A Crash Course in ESRB

A Crash Course in ESRB

Just in time for your holiday shopping, we bring you up to speed on just what the ESRB is, and, more importantly, why you should care.

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EA, as well as some of the other big publishers should ignore the ESRB. When Wal-Mart and gamestop find out that 90% of the christmas line-up is unrated, I wonder what their reaction would be? [/sarcasm]

Interesting thing about the AO ratings and how if your game doesn't reach the shelves at Best Buy or Walmart it will do poorly. I wonder if a rise in digital distribution will allow game developers to finally be able to develop games that not only deal with but show adult subjects/situations within the game itself.

Thanks for this article, I'm doing a research project on Video Games and Ratings Systems, this will be a great source!

HobbesMkii:
Interesting thing about the AO ratings and how if your game doesn't reach the shelves at Best Buy or Walmart it will do poorly. I wonder if a rise in digital distribution will allow game developers to finally be able to develop games that not only deal with but show adult subjects/situations within the game itself.

hrmmm, that's an interesting idea.

It would certainly cause a shitstorm in the media and in politics.

but Obama's in office now, so everything's changed.

Altorin:
but Obama's in office now, so everything's changed.

"Change, CHANGE!" - Randy (South Park)

Well-written article. It didn't teach me much (I suppose I'm not the audience that this article aims to enlighten), but it did raise a few good points. Echoing Hobbes (love that comic, by the way), I wonder if digital distribution will alter the way rating are seen. Hopefully, it's for the better.

stompy:

Altorin:
but Obama's in office now, so everything's changed.

"Change, CHANGE!" - Randy (South Park)

Well-written article. It didn't teach me much (I suppose I'm not the audience that this article aims to enlighten), but it did raise a few good points. Echoing Hobbes (love that comic, by the way), I wonder if digital distribution will alter the way rating are seen. Hopefully, it's for the better.

You beat me to it ye bastard!

I think digital distribution does represent an opportunity for developers to push the boundaries of game creation, but there are limitations. As I pointed out in the article, commercial considerations drive game design choices far more than ratings concerns for most developers, so you're not going to see any major upheaval in design just because digital distribution has become a viable form of selling games. You might see more - more violence, more sex, more whatever - but major mainstream efforts will remain essentially unchanged.

So as an example, you could end up with two versions of GTA 5 released: The standard M-rated version that lands on the shelves in GameStop, and the Adult Only "Tits and Blood" edition, available digitally as a stand-alone product or an upgrade to the retail release. The biggest potential impediment in my mind is simply the question of whether or not it would be worth the money and effort for Take-Two to bother.

Interesting article. I wonder though, as a Canadian citizen, if our structure is the same. I know we do do things a tad differently. Does the same situation occur in Canada, where retailers won't sell minors M games even though ESRB is merely a suggestion?

Thus far, Canada has been content to roll along with the ESRB system in pretty much the same way as the US: It's technically voluntary but your nuts will be in a crusher if you're caught violating it. Canada is represented on the ESRB advisory board as well, in order to reflect Canadian cultural sensibilities which, sometimes, diverge from those of Americans.

That said, the situation is what it is because like so many things here, it's working reasonably well and so nobody wants to mess with it. What we lack, unlike the Americans, is explicit protection of videogames as artistic expression. It hasn't been a problem so far, but if the federal and/or provincial governments decided they wanted to step in and lower the boom, Canadians just don't have a Constitutional fallback position.

(So goes my understanding, anyway. Also, excuse the late response.)

 

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