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UK government gets tough on video game age ratings

Non-compliant retailers threatened with prison terms.

The system for giving video games age ratings in the UK has been revamped, with the government promising that non-compliance will be more thoroughly policed.

As reported by the BBC, games will now be rated by the Video Standards Council in line with Europe-wide standards, rather than the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC).

The VSC will rate games to PEGI specifications and then ensure retailers are abiding by them. For the first time, any retailer selling a game to a child under the advertised age restriction can face time in prison.

However, the new ratings only apply to games bought on the high street - online purchases are exempt.

"It will give parents greater confidence that their children can only get suitable games while we are creating a simpler system for the industry having their games age-rated," explained Creative Industries Minister Ed Vaizey

The move was met with enthusiasm by the various industry bodies.

UKIE stated that the new system offers customers "much needed clarity".

"We are also in the planning stages of a major awareness campaign to help the public understand the system and other aspects of responsible gaming as soon as PEGI becomes law in the UK," said CEO Jo Twist.

TIGA exec Richard Wilson said that the new system is a necessary evolutionary step for the industry.

"The fact there are criminal sanctions in place will mean that retailers will want to train and support their staff," he added.

The new system is expected to be in place by July this year.

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Fred Dutton

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Fred Dutton was Eurogamer's US news editor, based in Washington DC.

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