Penny Arcade Teams Up With The ESRB

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Penny Arcade Teams Up With The ESRB

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How do you raise awareness for the tools you provide to parents in order to help them choose the right games for kids? Get Penny Arcade involved.

The Entertainment Software Ratings Board constantly works to make parents aware of how its rating system works. However, Penny Arcade is joining forces with the ESRB as part of a new PSA campaign, complete with original artwork.

The campaign is intended for both print and online media outlets, will include "caricatures based upon real parents and gamers," and will communicate their own stories about how they've used the ESRB tools like the organization's ratings system and mobile app. Accordingly, these ads will start appearing in "parent focused and game enthusiast media outlets" across the United States, starting this Spring.

Of course, this isn't the first time Penny Arcade has worked with the ESRB. In 2006, the creators of the webcomic created a similar series of PSAs.

According to GamePolitics:

The stars of the ESRB PSA campaign include Juri Peterson, a Navy wife and mother of two teens from Lakeside, CA.; Richard Hosler, a married father of one from Lafayette, IN; and Joshua Conway, a gamer from Los Angeles, CA.

The ESRB is also planning to co-host a "Twitter Party" on February 23d at 9 PM EST. The party will also be co-hosted by Johner Riehl of Family Friendly Video Games and Mary Heston of WiredMoms to talk about how the ESRB's tools can be used to choose the right games for kids. You can join the conversation by RSVPing on Facebook and then using the #ESRB hashtag on Twitter.

Source: ESRB via GamePolitics

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Penny Arcade has actually been contracted for art by the ESRB in the past, so it's no surprise that the company would go back to them for another round of campaigning. However, the fact that the ESRB has a mobile app for detailed game information is news to me, and I hope parents everywhere embrace researching games for their kids. After all, the letter rating only scratches the surface and you wouldn't compare Catherine to Skyrim to GTA4.

And yet, people will still buy their 3 year olds Modern Warfare because it shuts them up.

Also, is it just me or does it look like the woman in the picture standing incredibly awkward? Either she's holding something in-between her legs or they gave her some really goofy proportions.

Anything that gets the information out there easier is fine with me. Maybe with this we'll see less outraged parents complaining about the "filth" their kids play.

Even better! Maybe with more informed parents we'll see less of the obnoxious squeakers on Live! A man can dream...

Now if only there was an app that told uninformed consumers whether the game their buying sucks or not. I sympathize with the poor gamers who had to force a smile when they receive something like Duke Nukem Forever or some other shitty thing.

There is something seriously wrong with this artwork. The mother has some sort of... freak mutant crotch... her pelvis and her legs are just at crazy odds. The only way I can make any sense of it is to imagine that is a white glowing triangle on the front of her pants. And her lower right leg looks like it was snapped off at the knee...

And the daughter looks like she has her underwear pulled down to her knees. (I know, I know, those are knee socks, but what has been seen cannot be unseeeeeeeen)

Seriously, did Penny Arcade draw this up in 5 seconds?

Anything that aids parents get more informed about what games their kids are playing is okay in my book. An added bonus this may help stop the ban video games because of the children crowd or at least get them to shut up for a bit. Bottom line this gets my full support.

Edit

Just had a little look at the app. Its very easy to use and looks like a great tool for parents to use.

The Artificially Prolonged:
Anything that aids parents become more informed about what games their kids are playing is okay in my book. An added bonus this may help stop the ban video games because of the children crowd or at least get them to shut up for a bit. Bottom line this gets my full support.

I second this, and also approve that Penny Arcade is getting involved with this.

Although I would prefer artwork to be a bit less scary.

Yeah, it's about time the Fox/Daily Mail brigade realised that the vast majority of US don't want kids playing games that are not suitable for them either, and that's why we get games rated and offer tons of information about it.

When it comes to the crunch and parents flatly ignore it just to stop the screaming 6 year old however, quit blaming GTA for it.

Qitz:
And yet, people will still buy their 3 year olds Modern Warfare because it shuts them up.

Also, is it just me or does it look like the woman in the picture standing incredibly awkward? Either she's holding something in-between her legs or they gave her some really goofy proportions.

And yet, those same kids just won't shut the fuck up while playing online -_-'

And yes, I noticed those wierd legs too, what's up with that?

