20 years – this is the new age, which the German Entertainment Software Self-Regulation Body (Unterhaltungssoftware Selbstkontrolle/USK) now reached themselves. Founded in 1994 the USK now celebrates their 20th birthday. In all those years USK has conducted more than 37,000 classification procedures in terms of legal protection for children and young persons and tagged with their in Germany famous age rating labels for the age categories USK 0, 6, 12, 16 and 18.
The German Entertainment Software Self-Regulation Body (USK) is owned by the company “Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle Unterhaltungssoftware GmbH”. Being a non-profit limited company, the shareholders are the branch associations of the games development, manufacture and distribution industry in Germany (the Federal Association of Interactive Entertainment Software, BIU, and the Federal Association of Computer Game Developers, G.A.M.E.). Although these shareholders bear the economic risk of the limited company, they are not responsible for the age rating classification procedures.
“After 20 years it is more than clear, that concepts for the protection of children and young persons in the field of online computer and video games have to evolve, so that they have a positive effect on children and their parents.” says Felix Falk, Managing Director of USK. “That is why I am happy, that we can count on great support from politics, economy and our other partners in the year of our 20th anniversary.”
Visitors of gamescom get in contact with the USK through the colored wristbands. With the colored wristbands, Koelnmesse and the gamescom exhibitors collaborate with the USK (Entertainment Software Self-Regulation Body) to ensure that younger visitors really only see what is meant for their eyes. In order to guarantee that, everyone who wants to test a game at gamescom has to wear a wristband. Stand personnel can then see which visitors are allowed in which areas by the color of the wristband. Prior to the fair USK checks all games and defines the age rating depending on the type and contents of each game.
“Due to the involvement of USK the protection of children and young persons is guaranteed at gamescom, Europe’s largest trade fair and event highlight for interactive games”, says Felix Falk. “Parents can let their children explore the halls of gamescom without hesitation or go on an expedition together thanks to this kind of protection of children and young persons.”
How does the age rating process of the German USK work?