South Africa’s new rules concerning video game age ratings are stirring controversy. According to the South African Film and Publication Board, which just issued a new set of guidelines for its game classifiers, there’s no such thing as a game that’s suitable for all ages.
"There is no 'All ages' age rating for games," the 40-page document reads, according to Business Insider South Africa. "Children are not allowed to play a game classified 'PG' unless and only when supervised by an adult," due to such games often containing elements "disturbing or harmful for children."
"Children from the ages of seven to nine years are not allowed to play a game classified '7-9PG' unless supervised by an adult," the document adds.
Only at age 10 are children allowed to play certain games unsupervised, although none of those games may contain any sort of violence. Even at the 10-12PG rating, games must not be threatening, cause moral harm, or "contain any occurrences of implied, verbal or actual criminal techniques." Only starting at age 13 are gamers allowed to play video games where you actually kill enemies.
Previous guidelines issued in 2019 had a relatively narrow definition of violence, but the new guidelines expands that definition to include "detailed instruction or promotion of violence." The guidelines also expand what is considered "criminal techniques," implying video games are a vector to teaching children how to be criminals. Domestic abuse is included in the list of criminal activities, noting that a domestic relationship can now include a one-night stand.
The Board has also taken a stance against prejudice in video games, barring implied, verbal, or actual prejudice in games rates below age 12. The defines prejudice as "preconceived judgment, or an adverse opinion or inclination, formed without just or rational grounds or before sufficient knowledge is gained, or that is based on group stereotypes, and that is degrading of human dignity."
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