OT: More power to both, only Penny Arcade can make the most obvious things awesome. Hope the stupid parents will take notice.

--

lets be honest I excpect most people will just buy them anyway, I was in GAME yesterday and saw about 2 parents buying 15's for their kids that where about 7 or 8,
Not even a good game!
It was MW3

fix the parents first, not the rating. you can rate it M all you want, if the kid whines enough the stupid fat fucking idiot of a parent he has is gonna give it to him. fuck i love games, but i will, if i ever have a child, never let it play sth beyond its age assignment. of course if he is 11 and the game is for 12+, thats a diff story, but a 8 year old playing a teen or mature game? no.

Genuine Evil:

The ESRB has a problem with sex. out of the 24 games to ever receive the AO rating 23 of them are for" Strong Sexual Content" and only 1 is for violence.

This is also the main problem with the Film classification system in the US, right down to the strange aversion to any kind of eroticism, but Even more exclusive and much more opaque and secretive. Their rating staff have, pretty rightly, been accused of waging a moral campaign against content they don't like personally. An NC-17 rating is a death sentence for even an independent film forcing film makers to edit their work in order to get it seen by... anyone. Many people might not have even heard of NC-17 which is a real indicator of how much of a sigma it carries.

Ever wonder why you never see any kind of female pleasure in most movies? The MPAA ratings board is highly against anything even implicit of that kind of thing; anything that depicts even an actresses face looking genuinely **ahem** 'happy' can result in tipping an film in NC-17 territory. Basically the film classifiers are censoring any shred of eroticism from movies and most films are now made to expect this reaction and self censor. This is partly why most movie love scenes even in 18/R rated films are so stunted and oddly empty.

The ESRB simply has the problems all rating bodies carry when given a tool that can punish something they find distasteful, you end up with them trying to force nearly all content to conform to their ideals. This is not even mentioning the flawed way many games are actually rated. Until the ESRB and the US in general is less uptight about sex in games it will be hard for them to progress as an art form.

Don't get me started on the FCC and the history of the UK BBFC

It makes me wonder, did movie ratings have to campaign like this when they were introduced already in common use for nearly 2 decades? Also, it seems the obligatory "Americans are too sensitive to sex" discussion started-up somehow... oy.

xyrafhoan:
Penny Arcade has actually been contracted for art by the ESRB in the past, so it's no surprise that the company would go back to them for another round of campaigning. However, the fact that the ESRB has a mobile app for detailed game information is news to me, and I hope parents everywhere embrace researching games for their kids. After all, the letter rating only scratches the surface and you wouldn't compare Catherine to Skyrim to GTA4.

Part of me wants to say "If they couldn't look it up with the web page, the URL fairly frequently placed, they won't do it now."

But then again, the other part of me knows that if you make something an app, people somehow too stupid to use a web page will suddenly do it.

I'm pretty sure al Qaeda could get donations from NYC if they had an app.

And yet as long as organizations like the one which supported the bill which went to the supreme court develop their own rating systems (because they're to flipping stupid to realize the ESRB already has one) parents will remain confused.

For the life of me I can't remember the name of the organization but their site has reviews of games with their rating system attached to it. The ESRB rating is there, but it's almost hidden from view while theirs is front and center. Yet they have the gall to say the current rating system is confusing. Of course it's confusing you morons you're sending parents mixed signals by supplanting yours over the industry standard. Their system is not the one they'll encounter in stores, so it's their own damn fault when a parent buys an M rated game for their kid despite the big freaking "M FOR MATURE" plastered on the front of the box.

/rage

The.Bard:
There is something seriously wrong with this artwork. The mother has some sort of... freak mutant crotch... her pelvis and her legs are just at crazy odds. The only way I can make any sense of it is to imagine that is a white glowing triangle on the front of her pants. And her lower right leg looks like it was snapped off at the knee...

And the daughter looks like she has her underwear pulled down to her knees. (I know, I know, those are knee socks, but what has been seen cannot be unseeeeeeeen)

Seriously, did Penny Arcade draw this up in 5 seconds?

First thing I noticed was her nose... I mean what's going on with that?

Then I saw the crotch... I get that it's a heavily stylised representation of a female figure and that's just Gabe's style anyway, but like you say, some of it just looks unnecessarily off.

