Software Rating Information
Once a game has been reviewed by PEGI or USK, it is assigned a rating and, at times, one or more content descriptors. These are designed to provide information on the type of content the game contains, and what age level the content is appropriate for. A game's rating is found on the front of the game's packaging, and game content descriptors, where applicable, are found on the back.
USK and PEGI Ratings Details
The USK ratings a game can receive are:
0 - Approved without age restriction in accordance with Art. 14 German Children and Young Persons Protection Act (JuSchG).
- Games without age restriction are games which are directly aimed at children and young persons as well as at an adult buyer group. These include family-friendly games such as games of skill, board and card games, sports games and platformers, as well as all games for young persons and adults which do not pose any inherent child protection risks of any kind (e.g. simulations, management games, classical adventures and some role-playing games, which younger children are not even able to play).
6 - Approved for children aged 6 and above in accordance with Art. 14 German Children and Young Persons Protection Act (JuSchG).
- These are mostly family-friendly games which may be more exciting and competitive (e.g. via faster game speeds and more complex tasks), such as racers, simulations, platformers and role-playing games.
12 - Approved for children aged 12 and above in accordance with Art. 14 German Children and Young Persons Protection Act (JuSchG).
- These games feature much more of a competitive edge. Game scenarios are set within a historical, futuristic or mythical fairy-tale context, enabling players to distance themselves sufficiently from events. This categorisation includes arcade games, strategy games and role-playing games as well as some military simulations.
16 - Approved for children aged 16 and above in accordance with Art. 14 German Children and Young Persons Protection Act (JuSchG).
- Games approved for children aged 16 and above may include acts of violence. This means that it is also natural for adults to form part of the buyer group. These games frequently feature armed combat, a framework story and military missions. The genres in this categorisation also include action adventures, military strategy games and shooters.
18 - Not approved for young persons aged under 18 in accordance with Art. 14 German Children and Young Persons Protection Act (JuSchG).
- These games virtually always involve violent game concepts and frequently generate a dark and threatening atmosphere. This makes them suitable for adults only. The genres in this categorisation include first-person shooters, action adventures and open-world games. The background of the story has its basis in such elements as war conflicts or brutal fights between rival gangs.
The PEGI ratings a game can receive are:
PEGI 3 - The content of games with a PEGI 3 rating is considered suitable for all age groups.
- The game should not contain any sounds or pictures that are likely to frighten young children. A very mild form of violence (in a comical context or a childlike setting) is acceptable. No bad language should be heard.
PEGI 7 - Suitable for persons aged 7 or over.
- Game content with scenes or sounds that can possibly be frightening to younger children should fall in this category. Very mild forms of violence (implied, non-detailed, or non-realistic violence) are acceptable for a game with a PEGI 7 rating.
PEGI 12 - Suitable for persons aged 12 or over.
- Video games that show violence of a slightly more graphic nature towards fantasy characters or non-realistic violence towards human-like characters would fall in this age category. Sexual innuendo or sexual posturing can be present, while any bad language in this category must be mild. Gambling as it is normally carried out in real life in casinos or gambling halls can also be present (e.g. card games that in real life would be played for money).
PEGI 16 - Suitable for persons aged 16 or over.
- This rating is applied once the depiction of violence (or sexual activity) reaches a stage that looks the same as would be expected in real life. The use of bad language in games with a PEGI 16 rating can be more extreme, while games of chance and the use of tobacco, alcohol or illegal drugs can also be present.
PEGI 18 - Suitable for persons aged 18 or over.
- The adult classification is applied when the level of violence reaches a stage where it becomes a depiction of gross violence, apparently motiveless killing, or violence towards defenceless characters. The glamourisation of the use of illegal drugs and explicit sexual activity should also fall into this age category.
The PEGI content descriptors a game can receive are:
Violence - The game contains depictions of violence. In games rated PEGI 7 this can only be non-realistic or non-detailed violence.
Games rated PEGI 12 can include violence in a fantasy environment or non-realistic violence towards human-like characters, whereas games rated PEGI 16 or 18 have increasingly more realistic-looking violence.
Bad Language - The game contains bad language. This descriptor can be found on games with a PEGI 12 (mild swearing), PEGI 16 (e.g. sexual expletives or blasphemy) or PEGI 18 rating (e.g. sexual expletives or blasphemy).
Fear - This descriptor may appear on games with a PEGI 7 if it contains pictures or sounds that may be frightening or scary to young children, or on PEGI 12 games with horrific sounds or horror effects (but without any violent content).
Gambling - The game contains elements that encourage or teach gambling. These simulations of gambling refer to games of chance that are normally carried out in casinos or gambling halls. Games with this sort of content are PEGI 12, PEGI 16 or PEGI 18.
Sex - This content descriptor can accompany a PEGI 12 rating if the game includes sexual posturing or innuendo, a PEGI 16 rating if there is erotic nudity or sexual intercourse without visible genitals, or a PEGI 18 rating if there is explicit sexual activity in the game.
Depictions of nudity in a non-sexual content do not require a specific age rating, and this descriptor would not be necessary.
Drugs - The game refers to or depicts the use of illegal drugs, alcohol or tobacco. Games with this content descriptor are always PEGI 16 or PEGI 18.
Discrimination - The game contains depictions of ethnic, religious, nationalistic or other stereotypes likely to encourage hatred. This content is always restricted to a PEGI 18 rating (and likely to infringe national criminal laws).