ESRB Now Auto-Rates All Downloadable Games By Computer

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ESRB Now Auto-Rates All Downloadable Games By Computer

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Unable to deal with the number of games released on Xbox Live, PSN, and WiiWare and DS marketplaces, the ESRB will automatically rate games based on criteria submitted by publishers.

The game ratings system implemented in 1994 by the ESRB in response to public outcry against violence in games like Mortal Kombat and Night Trap is still very successful in deflecting perception of games as a potential problem in society. And even though the Supreme Court is currently debating whether a Californian law which would make it illegal to sell M-rated games to minors is Constitutional, publishers must submit games to the ESRB and pay a fee in order to receive the rating. Unfortunately, with the rise of smaller downloadable markets, there are now too many games released each year for the ESRB to put human eyes on all of them.

Beginning today, publishers of games sold through Xbox Live Arcade, the PlayStation Store, the Nintendo Wii or the DS Shop must answer a comprehensive survey of the game's content and submit it via computer. Downloadable games will now be rated based on calculations made from publisher's answers to these questions. This change is meant to reduce the costs associated with employing more full-time videogame raters.

"The ESRB rating process that has been in use since 1994 was devised before the explosion in the number of digitally delivered games and devices on which to play them. These games, many of which tend to be casual in nature, are being produced in increasing numbers, by thousands of developers, and generally at lower costs," said ESRB president Patricia Vance. "This new rating process considers the very same elements weighed by our raters. The biggest difference is in our ability to scale this system as necessary while keeping our services affordable and accessible."

The new plan calls for an ESRB employee to check a game after it's publicly available to ensure that the publisher was forthright with its survey submission. If a publisher is found to be negligent in reporting the real context of sex and violence in its game, the rating will be corrected in the online store. And if the ESRB sees evidence that it was deliberately deceived, the game will be pulled altogether until it is resubmitted.

One could argue that most downloadable games are family-friendly fare anyway, and the few outliers of mature content doesn't offset the costs of reviewing each little platformer or board game. On the other hand, putting more of an onus on the publisher to answer questions appropriately might not assuage some of the worries of anti-gaming activists that the ESRB isn't tough enough on violence.

I'm kind of on the fence about this one. What do you guys think?

Permalink

So effectively developers are rating their own games?

WTF??

Meh, the ESRB's rating system is gonna be overridden and made superfluous when the Supreme Court issues its decision in Schwarzenegger v EMA, upholding California's "R" for violent video games labeling statute. Anyone wonder why it's taking them so long to announce their decision? That's because they're gettin' ready to carve out a brand-new exception to the First Amendment. Kiddies, prepare to kiss your FPSs good-bye. The Prophet has spoken.

Am I a bad person for hoping that the system will hilariously crash in a spectacular show of failure?

Not because I think its bad that they're doing this, but because I just think it would be absolutely hilarious.

Well I could see it work if they put penalties such as blacklisting companies that purposely give false information, making them unable to receive an ESRB rating again. I doubt anyone would risk faking the information if their ability to release games in the future was at stake.

Spangles:
So effectively developers are rating their own games?

WTF??

It's been like that for a while. Just like the the MPAA works with the movie studios to ensure that their films avoid the kiss-of-death "R" rating, so, too, does the ESRB work with the game developers to ensure that their games avoid the kiss-of-death "AO" rating. Makes sense. The ESRB ain't trying to hinder game development. No game development, no games to rate. No games to rate, no ESRB. No ESRB, Pat Vance can kiss her six-figure salary good-bye.

JDKJ:

Spangles:
So effectively developers are rating their own games?

WTF??

It's been like that for a while. Just like the the MPAA works with the movie studios to ensure that their films avoid the kiss-of-death "R" rating, so, too, does the ESRB work with the game developers to ensure that their games avoid the kiss-of-death "AO" rating. Makes sense. The ESRB ain't trying to hinder game development. No game development, no games to rate. No games to rate, no ESRB. No ESRB, Pat Vance can kiss her six-figure salary good-bye.

Yeah, in YOUR country.

We've only just signed our rights away to having an overiding ratings authority, only now to find out the the authority we sold our rights to, doesn't do much authorising.

That pretty much sucks.

Greg Tito:
And even though the Supreme Court is currently debating the efficacy of a Californian law . . . ."