Sadly the snapped knee and girl with dropped underwear are things that I am now seeing thanks to your oh-so insightful comment...

imnotparanoid:
lets be honest I excpect most people will just buy them anyway, I was in GAME yesterday and saw about 2 parents buying 15's for their kids that where about 7 or 8,
Not even a good game!

Haha! I know that feeling, the amount of times I would rather warn fellow shoppers that they are buying a BAD game rather than one that is far too mature for their kids.

My parents would always go in the shop and buy GTA games for me when I was like 14/15 and those games are rated 18. Curious how they never even questioned the content or put up any resistance. Guess I just got lucky in the parent department there. They don't understand video games but they've never considered them dangerous either.

Genuine Evil:
This looks like as good a place as any for me to rail on the ESRB, so let's do this .

only 2 mainstream games EVER got an AO rating (Manhunt 2 and GTA San Andreas) Why only 2 you ask?
Well it's because any game that receives an AO rating will not be carried by stores (even online ones) no publisher will ever fund an 18+ game and console manufacturers will not allow AO games to be released for their systems . so an AO rating is equivalent to a ban.

The combination of console makers banning these games , retailers not selling them and publishers not supporting ensures that if someone ever wants to make an adult game they will gave to fund / distribute it themselves and only release it for PC's.

And while self censorship is better than imposed censorship, the problem is that IT"S NOT THE ESRB's JOB TO SENSOR OUR GAMES they are a ratings Board their job is to rate games not ban them. because If I ever wanted to make a game with a realistic depiction of the holocaust I will not be able to find someone to fund, distribute or sell my game.

This is not all directly the ESRB's fault but they are a big part of the problem and need to change the way they rate games, and the way they operate overall

(also The ESRB also has a problem with sex. out of the 24 games to ever receive the AO rating 23 of them are for" Strong Sexual Content" and only 1 is for violence.)

I'm pretty certain those games rated AO solely for sexual content were blatant porn games, so I don't buy what you're saying. There are plenty of games with nudity, there are a few with sex, as long as that is not the game's main focus (and the ones that were banned solely for sexual content did have sex as their sole focus) they tend to still be rated M. The few games they deemed to be violent enough to warrant an AO rating fucking deserved it.

As for the ESRB censoring our media, what are you talking about? There have been a small handful of games given or threatened with the rating (I found twenty two, but we can go with your number if you want). Those that were are equivalent to snuff films and pornos, which shouldn't be sold by normal stores because they are fucking snuff films and pornos! These games are not and do not want to be seen as artistic expression, they are meant to arouse or sicken, and occasionally both. To top it off, I have no idea how you can claim that the ESRB is the one doing the censoring when it is the console makers and stores that are deciding they do not want to sell the game. Even if the ESRB assigns the rating knowing that this means it will only be found by the people who really want it, and only on PC, the developers have chosen to make something that solely appeals to adults and which should never find itself in the hands of minors. That was their choice, not the ESRB's.

I'm sorry, but you are going way overboard about something that isn't a real issue. I'm certain that if a truly worthwhile game were so violent or contained such strong sexual themes that it deserved an AO rating that game would still find an audience despite it's AO rating. Shoot, if people can still make money making Leisure Suit Larry games, they can make money off of a historically accurate game about the holocaust, and that's assuming it got an AO rating, which it might not.

why does it look like all three of have had their noses chopped off??

I hope this helps gets the word out on the ESRB in stores,online, mobile apps and even Facebook and twitter

Genuine Evil:
This looks like as good a place as any for me to rail on the ESRB, so let's do this .

only 2 mainstream games EVER got an AO rating (Manhunt 2 and GTA San Andreas) Why only 2 you ask?
Well it's because any game that receives an AO rating will not be carried by stores (even online ones) no publisher will ever fund an 18+ game and console manufacturers will not allow AO games to be released for their systems . so an AO rating is equivalent to a ban.

The combination of console makers banning these games , retailers not selling them and publishers not supporting ensures that if someone ever wants to make an adult game they will gave to fund / distribute it themselves and only release it for PC's.

And while self censorship is better than imposed censorship, the problem is that IT"S NOT THE ESRB's JOB TO SENSOR OUR GAMES they are a ratings Board their job is to rate games not ban them. because If I ever wanted to make a game with a realistic depiction of the holocaust I will not be able to find someone to fund, distribute or sell my game.

