Game age ratings and what they mean

Game age ratings: a guide for parents
There are a lot of great, child-friendly games out there and classifications are incredibly useful. Familiarising yourself with the labels is a great place to start to help your child have a safe and fun gaming experience.
Login or Register to add to my wishlist

How important are age ratings for children’s gaming?

In some ways game classifications are just as important, if not more so, than age ratings for movies.

In a movie rated 18, children may witness adult scenes of violence and sex. In a game that is a PEGI 18, children would not only see these images but have the option to take part via their gaming character.

Elizabeth Milovidov, Ph.D., J.D., is an eSafety consultant in Europe, an Independent Expert on Digital Parenting and the founder of DigitalParentingCoach.com. “Game age classifications are really crucial for parents to understand the suitability of the game before handing over the latest trendy game," she sayss. "But unfortunately many ratings are ignored because parents don't know or understand the proper age or because there may be some confusion when downloading an app.”

She explains that the PEGI (Pan European Game Information) in Europe and the ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board) system in the US rate games according to age, content and suitability for young children.
 

What game classifications mean and what you can expect to see

PEGI 3 label
 
PEGI 3
This rating means the game is suitable for all ages and it shouldn’t have any frightening images or sounds. Mild, comical violence is allowed but no bad language.

Games rated PEGI 3

  • Fifa
  • Mario Kart
  • Rocket League
  • Sonic Free Riders
  • Pokemon Go
PEGI 7 rating image

PEGI 7
Games with this rating can include sounds and images that may be frightening to very young children and mild violence is acceptable. Mild violence in this context means implied, non-detailed and non-realistic.

Games rated PEGI 7

  • Crash Bandicoot
  • Lego Worlds
  • Minecraft 
  • Sonic Unleashed
PEGI 12 rating image

PEGI 12
Violence gets slightly more graphic in this category, and you may see acts of ‘non-realistic’ violence towards ‘human-like characters’. Sexual innuendos or sexual posturing might also be included in games with this rating. Mild bad language and gambling images/references may also be present.

Games rated PEGI 12

  • The Legend of Zelda
  • Shadow of the Colossus
  • The Sims 4
  • Fortnite

PEGI 16 rating image

PEGI 16
You will find this rating on games that present more realistic, life-like depictions of violence or sexual activity. Bad language is more prevalent and extreme and characters' use of drugs and alcohol may be seen.

Games rated PEGI 16

  • Monster Hunter
  • EA Sports UFC 3
  • PlayerUnknown’s Battleground
PEGI 18 rating image

PEGI 18
This is an adult classification and a game with this rating may include gross, excessive violence with motiveless killing and/or violence towards innocent characters. Sexual activity and the use of drugs may be glamourised in games with this PEGI rating.

Games rated PEGI 18

  • Grand Theft Auto
  • Call of Duty
  • Fallout 4
  • Just Cause 2, 3, and 4

Game content descriptors explained

Remember to keep an eye out for content descriptors that add extra information about the content of games. These come in the form of small images such as a clenched fist to indicate violence or a spider to indicate fear. Become familiar with these symbols and keep an eye out for any added information on game cases/in app stores.

 Violence content descriptor PEGI bad language content descriptors for gamingfear content descriptor gaminggambling content descriptor gaming

 

Drugs content descriptor PEGIDiscrimination content descriptor PEGI In game purchase content descriptor PEGI sex content descriptor gaming