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The UK government will drop the ratings system run by the BBFC (British Board of Film Classification) and enforce the Pegi (Pan-European Game Information) system in a bid to crack down on children playing games that are rife with sex, violence and drugs.
Organisers say it will help families "make informed decisions" as video games packaging will now feature diagrams warning if the title includes bad language, drugs, discrimination, fear, gambling, sex, violence or online gameplay with other people.
Retailers will suffer heavy punishment if they are found to sell games to children below the 12, 16 or 18 years to age limits and could face prosecution.
The announcement follows years of calls for overhauling the current ratings system. Under the UK's previous government's Digital Britain Report in June 2009, officials highlighted how that Pegi's system often led to stricter age ratings than the BBFC might have given.
Under the new system the Games Ratings Authority (GRA) will be responsible for rating titles using Pegi's criteria where games will be rated for 12-years and over if they include non-graphic violence to human or animal characters, a slightly higher threshold of violence to fantasy characters or significant nudity or bad language.
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Games that depict of violence or sexual activity that looks the same as it would do in normal life will be rated 16-years and over.
Games will also be rated 18-years and over if there is a "gross" level of violence likely to make the viewer feel a sense of revulsion.
Growing Number of Gamers
Despite the new form of video games classification and ratings, the IAB Games Steering Group revealed late last year in a study that 25 to 45 year olds are identified as having the most number of players at 44 percent compared with 45 to 65 year olds at 33 percent and 16 to 24 year olds and 23 percent.
In the study, titled Gaming Britain, the video game playing audience has now 32.9m people, after surveying a nationally representative sample of 4,000 people aged 8 - 65 years old.
Other revelations show that female gamers have also risen to account for 49 percent of the demographic.
Seven out of ten 16 - 65 year old game players regularly use a gaming device at least 3 times a week and games consoles are more likely to be played for longer periods (30 mins - over 3 hours), while mobile and tablets are played more frequently but for shorter periods (less than 30 mins).
This article is copyrighted by IBTimes.co.uk, the business news leader