 16 games may suggest scary horror features during gameplay.

Drugs – The title may contain content showing the use of tobacco, drugs, or alcohol. Some scenes encourage such activity.

Sex – The game includes sex scenes at a realism level acceptable for the designated PEGI age group. It may appear in video game descriptions rated PEGI 12 and above.

Gambling – Gameplay may contain gambling scenes and introduce the basics of such activity. It may also encourage trying gambling in real life. This marking appears on video games with the PEGI 12, PEGI 16, and PEGI 18 ratings.

In-Game Purchases – This designation exists since 2018, indicating the presence of an in-game purchase function. The title allows players to buy various goods, digital items, or services for real currency. Such a label can also inform about random purchases, like loot boxes.

Game classification process

If you are curious about PEGI labels, you would certainly like to know how specific ratings are granted. It is a very effective process, following strict rules focusing on the safety and well-being of recipients of all ages. Rating falls into two separate schemes regarding physical and digital video games. Each of them is accepted according to the predetermined points of the procedure that publishers must complete.

Before launching a physical product for sale, the publisher must complete an extensive form and provide information on any essential element of the game that may be controversial. Among such information, there are answers regarding key features like violence, language, gambling, and others. Based on this form, the online PEGI system makes a temporary age rating supplemented with content descriptions.

In the next step, the publisher delivers their product to the PEGI administration for the ultimate evaluation. If a title is rated PEGI 3 or PEGI 7, it is submitted for NICAM rating. Higher-rated games are handled by the VSC Rating Board. After appropriate testing, the administration accepts or changes the temporary classification, issuing a final rating. From now on, the publisher can supplement the game description with the official PEGI label.

As age rating for digital products is a bit more complicated, the International Age Rate Coalition (IARC) is responsible for the whole process. Faster classification allows a more efficient response to possible changes or errors, which is often the case with digital games.

The publisher’s task is to make the game available for sale, and then he can request an age rating. First, the publisher completes an IARC survey to answer a series of questions about the content of the product. The age rating is assigned immediately after its completion, but the classification may change in the future. The IARC administration undertakes several inspections and tests to check whether the product sells under the correct age rating.

PEGI application

In addition to the website, PEGI has released an app to help consumers looking for information on the age rating of their dream games.

It’s the perfect tool for parents or gamers, available in stores like Google Play. It helps investigate information about the selected title at home, at work, or while shopping. And in the PEGI app, you’ll find comprehensive information about the video game’s content and age rating. You can filter titles by genre, age, and other categories to find what you’re looking for. The app also provides in-depth information on parental control and playing video games with family. It can also serve as a quick aid in understanding specific signs.

Reception

PEGI is an excellent video game classification system valued in Europe but it received some criticism. The most fundamental issue is its misjudgment concerning the gambling presence in some games in the past.

Content descriptions also confuse, not directly informing whether an icon only means the selected feature in the game or encourages harmful behavior. It is especially confusing for titles with content descriptions about drugs, gambling, discrimination, and violence. Many parents pay attention to this small detail, claiming that the designation alone is not enough to decide whether a chosen title suits their children. They have to look for more detailed information elsewhere to know whether the game only mentions a specific element or develops it more.

Summary

PEGI is one of the world’s most successful age-rating organizations for video games. It not only encourages safe sales with a specific icon. It raises awareness of the risks and benefits of gaming and Internet use as well.

Video games are no longer some forbidden product avoiding any regulations. They are thoroughly categorized and accompanied by accurate content descriptions. When a title now harms a child or an adult depends entirely on the conscious choice of the buyer.

Using the extensive knowledge of PEGI ratings and the additional information on PEGI.info, we can carefully choose the video game of our dreams and learn more about the benefits of gaming. As it turns out, in addition to providing a lot of fun, video games can educate, relax, improve brain function or inspire. All you have to do is choose well and enjoy exactly what you desired.