The gaming industry has a "great responsibility" to help consumers make informed decisions, according to EA CEO John Riccitiello.
Last night, EA CEO John Riccitiello addressed a group of politicians in Washington, D.C., to discuss the need for a universal game ratings system. While the ESRB currently rates retail games in North America, other regions around the world have their own ratings in place, and digital games may not receive ratings at all. "We must move beyond the alphabet soup of game ratings" towards a universal system, according to Riccitiello, who also serves as Chairman of the Entertainment Software Association board. He feels that the gaming industry has a "responsibility" to create a consolidated, recognizable system of software ratings, making it easier for the consumer to stay informed.
"In the past three years the audience for games has grown from roughly 200 million, to over one billion. Virtually everyone on the planet who owns a phone, can play a game. The Supreme Court has given us the same First Amendment rights as authors, musicians and film makers - a set of rights which we cherish," Riccitiello stated after accepting the Media Institute's American Horizon Award, which was presented to him by FCC Chariman Julius Genachowski. "But as we are so often told: With great freedom, comes great responsibility. To live up to that responsibility, we need to do a better job informing the consumer, no matter the channel, the platform, or the geography. We must adopt a self-regulated, global rating system across every format games are played on."
The ESRB is already taking steps toward achieving Riccitiello's goal of universal ratings. Last month, it rolled out the Digital Rating System, allowing digital games to receive ratings for free. The ESRB is also reportedly working with ratings bodies in other countries in the hopes of achieving a universal set of ratings used worldwide.
It's a lofty goal, especially considering that different regions may have very different ideas about what constitutes mature or adult content. Still, Riccitiello seemed hopeful about the possibility. A universal ratings system would undoubtedly make things easier (and cheaper) for publishers like EA, but as the CEO stated, this would also serve the gaming community. Many adult gamers probably don't give ratings a second thought, but this would be especially helpful for parents to make informed decisions about what their kids are playing.