Ubisoft’s We Dare was unveiled to a wave of mirth and confusion last week. Due to be released on Nintendo Wii and PlayStation 3 later this year, We Dare features over 35 mini-games that take a distinctly adult approach, with marketing materials encouraging two players to kiss a Wii Remote simultaneously, spank each other to control on-screen avatars, and striptease to a variety of songs. Nothing to get too concerned about, until you spy the age rating of 12 upon the box.
With a highly suggestive trailer and product description, Cubed3 queried both Ubisoft and PEGI on the appropriateness of the age rating. PEGI (Pan-European Game Information) is responsible for monitoring in-game content to a series of guidelines to ensure that accurate ratings are given to videogames across Europe.
An Ubisoft spokesperson gave the official line on the game:
“We Dare is intended for a mature audience and Ubisoft created its marketing campaign accordingly. The PEGI ratings system is decided upon by a pan-European body and the rating for this game was bestowed by the independent PEGI board. Ubisoft has added a ‘Parental Discretion Advised’ sticker to the game in order to ensure that parents are informed of the potential sensitive nature of the game content.”
Cubed3’s query to PEGI was met with a lengthy response detailing their rating process, along with a copy of the guidelines that the company use. Essentially, the final rating is decided through a combination of a declaration of content by the publisher at the time of the game’s submission (see ‘How are the games rated?’ in PEGI’s online FAQ) and an in-depth checklist that deals with several topics, judging how appropriate a game is according to the standards in the various covered countries. Though a publisher’s completion of the questionnaire results in a provisional rating, it is always in the hands of PEGI to reach a final conclusion after review, and the publisher has no influence outside of the initial declaration.
“Since PEGI is a Pan European system, the questionnaire is designed to meet varying cultural standards in all the member states. So for example, mild violence may not be a very shocking element in your country, but the swearwords in some games may be.”
The organisation was also keen to agree with Cubed3 that they do not look at the surrounding context of a game, only the in-game content.
“PEGI does not take into account the context of a game when rating it, we only look at the contents of the game. <We Dare> has been rated as a PEGI 12 because it contains mild swearing, minor assault on a human-like character and words/activities that amount to obvious sexual innuendo, explicit sexual descriptions or images and sexual posturing.”
Despite not examining context or marketing materials, PEGI “do demand that these types of artwork
To further address concerns, a PEGI spokesperson noted that it was considered that We Dare “might justify a higher rating due to a specific (sexual) atmosphere”, but this proposal was rejected by the Video Standards Council, another independent organisation that verifies the final ratings. “This means that the game itself is in fact less sexual/offensive than the marketing campaign leads us to believe (for example, you cannot see real spanking in the game. There is a 'stripping game' but you don't have to undress; throwing away keys or anything that reduces your weight is good enough).”
Though PEGI and Ubisoft are confident that We Dare falls safely within the agreed guidelines for a 12 rating, the UK tabloid press have already seized upon the age rating story, with The Sun reporting that We Dare “promotes orgies and lesbian sex to kids as young as 12”. Meanwhile, Ubisoft have “emphatically” ruled out an American release when IGN requested a statement on the situation.
What is your opinion on We Dare’s age rating? Are you satisfied that enough has been done to highlight the suggestive themes of the game?