Brussels, 17 December 2007 - Just three months after the launch of PEGI Online (Pan European Game Information for Online), an ambitious system of guidelines promoting online gaming security for minors, fifteen major videogame publishers* have signed up to the scheme, with more in the pipeline.
PEGI Online, an offshoot of PEGI, is backed by the European Commission and by the world's leading interactive entertainment companies who see it as a robust method of protection online. From the outset the European Commission grasped the value of the user-friendly formula allocating it a financial contribution drawn from the Safer Internet Action Plan budget line. Commenting on PEGI Online in June 2007, Viviane Reding, Commissioner for Information Society and Media said:“This is a good example of an industry initiative developed in co-operation with other stakeholders that allows a rapid and flexible solution to the problems of new technologies and greater safety for our children.”
Taking stock of the achievements at the end of the first quarter, Patrice Chazerand, Secretary General of the Interactive Software Federation of Europe (ISFE), said,“All ISFE members involved in online gaming are now holding a PEGI Online license. The ISFE membership has again taken the lead in addressing an area of concern for European consumers. Prospects for establishing a harmonized safety standard throughout Europe for online video games look very promising.”
PEGI Online is designed to offer youngsters across Europe enhanced protection from unsuitable gaming content as well as help parents understand the risks and potential for harm within the online environment. It is the videogame industry’s own initiative, an evolution of PEGI, the first ever pan-European age rating system for safe use of videogames, launched in 2003. The ambitious programme operates on a voluntary self-regulating basis and is designed to adapt to the demands of the fast changing technology.
The system, combining self assessment by publishers with scrutiny by an independent body, boasts the strictest standards in Europe, turning the protection of minors online into reality. Said Chazerand:“First and foremost this is about the industry exercising a sense of responsibility. Whereas PEGI helps parents make sure that their children are exposed only to material appropriate to their age and their stage of development, PEGI Online secures the best effort of signatories to guarantee that children playing online are not exposed to adult material or inappropriate behaviour. The Europe-wide scheme shows an industry attuned to consumer needs and adept at anticipating them.”
Four cornerstones define the PEGI Online scheme: a safety code and framework contract; a PEGI Online icon for display by the license holder; dedicated websites for applicants and for the general public; an independent administration to manage the scheme together with a process for advice and dispute settlement.
“Videogames and the Internet are a part of today’s reality,” said Jens Uwe Intat, ISFE Chairman.“This is tremendously positive for kids, as new technology gives young people opportunities to learn, have fun, be creative and communicate in ways that previous generations couldn’t have imagined. PEGI Online equips parents to help their children navigate this technology safely.”
Wim Bekkers from NICAM (Netherlands Instituut voor de Classificatie van Audiovisuele Media) the Administrator of both the PEGI and PEGI Online systems stated:“Today, 230 companies subscribe to PEGI. It is recognised by consumers and policy makers as being the reference in videogame rating at pan European level. The goal now is for PEGI Online, still in its infancy, to get wider uptake. Thanks to our expertise in media rating, the objective of affording European parents the choice of having their children play on PEGI Online labelled sites is clearly in sight.”
*List of PEGI Online signatories as of today:
Name of Company Name of Gamesportal
Burda:ic GmbH www.alaplaya.eu
City Interactive S.A www.city-interactive.com
Eidos Interactive Limited www.eidosinteractive.com
Electronic Arts www.electronicarts.co.uk
Funcom A/S www.funcom.com
Koch Media GmbH www.kochmedia.com
Microsoft Corporation www.xbox.com
NCsoft Europe Ltd. www.eu.plaync.com/eu/games
Nintendo of Europe GmbH www.nintendo-europe.com
Sony (SCEE) www.playstation.com
The Walt Disney Company Limited www.disney.co.uk/toontown
THQ (UK) LTD www.thq-games.com
Vivendi Games Europe www.vugames.com
Established in 1998 and registered in 2002 under Belgian law as an international association with scientific and pedagogical purposes, ISFE (the Interactive Software Federation of Europe) represents the interests of the interactive software sector throughout the 27 EU Member States plus Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. Today, ISFE membership comprises 13 major publishers of interactive software as well as 13 interactive software trade associations throughout Europe.
ISFE has been running the Pan-European Game Information (PEGI) system since 2003 (see www.pegi.info). PEGI provides an age rating recommendation system intended to inform European parents regarding content that is suitable for their children. As a classification system PEGI supports informed adult choice and does not censor content.
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