PEGI, ESRB and ZERO: What do the age labels and content of video games mean

It has happened to us: we want to succeed when buying or giving a video game, which is already difficult, and when reviewing its characteristics we find a series of labels with numbers, images and notes on the margin that can be thrown out for us behind. What do these icons mean?

In Europe, as in the United States or Japan there are different systems that are used to detail the type of content of each video game beyond the description and official advances. In Spain, as well as the majority of the old continent, the system PAN-European Game Information (PEGI) is used. Something that, as you can see, is even used in the trailers of the next releases.

** to welcome or adapt to the standards of each system is voluntary. The time to acquire games or give them away.

From here it is time to respond to the most essential: what each of the age and content labels that are shown in video games in each region means. In Vidaxtra we explain it to you and, already put, we talk about the other two most widespread systems.

The Europe’s PEGI system

  • Official website: Pan-European Game Information (in Spanish)

Used in most Europe, The PEGI system replaced and unified the majority of national classification systems in 2003 and standardized in those members of the community that lacked their own, with exceptions such as Germany.

Its operation comes from ISFE, which in English means the Interactive Software Federation of Europe. Currently, the Pegi is in force in more than 35 countries, including France, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, the United Kingdom and, of course, Spain.

From here, the PEGI establishes two types of labels.

Age labels Pegi

The first establish the age. Each figure is equivalent to the minimum recommended age to enjoy each game. And, although, unlike the other systems, it does not have a classification for all audiences, the PEGI 3 label guarantees that the game does not contain sounds or images that can scare young children.

Special mention to The labels of adult classification , known as PEGI 18 or for over 18 years. A seal that specifies that among the contents it is possible to find brutal violence, murder for no apparent reason, consumption of illegal drugs and explicit sexual activity. This does not imply that it is the central theme of the game, but that any of these activities can happen during the course. And that is where the second type of label appears.

The content descriptors Pegi


  • The game contains representations of violence.
  • In games classified as PEGI 7, it can only be not detailed or not detailed.
  • Games classified as PEGI 12 may include violence in a fantasy or violence not realistic to humans,
  • In games classified as PEGI 16 or 18 they have an increasingly realistic violence.

Obscene language

  • The game contains soaz language.
  • It appears in the games from the age label Pegi 12 when minor sweater appears
  • From the age label Pegi 16 examples of sexual insults or blasphemy may appear
  • When this seal accompanies the PEGI 18 classification, the degree of insults can be raised and, as in the previous case, they can also contain sexual insults or blasphemy.

Fear or terror

  • This label appears as miedo in games with a pegi 7 if it contains images or sounds that can frighten young children
  • This label appears as teror in games with a pegi 12 classification that contain moderate horror sequences.
  • If terror appears in classified Games PEGI 16 they can be intense and constant horror sequences, disturbing images, although they do not necessarily include violent content.

Games of random

  • All games with this type of content have the classification by age 12, pegi 16 or pegi 18.
  • The game contains elements that foster or teach gambling, including triggers or loot boxes, even if they are acquired only based on playing.
  • There is also the possibility that these gambling simulations take place in game environments similar to casinos or game rooms.


  • This descriptor would not be necessary in nude representations in non -sexual content.
  • If the label appears in games whose classification PEGI 12 may be sexual positions or insinuations.
  • From the PEGI 16 classification it is possible that there are erotic nudes or sexual relations without visible genitals.
  • From Pegi 18 it is possible that there is explicit sexual activity in the game.

Illegal drugs

  • This content descriptor implies that the game has the classification by ages pegi 16 or pegi 18.
  • Regarding the content, the game refers or describes the use of alcohol or tobacco.
  • In addition, it is possible that throughout the game it is shown or refers to the use of illegal drugs.


  • This content is always restricted to a PEGI 18 classification.
  • The game contains representations of ethnic, religious, nationalist or others that can encourage hate.
  • On the other hand, it is possible that these types of representations violate the national criminal laws of any of the countries hosted by the PEGI system.

Includes purchases

  • The game offers the player the option to buy digital content or services with real world currency. From expansions and additional levels to advantages, or aspects of persecuts, through music or random items.
  • The label includes purchases also appears in updates that serve, for example, to disable ads.
  • Finally, it includes purchases also refers to games that enable subscriptions, virtual coins and other forms of game coins.

The North America System

Understanding Video Game Ratings ???? ESRB and PEGI ???? DIY in 5 Ep 163

  • Official website: ENTRANTAINMENT SOFTWARE Rating Board (in English)

Although, the PEGI is something like the standard of most Europe, its equivalent in the United States and a good part of the new continent is the ESBR system.

The peculiarity of this is that is more open when interpreting the degree of maturity of the player , without taking into account an age except three concrete sections (the 10 years, 17 years and 18 years), And on the other hand it is much more concise and specific in the type of content offered during the game establishing three different sections:

The classification category *, or the public to which it is directed and the parental guide simplified in a single image.
The content description , or a brief description of the details and experiences that are included in the game and that can be of interest to the consumer.
The interactive elements, where it is specified what type of addition or items are included or not included with the copy of the game itself, such as additional purchases.

From here, there are no less than seven classification categories that are explained for themselves:

Everyone (e) * means that it is a game suitable for all audiences and does not need direct parental supervision.
Every 10+ (E10+) implies that it is a recommended game for players over 10 years except direct parental approval.
Teen (t) It is content developed and destined for a teenage audience.
Mature 17+ (m) * offers content in which the player is required to have a certain maturity and that, usually, it is recommended to over 17 years or under direct supervision.
Adults Only 18+ (AO) * offers explicit content for an adult audience from 18 or 21 years according to the State.

In addition to these five classification categories there are Rate Pending (RP) and Rate Pendig Likely Mature (RP +17) that is normally used in promotional material such as trailers, commercials or ads and establishes that the ESBR still The game in question is not classified. In any case, titles with the RP +17 label are usually oriented to an adult audience.

The zero Japanese system

  • Official Web: Computer Entertainment Rating Organization

The classification system zero used in Japan is very similar to the European pegi, although there are nuances and distinctions that make it singular.

First, a classification is used by sections of age in which it is specified what is most appropriate for the consumer, being the classification to the suitable for all audiences and from there raising it to Classification B (from 12 years), Classification C ** (15 years and 18).

In addition, and as a standard, the Z classification specifies that this type of game should not be sold to minors.

Beyond this, and as is the case in the PEGI, it is possible to see labels in which the type of content included in the game is represented visually. Most coincide in design and symbology with the European system, although it is possible to see two additional distinctions:

Love: * implies that it is possible that in the game romances or some kind of love relationship are manifested.
DRINKING / Smoking: Distinction between alcohol and tobacco comsumo from the rest of illegal substances or drugs.
In addition to the systems
PEGI, ESBR and Zero * there are several regulated alternatives, many of which are possible
What type of content are more appropriate for each country or region.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.