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Euro rating system PEGI goes online

Ross Miller

The Pan European Game Information, or PEGI, rating system is currently used for all offline video game releases in the United Kingdom and Europe. Now it's looking to tackle online, too. The PEGI Online has been a project eighteen months in the making. A multi-language website has launched to inform about the new initiative and provide resources to explain online gaming to the not-so-tech savvy parents.

Additionally, a PEGI Online symbol has been created to go on the back of games who adhere to the PEGI Online Safety Code. The code insists that license holders (developers, publishers) use their "best endeavors" to prevent offensive material from proliferating through the online service.

We applaud the clause for a coherent privacy policy, but are cautious toward a call for disallowing all game content not appropriately rated through PEGI, BBFC or German USK from a website. Pending interpretation of the wording and the aptitude of lawmakers regarding technology, that could be applied to user-made content such as Halo 3 replays or entrants in the Unreal Tournament mod competitions. We want a code to protect children, so long as it's not inappropriately used in a detrimental manner.

Regarding offensive material, we also hope European lawmakers are cognizant of the ingenuity of people -- even Nintendo's constricting Wi-Fi service was tainted when they allowed users a handful of pixels to create their own Mario Kart DS image. (And let's not forget the "Heil Hitler" Forza car from earlier this week.) If there are tools in place for game makers to use "best endeavors" to prevent (i.e. catch and subsequently ban) offensive material, great. But to make a cautionary note, legislators are going to need to realize that there is no technology that can effectively eliminate offensive and obscene content altogether without eliminating all content.

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