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ESRB Ratings

Have you ever wondered what those ratings are on the cover of games? Or what it means if a game is rated “M”, or, what these ratings are even based on? Well, lets dive into the Entertainment Software Rating Board (“ESRB”) ratings and learn about how this works!

The ESRB was established in 1994 and is a rating system that uses age-based ratings for video games. This is widely used all around the world and has become a staple for parents and caregivers to make sure that the games that their children play are right for their age. The ratings help parents make better decisions about what games to buy for their kids by giving them a better idea of the game's content and how it might affect them.


How they rate games:


The ESRB rating system is a good way to understand the content of a video game, however, it is important for parents and caregivers to understand how the company and ratings work.   


The main issue with the ESRB rating system is that ESRB raters do not play the games during the rating process. However, they will sometimes play test games after a game has launched, but this is not always guaranteed.


The way that their ratings work is that the game developers of the game are required to complete a questionnaire detailing any relevant content such as violence, sex, language, gambling, and other factors such as context, reward systems, and player control. They are then also required to submit a video that shows gameplay, missions, and cutscenes.


This is concerning as there is a risk that no independent reviews are being completed. So, it is important that parents and caregivers also do their own research to assess the full potential (good or bad) of a game for their children.


Rating Explanation:


The ESRB use specific terms to rate their video games. Their rating criteria is as follows:  


EC (Early Childhood):

Games that have been given an EC rating are noted as being appropriate for kids as young as three years old and up. These video games offer content that is instructive as well as suitable for players of all ages.


E (Everyone):

Games with an E rating are rated as appropriate for players of any age. They might have a few cartoons, some fantasy elements, or some light violence, but nothing that might be considered as very disturbing or explicit.


E10+ (Everyone 10 and older):

Games rated E10+ are suggested for players who are at least 10 years old. These games may feature more cartoon or fantasy elements, as well as milder forms of violence, less offensive language, and less suggestive content.


T (Teen):

The "T" rating is noted as appropriate for players who are at least 13 years old. There is a possibility that they will include crude comedy, crude violence, light blood, suggestive themes, and the occasional use of strong language.


M (Mature):

Games with a "mature rating" by the ESRB recommend that only suitable for players who are at least 17 years old. There is a possibility that these games will expose players to extreme violence, graphic depictions of blood and gore, explicit sexual content, harsh language, and other mature themes.


AO (Adults Only):

Games that have been given an “AO” by ERSB suggest that these games are appropriate for players who are at least 18 years old. They might feature drawn-out sequences of extremely violent conflict, graphic depictions of sexual themes, or gambling.


RP (Rating Pending):

Games that have not been given a definitive rating by the ESRB are given the “RP” label. This is because it has not yet been reviewed and rated by ESRB and can often be seen in promotional materials.


The ESRB rating system is very important to the video game industry because it tells people important things about what's in games. By understanding and using ESRB ratings, people can make smart choices and make sure that the games they play or give to others are appropriate for the age group they are meant for. No matter if you're a parent, caregiver, a gamer, or just interested in video games, the ESRB ratings are a great tool to utilise, but it is important to remember that the rating does not always get it right. It is always best to do your own research to fully understand the game rather than just ‘judge a game by its cover.’


By Gee Gee                 

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