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| 1 minute read

ICO boosts Children's Code with walkthrough for game developers

On 15th February 2023, the ICO published 'Top Tips' to help game designers/developers comply with its Age Appropriate Design Code (also known as the Children’s Code). The Children’s Code, which took effect from 2nd September 2020, is a set of standards that online services must follow to protect children online. The new guidance, developed following ICO audits of game design companies, provides specific advice to help the gaming sector comply with the Children’s Code.

The main focus for games designers is to ensure child protection by design in their games. The ICO’s 'Top Tips' include to:

  • Carry out risk assessments that consult with external stakeholders and assess appeal to children
  • Identify players’ ages and ensure measures are in place to prevent false age declarations
  • Enhance transparency of privacy information through measures such as age group testing
  • Gamify the provision of privacy information to increase the engagement of children
  • Switch off optional uses of data such as tailored recommendations and profiling for marketing by default for children
  • Give parents controls such as alerts when children access ‘riskier’ features
  • Make privacy settings easy for children to understand and change
  • Avoid using nudge techniques that might encourage children to reduce privacy settings

Each set of tips helpfully links to resources such as a sample Data Protection Impact Assessment and more detailed guidance. They also touch upon key recent concerns in the gaming sector, including the need to risk assess any randomised rewards, such as loot boxes, and designing games to help younger players disengage from extended sessions.

The ICO’s ‘Top Tips’ are a useful new resource to make it easier for game designers to navigate the Children’s Code. It is indicative of the ICO adopting a collaborative approach with the games sector, with the ICO’s final word encouraging more game designers to volunteer for a free audit to facilitate constructive engagement. 

"We want children to be online, learning, playing and experiencing the world, but with the right protections in place to do so." Leanne Doherty, Group Manager at the Information Commissioner’s Office


commercial and technology, data protection and privacy, interactive entertainment, technology