10 Dinge, die Eltern über USK & Co wissen sollten
Today I explain some things about the USK and the age rating of games, if and how you can make yourself liable to prosecution and how the whole thing works at all. I’ll also clarify whether Fortnite is suitable for people aged 12 and over or 16. What is the USK? The law for the protection of minors regulates that games that are available in the German retail trade receive an age rating. There is a cooperation between the state and the USK for the examination. This is the “entertainment software self-control” – a “self-control institution” of the computer game industry in Germany. Just like the TÜV or Dekra for the German state examines cars, the USK examines video games. There are five different classifications. USK 0 for games without age restriction, one for children from 6 years, one for children and teenagers from 12 years, one for teenagers from 16 years and one for adults from 18 years. Who’s checking? The publishers of the games submit their almost finished games themselves to the USK. The USK classifiers work on a voluntary basis and are therefore not paid by the video game industry to test the games. Es gibt einige Vorgaben, an die sich die Tester
der Spiele halten müssen. There are some guidelines that the game testers must adhere to. So the game has to be played through completely before it is presented to a test committee. That consists of 4 honorary youth protection experts and a representative of the state, which must approve the classification at the end. Together they decide how many years the game should be suitable for. Many aspects such as atmosphere, horror elements, violence, war, sexuality, drugs and language are considered. By the way, the USK is only allowed to classify games that are rated as detrimental to young people at the most. The BPjM takes over media that are harmful to young people. More on this later. Do I make myself liable to prosecution? Some children or parents think that they are liable to prosecution if, for example, a 13-year-old child plays a game that is only released from the age of 18. The big red logo from 18 is also intimidating. If a retailer, such as Media Markt, sells a game to a 13-year-old that is only released after the age of 18, he actually makes himself liable to prosecution and violates the law for the protection of minors. This can be punished with fines of up to 50,000 euros. Parents, on the other hand, enjoy the educational privilege and have a margin of discretion. They may also provide their children with films and video games with a higher rating. endangerment of the welfare of the child If a child is neglected and e.g. a 6-year-old plays 18 games without supervision USK, we move into the area of child welfare endangerment. According to Section 8 of the Social Code, this can be a “danger to the mental well-being” or “danger to the mental well-being” of a child. From court orders to the withdrawal of custody in extreme cases, the state has the power to intervene. BPjM & Indexing The Federal Review Board for Media Harmful to Young Persons is a state authority. It may only test games that have not been tested by the USK and have already been completely completed. If the Bpjm determines that a game is actually harmful to minors, it will land on a index and may no longer be freely advertised. However, this does not mean that the game is forbidden. This is only the case if a game violates German law and, for example, contains anti-constitutional symbols. Here in particular, however, we are experiencing a change, since the use of swastikas in video games, just as in FIlme, is regarded by many as art and can therefore be exempted from the ban. In Wolfenstein 2 from 2017, for example, other symbols can be seen. However, the new international version of Wolfenstein Youngblood contains swastikas, has a USK 18 rating and can be freely sold in Germany. Since Bethesda wanted to be safe, there is also a German version without these symbols. Games that actually violate the penal code can also be confiscated and may no longer be sold. But you can still own the game as a private person. Games for babies? Does the age rating of the USK indicate that the respective games can also be understood and mastered by children in the appropriate age groups? No. With a USK 0 label, this is probably also very difficult to achieve. Games without age restrictions can, for example, be aimed at children and adolescents as well as adults. The USK classification is therefore by no means to be confused with a classification of the degree of difficulty. But games receive a correspondingly low clearance as long as they do not contain . any impairments for children from the point of view of the protection of minors This can include family-friendly games such as games of skill and board games, but also sports games, simulations, brain games, adventures and role-playing games. USK 0 games can be complex and difficult to learn. However, the decisive factor for labelling is that the content of the games is unobjectionable. Pan European Game Information PEGI offers age ratings for video games in 38 European countries. The age rating confirms that the game is suitable for players of a certain age. PEGI also considers only the age suitability of a game, not the level of difficulty. The classifications in Germany are to be seen as pure recommendations, which are not legally binding. PEGI still has smart pictograms for quick content evaluation. There are the categories violence, swear words, fear, sex, drugs, gambling, discrimination or online content. The age distribution is also slightly different at 3, 7, 12, 16 and 18. PEGI and USK ratings often differ. So it’s not a bad idea to look at both ratings to get a second opinion. What about download games? The USK itself only checks games that appear on media such as discs or memory cards. Of course, many of the games can also be downloaded. The many download-only games that can be downloaded via Steam or Playstore, for example, are subject to the Interstate Treaty on the Protection of Minors in the Media. The German federal states are responsible for this. However, they do not have their own age rating. In order to be able to offer an identification nevertheless, there is the IARC. This is an association of various responsible organisations for the worldwide age rating of games and apps. Here the games are checked on the basis of questionnaires and receive appropriate markings depending upon answers. Anyone who cheats here is quickly expelled from the shops. After the evaluation the country-typical markings are assigned, like in Germany the logos of the USK. We already have the USK logos generated by the system in the Google Play Store, the Microsoft Store, the Nintendo eShop, the Oculus Store, and Origin. Settings on consoles Of course, parents cannot always control everything their children do. To be on the safe side, however, there is the option of locking games with a high age rating such as USK 18 on the consoles. Both the PS4 and the Xbox One and Switch have such setting options. At schau-hin.info you can find detailed instructions on how to do this. Fortnite When the game Fortnite appeared under this very name, it only included today’s “Save the World” mode. The game was tested by the USK and received an aptitude rating for children 12 years and older. Afterwards the mode Fortnite Battle Royal was patched into the game. The game was only tested again when a switch version of the new Free2play Fortnite was released. Thanks to the Battle Royal mode the game received a USK 16 rating, which resulted from the questions in the IARC catalogue. But although this digital version is for the Switch from 16, the USK 12 rating remains valid for Fortnite. This can also be seen from the fact that the purple Xbox Bundle with Fortnite from 12 is released in June 2019. But you shouldn’t make it that easy. Parents are asked to see if their child can handle a game like Fortnite well. After all, children develop very differently. Some are very sensitive or easy to influence, others are not. Ultimately, a USK 18 game for 14-year-olds can be completely trouble-free. But it can also happen that a USK 12 game is not suitable for a 12-year-old. Also the reviewers are only humans and cannot always be right for everyone. However, I consider the ratings to be an important tool to help parents who don’t know much about video games to make their initial assessment a little easier. And perhaps, without the seals, even more young children would be in Call of Duty Voice Chat. I am aware that many viewers here are minors. So please write your experiences with age ratings and your parents in the comments. If you like such videos, subscribe to the channel. If you want to support Mittagspackung, please have a look at my Patreon page. Thanks a lot and see you next time. Bye!