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European Online Games Ratings System Unveiled

Officials have announced an extension of Europe's PEGI rating system for games to cover online gaming via consoles, PCs and mobile phones, with publishers signing a pledge covering website content, privacy and the protection of younger players.
Officials have announced an extension of the PEGI (Pan European Game Information) rating system for games to cover online gaming via consoles, PCs and mobile phones. The PEGI system is currently used for all offline retail products in the UK and Europe, often in conjunction with other local ratings systems. The new PEGI Online scheme has been developed over a period of eighteen months and will see publishers adding a new logo to the packaging of relevant titles, as well as promoting a multi-language information website at www.pegionline.eu, which explains the scheme and offers advice to parents. The first games supporting the new system should appear in the next few months. Rather than specifying a specific age rating for a game, the new logo is meant to show that the publisher has agreed to an online safety code and framework contract. This includes an obligation to keep the website “free from illegal and offensive content created by users and any undesirable links, as well as measures for the protection of young people and their privacy when engaging in online gameplay.“ The new ratings system was announced at the Expert Conference 2007 in Brussels by European industry body the IFSE (Interactive Software Federation of Europe). The European parliament’s Commissioner for Education and Culture, Viviane Reding spoke in favor of the system, saying: “The protection of children as users of online technologies is of great importance for the Commission.” “The Internet has added a whole new dimension to the various forms of media consumption. This includes video games [which] increasingly constitute one of the favorite leisure activities of Europeans of all ages and social categories," said Reding. “The system is aimed at ensuring input not only by industry but also by all other stakeholders - including regulators, child welfare NGOs and child psychology experts who were consulted in the design of the system and are represented in the structure set up to run PEGI and PEGI Online,” she added.

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