This site has been archived on (2012/12/04)
Go to main content
Important legal notice

EUROPA - Audiovisual and Media Policies

Navigation path: European Commission > Audiovisual and Media Policies
Language navigation: de en fr

Home | News | A-Z | Contact | Site map  

Local menu

Alternate presentations: Default layout Alternate layout, printer-friendly and allows font resizing

Protection of minors - Video Games

Video Games

Communication on protection of consumers, in particular minors, in respect of the use of video games.

The issue

Video games are one of the favourite leisure activities of Europeans of different ages and social categories. There are also promising opportunities for a strong interactive games industry in Europe, which is already the fastest growing and most dynamic sector in the European content industry, and has a higher growth rate than in the US, half the revenue of the music market and more than the cinema box office in Europe. The rapid growth of on-line video games is also a key driver for the uptake of broadband telecommunications networks and third generation cellular phones. All this makes video games a front-rank medium, with the result that freedom of expression for both creators and gamers is a paramount concern.

However, - because of the potential psychological effects of video games on minors - this must be balanced by high standards of protection. The fact that video games are increasingly played by adults and played jointly by children and parents demands in particular differentiated levels of access to video games for minors and adults.

Amongst several other EU initiatives in related fields, the rating by age group and the labelling of certain video and computer games were already the subject of a Council Resolution in 2002.

The Method

With its Communication, the Commission is replying to the Council's call for a review of the various methods used for assessing the content of video and computer games and to report back to the Council. For this purpose, a questionnaire was sent to all Member States. The questions covered age rating/content rating systems, the sale of video games by retailers, video game bans, effectiveness of current measures, on-line video games and a cross-platform and pan-European rating system. All 27 Member States replied.

Video games are one of the favourite leisure activities of Europeans of different ages and social categories

According to the information received from the Member States, the PEGI system is currently applied by 20 Member States. Two Member States (Germany and Lithuania) have specific binding legislation while Malta relies on general legislation. However, four Member States (Cyprus, Luxembourg, Romania and Slovenia) have no system in place. 15 Member States have legislation concerning the sale of video games with harmful content to minors in shops, although the scope of laws varies between Member States. Until now, four countries (Germany, Ireland, Italy, UK) have banned certain violent video games.

Adopted in 2003, PEGI labels provide an age rating and warnings such as violence or bad language, empowering parents to decide which game is appropriate for their children, as well as adult gamers to better choose their games. PEGI is supported by the major console manufacturers in Europe. PEGI Online was launched in 2007, co-funded by the EU's Safer Internet Programme (IP/08/310), in response to the rapid growth of online video games.


The Objectives

The Communication, bearing in mind the value of video games in promoting cultural diversity:

Download documents:

Fact Sheet (October 2008)

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on the protection of consumers, in particular minors, in respect of the use of video games - 22 April 2008 - COM(2008) 207 final

Press release (April 2008)

Council Resolution on the protection of consumers, in particular young people, through the labelling of certain video games and computer games according to age group, 2 March 2002 (2002/C65/02), OJ C65, 14.3.2002, p.2.

Deutsch English Français


Return to top

More on this subject

Download documents

Home | News | A-Z | Contact | Site map