Depending on the type of release of a game or app, there are different ways in which content can be classified by the USK. Further information on the obligations of providers can be found here.
Games or other game-related contents, which are distributed on physical media or are to be shown publicly, can be reviewed by the USK in accordance with the provisions of the Children and Young Persons Protection Act (JuSchG) and classified with an age rating. In addition to game CDs or BluRays, this also includes game collections, demo versions or product extensions such as DLCs, data carriers contained in magazines, known as cover discs, games that are publicly presented at trade fairs or events, or trailers and gameplay videos.
Games or demo versions, which are submitted to the USK for the first time, are usually presented and classified in the standard procedure, i.e. in the large Classification Committee. This committee consists of four experts for the protection of minors and the Permanent Representative of the Supreme Youth Protection Authorities (OLJB).
In addition, there is the classification procedure, which takes place in the small committee and is used for contents which have already been marked in a similar form. This applies, for example, to titles with the same content on another platform, demo versions, product extensions or game collections for titles that have already been classified.
In addition, the USK offers special procedures for trailers and trailer roles, educational and information programs, cover discs or trade fair content.
The type of content determines the classification procedure and can be specified accordingly in the application form.
Age ratings in the IARC system
In addition to the age classification process in accordance with the relevant law (the Children and Young Persons Protection Act – or “JuSchG”) the USK also provides classifications for online games and apps. This is realized using the IARC system (“International Age Rating Coalition”). USK age rating logos are available for all storefronts affiliated to this system. To this date, the licensed storefronts are: Google Play Store, Nintendo eShop, Microsoft Windows Store, Xbox Store and the Oculus Store.
The respective classification of games and apps results from an IARC questionnaire that is being filled out by the developer. To guarantee a consistent quality the USK is constantly monitoring these classifications using procedure-specific means.
Providers who publish content online must comply with the provisions of the Interstate Treaty on the Protection of Minors in the Media. In addition to games, this also applies to all other online content, such as websites, game downloads, videos, images, social media presentations, online shops or streaming services. Here too, access to content that may be unsuitable for specific age groups must be restricted.
USK.online offers independent consulting services for publishers, developers and other providers. This can relate to game content, legal or technical issues. This allows providers to take even better account of the relevant aspects of youth protection in Germany before and during the development of their games and to include them in their marketing planning.
As continuous advice is usually useful, especially online, this is usually done in combination with a USK.online membership.