In the UK, the Video Standards Council (VSC) has been hovering around since 1989 promoting standards along with age ratings for titles. You might know these classifications better as the PEGI (Pan European Game Information) rating which now bounces around the industry, being used to rate titles in 32 different countries alongside BBFC ratings in the UK. These ratings are advisories for customers but most retailers stick by them to avoid any problems or litigation associated with a minor buying games. This year’s report, which stretches from January to December 2013, throws out a few interesting tidbits of information.
It states a few facts that we already sort of knew like the average age of a gamer being 34 and a significant proportion of the audience being female (although it neglects to offer an exact figure). Where the report does show some interesting information however is in the percentage of games given each PEGI rating. First on the list, it states that 51.8% of titles are deemed suitable for minors. This means they have been given a PEGI 3 or 7 rating and contain no content that the media overlords feel children shouldn’t be exposed to.
What this shows if you flip it around is a little more pleasant, not to mention an indicator for the growing maturity of gamers. This means PEGI recommends against children playing over half of titles due to a number of factors including violence and mature themes. In a world where it’s assumed publishers often strive for the lowest possible rating to open their games up to the majority of the population, seeing that just under half are only suitable for ages 12 and above could be a sign that the medium of video games as a whole has moved on. Moved on from the stigma of being a distraction to stop children painting the wallpaper and into the same field as movies, making it all a lot more mainstream (which is often thrown around as a bad word but means more consumers to support developers).
The VSC 2013 report further breaks down the portion above PEGI 12 into separate percentages. PEGI 18 ratings were given to 14.3% of titles, while PEGI 16 was slapped on 17.2% and PEGI 12 on 16.8%. As open to discussion as these figures are, they do not represent everything. PEGI ratings are given to titles which are sold physically in stores. This means huge swathes of games sold on mobiles stores and digital distribution platforms like Steam are exempt from this figure. With huge amounts of titles – at least on Steam – being aimed at the more mature gamer, it does render these figures redundant to a point but nonetheless important when looking at the world of physical games media sales.