IN AN interesting turn of events, a number of kid-friendly Nintendo games could find themselves slapped with a mature rating.
The European PEGI rating system had an update last year that will affect remakes of classic franchise entries.
Nintendo Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl[/caption]
In the wake of the loot box controversy, ratings boards have been keen to clamp down on in-game purchases and mechanics that constitute gambling.
Different country’s regulators have come to varied conclusions on this, but games’ PEGI ratings have been adjusted in the interim.
This allows parents to easily see if the title they’re buying includes some form of gambling, but it also means that you may see Pokemon and Mario games with an 18+ mature rating unless Nintendo revises some of the content.
The new criteria, outlined in the VSC (Video Standards Council) annual report, state that any games which “teach and/or glamorise the use of games of chance that are played/carried out as a traditional means of gambling” are in for a ratings bump. It continues:
“This refers to types of betting or gambling for money that is normally
played/carried out in casinos, gambling halls, racetracks.
“This does not cover games where betting or gambling is simply part of the general storyline. The game must actually teach the player how to gamble or bet and/or glamorise gambling.
“For example, this will include games that teach the player how to play card games that are usually played for money or how to play the odds in horse racing.”
The Pokemon series’ Game Corners offer a selection of mini games, but slot machines and other forms of ‘gambling’ in-game means that any re-releases have had to replace these mechanics in order to adhere to new regulations.
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Pokemon Red, Blue, and Yellow, for example, would all qualify for the 18+ gambling rating. Scrapping Game Corners, which feature slot machines minigames, would avoid this issue entirely.
Even the casino-themed minigames in Super Mario 64 would warrant a mature rating.
PEGI has clarified that older titles with gambling mechanics will keep their original rating as long as they’re untouched, effectively, as games journalist Joe Merrick reports on Twitter.
But if it’s a re-release that has been upgraded, modernised or changed in a significant enough way to count as a ‘new game’, it’s headed for an 18+ sticker.
Understandably, Nintendo will want to avoid that for its franchises, so expect to see beloved games from your childhood rejigged to avoid this fate.
Other titles have already fallen foul of the new system; Ask About Games highlights murder mystery game Overboard on the Nintendo eShop.
Previously rated PEGI 12 for “Mild Violence, Suggestive Themes and Use of Alcohol,” it’s now branded with a PEGI 18 rating.
The descriptor has also changed to reflect this, reading “Simulated gambling”. A VSC Game Rating Board spokesperson explains:
“The purpose of the descriptors is to explain the issues that led to the rating in question, rather than to highlight all content that’s present in a game.
“It’s inevitable that raising a rating will lead to the loss of any descriptors that relate to material that would have been acceptable at a lower rating.”
While developers and publishers adjust to the new normal for the purposes of getting their games appropriately rated internationally, keep an eye out for the revised ratings.
You may not have an issue with the in-game gambling, or you may decide it’s inappropriate for younger Nintendo Switch users.
Either way, the updated PEGI ratings should be inspected carefully to ensure your kids are playing parent-approved games.
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