Video Games Ratings and the ESRB

By Brian Franceschelli and James Nemia.

Though many people may consider the rating of a video game when buying or playing it, it is rare that they realize the process of events that lead up to said rating. The Entertainment Software Rating Board (or ESRB) is the organization tasked with rating video games. The process leading up to a game receiving a rating from the ESRB is more interesting than you might imagine – the company that produced the game must submit a sort of content list to the ESRB, who then has a group of three separate trained professional raters debate the rating of the game. That content list, once verified by a separate group, is simplified and used to classify each game into a rating based on pertinent criteria like the presence of drug, alcohol, or tobacco use; the pervasiveness and occurrence of gruesome behavior is also taken into consideration when rating a game.

One of the main reasons for rating games is to protect children from age inappropriate behaviors and content. The biggest concern is that children will have a higher proclivity towards violence due to video games. Although there is much debate, and some statistics that give each side a case, there is no proof that video games cause violence and truculent behavior in children.  In fact it is thought that violence among children has been declining in recent years. Even though there is no direct correlation between video games and violence in children, these ratings are still very important because they avoid any possible issues on this topic of violence in children. While the rating system is a very good guide to who should play what game, the ESRB puts a lot of trust into parents to children to buy only age appropriate games for their kids.

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