How do I know which video games are suitable for my child?

Christmas games for children

Parent Zone’s Yusuf Tamanna looks at five video games your child might ask for at Christmas, the PEGI rating they have, and what they mean, so you (and Santa) can decide if they’re going under the tree or not

Christmas is fast approaching and if you’re a parent, the chances are your child’s wish-list will include a video game or two. With so many things to think about in the run up to the festive season it’s tricky to find time to do your research on which ones are suitable and which aren’t – so we’ve done it for you

Games ratings

All video games must come with a suitable rating and since 2012, the Video Standards Council (VSC) has been responsible for age-rating all video games. It uses the PEGI system for classification, which is recognised throughout Europe.

PEGI 3 – Games given this rating are suitable for all age groups, but can contain comic violence and natural, non-sexual nudity.

PEGI 7 – This rating means the game can potentially contain frightening content. But this must be unrealistic and normally directed towards fantasy characters.

PEGI 12 – The game might include sexual innuendo, some violence and injury of fantasy characters and mild bad language.

PEGI16 – These games can include a lot of injury and death to human characters. The game may also include sex, swearing, glamourised drug use, crime and alcohol abuse.

PEGI 18 – An adult classification for a game means it may include sexual threat and violence, visible genitals, torture and drug use.

Christmas 2017’s hot games

Super Mario Odyssey – Nintendo Switch (PEGI 3)

The 3D platform game sees Super Mario explore various kingdoms as he tries to save Princess Peach from danger. The game is focused more on exploring the surroundings and the hidden secrets they hold than any form of combat or player progression. Most likely a game younger children will enjoy.

Find out more here.

Star Wars Battlefront 2 – PlayStation 4 / Xbox One (PEGI 16)

Deemed an ‘action shooter’ game, Star Wars Battlefront 2 is both a single player and multi-player story driven game, based on the popular film franchise. With a PEGI 16 rating, this game is likely to include violence, death and a sinister storyline.

Find out more here.

Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon – Nintendo 3DS (PEGI 7)

The first instalment in the seventh generation of Pokémon games, Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon are role playing video games with a clear focus on adventure. The player controls a young Pokémon trainer as they catch other Pokémon creatures and compete in battles, all of which are animated and based on fantasy. As with anything Pokémon related, this will likely to be a popular choice among younger children. With a PEGI 7 rating, the game will not be too dissimilar to playing Pokémon Go!

Find out more here.

Fire Emblem Warriors – Nintendo Switch / Nintendo 3DS (PEGI 12)

Despite the name, Fire Emblem Warriors is far less gruesome than it sounds. This is a traditional combat game whereby the player fights opponents to complete maps and rescues the damsel in distress. With any combat game there’s a fair amount of violence involved, however these are towards fantasy characters and any injuries are highly unrealistic.

Find out more here.

LEGO Marvel Superheroes 2 – PlayStation 4 / Nintendo Switch & Xbox One (PEGI 7)

This action-adventure game is told through a third-person perspective and includes a mix of both adventure and puzzle solving scenarios, in keeping with all of LEGO’s video games. With a mix of low-fi graphics and wholesome humour, LEGO Marvel Superheroes is likely to appeal, and be suitable for, younger children as opposed to older teens.

Find out more here.

Games descriptors

In addition to PEGI ratings, all games come with content descriptors to justify why the rating has been given.

These black and white images signify if the game includes violence, bad language or drug use. Even then, content descriptors don’t cover everything featured in the game, but they’re an important guide.

If you’re still unsure, it’s worth buying the game in a proper games store and talking to a member of staff for more information. Alternatively, take a look at customer reviews of the game online for more information on game play.

Further reading

You can find information and support on games ratings in the latest issues of Digital Parenting magazine.

The YouTube channel FamilyGamerTV also reviews how family-friendly games are.

More information about games ratings and descriptors can be found here.


The advice published on Parent Info is provided by independent experts in their field and not necessarily the views of Parent Zone or CEOP.

First published: November 2017

Updated: May 2018


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