The Court never debates the "efficacy" (i.e., the effectiveness) of a law. The Court only concerns itself with the "constitutionality" of a law. A law could be as ineffective as all get-out, as long as it passes the Court's constitutional muster, then it is, as a matter of law, a good law.

JDKJ:

Greg Tito:
And even though the Supreme Court is currently debating the efficacy of a Californian law . . . ."

The Court never debates the "efficacy" (i.e., the effectiveness) of a law. The Court only concerns itself with the "constitutionality" of a law. A law could be as ineffective as all get-out, as long as it passes the Court's constitutional muster, then it is, as a matter of law, a good law.

Good point. Fixed in post. Thanks!

Greg

I can see it now.
Lost Winds 3. Rated M for Mature

does anyone really care about the rating for arcade games that hard? pretty much none of them contain any m-rated content anyway

Greg Tito:

JDKJ:

Greg Tito:
And even though the Supreme Court is currently debating the efficacy of a Californian law . . . ."

The Court never debates the "efficacy" (i.e., the effectiveness) of a law. The Court only concerns itself with the "constitutionality" of a law. A law could be as ineffective as all get-out, as long as it passes the Court's constitutional muster, then it is, as a matter of law, a good law.

Good point. Fixed in post. Thanks!

Greg

Actually the workability of the law can be taken into account by the more 'modern' memebers of the court. "Constitutionality" is what the measure is supposed to traditioanlly be but as time has moved on more factors are taken into account. It's less 'fixed' than many would have you beleive and common sense can be applied.

Scrumpmonkey:

Greg Tito:

JDKJ:

The Court never debates the "efficacy" (i.e., the effectiveness) of a law. The Court only concerns itself with the "constitutionality" of a law. A law could be as ineffective as all get-out, as long as it passes the Court's constitutional muster, then it is, as a matter of law, a good law.

Good point. Fixed in post. Thanks!

Greg

Actually the workability of the law can be taken into account by the more 'modern' memebers of the court. "Constitutionality" is what the measure is supposed to traditioanlly be but as time has moved on more factors are taken into account. It's less 'fixed' than many would have you beleive and common sense can be applied.

I dunno about that. I can pretty much recite the three prongs of the strict scrutiny test of constitutionality from memory and nowhere does it include "effectiveness." I can't imagine the Supreme Court writing and publishing an opinion in which it abandons decades of well-established First Amendment jurisprudence and substitutes its own version of what that jurisprudence requires. Even Scalia, as talented as he is with a pen, ain't gonna try to do that.

JDKJ:
Meh, the ESRB's rating system is gonna be overridden and made superfluous when the Supreme Court issues its decision in Schwarzenegger v EMA, upholding California's "R" for violent video games labeling statute. Anyone wonder why it's taking them so long to announce their decision? That's because they're gettin' ready to carve out a brand-new exception to the First Amendment. Kiddies, prepare to kiss your FPSs good-bye. The Prophet has spoken.

That's okay, FPS games are for teens with ego complexes anyways. It will be funny to watch sales of RPGs boom again and just MAYBE we'll get some co-op going around.

I can sort of see how it will work. There will be hell to pay if the developers lie about the content and a game with the T rating turns out to have adult content, but disagreements as to what constitutes "Extreme graphic violence" will inevitably lead to arguments about how well this system works, like the people who gave Halo Wars a T rating while giving Zone of the Enders an M rating despite only having blood in a couple of cutscenes, and a small amount at that.

DaHero:

JDKJ:
Meh, the ESRB's rating system is gonna be overridden and made superfluous when the Supreme Court issues its decision in Schwarzenegger v EMA, upholding California's "R" for violent video games labeling statute. Anyone wonder why it's taking them so long to announce their decision? That's because they're gettin' ready to carve out a brand-new exception to the First Amendment. Kiddies, prepare to kiss your FPSs good-bye. The Prophet has spoken.

That's okay, FPS games are for teens with ego complexes anyways. It will be funny to watch sales of RPGs boom again and just MAYBE we'll get some co-op going around.

I've never quite understood that whole FPS thing. Gimme some Madden or NBA or FIFA or anything else with a ball and 11 guys on the opposite side and I'm good to go. But to each his own.