This is not all directly the ESRB's fault but they are a big part of the problem and need to change the way they rate games, and the way they operate overall

(also The ESRB also has a problem with sex. out of the 24 games to ever receive the AO rating 23 of them are for" Strong Sexual Content" and only 1 is for violence.)

I'm kinda confused about what you actually want the ERSB do?
They're not censoring anybody, they're just doing their job, rating games based the criteria they have (disregarding ratings that would be influenced by their own ideals) and the shops just sell what they want (which is usually not AO games).
So do you actually want the ESRB to do their job badly, like rating down an AO to M, so that the so called "censorship" doesn't happen?

vansau:

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wow last time I saw a gap like that was...
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imnotparanoid:
lets be honest I excpect most people will just buy them anyway, I was in GAME yesterday and saw about 2 parents buying 15's for their kids that where about 7 or 8, Not even a good game!

What do you expect, the little "joys" near me walk around drinking cans of Redbull and Relentless wearing knockoff MW3 hoodies and talking about the "f*@king w@nk3r" they snipped the night before....

Kid's... their fantastic

--

Proverbial Jon:

The.Bard:
There is something seriously wrong with this artwork. The mother has some sort of... freak mutant crotch... her pelvis and her legs are just at crazy odds. The only way I can make any sense of it is to imagine that is a white glowing triangle on the front of her pants. And her lower right leg looks like it was snapped off at the knee...

And the daughter looks like she has her underwear pulled down to her knees. (I know, I know, those are knee socks, but what has been seen cannot be unseeeeeeeen)

Seriously, did Penny Arcade draw this up in 5 seconds?

First thing I noticed was her nose... I mean what's going on with that?

Then I saw the crotch... I get that it's a heavily stylised representation of a female figure and that's just Gabe's style anyway, but like you say, some of it just looks unnecessarily off.

Sadly the snapped knee and girl with dropped underwear are things that I am now seeing thanks to your oh-so insightful comment...

imnotparanoid:
lets be honest I excpect most people will just buy them anyway, I was in GAME yesterday and saw about 2 parents buying 15's for their kids that where about 7 or 8,
Not even a good game!

Haha! I know that feeling, the amount of times I would rather warn fellow shoppers that they are buying a BAD game rather than one that is far too mature for their kids.

My parents would always go in the shop and buy GTA games for me when I was like 14/15 and those games are rated 18. Curious how they never even questioned the content or put up any resistance. Guess I just got lucky in the parent department there. They don't understand video games but they've never considered them dangerous either.

On top of that, it looks like the Mum just farted and the daughter is eagerly sniffing it...

Yeah I suppose raising awareness is always a good thing, but shouldn't little things like... the rating explanation on the back of the box, The box art and in some cases even the name of the game itself provide enough of a guideline?

Genuine Evil:

Scrumpmonkey:

Genuine Evil:

The ESRB has a problem with sex. out of the 24 games to ever receive the AO rating 23 of them are for" Strong Sexual Content" and only 1 is for violence.

I actually wanted to include what you wrote into my comment but I got lazy ,serves me right .

To anyone who is actually interested in this stuff here is a documentary about the subject

Pretty much this. Although i hear about it constantly for about a year from a film student friend of mine.

I'm just going to come out and say it:

Juri is hot.

DVS BSTrD:
Yeah I suppose raising awareness is always a good thing, but shouldn't little things like... the rating explanation on the back of the box, The box art and in some cases even the name of the game itself provide enough of a guideline?

I don't know. I've seen someone on television mistake Everquest for an adults-only game because of the elf chick's Boobs of Male Gaze Attraction +5. Completely missed the rating, which was funny, but I have to admit there was some sense to it. If you saw a movie cover with a woman dressed like the EQ elf on it, what genre would you assume it was?

Formica Archonis:

DVS BSTrD:
Yeah I suppose raising awareness is always a good thing, but shouldn't little things like... the rating explanation on the back of the box, The box art and in some cases even the name of the game itself provide enough of a guideline?

I don't know. I've seen someone on television mistake Everquest for an adults-only game because of the elf chick's Boobs of Male Gaze Attraction +5. Completely missed the rating, which was funny, but I have to admit there was some sense to it. If you saw a movie cover with a woman dressed like the EQ elf on it, what genre would you assume it was?

