At present time, children, youngsters, adults and even elders are enjoying videogames and similar content on platforms and systems at home or on the go, thanks to portable consoles and of course mobile phones. Everybody is playing and that is a fact that is undeniable, with titles of different genres and styles depending on the taste of the user and also current trends.
Now, videogames can be very wide and every year are released more and more titles, with content that can be harmless in any way, to those games that can be very violent and show things that can be inappropriate for some children or youngsters. This is where the quare root 123www esrb org/ratings/ratings_guide aspx comes to the table with a relevant function on the field of entertainment and videogames.
We are going to be talking about the ESRB as organization, in terms of concept, purpose and also about the tools designed to establish rating on different games and their content, for parents to know when a title is suitable and appropriate for their children and when it is not.
Currently, parents and family in general are concerned about the ease of access children are having through the internet and different consoles to videogames and content that can be violent, and the ESRB is the guide they are looking for.
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What is the ESRB and its rating guide?
In details, the Entertainment Software Rating Board or ESRB as it is commonly represented is an American organization created in 1994, which has the purpose of establishing ranks to the content that is displayed on videogames, music and other products.
Regarding the content videogames may have, the ESRB performs a study on every one of them and classify them into one category or the other. In this way, parents and relatives of children and youngster are able to discern more easily when a videogame and the content that involves is appropriate.
This is actually the main intention of the organization, as providing the tools for parents to know when videogames and music albums offer suitable content for their children, with a symbol-shaped category that is easy to be spotted on the cover of the product, displaying in simple words category, content involved and the appropriate age of the audience to enjoy such game.
For more than 20 years, the ESRB as organization has established some parameters that allow to rank games, depending on the content that is included in every one of them. In fact, more than 20.000 titles has been ranked from more than 350 developers worldwide. Of course, this has given the organization reliability and confidence from users respecting how videogames and content is rated.
Content included in videogames can be very extensive and varied, and while most of it can be harmless, there are things that result quite inappropriate for children and young people, and it is the job of the ESRB to study such content and according to it identify the game with a rating category, which will make easier to spot inappropriate elements not recommended for children.
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Content descriptors: Parameters for the ESRB rating system
ESRB categories shown on the cover of the videogames include content descriptors, which provide immediate and useful information about the nature of the title in question. At the same time, such descriptors are parameters to rank different games into a category and age, ranking labels that are going to be explained in more detail in the next sections.
These are the general content descriptors and parameters to rank a game into one of the seven ESRB ranking labels:
- Alcohol reference: general reference to alcohol, drinks and related images that are displayed in the game.
- Use of alcohol: actual alcohol consumption displayed on the title.
- Tabaco reference: referential images of Tabaco, cigarettes and similar.
- Use of Tabaco: actual use of cigarettes, Tabaco and smoking.
- Drug reference and use: use of drugs or reference to them in text and speech.
- Violence: reference and actual display of violence in any form.
- Strong language: cursing and strong language from characters.
- Gambling: any reference to gambling or actual display of similar games and casinos.
- Crude humor: inappropriate humor and comic jokes.
- Blood and gore: displaying of blood in cartoonish approach or realistic.
- Nudity: reference or actual nudity shown in games.
- Suggestive content: provocative images that are related to sex or women and men with little clothes.
- Sexual content: actual display of intercourse or sexual relationship censored or uncensored.
If any of these descriptors appear on the ESRB rating category, this means that such content is worthy of being reviewed or at least taking into account by the parents or responsible tutors of children who will have access to such videogame.
Also, depending on the elements described and the inclusion of them in total on a specific game, such title will be identified with a more restricted category, as we will be seeing.
Categories included in the ESRB rating system
The ESRB rating system includes up to seven categories, and games are identified with one of them and their content descriptors depending on the content in general shown in the game.
Four of the categories are general and focused to almost every type of user, while two categories are restricted due to content and games identified with these are recommended for adults only. Here are the categories:
- Early Childhood: these category identified games with no graphic descriptor, since they are usually designed for little children and involves educational content.
- Everyone: these category may include descriptors that are related with soft violence, insults or animated suggestions. Sports games are usually ranked with this category.
- Everyone +10: this is a category which games included are recommended for children over 10 years old, with a higher elements of suggested and animated violence, insults or fights.
- Teens: this is the category of games focused on players over 13 years old and above, including moderate violence, suggestive content, blood, alcohol and gambling reference and similar.
- Mature: games identified with this category are recommended for users over 17 years old, since these involve gore and extreme violence, blood, cruel humor, nudity and more.
Adults only 18+: videogames ranked with this category are for adults only, having explicit content respecting sex and nudity, violence, drug and alcohol use and more. Some game developers and companies do not allow to develop and release games with this ranking.