Greg Tito:
The new plan calls for an ESRB employee to check a game after it's publicly available to ensure that the publisher was forthright with its survey submission. If a publisher is found to be negligent in reporting the real context of sex and violence in its game, the rating will be corrected in the online store. And if the ESRB sees evidence that it was deliberately deceived, the game will be pulled altogether until it is resubmitted.

I wonder what happens if you OVERstate the sexual content. Sell a slapdash-but-fit-for-kids app with the warning: "Contains horse porn." I mean, who would stand up and complain? "I wanted horse porn and there was NONE!"

Formica Archonis:

Greg Tito:
The new plan calls for an ESRB employee to check a game after it's publicly available to ensure that the publisher was forthright with its survey submission. If a publisher is found to be negligent in reporting the real context of sex and violence in its game, the rating will be corrected in the online store. And if the ESRB sees evidence that it was deliberately deceived, the game will be pulled altogether until it is resubmitted.

I wonder what happens if you OVERstate the sexual content. Sell a slapdash-but-fit-for-kids app with the warning: "Contains horse porn." I mean, who would stand up and complain? "I wanted horse porn and there was NONE!"

The same players with the horse penis avatars in Xbox Live? I dunno. I'm just guessing.

JDKJ:

DaHero:

JDKJ:
Meh, the ESRB's rating system is gonna be overridden and made superfluous when the Supreme Court issues its decision in Schwarzenegger v EMA, upholding California's "R" for violent video games labeling statute. Anyone wonder why it's taking them so long to announce their decision? That's because they're gettin' ready to carve out a brand-new exception to the First Amendment. Kiddies, prepare to kiss your FPSs good-bye. The Prophet has spoken.

That's okay, FPS games are for teens with ego complexes anyways. It will be funny to watch sales of RPGs boom again and just MAYBE we'll get some co-op going around.

I've never quite understood that whole FPS thing. Gimme some Madden or NBA or FIFA or anything else with a ball and 11 guys on the opposite side and I'm good to go. But to each his own.

Don't take this the wrong way because it's due to my personal experiences, but I hate...HATE...team sports. Online, reality, whatever, I HATE competition because I always end up on that one sucky team that just drags me down. If you're on a good team I'm sure it's fun win or lose, just I've never been on one.

Anyways, FPS gaming is designed (even though they're rated M) for the teenagers that think they have something to prove with their oh so elite skills at flicking their wrist at polygons. Being able to "go head to head!" in "hardcore!" matches was a big thing for teens in the 90s...now they're mostly grown sooooo...they gotta try and grow a few inches somehow.

JDKJ:

Spangles:
So effectively developers are rating their own games?

WTF??

It's been like that for a while. Just like the the MPAA works with the movie studios to ensure that their films avoid the kiss-of-death "R" rating.

Weird the opposite is true with games.

Kinda.

The M-rating literally translates to an R-rating but all the biggest selling games seem to actively target an M-rating unless they are going for an ultra-casual audience.

It's shame that movies pander so much to PG-13 but it was inevitable considering all 25-40 year olds got home theatre systems and the tweens and young families began flocking to the cinema.

I hate going to the cinema now, not because films are generally crap but because everywhere I see nothing but roving gaggles of young teens and families with younger kids. And of course they are all as noisy, obnoxious and smelly as hell. That and the TINY SEATS! I'm only 6'2" and I have to always stretch my legs into the aisles or practically pull my knees to to my chest. These seats are kids sized.

Though this is in the UK. We even have a new rating pandering to PG-13, called 12-A (must be 12+ or accompanied by parent) and I find hardly any of my favourite films have come out in the past 10 years, and most of those are not from the Hollywood style movie system but more obscure DVD imports.

Cinema has not grown up with me.

Video game however I think have matured with me. Not sure how to argue for that.

JDKJ:

Scrumpmonkey:

Greg Tito:

Good point. Fixed in post. Thanks!

Greg

Actually the workability of the law can be taken into account by the more 'modern' memebers of the court. "Constitutionality" is what the measure is supposed to traditioanlly be but as time has moved on more factors are taken into account. It's less 'fixed' than many would have you beleive and common sense can be applied.