I don't know. If THIS is the cover we're talking about, I'd say it was a magical fantasy
image
Actually seems rather restrained to me. Or maybe all those Evony adds have built up a resistance.
Now misinterpreting THOSE adds I could understand.

Mcoffey:
Anything that gets the information out there easier is fine with me. Maybe with this we'll see less outraged parents complaining about the "filth" their kids play.

Even better! Maybe with more informed parents we'll see less of the obnoxious squeakers on Live! A man can dream...

Sadly that is too good to be true my friend...oh well atleast i still have Kingdoms of Amalur

OT:
Well that is good in my book, the more parents know about this the less "oh what about the children?!" we will be hearing,

but i am sure that penny arcade (despite being quite popular) is not enough...i say we Should start having ESRB Billboards in EVERY CITY

What the hell is up with her hips?

Should have just filled in that spot. Looks weird.

See, for me this is a waste of time. If a parent is too fucking stupid or lazy to read the big ol "R18: Contains Nudity, profanity, graphic violence, etc" then maybe they should just not have kids in the first place. Putting up even more ads basically telling their dumb fuck asses to look at the cover for all of 30 seconds just seems like a waste of time.

And goddamn. Going by that pic having 2 kids absolutely vapourised her vagina.

That crotch!!

it looks like she had several dates with jonny cage. and none of them ended well.

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as if parents would even load the penny arcade site on their smart phones.

one little screaming and you have yet another 11 year old yelling around in a 18+ game.

if i had a game company i wouldn't use the esrb rating at all.
i would rather put a sticker on it that says.
this game contains sodomitical interactive minigames with occasional rimjobs on animals and it will turn your child into a satanistic, comunistic, extremistic, pesimistic, katatonic, emotionally scarred vegetable. enjoy!

that might help parents consider if this game really is something for their small, little cutiepies.

Monkeyman O'Brien:

And goddamn. Going by that pic having 2 kids absolutely vapourised her vagina.

apparently penny arcade thinks that giving birth to two children widens your vagina permanently.. just sayin'

Formica Archonis:

DVS BSTrD:
Yeah I suppose raising awareness is always a good thing, but shouldn't little things like... the rating explanation on the back of the box, The box art and in some cases even the name of the game itself provide enough of a guideline?

I don't know. I've seen someone on television mistake Everquest for an adults-only game because of the elf chick's Boobs of Male Gaze Attraction +5. Completely missed the rating, which was funny, but I have to admit there was some sense to it. If you saw a movie cover with a woman dressed like the EQ elf on it, what genre would you assume it was?

well i guess we know now that a lot of geeks work in the entertainment software rating board, and they all have dirty minds filled with fan fiction.

The ESRB having input from actual, cultured gamers that have shown great maturity both on and offline and can give a very detailed and mature opinion on video games and how they should be perceived by the ignorant masses?

... I'm kinda doubtful as to whether this will lead to the end of video game prejudice in the stupid bits of politics and whatnot, but from where I'm looking, it's certainly a good start.

The ESRB has done a pretty fair job with what they have been up against, from what I can tell. This little bit to get Gabe & Tycho's help is a good step up. Keep in mind that many of the people involved with the ESRB are under a lot of pressure between gaming companies(moar monies!), community groups(Think of the children!), and state governments(more enforcement!) to "do their job." If it was left up to any one of those listed, the ratings would be horribly skewed. It should also be noted that the ESRB is merely an information source. There is no legal precedent to enforce who buys what according to the ratings. We can thank the Supreme Court for that(Bad Arnold!).
The day the ESRB becomes an actual government entity, with the government and those community groups who also lobby their positions able to skew the ratings to how they see fit, will be a very sad day. You think getting an AO rating is bad now? Wait until it starts getting stamped on more games that are nowhere near the actual guideline.
Frankly, if Americans would finally grow up, they would realize an AO rating isn't such a bad thing. Games aren't just for kids anymore. But as long as publishers want to milk a product as much as they want, they will continue to push their product to all ages. Trying to sell a product to adults only just wouldn't be enough money for them.

vansau:
After all, the letter rating only scratches the surface and you wouldn't compare Catherine to Skyrim to GTA4.

Yeah Catherine could give a horrible wrong impression of real life.

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