ARTICLES | June 12th, 2007
PEGI Online

The Interactive Software Federation of Europe (ISFE) has announced the launch of the PEGI Online website. PEGI Online is a system designed to help parents and children identify and limit the risks inherent to real-time player interaction. This is a joint initiative by ISFE, which designed the PEGI System, and the European Commission.

:: New PEGI Online website – an educational and information tool for parents and children
:: Greater peace of mind for parents through the PEGI Online label
:: European Commission funding PEGI Online under the Safer Internet-plus Programme

Since April 2003, the Pan European Game Information (PEGI) system has been providing parents in Europe with detailed recommendations about the suitability of game content for young people. PEGI offers easy-to-understand information in the form of age-rating labels and content descriptions on game packaging, helping make informed buying decisions possible (see www.pegi.info).

New risks associated with online games

Many videogames can be played against other players via a PC or games console with an Internet connection. Taking part in these games can expose players to risks associated with real-time interaction with other, unknown, players. Examples include unsuitable content, encouraging children to build relationships and share personal details, as well as links to other websites with dubious content.

New protection with PEGI Online

PEGI Online is the latest addition to the PEGI system. It focuses specifically on online games and is designed to provide basic protection for young people.

PEGI Online features:

1. a dedicated website for games providers and the general public (www.pegionline.eu)
2. a PEGI Online Safety Code to be signed by all participants
3. a PEGI Online Label to be displayed by licence-holders
4. independent administration, advice and dispute settlement process.
The PEGI Online website that has just opened helps parents, teachers and children understand online gaming, as well as the types of games and potential risks of online gaming ? and how to avoid them.

The PEGI Online Safety Code (POSC) promotes a basic level of protection for young people. All providers of online games signing up to the POSC commit themselves to banning inappropriate material and ensuring appropriate behaviour among users.

Providers registering their games with the PEGI system or with other recognized European systems such as the UK?s BBFC or Germany?s USK will be entitled to display the PEGI Online Label. The label is displayed each time an online video game is started up, along with the PEGI age-rating labels and content descriptors as assigned by the PEGI Administrator on checking the content submitted by the publisher concerned.

Patrice Chazerand, Secretary General of ISFE: ?While the PEGI system has provided parents with a tool to make informed buying decisions, PEGI Online will not give them the equivalent peace of mind: unlike PEGI logos the PEGI Online label only guarantees that the holder is committed to protect minors and has signed up to the PEGI Online Safety Code. Vigilant parents will therefore be instrumental to the success of PEGI Online.?

ISFE has appointed NICAM, the Netherlands Institute for the Classification of Audiovisual Media, as administrator for PEGI Online. NICAM will check the ability of applicants to live up to the provisions of the PEGI Online Safety Code. Parents and players will also be able to report abuse or complain to NICAM by completing a form available at the PEGI Online website. These alerting and dispute settlement processes come on top of the ones already available on most online gaming sites.

?We are pleased to see growing interest in PEGI, both from users and the major publishers,? statedJ?rgen B?nsch, Project Manager of PEGI Online. ?The system would not have been possible without the financial support of the European Commission, which has come as a propitious addition to the considerable moral and political support already given to PEGI from the outset.?

The PEGI Online system will be formally launched next month by Mrs Viviane Reding, Member of the Commission in charge of Information Society and Media.

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