I dunno about that. I can pretty much recite the three prongs of the strict scrutiny test of constitutionality from memory and nowhere does it include "effectiveness." I can't imagine the Supreme Court writing and publishing an opinion in which it abandons decades of well-established First Amendment jurisprudence and substitutes its own version of what that jurisprudence requires. Even Scalia, as talented as he is with a pen, ain't gonna try to do that.

Yes that is how it is supposed to work but decisions often take into account the law as a whole.

In pratice the supreme court pretty much does what it feels like. The system isn't broken as a matter of routine but the supreme court is not afriad of a good bend if it can be justified even in favor of their own opinions (see the trouble a lot of "new Deal" reforms had in the very conservative court at the time).

The thing constitution is open it interpretation and therefore Constitutionality is open to your pint of veiw. Therfore the make-up of the court will effect a decision wildly. Some justices are strict constitutionalists, others are not. Even then the idea of the consitution that judge holds will effect how he sees holding a law strictly to the constitution.

What im getting at here is that other factors are in play, even as far as what could be considered as pretty wild opinionation, and have been in play throughout the history of the court. The cases by definition are pretty ambiguous since the court acts as an arbiter. The values, ideals, inperpretation or even the mood of a justice is something that will effect a decision.

Scrumpmonkey:

JDKJ:

Scrumpmonkey:

Actually the workability of the law can be taken into account by the more 'modern' memebers of the court. "Constitutionality" is what the measure is supposed to traditioanlly be but as time has moved on more factors are taken into account. It's less 'fixed' than many would have you beleive and common sense can be applied.

I dunno about that. I can pretty much recite the three prongs of the strict scrutiny test of constitutionality from memory and nowhere does it include "effectiveness." I can't imagine the Supreme Court writing and publishing an opinion in which it abandons decades of well-established First Amendment jurisprudence and substitutes its own version of what that jurisprudence requires. Even Scalia, as talented as he is with a pen, ain't gonna try to do that.

Yes that is how it is supposed to work but decisions often take into account the law as a whole.

In pratice the supreme court pretty much does what it feels like. The system isn't broken as a matter of routine but the supreme court is not afriad of a good bend if it can be justified even in favor of their own opinions (see the trouble a lot of "new Deal" reforms had in the very conservative court at the time).

The thing constitution is open it interpretation and therefore Constitutionality is open to your pint of veiw. Therfore the make-up of the court will effect a decision wildly. Some justices are strict constitutionalists, others are not. Even then the idea of the consitution that judge holds will effect how he sees holding a law strictly to the constitution.

What im getting at here is that other factors are in play, even as far as what could be considered as pretty wild opinionation, and have been in play throughout the history of the court. The cases by definition are pretty ambiguous since the court acts as an arbiter. The values, ideals, inperpretation or even the mood of a justice is something that will effect a decision.

Yes, Justices bring their own -- let's call it "baggage" -- to the Bench. But they still , when deciding cases, have to work within a fairly rigid framework. They can't color outside the lines.

mrdude2010:
does anyone really care about the rating for arcade games that hard? pretty much none of them contain any m-rated content anyway

That may be but the it's rare fir someone who didn't work on the project to go out of thier way to lie about the content unless they have an agenda.Otherwise someone in house of the company could know of several issues of question that would be the difference between E10+ and T for or just one thing or dirty joke that seems like nothing or harmless to the makers but is AO or M to ESRB and/or majority of people told it in a survey.

with it being M/R rated you're offered a lot more customers who don't need permission for access where as AO/NC-17 are a locked in smaller group.

Treblaine:

JDKJ:

Spangles:
So effectively developers are rating their own games?

WTF??

It's been like that for a while. Just like the the MPAA works with the movie studios to ensure that their films avoid the kiss-of-death "R" rating.

Weird the opposite is true with games.

Kinda.

The M-rating literally translates to an R-rating but all the biggest selling games seem to actively target an M-rating unless they are going for an ultra-casual audience.

It's shame that movies pander so much to PG-13 but it was inevitable considering all 25-40 year olds got home theatre systems and the tweens and young families began flocking to the cinema.

I hate going to the cinema now, not because films are generally crap but because everywhere I see nothing but roving gaggles of young teens and families with younger kids. And of course they are all as noisy, obnoxious and smelly as hell. That and the TINY SEATS! I'm only 6'2" and I have to always stretch my legs into the aisles or practically pull my knees to to my chest. These seats are kids sized.

