Home Forums Business and Legal Are ratings legally binding?

This topic contains 8 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by  Anonymous 13 years, 9 months ago.

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  • #4408


    Hi all,
    Apologies if this was discussed here before.

    I’m finding it very hard to find a definitive answer on whether video game ratings are legally binding in Ireland.

    Is it illegal for a retailer to sell an game as rated by PEGI to a younger age than it’s rated for in ireland?

    As far as I found out so far:
    When the british film censor rates a game, it becomes legally binding, and the ratings are just advisory unless the censor does it.
    However in ireland the film censor does not rate games, and so the ratings are not legally binding.

    Having spoken to an employee of a video game retailer, they are told that it is illegal for them to sell games outside the games age category.

    Is there any relevant european legislation?
    Can anyone comment on this?

  • #23485


    it is illegal in the UK to ignore ratings, but not illegal in Ireland to best of my knowledge

  • #23486


    I remember when the elspa ratings had started. It was grand for 15s and 18s but 11+ always sorta annoyed me to the point where I’d tell my manager that I’d carded a 10 year old, just to be anal, not really cardin the youngster. Never could understand what made a game alright for 11 year olds but not 10s.

  • #23488


    I found this on the ELSPA website. It’s for the UK but mentions Europe as a whole…

    In the UK, age ratings for computer and video games are determined by a two-tier system that works within voluntary European guidelines known as PEGI and the mandatory BBFC regulations as determined by the Video Recordings Act of 1984.

    The voluntary PEGI system is one of the most robust in Europe and, in terms of rating criteria, is the strictest. It is supported by the entire value chain from software developer and hardware manufacturer through to publisher, distributor and retailer.


    So from my limited understanding of this – The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) are legally binding, whereas PEGI only advises parents. As Ireland doesn’t have a mandatory ratings body, that I know of anyway, then the only thing to go on is the advice of PEGI. So I wouldn’t imagine that a retailer would be able to stop someone underage from buying the game.

  • #23494

    Aphra K

    yes as far as I know only the BBFC system is legally binding…


  • #23495


    Indeed, Micheal McDowell was on the news around the time of the Manhunt media fiasco and he went some ways to explaining the situation. While ratings on movies are legally binding video games fall outside of that catagory, hence all that is left with is the ELSPA rating which, as you already know, is voluntary and not legally binding. Measures are currently been taken to rectify this I believe.

    Some retailers however, have a policy of not selling unsuitable games to minors. I’ve seen it happen before and the reason they give is usually that “its against the law”. However, of more serious concern was the time I heard an employee of one of the major retailers say to a youngish person, “I’m not allowed to sell it to you, but if you get one of your parents to buy it for you then thats grand”, and what was the game? Grand Theft Auto: Vice City… :roll:

  • #23497


    Well I’d always tell kids to get their parents if they wanted the game, and I’d tell the parents then that its an 18s game and usually why. Far be it for me to decide what their kid is allowed play.

    Very often though parents know if their kid can handle mature stuff or not. I remember trying to justify wanting Mortal Kombat (on the game boy no less), was awkward trying to explain how all the killing/ripping out spinal cords was “fun”.

  • #23498


    Well thats fair enough as long as the assistant explained it to the parents. If he didnt then thats just another thing that needs to be changed and one which will if the ratings become legally binding.

    Heres a question though, if the ratings become legally binding yet the parent, knowing the game is unsuitable of their children, still buys the game for them. What happens if they were caught? Are they prosecuted the same as a retailer? Is supplying the same as selling?

  • #23500


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