Is there a standard formula or procedure for determining suggested (or minimum) age requirements for games? Or do a few game designers just sit around and discuss for a few minutes and then just come up with a best guess? What criteria are used, if any?
I ask because we (my Wife and I and son who just turned 7) can't make sense of the age recommendations for some games. The latest was Pandemic, which my son bought with his own money. Required age? 13+. Neither the rules nor the strategy are all that hard. I played a vastly more complicated game (both rules and strategy) as a teenager, Squad Leader, whose recommended age was about the same: 14+. Meanwhile, Rat-a-tat Cat has a suggested minimum age of 6+. Though the graphics of this last game are clearly aimed for kids, the strategy is sophisticated (think of it as a starter game for poker) and the rules have enough nuance that we kept finding new ways we hadn't got the rules right until the 4th read (though perhaps this could be attributed to poorly written rules).
I would especially love to see answers from professional game designers or people who have discussed this issue with game designers but if none are available I'm happy to hear from game enthusiasts who have thought about this.