Though this is in the UK. We even have a new rating pandering to PG-13, called 12-A (must be 12+ or accompanied by parent) and I find hardly any of my favourite films have come out in the past 10 years, and most of those are not from the Hollywood style movie system but more obscure DVD imports.

Cinema has not grown up with me.

Video game however I think have matured with me. Not sure how to argue for that.

I think the ESRB "AO" rating is more aking to the MPAA's "R" rating. Perhaps not in terms of age in a straight up comparison but in terms of the effect on the products' profitability. Get an "R" rating from the MPAA and you lose the kiddie market. Get an "AO" rating from the ESRB and no major retailer will carry your game and you lose the Target-Best Buy-WalMart market. But I could be wrong. The intricacies of marketing games ain't my forte. Women in need of good lovin' is my forte. : P

JDKJ:

Scrumpmonkey:

JDKJ:

I dunno about that. I can pretty much recite the three prongs of the strict scrutiny test of constitutionality from memory and nowhere does it include "effectiveness." I can't imagine the Supreme Court writing and publishing an opinion in which it abandons decades of well-established First Amendment jurisprudence and substitutes its own version of what that jurisprudence requires. Even Scalia, as talented as he is with a pen, ain't gonna try to do that.

Yes that is how it is supposed to work but decisions often take into account the law as a whole.

In pratice the supreme court pretty much does what it feels like. The system isn't broken as a matter of routine but the supreme court is not afriad of a good bend if it can be justified even in favor of their own opinions (see the trouble a lot of "new Deal" reforms had in the very conservative court at the time).

The thing constitution is open it interpretation and therefore Constitutionality is open to your pint of veiw. Therfore the make-up of the court will effect a decision wildly. Some justices are strict constitutionalists, others are not. Even then the idea of the consitution that judge holds will effect how he sees holding a law strictly to the constitution.

What im getting at here is that other factors are in play, even as far as what could be considered as pretty wild opinionation, and have been in play throughout the history of the court. The cases by definition are pretty ambiguous since the court acts as an arbiter. The values, ideals, inperpretation or even the mood of a justice is something that will effect a decision.

Yes, Justices bring their own -- let's call it "baggage" -- to the Bench. But they still , when deciding cases, have to work within a fairly rigid framework. They can't color outside the lines.

Again. In theory. Look we could sit here all night and debate the subjective nature of the law but i have yet to finish portal 2. Like their decisions the actions of the supreme court are open to interpreation, so i guess this is my point of veiw, on their point of veiw, on the points of the law =P.

All i will say is some of the decisions of the supreme court say some pretty odd and contradictory things about the constition if this ultra-rigid decision process has always been followed with robotic tancity. The constitution has not changed over time but what is considered legal has changed pretty wildly (see; pretty much most dealings with coloured people) and the change in the ideals and veiwpoints of the members of the court is the only real way to explain this.

JDKJ:

Treblaine:

JDKJ:

It's been like that for a while. Just like the the MPAA works with the movie studios to ensure that their films avoid the kiss-of-death "R" rating.

Weird the opposite is true with games.

Kinda.

The M-rating literally translates to an R-rating but all the biggest selling games seem to actively target an M-rating unless they are going for an ultra-casual audience.

It's shame that movies pander so much to PG-13 but it was inevitable considering all 25-40 year olds got home theatre systems and the tweens and young families began flocking to the cinema.

I hate going to the cinema now, not because films are generally crap but because everywhere I see nothing but roving gaggles of young teens and families with younger kids. And of course they are all as noisy, obnoxious and smelly as hell. That and the TINY SEATS! I'm only 6'2" and I have to always stretch my legs into the aisles or practically pull my knees to to my chest. These seats are kids sized.

Though this is in the UK. We even have a new rating pandering to PG-13, called 12-A (must be 12+ or accompanied by parent) and I find hardly any of my favourite films have come out in the past 10 years, and most of those are not from the Hollywood style movie system but more obscure DVD imports.

Cinema has not grown up with me.

Video game however I think have matured with me. Not sure how to argue for that.

