Unterhaltungssoftware Selbstkontrolle (Entertainment Software Self-Regulation Body in English), abbreviated as USK, is a German video game regulation body that rates video games. As with other rating boards from across the world, it serves to inform consumers of what age group of audience the video game is the most appropriate for.
Unlike the rest of the European continent who use the PEGI rating system, Germany has chosen to come up with its own specific rating board; that being said, the USK ratings are often seen together with PEGI ratings on many video games in Europe, especially on the disc artworks.
USK has been known for taking a tougher stance on video games of more extreme nature than other rating boards. A number of high-profile games infamous for featuring extraordinary levels of gore and violence have been banned from public sale in Germany - examples include MadWorld, Manhunt 2 and The House of the Dead: Overkill.
The USK organisation though is considerably older than its PEGI equivalent, having been founded in 1994 - the latter was only introduced in 2003 to replace the dated ELSPA rating system. The rating board's current logo consists of four distinctive coloured diamonds, which match the design of their own ratings as shown below.
(The descriptions below are from USK's website, offering their judgement and definition of their ratings )
The current design of USK ratings, styled as single-colour diamonds in a square, has been in use since 2009. The table below illustrates what the older designs used to look like, which were white-edged diamonds that adopted USK's original logo design. Separate colours (white, yellow, green, blue and red) for each age group were only introduced in 2003.
- "Unterhaltungssoftware Selbstkontrolle" (in German). Game. https://www.game.de/guides/jahresbericht-der-deutschen-games-branche-2018/07-unterhaltungssoftware-selbstkontrolle/. Retrieved on 3 October 2021.