Games and apps in the IARC system

Selected storefronts for digital games and apps use USK age ratings according to the IARC procedure.

About IARC

The International Age Rating Coalition (IARC) represents the worldwide coalition of age rating organizations of computer and video games. Since its official founding in 2013 IARC provides a framework that is being implemented by technical platforms such as mobile app stores for the purpose of youth protection. This system enables developers to rate their games and apps using a complex questionnaire. Resulting from the information provided in the questionnaire an age classification along the guidelines of the respective rating authority (for Germany the USK) is being issued.

The USK is monitoring these classifications on a regular basis to guarantee its quality. Also external complaints can trigger a review. With this system, the USK works in the range of the legal parameters of the Youth Media Protection State Agreement (“JMStV”) with regard to online media and broadcasting according to which the USK is recognized as self-regulation body since 2011.

The IARC system provides Age Ratings based on criteria of media deemed inappropriate for certain age groups. Aspects involving penal codes, copyright and other related rights and legal parameters are excluded.

Age classifications according to the Children and Young Persons Protection Act (“JuSchG”) result from a separate rating procedure in which governmental representatives issue the binding classification. These age ratings are primarily used for games distributed in stationary retail.

The rating procedure

The process within the IARC system is as follows:

  1. The applicant submits the game or app to one of the attached storefronts for publication.
  2. Within the publishing process the applicant gets automatically redirected to the IARC questionnaire.
  3. Once the questionnaire has been completed, an age rating is generated according to the IARC matrix.

The age ratings explained

USK age ratings inform about a potential developmental impairment for children and young persons. Therefore they do not imply if a certain content deemed „USK ab 0 Jahren“ (all ages) can be understood or controlled by younger users. The age ratings and content descriptors give information about youth protection relevant aspects contained.

Additional content information

Besides the classification itself the system displays additional information about youth protection relevant contents. The following terms are being used:

Gewalt (Violence) & Krieg (war)
Ängstigende Inhalte (Fear)
Erotik/ Sexuelle Inhalte (Sexual Content)
Explizite Sprache (Language)
Drogen (Drugs)
Diskriminierung (Discrimination)
Glücksspiel (Gambling)

The following descriptors can be displayed for information regarding interactive elements:

Nutzerinteraktion (Users Interact)
Standortweitergabe (Shares Location)
In-App-Einkäufe (In-App-Purchases / In-Game-Purchases)
Uneingeschränkter Internetzugriff (Unrestricted Internet Access)
Inhalte für verschiedene Altersgruppen (contents for different age groups)

Marek Brunner