Dutch research underlines importance of PEGI for casual games

The favourite internet activity of Dutch children is playing casual games, yet a number of casual games portals are not suitable for children. They contain casual games that are violent and can be harmful to young children. One in eight children has played an online casual game that s/he found frightening or which shocked him or her. This is the conclusion of new research carried out in the by the My Child Online foundation [Dutch: Mijn Kind Online], in cooperation with the Netherlands Institute for the Classification of Audio-visual Media

Both organisations are arguing in favour of the introduction of PEGI Online – a label that shows whether the provider has taken measures to protect minors – on casual games portals. PEGI is currently being adapted for use with casual games (seewww.pegi.info). 

Children play online 16+ games
The research revealed that all 8 to 12-year-olds play games on the internet; usually casual games on games portals. The same casual games are also popular among 6 and 7-year-olds, however: some 60% of whom play these. The research survey was carried out among 480 children aged between 6 and 12 years. 
A large number of casual games portals were also examined critically, and the more violent casual games submitted to the criteria of the PEGI classification system. 

Conclusion: all casual games portals popular with children contain games that would be given a PEGI rating of 16+ owing to violence – without the sites in question pointing this out.

In the report on the survey Next Level – dossier on online games for children, the My Child Online foundation makes recommendations for making casual games sites more child-friendly, and provides tips for parents on talking to their children about games. “And this is necessary, because casual games websites take far too little account of this group of young users”, says Remco Pijpers, director of the My Child Online foundation, and one of the authors of the report. My Child Online also gives criteria for good casual games and indicates their suitability for particular age groups.

High time for PEGI Online
According to NICAM director Wim Bekkers, the report underlines the necessity of product information on casual games portals. “The research shows that even very young children can be confronted with harmful material. This is a new segment in the games world; one which is expanding rapidly, and to which we need to pay attention. It is therefore high time that the casual games portals took their responsibilities seriously. With the application of PEGI Online, they could take a big step in the right direction.”

Download and contact
The report can be downloaded here:  Download PDF: Casual_Games_research

Further information on NICAM and PEGI Online: Wim Bekkers, info@nicam.cc, phone +31 356460860

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All ages (AL) means that a film, series or television show contains no harmful imagery.

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14 years

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18 years

The age rating 18 years and older indicates that a film or television show is for adults only. 

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Coarse language consists of cussing and cursing, suggestive terms or sexual expletives. Children may imitate the use of offensive language and even incorporate it in their vocabulary.

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The game contains depictions of violence. In games rated PEGI 7 this can only be non-realistic or non-detailed violence. Games rated PEGI 12 can include violence in a fantasy environment or non-realistic violence towards human-like characters, whereas games rated PEGI 16 or 18 have increasingly more realistic-looking violence.​


This descriptor may appear as 'Fear' on games with a PEGI 7 if it contains pictures or sounds that may be frightening or scary to young children, or as 'Horror' on higher-rated games that contain moderate (PEGI 12) or intense and sustained (PEGI 16) horror sequences or disturbing images (not necessarily including violent content).


This content descriptor can accompany a PEGI 12 rating if the game includes sexual posturing or innuendo, a PEGI 16 rating if there is erotic nudity or sexual intercourse without visible genitals or a PEGI 18 rating if there is explicit sexual activity in the game. Depictions of nudity in a non-sexual context do not require a specific age rating, and this descriptor would not be necessary.


The game refers to or depicts the use of illegal drugs, alcohol or tobacco. Games with this content descriptor are always PEGI 16 or PEGI 18.


The game contains depictions of ethnic, religious, nationalistic or other stereotypes likely to encourage hatred. This content is always restricted to a PEGI 18 rating (and likely to infringe national criminal laws).

Bad language

The game contains bad language. This descriptor can be found on games with a PEGI 12 (mild swearing), PEGI 16 (e.g. sexual expletives or blasphemy) or PEGI 18 rating (e.g. sexual expletives or blasphemy).




Video games that show violence of a slightly more graphic nature towards fantasy characters or non-realistic violence towards human-like characters would fall in this age category. Sexual innuendo or sexual posturing can be present, while any bad language in this category must be mild.


This rating is applied once the depiction of violence (or sexual activity) reaches a stage that looks the same as would be expected in real life. The use of bad language in games with a PEGI 16 rating can be more extreme, while the use of tobacco, alcohol or illegal drugs can also be present.


The adult classification is applied when the level of violence reaches a stage where it becomes a depiction of gross violence, apparently motiveless killing, or violence towards defenceless characters. The glamorisation of the use of illegal drugs and of the simulation of gambling, and explicit sexual activity should also fall into this age category. 


The game contains elements that encourage or teach gambling. These simulations of gambling refer to games of chance that are normally carried out in casinos or gambling halls. 

In-game purchases

The game offers players the option to purchase digital goods or services with real-world currency. Such purchases include additional content (bonus levels, outfits, surprise items, music), but also upgrades (e.g. to disable ads), subscriptions to updates, virtual coins and other forms of in-game currency.

If this icon is accompanied by the notice Paid Random Items, the in-game purchases may consist of offers where the player doesn't know precisely what they are buying prior to purchase (i.e. loot boxes or card packs). 

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