I think the ESRB "AO" rating is more aking to the MPAA's "R" rating. Perhaps not in terms of age in a straight up comparison but in terms of the effect on the products profitability. Get an "R" rating from the MPAA and you lose the kiddie market. Get an "AO" rating from the ESRB and no major retailer will carry your game and you lose the Target-Best Buy-WalMart market. But I could be wrong. The intricacies of marketing games ain't my forte. Women in need of good lovin' is my forte. : P

M is equvilant to R

There is a rating NC-17 that is the kiss of death for movies

direkiller:

JDKJ:

Treblaine:

Weird the opposite is true with games.

Kinda.

The M-rating literally translates to an R-rating but all the biggest selling games seem to actively target an M-rating unless they are going for an ultra-casual audience.

It's shame that movies pander so much to PG-13 but it was inevitable considering all 25-40 year olds got home theatre systems and the tweens and young families began flocking to the cinema.

I hate going to the cinema now, not because films are generally crap but because everywhere I see nothing but roving gaggles of young teens and families with younger kids. And of course they are all as noisy, obnoxious and smelly as hell. That and the TINY SEATS! I'm only 6'2" and I have to always stretch my legs into the aisles or practically pull my knees to to my chest. These seats are kids sized.

Though this is in the UK. We even have a new rating pandering to PG-13, called 12-A (must be 12+ or accompanied by parent) and I find hardly any of my favourite films have come out in the past 10 years, and most of those are not from the Hollywood style movie system but more obscure DVD imports.

Cinema has not grown up with me.

Video game however I think have matured with me. Not sure how to argue for that.

I think the ESRB "AO" rating is more aking to the MPAA's "R" rating. Perhaps not in terms of age in a straight up comparison but in terms of the effect on the products profitability. Get an "R" rating from the MPAA and you lose the kiddie market. Get an "AO" rating from the ESRB and no major retailer will carry your game and you lose the Target-Best Buy-WalMart market. But I could be wrong. The intricacies of marketing games ain't my forte. Women in need of good lovin' is my forte. : P

M is equvilant to R

There is a rating NC-17 that is the kiss of death for movies

I can't dispute that. Whaddo I know? All the movies I ever rent are found in that lil' room in the back behind the beaded curtain. : P

Scrumpmonkey:

JDKJ:

Scrumpmonkey:

Yes that is how it is supposed to work but decisions often take into account the law as a whole.

In pratice the supreme court pretty much does what it feels like. The system isn't broken as a matter of routine but the supreme court is not afriad of a good bend if it can be justified even in favor of their own opinions (see the trouble a lot of "new Deal" reforms had in the very conservative court at the time).

The thing constitution is open it interpretation and therefore Constitutionality is open to your pint of veiw. Therfore the make-up of the court will effect a decision wildly. Some justices are strict constitutionalists, others are not. Even then the idea of the consitution that judge holds will effect how he sees holding a law strictly to the constitution.

What im getting at here is that other factors are in play, even as far as what could be considered as pretty wild opinionation, and have been in play throughout the history of the court. The cases by definition are pretty ambiguous since the court acts as an arbiter. The values, ideals, inperpretation or even the mood of a justice is something that will effect a decision.

Yes, Justices bring their own -- let's call it "baggage" -- to the Bench. But they still , when deciding cases, have to work within a fairly rigid framework. They can't color outside the lines.

Again. In theory. Look we could sit here all night and debate the subjective nature of the law but i have yet to finish portal 2. Like their decisions the actions of the supreme court are open to interpreation, so i guess this is my point of veiw, on their point of veiw, on the points of the law =P.

All i will say is some of the decisions of the supreme court say some pretty odd and contradictory things about the constition if this ultra-rigid decision process has always been followed with robotic tancity. The constitution has not changed over time but what is considered legal has changed pretty wildly (see; pretty much most dealings with coloured people) and the change in the ideals and veiwpoints of the members of the court is the only real way to explain this.

"Colored people?!" Ain't been no "colored people" since the early 1900s. And that's before we were "negroes" and we ain't been that since the early 1950s.

Greg Tito:
Unable to deal with the number of games released on Xbox Live, PSN, and WiiWare and DS marketplaces, the ESRB will automatically rate games based on criteria submitted by publishers.

This is actually not that different than the rating process was before. Fun Fact: I put together the review package and filled out all the paperwork to get The Saga of Ryzom it's original ESRB rating.

