223: Obsolescence Pending: Rating the ESRB

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I disagree. The job of the ESRB is to rate the content contained in the game itself. Interactions online is not their job, a bunch of people swearing on voice chat, or in a chat box is outside the scope of what they are intended to do. That is outside of their control. Most game devs will put a language filter on their text based communication, but beyond perfecting software that can listen, process, and censor obscene language on the fly without hindering gameplay, it is the best they can do.

If the ESRB were to rate games based on their online content I would say that every game that has any form of conversational online communication would be rated 'M'. Some onus has to fall on the parent to monitor and attempt to tell their child that calling someone/thing anything a 'faggot', or [insert genitalia reference here] isn't the correct way to communicate with someone.

How do you even begin to rate online games for what goes on in chat? Play any online game, and you are guaranteed to run into some of the most unapologetically rude, crude, crass, racist, misogynistic, homophobic, anti-sematic, pornographic, and base human beings imaginable in the chat and forums. Even the most simple children's game will be forced to have an AO rating if it has any online chat capability that allows free-expression.

The problem is that it's really difficult to control that sort of thing without either the game developer instituting some sort of extreme censorship, which will only prove exhausting, costly, and destructive to the profitability of the game, or the community for that game has to take it upon itself to excommunicate any who devolves to such unacceptable levels of interaction.

The reason for this dilemma, in my opinion, is that the Internet has developed with this mistaken notion that anonymity and remoteness means that you can just throw away the normal rules of etiquette and graceful social interaction. As a result, it has become the norm on the Internet to be a complete, unrepentant asshole to anyone and everyone(just look at how so easily everyone calls each other an "idiot" to the point the word no longer has any real meaning). If people actually tried to be nice and empathetic to each other, for a change, instead of being bitter, mean, sarcastic, or cynical, I think much of the problem would be rendered moot.

VanityGirl:
I just don't understand why ESBR don't say you kid needs to be above a certain age to play online. Think about social networking sites, or think about the Escapist. Don't you have to be atleast 13 years old to get an account on here? I think you do.

That's correct; in the US, the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act 1998 effectively requires any online service to ban under-13s from interacting with other people through the service (they must provide verified parental consent before they can handle personal information, which is quite difficult to do over the internet).

So all online interactions are effectively rated PG13 already.

oktalist:

VanityGirl:
I just don't understand why ESBR don't say you kid needs to be above a certain age to play online. Think about social networking sites, or think about the Escapist. Don't you have to be atleast 13 years old to get an account on here? I think you do.

That's correct; in the US, the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act 1998 effectively requires any online service to ban under-13s from interacting with other people through the service (they must provide verified parental consent before they can handle personal information, which is quite difficult to do over the internet).

So all online interactions are effectively rated PG13 already.

Which, even more so than other ratings, is as easy to bypass as a click. No I.D. and no proof required. Just say you were born eighteen years ago and the entire Privacy Act is rendered useless--well, more useless.

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