The submission form was a pretty detailed questionnaire that asked about all the different content, as well as all the 'worst' examples of things that the ESRB rates, and a video of gameplay illustrating them. Note that it didn't actually require a playable version of the game, nor was one even available at that point. The review process, as far as I know, simply consisted of someone reading the form, watching the video to make sure it matches the textual descriptions, and then assigning a rating based on what was there. It's the kind of job that begs for automation.

Despite what a lot of people assume, the ESRB ratings are not from people playing through the games and assigning a rating based on what they played. It's all based on paperwork that the game's publisher (or in this case, marketing/support agency) filled out.

Oh God EA is going to screw this industry over so bad it's anus will bleed for weeks.

I see a dark day on the horizon of the forms everywhere. That day will be the aftermath of EAs latest marketing snafu involving this rating system. And we will rightly rise up and lynch bobby and his goons.

Virgil:

Greg Tito:
Unable to deal with the number of games released on Xbox Live, PSN, and WiiWare and DS marketplaces, the ESRB will automatically rate games based on criteria submitted by publishers.

This is actually not that different than the rating process was before. Fun Fact: I put together the review package and filled out all the paperwork to get The Saga of Ryzom it's original ESRB rating.

The submission form was a pretty detailed questionnaire that asked about all the different content, as well as all the 'worst' examples of things that the ESRB rates, and a video of gameplay illustrating them. Note that it didn't actually require a playable version of the game, nor was one even available at that point. The review process, as far as I know, simply consisted of someone reading the form, watching the video to make sure it matches the textual descriptions, and then assigning a rating based on what was there. It's the kind of job that begs for automation.

Despite what a lot of people assume, the ESRB ratings are not from people playing through the games and assigning a rating based on what they played. It's all based on paperwork that the game's publisher (or in this case, marketing/support agency) filled out.

Makes you wonder what they're getting paid to do. They might as well just let you slap your self-determined rating on your box. But if they cut to the chase and let you do that, then those hefty fees they collect from you wouldn't make much sense, would they?

And I like the way you worked in a plug of your game with your post. That was smoove.

I think it's not a bad idea at all, given that it has to be done somehow, but I do feel that the punishment (particularly in case of deliberate misrating) should be greater.

The point of outside perception is a good one though.

It seems unavoidable. It'll probably work just fine as long a ESRB imposes tough penalties on any publisher that tries to slip something past them. Something like heavy fines the first time and refusal to classify games if it becomes reoccurring.

JDKJ:

Treblaine:

JDKJ:

It's been like that for a while. Just like the the MPAA works with the movie studios to ensure that their films avoid the kiss-of-death "R" rating.

Weird the opposite is true with games.

Kinda.

The M-rating literally translates to an R-rating but all the biggest selling games seem to actively target an M-rating unless they are going for an ultra-casual audience.

It's shame that movies pander so much to PG-13 but it was inevitable considering all 25-40 year olds got home theatre systems and the tweens and young families began flocking to the cinema.

I hate going to the cinema now, not because films are generally crap but because everywhere I see nothing but roving gaggles of young teens and families with younger kids. And of course they are all as noisy, obnoxious and smelly as hell. That and the TINY SEATS! I'm only 6'2" and I have to always stretch my legs into the aisles or practically pull my knees to to my chest. These seats are kids sized.

Though this is in the UK. We even have a new rating pandering to PG-13, called 12-A (must be 12+ or accompanied by parent) and I find hardly any of my favourite films have come out in the past 10 years, and most of those are not from the Hollywood style movie system but more obscure DVD imports.

Cinema has not grown up with me.

Video game however I think have matured with me. Not sure how to argue for that.

I think the ESRB "AO" rating is more aking to the MPAA's "R" rating. Perhaps not in terms of age in a straight up comparison but in terms of the effect on the products' profitability. Get an "R" rating from the MPAA and you lose the kiddie market. Get an "AO" rating from the ESRB and no major retailer will carry your game and you lose the Target-Best Buy-WalMart market. But I could be wrong. The intricacies of marketing games ain't my forte. Women in need of good lovin' is my forte. : P

AO is more like X, really. M is like R, because plenty of little kids watch R movies (just as long as their parents bought it). But not even 1% of parents would let their kid watch an X-rated movie. AO games are usually porn, so AO=R.

im okay with this, especially considering that the people who made a game probably know it the best

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